Week in Review
Trucking along the scheduled scenario and encounter set reviews, it was Circle Undone’s turn this week. Spectral Predators and Trapped Spirits are two closely related sets about spirits and their interaction with the Haunted mechanic. And which better scenario to showcase Haunted than At Death’s Doorstep, which pushes this mechanic hard?
This leaves two more scenarios from TCU for another time. Next week I’ll be finishing up The Dream-Eaters, however!
I’ll save the lengthy introduction, instead i will continue right where i left off last week with the personal rankings for the scenarios within their campaign. As a reminder, here’s what the colors/tiers mean:
As mentioned last week, this ranking assumes the Return To campaign where possible and for TFA, that is very important. I mentioned this before, but RtTFA managed to make this my favorite campaign, even beating out Carcosa. Like Carcosa, it doesn’t have a real stinker in its lineup. At the bottom sits HotE#2, and its biggest crime is only being a bit boring and not adding anything interesting to the campaign. At the top sits Threads of Fate, one of the best scenarios in the whole game. For some, it’s even the best. Depths of Yoth is not only a great singleton scenario, it also fulfills an important role in campaign play, delivering the payoff for the Vengeance mechanic. Untamed Wilds is a great first scenario. It introduces the exploration mechanic, offers a meaningful choice right away around how to handle Ichtaca and offers a challenge level that is just right. The rest of the campaign is just super solid. City of Archives went from one of my least favorite scenarios to being quite interesting due to the new option from Return To. Boundary Beyond profits hard from the exploration changes. Doom of Etzli is basically a whole new scenario. HotE#1 and Shattered Aeons are the only ones that were left a bit behind. Especially Shattered Aeons is kinda weak for a final scenario. But it’s still … fine.
I have a love/hate relationship with TCU. It was my first campaign after Core and Dunwich and i initially liked it a whole lot. But while TFA managed to become better and better with each replay, i soured on TCU a bit more each time i played it. Wages of Sin is an absolute mess of a scenario, i find little redeeming features about it. Before the Black Throne makes me feel completely helpless, like the scenario is actually playing me instead of the other way round. Too much variance makes it appear like my actions have little relevance to the outcome. Another clear miss for me.
On the other side of the spectrum sits Clutches of Chaos and i am very aware of how controversial i am being here. This scenario constantly ranks near the bottom for anyone else, but i just love it. It has everything i want: A big map, lots of investigations to do, enemies to fight, interesting treacheries. And a super neat gimmick mechanic on top.
Say what you want about The Secret Name, but its certainly memorable. It again features a good gimmick and poses a very real challenge. I also appreciate that it doesn’t go as all-in on Haunted as many other TCU scenarios do.
The Greater Good again comes with a big map, stuff to collect, enemies to fight, various ways to success and branching story bits depending on what you do.
Witching Hour doesn’t really do anything wrong, it’s just a bit basic when compared to other first scenarios like Curtain Call or Untamed Wilds that came before it. Death’s Doorstep is the Haunted scenario and i don’t particularly enjoy Haunted…
Which leaves Union and Disillusion. It focuses on two things: The Watcher and the circle tests. I don’t care much about the former and i feel like there’s too much variance with the latter. Some investigators have little chance to pass some of these tests and randomly drawing the “right” locations can make or break the scenario for those. Meh.
Fingers crossed that Return to Circle Undone can make me like this campaign again!
I have little love for the full Dream-Eaters campaign. Again, i am aware that it has its fans and i want to make clear that this is just my personal opinion. But i find little to like about the A-Campaign in particular. The B-side is pretty good, though! Waking Nightmare and Point of No Return are once again fairly “classic” investigate and fight scenarios that are always a hit for me. By what i read everywhere else, i also seem to be the only one who doesn’t mind the infestation tests in Waking Nightmare? Of course, the finale of B is Weaver of the Cosmos and that is just a mad thing. I love that it exists. It’s not the most challenging thing to replay the 5th time, but the setup with the giant rotating spider in the middle is just brilliant. The low end of B is Thousand Shapes of Horror, which throws a bunch of different mechanics at the wall and sees what sticks. It’s not annoying to play or anything, but imo it fails to do anything particularly well.
As for campaign A, it is just a sea of mediocrity to me. It never gets low enough that i would want to put it into a tier with the likes of Wages of Sin or Devourer Below, but except for Search of Kadath nothing comes close to really making me want to play it more often. Search for Kadath almost manages it, but the fiddly midgame setups are just such a bother. Gates of Sleep is … okay on the first play. But on replays the first half is just going through the motions for some time and then it’s just a central location with a few clustered around them with little really cool going on. Dark Side of the Moon can be fun if you specifically pick your investigators for it at the start of the campaign. Otherwise, the agility tests come out of left field and you just get buried in alarm levels. It’s kinda like coming into the Where Doom Awaits with low intellect before it got fixed by the Return To. I do applaud Where The Gods Dwell for the mechanics of its final “fight”, but i feel like the scenario has too many bugs to be enjoyable out of the box. An unforgiving doom clock that can run out even when you do everything right, a huge variance on where in the encounter deck the target cards sit and treacheries that can just set all of your progress back are just too much.
Alright, that’s my rankings for the full campaigns published so far. Obviously, everyone will disagree with something here and that’s fine. It’s an opinion piece 🙂
I want to do one more post next week on this little thought exercise, with a bit of a summary, comparison of the campaigns and a look at what we have seen from Innsmouth so far.
If you got this far, thanks for suffering through my rambling. Cheers 🙂