My take on this encounter deck: This scenario is a race between the players and the cultists and the encounter deck is (with one notable exception) laser focused on this theme. One third of the encounter cards are cultists, supplemented by a host of other cards that add more doom to those cultists or to the agenda. Locked Doors and the treacheries from the Midnight Masks scenario attack the clues gathered by the players or try to slow their investigations. The only thing not quite fitting here is the Delusions set. They are the only hidden cards in the whole deck, so that’s a bit unexciting and they are not really doing a whole lot towards the scenarios theme. Except on the Locked Doors, no stat tests appear on any of the encounter cards, so that’s not something to worry about in this scenario either. As long as players are able to whack any cultists as they pop up on the board, this scenario shouldn’t pose any trouble. Cancel these: The Cult’s Search, The King’s Edict. These two cards have the potential to swing the game around by either creating or moving a large amount of doom. If those two cards can be canceled when they pop up, the rest can be prevented by simply killing every Cultist that turns up. Led Astray, this scenario’s version of Ancient Evils, can be kept under control by always having a clue to put on a cultist. It does have Peril, so unless the one with the cancel card drew it themselves, they won’t be able to cancel it anyways.
What it does: Seeker of Carcosa enters play at an empty location and will start collecting clues on that place. These clues will be transformed into doom by the agenda effect, making the Seeker act very similar to Wizard of the Order. Their fight stat is low, but that is made up by the Aloof keyword and three health, both of which demand extra actions to defeat this cultist.
My take: These are a priority to take out, just like the Wizard of the Order that it is emulating. At one or two players, the doom threshold of the agenda is low enough that having these survive for a turn or two can easily make the agenda advance. They are almost the only thing to worry about from the encounter deck, though. So focusing on them is usually not a big ask.
Threat level: High. If unanswered, the Seeker of Carcosa can end the scenario fairly quickly.
Dealing with it: Just like the Wizard of the Order, this enemy needs to be dealt with as soon as possible and in a permanent fashion. That means defeating them with damage, which in many cases will take a bunch of actions to move into their location, engage them and attack one ore more times. Good ways around this are events that deal 3 or more damage: Spectral Razor, Dynamite Blast, etc are all good ways to basically spend resources to save actions. Note that Handcuffs are only a mediocre solution at best: Handcuffs will not stop the Seeker of Carcosa from taking clues off their location and they will not stop the agenda from turning those clues into doom. They would stop directly placing the doom on the Seeker once the location runs out, though.
What it does: Led Astray acts as this scenario’s specific variant of Ancient Evils, adding one doom to the board. The player has to choose if that doom is added directly to the agenda or if they want to spend one of their clues to add that doom to a cultist of their choice instead. If the doom is put directly on the agenda, it can advance the agenda immediately.
My take: As far as Ancient Evils variants go, this one is quite tame. As long as the investigator has a clue to spend, they can put that doom token on a cultist that the players were planning on defeating this turn anyways. Of course, this requires the player to have a clue and there to be a cultist around. If no cultist is on the board, that means the players are currently winning, so Led Astray shouldn’t be much of a problem.
Threat level: Mid to High. As long as the first option is available, the card is usually not as bad as drawing any Cultist from the top of the encounter deck.
Dealing with it: Consider keeping an extra clue on hand just to be able to make Led Astray less impacting. Keeping cultists around on purpose shouldn’t be worth it, though.
What it does: This treachery moves all doom from every cultist in play onto the agenda. If not cultists with doom are around, the players find any cultist from the encounter deck or discard pile and put it into play.
My take: The first half of the card is the actually scary one, as it can put doom directly on the agenda where it can no longer be discarded from play. If no doom is in play, the card is much less dangerous and can even be used slightly in the investigators favor by searching for specific enemies that the players might want to take out.
Threat level: Mid to High. The card is worst when things are already going bad, but will often be just a cultist of the players choice. The cards gets some extra punch with three and four players, as it increases the chance of drawing some cultist with doom and then The Cult’s Search in one mythos phase.
Dealing with it: The Cult’s Search doesn’t need any special consideration, as it’s best dealt with by doing what the scenario wants you to do anyways: Kill cultists before they gather too much doom. When there are no cultists in play, use the search to find a Wizard of the Order, Seeker of Carcosa or Keeper of the Oath to dispatch them while you have some breathing room.
Return to Echoes of the Past
My take on the modified scenario: The Return to Carcosa campaign adds another floor to the building, potentially spreading out players and cultists further. More importantly, it adds two new enemies to the encounter deck that pack a bit more punch than the usual cultist enemies do. These Keepers of the Oath also drain clues from anyone on their floor or, while they are standing on a passageway themselves, on any passageway on the board. The modified scenario improves on the original, mostly by having the Keepers of the Oath stack up with other cultists and thus making it more likely for the agenda to advance. It’s still possible to beat the scenario by just killing everything, but it got a bit harder at least. Players can counteract this by waiting with advancing their agenda until they are ready to dispatch the Keepers. There are no changes to the encounter deck except for replacing Delusions with Maddening Delusions.
Goal of this replacement set: The Nightgaunt set provides Hunter enemies for a specific selection of scenarios that have a layout surrounding one or two locations with the Central trait. The replacement set keeps both mechanical cornerstones (Hunter, Central) of the base set intact, but moves the focus more towards the Hunter part. Now, it’s the monster itself that pulls the player towards the central location while the treachery makes Hunter enemies come for players rapidly.
About this card: The base stats of the Stalking Nightgaunt are very similar to the base version. This one does have a special effect to force movement on every attack, thus potentially wasting players actions right away when it runs into them via the Hunter movement.
About this card: During Hunting Season the Hunter enemies are the ones being moved by the treachery, mirroring the base version that moves the players around. Potentially this can engage a player with several Hunter enemies at once if they completely botch the test. Note however that this only moves the enemies with Hunter, it won’t cause an immediate attack.
Aside from the Nightgaunts themselves, other Hunter enemies that appear in the same scenarios can be affected by Hunting Season as well. There’s not a whole lot of them in those scenarios but they are usually quite potent. Examples are some of the unique cultists in Midnight Masks, the Brotherhood Cultist in Threads of Fate and – if you are really unlucky – the Piper of Azathoth in Clutches of Chaos. Even Whippoorwills might join in during Blood of the Altar.
Goal of this replacement set: Rats are basically filler creatures in the encounter deck, not meant to be a threat but just an annoyance to deal with. The Screeching Rats aim to stick to this, but also tap into the trope of rats being usually a sign that worse things are around.
About this card: Screeching Rats trade the evasion and Hunter keyword of their base set card for Surge, meaning they always come on the coat tails of something else. While the creature itself is now about as weak as it can be, it still means the card became a bit more powerful due to no longer acting as a “lucky” draw from the encounter deck. For a replacement set that is aimed at players who want to breathe some fresh air into old, stale scenarios that shouldn’t be a problem, though.
Use these in The Secret Name or Thousand Shapes of Horrors at your own peril 😉
Appears in: Curtain Call, Echoes of the Past, The Unspeakable Oath, Dim Carcosa
My take on this set: Delusions is the only encounter set that is used more than three times during the Carcosa campaign. It’s also, at least until Delusory Evils came along in Return to Carcosa, the only non-scenario specific source of Hidden cards in its campaign. As a result of this, the main role of the Delusions set is filling up the numbers of Hidden cards, using effects that broadly apply to most investigators. They do this job very well and their double action to discard them makes sure that nobody is completely unable to deal with these cards.
What it does: Each of the different Whispers is added to the player’s hand as a hidden card and applies some sort of restriction on how the player can spend their turn. The only way to discard the card is by spending two actions.
My take: Of course different investigators will be more affected by some of these than others, but as a whole the effects by these hidden cards are universal enough to apply to most everyone. The discard ability works as a failsafe that makes sure nobody is shut down too hard by the card, at the same time it is enough of a cost that leaving the card in hand for a couple of turns is a tempting option.
Threat level: Medium. Losing two actions is about the upper bound of what to expect from the average encounter card. These also offer the option of just dealing with the restriction, if it’s not too bad.
Dealing with it: Some investigators will always want to get rid of these and it will be obvious when this is the case. For example, Sefina will not want to have (Doubt) sticking around in her hand and neither will Silas want to suffer from the (Dismay) version for too long. But aside from these trivial cases, these cards do offer a surprising amount of player choice. Especially near the end of the scenario, the player will want to weigh the tempo hit from losing two actions against the loss in options that comes from the card.
What it does: Descent into Madness will conditionally cost the player an action if they already got at least three horror on them. No matter the outcome, the card also surges.
My take: Losing an action is never great and collecting three horror happens fast in the Carcosa campaign. During Dim Carcosa, this card is basically active the whole time. Surge will make this card stack up with another encounter card, so it’s never a dead draw even if it doesn’t cost the action.
Threat level: Medium. The condition is true quite often and the loss of an action hurts, especially on a surging card.
Dealing with it: Avoiding horror should already be in most players interest, so usually the card is not something to specifically care for.
Return to The Path to Carcosa: Maddening Delusions
Number of unique Cards
Damage, Horror, Hidden
My take on this set: I like this replacement set. It is full of cards that are not particularly scary by themselves, but they do add up to a set that puts some significant pressure on both health and sanity. Delusions is already not a bad encounter set at all, and Maddening Delusions largely improves on the concept further by offering the players more ways to play around them and more of an incentive to actually keep the card in hand and continue to play around them.
What it does: The different Visions In Your Mind cards turn the mechanics of the Whispers from the base set on their head. Instead of forbidding a certain action, these demand a certain action to be performed. Instead of staying in hand until the player spends actions on discarding them, these will discard by default unless the player meets the demands of the card for a turn. When discarded, the Visions cause one point of direct damage and horror.
My take: I appreciate how much cleaner and how uncomplicated these cards play. The demanded actions are all things that a player would likely want to do anyways or that they could do without losing anything. So the temptation to keep these around is really big. The damage and horror from having to discard them stacks up well thanks to having four of these in the encounter deck and the scenarios (except Curtain Call) all featuring one or more reshuffles. The horror also stacks with the Maddening Delusions card from this set, of course.
Threat level: Medium. The word “direct” makes all the difference here, as it bypasses most usual sources of mitigating damage and makes the cards go straight for the investigator’s base sanity and health.
Dealing with it: While these cards are in the encounter deck, it’s important to keep some points of health and sanity as a buffer. Other damage is usually non-direct, so using asset for soak a bit more aggressively than usual can be a good idea. Keeping these cards in hand as long as they don’t impair your turn too much is often possible, if an encounter deck reshuffle is about to happen this should especially be considered.
What it does: Maddening Delusions deals one horror to the player if he is currently holding a hidden card. It also surges.
My take: First off, let me direct you to the full version of the artwork, it’s worth it. It’s one of those pictures that gets better the longer you look at it. As for the card itself, i like how it plays off the other cards in its set. While Descent into Madness has an effect that is unrelated to the Whispers hidden cards, this one interacts with the Visions that it shares a set with. It is lower impact, i’d usually rather lose a point of sanity than an action. However, it’s more likely to trigger since Visions is quite likely to be kept in hand for a few turns.
Threat level: Low to Mid. Thankfully, this one doesn’t deal direct horror.
Dealing with it: Horror mitigation is an important part of the Carcosa campaign. Using the replacement set for Delusions adds six cards that deal horror to the encounter deck, so this becomes even more of a priority. Maddening Delusions itself is not something to specifically care about, but it is part of a critical mass that needs to be respected.
Appears in: Curtain Call, Echoes of the Past, Dim Carcosa
My take on this set: Compared to other cultist sets, the Cult of the Yellow Sign isn’t too bad. Their gimmick of taking clues from locations isn’t all that dangerous, in fact it can often be a boon for the players who will no longer need to use precious actions on investigating for those clues. The role of this encounter set switches to “guys with doom on them” in Echoes of the Past, a role that we are used to see for this type of enemy. In that scenario, they are joining the Dark Cult and a few scenario specific enemies to become the driving force behind the doom counter.
What it does: Fanatics are slightly stronger than regular Acolytes, but as long as the investigator is holding any sort of weapon with extra damage, they should still go down in one attack. Fanatics spawn in a location with the most clues and will take one of those clues for themselves. To take control of that clue, the players will have to defeat the Fanatic.
My take: Fanatics are a vital component of the Echoes of the Past scenario where the “stolen” clue will be transformed into a doom token. Outside of that scenario, Fanatics can be straight up helpful because they allow investigators who are good at fighting to discover a clue at the same time.
Threat level: Low. They aren’t particularly tough. Their ability can be helpful and even when it isn’t, it’s not very threatening either. Their stock goes up in Echoes, but they are still one of the weaker enemies to draw there.
Dealing with it: Smack them and grab their clues. There’s nothing particularly special about these guys.
What it does: The Agent of the King is a Hunter enemy that is tough to take down at four health and fight. When it attacks, it not only deals a damage and two horror, but it also steals one of the clues from the player. The Agent is easy to evade, but defeating them will earn a Victory point.
My take: Agent of the King can be a problem if it spawns right on top of the group’s primary clue gatherer. Outside of that scenario, they are merely a tougher enemy than usual, but the victory point makes fighting them very worthwhile. Unless the group is already engaged with enemies from elsewhere, the Agent shouldn’t be a huge problem for any dedicated fighter.
Threat level: Mid. A credible threat on its own, but only becomes a real problem if it stacks up with other enemies.
Dealing with it: The low evade value looks inviting, but outside of non-fighty characters trying to buy time till the cavalry arrives, it will likely not see much use. The combination of Hunter, its ability and the victory point means that defeating the Agent will be the preferrable option.
What it does: The Edict will cause every cultist in play to steal one clue from the location they are at. Then, they gain a fight bonus for each clue and doom token on them.
My take: In Curtain Call and Dim Carcosa, this card isn’t too bad. Having the cultists grab clues from the locations is almost beneficial. Typically, the cultists will gain +2 fight from this, which will put even an Acolyte at fight 5, so defeating them will often require an extra action or committed card. Still, that’s in line with what we expect from a treachery. In Echoes, all clues collected will turn into doom. This can make the Edict very swingy in that particular scenario as it can easily put two or more doom on the board.
Threat level: Low. High in Echoes. The low doom thresholds in Echoes can be toppled by this card’s effect alone, so King’s Edict can lead to players having only one turn for dealing with the fallout. Outside of that scenario, the increased fight stats the cultists gain for a turn are easily mitigated.
Dealing with it: The King’s Edict can only become a problem if too many cultists are allowed on the board at the same time. So dealing with those enemies proactively is the best way of making this card almost a freebie. It could be argued that keeping one cultist around to stop this card from surging could be beneficial, parking an Acolyte or Fanatic on a victory point location may even earn you that point for free.
My take on this encounter deck: I appreciate the design behind using just a single enemy and having the rest of the encounter deck devoted to enhancing that enemy or slowing down the investigators. Ideally, there are three different clocks in play that the players will have to beat on their search through the museum: One, the doom clock as usual. There’s not a whole lot of doom acceleration in the deck and the agenda thresholds are somewhat big, so this is usually less of a concern. Two, Beyond the Veil. The scenario has Sorcery, The Beyond and three copies of a scenario specific card working towards the deck depletion theme, so being hit by the ten damage for decking out is a real threat. Three, the Hunting Horror keeps growing over time and can in theory become a threat that ends the scenario. A templating error in the original scenario makes this unlikely to happen, but with Return To in the mix losing to Hunting Horror spiraling out of control is certainly a possibility. The Chilling Cold and Locked Doors encounter sets further play into these themes, trying to slow down the players and stopping them from clearing the locations. Only the Bad Luck set sticks out as not fitting at all. Both thematically and mechanically it doesn’t really add anything to the scenario. Cancel these: Beyond the Veil, Slithering Behind You. Canceling BtV takes a lot of pressure from the person who would now otherwise see themselves confronted with yet another ticking timebomb. Canceling Slithering Behind You while the Horror is out of play will not only stop the Horror from appearing, more importantly it will prevent the addition of one more resource to Shadow-Spawned. If playing with Return To, then Night Beyond Void is a priority cancel as well, of course.
What it does: The only enemy in the deck is not much to feel threatened about at first but when defeated it will not stay down forever. Meager combat stats and little damage make the Hunting Horror little more than a recurring annoyance at first, however if it is allowed to grow via Shadow-Spawned, it can quickly become more difficult to take down as fight and health both ramp up. Following the same progression, Retaliate isn’t much of a big deal at first but missing an attack becomes more likely as the Horror starts collecting stat bonuses. The Hunter keyword is obligatory for such an enemy and works in tandem with the conditional Massive from the Shadow-Spawned attachment to deal damage and horror to every investigator at the location it moves into. Its ability to randomly ready at the start of the enemy phase weakens the use of evasion and similar effects.
My take: It’s such a pity that the original version of Miscatonic Museum is held back by the templating issues that will stop the Horror from growing when the agendas advance. But when setting those aside and playing the scenario as intended (including the fix from the Return To box), the Horror is a formidable enemy that can become a real problem. Once it has three resources, it has Massive, 6 health and 5 fight/evade, which is when the Horror really becomes interesting. The damage/horror it causes on attack sadly doesn’t scale, so it never gets past being a huge roadblock instead of being an immediate threat on its own… luckily that is also fixed in the Return To Miscatonic Museum.
Threat level: Mid to High when playing the scenario as intended. Low to Mid when using the rules as written. Without getting counters from the agendas, the Horror just doesn’t have enough opportunities to grow into a credible threat that’d require much effort to defeat.
Dealing with it: Under rules as written, it is possible to spawn the Horror from the first agenda without attaching Shadow-Spawned and then using evade to keep it on the board in its weak state. Such shenanigans aside, the biggest threat comes from the Horror being able spawn anywhere and move anywhere via Stalked in the Dark. So a vulnerable investigator might find themselves staring down a 5+ fight enemy suddenly that they can’t defeat on their own. Luckily, all the locations are close to each other so whoever is able to fight the creature should be close enough to catch up fast. The Horror deals little combat damage, and the encounter deck doesn’t add a lot of pressure in that way either. As a result it’s also entirely possible for an investigator to tank the hits from Hunting Horror for a couple of turns while the other players finish up the scenario.
What it does: Slithering Behind You will bring the Hunting Horror into play from anywhere at the player’s location, engaged with the investigator. Should the Horror already be in play, a doom is added to the Horror instead.
My take: Aside from the agendas, the cultist token and the forced effect on the final location, this is the only way for the Horror to enter play. As such, i really would’ve like to see the full three of them in the deck because they are so important for the central mechanic to work and the deck is pretty large. Under rules as written, this is even the primary way for the Horror to get its Shadow-Spawned attachment. On my first play of the scenario i actually played this card wrong, as i expected it to put resources on the Horror while it’s in play instead of doom. That being said, doom does make sense here, as it plays right into the theme of putting the players on a clock to find the Necronomicon.
Threat level: Mid to High. One of the cornerstones that make this scenario tick.
Dealing with it: You’ll usually not deal with this card directly, but instead deal with the Horror it spawns. That being said, it can be canceled and as a result, cards like Ward of Protection or Test of Will can make this scenario considerably easier – much more so than usual. Note that killing the Horror will make the doom go away. Unlike the resource tokens, the doom tokens will not stick around when the Horror and its attachment are being moved to the void.
What it does: Stalked in the Dark will move the Hunting Horror to the player’s location, engaged and ready. The Horror will then attack everyone at that location. If the Horror is currently out of play, the card surges.
My take: A good effect that makes sure the Horror stays on top of the players and can not be evaded and “parked” somewhere out of place. The Surge is a bit of a missed opportunity here, i think. In my opinion, this card could have easily put the Horror into play as well, or put a resource on the attachment. As it is now, the card doesn’t do anything but cycle if the players manage to keep the Horror out of play by defeating it quickly.
Threat level: Low to Mid. Most of the time, when the Hunting Horror is in play, it is already engaged with someone or at least within striking distance of the Hunter keyword. So this will not do much more than one or two extra attacks in most cases.
Dealing with it: By defeating the Horror whenever it pops up, this card can be turned into a blank that only ever surges. The only time when this card needs to be kept in mind is if the players try to pin down the Horror by evading and/or tanking it over several turns.
What it does: If the investigator fails on a willpower test, the player will need to decide to either discard five cards from their deck or to take one damage to all of their allies and to themselves. If the Hunting Horror is at the investigator’s location, the willpower test increases in difficulty.
My take: As its name indicates, Passage into the Veil plays right into the trigger condition of Beyond the Veil from the Sorcery set. With both Sorcery and The Beyond being part of the encounter deck, discarding 5 cards from the deck is a real cost. And so is the damage, if it hits ally assets. The damage to players isn’t really supported by other damage cards, but having to discard crucial cards like Lola Santiago or Peter Sylvestre can be quite punishing.
Threat level: Mid to High. The willpower test isn’t terribly difficult, but the consequences on failing the test are appropriately dire.
Dealing with it: In this scenario, it is probably going to be preferrable to take the damage instead of the deck discard. The latter has so many other encounter cards playing off of it in a bad way, leading to an early due to Beyond the Veil. That being said, protecting a key asset can be a consideration, especially Lola can be a game changer in this scenario.
What it does: If the player fails an intellect check, they lose one action for each point they failed by.
My take: An untimely auto-fail or just a botched test in general can cost a complete turn. This is much more likely to occur for the investigators whose job it is to deal with the Hunting Horror than for those who clear the locations and work towards finishing the scenario. All things considered, this card is usually not that bad but it does have some bad case scenarios that depend on the current board state.
Threat level: Mid. Usually not much to worry about as even investigators with low intellect can usually work towards losing only one or two actions, but still: losing actions is troublesome.
Dealing with it: There’s little opportunity to plan for this card. It only becomes a huge problem if the player who is currently engaged with the Horror draws it, but even then the Horror doesn’t apply enough pressure with its attacks for this to be truely devastating. As long as the players stick together, there’s also always the opportunity for other players to commit spare intellect icons to the test when it’s important.
Return to The Miscatonic Museum
My take on the modified scenario: Miscatonic Museum might be the scenario that is most improved by any of the Return To boxes. While the two additions to the encounter deck do certainly contribute a good deal to turning the Hunting Horror into the monster it’s supposed to be, the bigger change of course comes from the fix to the interaction of the A and B sides of the agendas. Personally, i would use that fix anytime i play Miscatonic Museum, even when not playing Return To. In terms of additions to the encounter deck, Return To adds two more opportunities for the Horror to grow in size and two cards that add some much needed punch to its attacks. As far as i am concerned, this scenario update gets gold stars all around, it turns a very lackluster base scenario into a much more thrilling race against several parallel mechanics.
What it does: Night Beyond Void advances the stat growth of the Hunting Horror by placing a resource on Shadow-Spawned. It does so even when the attachment is currently out of play or not even attached to Hunting Horror yet. Afterwards, the card is placed in the Victory display, so each of the two cards can only do their thing once.
My take: Another important piece to the puzzle of making the Hunting Horror a dangerous foe. With Return to MM in the mix, there are now seven triggers for the Horror to grow: two from the agendas, two from Slithering Behind You, two from this card and one from the final location. On top of that there’s the cultist token which isn’t much of a factor on Easy and Standard, but can be relevant on higher difficulties. This is a nice critical mass of effects to make sure that players get to encounter a beefed up central enemy rather sooner than later.
Threat level: High. Plus one to all relevant stats of the Hunting Horror is a big deal, especially when this treachery is drawn early in the scenario it can increase the early game pressure by a lot.
Dealing with it: If a Ward or Test of Faith is used on Night Beyond Void, it still goes to the victory display because those player cards only cancel the revelation effect (exception: Ward(5)). In spite of that, Slithering Behind You is probably the better target for these cards, though. Aside from using an available cancel to stop the treachery itself, players will just have to face down a bigger Hunting Horror and will have to deal with that accordingly.
What it does: Dark Bidding attaches to Hunting Horror until the next time that enemy attacks. On that attack, Dark Bidding is discarded and the attack deals an additional damage and horror. On top of that, the Hunting Horror is healed for two damage when the card triggers.
My take: Dark Bidding fixes one of my gripes with the original scenario where the big bad enemy didn’t deal enough damage to really feel very threatening. With Dark Bidding in the deck, this dynamic changes and powers up Stalked in the Dark as well. The healing is not quite as relevant as the extra damage, but can make the Hunting Horror soak up another action at times.
Threat level: Mid to High. While it only represents one horror and one damage on its own, this damage is only dealt when the enemy would already attack. So it always stacks up with another damage source. The heal isn’t completely irrelevant either.
Dealing with it: An investigator who is able to take the hit might very well provoke an attack of opportunity to clear this treachery from the Hunting Horror. That way, Stalked in the Dark can not apply the damage to someone vulnerable and the heal can be wasted while the Horror is still at full life.
Appears in: Extracurricular Activity, The Miskatonic Museum, Where Doom Awaits, Lost in Time and Space
My take on this set: Beyond the Veil is one of the most notorious encounter cards in the game. Investigators that go through their deck fast NEED to plan on how they deal with the card or they will just find themselves dying to it or having to resign early. Visions is a great enabler on its own, and in three of four cases, the Sorcery set is grouped with The Beyond for even more deck discard. As a result, this set is responsible for a huge portion of the threat coming from the encounter deck in half of The Dunwich Legacy. People have argued that Beyond the Veil is too punishing, but i disagree. I like that this card exists because at least at this point in the game’s life cycle, there are plenty of ways to deal with the card and there’s nothing wrong with a campaign coming with its own unique challenges.
What it does: Beyond the Veil surges and has no immediate effect. However, it goes into the player’s threat area and threatens to deal 10 damage should their deck run out. A player can only have one of these, additional copies surge without further effect.
My take: Ten damage is enough to kill anyone, so every investigator will need a plan on how to deal with Beyond the Veil when playing the Dunwich campaign. With three copies in the deck, just crossing your fingers and hoping it won’t show up is out of the question. I like how much of a looming threat the card presents and how every card draw, every synergizing encounter card puts the player closer to their death, hoping to piece together whatever answer they have in their decks… hoping they don’t end up being discarded. Very lovecraftian. I also appreciate how it takes something that is usually a minor nuisance at best (discarding cards from the deck) and turns it into a mechanic that can just outright kill the investigator. My one complaint about the card: This one really didn’t need Surge, it’s already always relevant. Conditional Surge when drawn as a duplicate would’ve been totally fine.
Threat level: Very High. Deal with it or die. It doesn’t get much more threatening than that.
Dealing with it: Every investigator should at least have a plan on how to approach this card – even the ones that only draw a card each turn can find themselves decked fairly quick because typically those are more vulnerable to the Willpower tests on Visions of Future Past and Arcane Barrier. In no particular order, possible solutions include: – shuffling back your discard into the deck (Quantum Flux, Patrice’s Elder Sign) – tanking the hit with allies and assets – negating the damage (Deny Existence, Devil’s Luck) – canceling the treachery (Ward of Protection, Forewarned) – discarding the treachery (Alter Fate) – using either encounter deck manipulation (Scrying, First Watch) or “You handle this one” and “Let me handle this” to push duplicate copies to whoever already has one or is best suited to handle it. If all else fails, resigning early is preferrable to taking the trauma, so keep an eye on your remaining cards. The Rogue and Seeker card pools are worst equipped to deal with Beyond the Veil while Guardians should at least consider the tanking route. Mystics and especially Survivors have the best answers available. Patrice sometimes gets mentioned as unplayable in Dunwich due to Beyond the Veil, but she actually is very good at handling it. Between Flux, Alter Fate, her Elder Sign and possibly Eucatastrophe to trigger it more reliably, she shouldn’t be too worried.
What it does: The player is forced to make a high difficulty Willpower test and then discard cards from the top of their deck for each point they failed by.
My take: Discarding cards from the deck does little to nothing on its own, so this card purely exists to feed into Beyond the Veil. In that role, the card does a good job. Five cards as a worst case scenario are a sizeable chunk of the deck and the scaling test means that every investigator is enticed to chuck some symbols into the test to lessen the impact.
Threat level: Low. Visions of Futures Past is completely dependant on another card to have any impact. Only investigators that do gimmicky stuff with their deck like collecting Myriad sets or relying on specific single cards are a bit more threatened.
Dealing with it: Since its a a scaling test, even low Willpower investigators can gain some partial benefit from committing extra cards to the test. That being said, it’s usually better to have a plan for Beyond the Veil instead, because dealing with Beyond will also turn Visions into a non-issue.
Appears in: The House Always Wins, The Miskatonic Museum
My take on this set: A very weak set that poses little threat to the investigators. Not only are the effects of the individual cards rather mild, but they also do not interact in a meaningful way with each other or with any of the other encounter sets that are used with them. The luck flavor works very well for The House Always Wins, but even that flavor component falls flat in the Miscatonic Museum. This set is a miss for me, i think it’s bland and uninteresting.
What it does: Cursed Luck is placed into the player’s threat area and will reduce all of their skill values for as long as it’s there. As soon as the investigator passes any skill test by at least one point, Cursed Luck is discarded.
My take: Cursed Luck doesn’t stop the player from following whatever plan they had. In most cases, discarding the treachery shouldn’t be a big problem, it might just involve committing an additional card to a test. Cursed Luck could’ve been a problem if they were to appear in a scenario together with Whipoorwills, but that never happens.
Threat level: Low. Even if removing the treachery involves taking an action that one would otherwise not have taken, the impact of the card can easily be kept to a minimum.
Dealing with it: The penalty to a skill can be offset by pitching a card to the test which at the same time will increase the chance to discard Cursed Luck. Remember that you can investigate at a location without clues, so if you find yourself at a low shroud location, that could be an opportunity to spend an action to get rid of the card.
What it does: The outcome of Twist of Fate is decided by a token pull from the chaos bag. Depending on the token, the player is either dealt one damage, two horror or nothing at all.
My take: Usually this will just do one damage which is a very mild effect coming from the encounter deck. Even the two horror aren’t really all that bad, as both scenarios using this set don’t have other horror treacheries to further escalate the threat of losing too much sanity.
Threat level: Very Low. Even the worst case is quite benign, and there is a good chance for the treachery to do even less.
Dealing with it: The usual ways to mitigate horror and damage apply. But it’s really nothing to worry about ahead of time, just deal with it appropriately when it turns up.
The scenario-specific treacheries from Midnight Masks are also used in: Echoes of the Past, Phantom of Truth, Threads of Fate, In the Clutches of Chaos, Riddles and Rain, Dealings in the Dark
My take on this encounter deck: This is a very small encounter deck that is of course meant to supplement the unique Cultist deck. Because of that, it doesn’t contain any real threats except for the Nightgaunts and Wizard of the Order. Instead it is focused on trying to stall the player’s progress by stopping them from investigating (Locked Door, Obscuring Fog), making them move around the map to deal with doom on enemies or straight up removing the clues that were already collected. It does this job very well. Counter these: Unless playing with Returns To and thus adding the Masked Horrors treachery, there is no real standout treachery to save up a cancel for. Chilling Cold, On Wings of Darkness and False Leads are all worthwhile cancel targets if the player who drew the card can not expect to pass the relevant stat test. My take on this encounter set: The Midnight Masks card set is special in that the scenario specific treacheries have been used like a normal encounter set in multiple other scenarios: Echoes of the Past, Phantom of Truth, Threads of Fate and In the Clutches of Chaos all use Hunting Shadow and False Lead. It’s easy to see why, as this role of attacking already collected clues makes sense to include in those scenarios and isn’t represented in any of the other core encounter sets. Those five cards should probably have been their own encounter set.
What it does: Hunting Shadow deals two damage to the investigator unless they are willing to spend a clue. That clue goes back to the pool and is lost completely. The card has Peril, so the decision has to be made by the player on their own.
My take: Simple but effective. As long as the health is not under pressure from elsewhere, the player can avoid losing a clue here most of the time. But especially when drawn multiple times, something encouraged by the small deck size in Midnight Masks, the damage can add up. Furthermore, most of the scenarios using Hunting Shadow also use other damage treacheries like Wings of Darkness from the Nightgaunts set or Grasping Hands from Ghouls to make the damage off of Hunting Shadow even more relevant.
Threat level: Low to Mid. Two points of testless damage can add up and losing clues can often be a setback equivalent to multiple actions
Dealing with it: In most cases, losing the clue is to be avoided. That means dealing with the damage, either by using assets that can soak it or simply having the health to spare by avoiding damage from other sources.
What it does: If the investigator has at least one clue, he needs to take an intellect test. For each point they failed by, they need to return one of their clues to their location. False Lead surges if the player has no clues to lose.
My take: The card has a fairly high ceiling, losing four clues to it would be really terrible. To prevent this, players are pushed by this card to spend their clues to advance the scenario goal. For Midnight Masks itself this means putting enemies from the Cultist deck into play. In practice, failing the intellect check will usually result in about two actions, depending on the shroud value of the location. Not great, but also not too bad.
Threat level: Low to Mid. While the treachery itself doesn’t hit very hard, it’s mere presence in the deck forces players to spend their clues or risk losing them.
Dealing with it: There are many variables that depend on the current situation that determine how important passing that test is. An investigator with low intellect will have a harder time picking up the clues again, so for them boosting their skill value with card icons can be very worth it. The shroud value and any relevant restrictions and abilities on that location also are a significant factor. As mentioned before, keep the impact of this treachery minimal by spending your clues on advancing the scenario when possible. Otherwise you risk losing a full turn or more to drawing an auto-fail and dropping four clues.
Return to the Midnight Masks
My take on the modified scenario: In addition to adding some more variety to the Cultist deck and the locations, the Return to The Night of the Zealot box also features a new treachery for use in this scenario. More importantly, it switches the Dark Cult set for the Cult of the Devourer. This is a very significant upgrade to all of the cards from that set and the Disciple of the Devourer in particular plays right into the scenario with its ability to snatch up clues from players. A great update on a scenario that was excellent to begin with.
What it does: Masked Horrors deals two points of horror to anyone holding two or more clues. If no horror was dealt this way, it will instead add a doom that can immediately advance the agenda.
My take: Nasty. The players are on a clock in the Midnight Masks, so adding more doom is absolutely something to avoid. Doing that requires to keep two clues around at all times, which slows players down as well and adds some pressure from the horror that is dealt in that case. At the same time, it empowers all the other cards in the deck that try to take clues away. Deciding on playing around this card is worth it or not is very difficult and may just not have a good answer at all.
Threat level: High to Very High. Even just playing around this card to stop it from becoming an Ancient Evils will severely impact the player’s progress and makes all of the other cards that steal, remove or drop clues more relevant.
Dealing with it: The impact this card has on almost half of the rest of the encounter deck when trying to avoid the doom makes it almost worth to just take it as an Ancient Evils and not get bogged down further. This is a priority card for which to save up a cancel like Ward of Protection or Test of Will.
Appears in: Midnight Masks, Blood on the Altar, Threads of Fate, In the Clutches of Chaos, Point of No Return, The Vanishing of Elina Harper, Sanguine Shadows
My take on this set: The Nightgaunt set requires a specific scenario structure with lots of locations and designated Central locations to work properly. Despite that, it’s been used five times, appearing in all but one campaign so far. Hunting Nightgaunts are solid Hunter enemies that haven’t lost much of their impact since appearing in the Core set.
What it does: At four health and three fight, Hunting Nightgaunts are difficult enough to take down in combat that it will require a weapon and at least moderate fighting skills to do so. The difficulty to evade them scales with the difficulty of the campaign, or to be more precise with the negative modifiers in the chaos bag. As implied by their name, the Hunting Nightgaunt has Hunter.
My take: Depending on the difficulty level, players usually want to have an advantage of two points to five points over the difficulty of the skill test to have a reasonable chance of passing. For evading the Nightgaunt, players should double this expectation and apply it to the base difficulty of 1. (Example: In Standard, you’d usually want to be testing with a skill value two above the difficulty. For evading the Nightgaunt, you’d want to be four above.) Using this rule of thumb, we can estimate the Nightgaunts effective agility value to be around 3-6, depending on the difficulty. Since they are Hunters, you will usually want to get rid of them in a more permanent way anyways. So killing them is often the way to go.
Threat level: Mid. No large problem for a fighter, but will at least take two actions to defeat. Can be an issue for non-fighters because they are just large enough to put them out of the damage range of most one-shot effects and can’t reasonably be defeated unarmed.
Dealing with it: Due to the map layout in scenarios with Nightgaunts and the Hunter keyword, evading them is often not the best solution. If possible, have the fighter of the group use a turn to take them down.
What it does: The player has to pass an agility test at difficulty four. If he fails, he is dealt one horror and damage and also transported to a location with the Central trait. Note that the use of “Then” in the card text means that this movement will only happen if the test failed.
My take: There are some situations in which the movement from On Wings of Darkness can be used in some beneficial way. But more often than not, this treachery usually is pretty rough as it not only deals some horror and damage, but also eats up actions that were spent on movement and now possibly need to be spent again. It also separates players that were trying to stick together from each other, possibly leaving one vulnerable now that they lost their bodyguard.
Threat level: Low to Mid. The potential impact is high, but the card is very situational in how it plays out.
Dealing with it: Clearly, the forced movement is what matters most on this card. If being shuttled off to the Central location is really inconvenient, it can easily be worth it to pitch one or more cards into the agility test. As a final note, if there are multiple Central locations in play, the player gets to choose where they want to go. This allows to take a significant shortcut in the Point of No Return scenario, jumping ahead to the Peaks of Thok.