Best-Laid Plans: The Circle Undone


This page doesn’t hold back anything. There are detailed spoilers for the full The Circle Undone campaign ahead. I highly suggest that you stop reading now if you have not played this campaign once or twice before. Don’t ruin that blind run experience for yourself. Come back once you at least gave it a try and formed your own opinion on the two warring factions of the campaign. Don’t get influenced beforehand, you can always come back later and tell us then why the witches are clearly the superior choice over the lodge.


In the Circle Undone, players are caught between the machinations of the Silver Twilight Lodge and the plans of Anette Mason’s coven of witches. Not only that, they are also caught between the world of the living and the spectral world of ghosts, frequently passing back and forth between the two. There is a lot of talk about destiny throughout, but that shouldn’t stop us from examining if we can’t bend that predestined path in our favor here and there.

This article is meant to look at the challenges that are specifically tied to this campaign and its scenarios and at the choices the players have to make meeting these challenges. Like on previous articles of this series, i will also try to give some suggestions for investigators particularly suited for Circle Undone and for cards that work well here.
This article is not going to look at each encounter set and each scenario in detail, this site already has pages for those. Please refer to those for more zoomed in views on the single cards that make up the encounter sets and encounter decks.

Return To: At the time of writing this article, the Return to The Circle Undone was not released yet, so it didn’t include any notes about the changed content from that box. I have now edited this page to include some RtTCU notes. You will find them in annotations such as this one throughout the following article.

The prologue and the four missing persons

The campaign starts with a gimmick right away. Before the first scenario starts, a prologue has to be played. For this, each player takes control of a unique scenario specific investigator instead of the one that they will use for the rest of the campaign. They also have to get by with a very limited amount of cards instead of their full decks. The prologue can not be won, instead the goal is holding out as long as possible and uncovering clues in a manor that suddenly found itself host to an invasion of some spectral threat.

There’s four prologue investigators, each one aligned with a class: Gavriella (Guardian), Jerome (Seeker), Valentino (Rogue) and Penny (Survivor). A mystic is not around.

When the scenario is done, each of those four persons has met one of five fates:
Crossed out: This happens when you play with fewer than four players. Any prologue investigators that did not see play are crossed out in the log and are ignored for the rest of the campaign.
Taken by the Watcher: If the investigator dies from an attack of the unique Watcher enemy, this is their fate.
Disappeared into the mist: To get this resolution, the investigator needs to survive until there are at least 7 doom on the agenda, then die to its Forced effect.
Claimed by specters: This happens if the investigator falls to an enemy other than the Watcher.
Pulled into the spectral realm: This is what happens when the investigator dies to any other cause, like for example being defeated by a treachery.

The payoff for this happens during Union and Disillusion, where the players will either find the investigator unharmed and can possibly add them as a story asset (-> disappeared into the mist), find them as twisted enemy versions that they have to fight (-> claimed by specters) or don’t find them at all because the Watcher fed on them and grew stronger (-> taken by the Watcher). If the investigator was pulled into the spectral realm, no trace of them will be found in Union and Disillusion. Players should strive for the “Disappeared into the mist” resolution for as many investigators as possible while discovering clues. If they feel they won’t make it, falling to a treachery isn’t too bad either.

The discovered clues lower the amount of clues that the player investigators will have to discover during At Death’s Doorstep. Should they not manage to grab the required clues during that scenario, the players will be unable to add the story asset for one or more missing persons that disappeared into the mist.

Due to the relatively low impact of these happenings on the campaign as a whole, many players choose to skip the prologue on repeated replays of The Circle Undone, for example replacing it with random rolls to determine the outcomes for the missing persons.

Return To: With the RtTCU, the random outcomes for the prologue have gotten an official rule set employing the tarot card set from the box. This is very useful if you want to skip the prologue on your Xth playthrough but don’t want to homebrew your own solutions.

Accepting or rejecting your destiny

Once the prologue is done, the players need to make one more decision as a group before they can finally start on their first scenario with their proper decks and investigators. During the setup of Witching Hour, they receive a grim tarot reading by Anna Kaslow. The players can choose to either accept their fate or reject it.

Depending on their choice, the chaos bag gains two additional tokens: Accepting the fate results in two tablets. Reject it and you will have to add two Elder Things instead, which are much worse for your tests. However, if you do accept it, the lead investigator has to add two cards to their deck: The Ace of Rods and The Tower. The Tower is a nasty weakness that is difficult/expensive to get rid of and can not be mulliganed. The Ace of Rods is technically a player card, but it is so weak that it can almost count as another weakness due to diluting the deck.

So that’s the choice. Either add two bad tarot cards to the lead investigator’s deck or take the worse tokens. The more players you have, the more attractive the first option looks, after all the two bad cards only affect one player while the bad tokens are for everyone. So with 3 or 4 players you will usually want to accept your fate. But even at 1 or 2 players, accepting the tarot cards is worth thinking about, the difference between tablets and Elder Things is often quite severe. This is especially true on Hard and Expert difficulties.

Return To: Instead of taking the two tarot cards, players that choose to accept their fate may now opt to accept a predefined tarot reading instead, which will modify each scenario a bit in the player’s favor. This is generally going to be preferable to the original “reward”.

Willpower and persistent treacheries

There is a whole lot of willpower testing in the Circle Undone campaign. It’s not subtle at all either, a third to half of the encounter cards used in the scenarios do have willpower tests on them in some capacity. The extreme peak is The Secret Name which has more of than 20 of these.

Another notable thing about treacheries in Circle Undone is that many of them stay in play instead of just having a revelation effect. They either stick to a player’s threat area, to the agenda, next to the agenda or whatever other weird spots could possibly hold attached cards. If they are not discarded at the end of turn they often ask for some action from the player to discard them. As one would expect, willpower is the most frequently relevant skill here.

As a result of these two circumstances, low willpower investigators may often find that they get stuck with multiple treacheries that start stacking upon each other. Luckily, other investigators can often test these persisting treacheries in the threat area for them – a rule that was never as important as it is in this campaign.

Return To: The relevance of Willpower is mitigated a bit by the replacement encounter sets from the Return. There are now some very relevant cards around that test agility instead of willpower, so more investigators get to play to their strength in the campaign. That being said, Willpower is still the most relevant stat by a long shot and investigators like Finn will still find themselves at an inherent disadvantage.


A major new mechanic is the introduction of “haunted” locations. On a haunted location, something happens whenever a player fails an investigation test. The triggered effects cover a wide range, from your usual damage/horror pings over discarding cards to fetching up enemies. Haunted is tied to the idea of spectral locations (although not all relevant locations actually have the Spectral trait) and is used to note the influence of the spirit world on a place. The scenarios with Haunted locations in them are Death’s Doorstep, Secret Name, Wages of Sin and Union and Disillusion. There is also a single haunted location in Before the Black Throne. So this mechanic is active for roughly half of the campaign.

There are a couple of investigators and players that are more affected by Haunted than others. Anyone playing on Hard or Expert will of course be much more likely to fail their tests, overpowering the difficulty with sheer intellect becomes a much harder task there than it does on Easy or Standard. Solo players are also at a disadvantage, as they usually need to be a jack-of-all-trades and can rarely afford to invest fully into seeking clues. Finally, the whole Survivor “fail forward” archetype can get a bit awkward. If you are relying on cards like “Look What I Found!” to discover your clues, you will need to be able to get hit by haunted effects over and over again.

These haunted locations are not only relevant to seeker type investigators, though. There are two encounter sets that provide additional chances to trigger them outside of investigations. Those are Realm of Death (which has two treacheries that just resolve haunted effects no matter what) and Spectral Predators (which has an enemy that resolves haunted effects when attacking). Additionally, both the Spectral Predators and Trapped Spirits set have cards that add more haunted effects to locations they attach to.

As a result of all of this, clue gathering in the Circle Undone becomes more risky to do for those investigators that are only somewhat okay at it as they have more to lose than just an action or a bad token effect on failing. To counteract this risk, a specialized clue gatherer is recommended that can use very high modified intellect values to overpower those tests. Alternatively, cards that can acquire clues without a test can be used to bypass the haunted mechanic. Examples are Drawn to the Flame, Grete Wagner and Working a Hunch. As a specialized tool, the card Read the Signs allows ignoring location effects while investigating, which includes Haunted.

Encounter Deck Decay

There are a few encounter cards that deal with discarding cards from the top of the encounter deck, with having the encounter deck run out or with having certain cards in your discard pile. This subtheme is nowhere near as important as the player deck decay is during Dunwich Legacy, mostly because it lacks a big payoff treachery. However, it is still a notable mechanic that can be worth keeping an eye on during the game.

The first encounter set that players are likely to encounter featuring this theme is Anette’s Coven. There’s two witches in that set. One discards two cards from the encounter deck and has an extra trigger that happens if this would empty the deck. While very unlikely to actually happen, this does introduce the theme. The other witch gets bonus stats based on the number of other witches in the discard pile, so she can feed off of any other encounter deck decay happening.

Much more important than the witches is City of Sins, though. This set has two cards. One of them, Centuries of Secrets, is one of the more impactful from the whole campaign. After discarding up to 5 cards from the deck, it can deal damage to investigators and their allies if a Curse card was discarded. The other one, Evil Past, sticks to a player’s threat area and deals horror whenever the encounter deck runs out. While much, much less threatening than Dunwich’s Beyond the Veil, Evils Past is the closest that Circle Undone has for a capstone to this mechanic.

Naturally, this subtheme is much more pronounced in full groups than it is with low player counts. A group of four investigators would often go through the whole encounter deck three times even without any particular theme helping out while solo players or investigator pairs might not even make it through the deck once. As a result, the power of the cards associated with the mechanic fluctuate a lot with player count, especially if they (like Evils Past) depend on the encounter deck running out to do anything at all.

“Collect Three” Treacheries

Another group of encounter cards shares a theme of scaling with the number of previously drawn encounter cards with the same name. Some of them even only take effect when all three of them are drawn and set aside together. Like the deck decay theme, this one also scales heavily with player counts. After all, it’s much easier to draw all three of a certain cards if two to four times more encounter cards are drawn each turn.

Perhaps the most important and flashy one of these cards is Daemonic Pipings from the Agents of Azathoth set. When drawn, they do nothing but set themselves aside and surge. Once all three are drawn this way, they will however discard and summon the Piper of Azathoth, a very dangerous boss enemy.

The other important cards are both treacheries from the Inexorable Fate set and Diabolic Voices from the Witchcraft set.

There is a bit of a mechanical tension between the deck decay from some of the cards and the collection aspect of others. For example, you might easily have to discard a Daemonic Pipings or Terror in the Night to a Centuries of Secrets which will in turn weaken all remaining copies of those cards until the encounter deck reshuffles. While this does serve a purpose in full groups so you don’t necessarily have to face the Piper on each go through the encounter deck, this can make it very unlikely for a set of Pipings or Terrors to come together for solo or duo players.

Something to note here is that the treacheries aren’t actually set aside out of play, they are put into the play area next to the agenda deck. This is relevant because that makes them valid targets for the player card Alter Fate. Having this card is very valuable throughout the whole campaign, as it’s not only able to disrupt these set collections, but it can also serve as a silver bullet against persistent treacheries in any player’s threat area.

The Watcher

The Spectral Watcher is a unique threat that never enters the encounter deck, but is put into play during certain scenarios using the The Watcher encounter set. It is first encountered during the prologue scenario and makes further appearances in At Death’s Doorstep, The Wages of Sin and finally in Union and Disillusion.

The Watcher can not be killed, however defeating it will keep it exhausted for two turns, so there is some good value to that. Its stats aren’t too impressive considering its status as not only as an Elite, but also as an Ancient One. The most important number is its five health which the investigators might be forced to deplete one or two times to buy time to run away from it.

Two copies of a supporting treachery are also included in the Watcher encounter set, allowing the Watcher to heal and execute a move and attack during the mythos phase.

When the Watcher appears, it’s not as the primary driving force of the scenario but more as an additional hindrance that delays the investigators while they try to reach their real goal. This is a bit surprising considering that the scenario texts treat this enemy as a much more influential threat. In the text, the Watcher is set it up as the primary villain behind the disappearances at the lodge, but it never really lives up to that potential. No matter the outcome of Union and Disillusion, it is completely absent for the final two scenarios as well.

Ultimately, the Watcher isn’t a terribly huge problem to deal with. While it does ask some actions from the investigators to deal with it blocking the way, it’s never as threatening as promised. The Piper of Azathoth usually commands much more respect and that thing isn’t even guaranteed to enter play.


The Silver Twilight Lodge, represented by an encounter set of the same name, consists of cultists with a unique gimmick. Instead of just killing them, the players are encouraged to instead parley them to remove the doom tokens on them. The scenario rules reinforce this by either making the lodge cultists outright invulnerable (At Death’s Doorstep) or by spilling doom from defeated cultists to the agenda (For the Greater Good).

Players who want to align themselves with the lodge will need to care about this a lot more than those who help the coven. The intellect and willpower tests to parley with the cultists aren’t difficult, but if you do plan on allying with the lodge it might still be a good idea to include Fine Clothes in your deck to trivialize them.

Centuries of Secrets

The treachery Centuries of Secrets from the City of Sins encounter set deserves a special mention because it is not only one of the most commonly used cards from the cycle, but also one that can be a huge deal for certain investigator deck strategies.

It was already mentioned earlier as part of the encounter deck decay package, but that’s not actually what is most notable about it. What makes Centuries remarkable is its ability to deal one direct damage to all of a player’s ally assets. For some decks, this can mean completely wiping out all of their support allies, from enablers like Arcane Initiate and Olive McBride over high-powered value cards like Peter Sylvestre and Granny Orne to almost all of the seeker allies.
Guardians and Rogues can be relatively relaxed about this treachery, as the only relevant ally of theirs that outright dies to Centuries is Gregory Gry.

The existence of this card can discourage going for decks that heavily depend on such an ally. Tragically, it also severely limits the viability of the already only borderline playable Anna Kaslow in the campaign that would be thematically best suited for a tarot focused deck.

City of Sins is used in 5 out of the 8 scenarios and does include 3 copies of Centuries of Secrets, so it is all but impossible to ignore this card, even for solo players. The card relies on the result of a willpower test, but the difficulty is high enough that even mystics can easily fail it and even just failing it by one could potentially have it hit for full effect. So simply having a high willpower is only going to be an unreliable protection. Truth be told, if you are worried about Centuries of Secrets being able to stop your deck from doing it’s thing, then you (or someone in your group) should better hold back a cancel or two to stop it.

Return To: City of Sins is one of the encounter sets that is being replaced in the Return, so Centuries of Secrets is also no longer around. However, Unhallowed Land from the City of the Damned set closely mirrors it: Instead of will, agility is tested. And instead of damage, it deals horror to investigators and their allies. This can still take out a good amount of allies, but especially Seekers will find that their followers are less fragile now.
Anna Kaslow is still as heavily penalized as before, though…

The Coven and the Lodge

As is custom for Arkham LCG campaigns, The Circle Undone can be played through choosing different routes. The main choice here is whether to align with the Silver Twilight Lodge or with Anette’s coven of witches. Actual interactions with the coven are very few, mostly you will face the lodge and be asked to either further their cause or not. Not doing so will mean that you ally with the coven by default. Groups aligned with the lodge can further choose to lie about their involvement with them or to join the “Inner Circle” of the lodge as fulltime members.

The first and the most important big branch in the investigator’s involvement with these two primary factions comes from the resolution of At Death’s Doorstep, particularly in how the players dealt with Josef Meiger. If they killed Meiger, the players are declared enemies of the lodge and will stay so for the rest of the campaign. If they rescued him, the players are offered the full range of choices: Ally with the lodge in earnest, pretend to do so or decline. If neither is true (the scenario ended without Josef being killed, but also without him escaping), the number of rescued lodge cultists is compared to the number of killed cultists instead. Depending on which number is higher, the consequences are the same as above: Either they did kill more and are declared enemies or they rescued more and can choose. If the players end up being allied to the lodge afterwards, they have to add a cultist token to the chaos bag, no matter if they are deceiving the lodge or not.

The next decision point follows right after during the setup of The Secret Name. The players can either tell the lodge about the involvement of the coven or keep it hidden. Doing so will add yet another cultist token to the chaos bag, but have no immediate other consequence. It is required for players that want to join the Inner Circle, though.

The first big payoff for these decisions comes during the setup of For The Greater Good, which will go quite differently depending on whether the group became members of the lodge or not. For enemies of the lodge the scenario uses the core Dark Cult set which can be defeated without repercussions. Lodge members however will face cultists from the Silver Twilight Lodge encounter set and are encouraged to parley their way through the scenario.

Winning the scenario by opening the puzzle box in time while allied with the lodge leads to a special interlude where the investigators are offered the chance to join the lodge’s inner circle at the cost of all the mementos they collected so far. Note that the induction into the inner circle also requires that the players rescued Meiger and that they told the lodge about the coven. If one of those is not true, the players are still able to sacrifice all of their mementos at this point, but without gaining a single thing back for it. At this point the players could still be secretly be deceiving the lodge, though.

The business with the lodge comes to a close at the resolution of Union and Disillusion. It is possible to “win” the campaign for the lodge here. The final two scenarios are then skipped and the Silver Twilight Lodge is declared the winner. To get there, the players need to be part of the Inner Circle as described above, they need to not be deceiving the lodge and they have to finish the scenario successfully by completing the lodge’s ritual.

Union and Disillusion is also where investigators that deceived the lodge get their payoff. The scenario uses a different act 3 card if the investigators were inducted into the inner circle while deceiving the lodge, as long as they decide to side with the coven now. This isn’t terribly different from just siding with the witches in the first place. The cultist tokens are removed from the bag, Meiger doesn’t have a chance to spawn here and the Twilight Lodge encounter set is not shuffled into the deck for act 4. All together a meager reward for carrying two cultist tokens through four scenarios and giving up all of your mementos.

The final consequence of the struggle between lodge and coven comes into play for In the Clutches of Chaos, the penultimate scenario. Following the resolution of Union and Disillusion, either Anette Mason or Carl Sanford achieved their goal and now need to be stopped from abusing their newfound power. That means whoever it was that the investigators allied themselves with so far, is now going to be the enemy.

Before the Black Throne plays out the same no matter what your allegiances were. But if you make it through the full campaign, the epilogue does have some varying text passages depending on your actions, of course.

Return To: The coven gains some story importance in the Return. For one, there is now the option of winning the game for the coven after scenario 6, just like there is for the lodge. But more importantly, there is now a completely new story line featuring one of the Witches, Erynn, who possibly joins the players to stop Anette from going too far. The Erynn story beats happen during Witching Hour, Wages of Sin and Union and Disillusion.

The mementos

The campaign log has a space to record various items that can be earned during the campaign. These so-called mementos are as follows:

Mesmerizing Flute: Is earned for finishing The Witching Hour, no matter what resolution was earned. Even a defeat will still award the flute as long as you reach at least act 3, but successful resolutions will award further mementos.
Ritual Components: Finishing The Witching Hour by defeating Anette hands out this item.
Scrap of Torn Shadow: Finish The Witching Hour by clearing all clues from the Witch’s Circle to earn this.
Gilman’s Journal: The Journal is awarded for finishing The Secret Name if you made it to act 2 or further.
Keziah’s Formulae: Reaching act 3 in The Secret Name will earn the Formulae.
Worn Crucifix: To get the Crucifix, the players need to finish The Secret Name successfully.
Wisp of Spectral Mist: Banish at least one Heretic during Wages of Sin to earn this.
Corn Husk Doll: Banish all Heretics to earn this.

These mementos come into play at these points:

The Wages of Sin gives a story asset to the players that helps with defeating the heretics. However, to earn this Spectral Web, the group must have collected at least 3 of the possible 5 items.
Before the Black Throne has the players start with a number of special resources that can be spent during the scenario to help with some location effects. One of those is awarded for having at least 3 of the mementos, a second one if you have 6 of the 7 possible ones.
Before the Black Throne also inflicts some effect on the investigators whenever the agenda advances. The first two effects are negative ones and deflected by possessing the Journal or the Crucifix respectively. The third agenda will remove one doom from Azathoth if the players earned the Corn Husk Doll.
Before the Black Throne will end differently depending on what mementos were earned. You will win the campaign regardless, but there are different shades of how much you have to sacrifice for it.

Return To: Two new mementos, the Strange Incantation and the Bloody Tree Carvings, are earned for doing Erynn’s objectives in Witching Hour and Wages of Sin. Having both of them unlocks a new resolution at the end of Before the Black Throne.

Splitting up the team

One thing that The Circle Undone is infamous for is two instances where the group is split up and the investigators have to stand on their own for a couple of turns. Both of those times, the investigators are potentially stranded with an enemy at a location that they are unable to leave. For that reason, players should be aware that their investigators need to be able to survive on their own. This is of course particularly relevant for highly specialized characters that focus on clue discovery that rely on other players to protect them.

The first time this happens is right in the first scenario. During The Witching Hour, players start in their own set of locations that are not connected with other player’s. There are only four enemies in the encounter deck and they are fairly weak, so that’s not too bad. However, after advancing from act 1, each player is moved to a random set aside location and a Goat Spawn appears at each of their locations. Until one of the players manages to discover and spend 1 clue per player, nobody is able to leave their location.

The second time is during Union and Disillusion, again after advancing from act 1. The group is once more split up with every player being moved to a random set aside location. Depending on what happened with the missing persons, the players might have to face a powerful elite enemy version of them. The missing persons are randomly assigned to the players, so unless you managed to have all of them make it through the prologue long enough, you might run into the situation that your seeker has to face a huge threat on their own.

To prepare for these opportunities you should make sure that you have some way of dealing with these enemies. Goat Spawns have 3 stamina, so a simple Blood Rite or Disc of Itzamna(0) won’t be enough to take it out. For a seeker that might mean “I’ve got a plan!” for the first scenario and/or Acidic Ichor later on. Similarly, a clue-focused rogue or mystic might need to have a way to evade the enemy for a turn or two while gathering the clues to advance the act and allow to meet up with the rest of the group.


There’s a decent amount of experience up for grabs in this campaign, about on the same level as in Path to Carcosa. While it’s rarely easy to get most of it, players will still end up with enough points to spend for upgrades to their decks. It’s of course a step back from Forgotten Age, though.

Still, it allows for a wide variety of viable decks. A good chunk of experience is available right in the first two scenarios, so you should also find that you can acquire your deck centerpieces very early and then consistently improve your decks throughout the campaign.

Available XP per scenario/interlude:
The Witching Hour: 5 (locations) + 2 (Anette/Circle) +2 (Piper of Azathoth) + 1 (Dark Young) +1 (resolution) = 11XP
At Death’s Doorstep: 4 (locations) + 2 (defeating Josef Meiger) + 1 (Nether Mist) = 7XP
Interlude 2: 2XP (rescuing Josef Meiger)
The Secret Name: 4 (locations) + 2 (resolution) = 6XP
The Wages of Sin: 2 (locations) + 4 (Unfinished Business) = 6XP
For the Greater Good: 4 (locations) + 1 (Nathan Wick) + 2 (Summoned Beast) = 7XP
Union and Disillusion: 7 (locations) + 1 (Nether Mist) = 8XP
In the Clutches of Chaos: 1 (locations) + 2 (Lodge Enforcer/Witness of Chaos) + 2 (Piper of Azathoth) + 2 (Anette/Carl) = 7XP
Before the Black Throne: 2 (Piper of Azathoth) + 5 (all resolutions) + 5 (resolution, signing the Black Book) = 12XP

As usual, some comments on these numbers:
The Dark Young in Witching Hour is only present for full groups. Also note that the number of XP locations in Witching Hour is increased by 1 through errata. If the scenario is played as originally published, there are only 4 locations with XP on them.
Gaining the 2XP from the second interlude means skipping 2XP from Death’s Doorstep.
The number of Unvisited Isle locations in Union and Disillusion scales with the number of players, so the amount of available XP does as well. The full seven locations are only used in full 4 player groups, subtract one location for each missing player.

Going by these numbers, you could in theory enter Before The Black Throne with 52 points of experience. This is nearly the same number as for Carcosa, but the distribution of the points works out much more in the players favor in Circle Undone. The bulk of the XP is readily available without having to dig through the encounter deck or having to hope that you draw the right locations at setup. The one notable exception is the Piper who you will likely not meet during The Witching Hour. That’s probably a good thing, though…

Return To: Since the vast majority of changes from the Return box come from replaced encounter sets, the XP distribution isn’t actually changed. One thing to note though, following Erynn’s quest will require skipping some XP. During Witching Hour, you will need to neither defeat Anette nor clear the the Circle, so you are missing out on 2XP there. And during Wages of Sin, you will not add the Unfinished Business cards to your victory display, skipping 4XP. So by getting Erynn’s help, you basically pay for it with 6XP. A hefty price.

Investigator Choices

The Circle Undone has some challenges that ask very specific things from investigators. Being prepared for those certainly pays off. The two most important things to consider are the high reliance on willpower tests for the encounter cards and being able to survive for a couple turns on your own. Anyone tasked with gathering clues will also have to consider how they interact with the Haunted mechanic.

As i did for the other campaigns, i will suggest two investigators per class:
Roland Banks is one of the few investigators that can ignore the Haunted keyword while still helping out with clue seeking despite not being a specialized seeker. His ability can get a lot of mileage here.
Zoey Samaras high willpower pays off very well here. Giving her a Holy Rosary (2) can make her run circles around the encounter deck while keeping the chaos bag topped off with blesses at all times.
Minh Thi Phan has a great statline for this campaign and she also has access to Alter Fate in her card pool.
Daisy Walker is one of the best seekers in general, but what makes her stand out for TCU is what she can do with an Otherworld Codex.
Preston Fairmont works surprisingly well as a seeker in this campaign. Turns out that you don’t need to worry about being punished for failed tests if you don’t do tests and just buy what you need. Willpower is of course an issue, but that’s true for most rogues. Might as well go all-in. He’s also got the Silver Twilight trait, so that’s cool. He is never going to pass a circle test in Union and Disillusion, however.
Sefina Rousseau is the usual exception to all kinds of rules when it comes to rogues. She doesn’t fear the encounter deck all that much and can use her excellent card pool to be tailored towards almost any role.
Diana Stanley is not only the most flavorful investigator to run through Circle Undone, she also has a great kit for it. She has (potentially) the highest willpower of any investigator and she’s the only mystic that is able to upgrade her Holy Rosary to the guardian version.
Gloria Goldberg gets the other mystic shoutout here, but the other mystics would work nearly as well. Willpower is kind of their classes identity, after all. Gloria however excels with some exceptional abilities towards neutering the encounter deck. Among other things, she’s able to put parts of the “collect three” treacheries beneath her, in turn neutering all other copies as well.
Patrice Hathaway can profit from how susceptible TCU is to certain silver bullet cards because she can run a fair amount of them and due to how fast she cycles through her deck, she can see those cards often.
Ashcan Pete is about as self-sufficient as investigators get. Haunted on high shroud locations can be a bit of a problem for him, but aside from that he can do pretty much anything.

Again, i want to stress that these are only suggestions. Of course, this campaign can be run by any other investigator as well, the above ones were just the ones that stood out to me as particularly powerful here. But power is of course not the only metric to go by, so don’t let yourself be stopped if you want to take Finn or Joe for a spin here. They might build up some treacheries in their threat area over time, but there’s ways around that as well. Stella as a clue getter will fail her way from one Haunted effect into the next, but she might just be able to tank it. Do what seems fun to you.

Notable Player Cards

Just like how some investigators are particularly well-suited for Circle Undone, every class has some cards that shine brighter in that campaign than usual. Actually, i personally think that the player card pool has some extremely powerful cards for Circle Undone. More than for any other of the campaigns. These are the sort of cards that i often refer to as silver bullets. Here’s some suggestions, limiting myself to two per class:

Holy Rosary(2): The upgraded Rosary feeds off of passing willpower treacheries and no other campaign has so many of those. Throw in a “Let Me Handle That” or two and your chaos bag will look a lot better for it.
Grete Wagner: If you want your guardian to help out with clues, Grete can enable them to do so without having to deal with Haunted. The upgrade is very much worth it, too.
Otherworld Codex: This card solves a lot of problems, even if it’s not always the problem you had in mind when activating it. The inconsistency from the random reveal keeps it from shining in other campaigns, but this one has so many targets for it that it is hard not to hit something juicy every time. From treacheries to Mindless Dancers, Codex got you. Eventually. While obviously best in Daisy, it is good enough outside of Daisy decks as well in Circle Undone.
Logical Reasoning: There are a lot of targets for this card in the campaign. Actually, Circle Undone is one of the two campaigns where i would even consider upgrading to the level 4 version.
Tennessee Sour Mash: I am generally not a huge fan of this card, but at least there’s plenty of opportunities to use it here. The upgrade even looks tempting.
Skeleton Key: While it does come with a bit of an action tax, this does almost shut off Haunted at key locations.
Arcane Studies: Of the talents, this is the one that boosts the two most important stats for TCU, will and intellect. Depending on how much you plan on leaning on those two, you could go with either of the versions of the card to secure the tests.
Read the Signs: Bypasses Haunted, but to be fair so do any of the events that directly discover clues as well.
Alter Fate: The mother of all silver bullets. Works against persistent treacheries of all kinds, including the ones that are put next to the agenda. Usually a great card, but it’s absolutely brilliant in this campaign.
Mariner’s Compass: Due to Haunted looming over the “fail forward” archetype, this is likely the way to go if you want to claim clues as a survivor.


Continue reading here:

A Light in the Fog

Other encounter sets in this scenario: Creatures of the Deep, Rising Tide, Syzygy, Striking Fear

Size of the Encounter Deck38
# Enemies10
# Willpower11
# Agility6
# Doom2
# Damage9
# Horror9

My take on this encounter deck: This scenario has a lot going on. A LOT. And the encounter deck reflects this. 38 cards is a big stack of cards for the encounter deck, and many of them do Surge (or are at least able to surge). So despite the size of the deck the card combos woven in there do still come into play often.
The scenario has multiple mechanical centers: Oceiros and his capturing mechanic. The Hatchling/Nursemaid combo. Flood tokens are back in a big way. Like all Innsmouth scenarios, this one does something funky with the location connectors again. And all of those interact with the encounter deck, making this scenario a really cohesive experience.
The scenario is also quite difficult. Of course this is already scenario six of the campaign, so obviously the kids gloves have been off for a while but this is a noticable increase even next to the already quite tense Horror in High Gear and Devil Reef. It also does have the possibility for a total campaign fail should the investigators drown in the caves…
And as if that wasn’t enough, the act and agenda decks work slightly different this time. Doom is carried from one agenda to the next and advancing the act deck will also advance the agenda (and vice versa). So there is some considerable time pressure on the players to have the act deck stay ahead of the agenda deck because advancing the agenda first has some nasty consequences.
Stepping back from the bigger picture and looking at the numbers above, there’s nothing too remarkable that would stand out. Willpower is a but more pronounced than usual. Except for Syzygy which has other modes, there is no doom cards around. Damage from treacheries could become a concern. Horror is relatively easy to manage for once, as thankfully both Innsmouth Look and Dreams of R’lyeh are absent, but there are a decent number of sources around, including Rotting Remains.
Cancel these: Deep One Assault. Frozen in Fear. The Deep One Assault is a card that does a lot of work throughout the campaign, but it has never been as potent as here. The primary reasons for that are the close connections between the locations (making it very likely that any remaining Deep Ones on the board can engage you) and the highly synergistic enemies here. Hatchlings, Nursemaid and Oceiros himself are all a huge issue and Assault can dump multiples of them on a player. In turn, Deep One Assault is by far the most dangerous treachery in this encounter deck and should be warded on sight, if possible. Very closely behind is Frozen in Fear, the old staple card that seems to pop up whenever we really want to move around fast. Depending on your investigators, it might even be a bigger issue than Deep One Assault. In any case, there’s no shortage of heavy hitters in this encounter deck.

Number in the encounter deck: 4

What it does: At first glace, the Deep One Hatchling is just as small and harmless as you’d expect from a youngling. But still, this enemy can be a threat. For one, it surges and after engaging, the player has to either lose a point of sanity to an immediate attack or one of their actions. Defeating the Hatchling is easy enough but will move the nearest unengaged and ready Deep One towards the investigator. That Deep One loses Aloof for that movement, allowing Nursemaids to immediately engage.
There are four of these in the encounter deck, which makes dealing with them a major part of the scenario.

My take: Since it has Surge it takes only very little for this card to become a menace. And there is quite the potential here for the Hatchling to become a very relevant card. The impact of enemy cards can most often be measured in how many actions it takes to remove them and this one potentially takes one action away just for engaging. And then probably another one to deal with it. That alone would be enough to make the Hatchling dangerous, but of course the Forced on defeat and the Surge come extra on top.
Make no mistake, this thing is one of the most dangerous things in the encounter deck.

Threat level: High. Even the best case is quite bad but it can spiral out of control very easily.

Dealing with it: The first decision to make after drawing this enemy is whether to lose the action or take the attack. It attacks only for a point of horror so this can be a very sensible option since there is little else in the encounter deck that deals horror. The other big decision is on either defeating or evading the Hatchling. The enemy doesn’t have Hunter, so evading it can make sense as long as nobody is planning to move through that location again. If killing the enemy is possible without having to engage another one, that is an opportunity worth taking. On the other side of the spectrum, the worst case would be having to attract a nursemaid. Drawing a surging hatchling only to kill it and immediately engage a nursemaid that draws yet another encounter card… yuck. That’s a case where evasion should certainly be the better call.
As a final note on evading hatchlings… having too many of these around can turn drawing a Deep One Assault into even more of a nightmare than usual.

Number in the encounter deck: 2

What it does: Very untypical for the otherwise engagement happy Deep Ones, the Nursemaid is aloof. All other Deep Ones at her location and connected ones gain +1 fight and evade, a significant increase for Lurkers and the Bull in particular. It should be noted that Oceiros Marsh is also a Deep One, so he too will get the bonus which increases his chance to retaliate and thereby capture the attacking investigator.
In an investigator engages the Nursemaid, they need to draw the top card of the encounter deck. To stop this from completely escalating, the drawn card at least loses surge.
The Nursemaid also has Retaliate but due to her low health and medium fight stat, it’s not going to matter very often.

My take: During A Light in the Fog, all locations in one row are connected with each other, giving the Nursemaid the ability to always cover at least 4 locations with her ability, potentially up to 6 if she spawns at one of the grottos that connect the rows with each other.
Her engage ability is obviously very powerful, basically it’s a delayed Surge that might even trigger multiple times. There are three main things that might cause players to engage her and get subjected to the ability: They can either do so on their own accord, to be able to fight her. They could kill a Hatchling at a connected location and have the nursemaid shuffle over to them. Or they could draw Deep One Assault. Especially that last one can be really painful and of the three it’s also the one that is most difficult to avoid.
Thankfully there’s only two of these in the encounter deck.

Threat level: High. A “surging” enemy that boosts all other enemies around it. Yikes.

Dealing with it: If you find yourself in a situation where you have to engage this thing, at least make sure that you kill her afterwards so nobody has to do it again later. This is really not an enemy to evade, she belongs in the discard pile – the sooner, the better.
The best way to deal with her is never engaging her and just killing her with indirect damage. I keep mentioning Dynamite Blast in these Innsmouth reviews, i think that card might just be really useful here… but of course a Blood-Rite or similar might do. The nursemaid is even worth sticking around so you can ping her twice with Beat Cop.
In absence of such silver bullets you will need to eventually decide if you can risk having her stick around or if you can just engage her, draw the extra encounter card and kill her to be done with it. This will very much depend on the board state and on whether or not you have a Ward in your sleeve for Deep One Assault.

Number in the encounter deck: 3

What it does: The investigator has to pass a willpower test or take 2 horror. The difficulty of the test scales with the highest fight value of Deep Ones in play. If no Deep Ones are around, Hideous Lullaby surges instead.

My take: Fairly basic card and one of the few sources of horror in this encounter deck. There are three of these in the deck, but horror isn’t the primary concern her unless the investigator is naturally concerned about it due to a low starting sanity. Oceiros and the Bull both have four fight, followed by Nurse with three, Lurker with two and of course the Hatchlings with one. So if you are really unlucky you might need to test against difficulty 4 or 5 here, but usually it will be a good amount lower, giving even low willpower investigators a fair chance to succeed here.

Threat level: Low. 2 horror is not nothing, but it lacks the backup from more sources to become a bigger issue.

Dealing with it: Any investigator who is threatened by cards like this should have the necessary soak in their deck to deal with it. Plainly speaking, if they made it through Horror in High Gear, this card should be a non-issue for them.

Number in the encounter deck: 2

What it does: After failing a combat test, the investigator is dealt 2 damage and then has to put Kiss of Brine into their threat area until the end of the enemy phase. While affected by Kiss of Brine, that player can not gain any resources or draw cards. The difficulty of the test is low, but is increased significantly at flooded locations.
Passing the test will avoid all of the effects.

My take: It’s easy to miss that this is discarded at the end of the enemy phase and not at the end of the turn. That means it’s no longer present for the upkeep, so the player can draw their card and gain their resource then. This of course severely limits the impact of the effect this card has as the restrictions apply primarily to the investigator phase.
Of course, there is still the 2 damage dealt and those are relevant as they stack up with other damage sources (like Tidal Alignment and the Lurking Deep One’s engagement effect).

Threat level: Low to Mid. This is mostly a damage card, the extra bits are rarely going to be much of a factor.

Dealing with it: If you are affected by this, you might need to postpone playing the Faustian Bargain, Blood-Rite or whatever for a turn. Except for this, which is likely barely a minor convenience most of the time, this just deals 2 damage which you can deal with in the usual ways. There are some extra damage sources that compound with this one, so keep an eye on that.

Number in the encounter deck: 2

What it does: If the player fails a willpower test, they have to put Totality into their threat area where it will stay until the end of the turn. Totality deals 1 horror to the investigator each time they enter a flooded location.

My take: This could in theory deal a decent amount of horror, but will in practice rarely do so. For one, the willpower test can completely deflect it and it is discarded at the end of the turn automatically. But even while active, the horror is only dealt as a direct result of a choice that the player has to make during that turn. So if they are concerned about their sanity, sticking to dry locations or limiting their movements offers a way out.
Now of course, there are situations where staying in place is not ideal during this scenario, but the bottom line is that this card depends a lot on circumstances to be an issue and that it then can be mitigated with player choice.
Like most encounter cards that deal with flooded locations, this one is powered up more and more towards the end of the scenario. This is even more true in A Light in the Fog as that is very likely going to end in a rush through flooded locations to the exit. When drawing Totality in those last moments, this card can be really bad and become a candidate for canceling or for dumping multiple cards for icons into the will test.

Threat level: Mid. Very dependent on context, but there are certainly some ugly scenarios that can come up with this card.

Dealing with it: Except for the last couple turns you will likely find that the choice of staying in place or taking an extra horror will be fairly obvious to you. Aside from this, Lullaby and Undertow are the only other cards that directly deal horror. Like Totality, Undertow also offers ways to not gain the horror in the first place. So you can make relatively informed decisions when predicting how much of your sanity you can spend for this card..

Number in the encounter deck: 2

What it does: Worth His Salt is only added to the deck mid-scenario, after Oceiros Marsh has entered the scene and the players found their way into the grottos. When drawn, this card attaches to Oceiros, no matter if he’s in play or in the victory display. When Oceiros does his hunter movement, Worth His Salt can make him move twice. However, he will not be able to attack in that same phase if he needed this move.
Worth is Salt is discarded when Oceiros attacks. That attack will deal an extra damage and horror.

My take: Unless you planned on evading Oceiros forever, this isn’t that bad. If anything, this card is a reason to not evade him and kill him instead. It’s not a particularly easy fight, but having a Hunter that moves two locations per turn around is just not going to work out in a scenario where the locations are all very closely connected with each other.
Note that the bottom Forced effect triggers not only if Oceiros attacks during the enemy phase, but also when he gets bonus attacks from his Retaliate keyword.
The silver lining here is that Oceiros comes back from the victory display only once. So once you defeat him in the caves, these two cards become freebies.

Threat level: Medium. This card severely limits players in trying to handle Oceiros with evasion.

Dealing with it: If you areset on trying to evade Oceiros for the scenario, these are worth canceling. Otherwise you don’t really deal with this card, you deal with the big guy. Running is not going to work, so have your best fighter(s) go straight to it so you can get back to advancing the scenario as soon as possible.

Number in the encounter deck: 2

What it does: If the investigator fails a difficult agility test, they are captured. Also, their keys are placed on the Holding Cells.

My take: Getting captured can be annoying, but it’s not necessarily a big problem. As a reminder, getting captured entails three things: 1) The investigator is moved to the Holding Cells, 2) The investigator can not move or fight until freed and 3) all of their hand slot assets are returned to the player’s hand. That last point can potentially undo a lot of spent resources and/or actions and is going to be a major factor in how bad getting captured really is. I suppose it could in some cases even be beneficial by returning spent assets back to the hand, ready to be replayed with full charges. But that is not really plannable, so that probably shouldn’t factor into the evaluation of this card too much.
To free themselves, the investigator has to take an action and pass an agility or combat test. Alternatively, they can use the yellow key to automatically succeed, however Taken Captive will place all their keys on the location so the player may have to discover the clues from the location first before being able to pick their key up again. If all else fails, a team member can bail them out by spending that action at the cells for them. The cells are one or two steps away from all other locations, so that’s at least reasonable.
I’d like to mention as well that there’s a precious victory point on the cells and that this location only enters play when someone gets captured at some point. This treachery offers a way to do so without having to tangle with Oceiros… which could potentially be in the interest of particularly greedy players 🙂
In any case, failing this treachery will cost quite a few actions. The movement back from the cells, the actions to free yourself, the actions to play your hand assets again… this is a significant obstacle before even considering that this could for example separate your main fighter from the seeker they are protecting.

Threat level: Mid to High. While there are ways to mitigate the effects of this treachery, it is usually going to eat up several actions, possibly even from multiple players.

Dealing with it: Another high impact card worth throwing your cancels at. A Light in the Fog is not pulling any punches! There are few ways of preparing for this card and the test is not easy either. This keeps the possibility of getting captured around even when Oceiros is dealt with. Other than saving up some resources to be able to replay a crucial asset there’s not a whole lot that can be done to prepare for the eventuality.

Resurgent Evils: Return to The Dunwich Legacy


The “Return To” boxes expand the original Arkham LCG campaigns by adding more cards, more mechanics, more challenges to the existing scenarios. This series of articles takes a look at each of them, one by one. Immediately following this Introduction is a spoiler-free verdict on the viability of the product, answering the question “Should i get this box?” without spoiling anything about the campaign relevant contents of the box.

Anyone not phased by spoilers can continue reading as i will go into detail about the player cards, the encounter replacement sets, the campaign wide changes and of course the changes to each scenario. On that note, the article assumes you played the campaign before. Using the Return boxes on your first playthrough of a campaign is not recommended.

Spoiler-free Verdict

The Return to Dunwich Legacy doesn’t shake up the campaign structure at all and with one exception doesn’t modify how the scenarios themselves play out. It does however substantially improve the quality of the campaign by fixing weird or faulty interactions that are present in the base version of the campaign. This makes the box provide good value for anyone looking to replay the Dunwich campaign a couple of times.

There is a decent amount of replacement encounter sets in here and most of them are for sets from the core which can make them an option to slot into other campaigns as well.

The box also comes with a very nice selection of player cards, among them are even a few staple cards that can slot into a wide variety of decks. They are not the main attraction of the product but they are an excellent “bonus” for sure.

Spoilers Below!

This is where spoilers start. The Return To doesn’t change anything about the story or the campaign structure, so if you played the campaign, i wouldn’t say that these give away anything meant to surprise you. You will see these cards when setting up the scenario anyways. But still, if you want to go in totally blind, tag out now. Final warning.


The big storage box is mostly empty, containing a small leaflet explaining how to use the contents and of course it also holds the new cards. Included are 22 player cards and 82 encounter cards. The encounter cards break down to six encounter set replacements (26 cards in total) and 56 other encounter cards specific to 1 of the 8 scenarios.
The majority of the box is taken up by an insert that you can throw out once you want to use all of the space to store your Dunwich campaign cards in there. A set of dividers to help organize your encounter cards by set/scenario is also included.

The box itself is sturdy, looks good and using it as a storage solution for your scenario cards works well. It fits all the scenario cards and all encounter sets, sleeved or unsleeved, including those from the Core that are used in Dunwich.

Player cards

Each class gets 2 new pairs of cards, all of them upgrades from cards that appeared in the base campaign. The selection of cards is stellar. While there are two (maybe three) in there that don’t see much play, the rest are all very good cards or at the very least useful to own.

Guardian gets upgraded Bandolier and Blackjack, both excellent cards. Bandolier(2) is one of my most played Guardian upgrades, i love that card to bits. Blackjack(2) is great for any Guardian in bigger groups.
Seeker gets an upgraded Preposterous Sketches that is useful. Also a new option for the Strange Solution that is not Acidic Ichor and therefore not all that useful.
Rogues arguably gain the least here. Contraband(2) is fine, but by now Swift Reload(2) kinda put it out of a job. There’s a Think On Your Feet(2) in the box, too. I don’t think i ever used it.
Mystics however get to add the super important Rite of Seeking(2) to their arsenal. Yes, Clairvoyance exists now, but Rite is still worth running in some decks. The other card, Clarity of Mind(2) is efficient horror healing, an upgrade that i used several times to offset traumas etc.
Survivors gain Oops!(2) which fixes most complaints about the original card. Still very niche, but has a spot in the failure package. Rise to the Occasion(3) is expensive for a survivor skill card, but let’s you pass tests you had no business passing.

Finally, there are also two copies of a new basic weakness for the random pool. Through the Gates is quite unique in what it does and rather fun. As far as basic weaknesses go, i like it. Great addition to the game.

Campaign wide changes

The changes from Return to The Dunwich Legacy do not extend far past their individual scenarios. There is no additional scenario text and almost no changes to scenario outcomes. The only thing worth mentioning is the addition of Naomi O’Bannion as a story ally reward for rescuing Peter Clover. This adds some extra incentive to doing Extracurricular Activity before The House Always Wins. In the base campaign, doing House first is generally superior. While that is still the case, the gulf between the two option’s rewards has been narrowed a bit.

Looking at the campaign as a whole, the difficulty has been increased by quite a bit. Museum, Essex, Undimensioned and LiTaS are all tougher than before. The others are about the same as their base version. The increased difficulty coupled with the low experience that players earn makes for a challenge that is unique among the campaigns. For that reason, i do not suggest using Return to The Dunwich Legacy to introduce new players to the game. It is a good thing for experienced players, though.

Replacement Encounter Sets

Six of the encounter sets used during The Dunwich Legacy are being replaced with variants from this box. Five of those six are actually originally from the Core Set which potentially makes them interesting for use in other campaigns. The individual cards are discussed in detail elsewhere on this site, so i will stick to just a short summary and a link to the page that has that encounter set discussion.

Beyond the Threshold: A slightly less impactful replacement for The Beyond. Its main features are mellowing how swingy Arcane Barrier can be by switching it with Infinite Doorway and removing the asset hate aspect that Pushed into the Beyond had.

Resurgent Evils: This is the best replacement for Ancient Evils that we have so far. It offers the option to draw two other encounter cards when that extra doom would be devastating, but at the price of Peril. If you think that Ancient Evils is too punishing in general, then Resurgent Evils are your best official way to tweak them.

Secret Doors: Replaces Locked Doors. Instead of testing the physical skills, this tests the two mental ones. I am not a huge fan, i think that Locked Doors generally plays better and offer a more interesting challenge. Still, these are nice for varieties sake.

Creeping Cold: The replacement for Chilling Cold switches the asset hate for hand discard. The inconsistent Obscuring Fog is traded away for a card that is even more inconsistent at doing something. Oh well.

Erratic Fear: One of the most dramatic changes to an encounter set by a replacement, this removes much of what made the original Striking Fear tick. Willpower is barely tested, there’s no horror dealt and Frozen Fear is gone. Instead there are two cards that deal damage and one that deals with clues. This last one is the relevant here, as it can be a severe pain in Essex and Where Doom Awaits.

Yog-Sothoth’s Emissaries: The Agents of Yog-Sothoth replacement is fairly straightforward. The enemy is easier to deal with, but with Hunter it becomes more relevant more often anyways. The treachery is kinda uninteresting in comparison to the neat one from the original.

There’s good and bad things about these sets. I mainly like three things. One, these are mostly Core replacements and are not closely Dunwich flavored, so these have potential application out of The Dunwich Legacy to spice up other campaigns. Two, these replacements mix very well with their base versions so making hybrid sets is not only possible, but possibly even better than just straight up using either of the complete sets. Three, these do a good job of actually shaking up the campaign. I especially appreciate the additional agility and intellect tests that work towards making the encounter deck less one dimensional.

On the other hand, i have two complaints. One, the difficulty seems to be reduced in many parts. This is a minor complaint because the campaign in total actually ends up more difficult, but there are a noticable amount of cards in there that really don’t have a lot of bite to them. Which leads straight into my second point, and this is a fairly big one… many of these are just not that interesting or relevant as the cards they are replacing. Erratic Fear is especially egregious in this regard, as it not only is weirdly incoherent and weak itself but also replaces one of the most impactful encounter sets from the Core.

Still, there is a lot to like here. Personally, i have often used hybrid sets of Creeping/Chilling Cold or Agents/Emissaries of Yog-Sothoth when playing other campaigns as well. Resurgent Evils is a great replacement to have as well. While i am not one of those people myself, i know that there’s a sizeable group of people who hate Ancient Evils. Resurgent Evils addresses many of their concerns and offers an easy fix for all sorts of scenarios using Evils.

Return to Extracurricular Activity

Only four cards are assigned to this scenario. But seeing how it was a perfectly fine scenario before, that’s fine. The Orne Library can now randomly be the Warren Observatory instead and there are two new Hunter enemies, one of which might start in play. Not exactly groundshaking stuff, the replacement sets (four of them are used here) do the main work here.

Return to The House Always Wins

Another scenario that didn’t need a lot of touching up, the changes are limited to one new location that can randomly replace the lounge and to two pairs of treachery cards that deal with “Cheating”. Again, nothing that really shakes up the scenario in any way. As mentioned further up, there is some additional payoff now for rescuing Peter Clover, which makes that particular path through the campaign a bit more desirable.

Return to The Miskatonic Museum

This is where the magic starts to happen. Miskatonic Museum gets a fix to how the front and backside of the agenda cards interact, making sure that the Hunting Horror will get its attachment and grow bigger with each appearance. Two pairs of new treacheries that power up the monster do also help with making this scenario work a lot better and the enemy scarier. Of course, this is a severe difficulty bump for the scenario, but in the most positive way. Oh, there’s also two new Exhibit Halls, so you can randomize those a bit at setup.

Return to The Essex County Express

This scenario is also seeing a massive shake up. Thanks to a new agenda 0 card, it’s no longer possible to be instantly defeated before even taking your first turn. The encounter set swaps do some good work here, as removing Frozen in Fear and replacing Ancient Evils for Resurgent Evils massively lower the chances to just be left without any reasonable options. However a new enemy, the Conductor, is added to the scenario and applies pressure even when the investigators aren’t in a location in danger of leaving play. The whole scenario is more difficult now due to the Conductor, especially in lower player counts. At the same time it is also more in the player’s control though. Harder, but fairer? A good deal for sure. As with most other scenarios, there’s also some new locations for added replayability.

Return to Blood on the Altar

This scenario is mostly unchanged. There is some more bugfixing going on here with a revised central location that has more logical connections to the surrounding locations. The other locations gain new alternate versions for randomization. The Naomi’s Crew encounter set gains a boost in the Return to Blood on the Altar from a new enemy, giving some extra value to the “Extracurricular first, then rescue Peter Clover” route. Good changes, in a subtle way.

Return to Undimensioned and Unseen

The difficulty of this scenario is increased by introducing variants of the Broods that all have some extra mechanical twist (like moving twice, dealing more horror, having more life) and by shuffling two copies of a surging treachery that gives Broods the Elite trait into the encounter deck. This treachery is a reaction to players cheesing the scenario a bit with cards like Waylay or Mind Wipe. It’s still possible to use those cards but can’t be relied on anymore. The scenario did get a little bit harder with the changes, but not excessively so. However, the Return to Undimensioned and Unseen doesn’t address any of the issues that one could have with the scenario (like the reliance on Willpower or the non-interactivity of the random movement), so it’s not really much of an improvement sadly. Meh.

Return to Where Doom Awaits

One of the more important changes from the Return To box happens in this scenario, as it does swap out the first two Sentinel Hill locations so they don’t force players to pass unmodified intellect tests to progress. Instead, any way to discover clues will now do to get the surrounding locations into play. An excellent change that improves this scenario by a lot.

Return to Lost in Time and Space

The biggest change to the campaign finale comes from moving Yog-Sothoth to its own unique location where it is impervious to harm. This removes the investigator’s option to just kill it with weapons except for the last few turns on the final agenda. Also, whenever a player would be “reset” to the starting location because their current one disappeared under their feet, they are now instead moved to Yog’s location. Other than that, not much of substance has been changed here. Some additional locations are shuffled into the encounter deck, but in that massive pile of 45+ cards they aren’t going to change how the scenario plays. Seth Bishop can make another appearance here, but again that is more a gimmick than something game changing.
The changes to how Yog-Sothoth works and to the investigators having to move into its location sometimes once more makes the scenario more difficult than its base version. Not excessively so, but it is certainly noticable.


With the exception of the Essex County Express which sees a considerable shakeup from adding the Conductor enemy, neither the scenarios nor the campaign structure itself are changed a whole lot, it’s still basically all playing/feeling the same as it does in the base set… except better. This is because the Return to Dunwich focuses on “bugfixing” instead of expanding the content, something that the Dunwich campaign is actually in need of.
The box is rounded out nicely with a great selection of player cards that hold up very well still.

Final verdict: There is a lot to like about this box and it’s well worth purchasing to increase the quality of the Dunwich campaign for your replays.


Continue reading here:

Best-Laid Plans: The Path to Carcosa


This page doesn’t hold back anything. There are detailed spoilers for the full Path to Carcosa campaign ahead, including the “Return to” box. I highly suggest that you stop reading now if you have not played this campaign once or twice before. Don’t ruin that blind run experience for yourself. Come back once you at least gave it a try, both with regards to playing the scenarios and to understanding just what the hell is going on. Actually, that last bit might take a few tries.


When asking Arkham players about their favorite campaign, The Path to Carcosa comfortably leads the pack. It’s easy to see why. Carcosa offers a particularly deep experience on the first play with a lot of wild turns and interesting story developments that can be interpreted several ways. Additionally, there are several paths through the campaign that change various things about the scenarios, giving the campaign excellent replayability.
On this page, i want to take a look at the challenges presented by the scenarios and how they change depending on choices made along the way. Like on the previous articles of this series, i will also try to give some suggestions for investigators particularly suited for Carcosa and for cards that work well here.
This article is not going to look at each encounter set and each scenario in detail, this site already has pages for those. Please refer to those for more zoomed in views on the single cards that make up the encounter sets and encounter decks.

Sanity and Horror

One of the main themes of the campaign is people losing their sanity and questioning what they see and can believe. It makes sense then that so many cards deal horror to the investigators and/or have effects that care about the remaining sanity.

The Unspeakable Oath and Dim Carcosa are especially noteworthy here. The first because it throws a large amount of horror at the players and takes a rather long time to play through. Also, it’s setting is an asylum and investigators that lose their last point of sanity there might just have to stay in the asylum forever. The second one because it actually introduces special rules around horror and sanity: If players collect more horror than they have sanity during Dim Carcosa, they aren’t immediately defeated. However there are a couple effects that trigger off of the remaining sanity levels.

We have such sights to show you.

But even before Dim Carcosa there are a couple of cards around that have effects depending on sanity levels to introduce this theme early.

There is still plenty of opportunities for players to become defeated from too much damage, but horror is without a doubt the one to be more concerned about.

The cast of The King in Yellow

The second scenario of the campaign, The Last King, is not only one of the most unique and flavorful ones in the game, it’s also of great importance for the rest of The Path to Carcosa. We are introduced to the cast members of The King in Yellow, often referred to as VIPs in the campaign log. There’s five of them (plus Dianne Devine and, if you are doing a Return To, there’s also two non-unique party guests) and when the scenario is over, each of them is either interviewed or not. And each one is either alive. Or not.

It’s a party!

Each of the five VIPs is tied to one of the 5 scenarios following Last King. If the relevant person is interviewed, the investigators gain some sort of advantage during the setup. If they are alive, they appear in the scenario in their monstrous form.

Echoes of the Past: If Sebastien was interviewed, extra clues are available for grabs on the start location. If he’s not killed, he’ll accompany the Oathspeaker for the final act of Echoes.
Unspeakable Oath: Interviewing Constance gives 2 extra horror soak at the cost of a random card from their deck for the scenario. If alive, Constance will show up mid-scenario, starting form the place where the investigators are going to resign from.
Phantom of Truth: Jordan Perry’s information awards 3 extra resources and a different starting location. Jordan can show up at the end of the second night.
Pallid Mask: Haruko’s info reveals a location for free at setup. If she’s not been killed, she will enter the catacombs once the players find the Man in the Pallid Mask.
Black Stars Rise: Interviewing Ashleigh gives the players a one-shot ability to remove 1 doom from an agenda during the scenario. If she makes an appearance, it’ll be midway through and she’ll start at the port.

Some of these are bit more impactful than others, of course. Interviewing Constance should be a priority during Last King, as the additional horror soak can do a lot of work during Oath. The other information rewards are less important, but still nice to have. The transformed guests are all formidable enemies and taking them out during Last King will give you some breathing room later on. Especially Haruko can be a huge issue as she is not only possibly the most dangerous of the bunch, but also comes out in a scenario that is already filled with dangerous hunters and tanky enemies that ask a lot from the players. If you plan on killing the Oathspeaker to get a neutral outcome for Echoes, you should probably make sure to get Sebastien out of the way as well. The only one that i think is less important is Ashleigh. She comes into play near the end of Black Stars Rise and far away from the group that she might not even catch up before the scenario is done.

The campaign offers players a way to avoid having to deal with these Elite enemies all together. At Last King’s conclusion, there is a choice to burn down Constance’s house with all of the VIPs in it. Doing so will keep them out of your hair for the rest of the campaign, but comes at a cost of a mental trauma. It also awards a point of Conviction which may or may not be what you want.

A monster party!

As a final point on the VIPs it should be noted that they all appear only once during the campaign following Last King. So even if you do not kill them in the later scenario, you do not have to fear meeting them again. That means evasion can be a good solution to them. This is especially true for Jordan Perry whose 8 stamina and healing ability can make him very resilient otherwise and for Ishimaru Haruko who has 6 fight and punishes players for damaging her without attacking.

The Man in the Pallid Mask

The other presence that is following the investigators around on their way to Carcosa is the Man in the Pallid Mask aka “The Stranger”. He’s first encountered during Curtain Call after which he enters the lead investigator’s deck as a story weakness enemy. That way, he can appear on every following scenario whenever drawn from the player deck. The exceptions are The Pallid Mask and Dim Carcosa which both feature the Stranger in a more prominent way.

He can be defeated either by engaging and fighting him or by investigating at his location, mirroring the mechanical split between Doubt and Conviction. Doing so is not mandatory, but will reward players with a tally mark for “Chasing the Stranger”. These tallies track the investigator’s attempts at uncovering who is behind the mask and are checked at two points during the campaign.
What’s behind the mask? Well, that’s up to interpretation.

During the dream setup of Phantom of Truth, having four or more tallies will award an extra Doubt or Conviction. More importantly, players will start with 1 to 3 extra doom on the first agenda of Dim Carcosa if they didn’t defeat the Stranger often enough. This penalty isn’t really as bad as it sounds, Dim Carcosa affords a good amount of time to get through it and shaving off one or two turns is not likely going to make much of a difference. In my opinion, it’s not really worth metagaming around or preparing for the Stranger, but you could consider taking him into account when deciding on who is going to be your lead investigator. Choosing someone with a lot of drawing power (or with Mr. Rook!) will lead to having the Man in the Pallid Mask appear more consistently in every scenario.

Hidden Cards

Hidden cards are a new breed of treacheries that appear in Carcosa for the first time. Instead of being revealed when drawn and having an immediate effect, these are added to the players hand secretly. “Secretly” in this context means the player adds them to their hand without showing the other players what exactly the card is – of course, the fact that they just drew a hidden card is going to be obvious for everyone.

Typically, these cards have some sort of lasting effect while they are in hand like putting restrictions on what actions can be taken or how often. Others might not do anything while there and instead trigger on some other condition. Regardless of their actual game text, they all share one innate drawback for the investigator holding them: Since they are counting towards the maximum hand size during cleanup and can not be discarded in any way (except for what is printed on the card), these effectively reduce the handsize of the player.

While players can not know what Hidden card their teammates drew, it’s usually not that much of a secret either once you played the campaign for a bit. The deluxe box only has one encounter set with Hidden cards, the Delusions. Those all forbid a certain action (playing events, committing cards…) and discard for 2 actions. The replacements from the Return To Carcosa work the other way round. They demand a certain action (move at least once, play at least one card…) and if not satisfied discard while dealing damage and horror. Unspeakable Oath and Dim Carcosa are the only scenarios adding other Hidden cards on top. So ultimately the whole secrecy aspect doesn’t really add a whole lot to these cards effects, they are basically like treacheries that you’d otherwise put in your threat area. Except these ones can’t be hit with Alter Fate.

The ones most impacted by Hidden cards are those investigators that rely on their hand size. Patrice is the most obvious example (it’s no coincidence that her weakness is Hidden, after all) as each Hidden card will directly cost her a drawn card per turn. Event based investigators like Nathaniel and Sefina will also want to get rid of their Hidden cards rather sooner than later so they can fill up their hand with playable options instead.

Notable Enemies

Looking at the roster of enemies that are opposing us, the first thing to notice is just how much stamina everything has. Not a single enemy from the Carcosa cards only has a single point of health. Even the lowest cultists and asylum inmates have at least 2 health, but it quickly scales up from there.

Even outside of the scenario specific enemies, tanky enemies like the Agent of the King or the Maniac are just waiting in the encounter deck to be randomly drawn as early as the first turn of the first scenarios. Accordingly, players need to be ready to deal good damage without needing excessive combo setup.

The scenarios themselves do have their own bosses and mini-bosses of course. Aside from the already mentioned cast of The King in Yellow, the Beast of Aldebaran is scripted to appear in certain places and puts up a good fight. The enemy version of David Chesterfield and the Oathspeaker are other examples. While it’s not strictly necessary to defeat all of them, the players need to have at least some sort of plan for how to deal with them.

One particular enemy that can catch the investigators off their guard is the Poltergeist. It can not be damaged in combat except by spells and relics, which blanks most of the commonly used weapons. In absence of a weapon with the correct trait, the only way out is either evading it (and it has 4 evasion to make this difficult) or fighting it with intellect by activating the parley ability on its card. Poltergeists are in the encounter deck during Pallid Mask, but more importantly they are also in Curtain Call. So players might want to pack something for this enemy already when building their initial decks. Good options at level 0 are Enchanted Blade, Disk of Itzamna or of course any number of combat spells. Also, there’s Fine Clothes which applies its parley bonus to Poltergeist as well, making the test trivial. As a neutral card, the Clothes are available to everyone, so there’s really no excuse to not at least bring them to Curtain Call.

Doubt and Conviction

Following the scenarios, players are presented with a variety of strange happenings. Depending on how they react to them, they either earn checkmarks for Doubt or for Conviction, reflecting what the players themselves (not necessarily the investigators) think about what is happening. Conviction means the players believe that something supernatural is afoot and that it is on them to stop it, no matter the cost. On the other hand, Doubt represents the players suspecting that they are mistaken and that they need to investigate what is actually happening behind what the narrator tells them. Of course, as promised by the name of the campaign itself, both of these paths lead to Carcosa eventually.

Almost all resolutions will require some sort of choice, either during the resolution itself or there are multiple ways to complete the scenario. Doubt and Conviction are handed out then, except for one case where it is awarded mid-game, on an agenda backside. As a result of this, some card effects or even complete scenarios will change depending on which of the two paths currently has more marks.

Generally speaking, the Doubt path is a bit more fight heavy while the Conviction one leans more towards seeking and parleying. This features most prominently during A Phantom Of Truth, but there are some other bits where this shines through.

The setup for Dim Carcosa, the campaign finale, reveals that there actually have been three paths all along. There are three possible variants of Dim Carcosa: One for Doubt. One for Conviction. And should you manage to collect fewer than six total marks of Doubt and Conviction, there is a third one. However fulfilling this limit requires some very special circumstances, among them to lose at least one scenario…

These are the ways to earn checkmarks for either of the paths:
Curtain Call: During the resolution, either warn the police (->Conviction) or don’t (->Doubt).
Interlude 1: Go back (->Doubt), run away (->neutral) or burn down the house (->Conviction).
Echoes of the Past: You can either take the clasp (->Conviction) or leave it (->Doubt). If you finish the scenario by defeating the Oathspeaker, you do not get this choice (->neutral).
Interlude 2: You can either ignore the warning (-> 2x Doubt) or heed it (-> 2x Conviction).
The Phantom of Truth: If you have at least 4 tallymarks for Chasing the Stranger, you have to choose one of two options during the dream sequence at setup: You either ask the Stranger about what he thinks is beautiful (-> Conviction) or wonder what you are even looking at (-> Doubt). Having fewer than 4 tallys for the Stranger is the neutral path here.
The Pallid Mask: Act a2 asks players to either spend an amount of clues at the Tomb of Shadows (-> 2x Doubt) or to defeat the Stranger (-> 2x Conviction).
Black Stars Rise: If players advance one of the act decks for the first time and only have up to 2 doom on the other act, they earn 1 Conviction. Otherwise, they earn 1 Doubt.

So you could enter Dim Carcosa with up to 9 Conviction, Doubt or a combination of both. With exception for the requirements of the third path, the exact numbers aren’t relevant, the game checks which one is higher. If they are equal, Doubt is the dominant one.

Consequences for the Doubt choices:
Going back to the house and intruding on the secret meeting will unlock a different ending for Phantom of Truth that will make the players gain a mental trauma, but also 2 extra experience.
– For the base campaign, leaving the Onyx Clasp will lead to the players facing an enemy Daniel Chesterfield in Unspeakable Oath and accordingly are locked out of 2 experience from Interlude 2.
– For the Return to Carcosa, Unspeakable Oath will instead depend on Doubt vs Conviction and not necessarily just on whether the players took the clasp. High doubt will make players find an alive (but near lobotomized) Chesterfield who can indeed be rescued for 2 experience.
– Ignoring the warning will mean that the players can speak Hastur’s name freely. They do forfeit an extra experience that way, though.
– In The Pallid Mask, advancing act a2 with clues will advance to an act 3 that asks the players to find a specific location and gather there. During the resolution, 2 extra tally marks for Chasing the Stranger are marked that are absent in the other resolutions.
– Having more Doubt than Conviction for Phantom of Truth will turn the scenario into a hunt for the organist.
– Dim Carcosa requires players on this path to first defeat the Man in the Pallid Mask with his investigate action and then face an incorporeal Hastur, The King in Yellow. This one can only be damaged by location abilities. Basically, it’s the investigaty version of Dim Carcosa.
– For doubters, the Lost Soul treachery tests intellect against a difficulty equal to the willpower instead of the other way round.

Conversely, showing Conviction leads to this:
– Alerting the police when you also stole from the box office during Curtain Call will make the police suspicious. As a result, one investigator has to take the Paranoia weakness during the Phantom of Truth dream scenes. Don’t steal when you want to earn conviction from Curtain Call and you suffer no drawbacks.
– Burning down the house after Last King will permanently mark all of the VIPs as killed, stopping them from appearing down the road. This makes things a lot easier in many places, but it will also lead to a mental trauma during the Phantom of Truth dreams. Technically, this mental trauma would be skipped if the investigators completely fail Unspeakable Oath… but of course that comes with its own issues. Like having everyone go mad and needing to build new decks…
– During the base campaign, taking the Onyx Clasp will allow players to rescue Daniel Chesterfield from the asylum (relatively) intact during Unspeakable Oath and earn an extra 2 experience that way.
– With Return to Carcosa, Unspeakable Oath instead checks for Doubt against Conviction to determine the relevant act card. Having more Conviction spawns the Host of Confinement instead of Chesterfield, locking players out of the 2 experience for saving Daniel. With Return To, the Clasp also has a couple more uses here and there on locations.
– Heeding the warning will reward 1 experience, however it will also punish players for saying Hastur’s name aloud. Every time they do (even when reading setup instructions, flavor text, introductory dialogue, etc. to the other players), their investigator has to take 1 horror.
– The Conviction version of Phantom of Truth has the players flee from the organist. They need to survive three nights, represented by three agenda cards.
– If the players in The Pallid Mask defeat the stranger, the catacombs will crumble away and the players need to get out. Potentially, this can cost them the XP from multiple locations that are discarded during that last bit. The resolution does not hand out the extra 2 tallymarks for the chase after the Stranger that players on the Doubt route get, however they do of course get the one tally that is always awarded for defeating the stranger.
– The Conviction route for Dim Carcosa sees the players first defeat the Man in the Pallid Mask with damage and then Hastur in his Lord of Carcosa form which is a Hunter enemy with Massive. Basically, it’s the fighty version of Dim Carcosa.
– For believers, the Lost Soul treachery tests willpower against a difficulty equal to the intellect instead of the other way round.

And if all of that wasn’t involved enough already there is a third possible path for Dim Carcosa. This one requires the lead investigator to spend 3 actions at the location of the Man of the Pallid Mask, revealing that he himself was the one behind the mask all along! The players still have to defeat a version of Hastur, The Tattered King. This one isn’t massive like the one from the Doubt route, but he deals a lot more horror on attacks.

To get this third ending, the group needs to acquire less than 6 total Doubt and Conviction. As is evident by the list of opportunities for neutral outcomes above, this isn’t possible when succeeding at everything because there is 9 total checkmarks and only 3 opportunities to go neutral instead. So they need to intentionally fail at least one scenario where it will skip some decision points that would otherwise lead to Doubt or Conviction.
In short, players can:
– fail Curtain Call (skip 1 checkmark)
– run away from the dinner party (skip 1)
– defeat the Oathspeaker or fail Echoes of the Past (skip 1)
– have fewer than 4 tallies for the Stranger by Phantom of Truth (skip 1)
– fail The Pallid Mask before making a decision on act a2 (skip 2 checkmarks)
From these options, they need to pick enough things to skip at least 4 checkmarks.

Chaos Bag

The contents of the chaos bag fluctuate from scenario to scenario depending on the investigator’s choices regarding conviction, doubt and if they even made it through the scenario unharmed. At campaign start, the only symbol tokens (in addition to the obligatory elder sign and tentacle) are skulls.

Curtain Call adds the first pair of either cultist, tablet or Elder Thing to the bag. Which one is randomly determined. Return To Curtain Call adds the possibility for one each of two of the token types. Groups that plan on failing Curtain Call (because they want to go for the third campaign path) should consider doing so before act 2a flips because that way the tokens aren’t added to the bag, leading to an easier time during Last King.

Every following scenario will usually remove all of the cultist, tablet and Elder Thing tokens and then replace them with a pair of one sort or another depending on the outcome. There’s no clear pattern behind the type of token, so it’s not like (for example) taking the conviction route would always lead to tablets or something like that. Unlike in other campaigns it’s also not the case that the Elder Thing is worse than the other tokens. It’s roughly even between the three.

As a result, this is not worth spending any time on trying to metagame or in some way prepare for. I suggest just taking it as it comes. The campaign guide seems to make a big deal out of replacing the tokens, but i would argue that it’s mostly a red herring. It’s something that adds to the replayability of the campaign and not necessarily something that can be used to tweak the difficulty of the campaign.


A number of extra weaknesses are added to the player decks during Path to Carcosa. In extreme cases, a player could have eight weaknesses (or more, if their investigator already adds more than one…) in their deck at the height of the campaign. These are where these weaknesses are handed out:

Curtain Call: At resolution, lead investigator gains Man in the Pallid Mask.
Echoes of the Past: At resolution, one investigator might gain the Onyx Clasp.
Phantom of Truth: At setup, each investigator gains Lost Soul. Additionally, if the police are suspicious, one investigator gains the Paranoia weakness at setup.
The Pallid Mask: If failed, at least one investigator must add a random Madness or Pact in exchange for 2XP during resolution.
Black Stars Rise: At setup, each investigator gains a random Madness, Pact, Cultist or Detective weakness.

Half of these are always earned, but three can be avoided. Dodging the random Madness or Pact requires successfully finishing Pallid Mask. Notably, both the clasp and the Paranoia weakness are tied to the Conviction path. Not taking the clasp requires either going the neutral or the doubt route. In order for the police to not be suspicious, either don’t go to them in the first place (Doubt) or don’t steal from the register during Curtain Call.

These extra weaknesses can be a pain for any investigators that draw through their deck fast, possibly even multiple times. The Stranger and the Clasp at least remove themselves from the deck circulation because they enter the play area. But depending on what random weaknesses are acquired and how well the player is able to handle Lost Soul, this could become a problem.


Carcosa awards a solid amount of experience for its scenarios, but in some places the players will certainly have to fight for it. Some of it is located in the encounter sets, but it’s not as much as in Dunwich where some scenarios have more XP in the randomly drawn cards than in the scenario itself. Compared with the other campaigns, Carcosa’s XP payout is certainly on the lower end, but still a good amount above Dunwich.

In turn, players shouldn’t find it difficult to build most decks for Carcosa, but the most extravagant things might not fit the budget. It should be noted that the start of the campaign can be a bit rough, however. Having bad luck with Curtain Call could leave you with just 3 or 4XP, followed by two scenarios that both don’t hand out a lot of XP either. After Oath, the XP gains do start to pick up, though.

Available XP per scenario/interlude:
Curtain Call: 5(locations) + 2(Royal Emissary) + 1(Agent of the King) = 8XP
Last King: 3-5XP(clues, scales by player count)
Echoes of the Past: 2(Library)+ 2(Oathspeaker) + 1(Agent of the King) = 5XP
Unspeakable Oath: 3(locations) + 1(Chesterfield) + 1(Beast of Aldebaran) + 2(Screeching Byakhees) = 7XP
Interlude 2: 2(Chesterfield survives) + 1(Heeding the Oath) = 3XP
Phantom of Truth: 4(locations) + 2(Screeching Byakhees) + 2(finding Nigel)= 8XP
Pallid Mask: 5(locations) + 2(Specter of Death) = 7XP
Black Stars Rise: 5(locations) + 1(Beast of Aldebaran) = 6XP
Dim Carcosa: 2(Screeching Byakhees) + 1(Beast of Aldebaran) + 1(Agent of the King) + 5(winning the campaign) = 9XP

Nothing is as easy as it seems in this campaign, so this breakdown actually needs a few lines of explanation. Also, this breakdown assumes successful scenario completions, anything beyond that is also noted below:

The availability of XP in Curtain Call is subject to randomization. There are two sets of locations that both have 2 locations with a VP and 1 without any. Of those, two are chosen. The fifth location VP is always available. So depending on the luck of the draw, there is between 3 and 5 VP on the locations. The Agent needs to be drawn from the deck, further adding some randomness.
XP in Last King is awarded based on the number of clues gathered, 1XP per two clues. However, the number of clues doesn’t completely scale with player count, meaning there’s fewer XP for bigger groups. For a solo player, there’s 10 clues up for grabs, so 5XP. For a full team of 4 there’s 25 clues, which pays out 12XP, but divided by 4 everyone only gets 3XP.
Getting full XP for Echoes requires you to first clear the Hidden Library, but then instead of finishing the scenario with the clues also defeating the Oathspeaker.
Unspeakable Oath has almost half of its XP in its monster deck which may or may not enter play during the game. The XP for Chesterfield is only given for the enemy version which is only encountered when the players do not take the clasp. However, this will lock the players out of the 2XP for having Chesterfield survive that is awarded in the following interlude.
To get the 2XP for finding Nigel Engram, you need to first intrude on a secret meeting after Last King (Doubt choice). Note that these 2XP come with a mental trauma.
Failing Pallid Mask completely will give the players the opportunity to earn another 2XP on top of what is listed above. This will also give them a random weakness, however. It is also worth noting that defeating the Stranger instead of collecting the clues will make locations discard each turn, which will not put those locations into the victory display!

Following these numbers, you can possibly go into Dim Carcosa with 50XP. Of course, when planning a deck, it’s more reasonable to expect around 30-35XP. As with Dunwich, you might want to consider running some player cards that help out, like Delve Too Deep or Charon’s Obol.

The Return To Carcosa changes the following things about the numbers above:
Hastur’s Envoys: This replacement set for the Agents of Hastur features the Preying Byakhee which doesn’t have Victory, but replaces the Screeching Byakhee that does. This reduces the maximum XP of Oath, Phantom and Dim Carcosa by 2 each.
Curtain Call: A new Backstage and Lobby location are added, both with VP on them. This does not increase the maximum, but it does make it more likely to randomly draw locations with VP from the pool.
Last King: Dianne Devine can now be killed for 1VP, increasing the maximum to 4-6XP.
Unspeakable Oath: Players that have to escort Daniel can earn an extra XP by curing his Radical Treatment. This allows them to gain the same amount of XP as those meeting with the enemy version while still being able to pick up 2XP in the following interlude (assuming Daniel survives…)
Pallid Mask: Four new locations without VP enter the catacombs deck, making it less likely for the ones with VP to show up.

Especially the removal of the VP on the Byakhees is a bit of a sore point with these changes. While it likely doesn’t impact the viability of decks in any measurable way, you can easily expect to gain 3-4 fewer XP total throughout the campaign, mostly due to the Byahkees and the changes to Pallid Mask. Which is 1 or 2 nice upgrades less for the deck…

Investigator Choices

Some investigators are more suited for Carcosa’s challenges than others. That being said, it’s generally a campaign that doesn’t have too specific requirements like for example Circle Undone or Forgotten Age do. Most importantly you’ll need to be able to withstand an above average amount of incoming horror and you will need to be able to deal with rather large enemies immediately. There’s a suprising number of 4 health enemies around in this campaign, starting right in Curtain Call.

I am going to suggest two investigators for each class:
Carolyn Fern specializes in healing horror, keeping her fellow investigators sane. Who else could be a better pick for a madness themed campaign than a psychologist?
Tommy Muldoon can have his allies pick up horror for him while he gets paid. Meanwhile, he himself is a wellrounded investigator that can do a lot of things well enough.
Agnes Baker channels horror into damage, so that’s obviously something she can use a lot here. If she “heeds the warning”, she can from that point on even trigger her ability at will.
Literally any Mystic. All of them have high sanity and are able to use their willpower to meet the generalist angle of Carcosa. Agnes leads the pack due to her horror interactions, but I find it hard to recommend one of the rest over the others.
Tony Morgan is near perfect when it comes to taking out those nasty enemies. His low sanity is an issue, but if you can solve that you get the investigator with the highest damage output (well, it’s either him or Nathaniel).
Finn Edwards combination of evasion and combat capability while also having high intellect is great here. There are two scenarios (Dim Carcosa and Phantom) that are heavy on willpower treacheries, but most of the campaign is not going to bully him too much.
Ursula Downs can get a lot of mileage out of her ability, as many of the Carcosa scenarios feature fairly large maps and lots of clues to get from them. She’s able to play to her strengths really well here.
Joe Diamond is another investigator with a broad skill set. His achilles heel, the low willpower, doesn’t matter as much in Carcosa as it does in other campaigns.
Calvin Wright can use all that incoming horror to become a hypercompetent seeker. Playing him also gives you the opportunity to abuse Dim Carcosa’s rule of not being able to die to horror and stack bonuses from it to absurd levels. It’s a fun thing to do once 🙂
William Yorrick is able to give everyone some extra XP through his signature event and is also one of the better fighters among survivors.

As usual, i want to stress that these are only suggestions. Actually, for Carcosa this is even more true than for the other campaigns as Carcosa is really generic in terms of the requirements on the team. There’s some incoming horror, there’s some unusually large enemies and that’s it. No endless willpower bullying, vengeance penalties or similar shenanigans. This means you can play pretty much whatever you want. The only real limiter is the amount of experience available. You’ll want your deck to be capable on just a handful of XP and you might need to be a bit more frugal when it comes to the luxury stuff.

Notable Player Cards

There’s a couple of player cards that can make the whole trip along the Path to Carcosa a bit easier. Here’s some suggestions, again limiting myself to two per class and not mentioning the super obvious ones that are played in most decks anyways:

Handcuffs are a godsend for the first half of the campaign. Most of the enemies encountered are cultists, so locking them down without a way to generate doom is just great. During Oath, they also shine to tie down the asylum inmates. After Oath, they become less useful and can be replaced with some upgrade.
Spiritual Resolve is costly, but it doesn’t get better when you want to soak damage and horror. The last few times i played Carcosa, this has been my final upgrade that i buy from the Black Stars XP to make sure Dim Carcosa goes my way.
I’ve Got a Plan is one of the few cards that can deal 4 damage in one blow and as mentioned, this is a bit of a magic number at times.
Logical Reasoning can be a necessary upgrade if mental trauma has taken its toll and you are concerned about horror. The upgrade is super expensive but it can wipe out several turns of horror.
Liquid Courage is more horror healing. And rogues can really use it.
Riastrad fills the same purpose that I’ve Got a Plan does, but with fewer restrictions on its use.
Fearless is not particularly impressive in its level 0 version, but the upgrade does a lot of work.
Ward of Protection is of course one of the most played mystic cards of all, but i want to give a shoutout to its much less played level 5 version here. There are some very scary enemies in the encounter deck during the second half of the campaign and being able to stop them from even appearing can be exceptional.
Peter Sylvestre is another widely played card, but i can’t possibly talk about cards that help against horror without mentioning the Big Man.
Stunning Blow automatically evades even the big Elites. This buys the necessary time taking down some of the big guys can take.
Elder Sign Amulet is a card i am rarely happy to take due to it hogging up the accessory slot, but if better class options are not available, then sometimes you got to do what you got to do.
Fine Clothes are a neat thing to have for the first couple scenarios. While the parley tests in Last King aren’t all that difficult and are mostly gated behind other requirements, Fine Clothes can trivialize them which will help a lot. Fine Clothes are also a good solution for the Poltergeist. After Last King, they are less useful. Pallid Mask has the Poltergeist again and another scenario specific enemy that can be parley’d, but that’s pretty much it.
Did i forget any noteworthy player cards? Something that can prevent and heal horror maybe? No? Guess we are done here then!


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