Waking Nightmare

Other encounter sets in this scenario: Locked Doors, Striking Fear, Agents of Atlach-Nacha, Merging Realities, Spiders, Whispers of Hypnos

Size of the Encounter Deck33
# Enemies8
# Willpower9
# Agility4
# Doom
# Damage2
# Horror5
Not all of these cards start out in the encounter deck right away. The numbers above are from the second half of the scenario, once the outbreak is in full swing.

My take on this encounter deck: An encounter deck without doom cards? What is this sorcery? The reason for this is of course the infestation mechanic which takes over as the primary timer in this scenario. Accordingly, the encounter deck consists mostly of just a few enemies and a slew of cards that are intended to stall out the investigators from doing their usual jobs of slaying enemies and collecting clues. The only cards in this encounter deck that do not fit either of those categories are the cards from Merging Realities, a set that provides a splash of other common encounter deck effects like discarding assets or dealing some damage.
All enemies in the deck are spiders, a trait that a few encounter cards and the last agenda care about. The Grey Weavers from the Agents of Atlach-Nacha are quite dangerous for level 0 investigators, sporting an impressive 5/5/4 statline in this scenario. The rest of the enemies is mostly easy to dispatch, but can take several actions as well. The infestation mechanic asks players to search for spider enemies from deck and discard reasonably often, something that players can exploit to either go for small critters to catch a break or to fish for the enemies with victory points on them once they are set up to take them down.
Locked Doors and Striking Fear are back from the Core, both card sets that have been used for good effect many times whenever stalling players is the goal, but curiously this is only the second time these two sets are used together (the first one is City of Archives). Whispers of Hypnos and the treacheries from Agents of Atlach-Nacha and Spiders complement them nicely and make sure that Willpower, Agility and Strength are all tested at various points.
The encounter deck doesn’t do anything we have never seen before, its composition is fairly simple in what it tries to achieve. However, when combined with the infestation mechanic, the result is a very unique scenario that not only has great flavor but also strong gameplay that requires players to overcome a wide variety of obstacles. I like this scenario a whole lot.
Cancel these: Outbreak, Frozen in Fear. Outbreak acts as this scenarios “Evils” card, bringing the scenario closer to a point where players can not fight back the infestation in time. Other than that, a cancel on any of the treacheries that test something the player has little chance of passing can often save a few actions. Frozen in Fear is the classic example of this, but situationally other cards like Will of the Spidermother or Locked Doors can be just as problematic if the associated tests are not reasonably easy to pass.

What it does: The Suspicious Orderly is an annoyance that stops the investigator engaged to it from investigating. It can not be fought in the usual ways, so usually players will need to evade them if necessary. They don’t attack, so keeping them engaged in your threat area doesn’t hurt at least. Once the agenda advances to the point where the infestation is happening, each Suspicious Orderly gets replaced by an Corrupted Orderly. These do in fact attack the players. They lose their old abilities but gain a damage prevention effect instead that cancels 1 damage from each source as long as they are at infested locations. Corrupted Orderlies also count as Spider enemies, which does have some interactions with other encounter and scenario cards.
As another thing to consider, the scenario card refers to them. As long as a player is engaged with one of these Staff cards, the skull token counts as a -3 instead of a -1 (on Hard/Expert: -4 instead of -2).

My take: The Suspicious Orderly can be engaged safely by a player not planning on investigating, at least as long as they don’t take any tests. So usually you’ll need to evade them multiple times, but since their evade value is fairly low this should be a reasonable ask. Carrying them around in the threat area for a turn or two can minimize the amount of actions they eat up and that can be worth the increased penalty of the skull token. It can also be beneficial if you are running cards like Scene of the Crime, to have your Guardian grab a few clues as well.
The corrupted version’s threat is very situational. While at a non-infested location, they are basically just your standard cannon fodder enemy, but that damage prevention effect can be quite annoying otherwise. As long as that effect active, the enemy will need two attacks for two damage to be defeated or one attack with three damage. The final agenda will also push its fight and evade to three each, which can be a relevant increase.

Threat level: Low for the Suspicious Orderly which can be engaged by any investigator not on clue duty with only little punishment. Low to Mid for the Corrupt Orderly, mostly due to the damage prevention being able to be inconvenient.

Dealing with it: This is the first scenario, so many of the common attacks for three damage aren’t available yet. So while using one such attack (Spectral Razor is L0, for example) is preferrable, the low fight value of the Suspicious Orderly means that he can also be killed fairly easily with two attacks from most weapons. Unarmed investigators may find themselves unable to harm the enemy at all, in which case another player might need to help. Worst case, if they are also unable to evade, they will have to take an attack of opportunity to move to a non-infested location.
As is so often the case with Humanoids that have unusual abilities, the Guardian card Handcuffs is excellent against them. A Suspicious Orderly that is disabled by Handcuffs will stay shackled down even after changing into a Corrupted Orderly. Handcuffs are generally not great in this campaign, but since this is the first scenario, including them in your starting deck and then upgrading out of them immediately after this scenario can be a good idea.
The setup dialogue allows players to choose if they want Dr. Maheswaran to come with them. If they do, this story ally can take care of the Orderlies for you, however that comes with costs that are likely not worth this benefit. Not only do you risk her dying that way, something that is penalized with a mental trauma, but you also earn an entry in your campaign log that has consequences down the line.

Number in the encounter deck: 3

What it does: Outbreak accelerates this scenarios unique “clock” by making the player do another infestation test in addition to the one that is done each round. This infestation test is further modified by counting tablet tokens as skulls. This means that the token is not only set aside as usual but it will also spawn a spider enemy.

My take: No scenario specific timer mechanic would be complete without a card in the encounter deck that pushes it along. Stopping the infestation from spreading and reversing it is the primary objective of this scenario and the time offered by the doom clock to achieve it is tight enough that having additional pulls from the infestation bag can become troublesome.

Threat level: Mid to High. Due to how the bag is set up, there is already a fairly huge variance in how quick the infestation spreads. This card only makes it more unpredictable and offers up the chance of having multiple new infestations in one mythos phase. This can be a huge problem if it happens, even if it’s unlikely. In the vast majority of cases, aside from the increased chance to spawn a spider enemy, this doesn’t do much to the state of the board.

Dealing with it: Like many of the cards that add doom to the agenda, this card has little immediate impact but does push on the timing constraints that the players have to deal with. If the infestation is already spread out due to unlucky Cultist pulls from the infestation bag, canceling this card can be worth it, although options for that are limited due to the fact of this being the first scenario of the campaign. Mostly, players should just be aware that this card exists and accept it as part of the infestation mechanics.

Unyielding Fate

(replaces Inexorable Fate from Circle Undone)

Goal of this replacement set: With this replacement set, i am doing things a bit different than with the other sets. Instead of doing somewhat different cards that offer variety from the standard set, this time around i want to take the original cards and fix what i think is worth improving upon with them.
This is because i actually quite like Inexorable Fate, but it is kept back by some shortcomings. The most important one is bad scaling with player counts. Fate of All Fools is a much stronger card in full parties than it is in one or two player games. At the same time, Terror in the Night is basically a non-entity in low player counts.
My other big problem with Inexorable Fate is that its set collection aspect clashes with the deck discard subtheme that a couple of cards in Circle Undone have. I adressed some of this already with my Anette’s Favored replacement set, but i think i can do some more towards that goal here.

Replaces Fate of All Fools. Number of these in the encounter set: 3

About this card: Fool’s Choice keeps much of how the original card plays out. The first one drawn can be a free card, simply being put into play with no immediate repercussions. Further ones make you choose between damage or doom. The difference is that at higher player counts, the option to take doom will lead to a reshuffle/discard of the cards, allowing for another “free” Fool’s Choice next. Managing when to take damage and when to take doom (hopefully) becomes more interesting, as both options have their merits. 2 damage is objectively the lesser punishment than 1 doom, but can not be sustained forever and since it doesn’t discard the first Fool’s Choice, the relative gap in value between the two is closed.

Replaces Terror in the Night. Number of these in the encounter set: 3

About this card: I never liked that Terror in the Night only gets attached to the agenda if the player fails a test. This made it very unlikely to fire the global horror effect, as any success on a Terror in the Night test would mean that it can’t be assembled before the encounter deck reshuffles. And that is before even considering that some card like Centuries of Secrets might just dump a copy of Terror into the discard pile and defuse it for the players. To make this card matter more in low player counts, i pulled the horror effect to the front of the card and tied it to the willpower test. The amount of horror scales with the number of Night Terrors to conserve the set collection aspect. Since the main effect is now frontloaded, the Forced effect for collecting all three is now milder. It discards all but 5 cards from the deck, setting up a wide variety of other encounter cards while shortening the time before the next reshuffle resets the Night Terrors back into the deck. So now the set collection of this card no longer clashes with the other TCU subtheme, but actually even sets it up. Note that Night Terrors is of course traited “Terror”, so it interacts with the Anette’s Favored replacement set to go full circle on this back and forth between the two subthemes.

Weekly Evils – #13

Week in Review

The main review for this week was Before The Black Throne, the final scenario of Circle Undone. It’s a scenario that has a lot of rough edges, combining huge monsters and an encounter deck focused on throwing doom around with a variable location grid that involves a good amount of luck to traverse.
Leading up to that scenario was the review of Inexorable Fate, the little brother of Dunwich’s Sorcery set.

I also made another custom replacement set for the ARES series, this time an alternative set for Anette’s Coven. I always thought that the original set was lacking, so i took it upon myself to spruce it up a bit with Anette’s Favored. Expect a few more ARES submissions for TCU in the next weeks, there are at least two or three more sets that i want to do.


As part of this year’s Arkham Nights event, FFG hosted a stream where the viewers could vote their way through designing/deciding a few upgraded cards, to be released at a later point. This stream created two cards, a level 2 Guard Dog and a level 3 Flashlight.
You can find the stream <here> and the cards <here>. It should be noted that the cards are still tagged “Beta” and might change in playtesting until they finally get their proper release.

Let me start by saying that i thought this was a great format for such a stream. It moved fast, viewers got a reasonable amount of influence on the cards created, but MJ and Jeremy still got to push the discussion in whatever direction they wanted. Just as it should be. The cards that came out of it were also very reasonable and something that can easily go into many decks. I feel like many other community created cards (Burn After Reading, Council’s Coffer, Ikiaq, …) are just too weird and gimmicky for their own good.

As for the cards themselves, i am a huge fan of both of these.
Guard Dog is one of my most played cards, having an upgraded one with even more health is going to be fantastic. That engagement ability on it is also nice, even if its existence means that Riot Whistle is even more of a dead card than it already was.
That Flashlight is cool enough on its own, but really shines (heh.) in combination with other cards. Using charges from Flashlight(3) to make sure my Pilfers do their thing is just great. At the same time, they are expensive enough to buy at 3XP that they don’t just go into every deck.

So yeah. For future “community designs” i would very much prefer this new format over the old one. Having cards like better Guard Dog and Flashlight is much more useful for the cardpool than some Shrine of the Morai nonsense ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Before the Black Throne

Other encounter sets in this scenario: Ancient Evils, Dark Cult, Agents of Azathoth, Inexorable Fate

Size of the Encounter Deck28
# Enemies8
# Willpower8
# Agility0
# Doom19
# Damage11
# Horror11

My take on this encounter deck: Before the Black Throne is a very rough scenario with lots of variance in many places. Especially at high player counts, doom amasses very fast here and there are cards in the deck that specifically dish out extra punishment for this doom. The deck is light on enemies and half of them are the Dark Cult. However, the other four enemies are the Piper of Azathoth and the three Mindless Dancers, all of which are terrifying Hunter enemies. Almost all of the other cards are doom related, either adding doom to the board or having some sort of effect based on it. There is also a good amount of effects dealing damage and/or horror here, including cards that invite extra attacks from Azathoth itself, who deals a brutal 3 horror and damage each.
The scenario comes down to finding your way through the facedown location cards, with no real way of determining which path is the correct one. So you have to guess completely blind and either you find your target locations immediately or have to stumble around some more. This, coupled with the high amount of doom treacheries and Cultists spawning in all kinds of unreachable places only to sacrifice themselves to make their doom permanent leads to a very swingy scenario and an outcome that sometimes feels like it’s not really in the hand of the players. While this is appropriate for the theme of the campaign, it doesn’t really make for a great experience playing the game…
Cancel these: Ancient Evils, The End is Nigh. Do whatever you can to stall the doom clock. If you can cancel something that would otherwise add a doom to the agenda, to Azathoth or anywhere else on the board then that is worth doing. The End is Nigh is especially problematic when it threatens to make multiple doom tokens permanent by moving them from a fragile cultist to the Elder God.

Number in the encounter deck: 3

What it does: Mindless Dancers are hard hitting Hunter enemies that spawn on the far side of the map, but can make two steps each turn as long as they go through the empty spaces between locations. Their statline of 6/5/3 is about on par with the one on the Piper of Azathoth, with the only difference being that two points of stamina are turned into an extra fight and evade.

My take: These are insanely oppressive. With three of them in the deck, you can easily end up being chased by multiple Dancers. They can not really be outrun. And they hit hard, which is a huge deal in a scenario that is already dishing out damage and horror very liberally. Their combat stats are a challenge for any fighter and the huge health pool is an invitation to spend many actions on them. That way they keep the investigators from progressing while a particularly relentless doom clock is ticking away. These combat tests are also a prime opportunity to fail your tests by drawing a tablet, elder thing or cultists which all lead to more doom or being slapped by Azathoth.
Usually, you’d want to engage Hunter enemies on your own turn so you can attack them first. Since these are able to enter spaces that players can not, even that can sometimes require some setup.

Horrible, horrible creatures. Ironically, they are also the thing i like most about this scenario. They are the sort of challenge that i expect from a final scenario.

Threat level: Very High. It’s basically a boss enemy, except there are three of them.

Dealing with it: Looking at the stat line, it is tempting to try and think about some way to evade them. Their ability to move two spaces and the two damage on their attack makes me wary to try this, though. There are four enemies like this in the deck and chances are you are going to encounter several of them. While one could reasonably expect to run from one of these enemies, are you really able to control and evade multiples? While backtracking from revealing dead end locations?
What this leaves players with is finding ways to defeat these enemies in the most efficient way. If there is no Waylay or similar tech available, that means dealing 5 damage. Preferrably using only 2 actions, since those actions are very, very precious here. The high fight value makes it very benefitial to go for testless damage. Dynamite Blast is excellent here and so are some of the direct damage options from the Seeker card pool.

Number in the encounter deck: 3

What it does: The player has to take a willpower test. If they fail, Ultimate Chaos is attached to Azathoth. Once all three of these are in play, they are discarded and either a doom is added to Azathoth or it attacks every player.
Failing the initial willpower test by 2 or more points deals a damage and a horror to that player. Should the test fail by 3 or more, the Ultimate Chaos also gains surge.

My take: This is possibly the weakest card in the deck. It has the same limitations that Terror in the Night from Inexorable Fate has, where it will only do its actual effect if all three cards manage to come together. Arguably, the effect here is even weaker than it is on Terror. If the three cards combine, the choice between doom and attacks should be fairly clear. The pressure on the doom clock would need to be immense to make me pick the other option. An attack by Azathoth means three damage and three horror, having that being dealt to every player is almost out of the question.

Threat level: Low to Medium, scaling with number of players. At low player counts, this is unlikely to do much as long as players don’t fail by 3 or more. Even at higher counts, it’s still one of the milder draws from the deck.

Dealing with it: Having three cards voltron together to payoff as one doom doesn’t sound so bad, actually. So even more than with the Terror in the Night, the prime concern should be with avoiding Surge from triggering. At higher player counts, making sure to pass at least one of these tests is worth some investment into the test.

Number in the encounter deck: 2

What it does: After failing a willpower test, all doom tokens from cultists in play are moved to Azathoth. Should no cultists be in play, then a doom is added to Azathoth from the token bank. The willpower test scales with the number of the current Agenda, going from 2 to 5.

My take: Alright, so let’s talk about the cultists. There is four of them in the deck and due to their spawning restrictions they have a tendency of appearing in undiscovered locations that are unreachable still. So player will have to prioritize the path to that enemy so they can take it out before the agenda advances because each agenda b-side will have those cultists sacrifice themselves and put their doom on Azathoth where it sticks around. Depending on the timing, doom left on the agenda and whether players are already occupied with other things, this can already be a huge source of problems. The End is Nigh is a card that further intensifies this issue, by introducing the possibility that these cultists throw their doom on Azathoth even before the agenda advances. If this happens after players already devoted actions, resources, cards etc towards making their way to that cultist, this can be a major downer. Luckily there is a test attached to give players at least a chance of blanking the card. But man, i am not a fan of the whole cultist mechanic in this scenario.

Threat level: High. Even without Cultists in play, the card still adds a permanent doom to Azathoth. This is a willpower test that is important to pass.

Dealing with it: Cancel it. Or make sure that the willpower test is successful. Since the card doesn’t even allow to kill all Cultists to prevent doom being added to Azathoth, there isn’t really a whole lot you can do about it. Just know that the card exists and that you can not ever waste time on killing that Wizard of the Order unless you want to risk facing the absolute worst case scenario of moving all the doom from him onto Azathoth.

Number in the encounter deck: 2

What it does: Out of four possible effects, the player has to choose one for each doom on Azathoth. There are no further restrictions, so the same option can be chosen multiple times. All four options directly impact that investigator, making them lose either a resource, a card, a point of sanity or a point of stamina.
A World in Darkness surges if no doom has been placed on Azathoth yet.

My take: One of the milder draws from the encounter deck, this only starts to become threatening near the end of the scenario. While there is no test on the card to prevent the effect, the player choice involved can often minimize its impact. Of particular note: The discard option is not random, so any player with excess cards in hand can put those to good use here.

Threat level: Low. This is very manageable. Near the end of the scenario, this can escalate pretty hard, but at that point you hopefully know which resources you can spare and which one you need to keep.

Dealing with it: Unless you can stack them favorably onto your assets, taking horror or damage should be avoided here because there are many other sources of that around the scenario. Especially for the effect of the tablet token (an attack by Azathoth), stamina and sanity of the investigator need to stay as high as possible. Cards and resources can be sacrificed to this card as required to fulfill it.

Number in the encounter deck: 2

What it does: The player has to choose. Either place a doom on Azathoth or get attack by the Elder God for three damage and horror. The card has Peril so other players do not get a say in this decision.

My take: If i have to take the three damage and horror straight to my investigator card, i would rather pick the doom. Otherwise, it’s less clear cut. Note that taking the doom early on will cost multiple turns as it will subtract a turn from every agenda and not just the current one.

Threat level: High. It’s a scary card, but it does at least offer the option of using soak to take most of the blow.

Dealing with it: This is a very situational decision to make. Both choices are very impactful in their own right, and the current situation will dictate which one matters more. At first glance, taking damage and horror should be preferrable to adding a persistent doom token, but the amount of other effects that deal horror and damage is not tobe underestimated.

Return to Before the Black Throne

My take on the modified scenario: There’s some stuff happening here and to get the full picture one should also include the interlude which happens between Clutches and Black Throne. A couple of ingame decisions (taking over the lodge, arresting Anette, etc) are now rewarded with things that can help with the final scenario. That’s not only satisfying in terms of story telling, but also genuinely helpful with getting through this scenario as it can net you extra XP, resources or card upgrades. At setup, players are now also able to spend two of their special resources to acquire Nightgaunt Steeds. Doing so is highly advised as they do offer the ability to cross empty spaces in a limited fashion. The Steeds do a great job of counteracting some of the randomness from the location layout, thus taking away some of the enormous time pressure. In a pinch they can also tank a good amount of damage instead which can certainly be relevant as well.
Also very helpful with the randomness this scenario is known for: The removal of Ancient Evils in favor of the Impending Evils. This allows players to decide what is currently easier for them to mitigate: Damage/Horror or Doom. It should be noted though that the other encounter set that gets swapped out is Inexorable Fate, meaning that Unavoidable Demise is around to further hammer on the player’s stamina. Having some healing and/or soak goes a long way in this revamped scenario.
Three new locations are added to the Cosmos deck, but that doesn’t change the scenario in a huge way. A new final act card also gives access to a new resolution, but this of course doesn’t impact the scenario itself either.
I think this Return is a huge improvement on the original scenario, mitigating a lot of the randomness from the stacking doom mechanics and the time pressure that was often completely out of the player’s hands. By adding player agency through the Nightgaunt Steeds and the Impending Evils, players now can take their fate back in their own hand. Which feels very satisfying, especially if you failed this scenario a couple of times in the past and felt bad about it. This is of course not to say that Return to Black Throne is easy now. It’s still a very hard scenario with persistent doom from suicidal cultists, massive enemies from Dancers to the Piper and treacheries that dish out damage and horror in huge chunks. But you do feel like you actually have a way of fighting back against it now.


Continue reading here:

Anette’s Favored

(replaces Anette’s Coven from Circle Undone)

Goal of this replacement set: I have some issues with the original set that i want to improve upon. While at it, i also want to use this set to counteract some of the player count scaling in Circle Undone that makes a couple cards very uninteresting if you play with only one or two investigators.
Goal 1: The witches simply weren’t particularly impactful or memorable. I think this is not acceptable for a set that represents one of the two major factions of the campaign. While i do not think they should be good fighters, i do think that they should do some more than just mill two encounter cards.
Goal 2: The witches were anti-synergistic with two cards from Circle Undone that attach to the agenda and fire when three of them are collected. These two cards (Daemonic Pipings from the Agents of Azathoth and Terror in the Night from Inexorable Fate) could be discarded by a Coven Initiate, helping the players because they wouldn’t need to be afraid of finding all three of them before the encounter deck reshuffles. Especially at low player counts that meant that those cards basically never assembled together for their full effect. The new set should help with that instead, so a two player party might run into the Piper outside of Before the Black Throne sometimes after all.

Special note: Unlike the other encounter replacement sets from the ARES series, i would recommend using this set only when playing with few players. It’s intended to help with a specific scaling issue that simply doesn’t exist at full parties.
I should also note that this set jacks up the difficulty a bit more than the other replacement sets, so be aware of that. Encounter recursion effects can be very powerful and a bit unpredictable, making them hard to balance. These cards have the potential to unearth some really nasty cards, from Rotten Remains to Realm of Torment. Daemonic Pipings and Shapes in the Mist even have Surge.
I don’t think that the average case for these two replacement witches is all that bad and one of the goals was increasing the threat coming from the coven. But be aware that there is a bigger amount of variance here that can come and bite you when you least want it to.

Replaces Coven Initiate. Number of these in the encounter set: 3

About this card: The Disciple leaves the base stats, the horror and the traits of the original Initiate intact. It even shares the triggered ability of discarding the top two cards. However, instead of an ability that triggers only when those were the last cards of the encounter deck (so … almost never), the replacement version triggers on discarding a Terror card among those two. Daemonic Pipings and Terror of the Night are of course Terror cards, but there are a couple others that can be picked up and thrown at the player. Of particular note is the Striking Fear set which consists entirely of Terror treacheries. Luckily, it is only paired with the Coven set during the first scenario.

Replaces Priestess of the Coven. Number of these in the encounter set: 1

About this card: The Ritualist continues the theme of caring about Terrors in the encounter discard pile. It trades in the physical strength of the original Priestess for a recursion ability that can pull Terror cards back that got discarded either from other encounter cards (like Centuries of Secrets) or simply by resolving. While her stats are nothing to really write home about, killing her in combat should be done by using a 3-damage attack, to minimize the danger of autofailing into a Retaliate that brings back a Frozen in Fear or something similarly gruesome. Her ability won’t outright draw more encounter cards (i felt like that was too much), but she can stack the encounter deck against you if you let her.

Inexorable Fate

Set Size6
Number of unique Cards2
RoleDoom, Damage, Horror
Threat LevelMid to High, scaling with player count
# of scenarios5
VariantsUnspeakable Fate
Appears in: At Death’s Doorstep, The Secret Name, The Wages of Sin, Union and Disillusion, Before the Black Throne

My take on this set: This is a weird one. Clearly it is meant to be a very iconic set for the Circle Undone, both thematically and in terms of gameplay mechanics. It’s also the set that is used the most. Representing the theme of destiny and fate waiting for everyone that is present throughout most of the campaign, these cards act like an alternative timer for the players, similar to Beyond the Veil in Dunwich. However, there are two things that hold this set back from being as remarkable as Dunwich’s Sorcery set. One, the set scales way too much depending on the number of players. If you are playing TCU with one or two investigators, these cards are barely doing their thing while a full party of four can get barraged with them. This is a problem the set shares with the Agents of Azathoth set. Two, some of the other encounter sets that are frequently paired with Inexorable Fate have considerable anti-synergy with it. The sets related to the witches and their coven have discarding cards from the encounter deck as one of their themes, which will often dump cards from this set where they can’t be drawn again until the deck reshuffles. As a result, a lot of variance is introduced to how often people draw these cards, compounding with the player count scaling to a point where these cards range anywhere from “complete freebies” to “horribly frustrating”. Not a great place to be.
Final verdict: A good effort and some interesting mechanics, but as a whole this set fails at being the mechanical centerpiece that it could’ve been.

Number in the encounter deck: 3

What it does: When the first Fate of All Fools is drawn for this game, it is put into that players threat area. Should a copy of Fate of All Fools already be in play, the player has to choose instead: Either a doom is added to the Fate in play or the investigator controlling it has to take 2 direct damage.

My take: Drawing this card for the first time is a freebie, but every further copy after that asks to make a difficult choice. The first instinct is taking the damage whenever possible because adding doom affects everyone. However, since it’s explicitly direct damage, many of the common ways to mitigate that damage are disabled, so there is certainly a limit to how much damage a player can allow themselves. This card scales very hard with the number of investigators in play, because naturally drawing more encounter cards leads to drawing more of these, thus piling more damage onto that one player no matter who actually ended up drawing the extra copies.

Threat level: Mid to High, scaling with number of players. At low player counts, you may not even see all three of these, however with a full party it is entirely possible to go through the encounter deck completely and get swamped by drawing these over and over.

Dealing with it: As the names of the cards indicate, the Fate of All Fools can be completely shut off with Alter Fate. Holding Alter Fate, you can just dump doom on the treachery only to discard it when it becomes a problem. That way, the one player card can blank multiple encounter cards.
If players have a way to heal damage, that can also be a good way to mitigate the impact of this treachery.

Number in the encounter deck: 3

What it does: If the player does not pass a difficult willpower test, Terror in the Night is put into play next to the agenda. Once three copies of this card are put into play this way, they all are discarded and each player suffers 3 points of horror.
Terror in the Night gains surge if the player fails his willpower test by three or more.

My take: There is a lot of assembly required for this effect to come together. First the cards need to be drawn, then the tests all need to fail. So in practice the effect doesn’t happen all that often, leaving the players with some turns where they get a lucky break – at least as long as they do not completely fail the test and have to surge into the next card.
If the effect does fire, it looks fairly severe at first glance. But considering that it took three encounter cards to get there, it’s not *that* bad.
Personally, i always get a chuckle out of discarding this card for Coven Initiate or Centuries of Secrets. That seems to happen a whole lot, often enough that i can’t really be afraid of this card.

Threat level: Low to Medium, scaling with number of players. At low player counts, this doesn’t really fire. At high player counts, the chances go up but since you need to only stop one of these from getting into play, it still is very manageable.

Dealing with it: Preventing the card from surging should be the first priority when drawing it. That way, even if the effect comes together, you did at least gain some tempo in the turns where nothing immediately happened to you.
To stop the horror from being dealt to everyone, only one of these cards needs to be stopped, so you do have two cards that can be allowed to enter play. For that reason, overcommitting Willpower icons to one of these or just playing a cancel card will blank not only that one card, but also further copies – at least until the encounter deck reshuffles.
Again, Alter Fate can do some real work here.

Return to Circle Undone: Unspeakable Fate

My take on this set: This replacement set is just as remarkably weird as the original one. Fate of all Fools got directly replaced by a card that has very similar templating… and even shares the same name, a first among replacement sets so far.
The other card, Unavoidable Demise, is completely new and sports some unique mechanics that let it escalate even if the test on it succeeds. The replacement fixes the dependency on drawing the full set to do its thing and meanwhile takes over the damage dealing capacities that was on Fate of All Fools before.
I like this replacement set. As someone that only plays two-handed, the switch of Terror in the Night for Unavoidable Demise is a very good one for me. I don’t particularly care much about the chance from one Fate of All Fools to another. But hey, maybe it could be cool to just drop both Terror and Demise and instead use all six copies of Fate some time…

Number in the encounter deck: 3

What it does: When Fate of All Fools is drawn with no others in the game, it is put into that players threat area. Should a copy of Fate of All Fools already be in play, the player has to instead draw the next encounter card without being able to cancel it. That encounter card also gains Peril and no cards can be committed to skill tests while it resolves.

My take: Uh, this is a weird one. Starting by the fact that it has the same name as the card it replaces and ending with its very unique effect, this is not quite like anything we’ve seen before. The name being the same was likely done so you can mix and match the original version with the new one and get some variance from that. Neat. Its actual effect is quite potent. A lot of encounter cards in this campaign (including Unavoidable Demise from this set) come with tests on them and not being able to commit cards can be a problem. Especially if it’s one of those where the effect scales with how many points you fail by, several of which were added by the Return To.
Is it more threatening than the choice of a doom versus 2 damage from the original Fate of all Fools? Probably not. But it’s close enough. I think this is at the very least a more interesting card, roughly on the same powerlevel. On the one hand, it does remove a piece of player choice. On the other hand it’s entirely possible that the next encounter card doesn’t benefit from the bonuses of this card’s effect at all, for example an enemy.

Threat level: Mid to High, with the same caveats as the original.

Dealing with it: The change in how it works removes the option of letting doom stack up on this card to basically Alter Fate all of them at once. Something worth mentioning is that while the encounter card it triggers is not able to be canceled, Fate of All Fools certainly is. Of course, this decision needs to be made before seeing what’s coming up.

Number in the encounter deck: 3

What it does: After failing an agility test, the investigator is dealt 2 damage. However, should they succeed the card is put into play next to the agenda deck. The difficulty and damage of the test scales with the number of Unavoidable Demise in play.

My take: Oh wow. This looks innocent at first, with just an easy agility test on it that can easily be passed. But as the card scales up the test gets harder and can deal up to 4 damage in one swoop. This is a very dangerous card and especially so for any investigator with low agility. With three copies of the card in the deck , that damage could stack up really fast.
Full groups that cycle through the deck multiple times can run into the situation where they draw a fully powered Demise multiple times, something that can easily knock someone out.
Something notable about this card is how it removes the complete dependency on pulling all three copies to do something that Terror in the Night has, thus making it much more relevant to small groups.

Threat level: High to Very High. A huge source of damage that can spiral out of control.

Dealing with it: In a perfect world, you could count on passing the agility test three times and be done with the card for the rest of the scenario. Of course, it doesn’t always work out like that and failing the tests becomes more likely as the damage also ramps up.

Merging Realities

Set Size6
Number of unique Cards3
RoleWillpower, Damage, Horror, Deck Destruction, Asset Discard… really, there is a little bit of everything here.
Threat LevelLow
# of scenarios2
Appears in: Waking Nightmare, A Thousand Shapes of Horror

My take on this set: There are some cards in this set that look flashy at first glance but ultimately these cards don’t have a particularly great impact. All of them can be mitigated fairly well by coordinating with teammates. And in the case of Night Terrors, the effect itself isn’t actually bad enough for most investigators/decks that you’d want to spend an action on it.
What that leaves us with is a set of three cards with wildly different effects that also don’t play much into the two scenarios it is used in. It’s some inoffensive filler that bolsters up the numbers in the encounter deck and acts as a bit of relief from whatever other cards make up that deck. That is perfectly fine but nothing to get overly excited about.

Number in the encounter deck: 2

What it does: Night Terrors lingers in a players threat area until they decide to discard it. While affected, the investigator has to reveal the top three cards of their deck every time they fail a test. Each weakness revealed this way is drawn, the other cards are removed from game.
To get rid of this card, the player has to spend an action and take a somewhat difficult willpower test. Night Terrors is discarded no matter if the test fails or passes.

My take: Looks much worse than it really is. This treachery is one of the very few that actually removes cards from the game instead of just discarding them and that makes it look quite scary. However, this is only a minor difference for most investigators. Unless playing an investigator that depends on some key copies of their cards (for example because they want to assemble the Pendant or Three Aces), losing a few cards from the deck doesn’t matter a whole lot. Drawing the weakness is even borderline benefitial as drawing the card that way doesn’t replace one of the natural draws from the upkeep phase. So unless you plan on failing enough tests that this would completely decimate your deck, you can probably ride it out safely.

Threat level: Low. It only has minor impact, except for a few choice investigators that depend on certain cards to function at all.

Dealing with it: If drawn in the the first few turns of the game, it can potentially lead to shredding a good part of the deck if the player fails a lot of tests during the scenario. In that case, spending the action is worth it. Otherwise it depends on the investigator this can just stay in play and do its thing or if the action needs to be spent. In any case, it’s likely not going to an urgent thing to do.

Number in the encounter deck: 2

What it does: While Glimpse of the Underworld is in a players threat area, they take an additional damage or horror whenever they would take some. To discard the card, the player can take one damage and one horror as a free trigger on their turn, no action required.

My take: Just take the damage and horror and be done with it. Unless you are in your last two turns (or one damage/horror away from defeat), there is little sense to having this stick around and potentially cause extra harm.

Threat level: Low. This mostly just deals a point of damage and horror. In multiplayer you sometimes even get to choose who takes it.

Dealing with it: Remember that any player at the same location can activate this card’s free trigger ability. So even if the one who got stuck with Glimpse is low enough on stamina and/or sanity that discarding it would be an issue and without any assets to soak it, then a teammate can discard it for them.

Number in the encounter deck: 2

What it does: Unlike the other two cards from this set, Threads of Reality doesn’t go into the threat area. Instead, it attaches to the most expensive asset the player has in play and while there, blanks the textbox of that asset.
To discard Threads and re-enable the asset, an investigator at that location has so spend an action and sacrifice another asset.

My take: This card can be a nuisance as it does cost an action and an asset. There is some player choice here in which asset to sacrifice for the effect, but no test to completely avoid it like on many other cards like it. Despite the lack of a saving throw, Threads is usually less impactful as for example the Core Sets’s Crypt Chill or Forgotten Age’s Lost in Time. To protect against the other two, players usually use low cost assets that can be discarded to protect the important cards. With Threads, you can play those low cost assets even after getting hit by the treachery, so your first turn Leo de Luca or .45 Thompson is relatively safe.

Threat level: Mid. It does cost the player an asset and an action, but isn’t able to outright destroy a card permanently. The final say in what goes to the discard pile lies with the player.

Dealing with it: Like with the two other cards from this set, anyone at the same location can pitch in to get rid of the treachery provided they have a spare asset to discard. Use that to minimize the inconvenience caused by this card.

Weekly Evils #12

Week in Review

This week i’ve been exploring the Forgotten Age, building the way towards the infamous Boundary Beyond on Friday. Before getting there, i had to knock out Guardians of Time and Yig’s Venom as well, of course. Notably this marks the point where all of the new encounter replacements from Return to the Forgotten Age have their articles on this site. Yay.


The Forgotten Age was on my mind this week for other reasons, too. Starting a new campaign, Sister Mary and Trish Scarborough went into the jungle. It’s been a rocky start with very few XP earned so far, which is quite untypical for TFA. Probably going to throw the two Innsmouth scenarios in there somewhere as well, just to pad it out a bit and gain some more XP on the side 😉 Building a deck for Mary is quite the puzzle, something i will absolutely have to revisit at some point down the road.

Meanwhile, spoilers for upcoming content continued. We got to see Gloria’s backside, but since that’s technically been a leak and not an official spoiler, i’ll not comment on it further here. More interesting and worth talking about than willpower focused Mystic #734815 is a little gem called “Stirring Up Trouble”, a card from the In Too Deep mythos pack and spoiled by the Mythos Busters. That looks like a very relevant card to me that goes into many, many decks. On the surface it compares evenly with Drawn to the Flame, a staple card for its class. Adding 4-5 curses to the bag is about equal to drawing an extra encounter card in my book, so this doesn’t need to hide from DttF at all. Heh, there’s even a couple of investigators that can run both. This is a card i can see myself playing a lot, as i think it scales very well on both low shroud and high shroud locations. My only concern would be not being able to play it when there’s already a bunch of tokens from other cards like Promise of Power, Faustian Bargain or Deep Knowledge in the bag. If this trend of great cards with Curses attached continues throughout the cycle, deckbuilding with them is going to be interesting. There’s certainly an upper limit of how many you can add to a deck before it becomes too much. And this limit is shared throughout the whole party, which is extra intriguing. I like this sort of thing.