Conflict at the Carrock: There and Back Again

“The Carrock was a stony outcrop in the upper reaches of the River Anduin, to the north of the Old Ford. The river looped around the rock with a ford of stones to the eastern bank and a swirling channel under its western cliff.”

Welcome to another article discussing thematic solo play of FFG’s wonderful game. This quest, which is very combat-heavy, can be a tough one to beat. ‘Journey Along the Anduin’ only had 1 or possibly 2 Trolls to beat – this quest has 4 additional Trolls that are all unique– and they have a very nasty habit of placing your characters in their sacks and roasting you too! It is a very thematic quest that mirrors Bilbo’s adventures with William, Burt and Tom in ‘The Hobbit’ of course.

Although there are some tough Encounter cards such as Roasted Slowly and Sacked, since I have tweaked my Hero tokens to also be able to remove Condition attachments, I’ll keep all the cards as printed. 

Favourite Player card: From this adventure pack it has to be Burning Brand of course -although I am in the camp that actually likes the new errata version which I feel is more thematic.

For my starting company I decided to do tri-Sphere again and keep my 3 favourites Heroes of Aragorn, Legolas and Beravor, for Leadership, Tactics and Lore, thinking that questing wasn’t so important here so I could leave out Spirit (apart from staple cards that I could access through Song of Travel). You have to have Leadership to ally Grimbeorn and I know that Forest Snare would be handy for those trolls so Lore is a must. It would be good to have a way of reducing your threat though, and I’d like to have some Eagles and Beornings for theme so I’m going with Song of Wisdom, Song of Travel and Song of Battle as my starting attachments on Aragorn, Legolas and Beravor respectively. My starting Threat was 31 as I’m not using a Haven.

My starting hand contained Beorn, Gandalf, plus a Forest Snare, so I decided not to Mulligan. It didn’t go well – even with Grimbeorn coming out on the second turn, my lack of questing power meant that locations in the staging area overwhelmed me and my Threat just shot up and I lost the game. I got a bit further on a second attempt and encountered the trolls this time but got soundly beaten up as they descended on me!

Third time out with the same deck and I got so close! You need to keep your threat low and pick off the trolls one by one – so I used all my Gandalf cards not to draw cards or damage enemies but to reduce threat and then quest. Take things very slowly during the first Quest phase to build up Resources, get some allies (including Grimbeorn), then once you get to the second phase, quest quickly to clear ‘The Carrock’ out from being the active location and lose the bonuses to the troll’s attack and defence.

It was fourth time lucky and what a final battle! I managed to ally Grimbeorn and get quite a host of Eagles on the table, along with using both Forest Snare cards to pick off those trolls. My 3 Gandalf cards and Sneak Attack came out just at the right time and meant I could keep my Threat low. I was lucky with my card draw this time and the other trolls in the deck (the two Hill Troll cards from the Core set) didn’t make an appearance either. It really matters in what order you go for the trolls too as they have some really nasty abilities that can really ramp up their Attack and Defence values. I went for Louis first, then Stuart, Morris and finally Rupert.

Favourite card combo: I’ve been having great fun in many of my quests with an ‘Eagle parachute’ – that is putting Gandalf into play, putting Born Aloft on him and then bouncing him back into my hand before he leaves play at the end of the round. As long as you can afford the cost, it means you can get a potential 6 uses…

A Hero’s Story – Frodo:  Another very familiar Hobbit with the ability to absorb damage at the cost of raising your Threat. The story behind the ability is obvious here as when Frodo puts on The One Ring, he vanishes from sight and can’t be hurt, but his position is revealed to Sauron as a result. This ability has a limit however at once per phase so can’t be abused too much. And at least his initial Threat cost isn’t inflated like his Uncle Bilbo…

A fantastic and very thematic quest with some unique twists and, like ‘Journey Along the Anduin’, requires some serious thought on how to handle the various elements. The encounter deck is nasty and revealing a bad card at the wrong time almost always ends in disaster. I’m glad I used my Story Mode tweaks otherwise with the smaller card pool and the fact that I’m trying to play thematically, I’d have no chance!

But, what’s that falling from the sky…..?

“The Road Goes Ever On…”

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