Double Back

  • Player Card Categories
    • Threat Reduction

The threat reduction side quest of getting lost intentionally.


The flavor text comes from right after Strider, Frodo, Sam, Pippin, Merry, and Bill leave Bree. Strider is concerned Bill Ferny may tell people which way they left. He leaves the road in the direction of Archet. Then later he took them east in a zig zag path towards Weathertop Hill.

Card Theme

Threat is meant to represent Sauron’s attention on the characters in the game. The act of trying to throw off any pursuit by doubling back out in the wilderness fits really well with this idea. The whole idea is to lose any pursuers and maintain the secrecy of their movements.

Card Synergies and Interactions

Card Search

Ted often says that a drawback to every card, is that it is only good if you draw it. When a card like Double back is limit 1 per deck, a player can’t expect to draw it in every game without some help. Fortunately, there are a quite a few ways to search the player deck or even the top few cards for it. In the Angmar Awakened cycle or hero expansion there are a couple options, Dunedain Message or Gather Information. Dunedain Message can only find a side quest card but can easily act like 2nd, 3rd, or 4th copies of the card in terms improving the odds for getting Double Back. It also searches the player’s entire deck which is not common for search effects in the game.

Gather Information can only have 1 copy per deck but it can find any card and not just a side quest. That can make it a really tough choice to get Double Back over a more key card like Steward of Gondor, but it is still an option. Word of Command also can search the entire deck for any card, but required the player to control and Istari character.

There are also more limited search options that only look at the top 5 cards. Long Lake Fisherman is an in sphere option that can work as long as a player names the 0 cost. Heed the Dream actually spans both searching the top 5, but then can search the entire deck if the player(s) have 3 leadership resources. The best search card for Double Back, however, overlaps with another set of effects that synergize well with it.

Side Quest Bonus

Thurindir is amazing to run in any deck with a side quest in it. He gets to search for that quest during setup and add it to the player’s starting hand. On top of that he gets a bonus willpower once the side quest is completed. One thing to keep in mind is, per a designer’s ruling, player setup effects happen after scenario setup and well after players draw their starting hand and potential mulligan on step 5. If a player has already drawn Double Back, then Thurindir will have to search for another side quest. If that is the only one in the deck then the effect is wasted and the player is down a different player card they could have had. This said, players will often ignore the designer ruling preferring to just get their starting side quest first then draw their hand and mulligan always keeping the chosen side quest. Many find this easier than having to remember to wait and do it later.

Thurindir is not the only player card to get better as players complete or attempt to complete side quests. East Road Ranger in particular is helpful because they can quest for 3 when the active quest is a side quest. The others like Thalion, Vigilant Dunadan, Rider of Rohan, Halfast Gamgee, and Legacy Blade require the quest to be completed.


Hobbits have many ways to benefit from Double Back’s threat reduction. In general, most Hobbit decks rely on their low threat to avoid enemy engagement until they’re built up. It also can help ensure they get many of the bonuses by staying below most enemies’ engagement cost. It can also trigger effects directly like the card draw on Hobbit Pipe. It can help fuel further uses of abilities like Spirit Frodo‘s damage cancelation or Fatty Bolger‘s staging area threat reduction.

Staging area attack

Staging area attack akin to the Hobbits wants threat reduction to stay below enemy threats. Then enemies stay in the staging area to give them targets for their attacks. Heroes like Leadership Eomer, Dunhere, and Haldir with this ability built in can leverage this the most easily. Ranged heroes like Legolas and Bard the Bowman can attack the staging area through cards like Hands Upon the Bow and Great Yew Bow.


Secrecy’s cost discount an provide many powerful effects for a low cost. The downside for many hero line ups is that time to do so is limited to a couple turns before threat gets above 20. Double Back adds another way to help keep threat low and build up a strong board state.

Quest Specific

Running player side quests is very scenario dependent. Some scenarios purposely get harder the longer players take to complete them.

  • The Ringmaker cycle with the Time mechanism is the prime example. Every few turns, an encounter card will trigger a nasty effect the player(s) will have to deal with or survive.
  • Journey in the Dark from the LOTR Saga players gives players only so many turns before the Balrog arrives.
  • The first stage in the Over the Misty Mountains Grim, has very strong and tough Giant enemies and bouncing boulders that are are hero killers. It is best in that quest to hurry to the second stage.
  • Flight of the Stormcaller and Race Across Harad, the players are chasing the enemies and being chased, respectively. Delays in questing means letting the enemies escape or catch up and it is game over.
  • Deadman’s Dike and Under the Ash Mountains the scenario is trying to mine the player(s) deck(s). Each turn whittles away a little more at the deck. If deck(s) run out, it is game over.

On the flip side, there are quests where it is helpful to not advance too quickly or even stay on a particular stage for awhile.

  • Journey Along the Anduin in the Core Set, staying on stage 1 even after defeating the Hill Troll is a good idea. Stage 2 forces the players to reveal an additional encounter card so questing through it quickly to avoid location lock or having too many enemies is ideal. Then the last stage could introduce up to 4 enemies in true solo for a player to fight. Both of these stages are much easier with a large board of allies.
  • Conflict at the Carrock and We Must Away ‘Ere Break of Day it helps to stall on Stage 1. Once the player(s) have a strong board state, then advance to Stage 2 to take on the strong trolls that ambush them.
  • There are quests with no quest points like The Steward’s Fear or The Morgul Vale because advancing the quest is dependent some other trigger. In those scenarios a player might as well quest against a side quest and get a benefit beside not just raising their threat.

These are by no means exhaustive lists. The Vision of the Palantir’s scenario analyses, however, indicate at the start of each if a quest is good to use side quests in or not.

Ring Rating

Card Talk uses the highly scientific yet arbitrary scale of 1 ring for the card to rule them all to 10 to be cast back into the fiery chasm from whence it came.

I rate Double Back at 3 rings. Threat reduction in general is a very useful effect. It buys the player(s) more turns to complete most quests, gives control over enemy engagements, and potentially bonuses when playing Hobbit and Secrecy decks. There is no resource costs and 4 quest points is not that difficult to complete in a single turn. Particularly for a deck running Spirit cards. It is even multiplayer friendly because it reduces all players’ threat and is not unique. Every player could run 1 copy in their deck increases the odds of seeing it in a game.

The big drawbacks are that players are limited to 1 copy in their deck and not every scenario players will have time to complete a side quest. The limit 1 copy per deck is not that bad with all the card draw and search available. It really comes down to the scenario and can the players afford to divert quest progress for a turn. Not every scenario will allow that knocking down from a universally good card to usually a good card.

  • Dave – 4
  • Grant – TBR
  • Ted – 4
  • Matt – 3
  • Average – Average 3.67

External Links

Sample Decks

Burglar’s Turn to Side Quest by kattattack22

Questing and location control deck built for multiplayer. It’s pretty straightforward deck. Play lots of allies and quest hard to explore locations for loot from the contract and complete side quests to boost Thurindir. Maybe get Thalion turned into a hero.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Arwen Undómiel (The Dread Realm)
Círdan the Shipwright (The Grey Havens)
Thurindir (Race Across Harad)

Contract (0)
1x The Burglar’s Turn (Wrath and Ruin)

Ally (25)
1x Bilbo Baggins (The Road Darkens)
3x East Road Ranger (The Wastes of Eriador)
1x Faramir (Core Set)
1x Firyal (The Mûmakil)
1x Glorfindel (Flight of the Stormcaller)
3x Lórien Guide (Core Set)
3x Mirkwood Explorer (The Thing in the Depths)
3x Northern Tracker (Core Set)
3x Rider of Rohan (Beneath the Sands)
1x Súlien (The City of Corsairs)
2x Thalion (Fire in the Night)
3x Zigil Miner (Khazad-dûm)

Event (20)
3x A Test of Will (Core Set)
3x Dwarven Tomb (Core Set)
3x Elven-light (The Dread Realm)
3x Hidden Cache (The Morgul Vale)
3x Stand and Fight (Core Set)
3x The Galadhrim’s Greeting (Core Set)
2x Will of the West (Core Set)

Player Side Quest (6)
1x Double Back (Escape from Mount Gram)
1x Explore Secret Ways (Race Across Harad)
1x Gather Information (The Lost Realm)
1x Rally the West (The Black Serpent)
1x Scout Ahead (The Wastes of Eriador)
1x The Storm Comes (The Sands of Harad)

3 Heroes, 51 Cards
Cards up to Wrath and Ruin


Attachment (14)
1x Ancestral Armor (Roam Across Rhovanion)
1x Celebrían’s Stone (Core Set)
1x Citadel Plate (Core Set)
1x Durin’s Axe (Wrath and Ruin)
1x Glamdring (Roam Across Rhovanion)
1x Gondorian Shield (The Steward’s Fear)
1x Legacy Blade (The Dungeons of Cirith Gurat)
1x Magic Ring (The Crossings of Poros)
1x Mithril Shirt (The Fate of Wilderland)
1x Narya (The Grey Havens)
1x Necklace of Girion (The Wilds of Rhovanion)
1x Orcrist (Fire in the Night)
1x Stone of Elostirion (Under the Ash Mountains)
1x The Arkenstone (The Withered Heath)

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

Dunhere duckshoot by Grant Thompson

Pop enemies into the staging area with Fastred for Dunhere to shoot down.

Main Deck

Hero (3)
Dúnhere (Core Set)
Éowyn (The Flame of the West)
Fastred (The Black Serpent)

Ally (15)
1x Elfhelm (The Dead Marshes)
3x Gandalf (Core Set)
1x Jubayr (The Mûmakil)
3x Pelargir Shipwright (Assault on Osgiliath)
2x Prince Imrahil (The Flame of the West)
2x Rider of Rohan (Beneath the Sands)
3x West Road Traveller (Return to Mirkwood)

Attachment (22)
2x Ancient Mathom (A Journey to Rhosgobel)
3x Dúnedain Mark (The Hunt for Gollum)
3x Dúnedain Warning (Conflict at the Carrock)
1x Gondorian Shield (The Steward’s Fear)
2x In Service of the Steward (Flight of the Stormcaller)
1x Secret Vigil (The Lost Realm)
2x Song of Kings (The Hunt for Gollum)
1x Song of Travel (The Hills of Emyn Muil)
3x Spear of the Mark (The Morgul Vale)
1x The Red Arrow (Beneath the Sands)
3x Unexpected Courage (Core Set)

Event (10)
3x A Good Harvest (The Steward’s Fear)
2x A Test of Will (Core Set)
2x Dwarven Tomb (Core Set)
3x The Galadhrim’s Greeting (Core Set)

Player Side Quest (3)
1x Double Back (Escape from Mount Gram)
1x Gather Information (The Lost Realm)
1x Rally the West (The Black Serpent)

3 Heroes, 50 Cards
Cards up to The Black Serpent

Decklist built and published on RingsDB.

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