Appears in: Ice and Death #1, Ice and Death #3, City of Elder Things (v2, v3),
My take on this set: The first third of the Edge of the Earth campaign doesn’t really throw a lot of enemies at the players, but makes up for it by having these enemies pack more of a punch than usual. The Creatures in the Ice set is the one that provides much of the enemy cards for Ice and Death and thus sets the tone for what this campaign has in store for us: Enemies with 3 and 4 health that require some effort to take out. A heavy focus on the Tekeli-li weaknesses that are shuffled into the player decks at every opportunity. And a treachery that keys off of those. It’s a tough and impactful set that doesn’t lose its bite later in the campaign either. When the set gets used in the City of Elder Things, i’d usually rather draw an Elder Thing than an Ice Creature.
What it does: A medium sized Hunter creature with 3s across the stat line and that deals a damage and a horror on attack. Its attacks are further enhanced by an ability that makes the attacked investigator shuffle the top two Tekeli-li cards into their deck.
My take: This is a respectable enemy, especially considering that it’s in the set three times. In the scenarios its in, you meet this a decent amount and it’s one of the major reasons why you will want to have 3 damage attacks available for this campaign. Getting hit by the Manifestation of Madness can hurt a lot, even if it’s not all immediate damage/horror. The two weakness cards that are shuffled in will cost a draw later on and might also have other repercussions that are more annoying than just that bit of damage and horror from the attack. So it’s best to just immediately dispose of this enemy instead of evading it and letting it do its Hunter thing.
Threat level: Medium. This enemy does set the baseline for what the fighter needs to routinely be able to handle in Edge. It’s a baseline that’s quite a bit higher than usual.
Dealing with it: Priority #1: Don’t let it attack you. Kill it when it pops up, which shouldn’t be too hard considering it only has middling fight that any fighter is able to overcome. Doing so with a three damage attack kills it cleanly in one attack, so if you are able to do that, go for it. Ice and Death #3 has these spawn on the other side of the map in Hunter mode, so you’ll need to be even more proactive there.
What it does: With 4 fight and stamina, the Glacial Phantasm is a notable enemy. If it is ready at at the end of the enemy phase (so if it didn’t attack and also wasn’t evaded), it moves towards the location with the most investigators, then causes each investigator at its location or a connected one to shuffle the top Tekeli-li card into their deck. It does have a low evasion of only 2, which can be exploited to exhaust the creature and therefore also disable the move and Tekeli-li effects.
My take: Ugh, these are painful. They are difficult enough to kill that it might just take a full turn away. Their low evasion is tempting, but a trap if you plan on running away from them. Having these move around and add Tekeli-li weaknesses to player’s decks can get out of hand fast. I frequently felt like this was one of the worst things in the encounter deck, always hogging a whole lot of attention. The one saving grace here is that its movement ability works differently than Hunter and that’s in the players favor. The main difference is that it wont attack you in the same turn it moved into your location. It will spread weaknesses based on the new location though! Also, since it exhausts to attack, it won’t be able to give you weaknesses if it attacks you, something that might just be the better alternative in some cases.
Threat level: Mid to High. They are a step below what usually appears as Elite enemies, but these are nonetheless a huge issue and a priority to take out.
Dealing with it: Depending on the layout for City of the Elder Things, running away from these might be an option, but less so for Ice and Death. Of course Ice and Death #3 requires you to kill them, so there’s not even a real choice, but #1 also doesn’t really have room to keep these at distance. The map is way too interconnected. The best course of action is likely to just go in guns blazing and take this thing down with whatever you’ve got. The four fight and four health will make this not a trivial matter, but it probably can’t be helped. The abilities on the enemy are disabled while exhausted, so if you are close to finishing the scenario, having someone evade the eidolon can buy the time to finish up without having to take more weaknesses into your deck. Well, or just be a survivor and Waylay the thing!
What it does: Kindred Mist attaches to the nearest location without the other copy already attached, so usually at the location of whoever drew the card. While at Kindred Mists’ location, each investigator who would shuffle a Tekeli-li card into their deck has to immediately draw it, resolve it, then place it at the bottom of their deck. Kindred Mist only discards at the end of a round if its Forced effect was able to trigger.
My take: I don’t think this card is all that threatening. At best, it might make you trigger an extra Tekeli-li or two. While that would be a fine effect for a treachery, it isn’t guaranteed at all and sort of easy to play around in most cases. The only situations where this can become more annoying is when you have Zero Visibility from the Ice and Death specific set in your threat area.
Threat level: Low. Fairly easy to avoid and even when it triggers, it’s unlikely to be all that punishing.
Dealing with it: There are two things that let Kindred Mist have at least some teeth: One, it only discards when it actually triggers, unlike many others used in Edge that just discard at the end of a round. Two, it can work with any source of Tekeli-li cards, not just those from this set. And there’s a lot of those sources going around. So if you find yourself with this in a cramped environment or needing to revisit some spot more often, Kindred Mist could turn out to become something that is just not possible to avoid. However, that situation won’t come up too often in the wide areas of the Ice and Death map and in the large City of the Elder Things.
Introduction: Okay, one more Top 10 list to go before i go back to the usual encounter review shenanigans that this site is actually meant for 😉 To close out the triplet of lists where i just want to share some of my favorite cards, here’s the one for encounter artworks. Obviously this is as subjective as it gets. I know nothing about “art” or how “well done” something is. These are pieces on cards that stuck out to me for some reason or another and that i like looking at whenever i return to that particular campaign. As before, i am sure i missed a lot of contenders as well. There’s like 700 cards, and picking 10 out of them isn’t trivial.
#10: Malformed Skeleton. As far as i am aware this is the only skeleton enemy in the game right now. But they went all out on this one, an enormous thing with many heads, a snakelike body made of rib cages and limbs of all sorts sticking in all directions. This piece really has a whole lot going on and makes the enemy appear a whole lot more dangerous than it ends up being in the end.
#9: Grasping Hands. Probably my favorite from the Core Set, it’s just a very iconic scene. I grew up on lots and lots of horror movies and this is just so utterly familiar. Of course you can’t have a horde of zombies/ghouls break into your house without them clawing at you through the walls and floor boards.
#8: Daemonic Piping. The Circle Undone has a couple artworks that deviate from the usual fantastical, slightly comic-y style that Arkham monster art usually goes for and that instead dive head-first into more grotesque stuff. Daemonic Piping is the best of them, which makes sense considering how much more often we see it than the Piper itself or say, a Mindless Dancer.
#7: Somniphobia. Confession time: I should’ve put this one on the list for most unsettling treacheries. But i forgot about it because i don’t play Dream-Eaters that often. However, it does belong on this list as well. Something about the colors in this one just appeals to me. Dream-Eaters has another card, Night Terrors, that is themed and framed very similarly, but in my opinion that one doesn’t hold a candle to Somniphobia. Creepy, great colors, sticks in your mind.
#6: Beast of Aldebaran. Turns out that not every creature artwork needs to be dark greys and browns. I don’t have anything too substantial to say about the art on this one, except that it sticks out from most of the other art by how bright it is. It shows us the monster in all its snakey glory and while doing so it also shows us some of the spires of Carcosa, with the twin suns in the back ground. For a recurring enemy this sets some of the themes of the campaign whenever it appears, but of course especially during the final scenarios where we can easily imagine this thing sitting around the Abbey Tower or on top of the King’s Palace.
#5: Vengeful Serpent. Well, turns out that my favorite snakepeople artwork is also on my favorite snakepeople card. To be honest, it might very well be that my fondness for the card in general makes me appreciate this artwork more than it would’ve otherwise. But i do really like this one, shown in an action pose with swords drawn. It’s also that most of the other serpentfolk in TFA are just looking goofy. Pit Warden and Serpent of Tenochtitlan are pretty much the only ones i like from the base campaign, so getting a proper one here is good. I especially like the head and neck, which look much more snakelike here than the pretty much human ones seen on Harbinger of Brood of Yig.
#4: Constance Dumaine (monster version). The Last King is a scenario that is blessed with tons of great art, and of course the six main guests stick out among them because they actually get two pieces of art showing off their transformation from innocent bystander to monster. Constance Dumaine is the one of them i like the most by a long shot, something about the style she’s drawn in, the color and the lighting does it for me here. Her monster art is quite horrifying, with her bloody mess of an open rib cage she’s a lot more than we usually see in this game. Hands you your first real welcome to the sort of stuff that Carcosa pulls on the player: Things aren’t always what they appear at first, also this can get a bit ghastly at times. Her flavor text is very, very appropriate.
#3: Eager for Death. The use of the Whippoorwills as harbingers of death was probably the most eerie thing that H.P. Lovecraft did in the Dunwich Horror. It’s great then that FFG absolutely nailed that part when they made the Dunwich Legacy. I’ve talked at other parts of this site before about how much i appreciate that the flavor and gameplay of the Whippoorwill set works so well together, but of course the art plays a huge part as well. This scene with the woods being full of these birds is quite spooky and just well done with the different layers (foreground, middle, back) to the image. And the ones in the front seem to be particularly interested in us, the viewer. I hear that’s bad luck…
#2: The Rougarou. Werewolves in media have it rough. They look goofy on film and even in images, most depictions of them are laughable. And if we’re being fair there are also some questionable ones in the Curse of the Rougarou pack. Not so with this artwork, which rightly is used for the card of the monster itself. It doesn’t look goofy in the slightest, this is a vicious wolf creature that is about to tear you apart. It’s wild, it’s primal and a complete force of nature. No #TeamJacob nonsense here. One of the best werewolves i’ve seen.
#1: Crazed Guest. If you thought Last King wouldn’t be able to shock you anymore, check out Return to Last King. Crazed Guest has much of the same things going for her that Constance Dumain has, but with one addition: Just look at her. Look at the pure FUN this girl is having. The art on Crazed Guest manages to walk that fine line between horror and camp that Arkham Horror thrives on when it’s at its best. On the one hand, we have a very graphic scene here of a dead body, the killer with his heart still in her hands, blood is everywhere. But then, this is at the same time so over the top that it makes me laugh. The facial expression of the girl. The dutch angle. That one foot we see of the person fleeing off-panel. Never has someone worn the trait “Lunatic.” with such pride and joy. This girl cracks me up.
Final words: There’s something that surprised me here and that is the high number of enemy cards in this list. Compared to treacheries, enemy cards are just at a disadvantage when it comes to artwork because there is so little room for it and it’s in a very awkward and squished format. That being said, there are certainly cards where the treachery frame with its over intrusive “wings” on the side has stood in the way of the artwork. This is really apparent if you ever made some custom cards yourself and try to fit existing art into frames, but you can also see it on cards like Maddening Delusions, which takes a well-known and liked piece of art and completely butchers it.
That The Last King made the list twice isn’t really a surprise, that scenario is just a banger in all regards. What is surprising though is that both Constance Dumaine and Crazed Guest are from the same artist. Here’s Andreia Ugrai’s ArtStation, where you can also find a full artwork of monster Constance. None of the Crazed Guest sadly.
Aaaaand that’s it for my little Top 10 detour. Hope you liked it. I had fun doing these and reading the responses and discussions it spawned. Even learned some stuff. I had some more ideas for lists, but for now i am going to back to my usual stuff. Edge of the Earth arrived on my doorstep last week and i finished the first playthrough already. Instead of doing lists, which was just meant as a filler, i’ll be looking to use my Arkham time to get another play in. It’s a fun campaign and i want to head back in 😉 There’ll surely be more filler time later this year when i run out of official stuff again.
Introduction: Here’s part two of the totally non-controversial set of “Favorite” lists for the christmas holidays. Following the favorite enemies, it’s now time for the favorite treacheries, of course. Again, this is based on card mechanics or their place in their respective scenarios and not artwork. That’s going to be the third list, coming very soon. 😉
#10: Deep One Assault. Many campaigns have a treachery in their ranks that seem to pop up all the time and that have enough of an impact to be sort of the signature treachery for that campaign. Taken to its extreme, you get something like Beyond the Veil, but Deep One Assault is not quite that oppressive. What it does ensure though is a consistent flood of fishpeople and that all those Hunters or evaded enemies have an edge on the players. Can be quite rough in some scenarios (In Too Deep and Light in the Fog are probably the worst) but aside from those, the card plays an important part. It’s absolutely a love/hate relationship, though!
#9: Rites Howled. Taken for itself it’s not all that impressive really. Even if you play Dunwich a lot, you would be forgiven having to look up the card. What i like about it is its interaction with weaknesses in the player decks. I think more treacheries should do something like that.
#8: Captive Mind. The City of Archives is a strange scenario, so it’s appropriate that it has some cards in it that work differently from what we are used to. The one i appreciate most of them is Captive Mind, which uses skill tests in a way that has not been repeated since then (i think?).
#7: Endless Descent. I am not a huge fan of the full scenario, but the last bit of Thousand Shapes of Horror is quite cool. Whenever this game does something unusual with locations, i usually like it, so this ever expanding stair case is right in my wheelhouse. Of course, when you play the actual scenario, this card can be hella frustrating. But there’s no doubt that it is interesting!
#6: Kidnapped! One of the few treacheries that can have repercussions beyond the scenario it is in, this can snatch up something from your deck for the rest of the campaign. This was a huge deal when Dunwich was fresh and even today it’s one of the cards that sparks some stories. Got to respect that.
#5: Morbid Awareness. Another cute mechanic that hasn’t been reused since. There’s something bad in a location and the closer you are to it, the worse the treachery is going to hit you. Stay far enough away and you can resist it more easily. I just think that’s neat, one of these rare cases where some theme translates perfectly into more abstract game rules.
#4: The Shadow Behind You. Speaking of hilarious things to translate into game text… “Action: You Look Behind You” is just a great line. Of course it helps that the card also plays really well, giving the player some decisions about whether to just take it now or spend actions to delay it.
#3: Terror From Beyond. The Peril keyword has been around since the core set, but this is the first time that it is used to let one player make a choice based on imperfect information. And it’s a banger of a card, making all other players sweat bullets while the one who drew it considers their options. High drama, high impact and creates stories. A recipe for a good and memorable treachery.
#2: Painful Reflection. I don’t have much love for the Return to Carcosa box, but the replacement set for Striking Fear is just excellent. Most of all Painful Reflection, a card that sits in your threat area and taunts you. Do you play other events to bait it? What if it doesn’t trigger? So just play what you were going to? But that might counter it! There’s a lot of mindgames with this card and the beautiful part is that it’s mindgames you have with yourself. If that’s not appropriate for Carcosa, then what is?
#1: Ancient Evils. Anyone surprised by this being my top pick hasn’t been paying attention. The doom counter is a very integral part of the game, a fail condition that makes sure that games don’t take forever and that players don’t durdle around. Turns are limited and so are actions. The doom clock is what gives the whole system of having actions a meaning in the first place. Ancient Evils is a direct extension of the doom clock, giving it just that bit of wiggle room to make sure you can’t properly calculate how many actions you have left. Now, sadly there are like three or four scenarios out of the 20+ that it is a part of where it introduces too much variance through reshuffling or bad interactions with other cards, but in the 15+ other scenarios it’s just an important part of making the game tick. Remember, the turn you lose is the one at the end. That can very often be better than losing actions now. So stop worrying about Ancient Evils and enjoy your turn free of having immediate pressure and invest those actions into getting a move on. Nobody cares if you have two, four or eight doom left at the end of the scenario 🙂
Introduction: We are moving towards Christmas and the surrounding holidays at a fast pace, so for the next two or three lists at least i want to dial down the controversy and instead give praise to some of my favorite Arkham encounter cards. Starting with the enemies today. This is from a point of view of game mechanics. I’ll do artwork later 😉 These are enemies that i like either because they have cool mechanics, because they are iconic or just because i think they are interesting in some way.
#10: Acolyte. The Core Set classic sets the template for how a cultist looks in this game: Not terribly dangerous by itself, but once many of them congregate, their presence on the board alone becomes a huge issue. Cults need to be stopped and this is mechanically represented extremely well with this card. Huge win on both flavor and mechanics. Getting a card like this right on the first try was extremely important for the Core Set, considering its encounter sets are used in all following products as well. It’s astonishing really how much the designers got those sets exactly right. I’d go as far and say that the game wouldn’t work without how extremely well made the Core is. The Acolyte is a hallmark of that design work.
#9: Corpse Dweller. This chunky boy is just one of the many reasons why The Pallid Mask is my favorite scenario. A minor reason only, but still. What’s cool here is that having this monster in the encounter deck gives a whole new feel of urgency to the basic enemies from the Ghoul set. You could be tempted to just evade a Ghoul Minion and leave it behind, but then this thing might just break out of the Ghoul and start following you. Even in the two-handed games that i play, i have very often cursed the timing on this enemy. I imagine it is only harder to keep from the board in bigger groups.
#8: Eater of the Depths. This is basically the “Refuses to elaborate further” meme, but as an encounter card. We know nothing about this thing. All we know is we are trekking through the Depths of Yoth, minding our own business when out of nowhere this massive thing can show up and deliver a boss fight. 2 victory points, Hunter with truckloads of damage and horror, a bundle of stats. What is even going on here. And yet, this somehow fits that part of the campaign, after all we just left the City of Archives behind us so nothing makes sense anyways. This enemy is probably the one that is most alien to me, most other things are at least explained or handwaved somewhat. In it’s own way that’s fascinating.
#7: Hunting Horror. It’s a real shame that The Miskatonic Museum does have some parts that just don’t work correctly, at least in its original pre-Return incarnation. The idea of having only a single enemy in the scenario that just won’t die but instead return stronger over and over is fantastic and for all it’s faults it has to be said: When the scenario works, it is a really good one. This enemy becomes the primary threat, but also at the same time it works as a timer for the scenario. Really cool stuff mechanically and i wish this concept would be revisited some time. It did take the Return To box for Hunting Horror to become what it should be, but i think in the end it got there. My most recent plays of Return to Museum were all tight and suspenseful affairs and the Hunting Horror is obviously the key element to that.
#6: Arkham Officer. The first half of Murder at the Excelsior Hotel flips a lot of what we assume from the game on its head. We see Arkham’s Finest, represented by enemy cards, investigate the locations like we would. Doom represents the progress in their investigation against the players and should the doom threshold be met, they can make a case against us. This is very well represented on a number of cards, but most importantly on the Arkham Officer himself who seeks out clues and turns them into “doom” progress. We can chat them up, learning what they learned and take the pressure from ourselves at the same time. It all just makes sense, which is impressive.
#5: Whippoorwill. This little birdie (and its partner in crime, the Eager for Death treachery) are another huge flavor win. According to Lovecraft’s Dunwich Horror (and superstition in general) these birds are harbingers of death and hearing them sing is an omen of bad luck. Well, looking at the card, they certainly got the bad luck part right. Whatever you are trying to do gets a lot harder once one (or god forbid, multiples) of these are around. And Eager for Death nails the harbinger of death part, causing horror to those who are wounded. The encounter set is one of my favorites from the early days of the game and the Whippoorwill in particular is just cool because it shows that you don’t always need tentacles and huge fangs to pose a problem to the investigators.
#4: Harbinger of Valusia. Speaking of harbingers of death, this mean green mother from TFA seems to pop up whenever it is the least convenient. She’s a powerful enemy on her own, but her timing means that she often appears when you are already having all sorts of other things to take care of. She’s a constant presence throughout TFA and like so many other things in that campaign she asks for both fighting and evading. She’s also able to punish either if you are bad at it, so there’s that. I particularly like the “Then, if there are 2i resources on it, it vanishes with a sinister hiss.” bit. Starts out with very formal rules conform talk and ends on what is basically flavor text. Arkham gets away with that sort of thing sometimes and i just think that’s neat.
#3: Ghoul Priest. Arkham is a harsh place where failure and defeat lurk at every corner. This is one of the lessons that the Night of the Zealot teaches fledgling players, to make sure they go into any further campaigns with the right expectations. And none better to teach this particular lesson than the Ghoul Priest. An enemy that would command respect if it appeared at the end of a modern campaign with its full card pool, it’s something for the best fighter of the group to sink their teeth into. But here it appears in the Core Set, right in the first scenario where investigators and players alike are as vulnerable as they will ever be. Best case, you are Roland with a .45 Auto or Agnes with a Shrivelling(0). Worst case, you are Wendy with a Baseball Bat. Between 4 fight, a chunk of health points, Retaliate and a boatload of damage and horror, the odds are completely stacked against the players when the Ghoul Priest shows up. I mean… just compare him to the Harbinger of Valusia who is very similar but meant to be a recurring enemy that haunts players for most of a full campaign. Of course, this lesson leads right into the next one, with Lita Chandler teaching players about the value of getting +1 skill and bonus damage. The Gathering is expertly crafted and the Ghoul Priest a perfect capstone for the scenario. A much more memorable villain than Umôrdoth could ever hope to be, defeating it is the first real high that a player gets with this game.
#2: Atlach-Nacha. How crazy is it that we can talk about our favorite card game while using the phrase “Rotating Spider God”? After being largely unimpressed with The Dream-Eaters, Weaver of the Cosmos just blew me away. Which surprised me quite a bit, after all at some point you think (foolishly) that you have seen everything over the course of 5+ campaigns and that surely you can’t be blindsided by this game anymore. Well, i distinctly remember opening the Mythos pack and finding the 5 cards that make up the spider in it. I had the dumbest grin on my face when i realized what’s up. It was like when i first set up Essex Express and marveled at what the game can do with locations. An utterly unique enemy in a fun scenario.
#1: Vengeful Serpent. Everything about Vengeful Serpent is perfect. It does something very unique, but at the same time reinforces what The Forgotten Ages is all about. Like so many other TFA enemies, this one makes the player think about whether to evade them or defeat them, but with most other enemies this is way too often too binary and obvious. You really have to think about this one, though. It uses the Vengeance keyword in a new way. While it doesn’t contribute to Yig’s Wrath, there is some actual vengeance happening here. It’s a Hunter. And a Serpent. And it’s actually really dangerous if you choose poorly in how to handle them! The scenarios that use the Venomous Hate encounter set are all vastly improved by having this guy around because its’ impact is just that big. It also replaces the Fang of Yig, a very inconsequential and frankly boring enemy. Oh, and it also has really good art. This card is fantastic.
Introduction: Alright, “most fun” might be overselling it slightly, but there’s no doubt that some weakness are just more interesting than others. In a sea of weaknesses that merely ask to spend an action or two to discard them or are just some damage here and there, these standout weaknesses give players something to play around, some actual challenge that spices up the game. Here’s my Top 10 of basic weaknesses i’d rather draw randomly than most others because they create interesting situations.
#10: Dark Pact. Arkham LCG has a couple of “campaign only” multi-stage weaknesses. While some of those are also the most frustrating things ever (i actually removed Doomed and Offer You Can’t Refuse from my pool), Dark Pact is the best of them. It gets the lowest spot on the Top 10 because it’s probably one of the weakest in the pool, but i do appreciate the flavor of the card and that you can use it to stab a teammate, one of your allies or even yourself.
#9: Your Worst Nightmare. When a weakness can promote interactivity between the players, that’s a win all around. This enemy can’t be defeated by its carrier, so someone else has to take it. Now, of course this is already true for many enemies that come off naturally from the encounter deck, after all most teams have investigators that already need to be protected this way.
#8: Reckless. As one of the few skill weaknesses, Reckless immediately stands out. It sticks with you, draining your resources until you finally manage to get rid of it by failing a test with it. This reminds me a bit of Rex’s Curse, but without all the annoying token pulling. Reckless is quite impactful for investigators that like keeping their resources and does often require taking some lines of play you usually wouldn’t just so you get to take some tests that you can fail on purpose. EDIT: Okay, so i messed up here. I got how Reckless and Arrogance work mixed up. Obviously you will want to pass a test with Reckless and not fail it. So what i wrote above is poppycock. Sorry about that! Not sure it still belongs on the list now, but it is what it is.
#7: The Thing That Follows. The enemy that keeps coming back. Most enemies you just want to defeat as soon as possible so it’s out of your hair. This one you want to let stick around as long as possible so it doesn’t replace more of your draws. Its impact on the game depends on the location layout of the scenario, so there’s some variance to the card as well which is something i usually appreciate.
#6: Stubborn Detective. This guy is famous for the stories he creates, being so stubborn that he’d literally follow you to the City of Archives because he has a hunch. His ability is also quite unique in that it makes get by without you investigator ability while he’s around. Ultimately he’s not difficult to defeat, but he certainly can create some interesting situations.
#5: Narcolepsy. More multiplayer goodness. Literally only take a single action to disable, but the timing this card has is often awful. Especially when it is in the deck of someone who is usually supposed to take their turn first. There’s also something deeply hilarious to having your team mate get all sleepy while you are fighting Atlach-Nacha or trying to run through a disintegrating train.
#4: The injuries. Hot of the presses, these new EotE weaknesses ask the players to run specific cards to deal with them. In turn, these are more or less impactful depending on how well you adjust to them in your deck building and upgrade choices… i find that very satisfying and rewarding.
#3: Kleptomania. The final three weaknesses are where i’d actually go as far as claiming they are fun to play with. As some other cards mentioned before, Kleptomania has that multiplayer interactivity going on. But more than the others, this one rewards using it creatively and can even create opportunities for combos or at least mildly positive outcomes.
#2: Damned. This one uses the tarot deck from the RtTCU box. While it is wildly unpredictable and often downright nasty, there is just something to be said for a weakness that changes from scenario to scenario and gives you different challenges. Sometimes the effect is minor but often it is major enough that it requires some adjustment of the playstyle for the duration of a game. That’s basically exactly what i want to see from a weakness.
#1: Through the Gates. Of all the weaknesses, this is the one i like playing with the most. Like Damned, it creates different sorts of experiences whenever it is drawn. Sometimes it just plucks something inconsequential from your deck. Other times it costs you something from the board or from the hand. Or goes straight for some key piece of your deck and you will now have to go into damage control mode. Like the Injury weaknesses, this one can be built around when upgrading, as it encourages diversifying your cards instead of buying cards in pairs as you’d usually do.
Final words: Lots of these are just hitting the same buttons: Interactivity, Variance, Uniqueness. Weaknesses are something we have to include in our deck so there’s always some sort of roadblock happening along the way. If i have to see that like once per game (or more) for all of a campaign, it better be something that’s not boring. Something that actually interacts with what else is going on and that gives me something to think about. To be perfectly honest, Dark Pact and Worst Nightmare are already stretching it by that definition, but it turns out that once you remove all the “spend 2 actions” weaknesses and all those that are just a bit too punishing… there’s not all that many left to talk about!
Introduction: An integral part of the game is having the encounter deck push back at our attempts of making progress towards our goals. When we go into the Mythos phase, we already do so expecting unpleasantry and complications. But some encounter cards just take this to the top and those are the ones that lead to us grimacing in frustration or sighing because we now have something new to care about that we really didn’t want to. Here’s my Top 10 list of encounter cards that i really don’t want to draw. For this, i am making no difference between scenario specific, campaign specific or core cards – meaning i try to ignore how frequently the card is used for its place on the list.
#10: Ants! As mentioned, there’s a certain expectation we have when going into the mythos phase, expectations on what a singular encounter card is going to cost us. A card? An action? Maybe even two? Some life? Well, what we certainly do not expect is having to discard up to 4 cards from our hand and/or board. Random ones from the hand, at that. This card is a menace and thankfully it’s contained to one specific scenario.
#9: Merging Timelines. Another one that can just wreck your hand. What adds to the frustration here is not only that it also can cost you your turn… but that it is completely random. “Ants!” at least gave you a test, this one isn’t that merciful. Short of building your deck to include more singletons there’s nothing you can do about this one. You have to close your eyes and hope you end up with at least part of a turn when all is done.
#8: Brotherhood Cultist / Stolen Mind. It takes a lot for an enemy to get on this list. Usually enemies aren’t terribly frustrating because they come with lots of ways to defeat them built in. Sure, they cost some actions, but usually there will even be investigators on the team that are actively looking for enemies so they find a use for their weapons and fight events. What makes these two special is that they not only collect doom, but they scale their stats with it. Brotherhood Cultist is the well known example, an enemy that you can not afford drawing the autofail against because each attempt at defeating them that fails only makes successive attempts more difficult. Meanwhile, they work towards ending the game faster. Stolen Mind was added by the Return and crossbreeds this behavior with the automatic doom collection from Wizard of the Order, for a disgusting end result.
#7: Meddlesome Familiar. Finally, something that’s not from The Forgotten Age! One of a very, very few cards in the game that are able to cause me actual IRL stress. Brown Jenkins just gets to me and Meddlesome Familiar is a huge part of why. The Secret Name is a drawn out affair that can be taxing and having this card make sure that you always have that stinking familiar in your face is just something else. Nothing quite like taking Jenkins down for the fourth time under use of actions and other resources, only to draw a card that goes “Okay, do it again. Also, have a damage.” It’s mocking me, i swear.
#6: Ancient Evils. Ah, the fan favorite. Probably the most overrated encounter card in the game, but obviously it does have quite the impact. It can be safely assumed that the doom thresholds on agendas are balanced around having Evils in the encounter deck, so i am usually not one to think to much of it. But things get quite sketchy when excessive randomization comes into play (looking at you, Untamed Wilds!), when the thresholds are very small (looking at you, Essex!) or when it comes bundled with Cultists, preferably in the same mythos phase (looking at you, Black Throne!). These are the moments where Ancient Evils can feel absolutely rotten, especially since it doesn’t just work towards killing a single investigator. It tries to directly end the game.
#5: Straitjacket. Man, this one just keeps getting me every time. Unspeakable Oath is a truly excellent scenario that i enjoy a whole lot, but i can not deny the amount of stress and grief that a deck with both Corrosion and Straitjacket causes me. Straitjacket is an immense setback. While it doesn’t send your assets to the bin, they are returned to the hand, so you do lose all the actions and all the resources you spent on them. And before you can replay them you even have to spend 2/3rd of a turn just on discarding the Straitjacket. This thing can just on its own cost two or even more turns. Drawing a second Straitjacket after rebuilding from the first one is a legitimate table flip.
#4: The Sign of Hastur. While we are on the topic of Unspeakable Oath, tableflips and IRL stress, who the hell thought this was a good idea? Increasing all horror by 1 over multiple turns translates into so much additional testless horror, it outclasses any other horror dealing card. It’s also really difficult to get rid of sometimes, so all you can do is try and weather the storm. This is one of those cards that makes me go into high alert mode immediately when it enters play, and for the whole duration that it stays there. I’m pretty sure this card is to blame for at least some of my grey hairs.
#3: Beyond the Veil. The card that holds a whole campaign hostage. It has all the hallmarks of a frustrating encounter card: No printed way of dealing with it. High consequences for having it trigger. Low to no interactivity. What Beyond the Veil adds to the mix is that you get a front row seat to your slow but inevitable demise. Oh, and Surge. Can’t forget the Surge. That always feels like getting a kick in your face while you are already down. I can’t think of another card that this actively discourages me from playing a campaign than this one. Some investigators just don’t stand a chance in Dunwich and it’s all thanks to Beyond the Veil.
#2: Frozen in Fear. A core set classic that has been keeping Rogues and other low willpower investigators down since the inception of the game. Arkham has a lot of debilitating treacheries, as anyone who has seen the typical TCU threat area can attest to. But what sets Frozen in Fear apart is the way its Willpower test works. Unlike so many other cards, this is a test that the player who drew the card will have to pass themselves. No helping out by your friendly Mystic or Guardian. It’s also guaranteed to hinder you for at least one full turn, as the timing is fixed. Fixed to a point just ever so slightly outside of your turn, so you can’t even use something like Eye of the Djinn on it. It’s like the wording of that Forced trigger was specifically crafted to be the most frustrating it can be. Since then, we’ve seen this same templating on other treacheries as well, with TCU’s Realm of Torment being particularly notable. But none of them gets quite the visceral reaction from me that Frozen in Fear does.
#1: Umôrdhoth’s Hunger. This frigging card. The Devourer Below is already a scenario that isn’t exactly known for how fair and fun it is, but the presence of this card just makes it that much worse. Threatening instant demise to one or even multiple investigators, even its best case of costing everyone a card is annoying. Having this card around also means that every discard effect in the encounter deck is more powerful – and RtNotZ introduced quite a few of those. And playing cards is also discouraged, something i never like. Really, this card looks like it came straight out of a LotR Nightmare scenario instead of an Arkham Return to box. This is an easy #1 spot for me, the only saving grace here is that i don’t see the card ever because i don’t play that scenario anymore.
Final words: This list features a lot of TFA and Carcosa. That might be partially influenced by the fact that those are the two campaigns i play the most, so of course they left the biggest impression on me. But it does align with the reputation of those campaigns. The surprise for me here is the relative lack of TCU. I find that campaign somewhat stressful and i expected more than just Meddlesome Familiar (and a mention of Realm of Torment) to make an appearance here. There’s 4 cards from Return To boxes on the list, which is about what i would’ve expected. I’m sure that with almost 700 different encounter cards, i must have forgotten a few important ones. So please chime in and tell me which ones. What are the cards that make you want to open a window and chuck the damn thing out?
Introduction: If we believe arkhamdb (and i don’t see a reason not to), then the Investigator Expansion for Edge of the Earth features 133 unique cards. A truly large number of cards to dump on us all at once, but i’d argue that even if we ignore the timing of them all landing together, the impact of the EotE player cards is more significant than most other cycles. There’s just that much good stuff in it, with barely a coaster in sight. This Top 10 list attempts to figure out the most important additions. Note that in this context “most important” doesn’t necessarily mean “strongest”. I am interested in cards that open up new archetypes or otherwise give us things we didn’t have before. Stuff that actually changes the game. Not just some number tweaks or spins on old cards. Ah, and i will exclude the actual investigators from this list. Obviously they are the ones that do open whole new angles for deck construction all on their own, but i don’t want to take the first 5 slots of the Top 10 just for them.
#10: Protective Gear. Edge gives us 3 new assets that take the body slot and all of them are interesting in their own way. While the news of getting something other than Bandolier and Backpack for the body slot is already great, the Protective Gear is also notable in that it does offer some great encounter protection to Guardian which didn’t really have much for that before and to Survivor which dabbled in canceling before but never really got there. There’s no test here, as long as the treachery is a hazard, this can blank three encounter cards. And the sizeable soak alone could do a great job of neutralizing two or three encounter cards that deal damage/horror if no Hazard traits are around. It’s expensive to play, but a very nice new tool for the deckbuilding toolbox.
#9: Quickdraw Holster. The other body slot item that made the list. So far, Bandolier stood alone with its effect of giving additional weapon hand slots. Holster is finally some competition and allows Rogues as well as Guardians to keep a sidearm next to their two-handed main weapon. This is huge for investigators with signature firearms that would be interested in going for two-handed weapons but so far didn’t have a way of doing so without it being awkward. Looking at you, Tony. But Finn and Jenny could certainly also use this well. As could any investigator that wants to hold tools and relics in their hands but also keep a weapon on hand. Is it better than Bandolier(2) for Guardian? Probably not. But for Rogue, this is an important new card.
#8: Black Market. In an effort to support Bob’s unique playstyle, the EotE expansion opened up a couple new ways of trading assets between players. The combo potential that is opened by this is immense. This is the sort of card that can only exist in non-competitive games, as i am pretty sure it breaks the game in a hundred different ways. There were some ways to do switcheroos before, but they were very limited (“You owe me one”) and/or restricted to assets (Teamwork). With EotE, these limits are gone. And Black Market is the poster child for this, able to trade any card type from any player to any other player. Meanwhile it’s costed cheap enough that its even a good as just pure card draw in solo. A really fantastic card.
#7: The upgraded Composures. I don’t think i ever put one of the original composures into my deck. Too fragile, too much investment, not enough payoff. Now, these upgrades though… they are pushed to the limit. These are playable even before reading the textbox. They are slotless card with 4 points of soak, costing neither resources nor actions to play. That’s immediately playable. Using Moxie in Sefina could do wonders for her survivability, something i have used Bulletproof Vest for before. Hold Moxie next to the Vest and have a good chuckle. Similar things go for Combat Training, Scientific Theory, Plucky and even Grounded. These cards can do wonders for your next run through TFA, Innsmouth or similar campaigns where a lot of damage and horror rains down on you. (And yes, we didn’t even look at the text box yet. It’s a really good text box, too!)
#6: Ice Pick. What looks on first glance like it’s just the next little variant on Mag Glasses is actually sort of a powerhouse. When the Council in Exile designed the Flashlight(2), a lot of noise was made around the fact that it can be used in combination with other assets. Arcane Insight has this sort of templating on a 4XP card with 3 charges. And now look at this little 1XP card, giving you that effect an unlimited amount of times and not just for investigations, but also for fights. You can cast Spectral Razor and use this to enhance it. Or This is really remarkable and held back only by its need to exhaust. Or while using Archaic Glyphs. With Duke. Or Sled Dogs. Or while using a Lantern. It even works with Monstrous Transformation! This sort of interactivity is exceptional. There’s an upgraded Ice Pick of course and it introduces another layer of shenanigans using Scavenging, but today i am just here for the remarkably open wording of how this helps your tests.
#5: Counterespionage. Any sort of cancel mechanic is immensely powerful, as it can directly translate to a whole lot of saved actions, resources, health and/or sanity. Canceling also allows for better planning, so surely FFG have to be careful about giving us too much of it. With that in mind, i would’ve called you crazy if you told me a few months ago that we are going to have Dismiss in Arkham. Dismiss is crazy good! Or that it would be modular and thus even better than Dismiss. I would’ve called you even crazier if you would’ve told me that it would be a Rogue card. Doing what another class does, but fast and while drawing a card? “Obviously this would be a Seeker card!”, i would’ve told you. Well, but here we are and the green Dismiss is real. What a card. Solves so many problems in a world where people have been running “You handle this one” just so they wouldn’t be stuck with Frozen in Fear. I’ll play the hell out of this one.
#4: Sled Dogs. The reddit and the Discord are abuzz with people trying to tell you that Sled Dogs are bad, that they are overcosted or, and i quote, “a worse Mauser”. Those people are fools. It’s easy to look at the card and come up with a lot of others that fight better. And then many others that are better movement. And others that offer better soak for the resources. But that fails to realize that Sled Dogs is all of this at once. It’s a bad Mauser that is also a bad Pathfinder, a bad Bulletproof Vest and a bad Elder Sign Amulet. Well, turns out that the sum of all that is actually a pretty great card. And you really only need two of the dogs to get your value. This will give you once per turn either a bonus move action or a non-hand slot attack for 2 damage. While also giving you a 4/4 soak. So the argument that it takes too long for these to pay off also doesn’t hold. Of course, find more dogs and stuff gets out of hand fast. Inconsistent you say? Well, you aren’t doing it right then. Now, the one argument against the dogs is how much space in the deck they take up. 4 dogs, 2 Calling Favors and maybe even 2 Lucid Dreaming aren’t available in every deck. But everything else is absolutely worth it, considering they are doing 3 jobs at once. On a neutral level zero card! PS: Rod of Animalism is a bad support card for them, though. I’m pretty sure you want Charisma.
#3: The Tri-Class Talents. All five of these are fantastic pieces of economy, use the 2 resource discount twice and you are already making profit. Their trait requirements are very broad and most decks will at least eye one of these at some point. Paying 3XP for them is a bit rough, but especially non-Rogue decks or such with lots of events of a relevant trait can get a lot of mileage here. Their capability of handing out cash to pay for your cards is what i would call their primary function, but they are at least noteworthy for enabling Synergy and for their ability to boost skill tests on cards of the correct traits. I appreciate these a lot as sort of guiding stones that you can build decks around.
#2: The Injuries. I really like that these exist. One of the things that i learned early on in Arkham is that healing is not worth it. Soak is more efficient and spending actions just to undo damage or horror is a fool’s game. Now, that never sat right with me thematically, but it is what it is, right? I am very much in favor of EotE trying to skew the balance towards healing a bit more. It does so with some actually playable healing cards like Bandages and Words of Healing(2), but also with this set of 4 weaknesses. Each imposes a penalty that can be quite severe and the only way to get rid of it is healing it as if it was a damage or horror. A real nice double whammy of nailing a theme and shaking up a bit of gameplay. Anyone who finds themselves with one of these in their deck will want to include some sort of healing for it. Or ask someone in the group to do so. Much, much more interactive and interesting than the old “2 actions: Discard this.” we have seen way too much of.
#1: In the Thick of It. Any other card on #1 would’ve been a sham. This card on its own opens up deckbuilding by a lot. We can now buy crucial pieces for our deck right at the start of the game and no longer have to play the first scenario with our hands tied behind our back because we weren’t able to pick up that essential Charisma, Relic Hunter or Covenant. Combining it with Versatile opens up even more doors. Mateo players can now start the first scenario with 8XP! This boost in XP is excellent in general, but gets even more important for campaigns like Dunwich or Innsmouth that are either notoriously stingy with XP throughout or at least through the first half of the campaign. You can also bank the XP instead of spending it immediately, making sure that you can get something like a Stick to the Plan after your first scenario for sure. This is maybe the most important card since Charisma for deckbuilding.
Final words: After the yuckfest that was yesterdays Top10 list i decided to switch it up today and go in a completely different direction. I am sure there is plenty to disagree with here, but that’s fine. Opinions, right?
Which player cards from Edge of the Earth have been keeping your attention? What decks can you suddenly build that weren’t able before? Let me know, so i can leech your deck ideas so we can discuss them!
Introduction: There are a lot of encounter cards in Arkham LCG, a game that constantly rides the borders between horror, fantasy and camp and all of them have artwork, of course. While the art rarely goes into full horror and usually sticks to the fantastical, there is certainly some around that unsettling in some way. Maybe they are a bit disgusting, maybe they hit a bit too close to home… in any case, here are 10 cards from my point of view that hit a nerve.
#10: Outbreak. Look, i am not afraid of spiders. I actually kinda like spiders and i think there’s some real great spider artwork in this game specifically. However, this bloated thing… yuck. None of the elegance, instead it’s just an ugly pustule on legs. Hans, get the Flammenwerfer.
#9: Ravenous Ghoul. Ah, a classic. I remember that this guy stood out to me in the Core Set because its artwork is just that more visceral than the others. Smeared with blood on hands and face, there is also no doubt how it got this soaked in blood. Or what it wants to do to you. It looks extra fierce when you put it next to the somewhat goofy looking Ghoul Minion.
#8: Descent into Madness. Eyes are weird. At least from this close. We are just not meant to get this close to an eye. And while there’s not actually a whole lot happening in this image, it gets its point across perfectly. A very realistically drawn eyeball with the veins in it, wide open so we see the red under the lids and all the little details. A great case of the image being enhanced by the flavor text, too. I can’t make out anything specific in the shadows reflected in the eye, but that actually works in the artworks favor.
#7: Abduction. Due to Arkham creature design rarely crossing from fantasy into full horror, there is little artwork of enemies that is actually scary. Now, while this is a treachery, it still does show an enemy that somewhat gets the job done for me. The coloration reminds me of Ravenous Ghoul and while i don’t think it is supposed to be a ghoul, i have to wonder… what is it actually? It’s not like we see this thing on any of the enemy cards in Carnivale. All we know is that it eats whatever they can fish out of the canal. Again, good flavor text and it also only vaguely alludes to these things as “they“.
#6: Blood on Your Hands. Just the fact that this scene is presented to us from our own view makes it very real. Most other treacheries show something happening to someone else, making us spectators. This however is first person perspective. Combine this with a really gruesome display of blood and you can’t help but feel a bit uneasy looking at it.
#5: Corrupted Orderly. When we look at the Corrupted Orderly, we also have to consider the Suspicious Orderly, so this is a double feature. While i did claim earlier that i am not bothered by spiders, i can tell you for sure that i am deeply troubled by the idea of someone having spider legs coming out of their mouth. Full artwork here:  and . Can i also just talk about how the legs break out of a face mask and how we are all running around with face masks these days? Try not to think too hard about it when you are out shopping the next time…
#4: Visions in Your Mind. A somewhat generic scary artwork, but it’s very well executed. I am not 100% sure what is going on here, to be honest. Presumably this woman is looking into a mirror and seeing herself decay or something? It’s of course (as the title of the card alludes to) all in her mind, but if this is indeed a look into a mirror… does this mean this is another card from first person? Something to think about during your next Return to Carcosa campaign!
#3: Fine Dining and Tough Crowd. So, i’ll cheat here and put these two cards together on one spot. But really, these two firmly belong to each other, both having a very similar style to them. They give a lot of flavor to The Last King and introduce the players into a lot of the Carcosa theme in an expertly fashion. Tough Crowd shows its horror elements a bit more overtly than Fine Dining, but both are the sort of artwork that don’t seem to bad at first glance but get worse the longer you look at them.
#2: Meddlesome Familiar. So, pardon my french, but fuck this guy. More so than the actual Brown Jenkins card, this treachery cements the incredible annoyance that the witch’s familiar brings with it. The artwork is truly disgusting, biting ankles is really awful and relatable and the game effect is also on point. A very exhausting card to draw and the artwork is just right for such a memorable card.
#1: Radical Treatment. Carcosa certainly featured a lot in this list, but this one from the Return to Carcosa takes the cake. This appears in Unspeakable Oath, a scenario that already walks on heavy terrain with the asylum and human enemies that are apparently tortured by cultists or other inmates or whatever. It’s all pretty dark and there are some other artworks in this scenario that could’ve made this list, but they pale next to Radical Treatment. Well, this is a picture of a lobotomy in process. Executed on someone who is fully conscious and obviously in panic. Too real. Oof. Sadly not supernatural at all, which just makes this more horrendous than any tentacled enemy could ever be.
Final words: As alluded to along the way, Arkham is rarely scary when it comes to creatures of the Mythos. It mostly starts crossing lines only when it becomes too relatable for us, when there’s things that we could imagine the impact of. I don’t know about you, but i can’t really seriously be afraid of something like the Mindless Dancer or Hunting Horror, despite them having excellent artwork. However, make me think about something biting my achilles tendon or sticking stuff in my eye and you’ll see me squirm. Obviously, this is a personal feeling and i can easily imagine someone shying away from artworks like Maggot Swarm, Night Terrors or some of the more grotesque enemies like Piper of Azathoth or Royal Emissary.
Feel free to write in your own picks! And see you for the next Top 10 list. I plan on doing a couple more over the Christmas and New Year holidays 🙂
Encounter sets in this scenario: The Blob That Ate Everything, Mi-Go Incursion, Single Group, Epic Multiplayer Available experience: 3 (resolution) + 2 (Oozewraithes) + 7 (Incursions) = 12XP Cost to run this as a side scenario: 2XP
Disclaimer: I have never played The Blob in its epic multiplayer mode. I pretty much play exclusively two-handed solo. So this page will not be able to answer any questions specific to the epic mode. Thankfully, this scenario is excellent as a regular standalone as well!
Size of the Encounter Deck
This is the encounter deck at full strengh, but without any Mi-Go in it. At the start, it is missing 4 enemies.
Synopsis: Anomaly 8L-08 aka “The Blob” threatens to consume everything around the crater where it landed on earth. First anything at the crashsite, then the surrounding countrysite, the nearby town… eventually everything. It’s the player’s job to defeat it before that happens. The Blob can not be attacked directly, but its vulnerable heart can be exposed through investigation, allowing to get a few good hits in. Also, a variety of smaller Oozes have split off the main Blob and defeating those will also weaken the big one. As if that’s not exciting enough, a strike force of Mi-Go soldiers followed the Blob to the Earth and will try to execute their own little plans. Foiling those is of course also something the players will have to deal with. All of this takes place on a somewhat randomized big map of 13 locations, so there is plenty space to move around and discover all sorts of things.
My take on this scenario: Simply delightful. Probably my favorite standalone (Blob and Hotel are still duking this one out in my head). This, more so than any other standalone, embraces that these scenarios that don’t have to fit into a larger campaign can get weird. The scenario doesn’t take itself too seriously and instead embraces common tropes from old sci-fi monster movies and puts a nice Arkham spin on everything. It’s worth playing for that alone, especially if you like those sort of old movies and pick up the references. In terms of gameplay, the scenario can often become quite hectic as multiple things happen at the same time and demand attention. It also requires a great deal of firepower to take down all those oozes of various sizes. Evasion is not going to cut it here, you will need to actually defeat these things. The treacheries are no slouch either, often going for assets in play or cards in hand. Those cards are then “devoured” which will not only remove them from the player’s deck for the rest of the game (so no recursion or reshuffling) but will also power up the Skull token in the chaos bag. This can easily lead to the skulls basically becoming extra auto-fails after some amount of turns. The Mi-Go incursion adds another layer on top that is often not too difficult to answer but is still going to take away resources from advancing the main quest. I find this a very satisfying scenario to play that can put some pressure even on decks that are already 40XP deep into a campaign. Some of the random happenings (like devastating results of an Reality Acid) can set the team back even if they already thought they were in control, so having to improvise a backup plan when the original backup plan crumbles can become a thing. The rewards are decent to good. There’s four different assets that can be claimed, but the order in which they appear is random and they differ a lot in their powerlevel and usefulness. The XP is great and not that difficult to get either. One thing of note is that failing the scenario will end your campaign. When the Blob gets to devour everything, it will not leave investigators, decks or a campaign to continue.
The Blob That Ate Everything: The main encounter set which has the acts, agendas, locations, the scenario card, the Blob, and everything that starts out in the encounter deck. Four of the enemies are set aside and only shuffled in later as the agenda advances. Mi-Go Incursion: These are the cards that belong to the four random events that happen whenever the act deck resets. The reward assets are also part of this set. Single Group/Epic Multiplayer: There are only three cards that are switched out depending on whether you play Epic or not. Two of the act cards and the enemy card for the Blob come in two versions. These don’t actually change how the scenario play out, it’s just that Epic has special values for the Blob health and act clue threshold that need to be calculated.
Act/Agenda: In past scenarios we’ve sometimes encountered agenda decks that reset themselves. Blob goes a different way and instead has an act deck that cycles from 3b back to 1a. This creates the rhythm of the scenario: Find clues, expose the heart, deal damage to the heart, deal with the fallout. Then go back to start. Each pass through the act deck also puts one of the four Mi-Go incursions into play, which adds some extra drama, but also unlocks one of the reward cards. Also, each time the act deck resets, clues on oozified locations are stocked up again. Meanwhile, the agenda deck is very standard issue. There’s three agenda cards, they have doom thresholds. On advancing the first and second one, the Blob devours two locations and some extra enemies are shuffled into the deck. On advancing the third agenda, the scenario (and the campaign!) is over.
Subject 8L-08 aka “The Blob”: This is our boss enemy and killing it will win the scenario. The enemy card for the Blob doesn’t have any combat values or abilities, as it can not be interacted with directly. It’s just a big pile of health points that needs to be reduced to zero. The primary way to do so is through damaging the Vulnerable Heart, which will need to be uncovered through clues and is only on the board for a round before it closes up and needs to be investigated again. The Heart is actually quite dangerous, dealing 2 damage and horror each, with the potential to gain extra attacks through Retaliate and possibly attacking multiple investigators at once through Massive. Usually, players would want to evade this sort of Massive enemy, but that’s flat out impossible with the Heart. So it’s very possible that the three actions for a fighter that turn might be “move into location, attack, move out” unless they are able to soak or dodge the attack to get an extra attack in. Doing so pays off, as the act will put 2 damage on the Blob for each damage dealt to the heart. So make your short damage window count, because after that the act deck has the Blob fire back at you, spawning its “Manifold” minions all over the place.
The Manifold: The Manifold are a group of enemies with the trait of the same name, indicating that they are pieces of the large Blob. They attack individually, but can be also be fought and defeated. Doing so will harm the Blob and is the secondary way of getting damage on the objective. They can be drawn from the encounter deck as usual, but whenever the Vulnerable Heart closes up at the end of a round, it will also spawn a wave of these enemies proportional to how much damage the Heart was dealt. The encounter deck starts out with 4 Oozelings and 1 each of the Grasping and Cubic Oozes. The agenda deck will first shuffle an additional Grasping and Cubic Ooze and finally two Oozewraithes in for a total of 10 enemies. Defeating these can take quite some actions, as even the smallest slimes have 3 health. In terms of combat values they all aren’t that impressive, but the raw health pools that enter the board can take some time to chew through. Except for the Oozeling, these all have something to worry about. Both Cubic and Grasping Ooze deal 2 damage or horror and the Cubic Ooze even comes with an ability that can make it do so on reveal if the player isn’t able to evade it (which isn’t easy at all). Grasping Ooze is especially a problem for investigators that rely on melee weapons. And melee weapons are otherwise a good idea in this scenario due to the high number of enemies and not having to rely on ammo. Finally, the Oozewraith has a lot of health, a respectable fight value and Retaliate to make both of those stats a lot more relevant. Luckily, they provide victory points, which will stop them from appearing over and over like the other oozes. Defeating any of these will deal damage to the objective enemy equal to the Blob value. It’s not a whole lot individually, but it adds up over time so you’ll need to find the Heart less often. You’ll probably not beat the scenario just through defeating slimes, though.
Devouring treacheries: One of the special things about this scenario is that cards can be devoured by the Blob. When this happens, they are considered removed from play so they can’t be recurred or interacted with any further. Aside from potentially disrupting the player decks this way, the skull chaos token will also scale its negative modifier by the number of devoured cards. It should be noted that not only player cards can be devoured. The agenda will devour locations and Reality Acid in particular can devour all sorts of stuff. Reality Acid is the most prominent of the bunch. It’s in the deck four times and there is a large table with possible outcomes for its effect in the rules for this scenario. It is extremely swingy. Results range from things like “all of your spell assets are devoured” which could just cripple a player over “the Blob devours your Elder Sign token” to things that barely have an impact or, like “it devours your weakness”, might even be positive. There are also some wacky effects in there, like “Devour your light” which will make you switch off all lights in the room and only allows you to use flashlights and candles… deal with these how you want to when playing solo. If you totally dislike this sort of thing, you can always redraw the tokens and probably get something more relevant. Wave of Ooze and Consuming Maw are versions of Grasping Hands and Rotten Remains, with the additional wrinkle that any assets that are defeated by soaking this are devoured. Devouring Ooze and Corrosive Slime go for your assets and cards in hand more directly. And Caustic Dissemination deals some damage/horror with the same clause as Wave of Ooze and Consuming Maw. Aside from the whole devouring mechanic, these cards represent a significant amount of asset hate. You should definitely not take any assets in play for granted, keeping a backup in hand is advised.
Other treacheries: Replication and Alien Food Chain interact with the Manifold enemies, either enhancing them or cloning them. They aren’t too bad and can just be dealt with as they show up. It’s Got Me! and Sticky Feet both aim to relieve players of their “countermeasures”, a rare resource they only gain when finishing a Mi-Go incursion or when they buy them at the Research Site. It’s Got Me! can sink a good amount of actions as even in the best case, that investigator has to seek out the Research Site and spend an action there. Possibly they might even have to buy a countermeasure there first. Being devoured by the card is highly unlikely though. Sticky Feet can cost a lot of actions over the course of the scenario. If it’s not on an outer location (or one that might just end up getting devoured soon) you should probably invest the countermeasure to get rid of it.
Notable Locations: These four locations are the only ones that aren’t randomized completely with the others which have an identical Quarantine Zone back. The Temporary HQ are where the players start. They can return here later to spend their spare countermeasures to heal up or gain cards and resources. Since the team starts with 1 or 2 countermeasures, taking the 5 resources on turn 1 is actually an interesting option that can kickstart the game. Just don’t spend your last one or you might end up scrambling to find an answer to “It’s Got Me!”. The Research Site offers a way to turn spare clues into countermeasures or vice versa. While turning clues into countermeasures might be a lifesaver in some situations, the other way round is very inefficient as the clues are just dropped on the location and need to be picked up. The Crater allows converting countermeasures into damage to the Blob (or one of its offspring) which can be especially useful to finish it off for the last few points. It is also a valuable source for low shroud clues. Since it’s oozified, it even refills some of them when the act deck resets, giving low intellect investigators a chance to help with the clue gathering. Fungus Mound is relevant for some of the Mi-Go incursions, serving as an entry point or target for Mi-Go enemies or objectives. Countermeasures can be spent here to damage Mi-Go at any location which can be handy, but also risky since there’s a test attached and countermeasures are too rare to gamble away.
The Quarantine Zone: There’s a total of 10 locations that all have the same backside. These Quarantine Zone cards are shuffled and 9 random ones make up the bulk of the lands surrounding the crater (the tenth card is just removed from play). They provide the clues that are necessary to uncover the Heart. With a total of 13 locations in play, there is a lot of room to move around. Many of the Manifold enemies don’t spawn at the investigator’s location, so you can usually pick your fights fairly well. There’s nothing too special on any of these cards, they usually provide clues at 2-4 shroud and with some sort of ability that interacts with the Manifold enemies or hinders the players in some other way. All of these are Oozified, so they do refill clues when the act resets.
The Mi-Go incursions: The incursions are sets of two to four cards that together make up a side quest that opens up whenever the act deck resets. At that point, one of the four story cards is randomly drawn that set ups some situation the players have to solve before the Mi-Go do. If they do, they are rewarded with countermeasures and victory points. Also, they unlock one of the four possible story assets. These aren’t terribly difficult and their timing means that they won’t be happening during the most hectic turns, when the heart is open. They are still something that distracts at least a bit from going for more clues and once more after the heart of the Blob.
Rewards: This scenario pays out a handsome amount of XP, surpassing any of the other standalones. The maximum is 12XP, a potential net win of 10XP. That’s a third of Dunwich or Dream-Eaters right there! Now, most of those XP are in the incursions and 2 are on enemies in the encounter deck, so most likely you’ll end up missing 3-4XP in the end. But that’s still very respectable. A fine counterbalance to the potential of having your campaign ended by this scenario. Compare this to War of the Outer Gods, which costs 3XP instead of 2XP to enter and pays out only up to 6XP, for a maximum of 3XP earned. I’d also argue that War of the Outer Gods is more difficult than Blob. Blob has no victory points on any of its locations, which makes sense considering that the Blob devours some of them. The four reward cards are not unlocked through killing the Blob itself, but by thwarting the Mi-Go incursions. Since it’s random which incursion shows up, it’s also random which rewards you get. In theory you could get all four, but that’s certainly not going to be easy. The four rewards show a bit of variance in how useful they are, but none of them is actually bad. Lt. Wilson Steward commits the same crime as so many other story allies before him: He takes up the coveted ally slot. While in play, he’s not bad. He’s got decent soak for his cost and his ability is generally useful (if a bit random), but chances are you got better things in your deck meant for his slot. A survivor that uses their discard pile as another source to draw from can get the most out of this asset. Or just be Norman and sidestep the whole issue about not knowing what you discard. Universal Solvent requires a high intellect to do its thing, but does a good job then. It doesn’t take up a slot and being able to defeat small enemies with intellect is useful. You might even be able to use its first ability to counter something like an Overgrowth, Locked Door or Stone Barrier for great effect. It uses supplies, so consider an upgraded Emergency Cache to refill the card if it’s something you want to lean into. The Mi-Go weapon is a fine one-handed gun. Only 3 ammo, but for 2 cost that’s fine. To get the full potential out of it, you need a high base fight value to get the oversuccess by 3. Then it will deal 3 damage and push an enemy around. Curiously, this isn’t limited to non-Elites, so feel free to tangle up Atlach-Nacha in her own legs with it. Finally, the Pet Oozeling is just kinda insane. Even just as a slotless 3 damage soak for 2 it’s fine but that ability is quite something. Being able to defeat small (or hurt) enemies with no test, with no action is very good. And it even heals up when it does so! The drawback is of course something to consider, but even just taken for itself you can afford using it once per scenario. However, if you have any sort of bag manipulation, the value of the card goes through the roof very fast.