Fan-made content: Game modes and quests

While the developers of this wonderful game are doing their best to crank out as much content as they can, the community itself doesn’t sit idle as well. Over the years, several hard-core fans of this game have created their own quests, made different modes to enjoy the game differently, and have been producing other content to improve the game. In this article, I will list the major fan-made versions of this game, as well as the variety of modes that enthusiasts have come up with. Some of these modes will require you to get some cards printed from the internet, while other modes can be played by adjusting some rules or keeping track of things between multiple scenarios.

The article will link to any pages where you can download the files necessary to play certain modes/quests. You can also click on them for more information than I can give in a paragraph of text. See if there is any new mode you haven’t tried yet!

Game Modes


The base game offers 3 modes for each scenario to be played in. The regular Adventure Packs (APs) give the players access to Normal mode, where they play with all the encounter cards, following the rules of the core game. The scenario can also be enjoyed in Easy mode, where players remove the encounter cards with a golden ring around the expansion symbol. Players will also be allowed to start the game with 2 resources on each hero instead of 1. The rest of the rules are the same as Normal mode. Easy mode doesn’t always prove to be that easy though, shadow effects tend to be more common and the average threat on cards revealed rises as some tough treacheries get removed from the game.

Cards with this golden ring get removed for easy mode

The final official game mode for every scenario is Nightmare mode. This mode requires players to buy an additional special encounter deck with cards that fix big loopholes in the quest. Besides fixing the quest, the Nightmare cards also increase the difficulty of the quest by adding very tough encounter cards, while removing the weaker ones.

On top of all of this, the game has a couple of scenarios that can be played in Epic Multiplayer mode. This divides the group up into a maximum of 3 teams of 4 players, so 12 players in total. This bypasses some uniqueness rules and can really increase the scope of some scenarios. Only a couple of scenarios are eligible for EMM like the final Saga scenarios and some Gen Con quests.

At Gen Con 2018, the developers are launching a new type of competitive style game mode where you interchange encounter decks between players. Not much is known about this yet so I will update this part of the article when we learn more details.

Sleazy Mode

This mode is quite popular among players who don’t want to remove the cards from the encounter deck for Easy mode but still need the extra resources at the beginning in order to get their decks rolling. Sleazy mode (derived from Easy) was first coined a couple of years back. It is still quite popular and I myself find it a great middle-ground between Normal and Easy mode. As I mentioned, Sleazy mode provides players with just a single additional resource at the start of the game on each hero but keeps the rest of the game similar to Normal mode. This gives the players a boost against scenarios that require you to do well, right out of the gate (Race Across Harad, A Storm on Cobas Haven, and many others). Sleazy mode does not require you to make any additional changes to your deck and can be adopted with ease.

Sleazy mode can also be applied to Nightmare scenarios in case you find yourself on the backfoot from the start of the game. Adding an extra resource to each hero’s pool at the start of your Nightmare scenario can make your start a bit easier.

Lightmare Mode

Yes, this is a placeholder term until I have found a better name for it, but the mechanics are the same. Lightmare mode is a bridge between Normal and Nightmare mode where you add the new Nightmare cards, but keep some of the easier ones in the encounter deck. When you are setting up your nightmare deck you are instructed to remove two of this card and three of this card, and so on, replacing them with the cards from the nightmare deck. Well, in this version you only take out ONE of each card, replacing them with only ONE of each new cards from the nightmare cards. You still play with the nightmare rules but the deck isn’t as punishing as it could be. Depending on the quest, it’s a nice step between standard and nightmare.

Progression Style

You have probably heard of the term “Progression style/mode” before, as it is quite popular among some players. The mode restricts your card pool for your player deck to only the player cards that were available at the time the scenario you are playing was released. For instance, for The Hunt for Gollum, players are only allowed to use the player cards from the Core Set, as well as the Hunt for Gollum expansion. This severely cuts you off from powerful cards that were introduced way later in the game. The players who are trying to beat this game in progression mode can only advance to the next chronological expansion once they have beaten the scenario they are at at the moment. This provides players with a mode that hearkens back to the days of old when players had no idea of the cards that were yet to come.

There are multiple series of videos and blog articles that feature this type of game mode. Check them out via this page:

Restricted Progression:

This game mode is much like the regular progression series, but now you will only be restricted to use some power cards for a limited number of scenarios. The game mode was first introduced by Seastan and makes sure you don’t bring the same power deck that you have unlocked to your regular progression games. Once you have unlocked specific “Overpowered” cards, you can only use them for certain quests after which they no longer become available. This forces you to construct new decks with recent cards and motivates you to think outside the staples.

Keeping Count:


While keeping the game cooperative, this game mode offers you unique Role cards with which you can earn prowess. At the end of the round, the player with the most prowess wins that game of Keeping Count. The game mode can be found on the site of Cardboard of the Rings and will have you download a couple of cards that you can use besides the regular game. This presents players with a common goal, beating the quest, while also trying to receive the most prowess in doing so. The mode is really easy to understand and can be a great way to spice up your games every once in a while. It also helps players who like a bit of competition in their board/card games.

The Darkest Saga:

This game mode is relatively new and draws its inspiration from the Darkest Dungeon game. This mode allows players to play through the official cycles of the game in some sort of Campaign mode. It limits you to a certain pool of unique characters and gives you an in-game currency, Perseverance, that you receive after completing a quest. This game mode also features Boons and Burdens on top of the regular expansion sets that really require you to do well against these quests, before you are eliminated. The quests will have to be completed in progression style, but you get rewards for completing a cycle. This mode only requires you to have the regular cycle expansion and the Saga expansions for the Boons/Burdens. Besides this, the players will have to keep track of some things themselves, but the mode does not require any printing.

The Tale of Years:

If you are looking for a complete campaign experience for both the regular cycles and the Saga expansions, then this project might be for you. This game mode features rules on when you are able to use specific named characters (Sam wasn’t alive for the Hobbit scenarios for example). It also introduces new cards for safe havens and enemy strongholds that bolster player and enemy characters. Players also earn special victory points when completing a scenario in this mode. The entire rulesheet and downloadable content can be found with the link above.

The Campaign Project:

Another take on making the game a fully cohesive campaign. This mode presents you with new Title and Skill attachments, much like those that can be earned during the Saga campaign. This mode explores the less expanded traits like Craftsman and Minstrel and gives the player the option to claim these cards. On top of these boons, the players can again earn points when completing a quest in this mode. These points can later be spent to revive heroes or take control of a Boon.

The Free Races of Middle Earth:

This game mode has been used at the Lure of Middle Earth events. It revolves around building your deck specifically around a single trait from the Free Peoples. This limits your card pool but can allow you to make some highly thematic decks. Check out the link above for the rules and restrictions.

Drinking Games:

What fun is a card game if there are no drinks around right? Well, there are a couple of game variants that allow players to alter the state of the game by taking shots to trigger abilities. Drink responsibly and don’t try this game mode out on Ruins of Belegost, you will be drunk before you know it.

Bear Draft V3:

While draft games usually tend to be reserved for CCGs, Beorn from the Hall of Beorn has created a mode in which you can build decks out of a fixed card pool. This way, you get to play with some odd cards that you otherwise wouldn’t think about. It is also a great way for newer players to get to know the different cards in the game. I personally don’t know much about Draft games, but to translate that format to this game deserves some praise. This mode does not require any other cards besides your regular card pool.


While FFG is still pumping out new and exciting scenarios, there are some members of the community that took the challenge upon themselves to create new scenarios or even complete fan-made cycles. These quests can either stand alone or include cards from the official game to pat out the encounter deck. If you are looking for new quests to play or to test your deck against, check these quests out.

First Age and the Doomed Mastered cycle:


Perhaps the most ambitious fan-made expansion of the game to this day, the First Age expansion ties the mechanics of the game together with the lore of the Silmarillion and the other novels that took place during that time. The expansion is also used to play the fan-made Doomed Mastered cycle where you explore places in Beleriand and try to recreate the epic battles of the First Age. The expansion does limit your card pool, as certain characters and items were not available 5000 years before the timeline of the Lord of the Rings. Merry isn’t going to show up in the Fall of Nargothrond. Therefore, the expansion offers players new player cards with items and characters from that era. It also introduces a new sphere: Mastery. The scenarios are brutally difficult to reflect the epic scope of that time with werewolves, Balrogs, Dragons and other creatures of a bygone age. It will take a while to get used to this new expansion, but it is a lot of fun and highly thematic for those interested in the First Age.

A Light in the East Deluxe Expansion

This Deluxe expansion contains 4 fan-made scenarios that branch off from the story after the Shadow in the East Deluxe expansion. This expansion takes you east of the Sea of Rhun, where you search for Avari Elves to help you in your battle against Sauron. This expansion makes excellent use of older mechanics such as the Sailing mechanic, but also the Time keyword and reuses encounter sets from various other official expansions to increase the size of the encounter deck. The quests were developed by a small team of community members, who did an excellent job in creating 4 fun scenarios for you to try out. There are no player cards included in this expansion, but you do get 4 scenarios that take you further east than the official Vengeance of Mordor cycle.

BGG quests by Matt Newman

Before Matt Newman was a part of the developer team at FFG, he created a couple of fan-made scenarios that can be played alongside the original Core Set. Below are links to some of his quests. He even started to create his own sort of mini-cycle, revolving around the Siege of Dale. The scenarios can be printed to be played with physical cards, but the quests are also available to be played on OCTGN.

Ruins of Nan Wathren

The Bandits of Chetwood North

The Culling at the Barrow Downs

Raid on the River Carnen

The Fall of Dale

The Battle of the Last Alliance

The game is set at the end of the Third Age, so you miss a couple of epic battles that took place thousands of years ago. But with this set of quest cards and encounter cards, you can relive the battle of the Last Alliance, where Sauron was defeated and the One Ring was captured by Isildur.

Dragon Hunting by Vardaen:

If you enjoyed the map mechanic from Temple of the Deceived, then you are going to love this quest. This time, you join the Dwarves and Crows of Erebor to hunt Drakes in the Grey Mountains. If you cannot wait for the Ered Mithrin cycle, then check out this quest. You can also watch it being played in this video, before trying it out for yourself. The quest is not too difficult, so it allows for a bit more casual games. This is an excellent fan-made quest to start with. The links to the cards and rules can all be found in the link above.

Ninjadorg’s Scenarios:

Making one scenario is great and all, but do you know what is even cooler? Making an entire trilogy of quests by yourself with a narrative arc throughout the entire thing. These scenarios by BGG user Ninjadorg take place in Mirkwood and are not too difficult, making them perfectly accessible to newer players. Try them out some time!

Drinking Quests:

Yes, this is a thing… Though I am not sure if the quest is available at this moment in time, you can check out the video linked above for a custom quest involving taking drinks for encounter card effects. You can base your own drinking games on this format if you want to. The quest starts around 45 minutes into the video and is a good laugh.


For more fan-made content, be sure to check the community resources frequently. The forums tend to be a good testing ground for any new fan-made content. BGG has an entire sub-forum for this kind of content.

If you ever have the inspiration to make something yourself, go for it! You will have a lot of support from the community and you will always be able to find playtesters for your new creation. It would be great to expand this list with more content so that we get to play new stuff while we wait for those damn boats to arrive.

And so ends this dive into what kind of game content this community creates in their spare time. I hope that you have found some interesting new modes to play while reading this article. If there are any other community/game lists you would like to see, please let me know so that I can look into it and make an article about it.

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