The Devourer Below

Other encounter sets in this scenario: Ancient Evils, Dark Cult, Ghouls, Striking Fear

Size of the Encounter Deck29
# Enemies8
# Willpower7
# Agility3
# Doom7
# Damage5
# Horror5
In addition to these, one of the four “Agents” sets from the Core set is added to the deck. Those add another two medium sized creatures and two significant treacheries, with the exception of Agents of Shub-Niggurath which adds four creatures instead. These cards have been included in the Size of the Encounter Deck above, but not in the detailed breakdown.
Should the Ghoul-Priest still be alive, it is also added to the encounter deck. It’s not included in the numbers above.

My take on this encounter deck: This scenario is mostly driven by the set aside cards outside of the encounter deck, including the Cultists from the Midnight Masks and of course Umôrdhoth itself. The encounter deck in turn is a cocktail of cards that attacks the players from various angles. There’s some very important Willpower tests due to Striking Fear and Umôrdoth’s Wrath. There’s a good amount of doom mechanics from Evils and the Cult. The Cult and the Ghouls provide some small enemies to complement the ones that are set aside. The addition of one of the four Agents sets is an interesting detail that is actually able to change up the scenario. Shub-Niggurath’s set adds a significant amount of dangerous enemies to the deck, the Dark Young is especially vicious. The other three all add two sizeable enemies of their own and a dangerous treachery that is worth keeping in mind. Of special note is Dreams of R’lyeh from the Agents of Cthulhu, which can make a lot of cards in this deck be more impactful.
As is probably appropriate for a Core set scenario, this encounter deck shows off a multitude of different ways how the encounter deck can screw with the players. While it is a bit unfocused in its assault, it is certainly quite powerful on average with only the Ghoul set offering some low impact cards that can often feel like a bit of a breather.

There are a lot of things wrong with this scenario and there are good reasons for Devourer Below to be among the least favorite scenarios of Arkham players… but i wouldn’t say that the encounter deck is one of them. This is a fine deck that offers variance and plenty of high stake tests and the suspense that comes with them.
Cancel these: Ancient Evils, Frozen in Fear. Umôrdoth’s Hunger in Return To. The agenda cards have low doom thresholds on them, which means that Ancient Evils is a high priority again. Frozen in Fear can be a huge pain as usual and can easily merit a cancel to stop it from crippling someone for multiple turns.
During Return to Devourer, the ability to cancel an Umôrdhoth’s Hunger can be a huge relief for the complete group as they can act more flexible around their own hand size.

Number in the encounter deck: 2

What it does: The player facing Umôrdhoth’s Wrath has to take a difficult willpower test. For each point they fail by, they have to discard a card or take a damage and a horror.

My take: This card has a very high ceiling. Drawing the auto-fail or just a high negative modifier can take out the complete hand of a player and/or deal large amount of damage and horror. There is a good amount of player choice along the way to mitigate this with the choice between the two punishments and the discard not being random. Still, the raw potential of a completely failed test makes this card very dangerous.

Threat level: Mid to High. The worst-case scenario is terrible, but there are several mechanics in play that can help players to dampen it.

Dealing with it: The damage and horror are not direct, so you can use the usual ways to mitigate them. This card mainly tries to overwhelm your defenses by inflicting a large amount of damage and horror, so if you happen to be hit by a full strength Wrath then you will likely not be able to soak it completely with assets which is when the option to ditch cards comes in. Even when counting in the Return To cards, there are only two scenario specific treacheries in the encounter deck. Both care about the number of cards in your hand, so keeping a healthy amount of spares in hand to discard to this can help mitigate the otherwise hefty costs in stamina and sanity. Of course, while playing Return To, you should also always keep at least two cards in hand…
On the other hand, taking lots of damage and horror from this card opens yourself up to being defeated by either Grasping Hands or Rotting Remains, both of which are in the deck. This makes it difficult to give general advice on how to deal with this card, it will always be very situational which resources are easier for you to give up if necessary.

Return to The Devourer Below

My take on the modified scenario: The expanded Devourer Below changes the scenario by building a discard theme into the encounter deck. In the unmodified scenario, only Umôrdhoth’s Wrath attacked hand size, now there’s a big payoff added from a new scenario specific card. The replacement set for the Ghouls also plays into this theme, especially through the treachery which substitutes Grasping Hands. The other replacement set, the Cult of the Devourer, does not play into this, but instead opens up yet another way for the encounter deck to attack the players by going after their clues.
The Agents of Yog-Sothoth set gains a bit of importance in this scenario, as it also deals with hand-size. The other three sets are unchanged in their role and maintain their status as significant “mini-bosses”.
All things considered, the additions from the Return to Devourer Below do not change up the deck very much. The hand destruction theme is unlikely to come together, with only Chill from Below being a significant addition. Umôrdhoth’s Hunger is a dangerous card on it’s own, though. The changes make the deck stronger, more dangerous. But not really all that much more interesting.
The same goes for the other additions to the scenario. Some additional locations provide variety, but not much of an improvement to the scenario itself. Personally, i am sad to say that i’m not going to replay this any more than i would’ve done without the Return box.

Number in the encounter deck: 2

What it does: Umôrdoth’s Hunger affects everyone, not just the one who drew it. All players need to discard a random card from their hand. Should they be left with an empty hand afterwards, they are immediately killed.
Unrelated, all enemies in play are also healed for one point of their stamina.

My take: The life gain for the enemies isn’t terribly relevant, while there are some high health enemies in this scenario one point of damage isn’t usually going to make much of a difference. The random discard for everyone is certainly annoying, though. When playing Return To, each player should be aware of this card existing, so they can keep two cards in hand at all times. If they want to be really safe, having three cards will protect them from drawing both copies of this card in the same Mythos phase. This is not very likely to happen from a 31 card deck, though.

Threat level: High. It does threaten an immediate game over, and in turn to avoid it players will have to keep the card in mind at all times. That alone gives it enough of an impact.

Dealing with it: As mentioned, every player should keep enough cards in hand to not fall to the instand kill condition. There are two other relevant cards to keep in mind. The first is Umôrdoth’s Wrath which will at least give you a choice to take damage and horror instead of the discard. The other one is Chill from Below from the Ghouls replacement set. Both of those cards can be mitigated with Willpower, but a failed test on Chill will randomly discard cards without another option and might lead to a turn where some card draw actions are needed to restore protection from Umôrdhoth’s Hunger.

Agents of Cthulhu

Set Size4
Number of unique Cards2
RoleEnemy, Horror, Willpower
Threat LevelMid
# of scenarios3
Appears in: The Devourer Below, The Pit of Despair, In Too Deep

My take on this set: The set features a a medium sized Hunter enemy that keeps pinging you for horror whenever it catches up to you and a variant on a treachery template we have seen on two other cards. It’s a fine set consisting of two cards that both are interesting in their own ways. At least in theory, it’s not like anyone ever got to play with them… Jokes aside, these only appear in one of four plays of The Devourer Below, which itself ranks among the least played scenarios.
The Agents of Cthulhu set is finally seeing some proper use during the Innsmouth Conspiracy cycle where the Young Deep One can join the ranks of the fish people and Dreams of R’lyeh can team up with the Innsmouth Look to drain the investigator’s sanity and skills.

Number in the encounter deck: 2

What it does: Young Deep Ones are Hunters sporting the iconic 3/3/3 statline, putting them right out of reach of trivial solutions. What’s more, whenever this enemy engages an investigator, it immediately deals a point of horror.

My take: A very solid enemy. Won’t be casually brushed aside by most attacks and three fight is where fighters start to occasionally miss their attacks even on standard difficulty. Drawn from the top of the deck, it will immediately deal a damage to that player – that sort of unavoidable attack on enemies isn’t particularly common. And that point of horror is probably especially relevant for the kind of investigators that intentionally engage this creature. That little extra Forced effect has a bunch of neat little interactions, from discouraging evasion to making investigators attack the enemy while its engaged with another player without pulling it to themselves first. This of course can backfire if the attack misses… Cool enemy, i like it.

Threat level: Mid. It’s not exactly hard to deal with, but will take some actions or cards and will still leave a mark.

Dealing with it: Dealing with this sort of enemy poses no real problem, but special consideration should be put towards how to deal with its Forced effect. Evasion is only an option if leaving the creature behind is realistic because you’ll probably not want to stack up on horror only to end up having to find a more permanent way to deal with it later. The ability might tempt the fighter to keep this enemy engaged to whoever else drew the card to avoid the extra action and horror, but they should at least be aware of the risk that goes with it. A fragile seeker will not appreciate when a Guardian screws up their shotgun blast with an auto-fail…
One detail of note: The Deep Ones are humanoid. This means that the Innsmouth cycle could be a good campaign to take a pair of Handcuffs with your Guardian to provide a clean way of dealing with the fishfolk.

Number in the encounter deck: 2

What it does: While affected by Dreams of R’lyeh, the investigator’s sanity and willpower are reduced by one. Dreams of R’lyeh sticks to the threat area until the player takes an action and passes a Willpower test.

My take: Dreams follows the same template as Curse of Yig and Innsmouth Look, but notably, this one reduces the stat that is used to discard it. This makes it very difficult to get rid of for some investigators, and often those are going to be the same investigators that will very much care about their sanity being reduced. At the same time, those will also find that their reduced willpower is going to make other treacheries potentially hurt more. For Devourer Below, Striking Fear is the set that stacks up with this one, and can stop a player dead in their tracks until someone else rids them of their Dreams and Frozen in Fear. Curse of Yig (and presumably Innsmouth Look) don’t really snowball as hard as this one, making Dreams the most dangerous of the bunch.

Threat level: Mid to High. The willpower reduction interacts with a whole lot of cards, including its own way to get rid of it.

Dealing with it: Even more than with Curse of Yig, the key here is being aware that other players can take the action to discard this card for you. Depending on what else is in the encounter deck, having your willpower reduced for a longer period can end badly, so this is even somewhat of a priority.

Weekly Evils – #8

Week in Review

This week i took a look at Where The Gods Dwell, the final scenario of the first Dream-Eaters mini-campaign. With it came reviews for the final two of its encounter sets: Whispers of Hypnos, a somewhat uninspiring set/card that is mostly notable for being the only set that is used in both the A and B side of the campaign. And Agents of Nyarlathothep, a set that actually scratches at the fourth wall. Wild.

Early in the week, i also posted an Innsmouth Spoiler Roundup, collecting all the official FFG-sanctioned spoilers that we got until that point, close to the actual release of the deluxe box. I commented a bit on various things and ended up making a speculation in the final bit of the article. Well, we already know today that this speculation is wrong 🙂


Yesterday was the official release date for The Innsmouth Conspiracy deluxe expansion. Personally, i didn’t get it yet but i assume that i do next week. I’ll start reviewing some of the sets from Innsmouth once i familiarized myself a bit with them. If that’s already next week or the week after, we’ll see.

Innsmouth drops another three to five new investigators on us, depending on whether you already own Dexter and/or Silas. And i didn’t even finish playing all of the starter investigators yet! So much game left to explore, it’s really great.

Aside from Innsmouth release, there isn’t really much to soapbox about yet. So … that’s it. Enjoy your weekend, no matter if it features ravenous fish people or not!

Where The Gods Dwell

Other encounter sets in this scenario: Dark Cult, Agents of Nyarlathotep, Dreamer’s Curse, Whispers of Hypnos

Size of the Encounter Deck39
# Enemies9
# Willpower6
# Agility1
# Doom5
# Damage2
# Horror2
# Hidden15
These numbers are for the second half of the scenario. The aspects of Nyarlathotep have not been counted as as enemies because they are usually not put into play.

My take on this encounter deck: The encounter deck starts out with only 29 of these cards. For the first half of the scenario, the enemies are mostly limited to the cultists, but punctuated by the appearance of the set aside High Priest and potentially by the Dhole from the encounter deck. The goal for this first part is reaching the Onyx Castle without losing too much time to fighting the Dhole or to the doom mechanics from the Dark Cult set. Having the agenda advance prematurely due to doom tokens on cultists would be really bad, so avoiding that should be the primary concern here.
Once the full encounter deck is assembled and the final confrontation with Nyarlathotep is afoot, managing the Hidden cards becomes the biggest thing that the players have to care about. Conserving actions and putting as many of them towards advancing your goals is imperative to winning the scenario. As a special challenge, the Crawling Mist is shuffled into the deck only for the latter half, ensuring that players are knee deep in Hidden cards when it shows up. This makes Mist a much more dangerous enemy here than it has been in the other scenarios using the Agents of Nyarlathotep set.

Cancel these: Myriad Forms, Deeper Slumber. There aren’t a whole lot of non-Peril treacheries around in this scenario, so there is slim pickings for your counterspells in the first place. That being said, keeping a Ward back to cancel Myriad Forms can just be the deciding factor that keeps the group from losing at the spot. So do that. Deeper Slumber can also become a problem card, as the smaller handsize combined with all those Hidden cards can be a major constraint on a players options. Deeper Slumber can be discarded by spending two actions, but since actions are extraordinarily precious in this scenario it can be a good alternative to cancel the Slumber from entering play instead.

What it does: The finale of The Dream-Eater’s A-campaign revolves around finding the copies of Nyarlathotep in the encounter deck, keeping them in hand until you can find a Whispering Chaos and then use them at the appropriate location. Five copies of Nyarlathotep and four copies of Whispering Chaos are shuffled into the encounter deck for the last act, which implicitly has the effect of having fewer immediately bad things happening during the Mythos phase… basically, drawing these is a bit of a freebie.

My take: I don’t want to go too deep into the mechanics of this “fight”. Suffice to say that the final stretch of the scenario is laser focused around players passing each other cards and trying to match them at whatever tower location is indicated by the Whispers card. This occupies enough of the turn that despite drawing fewer “active” treacheries and enemies from the top, the pressure on the players keeps up. It’s a novel and well done mechanic, and the scenario would be one of the best finales if it weren’t for that ridiculously tight doom clock. But that’s a topic that doesn’t really belong here. Let’s get back to the encounter deck itself.

Threat level: N/A. The unique way of dealing with these cards can’t really be compared to standard treacheries or enemies.

Dealing with it: These cards don’t really *do* anything except for clogging your hand – they are more like an extension of the agenda and act decks, handing personalized instructions to the players on how to proceed if they want to win the scenario.

What it does: The Restless Journey is a trio of Hidden treachery cards. While a player holds one of these, they aren’t able to commit more than a single card to skill tests per round. Notably, that is a restriction per round and not per test. Appropriately, discarding these will lead to such a skill test, with each of the copies requiring a different one. Initiating this test won’t cost an action and it will always discard the card, however failing that skill test will add a doom to the agenda, potentially immediately advancing it.

My take: Activating the towers and neutralizing aspects of Nyarlathotep requires skill tests that you can’t afford to fail. Restless Journey stops you from saving up skill icons to brute force those tests, so they do need to be dealt with at some point. Some investigators may struggle with whatever skill test they need to pass to avoid the extra doom, but do note that Restless Journey is discarded at that point and you can commit without restriction again.

Threat level: Mid to High. These are restricting enough that you’ll want to get rid of them, however even doing that can be a problem for some investigators.

Dealing with it: This scenario offers no time for mistakes, so having one of these turn into an Ancient Evils is to be avoided at all costs. The auto-fail can always show up of course, but aside from that you shouldn’t really accept any risks here. Consider using the ability on the central location to dump these cards on one of the players as an alternative way to defuse them. That player will then just not be able to banish any copies of Nyarlathotep themselves but they can in turn hand their relevant Hidden cards to other players. All of this costs actions of course, but weighed against the potential to lose a full turn for everyone it can be worth it.

Number in the encounter deck: 3

What it does: Liar with No Face is rather menacing Hunter enemy. It has fight and evade of 3, but won’t go down in one hit and can deal a lot of horror and damage if it gets to attack. Per default, it will deal 2 horror, but an addition 2 damage are added on top should the attacked player hold a Whispering Chaos card in their hand.

My take: These are a huge pain and need to be defeated immediately. Having them stick around is simply not an option due to the very Hunter friendly layout of the tower locations.

Threat level: Mid to High. They aren’t difficult to deal with per se, but they do require immediate attention and will cost a player several actions.

Dealing with it: The Forced effect on Liar should hopefully never matter, because when this enemy gets to attack, you already messed up. If it appears during the first half of the scenario, evading it could be an option if you can manage to advance to the second half before it catches up. However, that is unlikely to be the case outside of the small time window between defeating the High Priest and opening the Onyx Gates.

Number in the encounter deck: 1

What it does: Dhole of the Wastes is a giant monster that hits hard and is even harder to defeat. With six health and fight, even seasoned fighters will be challenged to take it down before it can attack. Due to its much lower agility value, evading it is much more feasible. Defeating the Dhole awards a victory, for whatever that is worth in the final scenario of this campaign.

My take: Having these pop up right at the beginning of the scenario can cost the campaign almost on its own. It will consume many actions while players will have to move past this enemy multiple times as they make their way across the Wastes, to the Monastary and back, then finally to the Onyx Gates. In a weird twist, this enemy can also break through the Great Hall near the end of the scenario and be in the way while everyone’s busy trying to manage their Hidden cards. This is a terrifying card that can dictate how players have to act for several turns.

Threat level: Very High. Either it’s a very difficult fight that might just span multiple turns or it’s a perpetual source of frustration as players need to constantly keep it evaded so they don’t get smacked around.

Dealing with it: The best case here is finding this enemy while already past the Cold Wastes, but not yet in the Onyx Castle. That way it can be evaded maybe once or twice and then be discarded when advancing the scene, although that will of course shuffle the Dhole back into the deck. Once in the tower, a solution for removing the Dhole from the board should be found. Being able to take this out with testless damage can help a lot here. It is also not an Elite enemy, so cards like Slip Away can buy a lot of time while Waylay is of course excellent as a tech card to specifically deal with this monster.

Number in the encounter deck: 2

What it does: The player who drew Abandoned by the Gods has to pass a willpower test against difficulty 3. If they don’t, they have to call a number from 0 to 4 for each point they failed by. All players then have to discard any event and asset cards from their hand with printed resource costs equal to a called number. The card has Peril, making it difficult to cancel and forbidding other players to help with the willpower test.

My take: This card is remarkably swingy. Depending on who draws it, it can either be a near freebie as the test isn’t all that difficult to many investigators. It can also devastate everyones hand when drawn by someone weak in willpower or just as a result of a test gone south. I am not a fan of how large the variance on the effect of this card is.

Threat level: High. Willpower tests like these are the bread and butter of treachery effects and players should really be prepared for it in some way. That being said, failing one of these can be a huge pain for everyone at the table.

Dealing with it: Being able to pass crucial Willpower tests is one of the fundamentals when deck building, so hopefully everyone has some plan for this already in place. If this plan requires some limited resource (like only two copies of Guts, Steadfast, You handle this one or similar cards), then saving some for Abandoned by the Gods is easily worth it because of the global impact on every player that this treachery can have.
After failing the test, the player has a last chance to minimize the impact by choosing the resource costs least likely to matter. As a general rule of thumb, players play only very few 4 and 3 costed cards, so it’s likely that those are the first numbers to choose. Of course this is not a hard rule, context matters like with similar Peril cards in other encounter sets.

Number in the encounter deck: 2

What it does: Myriad Forms is only shuffled into the encounter deck for the encounter with Nyarlathotep. The player who drew Myriad Forms will have to reveal any copies of Nyarlathotep in their hand which will then attack and shuffle back into the encounter deck. Any copies in play move and attack like they would during the enemy phase. Should no attacks be made as a result of this card, it surges.

My take: Is this the most frustrating card in all of the AHLCG? Maybe. The attacks aren’t even all that bad, but having to shuffle back any of the Hidden cards sets the players so far back that there is little chance of recovering from it in time. The scenario is already balanced on a razor’s edge with little room for missteps, this card can undo multiple turns of progression. No matter how well you did from turn one to now, just pulling this card can fail the whole campaign. Quite frankly, i don’t think this card should exist.

Threat level: Very High. “You probably lose the campaign. If you don’t, this gains surge.”

Dealing with it: There are no tests or anything like that on the card, so aside from canceling it the only thing that can be done against it is hope that someone draws it while they aren’t holding any Nyarlathotep cards in hand. To minimize your chances of being wrecked by this card, make haste in activating your towers as soon as possible. You want to keep Nyarlathotep in your hand for as few turns as possible.
As a saving grace, this card is one of the few treacheries in this encounter deck that does not have Peril, so cancel it if you can. With a bit of pre-planning, you can also use cards like First Watch, “Let me handle this!” and “You handle this one!” to pass this card to a player that doesn’t have Nyarlathotep in their hand. It will of course still surge, but at least you stay in the game.