This page doesn’t hold back anything. There are detailed spoilers for the Edge of the Earth campaign ahead. I highly suggest that you stop reading now if you have not played this campaign once or twice before. You should always give a campaign a few blind plays first, otherwise you might just miss out on that crucial experience of seeing a whole team of explorers being killed off one by one in a heartbreaking manner.
Following the experiences of William Dyer and Danforth at the Mountains of Madness, the two academics get roped into another expedition to the Antarctica to confirm their tales. Part of this expedition are an array of other people from various ways of life and with different abilities. And the investigators join the team as well, of course. They set out to the Antarctica on the ice breaker to document anything unusual, but soon find more than they bargained for.
This article takes a close look at each of this campaign and its scenarios, the mechanics tied to them and the choices that the players will have to make facing all of these challenges. As in previous installments of this article series, i will also give some suggestions for investigators and player cards that are particularly well suited for making it back from the Edge of the Earth.
This article is not going to look at each encounter set and each scenario in detail, this site already has pages for those. Please refer to those for more zoomed in views on the single cards that make up the encounter sets and encounter decks.
The main difference between the Edge of the Earth campaign and the preceding ones is how much several mechanics persist through the campaign. There’s always been minor aspects that build up over time, like Wrath of Yig in Forgotten Age or adding chaos tokens to the bag as a result of certain choices. But Edge takes this concept to new heights, with several mechanics having effects over the course of the whole campaign instead of being limited to a scenario: The expedition members don’t heal between scenarios and will gain damage/horror over time. Over time, Frost tokens are added to the chaos bag and will pile up, unless counteracted. There are temporary weaknesses that are added to player decks until they are drawn, but since they aren’t removed between scenarios this can happen in a later scenario. There are scenario layouts that can not be fully explored in one scenario and might require up to three scenarios that all use that layout but with the exploration persisting from one scenario to the next.
Let’s start by looking at the two biggest of these persisting aspects in more detail:
The Edge of the Earth campaign comes with a set of eight new chaos tokens. These Frost tokens are added to the chaos bag over time, triggered by certain ingame events or just as part of scenario setup. A single Frost isn’t all that dangerous, it only counts as a -1 and forces another token pull. So it can lead to failing a test that otherwise would have just barely passed, but the real issue is drawing multiple Frosts. Two Frost tokens count as an autofail, just as if you drew the tentacle token.
As a result, tests become more and more difficult to pass as the number of Frost tokens creeps up. Here’s where you (involuntarily) gain Frost tokens:
- Initial campaign setup: Depending on your difficulty, your chaos bag starts with 0-3 Frost tokens in it.
- Ice and Death, #1-3: Picking up the mineral specimen adds a Frost token. There’s also a location and a treachery that can add Frost tokens.
- Ice and Death #2, setup: Opting into this scenario adds a Frost token.
- Ice and Death #3, setup: Opting into this scenario adds a Frost token.
- Ice and Death #3: Advancing the first agenda adds a Frost.
- Forbidden Peaks, setup: Up to three Frost tokens are added during setup. The first can be avoided by having Eliyah and the Wooden Sledge. The second one can be avoided by having Claypool or accepting a physical trauma per player instead. The third one can be avoided by having Takada or accepting a mental trauma per player instead.
- Forbidden Peaks: Revealing the Summit adds a Frost. One of the treacheries can potentially add Frost tokens.
- Fatal Mirage, setup: Opting into this scenario for the second and third time adds a token each. The first time is “free”.
- City of Elder Things, setup: A Frost token is added to the bag during setup. This can be avoided by having Cookie alive and the Dynamite supply in your campaign log.
- City of Elder Things: In version 2, advancing the first act adds a Frost.
- Heart of Madness, setup: A Frost token is added before deciding whether to do Heart of Madness #1 or not. This can be avoided if the Miasmic Crystal was recovered.
In addition to this there are a few locations where you can choose to gain a Frost token for a bonus. These should pretty much never be taken, with the only exception being the Mineral Specimen pickup in Ice and Death which is generally worth it.
Considering the effect the growing amount of Frost tokens has on your skill tests, you will want to seek out any chance to remove some of these from your chaos bag. Here are your options for that:
- Interludes: At each of the interludes, players can visit Avery Claypool to remove a Frost (up to three times in total over the course of the campaign).
- Ice and Death #1-3: Successfully parleying at the Icebreaker Landing can remove a Frost. However, taking this option means permanently forfeiting the Small Radio asset.
- Ice and Death #2: Two of the eight facedown story cards remove a Frost. Depending on how many crew members are missing, these of course might not all be in play.
- City of Elder Things: Spending both “-2” keys at the appropriate location will remove 2 Frost.
- Heart of Madness: Activating the correct seal at the Geothermal vent will remove one Frost.
As you can see, there are much fewer opportunities to remove tokens than there are to add new ones, so this is definitely an uphill battle for the players. If Claypool dies early, Frost will be a much bigger problem than otherwise, his interlude ability is that powerful. Ultimately, the best way to work around Frost is minimizing any pickups of Frost tokens in the first place, but it often can not be avoided. It should also be noted that starting with 2 or even 3 tokens already in the bag on higher difficulties means that these are a huge issue right away. Remember that Avery Claypool can also come on scenarios with you as a partner asset, where he can cancel Frost tokens for you and thus help you push through the increasingly bad odds.
The Tekeli-li deck is made out of a set of 16 cards, all of them weaknesses with a player card back. For every scenario in Edge of the Earth, the Tekeli-li deck is assembled and put into play. There are many effects that can instruct players to shuffle one (or many) of these cards into their player decks without looking at it. Once drawn, they resolve just like a regular weakness, then they are put at the bottom of the Tekeli-li deck again. What makes these remarkable is that they aren’t removed from the player deck between scenarios. So you have effects that use these Tekeli-li cards to create delayed consequences for the player, possibly even one or more scenarios later.
For the player, gaining a Tekeli-li weakness means two things: For one, they are going to suffer some sort of penalty when they draw the card in the future. For most Tekeli-li the actual effect is rather mild, but there are some heavy hitters as well. More importantly most of the time is that drawing the weakness means you didn’t draw a useful card, since the weakness replaced your draw. This can be a huge issue for investigators that have no ways of drawing extra cards, as random streaks of back to back weakness draws can leave them without anything useful in their hands.
These are the 16 cards in the Tekeli-li deck, roughly ordered from lowest impact to highest:
- 3x “Take 1 horror”
- 3x “Take 1 damage”
- 2x “Lose 2 resources”
- 2x “Discard a random card from your hand”
- 2x “Drop one of your clues on your location”
- 2x “Lose your next action”
- 2x “Discard an asset from play”
Half of them aren’t that bad as you will usually be able to take a horror, damage or lose 2 resources. The other half can be more painful. Having to discard from hand means drawing the weakness basically denied you two cards. Having to drop a clue usually costs an action. So does straight up losing an action, of course. Having to discard an asset from play can potentially cause the biggest problems and ruin your setup turns while wasting resources, cards and actions that were spent on that asset.
Tekeli-li effects are able to “fizzle”, resolving without further effect if you can fulfill them. There’s no conditional surge or anything on them like there usually is on encounter cards. So if you have to lose 2 resources, but don’t have any or have to drop a clue but don’t have one, you get lucky. Well, you still lost your draw. But at least the weakness is out of your deck.
Note that Tekeli-li cards enter your deck without allowing you to look at them, so you initially don’t know what’s waiting for you. Nothing is stopping you from looking at them when searching your deck because of a card like No Stone Unturned, though. You can also freely look at your deck between scenarios and should absolutely do so.
Two crew members can help you with Tekeli-li. William Dyer allows purging up to 5 of these weaknesses from your deck if you spend one of your three visits on him during interludes. And Danforth has an ability that draws extra cards when revealing a Tekeli-li, which can offset both the lost draw and the negative effect. Aside from those two, the best defense against Tekeli-li is to have card draw. Someone like Patrice or Amanda who naturally draw lots and lots of cards can shrug off the “missed draw” part of the weaknesses. They do draw into them faster, but that shouldn’t matter in the long run, you will eventually draw them anyways.
Which leads me to my final note on Tekeli-li weaknesses. The final scenario, Heart of Madness #2 will, once the agenda advances the first time, trigger all Tekeli-li cards in all player decks. So any weakness you pick up during the campaign is almost guaranteed to resolve eventually unless you purge them with William Dyer or another scenario effect. Should you follow the path to Amy Kensler’s special resolution you will not suffer this Tekeli-li trigger.
The Crew of the Theodosia
The nine expedition members that make the trip with the investigators into the antarctic are a very central piece of this campaign. I wrote about these in their own article, long enough that i don’t want to repeat it here: The Crew of the Theodosia
Other story assets
In addition to the many cards devoted to the expedition crew and their mementos, there is a set of special assets that can be earned in the first half of the campaign. These assets are very powerful and well worth picking up.
To earn one of these, players need to recover them from one of the locations in Ice and Death and then carry them all the way up to the summit in the Forbidden Peaks. Once all of that is done, they get to add the cards to their decks (and gain an XP in the process). In total, there are seven expedition assets that can be earned this way:
Spare Parts: Can immediately be acquired on the starting location of Ice and Death by passing a skill test. Allows adding a supply or a resource up to three times, which can be excellent to give more uses to powerful cards such as Dynamite, Sinha’s Medkit or Acidic Ichor. Always worth picking up.
Small Radio: Is acquired at the Icebreaker Landing, however there’s some opportunity cost as you can choose to remove a Frost token from the bag instead. It allows using the ability of team members that were not chosen as partner assets. I mostly find this useful to use Dyer’s or Mala’s heal in an emergency, but especially in higher difficulties where you have multiple Frosts in the bag from the start the Frost removal is often more worthwhile.
Dynamite: Acquired at the Barrier Camp. Gives two uses that work exactly like the Guardian card Dynamite Blast. This item is fantastic value, two uses of a 5 cost high impact event is great and you can get even more out of this card by recharging it with Spare Parts or Emergency Cache(3). The Barrier Camp is arguably already the best shelter location, getting access to Dynamite makes it even better. Grab this and Albino Penguins become a draw to look forward to.
Mineral Specimen: Acquired at the Ice Cave. Three uses of a high Intellect investigate that also find an additional clue are excellent. Since it uses charges, it’s a bit more difficult to recharge, but it’s already quite worth it. Picking it up at the Ice Cave requires players to add a Frost to the chaos bag, which is a significant cost though. At higher difficulties you could argue for skipping this one if you don’t want to risk getting overwhelmed by Frost this early in the campaign.
Miasmatic Crystal: Acquired at the Crystalline Cavern. This is the most difficult asset to acquire, with the location being expensive to reveal and an agility(5) test being in the way. The Crystal allows cancelling the effect of up to 3 Tekeli-li cards and drawing a replacement card. Certainly a good effect, but not essential.
Green Soapstone: Acquired at the Snow Graves. An excellent item that essentially gives you 4 uses of Vicious Blow. Unlike Vicious Blow, you only decide on using the charge after doing the test, so there’s no waste here. This card helps a lot with getting regular attacks to the 3 damage threshold and you should absolutely pick this up. Doing so requires grabbing all 2i clues from the location and adding three Tekeli-li to your deck, but that’s a fair price for this valuable asset.
Wooden Sledge: Acquired at Lake’s Camp. Depending on how many Item cards your decks play, the Sledge can be very powerful as it acts like a repeatable Backpack with the additional wrinkle that any player can play the cards attached to it. This will usually be worth picking up, but some investigator combos might make it a lower priority.
Something that should be noted about these assets is that they all cost zero resources, so they aren’t a drain on your economy at all. Everyone can add these to their deck without much regret. All of them also have three icons, a pair of one skill and a wild. This makes them highly useful as commits to tests as well, giving something like the Wooden Sledge or Spare Parts value even if their activated abilities don’t seem enticing to you. In particular, investigators with recursion can gain some great value out of these assets. Commit to a skill test, then play them from the discard with Scavenging(2) or William Yorrick. Or use Scavenging(0) and commit them over and over. There’s some neat stuff you can do with them. Sadly they are very hard to get rid off from play, though. So, similar to Acidic Ichor, you won’t be able to sacrifice them to something and easily recur them. That means you have (again, like Ichor) use other player cards to recharge their uses.
Similar to Innsmouth and The Forgotten Age, the treacheries in Edge of the Earth are fairly evenly spread between testing agility and willpower. So this is definitely not a campaign where agility can be mostly ignored (like it was arguably the case in Dunwich and Carcosa). There are also a couple of points where agility can be extremely helpful. For example there’s an enemy that comes into play with a doom token. Defeating it will just spill the doom to the location, to get rid of the doom players have to evade the enemy. Many of the enemies also hit fairly hard and put up a long fight, but have low evasion values that can be exploited by investigators with good agility values.
The enemies in Edge of the Earth are comparatively not very numerous, but the ones that exist mostly are rather impactful. With only very few exceptions, there are no “filler” enemies here like Ghouls, Rats and the like in other campaigns. Instead, the first scenario immediately sets the baseline with the Eidolon enemies that don’t go down in just one hit with any weapon.
Like in The Forgotten Age, the ability to deal three damage in one action is extremely valuable, as there are a lot of enemies with 3 or 5 stamina around.
Almost all enemies are Hunters, but thanks to the large location layouts in this campaign evading enemies can still be a viable option as there is usually enough room to keep your distance from them afterwards.
There are several boss-like Elite monsters that players encounter throughout the campaign. Most noteworthy among them is the recurring Terror from the Stars which appears at fixed points of time triggered by the act or agenda. Also, the Shoggoths encounter set adds multiple big enemies straight to the encounter deck, making the encounter deck for the relevant scenarios very scary.
The final thing worth noting about the enemies is that they often do more than just dealing damage in combat, most of them are tied to Tekeli-li cards in some way. Especially the Eidolon enemies are a major vector for acquiring more of those weaknesses.
Most of the scenarios all take place on very large maps, with 13 to 19 locations in them. Two of those maps are meant to be explored over the course of up to three scenarios, with progress persisting from one play to the next. These big maps are also very interconnected.
This has two immediate consequences. For one, having extra movement options available is very valuable. It’s no coincidence that the EotE player card box comes with many such options, cards like Hiking Boots, Scout Ahead or even Sled Dogs will pay off here. Of course your classic Pathfinder, Safeguard and Shortcut are just as great as always.
The other consequence is that you do get enough room that evasion is a much more feasible way of dealing with enemies than usual. You do need to worry about backtracking a fair bit when there’s a couple of hunters around, but you usually do have different ways to take so you can minimize your exposure to the enemies.
The exception to this is To the Forbidden Peaks which has only 6 locations. In addition to being cramped like that, the layout is also completely linear and there are limitations to when you can progress from one location to the next. In many ways, this scenario is therefore the polar opposite to the rest of the campaign. While movement abilities still do have some value here, evading enemies is a much less viable thing here.
With exception of Dunwich Legacy, the campaigns usually sport some sort of alternate or twist ending that can be unlocked by doing specific things during the campaign. This is true for Edge of the Earth as well, however it happens almost completely outside of the scenarios and is otherwise limited to the story text. The only gameplay change is that you get to skip the mandatory triggering of all Tekeli-li weaknesses in all decks during Heart of Madness #2.
Unlocking it is also very straightforward. To do so, players have to spend one of their limited visits with Amy Kensler during all three interludes. Amy Kensler also has to survive until the end. So if you decide to go for this, you should prioritize turning Amy resolute to protect her from randomly dying along the way.
There’s not much more to say about this. You give up three visits that could’ve been some other bonus and in return you get to read a different resolution and gain some more lore bits.
Here’s the experience that is on offer throughout the campaign. The amount is similar to previous campaigns, but the distribution is quite unusual. As a result of some scenarios being optional, the XP is heavily concentrated in the four non-skippable ones. This means that failing one of them will be a huge blow to your progression and leave you starved for upgrades. To the Forbidden Peaks is one you especially will want to succeed at because too much is on the line… not only XP, but also the supply items.
Ice and Death, part 1: 8 (shelter) + 1 (Terror in the Stars) = 9XP
Ice and Death, part 2: up to 8, but only if they are missing from part 1
Ice and Death, part 3: 5XP (flat value, for defeating all enemies)
To the Forbidden Peaks: 6 (locations) + 1 (Terror in the Stars) + 7 (supplies) = 14XP
City of the Elder Things: 8 (spent keys) +3 (locations) + 1 (Terror of the Stars) + 1 (Rampaging Shoggoth)= 13XP (only possible in version 1. Version 2 has 11XP, version 3 has 12XP)
Fatal Mirage: 2XP for visiting each location of a dead team member (up to 9 times) = 18XP
Heart of Madness, part 1: 5 (Seals) + 1 (Rampaging Shoggoth) = 6XP
Heart of Madness, part 2: 2 (Unsealed Phantasms) + 10 (Resolution) = 12XP
If you total up the numbers above, you get a theoretical maximum of moving into Heart of Madness #2 with 65XP. For reference, the max number for most campaigns here is around 50-55. Forgotten Age is the outlier with 77XP. Now, before you plan the wildest decks imaginable, it is important to remember that these are theoretical numbers and you will likely end up with a lot less. Chances are, you will have fewer XP than you’d have in Carcosa, Innsmouth or Circle Undone. Let’s take a closer look at the circumstances behind those numbers:
Ice and Death I is going to be a nice shot in the arm right away, as long as you end up with either 7 or 8 shelter. Defeating the Terror is going to be tough and might well be out of reach. I&D II and III are optional and there are good reasons to skip them, so maybe don’t plan with those XP too closely.
Forbidden Peaks has a high total maximum, but the 7XP from the supplies aren’t given to all players. They are distributed with the expedition assets recovered, so players will have to share the 7XP among them. Still, the location XP is all but guaranteed and the Terror will usually have to be fought as well, so there’s a good amount there. City of Elder Things is very hard to complete fully, the map is gargantuan and the clues numerous. You’ll get some good XP here but will soon have to exert a lot of effort for them.
Heart of Madness I is technically optional, but there’s very little reason not to do it. Getting all 5 seals is again tough, but more doable than getting every key in City of Elder Things.
The biggest number is the 18XP on Fatal Mirage, but it’s also the most misleading. For one, these XP are of course spread across 3 plays and chances are you are not going to do all of those. Also, you only get the 2XP for locations that belong to team members that are already dead. Usually you will want to go to locations of alive crew instead, turning them resolute. This will only earn 1XP, but the extra power on the partner asset is worth it. Instead of 18XP, it’s probably more realistic to plan with around 5-8XP. Maybe even only 2-4 if you only go into Fatal Mirage once.
In total, i’d expect to go with about 35XP into Heart of Madness #2 instead of the theoretical 65XP. That is fine for most builds, but will have you struggle for some of the extra comfort cards that are fun to put into decks besides the bare necessities.
Moving and investigating is the name of the game in Edge of the Earth. There are some chunky enemies to fight as well, but there are often moments without any combat for several turns. So while you want some good firepower, single focused combat investigators might find themselves with turns of having little to do. You are also looking for a good spread of skill values, otherwise you risk being brutalized by bad streaks of encounter cards. Allrounders are excellent here.
Carolyn Fern: Being able to heal partner allies allows using them very liberally to catch horror treacheries not only for you but also for your teammates. This swings both ways, of course: Once the partner allies have a point of trauma or two, you can use them to generate resources right from the start.
Mark Harrigan: Sophie gives him the capability to enhance his excellent statline to dance circles around treachery tests. He also has the firepower required to take down the big nasties.
Ursula Downs: If moving and investigating is the name of the game, then Ursula Downs is the … manual? A cheatcode? I am not sure where i was going with this, but Ursula is amazing here.
Minh Ti Phan: If you are interested in getting the most out of the expedition assets, commit them to skill tests with Minh for 4 icons, then get them back to hand or play with Scavenging.
Trish Scarborough: One of the more mobile rogues thanks to Seeker access and the evasion gimmick is also extremely valuable here and can defuse all sorts of situations.
Winifred Habbamock: Playing a rogue always means having to deal with the willpower, but in exchange you gain a fantastic statline for the other 3 skills. Winifred is able to take advantage of all of those other 3 skills to the fullest.
Dexter Drake: The campaign can potentially give Dexter a ridiculous amount of zero cost assets to use for sleight of hand tricks. As one of the few that can even discard them from play, he’s also set up perfectly to get a fresh copy on each go through his deck.
Luke “Penguin Hunter” Robinson: He’s the most mobile character in the game and in these wide maps he can use his special abilities to the fullest. Being able to cast Spectral Razors and the like into connecting locations is also excellent in this campaign.
Stella Clark: Look, she has three cards named “Neither Rain Nor Snow”. What more do you need for a trip to the antarctic? Seriously though, she’s the best generalist in the game and thus extremely qualified. Probably the only one who’s looking forward to more Frost tokens.
Bob Jenkins: All of the expedition assets are Item traited. So are some of the mementos. There’s going to be no shortage of opportunities to use Bobs free action in this campaign.
I am going to stress here (as i always do) that these are merely suggestions. I don’t even claim that these are necessarily the most powerful picks for the campaign. They are the ones where i think that the campaign does play into their strengths, though. In any case, gameplay power is not a metric you should go by anyways, play whatever seems fun to you. If you want to send Preston to the ice wastes, by all means go ahead and do so. Todays card pool can make almost anything work.
Notable Player Cards
To round out the suggestions for the player decks, here are two cards from each class that are better than usual for this campaign. I won’t be mentioning Edge of the Earth cards here, more than before the pool of Edge player cards seems really tailored to the campaign in a somewhat obvious fashion.
Well Prepared: Whenever we get a lot of story assets, those tend to have a lot of icons. This is definitely also true for Edge, and Well Prepared is a fantastic card to get extra mileage out of this.
Marksmanship: Being able to attack into adjacent locations is a huge advantage against penguins and hunters. It can also immensely help with tackling certain situations in Ice and Death #3 and Forbidden Peaks especially.
Truth from Fiction: Some of the story assets use secrets for their uses and the ability to refill those can be worthwhile. Seeker has a couple of ways to do it, but Truth from Fiction is the one that requires the least setup and commitment.
Esoteric Atlas: There are a variety of movement options in Seeker, but the Atlas is special in that it allows skipping locations completely, thus bypassing hunters and persistent treacheries.
Decoy: All the evasion tech from rogue is strong here, but i’ll mention Decoy specifically because it can evade into connecting locations, which i think is a big deal.
Pilfer: There are lots of locations in this campaign that have 2i, 3i or even 4i clues and many of them have low shroud. Pilfer is the perfect card to capitalize on this and will get its full value even in low player counts.
Words of Healing/Clarity of Mind: Healing has a bit of a bad reputation, but the last two campaigns did make it a lot more valuable. As long as you can get 2 points of healing for an action, you should consider running a card like this to help you push through the assault from the encounter deck.
Dark Prophecy: So, there are some token manipulation cards in Mystic and their interaction with Frost tokens is a bit weird. On the one hand, these cards are worse than usual because of the extra bad tokens. On the other hand, these cards are at least a way to help your chances against the Frost tokens.
Waylay: This is a great campaign for Waylay, as it features many chunky enemies that take long to defeat but can be evaded reasonably well.
Alter Fate: One of the best cards in the survivor pool by default, but it does get even better in a campaign that features persistent treacheries as one of its main mechanics.
Backpack: We are getting a ton of item assets from the campaign, enough to make Backpack worth it without even looking what is already in your deck.
Emergency Cache(3): The ability to put supplies on assets comes up as a neat thing time and again with Emergency Cache, but in this campaign it can refuel things like Dynamite, turning one play of Cache into four free charges of Dynamite Blast. That’s some value!
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