Appears in: Beyond the Gates of Sleep, The Search for Kadath, Where The Gods Dwell
My take on this set: This set mainly consists of a trio of Hidden cards that stand alone until the finale of the campaign finally adds some other Hidden cards to the mix. They are accompanied by a victory point enemy that for the first two appearances doesn’t operate significantly different from such enemies in previous campaigns, but again gets a boost in the final scenario. The three Hidden cards are very weird in their effect, but they do a good job of teasing the final scenario without being oppressive.
What it does: Crawling Mist is a Hunter enemy with Massive, thus following players around and attacking everyone at its location. At 5 health it is pretty tough, which is appropriate for an enemy that awards a victory point. It has printed fight and evade values of 3, however any attempts at evading of fighting Crawling Mist are made more difficult by Hidden cards in the player’s hand.
My take: This enemy is quite dangerous and claiming its victory point can become a bit of an ordeal if the investigator who is designated to fight it is weighed down by Hidden cards. Even a single one of those can make a huge difference in how difficult to beat this monster is. Luckily, there are no additional Hidden cards in either Gates of Sleep or Search for Kadath beyond the three in this set, so that limits the potential of this enemy at least. Search of Kadath even sets this card aside and only shuffles it into the encounter deck when players decide to visit the Timeless Realm. During Where The Gods Dwell the Mist can potentially become enormous, though.
Threat level: High. Very High in Where The Gods Dwell. A formidable enemy that can get out of control if you let it.
Dealing with it: During Gates of Sleep and Kadath, this enemy isn’t far off from the usual victory point Hunter enemies that we’ve seen in various campaigns. As long as players are able to discard their Laws of ‘Ygiroth cards before engaging the Mist, they should be fine. Getting rid of your Hidden cards during the second half of Where The Gods Dwell isn’t always an option, however. In that case, the ability to pass cards between players in the central location can become handy. The Crawling Mist should be dispatched as soon as possible because there’s no hiding from it in the tight scenario layout of Where the Gods Dwell and there really isn’t the time to use precious actions on evading it a couple of times.
What it does: The three Laws of ‘Ygiroth all impose restrictions on the player holding them, forbidding them from playing certain cards. To discard one of these hidden cards, the player needs to spend an action and also discard a card that would be valid to play alongside it.
My take: This is a very strange set of conditions, caring about templating and card layout information that are usually not referenced in this way. This feels similar to the game breaking the fourth wall – something that also happens in other places of the campaign, most importantly the agenda cards of Where the Gods Dwell which has Nyarlathothep directly adress the players. Especially weird is the one card that goes by number of words in the card titles, as that one can even vary in effect depending on the language of your cards! Discarding these isn’t too much trouble usually, but of course that means that they at least cost you a card and an action which in my opinion is slightly above curve for treacheries. Randomly, they can be more annoying, especially the Discord variant. That one will only allow commiting cards with even numbers of icons to your tests, while the vast majority of cards comes with only one icon. At least that one doesn’t stop you from playing cards, though.
Threat level: Mid. Their baseline effect of costing a card and an action is slightly above average, but not by a lot.
Dealing with it: The dynamic of these is interesting in that they are easiest to get rid of when you are least impacted by their effect. And when you are least impacted, you may actually feel tempted to just keep them in hand. In spite of that, these should be discarded as early as you can spare that extra action so you don’t get hindered by them later on when it counts.
Appears in: The Search for Kadath, Where The Gods Dwell, Waking Nightmare, Point of No Return
My take on this set: Hypnos, the god of sleep, is apparently able to whisper even to the investigators who are awake, as evidenced by this being the only encounter set that is used on both sides of the Dream-Eaters campaign. This set consists only of three copies of a single card, the Whispers of Hypnos which affects each investigator in play instead of just the one that drew it. Personally, i think it’s a fine card but i don’t see why out of all the ones in the deluxe expansion, this card is the one that applies to both campaigns. It doesn’t really connect the two halves mechanically or thematically. I would have wished for something with a little more … oomph … behind it, something with a bit more gameplay impact than increasing the difficulty of a test or two for a round.
What it does: The investigator has to choose one of the four skills. That skill is lowered by 2 for a round, affecting all investigators. If multiples of this card are drawn in the same turn, the same skill can not be chosen twice.
My take: I don’t think this is a particularly scary card. Reminiscent of “A Baleful Welcome” from the Return to Dunwich Legacy, it’s often easy to predict which skill will be least used this round. Unlike the Baleful Welcome, this only asks to choose a single skill and it also applies a malus instead of outright forbidding some actions. In more than half of the cases, agility is going to be the answer here. Aside from maybe impacting a test or two and thus asking for another card to commit to that test, this just doesn’t do a lot. To be honest, i think this card could have Surge and i still wouldn’t think too much about it.
Threat level: Low. A minor nuisance.
Dealing with it: Unless you expect having to evade some swarmers, taking the penalty to agility is going to satisfy this card in most situations. In any case, the board state should let one of the choices appear as fairly obvious. Peril can come in here and cause some trouble by having the player choose something really inconvenient for another player, but even in the worst case this card’s effect can be offset by committing an extra card to whatever important test that can not wait a round.
This is a first look at the encounter cards that were spoiled for The Innsmouth Conspiracy deluxe box and its Mythos packs. The article includes only cards that were officially spoiled, so no inofficial leaks or anything like that.
Note: This post was written a week before the deluxe box released, so it contains speculation and wild guessing.
Let’s start right away with the main attraction of the Innsmouth setting: Fish people. Dagon’s children are a staple of the Lovecraft mythos and seeing them take center stage in the upcoming cycle is really neat.
The three Deep Ones we saw scattered around the game before didn’t have a whole lot of coherence, with nothing really tying them together mechanically. The new ones change this. Like the Young Deep One from the Core set’s Agents of Cthulhu, the new breed of Deep Ones all have some sort of Forced trigger that punishes players immediately on engaging the monster. From the examples we got so far, these effects can be very varied: What we saw so far are a bonus attack, card discard and an interaction with a scenario mechanic. As a result, players might prefer to kill these enemies outright instead of evading them, because otherwise they risk triggering this Forced effect multiple times. On the other hand, they all have a measly 1 or 2 in evade. In two of three cases they also have high health and fight values, so that will be interesting to figure out how we’ll ultimately want to deal with these buggers. As is appropriate for enemies that are defined by triggers on engagement, the Deep Ones have abilities to go after the players. Usually, that is going to be the Hunter keyword as usual, but the Deep One Bull at least shows that other triggers are also a possibility. The Bull triggers its movement on players killing other Deep Ones, once again playing into the fight/evade divide. The scenarios probably want us to evade and run from the enemies instead of murdering everything like usual… how well that is going to work is of course going to depend a lot on the location layout, how much backtracking there is going to be, if the Flooded mechanic is going to cut off movement routes and all these other things we don’t know much about yet. But there is certainly a whole lot of potential to how these enemies might play out.
We don’t know too much about how exactly this mechanic is going to work, but we got the rough outline: Locations can either be not flooded, partially flooded or fully flooded. This does nothing on its own, but other cards can key off of this. The ones we know so far are two of the Deep Ones and an Agenda card.
There are two main things i can think off on how to use this system. The first one is shaping the location grid dynamically by locking off locations and opening up others as tides rise and fall at them. The other one is as a soft limit on how much time the players have. We have seen such limits in various other places from Doom mechanics over Beyond the Veil to alert levels.
Among the new tokens in the deluxe expansion is a set of keys that can be earned during scenarios and that will unlock Flashbacks.
Flashbacks are story text from the campaign guides. If there is gameplay advantages attached to them or not, is unknown so far, but i would certainly assume so because otherwise they would be very unattractive on replays.
Three treacheries were revealed so far. One of them, Innsmouth Look, is a variant of a treachery template we have seen two times before with Curse of Yig and Dreams of R’lyeh. Let’s hope that something is done with players gaining the Deep One trait this time around, i always thought that was a huge missed opportunity with Curse of Yig. If not, there are likely a whole lot of investigators who can ignore this treachery, as long as they don’t routinely use their intellect skill. The other two treacheries are from the same encounter set of the deluxe box. Both of them force players to do a test and then be punished for failing it. The new thing with them is automatically failing on pulling the Elder Thing (for Memory of Oblivion) or Cultist (for Macabre Memento), so effectively you end up having one or two more auto-fails in the bag during those tests. Not only that, but the Elder Things and Cultists usually have their own fail-effects attached to them, making them worse than the tentacle here. If this is limited to just this encounter set or if it’s something that extends to other cards in the cycle remains to be seen. It’s certainly an interesting variation, though. Memory of Oblivion autofailing is going to knock out 4 cards out of a players hand, which sounds quite impacting.
In Too Deep
The announcement for In Too Deep focuses on showcasing the Barricade mechanic that defines this scenario. On the run from Deep Ones, we are expected to maneuver through a massive grid of 15 locations from one end to the other. Between the barricades making it difficult to pass from one location to the other and the Flooded mechanic messing with where you may want to go or not, this has the potential to be a very dynamic affair. I am very much looking forward to this scenario.
For this announcement, we got a first look at vehicles. At least two scenarios in the cycle will be built around us using vehicles to get from place to place, this being the first one of them and featuring boats that get us from one Island to the next.
The Vehicle keyword is fairly simple. It just means that any player at its location can enter or leave it as a free action. When the vehicle moves, anyone in it moves with it. Nothing too exciting by itself, the rest of the scenario is going to determine how important these end up being. I assume the scenario is going to be built around them fairly massively, though. FFG left us with final spoiler in that article: A kraken that attacks the ship and everyone in it. It hits hard, it has lots of life and is a Hunter. Taking it down will likely require someone evading it to shut down Retaliate and the Massive multi-attack, tying back into the evasion theme that we already started seeing in the Deep Ones. I think a team that has no ways to evade enemies is going to really struggle with this campaign, in a manner that is very similar to The Forgotten Age.
But what about the Agents of Cthulhu?
I want to close this first look with something that is not really a spoiler, but pure speculation on my part. You know that Agents of Chtulhu set, the one that lies sleeping on the bottom of your core set, just like Cthulhu himself sleeping until its time to awake? I don’t think it’s time to sleeve up those cards quite yet. I predict they are once more not going to be used in these scenarios, both for flavor reasons (Innsmouth Conspiracy is about Dagon, not Cthulhu) and for mechanical ones. Having both Innsmouth Look and Dreams of R’lyeh in the same encounter decks seems too redundant to me.
This week, The City of Archives proved to be the longest article in a while as the scenario just has a whole lot of scenario specific stuff going on. Looking over the scenario in detail actually gave me some appreciation for some of the mechanics in it, especially for the expanded version from Return To Forgotten Age. Moving on to Circle Undone, a review of the next “Agents” set was in order, the still very underused Agents of Shub-Niggurath. This of course lead into the scenario review for The Witching Hour. Next week’s target scenario is going to be Where the Gods Dwell.
Instead of the usual look at what else is going on Arkham-wise (feel free to check out the Innsmouth player card leaks and the announcement of Devil Reef, though!) i want to take this opportunity to do some introspective on the progress of Ancient Evils and announce a minor change in posting frequency:
I’ve been doing some number crunching and estimating of my progress towards reviewing all the sets and scenarios. As more and more of the encounter sets are done, the focus shifts more an more towards scenario reviews. And those are a lot more time intensive for me to do compared to encounter set reviews, to the point where doing two of them per week is not going to be possible without becoming too much of a burden on my available time. I still have a bit of a buffer in terms of prepared content to release, but i think it’s time to adjust my schedule slightly so it doesn’t become an issue down the line.
Not counting Innsmouth and also not counting reviews i already have a first draft done for, there are still twenty scenarios and twenty-one encounter sets left for me to tackle. Keeping this in mind, i am going to change my schedule for posting these reviews beginning with next week. Every week will now have a scenario review on Friday and one or two (mostly one) related encounter set reviews will happen earlier that week, on Monday or Wednesday or both. If it’s only one, then this will of course lead to only two posts in that week instead of the current three.
The extra time will go towards preparing more content in advance and of course towards covering Innsmouth once i got it in my hands. After all, that box is going to drop another ten(-ish) encounter sets and two more scenarios on us soon. I’m reaaaally looking forward to this and will make them a priority once they are there. I am also planning on going back to some of the first articles and giving them a facelift. Nothing huge, but things like adjusting some early ratings from when i didn’t have a solid scale in mind yet.
The Weekly Evils is going to be unaffected by this, i will keep posting one per week. I like the little soapbox i created here for me to comment on random things and i also tied it to the Encounter Set of the Week thread on reddit, which is convenient for me.
tl;dr: If all goes as planned, i should be caught up with the released content in February 2021. From now on, one scenario review plus the related encounter sets per week. Innsmouth soon. Much excite. Many wow. Such content.
My take on this encounter deck: The Witching Hour uses no scenario specific cards in its encounter deck at all. Looking at the complete picture, there are a few things that immediately stand out: Low enemy count. The scenario has only four enemies in its deck, and since its the witches those aren’t exactly terrifying. They are substituted with some set aside enemies, though. This is the only scenario that uses the Agents of Shub-Niggurath in a meaningful way and guarantees that everyone gets to meet one of its goat-like creatures. And then there’s Anette herself, of course. And, at least in a full party, the threat of meeting the Piper. So things can get pretty wild despite the low enemy count in the deck. About 60% of the deck has willpower tests on it. That is just an insane amount of pressure for anyone who is vulnerable to these. This works as a preview of what is to come, after all The Circle Undone is infamous for being very harsh on the Joe Diamonds and Finn Edwards of this game. Ancient Evils rears its ugly head once again and can be a major pain especially in the last stretch, when the agenda is already gathering multiple doom per turn depending on the number of witches at the final location. The Agents of Azathoth set in this scenario is … inconsistent. At lower player counts, collecting all of the Pipings is fairly unlikely, so the set mostly serves as an ominous warning for things to come. It’s excellent in that role and fits the campaign perfectly. At higher player counts, the chance to meet the Piper ramps up dramatically, though. And having that monster appear in the very first scenario is kind of rough. Especially since the scenario seperates the players from each other for most of it. This can randomly just screw over players and i can’t say i am particularly fond of that. To prepare for this scenario, make sure that your decks have some ways of dealing with the willpower treacheries and/or with the curses that attach to your threat area. Having those is going to invaluable for the rest of the campaign as well. Also, this scenario forces every player to handle an enemy for a few turns. So even die hard Seekers should have ways to deal some damage or to evade and stall until players are able to help each other out again. Aside from that, the scenario is actually pretty straightforward. Investigate locations, collect clues, slap a few witches and deal with the finale in whatever way you want. Cancel these: Ancient Evils, Diabolic Voices. I find it very difficult to recommend something in particular here. Usually we’d look at Ancient Evils immediately but i think the agenda thresholds are generous enough that Evils is actually pretty mild. Canceling a Daemonic Pipings can be a great way to ease your mind about the Piper until the encounter deck cycles, consider doing that if none of them gets discarded by a Coven Initiate. Since it’s the first scenario, you won’t have access to Ward(2) yet, so a Mystic also can’t plan to cancel any of the willpower treacheries for other players. One card that i would want to single out is Diabolic Voices. If drawn, it can cause a mass discard and dump your cancel cards that way. Might as well just play it safe and cancel the Voices to be done with it.
Return to The Witching Hour
My take on the modified scenario: As is a bit of a running theme throughout the Return to The Circle Undone, the first Return scenario (i’m not counting the prologue) doesn’t change a whole lot about the actual scenario plays out and instead relies on swapping out a chunk of encounter cards with those from replacement sets. Most notably, this takes Ancient Evils out of the picture here and its replacement Impending Evils isn’t all that dangerous here. Witchcraft is taken out in favor of Hexcraft, which removes the other high impact card of the scenario, Diabolic Voices, out of the picture. The final replacement, City of the Damned introduces investigators to the new concept of actually having to test agility in TCU. But it’s the only card in the deck that does so for now, so this is just a taste of things to come. 5 new locations bolster up the variety in Arkham Woods and Witch-Haunted Woods without increasing the difficulty. If anything, these new locations are actually in the players favor due to 4 out of 5 having low shroud. Investigators following any of the win conditions of the base scenario will likely find the Return a bit easier than the original. There is however a new win condition as well that starts the new story branch about allying with Erynn from the coven. Depending on player count this is pretty hard to do, requiring timing and the ability to exhaust multiple enemies at the same time. If you want to go for that, consider packing something from the rogue and survivor cardpool to help with that. Cunning Distraction never looked that good before…
My take on this encounter deck: Exactly half of the cards in this encounter deck are scenario specific and it uses not a single one of the encounter sets from The Forgotten Age. Those two things already say a lot about The City of Archives, about how much of a departure from the rest of the campaign it is. Considering the weirdness of the scenario, the encounter deck is actually fairly streamlined. There’s less enemies than usual and often with conditions attached for them to become hostile but most of the enemies are actually somewhat dangerous while the investigators are not able to rely on their own abilities and stats. Willpower is frequently tested and since the Yithian host bodies only have a printed willpower of 2, players without icons to pitch for these tests will be at an immediate disadvantage as they see card knocked out of play, out of their hand or directly out of their deck. Many of the card effects deal with discarding cards from the hand, trying to stop investigators from reaching the point where they all have ten cards in hand so they can finish up the scenario. I have several issues with this scenario in general, but the encounter deck is actually pretty neat. The four sets from the Core sets fit very well and having half of the deck being cards that never appear in any other scenario gives it all a very unique and fresh feel. It helps that especially the treacheries Lost Humanity and Captive Mind come with well designed mechanics that were not used anywhere else yet. Thumbs up. Cancel these: Frozen in Fear, Captive Mind. Every investigator only has two willpower, so unless they hold plenty of icons to commit or have assets with willpower bonuses in play, these cards can become huge issues. Being Frozen in Fear over several turns is one of the worst things that can happen to a player with low willpower and slow them down to the point where they lost whole turns by the point they finally got rid of the treachery. Captive Mind has the potential to just dump someones whole hand of cards, something that would be very dangerous in other scenarios but becomes even more so in City of Archives where having a healthy amount of cards in hand is important to pass any sort of test and ultimately even to win the scenario.
What it does: With a 2 in all of its stats, the Scholar from Yith is on even footing with the investigators in their Yith bodies. Scholars have a Parley ability that allows players to evade them using intellect. When a Yith Scholar attacks, it only deals a single point of horror, but in addition the player will have to discard two random cards.
My take: These are generally very easy to deal with, as long as investigators still have a card or two to help with the test. Usually a 2/2/2 stat line would be cause to write the card off as low-impact, but since players have the same numbers, this is less clear cut. At least until players are able to get some items into play, defeating the Scholar will usually eat at least a card or two.
Threat level: Low. These do showcase the limitations of the Yithian bodies the investigators trapped in. Ultimately, they are fairly easy to defeat, though.
Dealing with it: If you are able to defeat one of these in one attack, that should probably be the plan as taking tests in this scenario means discarding more cards for icons. Evading and leaving them behind is a fine option otherwise as well, of course.
What it does: Scientists of Yith are much more difficult to fight than the Scholars are as they not only have more fight and health, but they also deal two damage per attack. Their weakness is an agility of 1, making it easy to evade them. Scientists start out as Aloof, but once the players either activated the device or dissected the organ they gain Hunter and lose Aloof. This enemy can only spawn in the Laboratory.
My take: These are tough, but at least they have a low agility score that can be exploited. During act 1, their spawn restriction leads to them being discarded on reveal, as they can only enter play if the Laboratory has already been put into play.
Threat level: Mid. Killing these often needs investment, but they can be evaded fairly easily.
Dealing with it: Evading it repeatedly could lead to a high number of extra actions taken, but is often preferrable to discarding enough cards to punch past its four fight two times. Since it only has three health, there are a number of ways to kill it in one strike and that can be a very attractive option. Spectral Razor is a fantastic card in this scenario to deal with Scientists becaue it not only deals the three damage but also helps with the test. Even something like Dynamite Blast can easily be set up to deal with this card and something else at the same time.
What it does: Keeper of the Great Library has fight and agility values of 3 which forces players to commit multiple cards if they want to reliably pass the associated tests and don’t have the proper assets in play. A high health value of four makes them even tougher. Not only do Keepers not share the vulnerability to evasion that Scientists have, they even have Alert to punish failed evasion attempts. Like the Scientist, Keepers start out Aloof and only trade that keyword for Hunter once one of two scenario conditions are met. As their name suggests, they can only spawn in the Great Library.
My take: These are dangerous, maybe even more so than the Yithian Observers. Killing these requires some effort and evading isn’t really a great option either due to Alert and Hunter. Like the Scientist, these are simply discarded during Act 1.
Threat level: High. Defeating these costs precious cards and four health means that there are way fewer ways around that than there are for the Scientist.
Dealing with it: Any test against their fight or evade stat will require at least two commited icons for a +4 bonus, testing 6 against 3. With the chaos bag in TFA being what it is, that still leaves a certain chance to fail, in which case the number of cards that are used can ramp up fairly quickly. As a result, do not engage these before you can put down some assets that help with fighting. Something like a Machete or a .45 can help a lot in conserving cards in hand.
What it does: Yithian Presence goes into the threat area of an investigator. While it’s there, the investigator is unable to investigate or trigger actions on encounter cards while a Yithian is in their location. To discard this card, the player can discard two cards from their hand and take an action – but of course this is only possible while there is no Yithian around.
My take: I generally find this card fairly harmless. It doesn’t forbid attacking or evading, so a fighter can just deal with whatever Yith is on their location. And anyone else can either wait for the fighter to solve the problem for them or use that discard action whenever it is convenient for them.
Threat level: Low. While players might want to get rid of the card eventually, there is rarely any time pressure behind it.
Dealing with it: If your gameplan is slaughtering any Yithian that comes along, this card doesn’t even need dealing with. Otherwise, just using that action at a convenient time takes care of it. It costs two cards, but at least you get to choose which ones.
What it does: While in a player’s threat area, Cruel Interrogations stops them from taking any draw actions. To discard the card, the player can spend an action and pass a willpower test at difficulty 2. Should the investigators already have interviewed a subject, this card gains Surge and the player will also take a horror on drawing it.
My take: On the one hand, the ongoing effect of the card isn’t all that bad and passing that one test is fine. So i would rate it similar to Yithian Presence in that regard. On the other hand, interviewing the subject is one of the first things i do in this scenario, as its right there in one of the cells at the start. So i end up with three cards in the deck that have surge, deal a horror, take away an action at some point and take away one of my options until then. That’s pretty rough. I do think it’s worth not having to go back to the cells later on, but i am not completely confident in that conclusion.
Threat level: Low if you didn’t interview the subject. High otherwise.
Dealing with it: At full strength, this is a significantly strong card considering it also surges right into the next one. There’s three of these in the deck and the discard pile gets reshuffled two times, so you’ll have to decide if an early interview of the subject is worth it to you. You save a lot of actions that way, but you also gain a surpremely annoying encounter card.
What it does: After a test of willpower against difficulty 5, the investigator removes a card from the top of their deck for each point they failed by. Should their card total drop below ten cards this way, they are driven insane.
My take: There are some decks that rely on redrawing the same cards or on certain combinations of cards. Those decks can get hurt by removing cards from their deck a lot, most other decks will just shrug that off as a minor thing. To drop below ten cards, one would need to completely fail several of these cards or play a whole lot of assets or Exile cards. That seems very unlikely, even with multiple reshuffles of the encounter discard into the deck.
Threat level: Low. Most investigators will not be terribly impressed by this effect.
Dealing with it: Lost Humanity on its own is very unlikely to drive you insane. The bigger threat comes from looping your deck too often, collecting too much horror on the way. Once you got hit by this card once or twice and had to remove a good chunk of cards, consider not playing all your assets just to keep a bit of a buffer to your deck. Also, after being hit by this once, i would try and keep two or three willpower icons in hand so i am prepared for an eventual repeat draw.
What it does: The player has to take a test against Willpower and then discard all cards in excess of their modified skill value.
My take: A very interesting way to test a skill, something that i would like to see on more treacheries in the future. This card can rip a hand of cards apart – especially near the end when players try to go for the scenario end condition it can cost several turns.
Threat level: Mid. There are ways to mitigate this effect, but the ceiling for this effect is pretty bad.
Dealing with it: Committing your willpower icons to this test is very much worth it, as every willpower icon will help you keep two cards in hand… with the usual exception of the auto-fail, of course. Usually, you’ll want to shoot for a modified skill value of 4, your hand size limit while on the last agenda. A single Guts can already get you to an unmodified value of 6, but more is better in this case. Don’t be stingy with your icons here, if you draw a -5 or worse, you’ll wish you had thrown them in.
Return to The City of Archives
My take on the modified scenario: Return to Forgotten Age adds another wing of locations to the board, making it the biggest map in a scenario, using 13 locations (at least until the In Too Deep mythos pack from the Innsmouth cycle releases , which features 15 locations). The number of tasks that can be completed goes up from 6 to 8, however the number of required tasks stays the same. This makes the scenario a bit easier as players can choose which ones to complete and which ones to skip. They could decide to completely ignore one of the wings, for example never going into the Library and never have the Keeper of the Library hunt them. Or they could choose to not interview the subject, thus forever stopping Cruel Interrogations from gaining Surge. The new wing comes with its own spin on the “Aloof to Hunter” enemy, and it’s a reasonably challenging one. I think it’s a bit easier to kill than the Keeper, but it’s close enough to be an actual decision. I like Return to City of Archives. I heavily dislike the original scenario, but the added decisions in what tasks to complete and which ones to ignore gives the Return that extra player agency that makes it interesting to me.
What it does: At 5 health, the Captive Subject is the toughest of the three enemies that start out as Aloof and turn into Hunters conditionally. Despite its big health pool and the Retaliate keyword, the 2 fight and 4 evade make it considerably easier to defeat permanently than to avoid it over and over. As with the other two similar enemies, this one spawns only in a specific location that is not on the board for all of act 1. Notably, this enemy is not a Yithian.
My take: As long as you are able to deal three damage in one hit once, the Captive Subject is much easier to take down than the Keeper. But even if you’d need to attack three times, it’s still close. Two fight is just a whole lot less than three. Retaliate hurts, but as long as neither the tentacle nor the trademark TFA -5 show up, you should be fine. Higher difficulties will have bigger problems here, of course. If your chaos bag is filled with terror and sadness like it is on Expert, then the balance swings much more in favor of the Keeper again.
Threat level: High. Like the Keeper, this enemy requires preparation and/or investment to defeat.
Dealing with it: Having a way to do three damage at once means that this enemy can be defeated in two attacks instead of two, giving one less opportunity to draw a bad token and be hit by a retaliation attack. These only become active threats once one of their two conditions are met, so consider not triggering them until you are ready.
Another week came and went, so another three encounter sets were reviewed. Agents of Hastur was first, laying the path for Dim Carcosa. Dim Carcosa was this week’s main attraction, the finale to the Carcosa campaign has quite a few interesting bits to it. Agents of Yog-Sothoth rounded out the week, this Core encounter set is needed so we can fully appreciate City of Archives next week.
In terms of custom content, i made the first ARES card for Carcosa. Gnawing Evils is meant to replace the unsatisfying Delusory Evils from the Return to Carcosa box.
Barkham doesn’t interest me much personally beyond the excellent art on its encounter cards, so that’s not something i have much to say about. It’s not like anyone got their copy anyways, so …
I’ve been spending this week finishing my Carcosa campaign, leading to a situation where i both was putting the final touches on my Dim Carcosa review on this site and having the cards for the scenario on the living room table. Nate and Jackie did admirably, they really tore through this campaign with high marks all around. Since there aren’t any big news this week to cover, let me show you my Nathaniel deck: Link to ArkhamDB This is one of the very few decks where i felt like every card belonged and there was very little wiggle room on how to build it differently. Nathaniel does one thing (punch monsters!) and he does it very, very well. Before the investigator decks were released, he was the one of them i was looking forward the most because event-based decks appeal to me. I was not disappointed. My only worry would be how linear he is, there’s not really a lot of ways to build his deck.
Appears in: The Devourer Below, Extracurricular Activity, Lost in Time and Space, The City of Archives
My take on this set: The Agents of Yog-Sothoth is a spicy little set that has two high impact cards and revolves around applying pressure to the player’s hand size. Suprisingly, it is only used twice during Dunwich Legacy despite that being the Yog-Sothoth campaign, but in both scenarios these are potent additions. Especially in Extracurricular Activity, the Observers are a decent challenge for the investigators that are still on their level 0 decks (or close to it). I think this is a great set and sadly a bit underused. I am a big fan of the treachery that comes with the set, as it puts a choice into the player’s hands and tries to tempt them into doing something that might bite them later. That’s just a lot more interesting than the usual “Revelation: Do a test, gain some horror”.
What it does: The Yithian Observer has four fight and four health, the classic stat line where an enemy starts to become a pain to take down. It has three agility and no Hunter, so evading it and leaving it behind is an option, but players will also leave behind the victory point they could earn for killing the monster… Whenever attacked by an Observer, the player has to discard a random card from their hand. Should they not be able to do so, they are dealt an additional damage and horror instead.
My take: Yithian Observer (and the special ghouls from The Gathering) are my benchmark for the typical victory point enemy. The jump from 3 to 4 in fight is very significant, the same is true for the health. They do not hit terribly hard, but the loss of a random card is always something that can be at least annoying. Very solid enemy, fills an important role in the scenarios that it is in.
Threat level: Mid to High. They are difficult enough to fight that they pose a problem sometimes, but at least you are able to engage them on your own terms.
Dealing with it: Four health means that the enemy is unlikely to go down in one hit, so most burst damage cards (Vicious Blow, etc) don’t really apply to fighting this enemy. What’s left is usually a rather fair fight, but one that you should handily win as long as your fighter can go to a modified fight value of 6+ reliably. All of the scenarios they appear in lend themselves well to evading them, so that’s a notable option too. Devourer Below and Lost in Time and Space are campaign finales, so the loss of the victory point isn’t even relevant. Just be aware that Observers gain Hunter eventually during City of Archives, however the map in that scenario is so big that you should be able to run circles around them if you want to go the evasion route.
What it does: The Offer of Power forces the player who drew it (and only that player, thanks to Peril) to make a choice: Either they refuse the offer and take 2 horror. Or they accept it, drawing 2 cards but also putting 2 doom on the agenda, potentially immediately advancing it.
My take: I’ve accepted the deal more often than i would’ve expected from just reading the card. Double Ancient Evils sounds horrible, as it makes everyone lose two full turns before the scenario ends… and all you get are the two cards you would’ve drawn in those turns. But while on paper it’s certainly a bad deal, it sometimes just works out to be better that way. If you have no cards in hand but are facing some threat, the extra cards could help you immediately – while the two horror could just pose more problems. Especially when its near the end of the scenario and it’s pretty easy to estimate how much time is still needed to finish up, the Offer can become tempting for sure. You’d really need to be sure, though. Otherwise, just take the horror instead of gambling everything on this card.
Threat level: Low to Mid. If you want to, you can just accept this card as straight up 2 horror which isn’t too bad. Everything beyond that is your own choice.
Dealing with it: Don’t screw over your group. Accepting this offer should only be done if you are sure you know what you are doing. Two horror can be mitigated in many ways or even healed. Doing the same with two doom is much less of an option.
Return to The Dunwich Legacy: Yog-Sothoth’s Emissaries
My take on this set: I am lukewarm on this replacement set as i think that it mostly weakened the cards in it. Giving Hunter to the creature certainly makes sense, but the rest of the Vassal feels like a watered down version of the original Observer. Eldritch Accord is really cool in its mechanics, but lacks some of the impact that Offer has. The Emissaries set isn’t a complete miss, but it just doesn’t feel as streamlined as the original set to me. They mix well enough, though. When playing Dunwich, i usually put one of each of the four cards into the encounter deck for variety’s sake.
What it does: Vassal trades one point of fight and evade that the Observer had to gain the Hunter keyword. This makes a lot of sense, as it allows the monster to follow players around the map in Extracurricular Activity and Lost in Time and Space. It also trades its Forced effect for a new one more suited for the special mechanics of Dunwich Legacy. Instead of discarding cards from the hand like the Observer does, the Vassal discards cards from the top of the deck of everyone at its location.
My take: That new Forced effect is a huge letdown. Even though it ties into the whole Dunwich theme of stripping the player deck down, one card per turn is just not enough to matter. What is left is a Hunter enemy that only has 3 fight and doesn’t do enough on attacks to be scary. All that would be needed to make Vassal on par with Observer would’ve been another point of damage or horror, similar to the Screeching Banshee from Agents of Hastur.
Threat level: Mid. While Hunter does help to force players to defeat the Vassal, it just doesn’t have the same bite to it that Observer has.
Dealing with it: In a way, Hunter even works for the investigators as the Vassal will deliver its victory point straight to them. Killing this creature shouldn’t be too much of a challenge, the only way it can become threatening would be if it teams up with any of the other Hunters in Lost in Time and Space.
What it does: The player has to test their willpower and, should they fail, take 2 horror. The difficulty of this test is determined by their cards in hand, however before taking their test, they may first draw up to one card and then discard up to 2 cards. The treachery has Peril, so they do not only have to make those decisions on their own, but other players can also not contribute any icons to the test.
My take: Oh look, it’s “Revelation: Do a test, gain some horror.” again, but at least the difficulty is determined in an interesting way. Although I don’t really see many scenarios in which i wouldn’t want to draw that extra card. Either i expect to fail the test in which case i may as well get a card out of it. Or i am confident in the test in which case one extra difficulty is not going to make or break the test. I might even just draw a card that i want to commit. The only scenario where i would want to skip drawing the card and possibly ditch some cards from my hand is if the horror would defeat me.
Threat level: Low. Two horror and drawing a card is the base line effect for Accord, discarding extra cards would only come into play if you really want to make sure you pass … and then draw an auto-fail. But that’s the auto-fail screwing you over, the treachery only gives you tools to deal with itself.
Dealing with it: Having a test on this card immediately makes it a lot less scary than the original Offer of Power. Furthermore, the baseline effect on failing is better (2 horror and a card vs 2 horror). What is left is a card that deals some horror that needs to be mitigated, something that any deck should have a plan for.
My take on this encounter deck: The Dim Carcosa encounter deck is best described as relentless. There’s not really anything like a break for the investigators here, it is chock full of high impact cards that assault the ever dwindling sanity of the players. Aside from the cards that play into the horror mechanics of the scenario, there is a good amount of big creatures here as well, enough of them to be a problem for hybrid investigators. Having a “proper” fighter here is very much recommended. Cancel these: Possession, Realm of Madness. Canceling Possession can be the only way to save an investigator from instant death once they moved past the horror threshold. Aside from that, there is no shortage of worthy targets in this scenario. The Yellow Sign, Realm of Madness, The Final Act, half of Striking Fear … depending on whether you think you can avoid going insane you may want to cancel either the cards that deal horror or the ones that punish you for having a stack of it already. Realm of Madness stands out to me because it is both at the same time, either discarding your stuff or dealing horror when it fails to cost you any cards.
What it does: With 5 fight and 4 health, the Creature Out Of Demhe is a challenging enemy to beat down. It has only two evade, which at least makes dealing with the creature temporarily that way an attractive option. It deals only one damage and horror, but will attack every investigator at its location because it is Massive. If its location or a connected one is flipped, it also gets to attack each player at that location.
My take: Looks tougher than it really is. Evasion is a very worthwhile option here and disables both its regular attacks and its bonus attacks from the Forced effect. If it spawns in a location with many connections that have not been flipped yet, defeating it might become necessary, but it’s nothing that your enemy handler shouldn’t be able to do at this point. Consider it practice for the Beast of Aldebaran.
Threat level: Mid to High. Can be evaded very well and it doesn’t hit hard enough to be a major threat.
Dealing with it: Evading it once for each location that you want to flip can eat up a lot of your actions, so consider your options. You could either prepare so you can evade once, then flip multiple locations on the same turn. You could kill it. You could just tank the hits. Or a combination of those.
What it does: The Winged One is a byakhee enemy that moves towards locations that are being flipped. Its statline is nothing too special with 3 fight and health, however it deals 3 damage and a horror with each hit and it has Retaliate. It also has 4 evasion which protects it fairly well against attempts to exhaust it before attacks.
My take: Three damage attacks on a retaliate enemy are nasty. While it does only have mediocre combat stats, it means that an auto-fail or otherwise failed attack will be severely punished. This is an enemy to respect.
Threat level: Mid to High. A hard hitting enemy that is just resilient enough to pose a problem.
Dealing with it: Any attack action made against this enemy has the risk of backfiring hard on a failed test. For that reason, anything that can make it so you don’t have to attack twice is valuable. Beat Cop, Spectral Razor, Backstab, whatever it is that you can use to take it down in one attack only is going to be valuable here. Usually i’d not be opposed to throwing dynamite at an enemy like this, but that dynamite should probably go towards clearing the Palace of the King…
What it does: Dismal Curse deals two damage if the player fails at a Willpower test. This base effect is scaled with how much horror that investigator already has on them: If it’s enough horror to deplete their sanity, the test becomes more difficult. If it’s even twice as much horror as their sanity could usually take, Dismal Curse deals twice the amount of damage.
My take: These are in the deck three times and become more and more of a problem as the scenario goes on. It’s really difficult to avoid horror in Dim Carcosa and this is one of the cards that can turn a failure to keep your sanity intact into a loss.
Threat level: Mid. Starts out mild but can escalate later on.
Dealing with it: Keeping your sanity up should be the prime goal for this scenario. More than any of the other Carcosa scenarios, this encounter deck hammers away at your investigator with horror upon horror and having a way to mitigate it with soak, high Willpower or cards like Moment of Respite should be considered mandatory. Failing that, this treachery (and the ones that follow) will make sure that players are going to be defeated as a result of that horror in spite of the special game rules for the scenario.
What it does: Realm of Madness turns the horror on the investigator that drew this card into discard, forcing them to ditch cards from their hand or play until the resource cost of those cards is at least as high as the horror on them. If no card was discarded this way, the player is dealt 2 horror instead.
My take: Potentially devastating, especially for investigators who only use few assets and/or are built around skills or other low cost cards. Someone like Silas or any investigator built around Dark Horse could easily lose their board and their hand to this card.
Threat level: High. There are some investigators that get completely countered by this card, but really anyone with a decent amount of horror on them will be severely impacted by Realm of Madness.
Dealing with it: Once a certain amount of horror has built up on the investigator card, the only way to prepare for Realm of Madness is by keeping some sacrificial high cost cards in hand. It’s better to have Leo de Luca in hand and discarding him than it is to pay for Leo and then have to discard him from play.
What it does: If the investigator has enough horror on them to deplete their sanity, The Final Act will add two doom to the agenda, possibly advancing it. Either way, it surges.
My take: A double Ancient Evils with Surge? Sounds fair! More like “The Final Agenda” 😐 There’s only one in the deck, so it’s completely unpredictable and when it randomly pops up it punishes you hard for not keeping your sanity intact. This card either just surges without doing anything or it feels ridiculously unfair. I am not convinced that this much of a variance is a good thing.
Threat level: Very High. Surging Double Evils, what more is there to say?
Dealing with it: See above, keep your sanity. If that’s not possible, your last bet is someone having a cancel ready. It will still surge, but it can’t really get worse.
What it does: Possession is a trio of Hidden cards that all have the same effect, but can be get rid of in different ways. While holding Possession, an investigator is immediately defeated and killed once they have twice as much horror as their sanity can take. To get rid of the card before this happens, the investigator either has to spend an action and five resources, spend an action and deal two damage to a friendly investigator or intentionally fail a test.
My take: Gaining enough horror that these kill you instantly is so much easier than one would think and thus anyone who has that much horror will live in constant fear from one mythos phase to the next. If they aren’t instantly lethal, they are not terribly difficult to discard. Torturous is the only one that can sometimes be an issue if the player currently just doesn’t have any resources. The other two can be fulfilled quickly.
Threat level: High. They can spell instant death. For anyone not yet over the horror threshold they are somewhat mild, though.
Dealing with it: During this scenario, keep that threshold of twice your sanity in mind. Avoid going over it at all costs unless you yourself hold a cancel card in your hand that can negate the revelation effect.
Return to Dim Carcosa
My take on the modified scenario: The High Priest of Hastur is added to the encounter deck, an enemy with unique mechanics. This gives some extra relevance to the Possession cards, but doesn’t really change the scenario much otherwise. The replacement encounter sets are more interesting: Delusions becomes Maddening Delusions. This change trades one card that triggered off of having some horror (Descent into Madness) for a complete set of six cards that all deal extra horror. This makes it a lot more difficult to keep your waning sanity. Striking Fear becomes Neurotic Fear. This kicks Rotting Remains from the encounter deck, a tragic loss and most of the reason why the encounter set was used in this scenario in the first place. While i do like the Neurotic Fear set in general, i don’t think it really fits into what Dim Carcosa is trying to do. Finally, Agents of Hastur becomes Hastur’s Envoys, a very significant trade. The Sign of Hastur is a beast of a card in this scenario and the Preying Byakhee is no slouch either.
What it does: Its statline of 6/4/2 speaks a clear language: The High Priest isn’t meant to be fought, you are meant to evade it and run away. It’s a Hunter enemy that spawns in the Palace and then follows whoever has the most cards in hand. Its attack deal neither damage nor horror, but any investigator attacked by it will immediately be driven insane should they hold a Possession in hand.
My take: Meh. I haven’t found these guys to be particularly threatening. They do lend some extra threat to the Possession cards, but those are already a fairly high priority to get rid of. Their low evasion works as sort of a failsafe that can be exploited to get out of their grip. This is particularly relevant for anyone already holding a Possession, of course.
Threat level: Low. A nuisance that slightly increases the relevance of another card in the deck.
Dealing with it: Instead of dealing with the High Priest, i suggest dealing with the Possession. Failing that, evading the Priest is easy enough to do. Their high fight value does make them a bit difficult to defeat, but if you do can either overpower the difficulty or even better deal testless damage, then killing the Priests is absolutely worth it.
(replaces Ancient Evils from the Core set, for use in Path to Carcosa)
Goal of this replacement set: In my opinion, Delusory Evils from Return to Carcosa is a deeply flawed replacement set that removes any semblance of relevance and threat from Ancient Evils. It may be an okay card when taken for itself, but as a replacement for one of the most iconic and most relevant encounter cards in the game it is just completely insufficent. Gnawing Evils is a replacement card that takes the formula from Return to Dunwich’s much better Resurgent Evils and gives it a Carcosa spin involving the Hidden mechanic. Just like Resurgent Evils, Gnawing Evils offers the player who drew it a choice to either just add the doom and be done with it or to give into a second choice that may very well backfire.
About this card: Taking this version of Evils out of the deck and preventing the doom comes at a steep price. Once it is added to the players hand, there is no way for it to leave again and it will slowly but steadily eat away at the players health and/or sanity. This is a bargain that will look very lopsided at the start of the scenario, but become more and more attractive as the game goes on and the final stretch of the scenario comes into sight. Of course, by then players will already have collected some horror and damage, so it’s a bit of a push and pull between the two option, which should make for a nice situational choice for the player. The two Carcosa scenarios using Ancient Evils are the Last King and Black Stars Rise. In Last King, every point of doom is worth a whole lot as it’s one third towards flipping the next party guest by itself. Players can flee from the scenario at any time, so Gnawing Evils can exchange a premature flip of a guest for a parallel limitation to how long they can stay in the manor. In Black Stars Rise, the deck is reshuffled many times and taking the Evils into the hand can stop this from happening. The price is appropriately steep though, as the BSR encounter deck is packed with treacheries that deal damage and/or horror, severely stacking with Gnawing Evil’s ping every turn and making the proper point to add them to your hand hard to calculate. Long story short, i think this card offers a much more interesting choice than Delusory Evils and lets the card keep its signature impact on the game. It also has some implications with certain investigators like Carolyn that might be neat to see in action.