Best-Laid Plans: The Innsmouth Conspiracy


This page doesn’t hold back anything. There are detailed spoilers for the Innsmouth campaign ahead. I highly suggest that you stop reading now if you have not played this campaign once or twice before. Give the campaign a try on your own first, then come back once you drowned or got fed to cute little baby fish-monsters.


Something is fishy in the little village of Innsmouth. The investigators find themselves struck with a hefty amnesia and will have to recover their own memories while uncovering the secrets of Innsmouth at the same time.

This article takes a deep dive into the challenges posed to the players as they make their way along the campaign with all of its twists and turns, special mechanics and recurring themes. As in previous Best-Laid Plans, i will also give some suggestions for investigators and player cards that might work particularly well in The Innsmouth Conspiracy.

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.

The Deep Ones

The Deep Ones are the most commonly encountered group of enemies during the campaign, appearing in five out of eight scenarios. They are a nasty bunch, most importantly because all of them have a signature mechanic of triggering some sort of effect whenever they engage an investigator. This can mean testless damage, horror, forced discard, bonus attacks or various scenario specific things. The majority of the Deep Ones are also hunters. This combination immediately discourages evasion because it runs the risk of having to repeatedly triggering the engagement effects. However several of them have stats or mechanics tied to them that pull in the other direction, with enticingly low evasion values or Forced effects that go off on other Deep Ones dying around them.

As a result, the choice on whether to kill or evade these enemies is often an actual choice, depending on context like the current board state. Enemies from previous cycles were often fairly obviously designed in on or the other direction, the Deep Ones ask the players to be a bit more flexible. It should also be noted that some of the scenarios also feature simply more enemies than usual and killing all of them might actually not be feasible. This is especially true if the players rely on events or on assets with charges or ammo to defeat enemies.

Damage and Horror

Innsmouth tests the limits of the investigators fairly well. On top of the damage and horror that comes from fighting (and simply engaging) Deep Ones, the encounter deck often piles on the hurt. Many treacheries deal damage and/or horror. Five of the scenarios have token effects that deal either horror, damage or both. The flood mechanic deals damage when the investigators start drowning. There’s a lot going on and both sanity and stamina are heavily under assault along the way. This makes Innsmouth a fairly hostile place for investigators that have only a 5 or 6 in one of these stats. Those investigators should make sure that they bring enough soak to meet the challenge. Truth be told, this campaign might be the one where healing might actually look decent. Although healing is usually disregarded in favor of soak (outside of a few select cards like Hallowed Mirror), a card like Painkillers or Clarity of Mind(3) can do some work. Pity there’s no Healing Words(3) yet…

If you are playing on Expert or Hard, this issue becomes a lot more pronounced because some of the token effects will now also have their effect when the test succeeded. Obviously, this can be a huge issue because it randomly adds a lot of extra incoming pain.

The most troublesome scenario in this regard is actually the first one. The Pit of Despair plays sort of like a gauntlet that players have to solve as quickly as possible while the encounter deck, scenario card and enemies rain down on their soak, sanity and stamina. The other notable scenario for this is Horror in High Gear which features a very scary encounter deck, but by then you at least had the opportunity of buying some extra cards for your deck to prepare.

The silver lining here is that Innsmouth Conspiracy doesn’t force trauma upon trauma on you the way that Forgotten Age does. Trauma is something you obviously really should try to avoid, especially if you are playing one of the investigators who are a bit vulnerable from the get-go. Starting Horror in High Gear with Mary on three or four life because you died in previous scenarios is probably not going to end well either… so you will need to stop this from snowballing further if it comes to it.

Locations, Locations, Locations

Every single one of the scenarios does something special with its locations. Players need to make sure to properly read and understand how location connectors in the scenarios work because many of them come with extra rules for them, like arranging them in interconnected rows or having them dynamically appear in adjacent positions.

Most of the scenarios also have maps with very wide layouts, using a dozen or more locations. For that reason, having good mobility is incredibly helpful to cut down on the actions required to get one place to the next. You are pretty much guaranteed to get the most out of cards like Track Shoes, Safeguard or Pathfinder… not that those are bad cards that were in need of help! This mobility is going to help a lot with the aforementioned Hunter enemies as well, so it’s something to prioritize.

The final general thing of note about the location layouts is that they feature a high degree of randomization. This adds a serious amount of replayability to the campaign. But it does also reduce how much you can plan for, something that is especially troubling for solo investigators who really can’t afford getting lost in some underwater caves.

The location play is enhanced further by the following three mechanics: Tidal Tunnels, Keys and Flood. All of those are relevant enough to be worth looking at in detail:

Tidal Tunnels

The Tidal Tunnels are a group of locations with identical unrevealed sides that are usually shuffled at setup and then either added to the location grid at random or presented as a deck to draw new locations from. A couple of tunnels is provided by the Deluxe box in form of the Flooded Caverns encounter set, but every scenario that uses them also has some of its own to add to the mix.

These Tidal Tunnels provide the main avenue for setup randomization. In some ways, this harkens back to exploration in Forgotten Age and the Rainforest set from that deluxe box. There are two key differences, though. For one, the Tidal Tunnels always have scenario specific cards added to them, to keep them from being quite the same in all of the five scenarios they are used in. But more importantly, these do not come with fixed connections and this is where the replayability actually comes from. While TFA did shuffle up its locations initially, the grid of location would always only be able to play out a specific way over the course of the game. In Innsmouth, the order in which you might run into these caves is truly random.

To further differentiate the use of the Tidal Tunnels from one scenario to the next, the way they are used is changed up a lot: Pit of Despair draws them from a deck in adjacent positions similar to how it was done in Carcosa’s The Pallid Mask. Devil Reef employs a layered randomization that clusters the locations into islands that are also randomized among each other. Light in the Fog arranges them in multiple rows that are connected only through a central column of “normal” locations. Dagon’s Lair just puts them into play anywhere and connects every single one to a central location. And Into the Maelstrom simply uses them in a small 3×3 square until it discards all of them for its second act in favor of a completely new set of random locations.

The three locations from the Flooded Caverns set cover three rather important jobs: Tidal Pool delivers two of the set aside keys. Underground River offers a safe space from the rising tide, giving players room for a last ditch effort to close out the scenario after the flood became too high. Underwater Cavern allows travel to any other flooded Cave location, helping with the sprawling location layouts. The random positioning of Underwater Cavern can be especially important for some scenarios (Devil Reef being the prime example), as it can potentially offer huge action discounts for moving around.

The Underground River locations also come with a victory point each, adding 2 possible XP to the four scenarios that use it. It should be noted though that these are fairly hard to earn. It’s a four shroud location with 2 clues per investigator and no further benefits for clearing it except the VP and the clues themselves. So in a way, being mobile and efficient with the clue discovery is not only important for the keys, but it also directly pays out in up to 8 bonus XP for this campaign.


One of the driving motivators behind the location related gameplay is the player’s search for the keys. In all but two of the scenarios there are up to 7 keys that need to be collected to either finish the scenarios or to unlock access to flashbacks and story assets. As with the Tunnels, the exact mechanics of how these are distributed vary a bit from scenario to scenario, but most often they are tied to certain locations that need to be freed from clues before the key can be claimed.

Again, the distribution of the keys offers a venue of randomization for the scenarios, working hand in hand with the randomization of the locations to provide slightly different experiences in scenarios on replays. They also are one of the main reasons why a high mobility is crucial, especially when the keys need to also be delivered somewhere specific which might require non-trivial amounts of backtracking … right into any Hunters you got on the board. You can easily see here how these mechanics are all gripping into each other fairly well.

Since picking up keys usually requires discovering all clues from a location first, efficient seeking is obviously very helpful as well. Although that is nothing all that new, i suppose.


The Innsmouth deluxe box comes with a new set of flood tokens that indicate whether locations are unflooded, partially flooded or fully flooded. The progress of these tokens is mostly dictated by the progress of the agendas, with some variance on top from the Rising Tide and Syzygy encounter sets. Whenever flood tokens are used, the agenda will have some sort of effect that damages players for staying in fully flooded locations for too long.

In terms of gameplay consequences the flooding mostly works as another parallel timer to the doom clock. Both timers are in pretty close relation to each other due to the flooding being mostly controlled by the agenda advancement, but the influence of some encounter cards can make the flood jump ahead of the curve. These two cards are Rising Tides from the aptly named Rising Tide encounter set and Tidal Alignment from the Syzygy set. All scenarios with flood counters in them use at least one of these sets, Devil Reef and Light in the Fog even use both.

The dangers of staying in flooded locations come from multiple sources. The agenda will deal damage to players that either end their turn in fully flooded locations or those that did only stay in fully flooded locations for one turn, depending on the scenario. The Rising Tide encounter set has treacheries that deal damage and horror or discard assets from play, but will only surge if the investigator is currently in a completely non-flooded place. A number of enemies also comes with flood-related abilities, like Deep Ones that do something extra on engaging when the location is flooded. So staying at least in only partially flooded places can be significantly safer than being caught by enemies fully submerged.

The flooding serves once again to reinforce the location gameplay by dynamically making some places more dangerous than others, possibly even restricting access unless the player is willing to risk drowning should they unexpectedly be engaged by an enemy. As before, high mobility and efficient clue discovery are the best ways to minimize your exposure to fully flooded locations.


Scattered throughout the Innsmouth campaign are fourteen flashbacks, and getting all of them will unlock a fifteenth one in the epilogue. Flashbacks are passages of story text in the campaign guides that you are instructed to read after fulfilling some conditions mid-scenario. Doing so is highly recommended, as they not only deliver lots of interesting background story to what is actually happening, but also some advantages going forward in the form of story assets, experience or manipulation of the chaos bag.

These are the flashbacks, what you gain from them and how to unlock them:

  • #1: “A meeting with Thomas Dawson”
    During Pit of Despair, finish act 1
    – awards 1XP during Interlude 1
  • #2: “A battle with a horrifying devil”
    During Pit of Despair, activate the Bone-Ridden Pit
    – remove a cultist from the chaos bag
    – 1XP during Interlude 1
    – allows killing the Terror of Devil Reef permanently during Devil Reef
  • #3: “A decision to stick together”
    During Pit of Despair, activate the Fish Graveyard
    – remove a tablet from the chaos bag
    – 1XP during Interlude 1
    – gives control of Thomas Dawson during The Vanishing of Elina Harper
    – gives control of Thomas Dawson during Lair of Dagon setup (will otherwise be given after act 1)
  • #4: “An encounter with a secret cult”
    During Pit of Despair, activate the Idol Chamber
    – remove an Elder Thing from the chaos bag
    – 1XP during Interlude 1
    – having this memory will make Lair of Dagon slightly more difficult, by having act 1b add 2 curse tokens (otherwise it will remove 2). It can also potentially make another cultist appear then, if “A jailbreak” is not among the recovered memories.
  • #5: “A deal with Joe Sargent”
    During In Too Deep, collect any 2 keys and activate Innsmouth Square
    – put the Joe Sargent (scenario specific) story asset into play, offers 3 free moves
  • #6: “A followed lead”
    During In Too Deep, collect any 5 keys and activate The Little Bookshop
    – acquire the Teachings of the Order story asset
  • #7: “An intervention”
    During In Too Deep, collect all 7 keys and activate Sawbone Alley
    – add a +1 to the chaos bag
  • #8: “A jailbreak”
    During In Too Deep, collect the black key and activate the Innsmouth Jail
    – remove a cultist, tablet or Elder Thing from the chaos bag
    – having this memory will replace a regular cultist that appears during Lair of Dagon with the Suspect enemy from The Vanishing of Elina Harper. Defeating this Suspect is one of the conditions to gain the yellow key at the start of Into the Maelstrom (the other one is possession of either the Idol, Mantle or Headdress).
  • #9: “Discovery of a strange idol”
    During Devil Reef, find the purple key
    – acquire the Waveworn Idol story asset
    – add a cultist to the chaos bag
    – 2XP during Interlude 3
  • #10: “Discovery of an unholy mantle”
    During Devil Reef, find the white key
    – acquire the Awakened Mantle story asset
    – add a tablet to the chaos bag
    – 2XP during Interlude 3
  • #11: “Discovery of a mystic relic”
    During Devil Reef, find the black key
    – acquire the Headdress of Y’ha-nthlei story asset
    – add an Elder Thing to the chaos bag
    – 2XP during Interlude 3
  • #12: “A conversation with Mr. Moore”
    During A Light in the Fog, collect the white key from the Lantern Room and activate the Falcon Point Cliffside
    – the lead investigator gains 1 clue per player
    – remove a cultist, tablet or Elder Thing from the chaos bag
  • #13: “The lifecycle of a Deep One”
    During A Light in the Fog, collect the purple key from a Tidal Tunnel and activate the Deep One Nursery
    – remove a cultist, tablet or Elder Thing from the chaos bag
    – killing the Terror of Devil Reef (requires #2) and getting this memory will give the players the green key at the start of Into the Maelstrom
  • #14: “A stinging betrayal”
    Finish The Lair of Dagon successfully. Then, during Into the Maelstrom, place all seven keys onto locations and activate the Lair of Dagon location
    – unlock one of two bonus act cards that you can fulfill in addition to the initial one
  • #15: “The horrible truth”
    During Into the Maelstrom, finish the initial act 2 while having recovered all of the other flashbacks (#1 to #14) during the campaign
    – You mastered The Innsmouth Conspiracy. Good job, champion!

Successfully finishing scenarios is often not that difficult in this campaign, it’s these flashbacks where most of the difficulty lies. They entice players to weigh the risk of staying in the scenario against the gain they can get from unlocking the flashbacks and their associated prizes.

Chaos Bag

As players regain memories through flashbacks, one of the effects this has on the game mechanics is changing the contents of the chaos bag. Typically, campaigns start with a rather forgiving bag that ramps up its contents over time. Innsmouth Conspiracy turns this on its head with a full bag right from the start: 10 numerical tokens (11 on Hard, 12 on Expert) are accompanied by 2 of each symbol token and the obligatory Elder Sign and Tentacle. That’s 20 tokens on Standard. As points of comparison, Dunwich starts with 15 and Circle Undone even with only 13. Up to here, the campaign with the most tokens in the initial bag was actually Night of the Zealot with 16.

During Pit of Despair, the players can bring down the number of tokens by removing a cultist, tablet and an Elder Thing each for recovering the three flashbacks, something they should try to do really hard because of how it will echo throughout the rest of the campaign. This can even be worth taking a trauma from having someone be defeated as he closes out the last flashback. Through In Too Deep and Light in the Fog, three more tokens of the players choice can be removed. Finally, there is even a +1 token available during In Too Deep, however it requires getting all 7 keys which is not an easy task at all.

The three artifacts which are recovered during Devil Reef all add another token back into the bag. You could avoid this by leaving the artifacts and simply not doing your objectives, but that’d have you miss out on some pretty good story assets and a handful of experience points that certainly do come in handy, especially at that point of the campaign where you have been starved for card upgrades so far.

When removing a chaos token of the players choice, the first instinct is going straight for the Elder Things which usually are the worst ones to draw. There is an argument to be made to remove cultists instead, though. Following Light in the Fog (where the tokens can be removed) there’s two more scenarios, Lair of Dagon and Into the Maelstrom. Looking at the token effects for those two scenarios, the Elder Thing is indeed the token with the largest negative modifier. However, the cultist token has quite significant effects: In Dagon’s Lair the cultist will draw another token and turn into an auto-fail if drawn together with a curse. Since the bag is often filled with curses in that campaign, they almost turn into second and third copies of the tentacle. In Into the Maelstrom, the cultist will add a doom to the agenda (and potentially advance the agenda) on a failed test. Obviously this is also not great. In comparison, the Elder Thing only adds a curse (or two on Hard/Expert) on fail or conditionally cause a horror. The tablet token doesn’t compete with cultist and Elder Thing for removal, their modifier is lower than the Elder Thing and their effect on fail is not that bad either.

The decision on whether to remove Elder Thing or Cultist hinges on two things then. For one, how confident are you in your tests? If you can beat the -4/-5 from an Elder Thing, then this points towards getting rid of the cultists. Secondly, if you plan on beating Into the Maelstrom before the Old Ones wake up, getting rid of that cultist also makes a lot of sense. But getting rid of the big modifier through removing the Elder Things is certainly not a wrong choice either, especially if you are not completely confident in how often you’d be able to beat them.

As a final note on the chaos bag, the Innsmouth campaign introduces curse and bless tokens as a mechanic. This is mostly contained to player cards, except for one scenario they do not play a role for the campaign itself. If you want to go hard on synergies with drawing blesses and curses, it might make sense to try and keep the bag as slim as possible to increase your odds of drawing the tokens you added. That could be a reason to not recover the artifacts in Devil Reef (although, in my opinion, a rather weak reason).

Agents Harper and Dawson

The investigators meet Agent Harper during the conclusion of The Vanishing of Elina Harper and, provided that they didn’t fail the scenario, can add her to a deck for the rest of the campaign. However in practice you won’t have her available often, because during flashbacks, Harper is replaced by Thomas Dawson. The requirement for having access to Dawson is much lower, it merely requires finishing act 1 of Pit of Despair.

Both of these characters are great ally cards. While a bit on the expensive side with 4 resource cost, they do have a good amount of soak on them and provide bonuses to two stats alongside yet another ability. Great value all around.

Other Story Assets

Aside from the agents, there are four other story assets worth talking about. The first one, Teachings of the Order, is earned during In Too Deep, requiring 5 keys. This should be a goal to set for yourself, as this asset is extremely useful. As a permanent card, it doesn’t clog the deck and is in play right from the start. It has three abilities that all can be activated once during the campaign. The curse removal will be great for Lair of Dagon. Removing the flood marker can make escaping A Light in the Fog a lot easier or help with finishing the final scenario. And the ability to just defeat something once is a good thing to have as a panic button that can save you if you draw something like the Deep One Bull on your first mythos phase. Get this card, it makes life a lot easier for you going forward.

The other three are the relics from Devil Reef: The Waveworn Idol, the Awakened Mantle and the Headdress of Y’ha-nthlei. These are all cheap assets that go into the deck of their owner. They do provide some sort of soak without using an item slot, so that’s immediately useful. As for abilities, they aren’t bad either. The headdress offers a bonus whenever seeking, fighting or evading at flooded locations. The mantle offers a free move per turn as long as its from one flooded location to the next. And the idol offers a free action per turn, to be used after a Deep One spawned at your location or the flood level was changed. Mantle and Idol are a good deal better than the headdress just because they offer extra actions, but all of them are nice to have. Acquiring them does add a chaos token to the bag for each one, though. The headdress adds the Elder Thing, so you might consider skipping that one on purpose. By doing so, you could actually enter the final two scenarios without any Elder Things and cultists in the bag which is certainly nice. The mantle and idol are both good enough to take regardless of the token.


Two of the scenarios, Devil Reef and Horror in High Gear, introduce the concept of vehicle assets to the game. They allow the group to move together as a unit and those scenarios also come with penalties for moving without that vehicle. For Devil Reef, it’s a fisher boat you use to get from one small island to the next. For Horror in High Gear, it’s one or two cars that the players are using to speed towards their destination.

The vehicles are used quite differently in those two scenarios, so making sure to get the rule nuances right is important. The most important difference comes from having to choose a driver for the car while anyone can use their actions on moving the boat. Horror in High Gear also has a couple of treacheries that hit everyone in the same car at the same time.

Ultimately, the vehicles are nothing too impactful. They represent another movement option in Devil Reef, sort of like a Safeguard that can be used by the whole group. For Horror in High Gear, there’s a bit more play around the vehicles as the cars can be stopped and started by spending actions and many tests on locations and treacheries will refer to the driver of the car. For that reason, you should preferably pick someone with high agility (and possibly also willpower) for the job.

The vehicles are completely contained to their scenarios, there are no implications for the wider campaign.

Delayed Experience spending

As mentioned, the campaign shifts its focus regularly, alternating between scenarios set in the present and those representing flashbacks from a week to a month earlier. As a result of this, the players are instructed to not spend their experience when going into one of the flashback scenarios.

This means that players will have to keep their XP banked between In Too Deep and Devil Reef and between A Light in the Fog and Lair of Dagon without being allowed to buy card upgrades from them just yet. Curiously the same is not true for going from Pit of Despair into Vanishing of Elina Harper despite the latter also being a flashback scenario.

So instead of the usual 7 opportunities to spend XP, Innsmouth only has 5. While this does not mean that there’s less XP to gain and spend in total, it does have some implications for the distribution. Most importantly, it introduces a severe drought of XP for the first four scenarios, as the first half of the campaign will have to be played on only what you gained during Pit of Despair and Vanishing of Elina Harper – and that’s not necessarily a whole lot. Then, after Devil Reef you are suddenly presented with a huge pile of experience all to spend at once. The skip between Light in the Fog and Lair of Dagon is much less impactful.


So since i already started talking about experience, let’s take a look at what is available during the Innsmouth Conspiracy. It’s a very solid amount and you’ll find that by the end of the campaign you will usually be able to have filled out your deck very well. It’s just that the first half keeps you on a very short leash in terms of card upgrades.

Available XP per scenario:
Pit of Despair (+Interlude 1): 2 (locations) + 4 (Flashbacks 1-4) = 6XP
The Vanishing of Elina Harper: 6 (locations) + 1 (Winged One) = 7XP
In Too Deep: 5 (locations) + 1 (Innsmouth Shoggoth) + 2 (successful resolution) = 8XP
Devil Reef (+Interlude 3): 4 (locations) + 1 (Terror of Devil Reef) + 1 (Lloigor) + 6 (relics) = 12 XP
Horror in High Gear: 8 (locations) + 1 (Winged One) = 9XP
A Light in the Fog: 5 (locations) + 2 (Oceiros) = 7XP
The Lair of Dagon: 5 (locations) + 1 (Dagon) + 1 (Apostle) = 7XP
Into the Maelstrom: 2 (locations) + 1 (Lloigor) + 4 (act cards) + 3 (resolution, both act cards done) = 10XP

As usual some comments on these numbers.
Getting the full XP on Vanishing of Elina Harper is extremely unlikely as it would require fishing all five locations out of the lead deck, something you’d need immense luck for to get done. Usually i’d be happy to even get 3XP in total there, everything more than that is already something to celebrate…
The XP that is available from locations in Horror in High Gear is subject to some randomization, as there are up to two locations beneath the Falcon Point and another two locations make out the road behind the players at the start of the scenario. While it is theoretically possible to backtrack to those, it’s very impractical to do so in the vast majority of cases (that do not involve Luke somehow).

As you can see from these numbers, you could in theory enter Into the Maelstrom with 55XP, which is roughly on par with the Circle Undone and Carcosa campaigns. So you should have no problems getting your decks up and running. Just make sure that they function without much investment at first, as you will need to get by on 6-10XP for the first half of the campaign. Once over that hump, things get much more relaxed both thanks to the massive dump of XP following Devil Reef and due to acquiring the relics at that point. Innsmouth really has some great story assets that can help with filling out the deck, making some other upgrades less critical.

Investigator Choices

The Innsmouth campaign attacks investigators from several angles. Especially the amount of incoming damage and horror right at the start of the campaign can be staggering. There’s also an above average amount of enemies that need handling, while you still want to be able to quick and efficiently scour clues from locations and grab the keys before the flood rolls in. While all investigators can be built to contribute, there are certainly some that work better than others. Here are some suggestions on what should work well, two per class:
Tommy Muldoon couldn’t care less about incoming damage and horror. In fact, he’s getting payed for it. By leaning into his survivor access he can even leverage his base intellect into contributing with the clues.
Roland Banks will have to work around his 5 sanity. But if he can do that, he will find that the target rich environment of Innsmouth gives him plenty of opportunity to trigger his investigator ability for extra clues.
Ursula Downs has an excellent stat line for this campaign and gets the most out of the mobility cards that you’ll likely want to run for Innsmouth.
Amanda Sharpe can be built towards a deck that can do quite a lot of fighting while still being a capable seeker (and without being as exposed to treacheries as Joe is). Having your seeker be not as vulnerable to enemies and encounter cards as usual is a good strategy here.
Winifred Habbamock is one of the investigators that are capable at both fighting and evading and are thus able to react to everything. She’s also very much able to contribute to the clue portion of the game through Pilfer and just having a good statline and skills to boost them.
Trish Scarborough combines seeking and enemy handling into a a tidy package as well. While not quite as flexible as Wini, she is arguably more efficient at what she does. She is also by far the best investigator at putting Elina Harper to work.
Luke Robinson has to be mentioned whenever we are looking for mobility because it doesn’t get much better than just teleporting around. Sure, his 5 stamina needs protection, but it’s not like a hunter will ever catch up to him.
Akachi Onyele is about the closest to a pure combat mage that the LCG has. Her ability to get extra charges and to refuel her spells through her signature will help a lot if your plan is burning your way through the enemies. The other mystics will find that their Shrivels (etc.) won’t last very long.
Silas Marsh can both fight and evade very well, he’s quite similar to Wini in that regard. While Silas doesn’t have the capabilities to grab a lot of clues, he does have something else that Wini does not: Track Shoes. And the pair of Jessica and Peter to stave off the damage and horror. He’s also the most thematically appropriate investigator by far.
Stella Clark… i swear, i really don’t want to recommend Stella for every campaign. But look at this: 8 health, 8 sanity, good evasion, decent fight, capability to discover clues through events, a signature that trivializes Horror in High Gear and mobility through Track Shoes. Go play Stella, i guess ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

As usual, the real recommendation is to play whatever seems fun to you. If you struggle with the campaign, these suggestions can point you towards what could help you but ultimately you’ll want to forge your own way through the campaign and i firmly believe that every single investigator has the capability to pull their weight in a group. True solo might be a different thing, i have no idea about that honestly. But by no means are these recommendations to be understood as something you absolutely should do or need to do to get through the campaign.

Notable Player Cards

Investigators alone do not make a deck, so here are also some suggestions for player cards. What you are mostly looking for is mobility, soak and action efficiency. Again i will limit myself to 2 cards per class:

Handcuffs work on Deep Ones thanks to their Humanoid trait. They also work on the vehicle enemies of Horror in High Gear, for that matter. And on those pesky Dagon cultists. There’s a lot of targets for this card, so they it should almost always be a worthy inclusion.
Spiritual Resolve is 5XP, but the amount of pressure it relieves is remarkable. Consider getting this upgrade when you are swimming in XP after Devil Reef so you can be a lot more relaxed about the second half of the campaign.
Esoteric Atlas: Horror in High Gear and Devil Reef incur action penalties for moving through some locations without a vehicle. While those would also apply to cards like Pathfinder, Nimble or Track Shoes, they don’t apply to the locations skipped by Esoteric Atlas. This can allow for some neat tricks in those scenarios while still being useful in other scenarios. For example, it allows you to skip past barricades in In Too Deep and helps with the backtracking necessary when delivering keys from one place to the next.
Dr. William T. Maleson picks up the slack for the distinct lack of soaking in the seeker card pool. For only 1 resource he can ward a lot of damage and horror away from the investigator, which can be a necessary evil, even if it costs the ally slot.
Slip Away is something that anyone who plans on using evasion to deal with enemies should look at. Keeping the Deep One hunters down an additional turn is a huge help. Note that it will not keep down the Deep One Bull, though.
Liquid Courage can be a bit of a necessary evil for those rogues that struggle with their low sanity, like for example Tony Morgan. Healing anywhere between 4 and 8 sanity can be clutch to get through some bad situations and the ability to spread the healing around in the group will very likely be handy as well.
Open Gate on locations that you anticipate having to return to can translate into some serious action efficiency, saving whole turns of running back and forth. Devil Reef is of course the most obvious example again as it allows to hop islands and if put in smart locations with Underground Passage in mind can allow bypassing the boat completely for the later stage of the scenario.
Ritual Candles are in my opinion a bit of an underrated sleeper card anyways, but especially in a campaign that starts out with a full 8 bad symbol tokens, it can really do some good for your tests. Depending on your plans for your hand slots and on how well you are able to get your flashbacks that remove these tokens, you may want to upgrade out of these for the last two or three scenarios. But up to there, maybe give these a second or third look when putting your initial deck together.
Track Shoes: I mentioned this card several times throughout this whole article. I feel like i have to acknowledge its existence at least once here as well. If you can, go play it. Well, maybe don’t Versatile for it. Maybe.
Waylay takes care of the Deep One Bull specifically, but also many other Deep Ones as well, as they tend towards having low evasion. Waylay is a card that can solve a lot of dicey situations without much fuss, as long as you can spare the resources.
Painkillers/Smoking Pipe are cards i usually try to avoid running, but for investigators that start out with either 5 sanity or 5 stamina, these can be crucial at least for the first couple scenarios.


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Resurgent Evils: Return to The Forgotten Age


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

This Return gets two thumbs up from me. It does significantly alter the campaign, shaking up mechanics that are core to the campaign and smoothing the notorious difficulty curve in many places. Return to TFA plays a lot better than the base campaign and offers more venues for players to interact with things like supplies and exploration.
Alongside fixing up scenario specific issues and improving what were already fan-favorites, the box also rewrites how exploration works from the ground and includes changes that make the much maligned supply system more forgiving.
The encounter sets can not really be used outside of the RtTFA campaign, but they do a great job in there.
The player cards are a very nice selection of playable cards, some of them are even what i would consider staple cards that enable or widen deck options.
The cardboard box itself with the dividers is a suitable storage solution, of course.

Really, i don’t actually have anything negative to say here. This is an excellent buy. As a Return To, it is inherently a bit of a luxury product, of course. So i would always suggest buying a Deluxe box you don’t own yet over this. But if you do own a complete TFA cycle and want to replay it more often, this box will be great value for you.

Due to the complexity of some changes i would suggest not using this box for your first TFA play. That would probably be a bit overwhelming.

Spoilers Below!

This is where spoilers start. The following paragraphs ramp up in how “spoilery” they are, starting with just descriptions of what’s in the box, going over the player cards and then moving into the changed mechanics and campaign contents. Finally, i will give you a summary of what changes per scenario. So feel free to tag out whenever you think that you don’t want to see anything else. It should be noted though that these things are kinda spoiled while setting up the scenarios themselves. So going into a Return To scenario “blind” is not really going to happen either way.


Just like the other Return To sets, RtTFA comes in a sturdy box suited for storing all the cards for its campaign. Included in the box are 26 player cards and 79 encounter cards. 25 of those encounter cards go towards new encounter replacement sets, the rest are specific to one of the scenarios.
The insert for the box is not all that functional and mostly exists so the cards don’t move around too much during shipping and transport. Feel free to toss it.
A set of dividers is included to help you organize your old and new campaign cards within the box. These dividers are both good looking and functional.
The box itself works very well for its purpose, there is plenty of room in there to store all of the campaign cards, no matter if sleeved or not. There is also enough room (and dividers) to hold the cards from the Core that are used for The Forgotten Age.
As a first for a Return To product, the little paper leaflet does not only come with some general instructions on how to use the cards and a list of suggested achievements, but also with some changes to the setup and resolution texts of three scenarios.

Player cards

Each class gets two new pairs of cards, as expected they are all down- or upgrades from cards that were released during the Forgotten Age cycle. It’s a pretty good selection of cards, with several standouts that see play often.

Guardians gain Blood Eclipse(1), a downgrade from the existing level 3 card that makes the opportunity cost to include it more bearable. Certainly an option for the likes of Mary or Carolyn, but still sort of narrow. More interesting is the level 2 Survival Knife which allows killing attackers before they hit you. Excellent card that can go into many decks.
For Seekers, a new Ancient Stone is the highlight here, giving free moves whenever you draw a card. Great option to have. Truth from Fiction (2) is less universal, but we’ve seen an uptick in secret related cards in Seeker recently so this might be a card to stay aware of.
Rogues get the short straw, as both of their cards aren’t that great. The Decorated Skull(3) allows trading in those charges much more efficiently, but it still has to contest with the likes of Cigarette Case and Crystallizer, so… meh. Colt Vest Pocket(2) turns an abysmal card into one that is merely bad. Hard pass, sorry.
In Mystic, we have the Chthonian Stone(3) which can take several tentacle reveals before going back into the hand. Niche card, but fair. The upgraded Mists of R’lyeh is a very important stepping stone for all Mystics with Arcane Research, though. Very good card to have.
Survivors got some great stuff. Alter Fate(1) is a very important card for offclass survivors, giving people like Minh and Preston a very good solution to many problems. On Your Own(3, exceptional) is so good, it spawns its own archetype.
The Neutral card, Backpack(2) is also excellent. As long as you are looking for items, this is one of the best search cards in the game and can make tons of decks.

This is a very strong selection of cards, with Alter Fate, Backpack and Survival Knife leading the pack. Of course, there are a few stinkers in there, but on average this is probably the best set of player cards in a Return To set so far.

Also part of the player cards are two new weaknesses, one of which actually consists of three cards. Offer You Can Not Refuse walks in the footsteps of Doomed and uses a similar three-staged approach. Unless the player can pay off an increasing amount of resources when drawing the card, their weakness will upgrade to the next stage until it finally reaches a point where it can outright drive them insane. A very, very harsh weakness that is most certainly not offset by the two bonus XP it offers the one who has to bear it.
The other weakness is Dendromorphosis, which occupies both hand slots of the player, discarding everything that was previously in there. This is another rough one. Apparently it’s also player designed? What the hell, Botanists at Arkham Nights 2018?

Campaign wide changes

Aside from the changes that are tied to specific scenarios, the Return To TFA also manages to tinker with more campaign wide mechanics.

Exploration got a major overhaul, with every scenario having some changes in it to make it play better. These changes aren’t always the same, so players should take care during setup to read the setup card carefully. Generally speaking, the new exploration rules mean that the exploration deck no longer starts with treacheries in it. Instead, cards from the encounter deck are shuffled into the exploration deck after a location was successfully found there. So basically, you replace the location with a random encounter card. This has some side effects: Players no longer know exactly what’s in the deck. And there could be enemies in there. But the biggest effect is how exploration no longer frontloads the danger. Instead of starting out with very risky explorations that become easier as the treacheries thin out from the deck, the deck now only gets more loaded over time in exchange for an easier start. This plays a lot better than it did before.

For supplies, there is now a lot more supply points available after Threads of Fate. Many supply items also got applications on the new locations from the Return sets. This takes a lot of the pressure from the supply system, provided Threads of Fate went well.

Speaking of Threads of Fate, you can now gain a new story ally there. Veda Whitsley is quite powerful and helps out with exploration in particular.

For those who are looking to end the campaign with the bonus mission, there is now a (sadly not guaranteed) possibility to turn the “strange liquid” from Depths of Yoth into something useful. By combining it with a “sticky goop” that can be found in HotE#2, players can acquire a key that opens a shortcut in Turn Back Time.

As a final note, it should be mentioned that many of the changes serve to make the campaign more forgiving and easier in places. It’s of course still a tough ride (like it should!). But where previous Returns have only increased the difficulty, this one does smooth out many of the rough edges and makes The Forgotten Age a more well-rounded experience.

Replacement Encounter Sets

There are five replacement encounter sets in the box which can be used throughout the campaign, replacing the original sets. While one of them is a Core set replacement, it doesn’t really work that well outside of The Forgotten Age. The individual cards are discussed elsewhere on the site, so i will only give a short summary here and link to the appropriate encounter set page.

Return to the Rainforest: Four new Jungle locations are added to the base Rainforest set. At setup, it is randomized which ones are used. All of the new locations do refer to some supply item for a bonus (or the absence of a penalty…). They do have the same connections as the old ones, so the location layout doesn’t change.

Cult of Pnakotus: These replace the Core Dark Cult. This set is quite dangerous with the potential to add a lot of doom to the board quick. The new Acolyte’s gimmick is that they add doom to all other cultists at their location, something that is not terribly relevant at low player count but can be very relevant otherwise.

Doomed Expedition: A replacement for the Expedition set that is on equal footing with the original. I like this one and found it very suitable for mixing and matching with the base set as well.

Temporal Hunters: A brutal replacement set, but to be fair the original was no slouch either. Merging Timelines can be absolutely devastating and Tindalos Alpha is dangerous as well. Again, mixing and matching with the original set is cool.

Venomous Hate: While the other sets replace sets that were actually totally fine before, Venomous Hate does remove the lackluster Yig’s Venom from the picture and switches it for a much better designed set. All cards from Venomous Hate are reasonably high impact, Vengeful Serpent is even enough to change how players might approach a scenario. Due to how the set is put together, mixing it with the original doesn’t really work, but that’s fine. The new one is superior in every way.

Except for the Vengeful Serpents, these cards do not change how the scenarios play by a whole lot, but they are a nice change of pace. In previous Return To boxes, the replacement encounter sets have been the main attraction, that’s not really the case here. While absolutely fine, these do get overshadowed by the exploration and scenario changes.

Return to The Untamed Wilds

The scenario itself is unchanged, however the exploration changes are in effect in full here. This serves to mellow the difficulty a bit, giving players the room to set up in the beginning without completely forsaking the discovery of new locations. The map supply item is also very strong here now.

Return to The Doom of Eztli

Doom of Eztli is significantly revamped. All the locations (except for the Chamber of Time) are removed and new locations are used instead. The amount of doom play is reduced by a lot, in its stead come various interactions with supply items. The number of enemies is increased, most importantly through the presence of Vengeful Serpents. This is still a difficult scenario, but is much more interactive than the old Doom of Eztli.

Return to Threads of Fate

Hard to believe, but one of the best scenarios in the game actually got better. A whole fourth set of acts is introduced, with the setup text and resolution instructions to go with it. Player can earn Veda Whitsley here, a very powerful ally asset. The XP allocation after Threads was changed as well: Instead of earning 1XP for each finished first act, players now gain 1XP for every single act card they complete. However, this XP can only go towards buying more supplies or reversing trauma.

Return to The Boundary Beyond

Notorious for its difficulty, Boundary Beyond has been reduced in how punishing the exploration works here. The exploration deck does not have any bad cards in it at start and will also not gain any for successfully exploring. That means that explorations are always finding a location, at least until Timeline Destabilization gets shuffled in over the course of the game. In turn, finding the first two to three paths is considerably easier.
The Return also includes one new version for each Present-Day location, increasing the variety there for replays.

Return to Heart of the Elders

Return to HotE#1 doubles down on the Hunter theme with a pair of new enemies, the Feathered Serpents. The first act is also replaced and is now mandatory to advance once the required clues are collected. This is a reaction to the players choosing to not advance the act before they picked the jungle clean which was possible in the base campaign. HotE#2 stays pretty much the same. While the exploration changes and the encounter set swaps do improve the scenario, they don’t do so in a significant way. There are three new locations to randomly choose from (among them the one that grants the “strange goop”) for replayability.

Return to The City of Archives

Another scenario that got a bit easier to fulfill. A new wing of three locations is added to the board, introducing another 2 objectives. To finish the scenario, there’s still only 6 required though, so players can now actually go and choose which ones to do and which ones to skip. This added agency opens up the scenario a lot and makes it more interesting.

Return to The Depths of Yoth

Depths of Yoth got the fewest changes from the Return. Only a single card is added to the exploration deck that can sometimes lead to failing the search. Aside from that, only the encounter set swaps have some influence on how the scenario plays.

Return to Shattered Aeons

In terms of difficulty, not much changes between Shattered Aeons and its Return. While the exploration change are in favor of the players, the encounter set swaps offset this a bit. Also, there are two copies of a very nasty treachery added to the encounter deck that can deal large amounts of horror and damage in one blow.
Three new Shattered locations are added to the exploration deck.


I really like this box. It does a great job of taking some of the rough edges that Forgotten Age has, smoothing them and making the whole campaign just a bit more fun to play. Interaction with several systems has been increased, giving players more tools to react to what happened. And the most egregious difficulty spikes were at least addressed.

One thing that i noticed is how the number of cards allocated to the scenarios varies wildly. While Depths of Yoth only has a single card added to them, Untamed Wilds actually doesn’t have even that. The exploration rule changes have to pick up the slack for some scenarios that weren’t changed too much, but to be fair they do a good job at that. Still, it feels like some scenarios could’ve gotten just a little bit more love. On the other hand, that opened up the space in the cards to do sweeping changes in other places, like devoting 11 cards to rewriting Doom of Eztli and 10 cards to giving Threads a fourth act. Both things that payed off very well, but those are already 21 out of the 54 cards just for two scenarios… so of course some cuts had to be made elsewhere. As another casualty to this lack of card space, there are also almost no additional locations for variable setups included which had been a welcome thing in the other Return To boxes.

I also enjoy many of the player cards and use them frequently in decks.

Final verdict: Excellent! I have pretty much only good things to say about this box, i feel like a lot of thought went into how to optimally use the card slots that they had to improve the campaign the best way they could.
Return to Forgotten Age is currently my favorite campaign and this box is probably my favorite Arkham LCG product. I would still suggest buying other deluxe boxes before going for this, but if you do own the complete TFA cycle, this will give those cards A LOT more appeal and staying power.


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Best-Laid Plans: The Dream-Eaters


This page doesn’t hold back anything. There are detailed spoilers for the Dream-Eaters campaign ahead. I highly suggest that you stop reading now if you have not played this campaign once or twice before. Come back once you at least gave it a try and experienced both mini-campaigns for yourself on your own.


The Dream-Eaters cycle sent our investigators to the surreal environments of the Dreamlands. Players are facing not only one, but two Ancient Ones this time around, each with a mini-campaign leading up to the final confrontation.

This article takes a close look at each of these campaigns and their scenarios, the mechanics tied to them and the choices that the players will have to make facing all of these challenges. As in previous installments of this article series, i will also give some suggestions for investigators and player cards that are particularly well suited for Dream-Eaters.

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.

One Cycle, Two Campaigns

The Dream-Eaters cycle is split up into two mini-campaigns of four scenarios each. This has some repercussions, the most important being that you will have to build seperate decks for both. So you are looking at up to eight different investigators and decks. The chaos bags are also seperate and you will need to remember to change it when switching from one campaign to the other.

The campaigns are meant to be played alternating between them, the interludes that connect them don’t work if you would want to complete one first before moving onto the next. This means some extra setup from having to switch your decks (possibly moving cards around between them) and your chaos bag. To make this a bit easier, you can slightly change the order of scenarios. Instead of going through the campaigns strictly alternating between campaign A and B, you can move through them in an A-B-B-A-A-B-B-A pattern. That way, you have to do the extra setup only four instead of seven times.

The mini-campaigns can also be played on their own. It is recommended to do the eight-part crossover campaign at least once to get the intended experience in full. But for future replays, doing only one is certainly an attractive option. That way you will skip all the interactions with the Black Cat in the interludes, though.

The Dream-Quest

Campaign A is called “The Dream-Quest” and follows the investigators that are venturing into the Dreamlands following Vigil Gray’s dream-quest for the town of Kadath. The four scenarios making up this campaign are:

  • Beyond the Gates of Sleep, a rather mellow scenario that focuses on discovering clues around a central location
  • The Search for Kadath, an epic journey to multiple continents. Can not reasonably be fully completed, you try to do as much as possible.
  • Dark Side of the Moon, where players evade numerous enemies while making their way across a long section of locations
  • Where The Gods Dwell, the final showdown with Nyarlathotep. This scenario is built around interacting with Hidden treachery cards.

Compared to campaign B, this one is much more focused on exploration and investigating. While fighting enemies certainly is a part as well, it is much less so. Dark Side of the Moon asks players to have a certain amount of agility or they will need to be able to compensate for it otherwise. In the last three scenarios, the players will be under heavy time pressure. For that reason, they will want to have investigators and/or decks that are action efficient and can stay ahead of the doom clock as well as possible.

The Dream-Quest: Evidence of Kadath

Near the end of campaign A, the players find their way barred by the Onyx Gates, a location with 12 clues on it and shroud that scales from 2 to 5 with player count. This enormous obstacle is weakened for any “Evidence of Kadath” the players managed to pick up on their way, each one removing one of the clues. To gather evidence of Kadath, you need to do the following:

  • During the resolution of Gates of Sleep, side with the zoogs. Doing so will enable an additional piece of evidence (and 2XP) during setup of Search for Kadath.
  • During setup of Search for Kadath, you need to speak with the priest Atal. If you sided with the cats before, this will happen automatically, but if you sided with the zoogs, you will need to force your way into the temple. This awards one evidence. If you sided with the zoogs before, you will gain an additional one right afterwards.
  • During resolution of Search for Kadath, you gain one evidence for each Sign of the Gods that you managed to collect in the scenario. Up to 10 signs are up for grabs, but actually achieving that is near impossible. Aim for 5-7.
  • Successfully finishing Dark Side of the Moon awards 3 evidence of Kadath.

So provided you don’t outright fail the scenarios, you can end up with 5 evidence plus however many you claim from Search for Kadath. If you manage 7 out of 10, that will open the Onyx Gates without having to spend any further actions on discovering clues. Having to discover a few clues there is of course not the end of the world, but Where The Gods Dwell is indeed a scenario where every action is precious, so this shouldn’t be underestimated either.

The Dream-Quest: Agility in Dark Side of the Moon

Dark Side of the Moon has some unique mechanics around the “alarm level” in play. You mostly acquire these by failing certain treacheries or killing notable enemies. Many of these treacheries ask the players to have good agility, something that can catch them off-guard because while agility tests are a mainstay in the encounter deck, they are rarely that numerous. They also happen on some locations used in the scenario. To drive the point home, many of the enemies are also tailored towards being evaded instead of fought.

This is maybe something to keep in mind when picking your investigator, as someone like Leo Anderson might run into considerable trouble here and will have to compensate somehow.

Web of Dreams

The B campaign is called Web of Dreams, where a second group of investigators tries to find out what happened to their friends in campaign A. They ultimately follow them into the Dreamlands and run into the spider god Atlach-Nacha and her many-legged minions. The four scenarios of this campaign are:

  • Waking Nightmare, where the players navigate a hospital to find someone while killing many spiders
  • Thousand Shapes of Horror, an unconventional scavenger hunt while pursued by an invincible enemy
  • Point of No Return, which has the players fight their way to the exit from a large grid of locations
  • Weaver of the Cosmos, a video game like fight against an oversized boss enemy

Web of Dreams is much more focused on fighting than Dream-Quest, but there is of course still a lot of terrain to traverse and clues to find to progress. Having a dedicated combat investigator around pays off here, much more so than in campaign A. Swarming is also a much bigger part, thanks to the spiders which are just everywhere in this side of the campaign.

Web of Dreams: Steps of the Bridge

While campaign A has the players actively seek out the evidence of Kadath, campaign B has something that the players will want to avoid. For each set of 3 “Steps of the Bridge” that players collect during the first three scenarios, the final one will start with 1 extra doom on a location (up to a maximum of four). Avoiding this is important, because the location sticks around for all of the scenario. So this doom will count towards every single one of the agendas. Steps of the Bridge are earned the following ways:

  • Failing Waking Nightmare. Each infested location at the end of the game will contribute one tally mark to the Steps. Failing by having the agenda run out adds 8 tally marks, same as if everything was infested.
  • The Point of No Return will hand out one tally mark for each damage on the scenario card. This damage is increased whenever an agenda advances, up to a maximum of 5.

Note that during setup of Point of No Return, the scenario card might even already start with 1 or 2 damage on it if Steps were previously earned. So there is a negative feedback loop here, making it very important that you do not fail Waking Nightmare.

Thousand Shapes of Horror doesn’t interact with this mechanic at all. Due to Point of No Returns feedback from previously earned tally marks, make sure to pass Waking Nightmare and this whole mechanic shouldn’t matter much at all. On the other hand, failing Waking Nightmare by having the agenda run out can max out the steps almost on its own. If that is about to happen, it can be preferable to suicide everyone into the next best spider swarm instead…

Web of Dreams: Vale of Pnath in The Point of No Return

The Vale of Pnath is a location in The Point of No Return. To progress to the final stage of that scenario, players need to flip that location to its veiled side and spend a bunch of clues. However, the location has a very pesky ability printed on it: Players can neither play nor commit cards while they are at the Vale and while it still has clues on it. It also has 4 shroud, so collecting those clues (which is required to flip the location) can be very difficult for many investigators who will find that they have to beat the shroud 4 with just their base intellect.

If you want to prepare for this, include assets in your deck that you can play beforehand and make good use of at the Vale. That can be something small like Magnifying Glasses for Seekers with already good base intellect or assets that can be used to just pick up clues or investigate at other locations: Necronomicon, Pendant of the Queen and Grete Wagner are examples.

The Black Cat

The two campaigns are connected with a series of interludes that provide a bit of story exposition. More importantly though, they allow the investigators to meet the Black Cat and allow it to follow either of the groups around and relay information between them. In terms of gameplay mechanics the players get to choose:

Do they want the Cat to warn and stay with group A? Or with group B? If one of those is chosen, the other team gets a penalty in exchange, though.
Alternatively, the players can ask the Cat to merely relay some more general information to the other group. This will neither give bonuses or penalties to either side, but it will lead towards the bonus goals for a campaign. More on this later.
Finally, the players are feel to tell the Cat to take a hike. If they do, they get nothing out of it except for a couple snarky comments along the way.

If the players decide to warn and have the Cat stay with group A, an Elder Thing is added to the chaos bag of both campaigns. It has a positive effect when drawn during A side scenarios, but on the B side it’s the usual bad stuff. Similarly, having the Cat protect group B will add a Tablet token which is negative for A, but good for B.

The choice for the Cat to help a group comes up at each of the three interludes and you can change your mind from one to the next. The one exception is if you decide to threaten the Cat at the first interlude. It will be gone for good then and only taunt you on the following ones.

Randolph Carter

Both groups meet Randolph Carter during their first scenario. And then end up with him as a story asset in the deck. Having him show up in both campaigns simultaneously is of course suspicious as hell and as expected we will find that we get betrayed by one of them once we get to the first of the final scenarios. And then, since this is Arkham LCG and we don’t have good guys here, the other one betrays us as well in the other finale. Turns out both of them are actually an aspect of Nyarlathotep… Yay!

Until the reveal, we can make use of the Randolph Carter story assets for our decks and they are actually not bad at all. 5 points of soak in total, +1 to each of two stats and a conditional trigger that can draw some cards. For three resources, that’s certainly a good package if the stats are relevant for you. If your ally slots can’t support him, he’s also got a set of great icons, so that’s nice as well.

The card draw is triggered by pulling a token that has two of them in the chaos bag right from the start. It’s also actually the bad token that gets added if you send the Black Cat to help the other group. So you have 2 or 3 tokens in the bag that can trigger Carter. This will often lead to the ability firing two or three times during a scenario if you can get Carter out early, a huge advantage. It’s even good enough that manipulating the token pulls with certain mystic cards can pay off with silly amounts of card draw.

Neat story asset to have and while he won’t be around for the final scenario, you can drop one of your regular allies from your deck for him.

Swarming enemies

Swarming is a new keyword that appears on enemies from the Dream-Eaters cycle that has a couple quirks worth talking about.

For one, it takes cards from your deck and uses them as swarm counters. You get these cards back by killing the swarm enemies, but the cards go on the bottom of your deck. For most decks, this is not going to be too much of an issue, but if you are relying on certain combos, this does have a chance to disrupt what you are trying to do. An example for such a combo would be Daredevil/Three Aces.
Evasion is also interesting. On the one hand, it does exhaust the whole swarm in one action, so that can be very worthwhile. On the other hand, evading the swarms will not get you your cards back which can be an issue.
Fighting them works in a slightly different way because while you do attack only single enemies at a time, excess damage can spill over from one swarm enemy to the next. So you can either go for big hits that kill multiple swarm cards at once or you can use one of the few ways to deal “area damage”, like Storm of Spirits or Dynamite Blast, and wipe out the whole stack.
Individual swarm cards are usually easy to defeat and even just punching at spiders does reduce the power of the whole stack. So in that way they are easier to deal with than common enemies…
…on the other hand, the swarms usually have more raw health than comparable enemies. Even the lowly Swarm of Spiders has 3 health. And should you not manage to defeat the swarm or at least a couple of its members, their individual damage will all add up. This can be very dangerous, so beware any cards that could make a swarm enemy appear mid-turn.

Swarming enemies (in the form of zoogs) do appear briefly at the beginning of campaign A, but they are mostly a thing for the B side where spiders are a near-constant part of the scenarios.

Hidden treacheries and hand size

Hidden treacheries were first introduced in Carcosa, and they make a return this cycle. They are used only during the A campaign and are always tied to Nyarlathotep in some way. Three of the four A scenarios use the Agents of Nyarlathotep encounter set which features three Hidden cards. The other twelve are all specific to Where The Gods Dwell, a scenario built around using this mechanic to have the players “fight” Nyarlathotep in a very unconventional way.

One of the effects of Hidden cards is that they reduce the effective hand size of players until they are dealt with. The Dream-Quest doubles down on this by also including some treacheries and effects that directly impact cards in hand. The Dreamer’s Curse set is completely built around this, either by straight out reducing maximum hand size or by baiting out cards to prevent negative effects. Some scenario specific cards further enhance the theme, for example several locations in Gates of Sleep punish players for having too many cards in hand when entering them.

The three Hidden cards from the Agents of Nyarlathotep cover all these bases. Not only are they Hidden, but they also require discarding another card to get rid of them.

Event focused investigators can feel impacted by these things more than others. They generally want to keep a healthy amount of cards in hand to have options and the constant barrage of discard effects and hand size constraints can be a problem. In turn, such investigators might be better suited for Web of Dreams than for The Dream-Quest. Patrice in particular can actually run into something like a soft-lock during Where The Gods Dwell by having all of her already innately lower hand size being occupied with Hidden stuff and no longer drawing further cards.

Veiled locations

Veiled locations is another mechanic that appeared first in the Carcosa cycle, although it wasn’t keyworded as such when Dim Carcosa did it. Veiled locations are locations that come into play revealed. When there are no clues on them, the players can use a free action to flip the location and read the story text on the other side which will usually resolve some game effects as well.

One scenario in each of the campaigns uses Veiled: Search for Kadath for campaign A and Point of No Return for B. Search for Kadath uses it as the main driving force for the exploration of the “continents” that the players have to do. Point of No Return puts some slight spins on the template and features some locations that have different conditions to flip as well. While not strictly “Veiled” locations, they do behave similar in that they come into play revealed.

Since there’s only two scenarios out of eight that use this mechanic, it’s not something grand to keep in mind with regards to investigator choice or deck composition. But there are some interesting side effects that you can make good use of. Most importantly, the fact that all locations enter play on their revealed side can increase the power of many player cards. Seeker and Rogue both have several cards that allow moving to revealed locations or using certain actions there without being actually present. So anything from Elusive over Esoteric Atlas to Deciphered Reality gets a shot in the arm for this scenario. The Search for Kadath constrains this insanity a bit by only having a limited number of locations in play at the same time and No Return doesn’t put all locations into play immediately. But it’s still very powerful if you can make use of it. Playing Luke Robinson and just bouncing all over the map with the Gatebox is fun, i heavily recommend doing that at least once.

The Dream-Quest: Bonus Goal

The fight against Nyarlathotep doesn’t involve a whole lot of actual combat at first. Players have to collect and combine certain Hidden cards in their hand at certain locations and pass various tests. However, there is a way to have a proper final confrontation with the Big Bad that does have them not only escape Nyarlathotep, but actually defeat and banish it. This happens on a final agenda for Where The Gods Dwell which is skipped unless certain criteria are met.

To make that fight happen, two conditions need to be true after defeating Nyarlathotep the first time: The Black Cat needs to “know the truth” and the investigators need to possess the Silver Key. The Key is gained by group B if they successfully finish Thousand Shapes of Horror, then passed along to group A automatically at the third interlude. For the other condition, you need to successfully finish Search for Kadath. This only means that at least one investigator needs to have resigned at a port, there’s no requirement for a certain number of Signs to collect. You also need to have the Black Cat “share knowledge of the Dreamlands” at the first interlude so it can get a “hunch” that something is off. Additionally, you also need to finish Dark Side of the Moon successfully, otherwise Randolph doesn’t survive the voyage and the Cat can not discover the truth.

Obviously, this bonus goal is only possible if Dream-Eaters is played as an eight-part full campaign. The Dream-Quest as a standalone lacks both the Black Cat interludes and the Silver Key.

It should be noted that there’s sort of a third condition in play here. Where The Gods Dwell is a scenario with a notoriously short doom timer on the agenda. Finishing it is a struggle for 1-2 players, so fitting a whole extended boss fight at the end needs excellent action efficiency and near flawless execution during the scenario. It’s certainly a lot easier to do in full groups of four.

Doing or not doing this extra fight is completely for bragging rights and the challenge itself. There’s 5 extra XP in it during the resolution, but that usually doesn’t matter. It is also not part of the epilogue.

Epilogue and final resolutions

Once you finished the full eight-part campaign, you get to an epilogue that goes a little different depending on how your journey went. In total, there are 16 resolutions, 9 of them successful ones. For a successful overall campaign, you will need to have finished both sub-campaigns successfully as well, otherwise you will get an ending that is basically congratulating you on preventing one apocalypse only to fall to the other one.

Both campaigns have one option at the end that they can only pick if they happened to unlock it along the way. For campaign A, this is the option of venturing deeper into the Underworld to find their companions from B. This is only possible if team B decided during the second interlude to have the Black Cat “share knowledge of the Underworld” and can lead to an ending where both groups are united in the Dreamlands for the rest of their lives (provided the other team doesn’t decide to leave the Dreamlands!) Obviously, you will also need to complete Where The Gods Dwell successfully.
Mirroring this, the team B can discover a way out of the Underworld and thus allow them to meet up with team A in the waking world. This way is hidden on the back side of the Tower of Koth location in Point of No Return. Again, you also need to win the final scenario as well.


The investigators only go through three scenarios before they enter the finale, so of course there are fewer opportunities to earn and spend experience available. The campaigns do give a lot more XP than is usual to partially make up for that, so there’s still a somewhat okay amount going round but the lack of XP is certainly noticeable. You don’t get as much experience as you would for doing a full campaign like Carcosa and this does restrict some of your deck choices.

Available XP per scenario in The Dream-Quest:
Beyond the Gates of Sleep: 12 (locations/Laboring Gug) +1 (Crawling Mist) = 13XP
The Search for Kadath: 11 (locations) + 1 (Cats of Ulthar) + 1 (Stalking Manticore) + 1 (Horde of the Night) + 1 (Beings of Ib) + 1 (Crawling Mist) + 2 (setup: moon-wine with Atal) = 18XP
Dark Side of the Moon: 6 (locations) + 2 (Moon Lizard) + 2 (Moon Beasts) = 10XP
Where The Gods Dwell: 10 (aspects of Nyarlathotep) + 2 (High Priest) + 1 (Dhole of the Wastes) + 1 (Crawling Mist) + 5 (banishing Nyarlathotep’s final form) = 19XP

Available XP per scenario in The Web of Dreams:
Waking Nightmare: 10 (locations) + 2 (Grey Weavers) = 12XP
A Thousand Shapes of Horror: 7 (locations) = 7XP
Point of No Return: 8 (locations) + 1 (Gug Sentinel) + 1 (Slithering Dhole) +2 (Grey Weavers) = 12XP
Weaver of the Cosmos: 5 (Atlach-Nacha) + 2 (Grey Weavers) + 5 (successful resolution)= 12XP

The XP numbers are fairly straightforward this time around. The only thing worth noting is how unrealistic it is to expect getting all of them during Search for Kadath. More than any other scenario, it’s one where you try to get as much done as possible, with 100% completion being the absolute exception. Expect to get 3 continents done, maybe only 2 and a half. Should be around 10XP. Also, one of the XP requires breaking the law of Ulthar. You monster.

Going by those numbers, you can expect to carry about 25-30XP into Where The Gods Dwell and Weaver of the Cosmos. Which are numbers similar to The Dunwich Legacy. Also consider that cards like Charon’s Obol or Arcane Research do pay off a lot less than they would in longer campaigns. As a result, you should consider that in your choice of investigator and/or deck. Ideally you want to be able to get your core upgrades with the 10-13XP you get from the first scenario. Anything too fancy might not get to a point where it feels good until the campaign is already basically over. Finally, the low number of scenarios makes the “untranslated” upgrades from Seeker challenging to fit in. Ancient Stone in particular is almost out of the question, which is a pity… two of its upgrades would really work well in this campaign.

Investigator Choices

So, what qualities are we looking for in our investigators? The challenges posed by the scenarios aren’t actually all that special and there is no particular leaning towards a certain skill (like agility in TFA or will in TCU), so options are wide open. Campaign A asks for action efficiency more than anything, as it features some extremely tight time constraints on three of its scenarios. The Web of Dreams is mostly a combat focused ordeal, with Thousand Shapes being the exception.

As in previous Best-Laid Plans articles, i will suggest two investigators for each class. I’ll try and make it one per mini-campaign:
Mark Harrigan dodges a very specific problem that i have with Guardians in campaign A. Most have very low agility and will in turn have a huge problem dealing with Dark Side of the Moon. Mark sidesteps this with a solid 3 base agility and Sophie for those particularly clutch tests.
Nathaniel Cho is good whenever a campaign throws lots of strong enemies at players. He certainly has his work cut out for him during campaign B and his high combat means he won’t have to waste cards to kill swarms. He can just bare knuckle spiders into paste and won’t have to worry about ability triggers for his boxing gloves.
Mandy Thompson‘s investigator ability shines bright during Where The Gods Dwell, allowing her to reach deep and pull out those aspects of Nyarlathotep and what else you need. Feels almost like cheating, but that’s Mandy for you 🙂
Joe Diamond is the perfect hybrid fighter/seeker that Web of Dreams asks for. His weakness to treacheries isn’t as much of a problem as usual either. This is probably the best campaign for him.
Winifred Habbamock does not need a lot of XP to get going at all. Cards like Nimble can be used particularly well by her while she also has the usual action efficiency of Rogues going on.
Tony Morgan does his best work in fighty environments and there are few that are better suited than Web of Dreams. The fight against Atlach-Nacha does depend a lot on having a lot of damage available in a short time so the doom does not escalate. Tony does that really well.
Gloria Goldberg, like Mandy, has an investigator ability that just dismantles the unique challenges behind Where The Gods Dwell. So if that scenario is something you struggle with (i can relate), then Gloria or Mandy can turn on easy mode for a bit while still not making it trivial.
Luke Robinson can be played on either side to great effect, but i do like him especially during Point of No Return where his ability allows him to just go anywhere because everything comes into play revealed. Being able to throw Storm of Spirits and Spectral Razor everywhere on the map is also excellent in the Weaver fight.
Stella Clark does not need a whole lot of experience to get going and is one of those investigators that can do almost anything. Due to the broad range of challenges in campaign A, that makes her a good candidate there even before considering that she has a built in way to get more actions out of her turn.
William Yorrick gets to trigger his ability a whole lot whenever he runs into a swarm of enemies. Turning this into vast amounts of card advantage is almost too easy.

As usual, i implore you to do what seems fun to you. These suggestions are merely meant as something you can fall back on if you are having trouble or if you are looking for inspirations on what to play next. They are by no means to be understood as something you should do or need to do.

Notable Player Cards

Investigators alone do not make a deck, so here are also some suggestions for interesting player cards that could do well in Dream-Eaters. I will limit myself to 2 per class:

On the Hunt: This card can be used to dig for copies of Nyarlathotep during Where Gods Dwell. Anything that can help to reduce the variance from that scenario is welcome.
Empty Vessel/Wish Eater: Just killing one swarm fully charges this amulet and gives you all the healing you need. Honorable mention goes to The Hungering Blade which feeds off of swarms the same way.
Esoteric Atlas: Really useful in the scenarios that feature Veiled locations, but during Web of Dreams, it’s actually quite nice throughout because the scenarios all feature a lot of moving around and backtracking to already revealed locations.
Deciphered Reality: Look, i am not going to claim that this level 5 card is the best use for your precious few XP. But you kinda need to see this card in action during No Return some time. So satisfying! It’s also good in Weaver, so getting it for those two scenarios is at least worth considering.
Decorated Skull(3) is another good way to cash in on the swarms. I would not run the level 0 one, though. Too many actions required there, you will likely not have so many to spare.
Nimble is great. Rogues have a couple cards that give them action advantage. This can come in the form of Leo de Luca or even something like Elusive. Nimble is the card from that group that i chose to highlight here because the other ones are already widely played and Nimble is somewhat new and under appreciated.
Open Gate is not a card that i am very fond of, but all the backtracking in campaign B can make it work out okay. Mobility is really worth that much.
Scroll of Secrets can help with finding the necessary puzzle pieces in Where The Gods Dwell, by looking at the bottom of the deck and moving them on top if desired. The upgraded Scroll can look directly at the top, but that’s a lot of XP that you probably don’t have.
Track Shoes: I like to move it, move it.
Chainsaw is something that i would recommend upgrading into with any combat oriented survivor for any side of the campaign. There are some big beasties around and just hitting for 2 isn’t going to cut it long term. This is especially true for campaign B, where all the individual parts of the Weaver have health in the multiples of 3 and you’ll frequently run into enemies like the Grey Weaver. Even the lowly Swarm of Spiders has 3 health… kinda.

As you can see, most of those suggestions are extra movement or options to profit from the swarm mechanic. Despite the wild dreamlands narrative and the unconventional campaign structure, the scenarios themselves aren’t all that special in their core mechanics, so there’s not much that you need to prepare for. The one exception where the challenges firmly leave the beaten path is Where The Gods Dwell, but interacting with the encounter deck’s contents is not something we can actually do a whole lot.
So in the end you will likely end up building your deck in a more general way towards the strengths of your investigator, with maybe a tech card or two thrown in for good measure.
Which is totally fine, of course.


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Resurgent Evils: Return to The Path to Carcosa


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

Like Return to Dunwich, the Return to Carcosa does not change anything significant about the campaign except increasing the difficulty in some places and adding some replayability through new locations. Unlike Dunwich, it doesn’t do any important bugfixing in its stead, though. Except for some neat replacement encounter sets this box doesn’t really offer anything that can not easily be skipped in favor of other Arkham content that adds more to your collection.

The same goes for the player cards, really. There are a couple that are neat and nice to have, but no outright staples and also a few very situational or just plain irrelevant cards.

Of course, if you are interested in the storage box, this one comes with everything you’d expect. But the actual contents in the cards … is mediocre.

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.


All Return to sets come in a sturdy box suited for storing all the cards for its campaign and of course the Return to Carcosa is no exception. Included in the box are 23 player cards and 81 encounter cards. 26 of those encounter cards go towards new encounter replacement sets, the rest are specific to one of the eight scenarios.
The insert for the box is not all that functional and mostly exists so the cards don’t move around too much during shipping and transport. Feel free to toss it.
A set of dividers is included to help you organize your old and new campaign cards within the box. These dividers are both good looking and functional.
The box itself works very well for its purpose, there is plenty of room in there to store all of the campaign cards, no matter if sleeved or not. There is also enough room (and dividers) to hold the cards from the core set that are used for Path to Carcosa.

Player cards

Each class gets two new pairs of cards, all of them down- or upgrades from player cards that were released over the course of the base Carcosa campaign. To be honest, it’s a bit of a mixed bag, i am not terribly impressed with these.

Guardians gain the upgraded .32 Colt, which is a fine card but narrow in its application. Similarly, the downgraded “Eat Lead!” is not a bad card, just one that rarely fits into a deck.
The level 4 Logical Reasoning is a powerful addition to the Seeker pool, but also mighty expensive and will not often see play. The Markings of Isis, a new upgrade for the Archaic Glyphs, are neat. There are some fancy things that you can do with that card. But again, a sort of narrow card.
For Rogues, Stealth(3) is a significant upgrade over the base version. Meanwhile, a lower XP Suggestion has its place in a few decks.
Mystics gain an upgraded Alchemical Transmutation, which is not a great card to begin with and the upgrade doesn’t improve it much. Storm of Spirits(3) is really good, though.
Survivors gain two interesting upgrades. Both the upgraded Lantern and Gravedigger’s Shovel trade a more powerful discard effect for having to be removed when used. These see play.

The highlights are Markings of Isis and Storm of Spirits, followed by Suggestion and the two survivor upgrades. 5 out of 10 is fine, i suppose. The Colt and Stealth aren’t terrible, either. But i do think this is the weakest selection of player cards in any of the Return to boxes.

Rounding out the player cards are three new weaknesses, each one with a single copy. These are weaknesses using the Hidden keyword, costing the player XP at the end of the scenario if they didn’t manage to fulfill some very specific condition. Again, i am not much of a fan of these. While i do like the idea of Hidden weaknesses, the conditions are so specific that they are either no issue at all or just a complete mess to achieve. Like overkilling enemies as a Seeker or evading unengaged enemies as a Guardian. XP penalties are also about the most unfun thing that a weakness can hand out. To be honest, i keep these three at the back of my card box with my Doomed and Offer You Cannot Refuse cards… your mileage may vary.

Campaign wide changes

The Return to The Path to Carcosa applies its changes to the individual scenarios and these changes don’t really extend too far past those.

It is worth mentioning that there is an effort to make the Onyx Clasp a bit more relevant. There are also some changes to how Doubt and Conviction are applied during the setup of some scenarios. But nothing too groundbreaking.

The overall difficulty has been increased by a good amount. The Path to Carcosa has always been a fairly challenging campaign and the Return To doubles down on a few scenarios that were already troubling before. On the one hand, this makes it excellent for replays of the scenario. On the other hand, new players without a solid card pool should probably stick to the base campaign.

Replacement Encounter Sets

There are five replacement encounter sets in the box which can be used throughout the campaign, filling in for one of the sets from the base Carcosa or Core. The individual cards are discussed elsewhere on the site, so i will only give a short summary here and link to the appropriate encounter set page.

Delusory Evils: Look how they massacred my boy 🙁 I have few good things to say about this replacement for Ancient Evils. Delusory Evils is a weak effect, costing a mere action somewhere down the line, with only slightly being interesting due to not being very plannable. It may have been fine in another context, but a card like that should never replace one of the most impactful treacheries in the game.

Decaying Reality: This is much better. I would say that the replacement set is about on equal footing with the original Decay And Filth. The old and new set also mix very well.

Hastur’s Envoys: This is a very impactful replacement set. The Sign of Hastur is a menace of a card that on its own does put some notable extra difficulty into the scenarios it is in. The other card, a Byakhee, is fine but sadly doesn’t have Victory on it like the card it replaces. A bit of a bummer to what is otherwise a great encounter set.

Maddening Delusions: Popular opinion on this replacement set is divided. Personally, i like it a lot more than the original Delusions set because it plays so much better. No fussing around with extra actions or having to carry the Hidden card around forever. At the same time, it does add extra damage and horror to scenarios where it really matters.

Neurotic Fear: This is my favorite replacement set from this box and conveniently it is also the one that can be used outside of the Carcosa campaign. Replacing Striking Fear, this one offers a couple of similarly high impact cards, but without the downright demoralizing card that is Frozen in Fear. I have mixed and matched or outright replaced Striking Fear with Neurotic Fear in other campaigns before, it often works quite well. A much better offering than Erratic Fear from Return to Dunwich.

These encounter sets do shake up the campaign quite a bit and are what i like best about the product. Except for Neurotic Fear, these sadly do not have much of an application outside of the Carcosa campaign, but within it they are very good. Well, with notable exception of Delusory Evils, which i usually pretend doesn’t exist. If you are looking for an Ancient Evils replacement, check out Resurgent Evils from Return to Dunwich.

Return to Curtain Call

This scenario gains a good amount of variety from additional locations and even a set of new act 2 cards to randomly draw from. It also turns the Royal Emissary into a bigger threat, making it stronger with each time it respawns. So it can no longer be held up indefinitely by a strong fighter. A new unique enemy, the Comtesse, is added to the encounter deck. She’s a great design, but sadly just one card in a stack of 33 that often won’t matter much. All around, these are good additions to an already good scenario.

Return to The Last King

The dinner party gets bigger, as there are now several new people added to the Sickening Reality deck. Dianne Devine gets a better role and is no longer trivial to avoid. A pair of party guests might just go crazy and start killing. And a new treachery can accelerate the transformations of the guests at any time. Excellent changes, but be warned that this scenario just became a whole lot more difficult.

Return to Echoes of the Past

This one always was a bit prone to just not working as it should and the additions don’t really change that too much. A set of new locations that adds an extra floor to the building is neat, but not that relevant. The new Keeper of the Oath enemies that come out whenever the players advance the scene are much more interesting, but they aren’t enough to save the scenario. The additions improve the scenario but not by a lot. Not by enough.

Return to The Unspeakable Oath

Unspeakable Oath is a difficult and tense scenario in the base version and the Return version actually piles on the hurt. This scenario sees some changes to its setup, as the selection of scenes used is no longer tied to having the clasp or not. Both scenarios (Daniel alive, Daniel missing) are also changed to be even more of a challenge. Together with some significant encounter set swaps all of this makes for a scenario that can be very difficult. It is undeniably a lot better now, though. So it’s totally worth it.

Return to A Phantom of Truth

Phantom of Truth stays almost unchanged. There’s some extra variety from new locations and a new low impact treachery added to the deck, but that’s basically it. It’s a fine scenario, so maybe it didn’t need much of a shake-up but oh well.

Return to The Pallid Mask

Like Phantom, this scenario is also not touched a whole lot. A new enemy is added to the deck and some variety is added to the locations. Otherwise, the scenario only fixes the bad interaction of the Man in the Pallid Mask with some other cards, clarifying that he can not be moved out of his location and that he can not be host to a Corpse Dweller. Fair enough.

Return to Black Stars Rise

And again the scenario stays largely the same. A pair of unique treacheries is added that adds some extra damage/horror. The obligatory extra locations are there. Everything else is as it is in the base version. Very underwhelming.

Return to Dim Carcosa

The changes to this scenario mostly apply to the final confrontation with Hastur. Each of the final forms has some new locations associated with it, so for once the locations do serve a bigger purpose than variance (not that there’s anything wrong with variance!). Two copies of an enemy that can drive investigators insane are added to the deck as well. While not wildly difficult, they are an interesting addition.


I think this box fails at what is arguably its most important job: Shaking up the campaign and making it feel different or fresher for those that replayed the base Carcosa a couple of times already. It does offer some variance for the scenarios but while i do value variance quite a lot, it’s not really all that i expect from these boxes. The updated Last King and Unspeakable Oath are excellent. But the latter half of the campaign is almost completely unchanged from the base, which is just a pity. Thankfully the original Path to Carcosa is already one of the best campaigns around.
So that’s where the value of this box mostly comes from: From how good the base campaign is. It’s one you’d already want to replay several times due to its quality, so even the little variance that comes from this box is enough to make it almost worth it. Almost.

Final verdict: If you are fine replaying base Carcosa already or if you are just looking for the storage box, this is worth getting. But it’s probably the worst of the Return To boxes in terms of content and you should probably skip it as long as you are still missing other, more interesting AHLCG products.


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