During the last week, i went over the new replacement encounter sets from the Return to The Circle Undone. I updated all of the relevant encounter set pages with my thoughts on these new cards and how they fit into the game. On the whole, i really like what the box has to offer there. If you want to check these out, find them here:
No idea if this is of interest to anyone, but here’s another thing i did a week ago:
I took my little book of campaign logs and transferred the results into a spreadsheet. These are all full two-handed solo campaigns. It’s missing the very first plays i did when i still had only the Core. Using this, i wanted to take a look at my own preferences and how well/badly i am doing. It was also to inform me on what areas of the game to maybe focus a bit more on in the future. Some immediate things that stuck out to me:
I still didn’t properly beat NotZ. Honestly i don’t care about it, three scenarios do not make a campaign and Devourer Below is not satisfying in the slightest. I have no intentions of revisiting the campaign.
Circle Undone is the only campaign i lose more often than i win it. Actually surprised, i expected Dunwich to take that crown. It does make sense, though – Before the Black Throne is probably the hardest of the final scenarios. I’ll also note that one of the two wins was the one for the lodge after U&D, so this is even worse than it looks 😀
I seem to be quite bad with Survivors! Not even sure why, i really do enjoy them. That 0-3 with Patrice came as a huge surprise to me, she’s one of my favorites. I suppose i don’t need to win to have fun.
On the other end of the spectrum, i won with every Guardian at least once. Yay!
The only investigators i didn’t play yet are Rita, Gloria and Lola. That’s not entirely true, i did try both Rita and Gloria before but always ended up disliking the deck and aborting the campaign after 2 or 3 scenarios. As for Lola, I think she is just engineered to be frustrating and i find it really hard to bring up the motivation to deal with her absolutely insane restrictions.
So, i obviously knew what had to be done. I spent some time building decks for Gloria and Rita and sent them on their way through Circle Undone, poking at several of my “weak spots” at the same time. It’s actually going better than expected, at least it did so for a while. I still have to stick the landing. The first three scenarios went really well, including a very smooth Secret Name. Wages was its usual self. For the Greater Good was super close and i won 1 doom away from flipping the agenda and spawning the Summoned Beast. Union and Disillusion was a disaster, Gloria fell to damage on turn 5 and Rita fled on turn 6 after deciding she won’t be able to do any of the circle tests. The final two scenarios i still have to play. It’s going to be tough. While the decks themselves performed reasonably well, there’s no doubt though that Rita and me are never going to be friends. She’ll forever be “Wendy, but bad” in my mind. I suppose i will leave her to the true solo players. Gloria is fine. She’s a high willpower mystic with a gimmick. Just like all the others. And Lola… well, i think the tarot stuff in RtTCU will finally give me a reason to give her a whirl.
This week i finally published my writeups for The Lair of Dagon and Into the Maelstrom, the final two scenarios from the Innsmouth cycle that still didn’t have a page here. The reason for the delay is that the FFG-maintained cardgamedb hasn’t been updated in a long while, so i don’t have the card pictures i use in my articles. What’s worse, since i use german cards myself i didn’t even have the exact english card texts and titles, making posting the scenario pages difficult because they kinda require you to refer to cards by their name 😀
Lucky for me, the fine folks over at the arkhamdb (who are facing similar issues, they pull their card images and texts from the cardgamedb as well) manually typed up the texts – so i was finally able to get those last two scenarios done for you by sourcing the cards from them. Shoutout to them, they are doing god’s work.
It’s currently unknown if the cardgamedb is just being put on the backburner right now or if it’s simply not going to be updated anymore at all from now on. We’ll have to wait and see, i guess.
In terms of content released on this site i probably should also mention the XP overviews that i posted 2 weeks ago. Nothing that took me a whole lot of time to do, it’s just the XP tables from the Best-Laid Plan series all together on one page for easy reference.
As for what’s next, i started pouring over the new replacement encounter sets from the Return to The Circle Undone box. I think i will start updating the relevant encounter pages soon. The update for the scenario pages and the Best-Laid Plans) will have to wait a bit longer as i don’t actually have the box yet and don’t know when i will get it. If the dates at my preferred webstore are to be believed, i might just get Edge of the Earth before i get RtTCU. Ah well, it’s all a bit ridiculous. Get your shit together, FFG. In any case, i am confident that i can update the encounter set reviews just from looking at the cards (and maybe proxying them up for a mock game or two), but for the scenario reviews and the deep dive i need hands-on experience with the full thing for sure.
This week we were treated to a livestream were (among other things) Maxine Newman and Jeremy Zwirn got to show off some highlights from the upcoming Edge of the Earth investigator box. Aside from being a fun stream, it gave us a good look at several investigators and a couple of interesting player cards.
Check out the full recording here. Alternatively, you can either watch Wern’s recap video that condenses the info into 20 minutes or, if you are in a hurry, just look at the card images on imgur.
We now have the full info on Norman, Lily and Bob. For Monterey we have everything but the weakness. Daniela we know very little about, but it’s all but sure that she will have the same sort of deckbuilding, starting in Guardian and moving into Survivor.
So there’s plenty of things to be hyped about there. Personally, i am looking forward to seeing more of the player cards that are meant to specifically support these new investigators. The support cards for Norman and Lily are particularly interesting to me as i expect them to fuel the event heavy deck types that i like. We’ve already seen Sweeping Kick in the announcement article, more like that to widen the archetype opened up by Nate’s starter deck would be very welcome!
Alright, that’s all i got for today. Have a good one.
Note: These numbers include the Aquatic Abomination and the Lloigor, both of which are only shuffled into the encounter deck once the first agenda flips.
My take on this encounter deck:After Lair of Dagon having only smaller enemies, the Innsmouth finale throws some big ones at the players. Between the Abomination, the Deep One Bull and the Lloigor, there is plenty of huge targets for Guardians that might be itching for a fight. And that’s not counting the two Old Ones, which might come into play near the end as well. One interesting thing to note about the previously mentioned three big enemies: None of them is Elite, so your Waylays and Disks of Itzamnas can have a field day. Aside from that, there’s not too much to the scenario, though. You waltz through a net of locations, grab clues and aim to spend them before the time runs out. Nothing you haven’t already seen earlier in the campaign. If you made it to here, it’s unlikely that Into the Maelstrom is going to give you much trouble. Cancel these: Ancient Evils, Memory of Oblivion. The challenges set forth by the scenario aren’t too difficult, so it all comes down to passing them in time. Ancient Evils takes away this time, so get rid of it. Especially if you want to finish the scenario before waking up Hydra and Dagon. Memory of Oblivion is notable for being able to completely shred your hand should you pull a nasty modifier. If you removed the Elder Things from the bag by now, Memory of Oblivion gets a bit easier to handle, so it becomes less of a priority. But you’d probably not want to risk having to discard your cancels to it anyways, so just knock that treachery into its discard.
What it does: Aquatic Abomination is a large enemy with lots of health and high combat. It also deals 2 damage and horror with each attack. All of this makes it tough to defeat in a fight, however it has low agility which can be exploited to keep it exhausted. The abomination is a Hunter and able to move from any fully flooded locations to another in one step. After moving, it can not attack in that same phase.
My take: That’s a big one. The abomination’s special Hunter ability makes sure that evading it is never something that keeps the thing out of your hair forever. At the same time, fighting it is difficult and time consuming. While Dagon and Hydra are fairly passive for most of the scenario, this big ugly monster makes sure that you have to face at least one large boss monster.
Threat level: High to Very high. A high priority threat that needs dealing with and that is going to take away a lot of actions from you.
Dealing with it: How to best deal with this thing will depend a lot on how early you draw it. Killing it would require having someone who can reliably hit a 5 combat enemy and would take a bunch of actions. On the other hand, having it engage you over and over would cost an action every two turns as well. If you draw it late enough and you already unflooded several locations, the priority of the enemy goes down a bit. It’s still a big enemy, but most of its threat comes from the ability to straight up move into flooded locations. Note that its special movement is only possible when it also starts in a fully flooded location. So if you can make it move into more shallow waters and then evade it, that can buy you more time before having to face it again. It should also be noted that the abomination is not an Elite enemy. That makes it one of the best targets in the game for Waylay, a card that gets a lot of mileage throughout the campaign anyways.
What it does: The Brood spawns at either the Gateway or the Lair of Dagon and starts hunting from there. Their attack is rather weak, dealing only a single point of damage. However, on engaging the player has to either put a doom on Dagon (getting him closer to waking up) or suffer a bonus attack from Dagon. At 4 health, the Dagon’s Brood can take a hit or two.
My take: Depending on the player count, the Gateway and the Lair are 3 or 4 movements away from each other. So typically the enemy will spawn 1 or 2 movements away from a player. Ultimately, these aren’t too difficult to take out, due to their low combat value. However, their engagement effect either brings Dagon closer to awakening or deals 2 damage and a horror from Dagon’s attack. That’s quite a lot. While Dagon is still asleep, there’s no choice here and you have to take the doom. So that’s an issue for sure.
Threat level: High. Not all that dangerous, but 4 health means they at least take up some time. But its real strength comes from the extra doom that works towards having the Old Ones fully get into play earlier.
Dealing with it: Clearly, these need to be killed as the board is not big enough to leave them behind after evading them and you really don’t want to trigger the engagement effect multiple times. If Dagon is already awake, damaging the Old One will mirror that damage to its Broods, which is certainly convenient and one of the few ways to not spend much time on them.
What it does: Hydra’s Brood is very similar to Dagon’s Brood in how it operates. It has one less stamina, which is very relevant but at least partially compensates this with a higher combat value. Like the other Brood, this one spawns either at the Gateway or at the Lair of its Old One. It also has the same engagement ability. Hydra’s Brood deals horror on attack instead of damage.
My take: The things said about Dagon’s Brood also hold true for Hydra’s. They are easier to kill, at 3 health they can often be taken out with one hit and the difference between 1 and 3 combat isn’t terribly relevant to any enemy handler during a campaign finale.
Threat level: High. The Dagon’s Brood is already not that much of a threat in a fight, but since Hydra’s Brood is also easier to take out it usually won’t even take away too many actions. Still, that engagement ability makes it just as dangerous
Dealing with it: Everything said before is true here as well. Additionally, 3 health instead of 4 puts it in range to die to things like Dynamite Blast or Marksmanship which can kill it before you have to ever engage it. With Dagon’s Brood, pulling that off is much more difficult.
What it does: The investigator (and only they… because of Peril) has to either increase the flood level of their location or discard assets with a total cost of at least the shroud value.
My take: Most of the time you’ll want to increase the flood level for this instead of losing your assets. But of course that is only going to be possible as long as the location isn’t fully flooded yet. Since the deck is fairly big, these three cards and the two Tidal Alignments are not a huge driver for the actual flooding. They are more relevant as a card that punishes players for sticking around in already flooded locations. Every increase in flood level means one more level to clear from a location to win the scenario, though. So that will have to be weighed against losing your assets.
Threat level: Mid. A genuinely tough decision and the three copies stack with each other remarkably well.
Dealing with it: The amount of work represented by having to lower another flood level for the scenario scales with player count (1 damage to an Old One or 1 clue per player), so the more players are in the group, the more it becomes attractive to feed assets into this. Since you can’t just feed any 1 cost asset into this, that just might not always be an option, though. Note that drawing these early can cost you your diving suit!
What it does: After failing a Willpower test, the investigator has to either place a doom on the agenda (possibly advancing it) or suffer an attack from the nearest Old One. The difficulty for this test starts out low, but is increased for each sanctum location that already has a key on it.
My take: Between Ancient Evils, Syzygy, the Broods and this card, there is no shortage of doom accelerants in this scenario. Whenever possible, taking more doom should be avoided and this card does at least give you a choice. Taking an attack from one of the old ones will deal 3 combined horror and damage, so that’s certainly not nothing. But this is the final scenario of a campaign that has been battering players with horror and damage from all kinds of sources, so hopefully the players are prepared for this sort of thing by now.
Threat level: Mid to High. Another all around bad choice.
Dealing with it: Thankfully there are only two of these cards in the encounter deck and only few other sources of damage and horror. That means that taking the extra attack should almost always be preferable to the doom token which stacks up with a lot more other cards here. If you draw this before the Ancient Ones awaken, this won’t offer a choice, but hopefully the willpower test isn’t too bad at that point either.
What it does: Each investigator at flooded locations is dealt one horror. For investigators at fully flooded locations, this horror is direct and can not be prevented. If nobody is a valid target, Thalassophobia surges.
My take: Not a particular dangerous card. Compared to what else the deck has in store, a single point of horror should usually come off as a relief.
Threat level: Low.
Dealing with it: Just don’t get caught on your last point of sanity and you will be fine.
My take on this encounter deck: This is a focused and quite coherent deck. It is dominated by doom acceleration (mostly through cultist related cards) and interaction with curse tokens. Lair of Dagon is the one scenario in Innsmouth where the bless/curse tokens aren’t restricted to the player cards and this scenario lays the curse tokens on thick indeed. Like with many other cultist focused scenarios before this one, there aren’t any singular huge enemies around (well, unless you take too long…). This means your enemy handlers can focus on taking down the annoying small enemies instead of being tied down by bigger fish. Speaking of fish, there’s only two copies of a certain Deep One in here, and it’s not all that threatening. So the Deep Ones do take a back seat for this scenario as well. There’s also some damage and horror coming from the encounter deck, but the main threat does indeed come from the doom clock which keeps ticking on while the investigators struggle to get their goals done because their tests keep failing. Cancel these: Esoteric Ritual, Stone Barrier. Esoteric Ritual can cause a whole lot of devastation to your hand and/or board. So if you can cancel it, you at least don’t risk pulling curses, tentacles… or both. Stone Barrier’s impact depends a lot on the location it lands on, but it can become a huge issue as well, and not necessarily one you want to spend a key on through the act’s ability.
What it does: This scenario’s signature Deep One isn’t as fierce as most of those seen before. It does have the 3 health to survive most attacks, but at only 2 fight and evasion it doesn’t put up a whole lot of resistance. What’s left then is its engagement effect which adds 2 curse tokens to the chaos bag. It’s also a Hunter.
My take: This guy is rather weak, especially once you take into account that Lair of Dagon is the penultimate scenario. The curse tokens are added to the pile of all those you will get over the course of the scenario. So it does its job as a part of that critical mass, but pulling this card from the encounter deck should probably come as a relief most often.
Threat level: Low. Not much more than a filler enemy. I prefer drawing this guy over a cultist since it at least spawns right on you and doesn’t have you haul all over the locations to get rid of it.
Dealing with it: There is not much in terms of tough enemies to fight in this scenario, so your fighters are probably itching for something to put a bullet into when you draw this. Let them have it, at least you’ll not get any additional curses down the road. Truth be told, most of the cultists are more of a pain to defeat than this Deep One.
What it does: After failing a willpower test, the investigator has to add a curse token to the chaos bag for each point they fail by. If they are at a flooded location, the difficulty of the test increases from 3 to 5.
My take: Up to 5 curse tokens in one swoop can translate to a couple failed tests down the road. The treachery has no immediate impact on the board, so it will usually feel very mild. It is an important part of what makes this scenario tick, however. As such it shouldn’t be underestimated. We usually expect to spend 1 to 2 actions on dealing with an encounter card and this one can potentially take up more. And you have little to no influence on the timing. Luckily the willpower test gives one route to minimize the impact of this card.
Threat level: Low to Mid. It does not pose an immediate danger, but will make future threats more difficult.
Dealing with it: There’s not much you can do about these. Because of the sheer number of curse cards they aren’t worth canceling and using actions to bait out the curses is a fool’s errand. One thing to notice is how bad these are when the bag already has 5+ curse tokens in it, as drawing one of them will lead to two more added unless the investigator tests at a serious amount above the difficulty. As a result, this card will make sure that the bag keeps topped up.
What it does: Depending on whether the players are on act 1, 2 or 3 the investigator has to pass 1, 2 or 3 tests. Agility, combat and intellect are tested (in that order). Each failed test will deal 1 damage to the investigator.
My take: A somewhat bizarre take on Grasping Hands, with the chance to deal up to 3 damage depending on how well the investigator tests. Having to test for each point of damage separately is a double-edged sword. One the one hand, this treachery does an excellent job of filtering out curses from the bag: Three chances to pull them, only 1 damage max per curse (unlike how curses work on Rotting Remains, which is also in the deck) and the difficulties are low enough that passing the tests despite drawing a curse is certainly possible. On the other hand, testing three different stats makes it likely that you will have to pass something your investigator is really bad at. And pitching cards just for a single damage is not great, either. So you are unlikely to get out of this one completely unscathed. Oh, and while this is somewhat unlikely to come up, you just know that some poor soul somewhere managed to awaken Dagon by drawing this at his location and failing all the tests…
Threat level: Mid. Being so difficult to interact with puts this a notch above Grasping Hands in my book.
Dealing with it: How bad this card is for you is going to scale hard with the number of curses in the bag. Since you are unlikely to throw cards at these tests for extra icons (unless you are really desperately trying to avoid further damage) you’ll often end up testing with your base skill value (+static modifiers). The difficulties are low enough that this can work out, but curses will pretty much always screw this sort of test over. Seeing how hard this card is to interact with, you should probably just plan to soak the damage coming from this.
What it does: If the investigator fails a willpower test, they have to either discard two cards from their hand or one asset they control. If they revealed a curse for the test, they have to do both.
My take: Even without the curse clause, this would be a significant card. The difficulty for the test is high enough that failing it can happen to anyone and with three copies of this in the encounter deck this can make for quite some pressure on the player’s cards. The one saving grace is giving the player the choice of protecting their assets by discarding some from their hand or vice versa – discarding some spent or cheap asset to protect important cards they are holding. If they do pull a curse during the test, this choice is taken away as well though and the treachery doubles up the punishment.
Threat level: High. This card can absolutely ravage a player’s board and leave them with nothing in their hand they could use to replace what they lost.
Dealing with it: This is a very worthwhile target for your cancels. The presence of this card means that you should be thoughtful about what you play to the board. You will want to have enough assets in play so that having to discard one is not going to hit your key cards that your deck revolves around. On the other hand, you will want to keep enough in your hand that losing two cards from there is not too punishing either. Just be warned that you can draw back to back copies of this and get your whole gameplan crippled anyway.
What it does: After adding a curse token to the bag, the investigator has to pass a willpower test. If they fail, they have to add one doom to every cultist enemy in play. Additionally, they have to take a horror if they failed. If a curse was revealed during the test, an additional point of horror is dealt.
My take: Even without the horror, this is a scary amount of doom that could be added from just a single card. This card makes a very convincing argument that any cultists popping up on the map have to die right there and then… well, maybe giving the Agents of Dagon a turn to become more vulnerable first. But they should certainly not be allowed to stick around because between Mysterious Chanting and this, that is just asking for trouble. The horror stacks up well with the other sources attacking your sanity in this scenario and should not be underestimated either. Well, and the card adds a curse. Certainly not the most important part of the card, but it is just another little jab at you on a card that already has a lot going on.
Threat level: Mid to High. This card does a whole lot and all of it relevant.
Dealing with it: The main effect of this treachery can be mitigated well by not letting any cultists stick around. But that still leaves you with a card that pushes more on the horror soak of the investigator, making sure it always has some sort of an effect instead of requiring the otherwise obligatory “Surge when there’s no cultist around”.
What it does: Stone Barrier attaches to the nearest location that doesn’t already have one. Should that location happen to be flooded, Surge will make the investigator draw an additional encounter card. Investigators can’t leave locations with a ready Barrier, but at the cost of an action and a successful agility, combat or intellect test the Barrier can be exhausted.
My take: This is a huge action sink. Unlike Locked Doors (which is also in this encounter deck) it won’t discard, it will just ready every turn and block the way over and over. If the players need to do a lot of backtracking, this can be a huge pain, especially if this backtracking happens because the players are hunting down cultists. At least the test difficulties are low and with a choice of three stats most investigators should find something they can pass here. Obviously, this scenario serves up these repeatable tests as yet another thing that can be messed up with curses. But to be honest, you could pull those at way worse times.
Threat level: Mid. An action sink that will usually be fine, but can escalate if it spawns in the wrong place and the players are unable or unwilling to use a key on it.
Dealing with it: Do you still have Stone Barriers in your encounter deck? Then you might not want to end your turn on the Grand Entryway, because getting that one locked down is going to hurt you A LOT as you will need to pass it whenever you enter or return from a Tidal Tunnel. Luckily the scenario offers you one failsafe to deal with these things: The act deck has a free ability on it that allows players to spend one of their keys to defeat an Obstacle treachery. The Stone Barrier and Locked Door are the two viable targets for this. Doing so will increase the negative modifier of the skull token by 1 for the rest of the scenario but it can be worth it on some locations. Well, at least for the Barrier – i don’t see myself using that ability on a Locked Door.