Appears in: The Gathering, The House Always Wins, Curtain Call, The Secret Name, Thousand Shapes of Horror, The Pit of Despair
What it does: Swarm of Rats are more of a nuisance than an actual enemy. At one fight and health, it will be rare that these take up more than a single action, but the Hunter keyword makes sure that this will have to happen eventually. Their (comparatively) high agility discourages evading them further.
My take: As it’s so often the case in fantasy stories, the journey of our heroes begins with killing rats in their cellar. Part of Arkham’s combat tutorial in The Gathering, they do a well enough job at being combat fodder that introduce the Hunter keyword to players. They fill one of two roles in the other scenarios that include them. The first two, in Dunwich and Carcosa, use Rats as a filler for the encounter deck and more as a flavorful addition than as a threat. The other two, in Circle Undone and Dream-Eaters, have some special rules in place that make the Swarm of Rats more relevant. More on that below, in a seperate block for spoiler avoidance reasons.
Threat level: Very low. It just takes a basic action to smash them.
Dealing with it: Trivial. Pulling Swarm of Rats from the encounter deck during the Mythos phase is worth a sigh of relief.
Rats in The Circle Undone and Dream-Eaters
Circle Undone: During The Secret Name, players encounter exactly three different enemies: The two unique story enemies Nahab and Brown Jenkin. And the Swarm of Rats. This is enabled by the an effect on the agenda which adds +1 to +4 to the health of all of these enemies. Also Brown Jenkin boosts the fight value of each creature by 2. So a fully powered Swarm of Rats has a 3/5/3 statline, which puts it in line with heavy hitters that usually award victory points for defeating them. To make things worse, there are several treacheries and location effects in the scenario that make Rats appear, all of course in addition to fighting Nahab and her familiar. Rats never were scarier than in this scenario. (Threat level: High)
Dream-Eaters: The other scenario that gives some special consideration to the lowly Swarm of Rats is Thousand Shapes of Horrors, a scenario that calls back to The Secret Name in other ways too. As the agenda progresses, Rats first gain Swarming 1, then Swarming 2. While this does give them a little more staying power, it doesn’t make them more threatening in a significant way. For most intents and purposes, the scenario basically turns Swarm of Rats into a copy of Swarm of Spiders from the Spiders encounter set, which is also only a minor enemy. (Threat level: Low)
It was Spider Week on Ancient Evils, and so the encounter sets Agents of Atlach-Nacha, Spiders and the scenario Weaver of the Cosmos were added to the posts. I also added my “Return To” comments to the pages for the previously reviewed Shattered Aeons and Heart of the Elders #1. So the reviews are up-to-date on that front now. Following right on the heels of the RtTFA campaign was starting another run through Dunwich Legacy, to test my custom ARES cards. Looking good so far. Some tweaks and changes that i want to do, but everything seems to at least be working without major issues. Well, still three more scenarios to go, after that i will update the cards and probably put up some printer friendly PDF sheets to download so you can make your own copies of the things. I might actually already get that done next week, we’ll see.
This week, the investigator starter decks saw their release. Well, at least in some parts of the world and not in the numbers that would be needed for everyone to get their hands on them, but that’s FFG for you. If they wouldn’t be making the damn best card games on the market, i would’ve stopped putting up with their crap years ago. Ah well. Logistical issues aside, i am looking forward to getting these myself. New investigators are great content and the number of new cards is sure going to shake up deck building a lot. And three out of the five investigators have me genuinely excited because their way of playing seems very different to me to what investigators we already have. Nathaniel Cho, the event focused Guardian, looks especially like just my cup of tea. Maybe i’ll get my set of decks this week? Pretty please?
The other Arkham related thing on the horizon is The Innsmouth Conspiracy cycle. While still a few months away, the hype and spoiler season started this week with several previews that were handed to community bloggers and casters. The first ones trickled in already and more are to come over the next week or weeks. Exciting times, looking at new player cards with brand new mechanics is always fun and so is following the discussions and speculations around the new Bless and Curse tokens. On the official FFG site, there’s also a new post announcing the first Mythos Pack for Innsmouth. Called In Too Deep, it sees players run through the largest map of locations yet, hindered by barricades and rising tides while fish people are on their tail. Sounds great! I like the pulpy setting of Innsmouth, i will certainly enjoy this campaign being more “grounded” than the weirdness of Dream-Eaters.
My take on this encounter deck: Now, the big gimmick of the scenario is of course the huge rotating god spider in the middle of the table. But let’s ignore that big set piece for a bit and look at the actual encounter deck. It consists of basically three things: Spiders, doom and things that stop you from moving. The scenario itself is not particularly difficult, but the final phase of the boss fight has some high variance in how much doom is generated from Atlach-Nacha’s moving around the locations. To focus on that, it is imperative to prevent any unnecessary doom until getting there. A third of the encounter deck is made up of cards that spread doom around. Two of those cards, Ancient Evils and Endless Weaving, are not really all that interactive. But the Web-Spinner should get all the attention needed so that it doesn’t get to do its thing. Between the nine spiders in the encounter deck, the small web of locations and Atlach-Nacha occupying up to four of these locations herself, the spider synergies from some of the treacheries are more likely to fire in this scenario than in the ones before. This is particularly relevant for Will of the Spider-Mother that can stop a player from finishing off a leg or dealing with a Web-Spinner. Something unusual about this encounter deck is how it has more treacheries requiring fight tests than ones that check willpower. Investigators that struggle with passing fight tests may need another player on their side who can, otherwise they risk being immobilized over and over by Caught in a Web and Sickening Webs. This scenario is not perfect, but i don’t think that’s the encounter deck’s fault. This deck looks focused on doing a few things well and accomplishes those goals reasonably well. Cancel these: Ancient Evils, Endless Weaving. The real enemy in this scenario is not the spider queen, it’s the doom clock. Delaying doom, especially doom on locations, is crucial to having enough time to finish off Atlach-Nacha’s final form. The Web-Spinner can be dealt with conventional means, but Evils and Weaving are both non-interactive and a case of either they get canceled or they add their doom.
What it does: Spinner in Darkness enhances the nearest spider leg (or Atlach-Nacha herself, if already at that stage) with an extra damage and horror on attacks. To discard it, a player has to take an action and test any of their skills at difficulty 5.
My take: Only relevant in high player counts. Otherwise it’s easy enough to burst down a leg in one turn, so it won’t even get an attack off. Either way, using precious actions to try and pass a difficult test just to discard this card seems outlandish to me, just kill that leg and be done with it.
Threat level: Low. Only a problem on high player counts, and not much of one even then.
Dealing with it: Instead of dealing with this treachery, it’s preferrable to deal with the leg that is attached to it. Since that is what you are trying to do anyways, this treachery shouldn’t feel like much.
What it does: The player who gets Caught in a Web is unable to move more than once each turn. They also gain a -1 penalty to their agility. This keeps on until someone spends an action and passes a fight test to discard the treachery.
My take: Being limited to only one action can severely limit a player’s options in this scenario, so discarding this treachery should be a priority. Note that Weavers of the Cosmos also has Sickening Webs from the Spiders encounter set, doubling up on this effect.
Threat level: Mid to High. Weaver of the Cosmos requires players to move around the spider web to move out of the legs ways, run after Web-Spinners and collect clues. Caught in a Web directly impairs the player’s ability to do those things.
Dealing with it: As with all treacheries that follow this template, either do the test yourself or have a teammate do it for you. A difficulty of three means that as long as you have an icon or two to commit to the test, you should be fine … but the players with low fight stats usually do not have a whole lot of fight icons in their deck either. Since there are five treacheries of this kind in the encounter deck, low fight investigators can find themselves bullied by the encounter deck when they draw multiples of them back to back.
What it does: The Web-Spinner is a weak spider that drops a doom token on its location every round it gets to stay alive. It is aloof, making it take more actions to engage and kill it.
My take: I would call the Web-Spinner this scenario’s version of Ancient Evils, but Evils is actually in the deck itself. Still, an enemy that creates doom every turn is a high priority – especially if that doom doesn’t go away when the enemy is killed. It’s worth to drop what you are doing and take these out as soon as possible, even if it means getting slapped by one of Atlach-Nacha’s legs in the process.
Threat level: Very High. Doom is usually how you lose this scenario. Web-Spinners can cause a lot of doom if unanswered, which is why they cannot be allowed to do so.
Dealing with it: Their low stats mean that they aren’t difficult to kill. It just takes a turn to move into their location, engage them and then squish them. Thankfully, it appears at any empty location, so it will not just appear on the other side of the web and you should be able to place it right next to someone capable of killing it.
What it does: Endless Weaving causes a spider enemy to make an immediate attack. If the spider is not engaged, it will drop a doom token on its location instead. Should no spider be in play (which is only possible in the first act, since all of Atlach-Nacha’s parts count as spider enemies, of course), a spider enemy is spawned from the encounter deck.
My take: I don’t have a habit of engaging spiders and letting them live into the next turn, so i have come to accept Endless Weavings as Ancient Evils #4-6. Obviously that’s not great for us…
Threat level: Very High. It could be argued that this is even worse than Ancient Evils, since the doom token placed on the location persists through flipping the agenda.
Dealing with it: If given the option, take the attack. You are going to need as little doom on the locations as possible to have as much time as you can to deal with the final phase of the boss fight. That being said, this option doesn’t present itself often (unless you set it up to do so, but that doesn’t seem worth it), leaving Endless Weaving as a prime candidate for a cancel card.
Appears in: Waking Nightmare, Point of No Return, Weaver of the Cosmos
My take on this set: After Agents of Yig, Agents of Azathoth and Agents of Nyarlathothep all breaking the mold, the Agents of Atlach-Nacha set returns to the “classic” format of having four cards in the set, with two big enemies and two impactful treacheries. The enemy is frankly nothing special in terms of gameplay mechanics, it’s just a big spider with lots of health. It’s dangerous on behalf of its stats, but holds few surprises otherwise. The treachery is more interesting, with an effect we have not seen on treacheries before. It also has a potential to create memorable “Oh crap” moments, which i certainly appreciate. It’s a fine set of cards.
What it does: Grey Weaver is a big chunky spider enemy. Thanks to its high health and respectable fight stats it’s not going down fast and the Hunter keyword lets it keep come after any players that opted to evade it. While the Weaver is ready, investigators can not leave its location, so it can tie down multiple investigators at once. Defeating it awards a victory point.
My take: Even more than most of the other victory point enemies from the Agents sets, this one makes you work a bit for it. It’ll take a turn to take down and it deals a good amount of damage and horror to punish any missteps. Its ability to snare players in place isn’t terribly relevant.
Threat level: High. Non-Elites don’t get a whole lot more combat stats than this.
Dealing with it: There’s nothing particularly subtle about the Grey Weaver. It’s a big block of health with just enough fight to make you miss the occasional attack, so killing it may require the investment of some additional resources like a Vicous Blow, Spectral Razor or similar burst damage. Evading it is a bit of a problem in Waking Nightmare and Weaver of the Cosmos because you will be revisiting previous locations often in those scenarios. In Point of No Return, evading and running from the spider is more feasible.
What it does: If the investigator fails a Willpower test, they are unable to attack or investigate for the round. Should they share a location with a Spider enemy, this test gets harder as no cards can be committed to the test.
My take: A powerful effect that can mess with a lot of plans. Getting your investigation delayed isn’t too bad, at least you are not losing the actual actions and can use them to draw cards, play stuff or whatever. But if this hits a fighter while they are engaged with a Spider, things can get rough as that player will now see themselves being unable to fight back. Will of the Spider-Mother is often irrelevant when its drawn, but when it hurts, it hurts a lot.
Threat level: Mid to High. Potentially crippling, but stars need to align a bit for that to happen.
Dealing with it: A will test of three is surprisingly difficult if you aren’t allowed to pitch any cards to secure a good result. When dealing with the fallout of this card’s effects, remember that you can at least try to evade the enemies that you are staring down. If that enemy happens to be the Spider-Mother herself (or one of her legs) you can also still use the action on the act card that allows spending clues for damage. While that will provoke attacks of opportunity, it will at least go towards dealing with the enemy. When playing multiplayer, the person who got hit by Will of the Spider-Mother should often go last to give the other players a chance to bail them out.
Appears in: Waking Nightmare, Weaver of the Cosmos
My take on this set: Unless the players themselves suffer from Arachnophobia (in which case, what are you doing? Play TFA or something), the cards from this set are unlikely to phase any seasoned Arkham player. While the cards on their own are somewhat unassuming, there are some synergies on other scenario cards that can change this. The second half of Waking Nightmare gives each spider a +1 boost to evade and fight. While unlikely to matter for the Swarm of Spiders, it does matter a lot for Spider of Leng. The difference between 3 and 4 in a test difficulty is quite big. In the same scenario, the infestation tests will also keep a steady flow of spiders coming. While a Swarm of Spiders requiring two of your actions is usually not too bad, it quickly can become a problem if that happens on top of whatever the mythos phase reveals. Also, the Spiders set always comes together with the Agents of Atlach-Nacha set, which has a nasty treachery that becomes a lot harder to evade when spiders are around.
What it does: Swarm of Spiders is a swarming enemy. On its own, it’s just a 1/1/1 that deals a point of damage, but the two swarm cards it starts with act like extra health and they also each increase its evade.
My take: For most purposes, Swarm of Spiders is just like a Swarm of Rats from the core set, but with three health. This gives it some staying power and if players are unwilling to spend a full turn in melee to kill them, they will at the very least make the players spend some cards or charges on it that would otherwise have been available for more immediately threatening cards.
Threat level: Low. Dealing with them is easy, but will take some sort of resources away, be it cards, charges or extra actions.
Dealing with it: The two scenarios that have the spiders in them aren’t really ones where you want to spend three actions on punching some enemy to death, so using some sort of three damage attack is going to be the best way to deal with these. You can of course evade them, but both scenarios feature at least some backtracking, so that can backfire later on… especially if a Spider of Leng gets involved and adds more swarm cards to the pile until evasion even stops being an option.
What it does: A monstrous spider with four health which puts it well out of most one-shot kills. In addition to having basic combat stats of three fight and evade, the Spider of Leng also creates more Swarm of Spiders cards which are pulled from the encounter deck and discard if necessary.
My take: The stats are nothing an investigator that is prepared for a fight can’t handle, but the high health means that it will almost always take several actions to get rid of this enemy. The Forced ability makes evading the Spider of Leng a very unattractive option unless you know that you are not going to ever go to that location again as it will over time create a huge swarm at its location (using player cards, which is a concern for some characters as well).
Threat level: Mid. The Forced ability makes it hard to ignore, so you end up having to spend some actions on killing the thing.
Dealing with it: As far as enemies go, the Spider of Leng isn’t anything too special to handle. Just shoot it, slash it, burn it, whatever it is you usually do with enemies.
What it does: Sickening Web attaches to a location until an investigator uses an action and passes a fight or evade test at difficulty 3. Until then, investigators can not leave the attached location and all Spider traited enemies there gain Retaliate and Alert.
My take: At this point, we’ve seen this sort of treachery template many times and as with many of the other similar cards the impact depends a lot on who is drawing the card. Most investigators should be able to pass one of the two tests, but some exceptions like Norman may need bailing out by another player. The restriction to movement is the most relevant effect of this card, the bonus abilities for spiders rarely matter. Grey Weaver from the Agents of Atlach-Nacha set and of course Atlach-Nacha herself are the only spiders where you would usually expect to fail a few tests (outside of the ever-present autofail) on attacking or evading, the rest all have stats like the Spider of Leng or lower.
Threat level: Low to Mid. Occasionally annoying, but can often be discarded with just one action.
Dealing with it: If you find yourself engaged with a spider enemy while drawing this, note that taking the action to discard the treachery will provoke an attack of opportunity. So usually, you’ll want to get rid of the creature first. Unlike many other similar treacheries that came before it (like Locked Doors and Overgrowth) this one has difficulty 3 on the tests instead of 4. This opens them up to a lot more investigators.
This week’s posts to the Main Content were all moving towards the scenario deck review of In the Clutches of Chaos. The two sets that were needed in preparation for that were Anette’s Coven and Witchcraft. Grab your lighter and your hairspray because next week will be Spider Week. Lots and lots and lots of spiders. I also finished up the initial release versions for all of the Dunwich alternate replacement sets that i wanted to make and posted a whooping five sets to the Custom Content: Bishop’s Vassals, Dunwich Folk, Otherworldly Abominations, Naomi’s Enforcers and Churchyard Crows are done, leaving only Sorcery without a replacement – and that one is perfect as is, so i consider “ARES: Dunwich” complete for now. The next step is playtesting the replacements, of course. As far as organizational stuff goes, i removed almost all of the post categories that i put on posts before. Things like “Horror”, “Doom” or “Discard(Deck)” were attached to posts as tags. But there was little practical use for it and it was a bit of a pain for me to do everytime, so i killed that. The only categories left are “Main Content”, “Spoiler”, “Custom” and “Weekly Evils”, and a drop down menu at the bottom of the site lets you find those posts in the order they were posted in. You can also grab a RSS feed of a category by adding “/feed” to the URL, for example in case you only want to be notified if Main Content gets posted.
HBO ran its first episode of Lovecraft Country. I thought it was decent. I guess it’s too early to say more, but i liked that it spent the lion’s share of the pilot’s runtime on establishing the main characters and not diving into any supernatural stuff for most of the episode. The change from social drama to creature horror was a bit abrupt, almost like two different series stitched together, but we’ll see where it goes from here. Personally i could do with more time spent on Lovecraft’s creatures than on his world view in future episodes, but the main characters are strong enough to carry both parts. I’m optimistic for the rest of the season. Should be good.
Somehow, despite being more interested in making custom content than actually playing the game right now, i managed to ride through most of Return to The Forgotten Age last week. Finished City of Archives, so only two more scenarios to go which should be doable over the rest of the weekend. Both Carolyn and Silas grew nicely into their decks, i’m happy about that. And RtTFA has confirmed itself as quite the good product. The changes to the scenarios are welcome, but the changes to exploration are probably what i like most. Money well spent, i can’t imagine playing base TFA anymore.
Hopefully, i can at least start next week with a new campaign: Return to Dunwich, using all of my replacement sets from the ARES project… that should be interesting. Not sure what characters i’ll be using. Parallel Skids? Could be an option, my printer’s going to be running hot right for all the encounter cards anyways.
Other encounter sets in this scenario: Nightgaunts, Agents of Azathoth If going against the lodge (1): Silver Twilight Lodge, Striking Fear, Midnight Masks Treacheries If going against the coven (2): Anette’s Coven, City of Sins, Witchcraft
Size of the Encounter Deck
(The Agents of Azathoth set has been counted as one enemy for this, as it represents one enemy spread out over several cards. )
My take on this encounter deck: This encounter deck uses a sizeable stack of scenario specific cards that all support the central gimmick of the breach mechanic. Breaches replace the usual doom clock and in turn most of the encounter deck pushes towards keeping the players occupied with stopping locations from having an incursion. Only six enemies (plus the Piper of Azathoth) are in the deck, half of which are pushovers. For the other three enemies, the differences in how the two factions play out start becoming apparent. While the witches field three somewhat dangerous Hunter enemies that actively pursue the players, the lodge has three resilient enemies that remain stationary but threaten advancing the agenda if not dealt with. On the lodge side, the doom on the cultists threatens to stack up with the doom on locations from previous incursions to shorten the time until the agenda advances. The witches do not have this advantage, but make up for it with the powerful treacheries from the Witchcraft set and a more impactful group of scenario specific cards. As far as stat tests go, willpower is by far the one most asked for, especially when facing the coven. If the group fights the cultists instead, intellect gains some importance to counteract the False Leads treachery. Speaking of treacheries from the Midnight Masks, Hunting Shadow is a particularly nasty choice here because there is plenty of damage going around and completely losing a clue undoes a lot of progress. No matter the opposition, having an investigator with high will and/or intellect is crucial for this scenario to discard the otherwise crippling Primordial Gateway. All things considered, this encounter deck is chock full of impactful cards with only few cards offering a bit of a breather. A worthy penultimate scenario that serves as a boss fight against the leader of whatever faction the group chose to oppose. Cancel these: Primordial Gateway is a prime candidate for sure. When fighting the witches, Toil and Trouble is often also very bad and worth a cancel. On the lodge side, Frozen in Fear once more becomes an issue. With how much you are on the move in this one, getting stuck with that treachery can be a huge hindrance.
What it does: If there’s no breach on the location so far, Terror Unleashed will place one. Independent of whether a breach was placed or not, the player will also have to take damage and/or horror, with the total amount being set by the number of breaches and doom on the location.
My take: If you find yourself drawing this after just moving to a location about to have an incursion, this is some testless damage or horror, but at least you get to distribute it how you see fit. On an empty location it’s an extra breach to clear which shouldn’t be a large problem.
Threat level: Low. Investigators with low health and sanity could feel threatened by this, but on its own it’s one of the more tame draws from the encounter deck.
Dealing with it: You can mitigate the horror and damage using the usual ways. If on the brink of death and/or insanity, it could be worth ending your turn on a location without breaches to conserve your health and sanity, otherwise soaking the tokens and not getting another breach might be preferrable. The best of both worlds would obviously to draw it while on a location with exactly one breach, but that is a) hard to plan and b) not worth the effort to plan.
What it does: After a willpower test, Chaos Manifest opens up new breaches, depending on how well the player did at the test. For each point they failed by, a different random location gets a breach token added.
My take: All these tokens add up pretty fast and getting three out of one encounter card pull is a lot of stuff to deal with. Luckily the willpower test can usually be at least partially passed to reduce the impact.
Threat level: Mid. Every breach placed costs cards and/or actions, and Chaos Manifest threatens to place multiples.
Dealing with it: Depending on how the board currently looks, the willpower check on this card can either be something where you just see what happens or a high priority test. Especially with multiple locations around that are threatening an incursion, dumping extra icons into this test can be worth many, many actions saved.
What it does: Primordial Gateway attaches to a random location and threatens an immediate incursion there. Up to three breaches are placed on the location and the location abilities to clear those breaches are turned off. To regain access to them, the players will have to spend an action and pass an intellect or willpower test at difficulty 4. Passing that test will discard the treachery, but the breaches will of course stay and need to be removed seperately.
My take: No matter how well players were doing before, now there’s an emergency. The extra requirement to discard the treachery makes this extra hard to defuse, often putting the players at the mercy of where the next random breach opens in the Mythos phase. Treat this card as if it were Ancient Evils. Unless you are going against the Coven, it’s the closest equivalent in the encounter deck.
Threat level: Very High. This card leaves a lot of problems behind that will always require many actions, often spread over several turns, to counteract.
Dealing with it: Except for canceling it, there is not much that can be done to stop the primary effect (putting a location at the brink of incursion) from happening. Alter Fate can be used to circumvent the test to close the gateway, but that doesn’t seem worth it usually.
What it does: Witness of Chaos is only in the encounter deck when going up against Anette and her sisters. She is a Hunter enemy with four life and fight, so defeating her is not trivial. She does have only two agility, but she should be defeated rather sooner than later. This is because whenever she enters a location, no matter if it’s by spawning or as a result of Hunter, she will open a breach there. She spawns in the place with the fewest clues, so at least she won’t cause an incursion on entering play. Defeating her awards a victory point.
My take: This enemy needs to die. And quick. Defeating her already takes up a few actions and every breach she is allowed to drop only adds to that. Not counting the Piper, there are only six enemies in the encounter deck, this is the one to focus on.
Threat level: High. Kill on sight.
Dealing with it: You’ll usually not want to wait for the Witness to come to you and instead seek her out right away. Especially if the group has a dedicated fighter. However, if the path the Witness would take is still somewhat free of breaches, then more immediate threats (like a location about to have an incursion) might take precedence.
What it does: Toil and Trouble has Peril, having the player who drew it make a choice between two options: Either they resolve the topmost Power treachery in the encounter pile again. Or they immediately resolve an incursion at their location. This card is only in the encounter deck with Anette as the Big Bad.
My take: This is the actual closest card to Ancient Evils that you can get in this scenario. It will be rare that you’ll want to pick the incursion option here, and luckily there are at least a few Power treachery cards in the deck that can make Toil and Trouble only half-bad. But if you find yourself having to pick between resolving Primordial Gateway and resolving an incursion, things can start to look very grim.
Threat level: Mid to High. The power of this card is very dependent on the Power card that it would recur.
Dealing with it: This scenario has three different Power cards: Chaos Manifest, Primordial Gateway and Daemonic Piping. All of them will usually be preferable to having an incursion, but Piping can be a special case. Especially if it would be the third copy and thus spawn the Piper of Azathoth, it can be beneficial to just accept the incursion and delay the Piper until the next reshuffle. Another factor is how many breaches your current location is carrying. If it is already at three breaches, then those would at least be removed by the incursion. Resolving a Chaos Manifest could easily tip your location over as well, so unless you are very close to losing to doom just picking that incursion might be the better deal.
What it does: If fighting against the lodge, two copies of the Lodge Enforcer are shuffled into the encounter deck. Enforcers mirror the Witness of Chaos: Instead of spawning at the location with the fewest clues and hunting the players, they spawn at the location with the most clues and guard it. They are slightly easier to fight, having only three strength instead of four, but any missteps are punished by Retaliate. The Enforcer blanks the text box of the location it occupies, stopping players from removing the breaches there. Defeating them awards a victory point.
My take: Enforcers act as a variant on the Primordial Gateway, presenting the players with another thing to pass before they can keep a location from heading towards an incursion. Unlike Gateway, they do not create breaches themselves. So as long as there are no current hot spots on the board, they can end up being less of an immediate concern. For that reason, i would say that they are a bit less troublesome than their witch counterpart which is just always a priority.
Threat level: Mid to High. Lodge Enforcer makes bad situations worse, but if things are under control, he doesn’t create a bad situation on his own.
Dealing with it: Defeating him should not be terribly difficult, but since it takes actions to get to his location and he likely won’t go down in one hit, it may take more than a turn. In emergencies that can be a problem, so the player who is engaged with Enforcer might consider taking an attack of opportunity to move to a connecting location, somewhere the Enforcer’s ability to blank a location is less relevant. The other players can then immediately start defusing the original location again.
What it does: Secrets of the Beyond turns all doom on a cultist into breaches on that enemy’s location. If there is no doom to convert, the treachery surges.
My take: This card seems a bit toothless to me, especially when compared to the witches counterpart, Toil and Trouble. Only four cultists with doom are in the encounter deck, three of which carry only one doom. Only the Keeper of Secrets has the potential to place multiple breaches with this card, but Keeper is already a priority because he directly threatens the agenda doom threshold.
Threat level: Low. In all but very few circumstances, this will either surge or just place down a single breach.
Dealing with it: Keeper of Secrets should already be a priority, Secrets of the Beyond is just another reason to get it off the board as soon as possible. Beyond that, Secrets just isn’t much to worry about.
Return to Clutches of Chaos
My take on the modified scenario: The changes to this scenario are minor. Two encounter sets are swapped out, Witchcraft and City of Sins. Both of those are only used when going against Anette, so if you are facing Carl instead your encounter deck actually stays like in the base scenario. That being said, there is a full new set of six locations added by the Return, further increasing the variance of the random location setup. They aren’t more difficult than the base versions, they are just more variety which i certainly do appreciate. Clutches has always been a scenario i personally enjoyed a lot and having more variety for it is exactly what i wanted. While the lack of new stuff for the encounter deck is a bit of a let down at first glance, it has already been chock full of high impact cards – not changing too much about it might just be for the better.
Goal of this replacement set: Naomi’s Crew is a very inoffensive set that just adds some medium sized enemies to the scenario, but doesn’t pose any major scenario-defining threats. The Enforcer replacement set isn’t meant to change that and it also stays very uncomplicated and straightforward. A theme of caring about the investigator’s resources runs through the set because it felt appropriate for mobsters, but also to give them a little extra ‘kick’ in the Skids O’Toole related “All or Nothing” scenario that was recently posted by FFG.
About this card: Goon trades the Retaliate ability of his Mobster precursor for another point of combat. Nothing terribly special, but they also shouldn’t be. That spawn condition is driven by flavor for the most part, but it does have some implications for the game as they can spawn together with other enemies at one location in one turn.
About this card: Mob Enforcers once again have very similar base stats to their original counterparts. Their ability will make them less likely to just be stranded somewhere, waiting to be eaten by abominations or just be forgotten. Having a Mob Enforcer somewhere on the board also makes Goons a good bit more intimidating.
About this card: I made the two enemy cards a bit stronger than the originals, so i decided to turn this last card in the set a bit down. At worst it can lead to someone losing 5 resources, but there is possibility to mitigate it with a scaling test or – if you really want to keep those resources – with life. Players without many (or any) resources will not care about this card at all. But it’s certainly a card that can be a wrench in someone’s plan.
Appears in: The Witching Hour, The Secret Name, The Wages of Sin, In the Clutches of Chaos
My take on this set: Much more than the actual witches from Anette’s Coven, this group of encounter cards is what players need to fear when going up against the coven. All of these cards test willpower and their effects are a wide spread of things that stop players from enacting their game plan. This set is very impactful and one of the major reasons why investigators with low willpower have a hard time in the campaign.
What it does: Bedeviled sticks to an investigator until they can make an action and pass a Willpower test. This test will automatically be successful if an exhausted witch is around, otherwise the difficulty is three. Until discarded this way, the investigator is unable to trigger any other action abilities on their cards. Rules clarification: You don’t own treacheries in your threat area, so you are actually able to get rid of this hex yourself without having to rely on being bailed out by someone else.
My take: While there are some investigators that are less troubled by this treachery, the ones most impacted by it are often the ones who are not great at passing the will test. Where a Mystic may just spend an action to regain access to their Shrivels and Rites of Seekings, a Guardian or Rogue could see themselves being locked out of using their weapons with little hope of getting out of it. This card often ends up being a bit of an issue that needs to be solved.
Threat level: Mid to High depending on the investigator. All that is needed to clear the card is a single action and test, but in practice this can be hard to achieve by some.
Dealing with it: For both of the hexes in this set it’s important to remember than any player at the same location can trigger the action and the test on this card. So if the card stuck to a low willpower character that now sees themselves unable to use their assets, hopefully a teammate is able to clear the card for them.
What it does: Wracked uses the same mechanics as Bedeviled for going into a player’s threat area and staying there until an action and willpower test can be made. While under effect of Wracked, the investigator gains -1 to the first skill test they perform each round.
My take: Unlike Bedeviled which is very black and white about how impacting it is, Wracked is a bit more subtle and thus the temptation to let it stick for a few turns is greater. That being said, i certainly failed tests due to the -1 from Wracked before and clearing it should happen rather sooner than later. One of the more threatening effects of Wracked is making all treacheries with a skill test on later turns be harder to pass, enhancing cards such as Rotting Remains, Centuries of Secrets or of course this set’s own Diabolic Voices.
Threat level: High. The danger posed by Wracked isn’t as straightforward as on most other treacheries, but the more difficult tests do stack up and will lead to issues down the line
Dealing with it: If possible, don’t underestimate the card and try to get rid of it before it leads to failed tests and whatever consequences those bring with them. Note that trying to clear the card with your first action will give you -1 to your will, making this harder than it needs to be. Either do it once you already made a different test or let a teammate do it for you.
What it does: Diabolic Voices makes the investigator attempt a willpower test. For each point they failed by, they have to discard a random card from their hand. If copies of Diabolic Voices are already in the encounter discard, then this willpower test’s difficulty is increased for each copy, potentially raising the ceiling on how many cards can be discarded. Investigators that are unable to discard the required number of cards have to take a horror or damage for each missing card.
My take: Random discard can always be painful, even if it’s just a single card that gets discarded. Botching this willpower test can rip a hole into the hand and if that happens early in the game can make short work of any plans the player had to set up. Late game, the potential of discard up to 5 cards lets it stay relevant. This is one of the cards that act as payoff for the “encounter deck discard” theme that is set up by cards like Centuries of Secrets or the Coven Initiate. Personally, i think it does a much better job at that than Evil Past from the City of Sins set.
Threat level: High. This is one of the most frightening player discard treacheries, able to rip apart their hand and once it is done with that, dealing sizeable chunks of damage and horror to them.
Dealing with it: Passing that willpower test is of course the primary way of reducing this cards impact. Doing so will require committing cards for low willpower investigators, though – which in itself is also an attack on the cards in hand. Once there are additional copies of Diabolic Voices in the discard pile, even high willpower characters may want to pitch a card or two if they hold a card that is worth protecting. Often, this card will be worth just canceling right away, especially the third and second copy. The Guardian card “Fool me once” would be a neat tech card to take a copy of Diabolic Voices out of the game, but that would require resolving the card once without having to discard “Fool me once”, so it’s unreliable at best.
Return to Circle Undone: Hexcraft
My take on this set: I am a bit torn on this set. On the one hand, having more Hexes is certainly good, especially for mixing with the old ones. On the other hand, losing Diabolic Voices stings a bit. It’s one of those treacheries that i love to hate, very powerful and it might just be the only one of the “collect multiples” cards that do work in low player counts. Trespasser is not a whole lot less punishing, but it’s certainly less interesting. The interaction with Hexes in the threat area is a good idea, i wish the payoff was more interesting than just plain damage/horror. TCU already has a lot of that. A LOT. I don’t think i like this set as a straight up replacement for Witchcraft. The hexes are less impactful and Trespasser… well, see above. I’d be very interested in mixing the original and the new set, though. Running one of each hex and then either 3 Voices or 3 Trespasser sounds like a good idea.
What it does: Like most of the TCU Hexes, Maligned is put into the player’s threat area and stays there until they spend an action and either pass a willpower test or have an exhausted witch at their location. While in play, the investigator has the cost of all cards they play increased by 1.
My take: Where Bedeviled goes after the player’s assets, Maligned is most impactful for those investigators that play a lot of events. The effect is certainly softer, as Bedeviled completely shuts down an option while this only makes it more expensive. Depending on when you draw this and your investigator, there’s even a good chance that you can just ride this treachery out until the end of the scenario.
Threat level: Low to mid, depending on the investigator. Of the four Hexes in the original and in the new set, this one is the mildest one.
Dealing with it: This is probably going to be less of a priority than the other Hexes. So if you are stuck with this and don’t feel like you can get rid of it yourself, you can coordinate with someone who has better Willpower to take care of it.
What it does: Despoiled uses the same Hex template as the other ones for how it enters and leaves play. While active, the affected player has their skill tests increased in difficulty for each other successful skill test they did before.
My take: Another close mirror of the card it replaces. Where Wracked puts a penalty on your first test, Despoiled does so on the following ones. If you aren’t fighting, you will often not do more than 1 or maybe 2 tests, so this will often be equal or less impacting than Wracked.
Threat level: Low to Mid. Getting your first test without any penalty makes this a lot less frightening than the card it replaces.
Dealing with it: As long as you are not engaged with an enemy, that first action certainly can go towards getting rid of the card via the willpower test. Note that the difficulty on the following tests is only increased if your tests are successful.
What it does: After failing a willpower test, the investigator takes either 2 horror or 2 damage. The difficulty of the test increases by 1 for each (non-weakness) treachery in their threat area.
My take: This can be a significant increase in pressure on the sanity and health of the investigators, especially during Secret Name and Wages of Sin, which both are already not holding back with that. It’s particularly brutal for investigators with very low willpower, like Joe Diamond or most Rogues. Not only will those struggle to discard the treacheries from their threat area, but they will already have a good chance to fail even the basic Willpower(2) test on Trespasser! Since there are 3 copies of this card around, this can stack up fast. There is a player choice of whether to take damage or horror, but most of the scenarios have a generous amount of both already.
Threat level: Mid to High for most investigators, High for those with 1 or 2 willpower.
Dealing with it: Knowing what else lurks in the encounter deck helps a lot when you have to decide whether you take damage or horror from this. Wages and Secret Name mostly deal damage in large amounts while Witching Hour has Rotting Remains to pile on the horror. Clutches is more even between the two.
Goal of this replacement set: The Whippoorwill being an unlucky sight and also a sign that someone is about to die is very well presented in the original cards: The creature itself lowers chances to pass tests, so it is indeed unlucky. And the treachery hits you hardest for some horror damage the closer you are to your death. It’s a very well done set that is hard to craft a replacement for. As an attempt, i decided to focus on the “unlucky” part and use the Crow, who also is a common bringer of bad luck in superstition. Crows that are seen sitting on the crosses above graves even have a similar connotation to Whippoorwills, basically saying “You are next.” This is another set that can not really be mixed and matched with the original set because the treachery references the Crow by name and would be considerably weaker if there’s only one or two crows in the deck.
About this card: Like the Whippoorwill, the Churchyard Crow messes with your chances to pass any sort of tests. They do not follow you around, though. Instead they spawn on an empty location and hold your best numerical chaos token hostage until you come an liberate it. This of course makes them in some ways an even bigger pain than the Whippoorwill because they affect everyone everywhere, not just the ones sharing its location. In turn, they affect each test a little less than the original, but affect more tests in total. Mystics who care about drawing special tokens may even find this slightly beneficial. A note on the lack of Hunter on this card, and the concern that it plays to differently from the original set: Two of the three scenarios that use this set also use the Dunwich set and in the replacement for Dunwich i put the Wary Townsfolk card, an Aloof Hunter that operates similar to what the old Whippoorwill did. Having two different cards like that around seems a bit redundant. As a result, i would suggest using those two replacement sets together if you can.
About this card: Since Churchyard Crows can use quite a lot of actions to actually take out, players might decide that a single crow or two isn’t worth the effort. Screaming Murder makes every Crow in play seal another token, increasing the effect each one of them has. Especially if there’s multiple crows on the board (you know… a “murder”), this card can aid in depleting the chaos bag to a point where players may need to reclaim their luck.