Set Size3
Number of unique Cards2
RoleEnemy, Tekeli-li
Threat LevelVery High
# of scenarios2
Appears in: City of Elder Things (v1, v3), Heart of Madness #1

My take on this set: This is a spectacular set that introduces three high power enemies to the final stretch of the campaign. Both of these Shoggoths hit very hard and killing them takes a lot of time. The decision to fight or flee from them is an interesting one and will actually depend on the board state and how far along the scenario you are. Having these around in the encounter deck is scary, as you don’t know when they will make their appearance. They remind me of the Deep One Bull in that way.
Both the Forgotten and the Rampaging Shoggoth are able to deal out Tekeli-li cards to the players, but note that this works differently than usual. These Tekeli-li aren’t added to the player’s deck, they are instead drawn and resolve immediately which will just put them under the Tekeli deck again. They basically add a semi-random effect to their attack/engagement which can throw off your combat math severely. Of course anyone currently suffering from Blasphemous Visions will want to stay as far away from Shoggoths as they can.
I like these enemies. On other encounter set pages, I have been critical about the enemies being a bit bland in this campaign, but the Shoggoths do make quite the impression. They are dangerous, they are interactive and they require some effort to take down. Good stuff.

Number in the encounter deck: 2

What it does: Forgotten Shoggoth is a terrifying Hunter enemy that deals 2 horror on attack and is hard to take down. At 3 fight and 6 stamina, expect your fighter to take a turn just dealing with this thing. It can be evaded somewhat easily, however this not only brings with it the usual issue of having Hunters roaming around, but also that you might trigger its ability multiple times: Whenever the Shoggoth engages you, you have to draw the top Tekeli-li card. Note that this doesn’t shuffle the card into your deck – so it won’t cost you a draw later, however you do have to suffer the effect immediately.

My take: Thank god for that low evasion which can act as a bit of an insurance for any investigator who ends up drawing this thing and isn’t able to handle it otherwise. Of course the evasion might lead to triggering the Forced effect again at a later time, but that’s at least favorable when compared to being pummeled for 2 horror and a damage. If you are able to run away from it is going to depend a lot on where you are in the scenario. Both City of Elder Things and Heart of Madness do feature large maps, but if you are in a situation that requires backtracking (to get towards some token you need, a seal or a pillar) it’s quite possible that you need to deal with the Forgotten Shoggoth in a more permanent way. Doing so isn’t difficult per se, after all it just has 3 fight, but chewing through 6 health will usually take a full turn.
Having to draw a Tekeli for engaging can be devastating here. If it costs a turn or makes you discard a critical combat card or asset, defeating this before it gets to attack can just become a lot harder or even impossible.

Threat level: High. On the upper scale of what we are used to seeing from non-Elites.

Dealing with it: What really makes this enemy dangerous is how it is just a regular card in the encounter deck and can come out at any point. City of Elder Things will have these set aside at the start of the game and only introduce them later, but Heart of Madness could just throw these giants at you on the first mythos phase. So get your enemy handlers combat ready as soon as possible there… you are going to need the firepower for other things like the penguins as well.
When engaging it on your own terms, be aware that the Tekeli-li card might throw a wrench into your plans for your turn by immediately costing you an action or a key card.
Since this is a large non-Elite enemy with low evasion, i of course have to mention Waylay here as well, a survivor card that is generally pretty good in Edge of the Earth and that can deal with this monster in a very efficient way.

Number in the encounter deck: 1

What it does: Rampaging Shoggoth is a huge Elite enemy and a real threat to the whole group. While it does have only 3 fight, which is moderate for this sort of Elite, it does boast a large pool of 6 to 12 hitpoints, depending on player count.
Rampaging Shoggoth is both a Hunter and Massive, which enables it to attack multiple investigators at the same time for 2 damage. In addition to this, another 2 damage on top of the attacks are dealt to each investigator and non-Shoggoth enemy at its location, which can put some investigators on the brink of death just by itself in one phase. To make matters even worse, each investigator damaged by the Forced effect also has to draw and immediately resolve the top Tekeli-li card.
Defeating the Rampaging Shoggoth awards a victory point.

My take: Yikes. This thing shares its basic stat layout with the Forgotten Shoggoth: middling fight, high health and low evasion. The last part is key to enable running away from the Rampaging Shoggoth or to defeat it over the course of multiple turns. Do however note that its Forced effect of dealing damage and a Tekeli-li to everything in the enemy phase will still trigger even if the monster is exhausted.
In any player count but true solo the Shoggoth sports enough health that you will want to attack it with multiple investigators at the same time if you want to take it down in just a turn. If that’s not possible, either plan on weaving an evasion into your attacks so you don’t get slapped around in the enemy phase or weaken the enemy beforehand with attacks from connecting locations like Dynamite, Marksmanship or Fang of Tyr’thrha.
The timing for the Tekeli-li card is actually less problematic than it is for the Forgotten Shoggoth, so you can move into its location without immediately having to suffer a semi-random effect.
The rampaging effect of this enemy can hit other non-Shoggoth enemies, but i have at least not seen this being relevant myself. The one enemy where i could see this coming up is a penguin that i left behind, but the 2 damage won’t even kill that annoying bird.

Threat level: Very High. This is a big chunky enemy that will take a lot of resources to defeat.

Dealing with it: Whatever you do, don’t become a victim to this enemy’s full force of attacks in the enemy step. If you evade this and it catches up to you later, it will deal 4 damage, 1 horror and a Tekeli-li effect to you. That’s huge! And possibly this thing can even hit multiple investigators. Unless you are sure that you can stay ahead of it, keeping this menace on the board is quite dangerous and i would only do so as a last resort. At the point where this enemy appears, the 1 victory point isn’t hugely important anymore, but i found myself to be plenty motivated to kill it nonetheless.

Irregular Evils #40: Scenario rankings 2022, part IV

The result of last three parts were the rankings of the scenarios within their campaign and putting them into one of five tiers. Next up is ranking the scenarios within their tiers and thus coming to a full list of scenarios against each other.
In case you missed any of the previous ones, here’s the handy list of links for you:
Part 1: Core, Dunwich, Carcosa
Part 2: Forgotten Age, Circle Undone
Part 3: Dream-Eaters, Innsmouth, Edge of the Earth

Instead of more preambles, let me cut straight to the final list.

Scenario rankings 2022

This paints a much clearer picture than the individual campaign rankings, especially for the second and third tier which both have a good number of scenarios in them. For example there’s quite a difference between what i think of Pit and Despair and what i think of Essex Express, despite them both landing in tier 2. Or between Search for Kadath and Thousand Shapes of Horror within tier 3.

Alright then, let’s compare it to last year and see what changed. As a reminder, i did this year’s ranking without looking up stuff from last year, so i do expect some fluctuation for sure.

Scenario rankings 2021

Starting at tier 1, we got three new entries, two of them from Innsmouth. In Too Deep went from middle of tier 2 to tier 1, which makes sense to me. It’s a scenario that proved to be really fun on replays as well, so it only managed to improve on its good first impression. Light in the Fog wasn’t released last year yet. The other one is Unspeakable Oath and i am really not sure why i didn’t put it near the top last time. While it can have it’s outrageous moments (Sign of Hastur…), it’s an extraordinary scenario. Leaving tier 1 are Clutches of Chaos, Point of No Return and Waking Nightmare. Waking Nightmare didn’t fall very far, it’s still at the top of tier 2, but slightly below other first scenarios from other campaigns. Again, this seems right to me. Clutches dropped a bit further down, all the way to #25. I attribute this to both Innsmouth and Edge making the sort of wide map that Clutches has more common. When i made the list last year, having more than 10 locations was almost a novelty and a big thing in Clutches favor. Point of No Return has some fun interactions, but looking at it now, it’s really not tier 1 material. The rest of tier 1 sees some minor reordering, but nothing too wild. The Pallid Mask stays at the top, but followed closely by Oath and Devil Reef.

There’s something that i find interesting about tier 2 right away. At the top of tier 2 are a lot of the introduction scenarios to the campaigns. Curtain Call, Pit of Despair, Ice and Death, Waking Nightmare, Gathering, Extracurricular Activity, they are all in one lump. Witching Hour is a bit further down, but still in the same tier. I guess the campaigns do know how to make an entrance. Compared to last year, the tier 2 is a lot bigger than it used to be. This can partially be attributed to Return to TCU upranking some scenarios and to Innsmouth just being good. But it’s also noticable that a bunch of what made up tier 3 has moved to the bottom of tier 2 now, scenarios like Essex Express, Phantom of Truth or Witching Hour. So maybe i was just a bit more generous this time around with where i drew the line.

This impression of maybe being a bit more generous continues through the last three tiers, with all of them being a bit more weighted towards the better tier. Note that this doesn’t have to be a fault of the process, it’s a valid conclusion to take from this that i might just like the game more as a whole than i did last year! Search for Kadath deserves a special mention here because i do actually think that i treated it a bit unfairly last year. It does have its annoyances from the midgame setups and general weirdness, but it’s not a bad scenario at all. I put it straight at the top of tier 3 this year and that seems like a much better place for it. Similarly, Dim Carcosa is a bit dull in my opinion, but it doesn’t deserve to be put into the company of scenarios like Gates of Sleep or Echoes of the Past that are truly boring.

Not much changed at the bottom, but it should be noted that Return to TCU did indeed save Before the Black Throne. I think it’s perfectly fine now.

Bonus round

Okay, here’s one more thing. I apologize for the colors in advance, i know that this looks absolutely ridiculous:

Scenario rankings by campaign

So what’s this? This is the scenario rankings 2022, but i replaced each scenario name with the name of its campaign. Then i gave every campaign its own color for a first impression. Then, i also calculated the average placement for each campaign.

What we end up with is Innsmouth and Carcosa at the top, with average rankings of 19.5 and 22.25. This should come as little surprise, after all these two campaigns are responsible for 7 of the 9 scenarios i put in tier 1. Forgotten Age follows with 28.7, quite a bit behind the first two, but still noticeably ahead of the following one. NotZ, Dunwich and Circle are all quite close, in the 33.0 range give or take a bit. (Of course NotZ is an outlier here with only three scenarios to its name, so it probably shouldn’t even be included in this comparison, but whatever. It’s not like i am doing science here, this is just messing around with numbers). Way behind the rest, we got Dream-Eaters and Edge of the Earth at the bottom. I was actually shocked to see Edge even below Dream-Eaters, considering the low opinion i have of Dream-Eaters… but it is what it is.

Now, we shouldn’t jump to conclusions here of course. Especially when it comes to Edge of the Earth, i don’t think it looks all that grim. This exercise only looks at the individual scenarios, not at the campaign as a whole. And EotE certainly has a very strong campaign structure that makes up for it’s individually mediocre scenarios. In a similar vein, Innsmouth might have the strongest set of scenarios, but its campaign is sadly very linear and loses a lot of its strengths on replaying it. At the same time, TFA has a great campaign structure as well, with different routes to take, lots of choices to make and scenarios changing depending on these choices. So this “result” up there is not at all how i would rank the campaigns among each other, there’s more to it than just having good scenarios. (For the record, my current campaign ranking would be RtTFA > RtPTC > TIC >>>> EotE > RtTCU > RtTDL >> TDE > NotZ, with a very large difference between TIC and EotE. Those top three campaigns are completely in a class of their own compared to the others.)

That’s Numberwang!

And thus ends the scenario rankings 2022. Thanks for checking it out, see you next year.


Set Size4
Number of unique Cards2
RoleEnemy, Doom, Action Tax
Threat LevelMid to High
# of scenarios3
Appears in: City of Elder Things (v1, v2, v3), Heart of Madness #1 and #2

My take on this set: Among a number of rather conventional enemies in Edge of the Earth, the Penguin set stands out as something that is actually a bit more situational in how you handle it. So there are some decision to be made when you encounter it which is always a good thing. I feel like Wuk! Wuk! Wuk! is missing a certain something to make it really cool, right now it’s just basically another two copies of the penguin and it usually won’t matter which card from this set you drew. But the enemy itself is a great addition to the game. It’s high impact without featuring any big numbers and has an ability that asks for player interaction in one of two different ways (defeat it or leave it) while also opening up the possibility to tech for it with certain card choices from the player pool. Good stuff.

Number in the encounter deck: 2

What it does: Giant Albino Penguin is an Aloof enemy with respectable 3 health, but only 2 fight and evasion. Entering or leaving the Albino Penguins location costs an extra action. So while this enemy doesn’t pose a threat in the traditional sense, it is a huge action sink between Aloof and its main ability.

My take: I like this one. If you have to move through its location it’s a huge bother because it would cost you 2 actions extra. Fighting it makes the action tax go up even further. Luckily it spawns right on top of you, though. That means your choice is usually to fight and kill it right now (and do so through Aloof and 3 health) or just move ahead and leave it behind. That way you’ll only lose 1 action to it, but the critter will stick around and hinder you if you need to backtrack. Or hinder your teammates that might want to pass through the same location.

Threat level: Mid to High. These can drain a lot of actions from you. They become extra relevant the more players you have in your group.

Dealing with it: These penguins are just tailor-made to see the business end of a Spectral Razor, aren’t they? Anything that lets you bypass the Aloof engage action is of course very valuable here and so is anything that lets you deal 3 damage in one attack. Without at least one of those, you are looking at a whole turn just to shoo some bird away. What makes this more complicated is that it spawns on the investigator who drew the card. And that’s not necessarily the one that does the enemy handling, so they would have to move into the penguin’s location (which is taxed by another action) first. If your enemy handler is able to run cards that deal damage to connected locations, that is going to be very valuable. In fact, it’s something to spend XP on past Forbidden Peaks just so you are able to deal with these enemies more efficiently. Marksmanship is great here and so is Get Over Here!. Dynamite Blast works just fine as well and the campaign actually offers you a stack of Dynamite through one of the expedition assets.
In one or two player, seriously consider just moving on though. If they aren’t at a location that you need to move to again, you can just eat that one extra action to leave the location and be done with it. At least until…

Number in the encounter deck: 2

What it does: The investigator has to either move the Albino Penguin that is farthest away to their location or put a doom on the enemy. If none of the penguins is in play, one is found from the encounter and discard piles and then drawn.

My take: I don’t think the option for doom is all that viable except for very few corner cases like when you are about to take out the thing with a Dynamite Blast anyways. So for the most part, Wuk! Wuk! Wuk! is just another copy of the Albino Penguin.

Threat level: Mid to High.

Dealing with it: Instead of dealing with this card, you’ll be dealing with the penguin. See above for notes on how to do that.

Irregular Evils #39: Scenario rankings 2022, part III

Welcome back to the scenario rankings.
I’ll just post the tier scale again, then get right into it:

Today’s entry will have the rankings for Dream-Eaters, Innsmouth and Edge of the Earth. The common thread between them is that these are the campaigns that do not have a Return To box yet, so I’ll just be looking at the base campaigns.

Looking at the ranking for Dream-Eaters, the immediately obvious thing here is how much higher i think of Web of Dreams than of The Dream-Quest. The ones i put into tier 2 are all from the B side of the campaign, with only Search for Kadath coming close from campaign A. To be fair, Search for Kadath is at the top end of the tier 3 though. But it’s been frustrating me often enough that i didn’t feel like putting it in the green. It does a lot of things that i like, but the fiddly mid-play setups and the frequent reshuffling let it down. Despite them having the same tier, there’s a big gulf between Search for Kadath and the other two scenarios i put into tier 3, Thousand Shapes of Horror and Dark Side of the Moon. Those two actually rank near the bottom of tier 3, as they are often rather uninteresting or (in the case of Dark Side) can be too punishing towards certain investigators. They both have some cool mechanics and interactions that i didn’t want to just shove them into tier 4 where i put the actual boring/frustrating scenarios. In this case, that means Where the Gods Dwell which destroys all good will that its novel boss mechanic would earn by having an utterly ridiculous doom clock and a random uninteresting first half that just straight up shouldn’t exist. Also at the bottom is Beyond the Gates of Sleep, possibly Arkham’s most boring scenario on replays. There’s just nothing happening here. You walk a few locations in a straight line without even an encounter deck, then come to a clearing with a few locations around it and investigate them all. It’s carried by story on the first and second plays, but after that there’s just nothing here. It truly puts me at the gates of sleep.
Saving Dream-Eater’s honor are the three scenarios at the top. Waking Nightmare scores with a creepy setting and an innovative (though slightly fiddly) gimmick. I also have a thing for spider enemies, so there’s that. I view Point of No Return as a better Search for Kadath. You investigate a large area that unlocks only piece by piece, but you do it without having to setup the game again in the middle. It also has some cool stuff going on with its enemies, playing off some interactions between ghouls, gugs and ghasts and also features the Slithering Dhole as a recurring enemy. Weaver of the Cosmos is the most gimmicky gimmick that ever gimmicked up an Arkham scenario, but it works. The fight is a bit easy for a finale, but there’s just no way i could ever dislike the rotating spider-god.

Yep. I like The Innsmouth Conspiracy‘s scenarios a whole lot. I mentioned this plenty times before, but i do like Arkham the most when i get to investigate large maps and when the scenarios feature randomization that keeps replays interesting. After all, i did put The Pallid Mask as my #1 last year because it excels at exactly those two things. Well, Innsmouth is basically “Pallid Mask: The campaign” with its Tidal Tunnels making sure that most scenarios have some of those randomization elements and of course plenty of room to explore. I also really like the design behind the Deep One enemies, they are one of the few cases where fighting vs. evading becomes a situational thing and you actually have to think a bit and plan ahead. At the top, there’s Devil Reef, a scenario that i hear a lot of people talk very negatively about. But in my book, the layered randomization (first into islands, then into locations within those islands) is just great. Coupled with a simple but interesting movement mechanic (the boat), getting around this scenario requires some thought. The layout changes considerably based on where the Underwater Caverns land, etc etc. And there’s a fancy boss around. I love it. In Too Deep isn’t randomized, but there are different ways to approach moving around Innsmouth and there’s a bunch of stuff in the encounter deck that can make you have to improvise while a horde of fish monsters is on your tail. Vanishing of Elina Harper’s central investigation is super interesting. Narrowing down your suspects and leads makes for good drama every time. Light in the Fog is this campaign’s Unspeakable Oath, coupling high stakes with a lengthy trip around its map. It’s not quite as good as Oath (few scenarios are), but this is still always a thrilling scenario. It also uses some really cool interactions in its encounter deck with the Nurses, Hatchlings and Deep One Assault making sure you are never quite safe.
Pit of Despair is one of the best intro scenarios to any campaign. This is a quick and dangerous one and i see it on a level with Curtain Call and Untamed Wilds, both in quality and difficulty. Horror in High Gear is another quick one. It’s quite suspenseful which saves it from being ranked lower, but i do have an issue with it. It often feels like the scenario is playing me instead of the other way round. This is a scenario where the players often just react to what’s happening without much of their own agency. For a single scenario that doesn’t take too long this is fine though and even a nice change of pace. Closing out the ranking for Innsmouth are actually the last two scenarios of the campaign. Lair of Dagon’s curse integration doesn’t really feel great to me. I feel reminded of TCU’s Union and Disillusion in how different this scenario hits depending on your investigators. Into the Maelstrom has some really cool parts to it. I like the double Elder Ones and that you try to achieve your goal before they awaken. Having to reverse the flood makes a lot of thematic sense after being pushed around by the flood tokens all campaign. There’s a lot to like here… except it’s all really, really easy. A bit of a shame really. Still, both Lair and Maelstrom aren’t all that terrible, but after what came before it feels like Innsmouth didn’t quite manage to stick the landing after a really impressive first half.

This was really difficult to do. Edge of the Earth is carried hard by its campaign structure, the interludes and from having effects persist from one scenario to the next. As a result, i for example had a fantastic time playing the Ice and Death trilogy for the first time. However, this doesn’t really translate well to what i am doing here, evaluating each scenario for itself and Ice and Death is a really good example of that. Part I is clearly the best one, where you do the most part of exploring the map and setting yourself up for the following ones. Compared to part I, part II is really not all that interesting. You have only little time and poke at some locations, hoping to randomly find the correct facedown cards. It makes sense in context, but as a scenario there’s very little here. Ice and Death III has a bit more meat to its bones with all the fighting and some different options on how to tackle the Seeping Nightmares, so that’s not all that bad. Like part II, the part III is laser focused on just one thing, though. This can leave some investigators without much of a job. Forbidden Peaks can lead to some frustration due to how all-or-nothing it is with regards to failing it or not. There are enough cool things happening here that i can’t justify putting it into tier 4, though. Between the appearance of the Terror in the Stars and the challenge of having to conserve actions for managing the story assets, there are some things here that i find genuinely interesting. City of the Elder Things gives us not only one, but three different layouts for a huge randomized map. There’s even a second layer of randomization here with the tokens on the locations. Having to find pairs of tokens for bonus effects is a good mechanic, i like that a lot. What keeps me from throwing this into the same tier as other “huge map” scenarios like Pallid Mask or Devil Reef is the encounter deck, though. I generally find the enemies in Edge of the Earth quite uninteresting and a big step back from Innsmouth’s Deep Ones. The penguins are fine and two versions of the City even have the Shoggoths, but aside from that there’s not a whole lot going on here that we haven’t seen many times before. Heart of Madness I and II is a fine finale. The seals from part 1 do make the part 2 quite easy, though. I don’t really see a reason to ever skip part 1 unless you are really worried about losing another random crew member before the final scenario. The final enemy is weird, but i kinda like it. You really don’t want to be stuck there without someone that can evade really well, though.
Finally there’s Fatal Mirage, which i don’t like very much. It’s very formulaic and repetitive, a huge sin for a scenario that you are meant to replay even within the same campaign. At my third replay of Edge of the Earth i was already sick of Fatal Mirage and just didn’t do it. That being said, it does have some cool locations that are worth exploring until you’ve seen them all so i’d at least settle it somewhere near the top of its tier.

Fatal Mirage

Encounter sets in this scenario: Fatal Mirage, Agents of the Unknown, Left Behind, Miasma, Nameless Horrors, Silence and Mystery, Chilling Cold
Available experience: For each of the 9 team members, there’s either 1XP (if they are alive) or 2XP to gain (if they aren’t), for a theoretical total of: 18XP

Size of the Encounter Deck38
# Enemies9
# Willpower13
# Agility2
# Doom12
# Damage4
# Horror8
# Tekeli-li10

Synopsis: The investigators, exhausted from the things they had to go through, enter a dreamscape in their sleep. In this, they meet up with their team mates and relive events from their past, which they hopefully are able to face and steel their resolve for the things to come. Alternatively they meet echoes of their fallen partners and learn from them. Either way, the investigators are facing a rather big map consisting of 19(!) locations that can be put into play as the players make progress on grabbing clues and spending them for progress. It’s way too much to uncover in one go, so there are up to 3 opportunities to enter Fatal Mirage along the campaign trail. For each expedition member, there are three locations that connect it to the central one (with the first being shared among several partners). At the end of such a trail, the players either have to defeat a special elite enemy to turn their partner “resolute” or, if the partner is already dead/missing, they just gain some experience as they learn more about the person.

My take on this scenario: This scenario uses a rather large encounter deck, which leads to some increased variance in draws. There are some main themes to expect, though. For one, there’s a bunch of doom acceleration here that players will need to deal with if they want to achieve as much as they can. Then, there’s a decent amount of Tekeli-li related cards around which will likely lead to players finishing the scenario with more of those weaknesses in their deck then when they entered Fatal Mirage. Finally, the scenario very noticeably cuts back on the agility tests and damage sources that are everywhere else in Edge of the Earth. Instead, willpower and horror take the front stage, like it used to be in Carcosa times.
The strength of this scenario lies in it’s narrative, containing valuable background info on the people you have in your expedition. It’s also a way to protect your favored partner assets from random disaster later on. Mechanically and in terms of gameplay i don’t find Fatal Mirage all that enticing, though. Despite the high concept and the number of locations and special enemies, it all plays out very formulaic and repetitive. I just don’t think Fatal Mirage holds up very well on replays. This is a big deal, considering that it’s supposed to even be replayed up to three times in one playthrough. If i’m perfectly honest, i wish the massive amount of card budget that was spent on locations and enemies here would’ve been spent on enhancing the other scenarios instead or on making two more “conventional” scenarios.

Scenario specific encounter cards: The Fatal Mirage set adds three cards to the deck, each of them with three copies. Horrifying Shade is an aloof hunter enemy that punishes players for discovering clues at its location in the worst possible way: With doom tokens. You’ll certainly want to get rid of this one. Also playing into the doom theme, Anamnesis threatens to be an Ancient Evils… but you get a chance to take 2 horror instead. Considering the amount of horror sources around this could be an issue. Finally, Evanescent Mist adds extra clues to locations and slows them down by making them either spend more clues or taking damage. With how few other damage sources are around, taking that damage should often be not too much of an issue.

Act/Agenda: While there are 3 act cards and 3 agenda cards in the Fatal Mirage set, only one each is used for a play of the scenario. The three versions only differ in doom threshold and flavor text and are used depending on if this is your first, second or third visit to the dreamscape in this campaign. The act only vaguely hints at a goal and that there are limited opportunities to leave Fatal Mirage. This is true, the only opportunity to finish comes when players either defeat a Memory elite or reach the final location for a dead partner. The agenda offers the ability to warp to the central location as a free action at the cost of a horror. A fair price to pay if it saves multiple actions. Of course, it also provides the doom threshold, which is different depending on how many Fatal Mirage plays you already did. It’s 15 doom for the first time, reduced to 13 and 11 for the second and third visit.

The Memory Eidolons: At the end of each partner specific trail waits a memory to be defeated, as long as the partner in question is still alive. These are elite enemies with above average stat lines, Retaliate or Alert (or both) and some sort of alternative way of defeating them. This can be something like accepting Frost tokens to defeat them or dealing them damage on evading. There’s nine different ones of course, one for each team member. Defeating them will flip them to their story side, awarding 1XP and turning the expedition member into their resolute version with better abilities, stats and protection from randomly being chosen by murderous story events. The group then gets the choice to resign or to continue and try to get another memory done. Most of these aren’t terribly hard to defeat, but if you aren’t able to fulfill their special condition for extra damage, their stamina pool can make them take a lot of time… time that you usually don’t have, especially if you plan on going for more memories afterwards.

Other enemies: Agents of the Unknown throws Primordial Evil into the mix, a quite dangerous hunter enemy. Opposite of that, there’s the missing researchers from Left Behind, which add to the doom theme and require alternate ways of getting them from the board than just killing them. The scenario specific Horrifying Shade lies somewhere in the middle, being a milder but still respectable foe in combat than the Evil, and it’s using doom mechanics to play into what the Left Behind set is doing. The hunters can be an issue in this scenario because it’s somewhat linear and can require backtracking, but remember that if necessary you can spend a horror and warp back to the starting location.

Tekeli-li: About 1 in 4 encounter cards are relating to Tekeli-li weaknesses, which isn’t an excessive amount but the high variance of such a big deck can still leave you with draws that stack these on top of each other. The combination of Agents of the Unknown with Nameless Horrors can have a huge impact for investigators with low willpower as they are neither able to resist The Madness Within or easily capable of discarding Blasphemous Visions. Danforth is very useful in Fatal Mirage, both as a way to soften the blow from Tekeli-li and to provide an emergency soak for excessive amounts of horror. Speaking of Danforth, should you follow his line of memories, you will have to go through locations that all also relate to Tekeli-li in some way.

(open in new tab and zoom for details)

Locations: The large stack of locations and the Mirage keyword make this look a lot more complicated than it really is. You have your central location, the Prison of Memories. From there, you can discover ways into one of three hub locations. This is the red lines in the image above. From there, you can move into three further locations, indicated by the yellow lines. Finally, you follow a green line from there into one or two final locations. What this means is that you need to cross three locations to get to your first memory, but some memories share locations with others so successive ones might be easier to get to afterwards. As an example, to find William Dyer’s memory and make him resolute, you need to move from the Prison of Memories into either the Deck of the Theodosia or the University Halls, then into the Standing Stones and finally into Dyer’s Classroom. Afterwards, getting to Claypool’s memory is going to be easier because his final location The Black Stone also branches off of the Standing Stones.
In terms of shroud values, it starts rather tame near the center of the map but gets more difficult on the final locations that hold the memory. Having the right partner with you will lower the shroud value, but you should probably save any limited investigation tools (like Drawn to the Flame or Read the Signs) for those difficult ones.
The amount of clues to discover in this scenario is gigantic and having a consistent source of extra clues(Pilfer(3), Rex Murphy…) is going to be even more powerful than ever here.
As a final note on these locations, take care to read their connections correctly. They don’t all allow for moving back to the previous location, but they all connect back to the Prison of Memories.

Suggested partner assets: Unless you are using a specific expedition member to fix a central issue with your own deck (like using Eliyah to be able to evade the Frenzied Explorers from the Left Behind set or using William to keep your Tony Morgan sane), my suggestion would be to bring those that you are looking to turn resolute. This will reduce the shroud value of the final locations, making it easier for you to get through to the memory and conserve your resources and cards for other locations that might prove difficult.

Reward and Failure: In theory you could grab quite a lot of XP in this scenario, to do so you would need to go after the locations of team members that already died. If you flip a final location of a dead partner, you get 2XP immediately without even having to defeat an elite enemy. So that could be a way to finance some extra card upgrades. On the other hand, turning your crew resolute has a lot of advantages as well, especially for those that have their ability turned into a free action.
Failing the scenario by hitting the doom threshold on the agenda can happen quite easily in Fatal Mirage, as you aren’t allowed to resign except for whenever you finish up your business with one of the partner assets. Depending on if this is your first, second or third visit to Fatal Mirage, the consequences are different, becoming gradually more severe every time. At the first try, everyone gets defeated and has to shuffle a Tekeli-li into their deck. No trauma though, so unless you are running Charon’s Obol you get out with just a slap on the wrist. Second time, you either get two Tekeli-li or a mental trauma, your choice. Third time, you just straight up get a mental trauma. As far as punishment for failure goes, this is actually fairly tame, so taking some risks to hopefully get another branch of the dreamscape done in a couple turns can look attractive enough to just go for it.

Irregular Evils #38: Scenario rankings 2022, part II

Alright, let’s continue our scenario rankings. If you missed it, check out part I HERE.
Also, to repeat just the most important stuff, here’s the tier scale again:

Also, remember that this includes the Return to, whenever possible.
… Enough chit-chat, let’s go.
Today we got TFA and TCU, both scenarios that have been changed a lot by the Return To box, much more so than RtDunwich (which is mostly bugfixes) and RtCarcosa (which is mostly just some neat encounter sets and little else).

I am an outspoken fan of The Forgotten Age and particularly of Return to TFA. Without the Return, there’d be a lot of yellow in here (and Boundary even lower), but Return pushes everything up a tier or two. On the top sits Threads of Fate, one of the most loved scenarios in the wider community. I don’t think i need to justify this more, it’s a fantastic scenario that changes depending on your campaign state and allows you to manipulate which roads down the campaign you want to follow. Untamed Wilds has a bad reputation because it’s one of those scenarios where Ancient Evils can randomly mess you up, but i find that happens very rarely (at least at 2 players) and i do enjoy this one a lot actually. A short and sweet bout of exploration and then the final conflict with Ichtaca. I deeply appreciate having to make my story choices ingame instead of during the setup/resolution/interlude walls of text. Depths of Yoth has one thing it does well and it does it so well that the Return didn’t even see a need to fudge with it. City of Archives used to be a scenario that i despised, but again the Return saved it with more options for objectives, making it a bit easier and introducing player choice. Great! Shattered Aeons i fail more often than i win it, but since its a finale that works for me. Some story threads are resolved here, you get opportunities for last minute twists and it features a bunch of iconic locations and weird enemies that make it memorable. Boundary Beyond used to be a hellscape of failure and misery, but the updated exploration makes it much more reasonable and i quite like it now. A good amount of diversity in locations, a nice selection of encounter cards capped off by a boss (and mini-boss!) that tempt you with XP if you are willing to also take some Vengeance. All very neat. Doom of Eztli has basically been reinvented by the Return, which is a definite improvement, but compared to what the campaign has to offer otherwise it lags behind. HotE#1 gets a lot of ill will by the community that i don’t necessarily share. It’s a small map with a bunch of Hunters. That’s it. Nothing too special but it’s short enough that it doesn’t overstay its welcome… as long as you don’t have to repeat it. I never had to 😉 Finally, there’s HotE#2 which commits the same sin as Carcosa’s Echoes of the Past: It’s just boring. It doesn’t need to exist, it achieves nothing, it’s just there. Big meh.

I talked a lot about the Return changes for TFA because of how influential they are and a similar thing is true for Circle Undone, at least for a couple of the scenarios. But let me start at the bottom for this one to get it out of the way. Wages of Sin is in my opinion the worst scenario in the game and the Return doesn’t really change that. It’s a scenario that is so damn random and hard that you would usually be glad to get two Heretics, often even resigning after only one. Barely. And the Return asks you to get three Heretics and then give up the XP for them to get anything out of it. It’s … it’s just a bad joke, honestly. Anyways, moving on.
Two of the scenarios in the green saw good improvements from the Return. Greater Good now can have an additional location connection that makes moving around the mansion easier to do. It’s always been one of the better TCU scenarios and i felt like putting it on the top now. The Return to Secret Name profited massively from the exchange of many willpower cards with agility cards. It’s still a very exhausting affair, but much more interesting due to the diversity in challenges. Witching Hour i always though was good, i actually like the gimmick of splitting up the party. The Return stuff is challenging to do, but much more achievable than what’s waiting in Wages. However, if you fail to get the three Heretics in Wages, your work in Witching Hour is undone, so … it’s kinda back to ground zero with the Return stuff. Might as well ignore it in the first place. Clutches of Chaos is a scenario i like quite a lot, with its large map and running around for clues and closing rifts. Used to be my favorite TCU scenario, but it got little more than a set of locations from the Return, while Greater Good and Secret Name both got some significant improvement.
Union and Disillusion is where a lot of story threads come together and to a conclusion, so it should’ve been a grand thing that blows you away. And it tries, with the circle tests as a cool central mechanic and the final showdown with the Watcher as huge story beat. But for me, it always ends up a bit too random for my tastes with some investigators just being unable to do certain locations while others just breeze through it. In true TCU fashion, this is also a long and exhausting one sometimes so i am not always looking forward to dive into it. Before the Black Throne was massively improved by the Return. It used to be an absolute crapshoot of a scenario where you are basically just the punching bag of the doom clock and the encounter deck. Now, this is not completely gone, but the removal of Ancient Evils from here is great and so is the introduction of the Nightgaunt Steeds which act as a safety valve against bad layouts. It’s still a flawed scenario that relies on the doom clock for drama too much, but it’s much more bearable on the Return. I’d go as far and actually call it fair now. Finally, there’s Death’s Doorstep, a scenario that is built around the Haunted mechanic. I don’t like Haunted, so that makes me dislike Doorstep. I realize it’s not a bad scenario and the thing about saving the cultists is even really cool. But i find it hard to get over some of the annoyance i get from all the Haunted nonsense you get bombarded with here and i also really don’t like the Watcher all that much.


Set Size4
Number of unique Cards2
RoleDamage, Horror, Willpower, Intellect
Threat LevelLow to Mid
# of scenarios4
Appears in: Fatal Mirage, City of Elder Things (v2, v3), Heart of Madness #1 and #2

My take on this set: Miasma is a set that takes over for all the weather themed stuff from the first half of the campaign, to still provide some location based treacheries once the players are no longer exposed to the antarctic colds. Both of these cards make an effort to come after the health and sanity of your partner assets, so they do at least have some urgency to them and can’t be ignored.
Their actual impact is debatable, though. If you are willing to take some risks and don’t sweat the occasional damage/horror token on your partners, these cards shouldn’t be much of a concern to you. If you have healing available, they are downright trivial. If you want to play super safe however, you will need to make time and spend actions on discarding Torrent immediately or moving out of the way of the Miasma. That’s still not too taxing though when compared to what else usually lurks in the encounter deck.

Number in the encounter deck: 2

What it does: Miasmatic Torrent attaches to a partner asset controlled by the investigator, exhausting the asset in the process. While the treachery is attached, the asset can not ready and is dealt either a damage or a horror at the end of each turn.
To discard the card, the player has to take an action and pass either a Willpower or an Intellect test.
If the player controls no parter asset when drawing this card, it gains surge.

My take: Thankfully you get to choose on whether to deal a damage or a horror when this card triggers. This card alone is usually not going to threaten to kill your partner asset, but it can absolutely contribute to making it more vulnerable to either Nebulous Miasma or Polar Vortex.
Getting rid of the card isn’t terribly difficult, but it does cost an action. I am rather paranoid when it comes to the well being of my partner assets, so i usually try to get rid of this card as soon as possible, but if you do have healing available in your deck you might even decide to have it stick around a bit while you care about more pressing matters.
It depends on the ability that gets blocked as well, of course. If you depend on Eliyah for emergency evades, you will want to clear this immediately. If you brought Tanaka to help with money, it’s probably less of a priority.

Threat level: Low to Mid. The partner assets do have a good amount of combined health and sanity to take this for a turn or three.

Dealing with it: If you do use your partner’s health and sanity to soak damage and horror for yourself aggressively, this card becomes a much bigger issue. During the scenarios where Miasma is part of the encounter deck, you might want to hold back on that a bit and make sure that your partners can survive this card (and Nebulous Miasma).

Number in the encounter deck: 2

What it does: Nebulous Miasma attaches to the location of the investigator who drew the card. It is automatically discarded at the end of the round. Anyone ending their turn at its location is dealt a direct horror to each of their cards with sanity. This includes the investigator card and story allies. .

My take: During the first half of the campaign, the Deadly Weather set is everywhere and with it, the Polar Vortex card which goes after the stamina of players and more importantly, of the partners. Once past the Forbidden Peaks, that set disappears completely and we instead have to deal with Miasma and therefore this card. Nebulous Miasma is an exact mirror of Polar Vortex, only it attacks sanity instead of stamina.
In the direct comparison between the two cards, there are two reasons why Polar Vortex is a much stronger card, though. The first reason is Forbidden Peaks, which dials up the danger on location based treacheries (like Vortex) through its linear setup. The scenarios that Miasma is involved in do not have such restricted movement, making it more easy to evade. The other reason lies in the affected partner assets. The two low stamina assets threatened by Vortex are Danforth and Dyer, both quite important and powerful. On the other hand, the two low sanity assets threatened by Miasma are Ellsworth and Cookie. Ellsworth can actually protect himself through his own ability. And Cookie… personally i would call him the most expendable member of the expedition, but of course your mileage may vary.
Basically, i don’t feel nearly as threatened by Nebulous Miasma as i do by Polar Vortex.

Threat level: Low. Can usually just be sidestepped. That can take an action from you, but that’s just par for the course for a treachery.

Dealing with it: It’s going to be very rare that you’ll run into situations where you aren’t able to move and where the loss of sanity is hugely impacting. In most cases, you can just either take it or invest an action or two to move away.