Mysteries Abound

Set Size4
Number of unique Cards2
RoleConcealment, Enemy
Threat LevelLow to Mid
# of scenarios2
Appears in: Sanguine Shadows, Shades of Suffering

My take on this set: Mysteries Abound is a set that interacts with the concealed mechanic without having any concealed cards itself. It gains a lot of its value not just from other encounter sets, but also from the scenario it is used in, for example in Buenos Aires the Envoy helps La Chica Roja hide in the shadows while In Plain Sight will make her attack when she’s eventually uncovered anyways.
This isn’t a particularly impactful encounter set on average, but the Envoy sure has his moments.

Number in the encounter deck: 2

What it does: Coterie Envoy is quite untypical for this campaign, one of the few Coterie members that doesn’t start in the shadows. He has low fight and evade, however between Aloof and 3 health he still requires some effort to defeat. While ready, he protects mini-cards at his location from being revealed and should there be none at his location, he patrols towards the nearest one during the enemy phase.
As an upside, defeating the Envoy allows the player to peek at the face-down side of a mini-card in play.

My take: What a weird enemy. Coterie Envoy doesn’t pose a threat by itself, but by stopping players from revealing concealed enemies at his location he does slow down the team considerably anyways. Dealing with Envoy will often take away a full turn, spent on engaging and attacking twice. This is made up partially by that ability to peek at a card in play which can be a huge help in both scenarios he is in.

Threat level: Mid. Not dangerous as such, but he’s a time-waster that makes the cards that are in the shadows more effective.

Dealing with it: Whenever i see an aloof enemy with 3 health, i just want to Spectral Razor it. Aside from having a card tailored to the job like Razor (or at least Get Over Here) available, the amount of effort required to defeat Envoy means that it can be attractive to just let him stick and reveal the other mini-cards in play instead. After all, the Envoy might only be protecting a decoy and without specific knowledge otherwise it might just be easier to look elsewhere.
Obviously that isn’t always possible and you might need to go through the Envoy to progress the scenario. In that case, it’s at least not difficult to do so, it just requires a turns worth of actions.

Number in the encounter deck: 2

What it does: In Plain Sight attaches to an enemy in the shadows and will make it attack when revealed. The enemy will also gain +2 fight for the turn it got triggered.
If there is no valid target for the card to attach to, it surges.

My take: In most cases, this isn’t something that you get to interact with very much. It’s simply a damage/horror treachery that is testless and variable, but also delayed. This can inform who in the team should do the exposing, but one way or another this extra attack is going to fire usually.
If it’s just a damage or horror (like most concealed non-unique enemies have), then that is perfectly fine. If it attaches to one of the unique enemies (Tzu San seems to just loooove this card) the fight bonus can also be significant in addition to the extra attack.

Threat level: Low. Just a point of damage/horror in most cases. Even when it’s more the delayed effect allows players to time it and to have it affect whoever can take it the best.

Dealing with it: It’s a damage/horror treachery and not one that deals a lot of one type at the same time. So this should be easy enough to soak or just take on the chin. Obviously it becomes a bigger issue as part of a critical mass of damage/horror dealt by the encounter deck. Buenos Aires can get a bit dicey with La Chica Roja attacking from the shadows and having as much soak as possible to survive the Shade Reaper is also important. But there’s probably more important factors than In Plain Sight to care about.

Riddles and Rain

Encounter sets in this scenario: Crimson Conspiracy, Dark Veiling, Outsiders, Shadow of a Doubt, Strange Happenings, Chilling Cold, Locked Doors, Midnight Masks Treacheries
Available experience: 3 (locations) + 1 (Apocalyptic Presage) + 1 (Red-Gloved Man) = 5XP

Location: London
Involved Coterie Members and Keys: Red-Gloved Man, The Eye of Ravens
Time spent: 1 (distrust Li Flint) + 1 (agenda 2b) + 1 (resolution, any) + 1 (fail, R4) = 1-4 Time
Nearest other scenarios: Marrakesh, Istanbul (1 time), Alexandria, Anchorage, Havana (2 time)

Size of the Encounter Deck34
# Enemies7
# Willpower6
# Agility6
# Doom5
# Damage5
# Horror4
# Concealment8
# Hollow6
This is the encounter deck at full strength, after Crimson Conspiracy and Outsiders have been shuffled in.

Synopsis: The investigators begin their journey in London, on the heels of the Red-Gloved Man. After finding some initial clues, the Red-Gloved Man has to be sniffed out from his decoys, introducing the concealment mechanic to the players. Once this tutorial portion is done, the Outsider and Crimson Conspiracy sets are added to the encounter deck, providing more concealed enemies and also introducing the hollowing mechanic shared by the “Outsiders”. The investigators then have to enter the Tower of London, which requires a large amount of clues from the surrounding locations until they can meet the Red-Gloved Man and wrest the first key from him.

My take on this scenario: This is a fine first scenario that does a lot of heavy lifting towards introducing both the setting and the mechanics of this campaign. Starting in just a single location with the task of finding the clues actually reminds me of how The Gathering started all the way back in the Core Set, but of course once this scenario opens up it starts to get quite a bit more involved.
Concealment features heavily, with most of the scenario being built around chasing the Red-Gloved Man and having to pick him out between his decoys. Coterie Agents join him in the shadows for even more distraction. Several of the encounter sets interact with concealment further, making it the standout thing about this scenario for sure.
We are also getting our first glimpse at the Outsiders here. Not much, just a couple enemies that knock some cards out of our hand as “hollows”. This isn’t explained further, which i think is likely intentional to create some mystery around this hollowing thing – after all, our investigators are also left in the dark about what’s up with the weird disappearances, so why should we as players get told the full story right away? The only payoff for this mechanic in Riddles and Rain is the treachery Substance Dissimilation, but that one can be a wrecking ball as it will remove all copies of hollowed cards from anywhere. In my first play of Riddles and Rain, this made a triplet of Sled Dogs disappear from my play area, for a very remarkable first impression!
This scenario is surprisingly difficult. It starts out rather mellow with locations that have one or two shroud, but soon you are trying to investigate high shrouds and face high difficulties for your tests in general. There’s also a lot of clue-getting to be done as both acts and the Tower location ask for a high clue threshold to pass. This inherently has some tension with the concealment mechanic which will often ask you to replace your investigating with exposing.
I like this one. It somehow manages to be a challenging scenario and a tutorial at the same time. There’s also a good amount of flexibility in how to approach those challenges and a variety of outcomes in the resolutions. A promising start into The Scarlet Keys.

Scenario specific encounter sets: The Riddles and Rain set doesn’t add to the encounter deck, it has only the acts, agendas, the token reference, the set aside enemy card for the Red-Gloved Man and The Eye of Ravens key.

Chaos Tokens: The tokens for Riddles and Rain are still relatively tame compared to what’s ahead in the campaign. Skulls are -1, going to -3 if the investigator has two clues. Tablets are also -1, but another token will be drawn if a concealed card is at the location. The Elder Thing is -3 and will require you to either spend a clue or add a doom to an enemy in the shadows on a fail. Of these, the Elder Thing is easily the worst one, punishing those that chose to not cooperate with Li Flint during the introductory story choices.
The Hard/Expert version of the scenario doesn’t change anything mechanically about these tokens, it simply adds another -1 to each of them.
During Riddles and Rain, no Cultist tokens are yet able to be in the bag.

Act/Agenda: The agenda deck consists of 4 cards. The first two have fairly low doom thresholds at 2 and 4 and are for the introductory part. Since doom persists from one agenda to the next, they basically give 2 turns to fulfill the clue requirement for act1 and then another 2 turns to find and engage the concealed Red-Gloved Man. Failing either of these will move the scenario on as if the act was met, but inflict a penalty of 1 horror (agenda 1) or 1 time (agenda 2). The final two agendas give a total of 16 turns (again, minus up to 4 turns from the doom transferred from agenda 1 and 2) to enter the Tower of London, find the Red-Gloved Man and either defeat or parlay him. The encounter deck is only reshuffled once, on advancing agenda 2 when Outsiders and Crimson Conspiracy are shuffled in.
The act deck also has 4 cards. The first sets the goal of 2i clues to progress. The second one again only sets the goal: Engage the Red-Gloved Man. The third act also just states the objective: Spend 3i clues at the Tower of London. Finally, the last act has the objective (defeat or parlay the Red-Gloved Man) and also provides that required parlay ability.

The Red-Gloved Man: Starting the campaign with a strong enemy right away, this guy gives a 5 difficulty to anything related to him. Attacking, evading, parlaying. Interacting with him requires some investment by the investigators. Attacking in particular can be risky thanks to his Retaliate coupled with the high fight value. At least his health is relatively low, so if the investigators have access to some testless damage (Small Favor, Occult Lexicon, …) he can be brought down easier. Stocking up on clues to use for skill bonuses at the Tower Prison can also be a great strategy to handle him. The Red-Gloved Man doesn’t use a Key during Riddles and Rain.

Other Enemies: There’s basically two groups of enemies here. The first is the Coterie Agents which add doom to the board and enter play concealed but don’t put up a fight once exposed. The other is the Outsiders, consisting of the rather standard sized Paracausal Entity which shouldn’t pose much of an issue and the Apocalyptic Presage which is a sizeable mini-boss. The Outsiders use the hollow mechanic, but aside from the two copies of Substance Dissimulation there’s nothing specifically interacting with it.
All things considered, Riddles and Rain doesn’t ask a lot from fighters and instead focuses more on the investigators abilities to pick up and deliver clues fast and efficiently.

Locations: As the group progresses through the act/agenda decks, the locations come into play in a fixed order. First it’s only the Rainy London Streets which has a lot of clues and refills them, too. Its shroud starts out low, but increases over time. Next up are three surrounding locations Kensington Gardens, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey which offer the bulk of the clues required for reaching the Tower later on. Two of these locations have Victory 1. Only the Big Ben has a challenging shroud, the others are easy to pick clean. The Tower Bridge and the Tower of London come into play with agenda/act 3. Tower Bridge has again low shroud and can provide the last couple clues required to get into the Tower. Alternatively, a rather difficult test can open up the Traitor’s Gate location, which after yet another difficult test allows entering the Tower of London without spending the required clues. That’s usually only going to be worth it in higher player counts though because unlike the clue requirement, this alternate route doesn’t scale with number of investigators. Finally, the last act takes place in the Tower Prison which has a lot of clues, moderately challenging shroud and a victory point. To help with the objective, it allows trading left-over clues for skill bonuses.

Reward and Failure: Finishing the scenario by either defeating or parlaying the Red-Gloved Man will give the group control of The Eye of Ravens, their first Key. It’s a rather potent tool that can help secure clutch tests, like protecting a low willpower rogue from a nasty treachery or get off an emergency evasion. Flipping it back requires drawing an extra encounter card, but that can easily be worth it in many situations.
Failing the scenario, either by defeat/resign of all investigators or by the final agenda running out, will put this Key into the hands of the Red-Gloved Man who will be able to use it against the investigators down the road.
If the group failed especially bad (all defeat/resign or final agenda flips before they even reach act 4) then they also lose 1 time.
No matter how the scenario went, the investigators will not have seen the last of the Red-Gloved Man, meaning he can randomly show up in following scenarios as an enemy. Yes, even if you parlayed with him. Like his version in this scenario, his enemy version is a serious challenge with high numbers all around. On repeat meetings you won’t be able to use clues to bring down his stats, so take this as a clue towards the requirements of this campaign.


Set Size6
Number of unique Cards3
RoleEnemies, Damage, Horror, Hollow
Threat LevelMid to High
# of scenarios4
Appears in: Riddles and Rain, On Thin Ice, Without a Trace, Congress of the Keys(all)

My take on this set: This is a potent set. Prominently featured in Riddles and Rain, it introduces the mechanic of hollows: set aside cards that are referenced by other effects later. Outsiders is one of the bigger sets in Scarlet Keys (most sets are 4 cards), giving this a decent presence in the encounter decks it is part of.
All cards in this set have a noticeable impact, there are certainly no freebies here. Even the Paracausal Entity which appears like a rather standard enemy at first with an ability that doesn’t have any immediate impact does serve as a setup for other hollow effects down the line.

Number in the encounter deck: 3

What it does: Paracausal Entity is a small-ish enemy that does still exert some board presence when it comes up. While it can be defeated in one swing from most weapons, it’s at least not trivial to defeat or evade. It’s a Hunter that hits for a damage and horror each. Whenever it engages an investigator, that investigator has to remove their top card of the deck from the game, as a hollow.

My take: There’s three of them in the set, so these are a fairly common sight whenever this encounter set is used. Unlike most things in Scarlet Keys, these go down from just 2 damage, so that immediately makes them a bit of a breather when compared to what else the typical encounter deck has to offer. Removing the top card of the deck doesn’t do anything relevant by itself (unless you rely on things like assembling Pendant pieces, which is just a bad idea in this campaign in general), but it does serve as setup for Substance Dissimilation and a couple other effects related to hollows.

Threat level: Low to Mid. They aren’t trivial, but as far as enemies go, these are on the weaker side.

Dealing with it: Killing these shouldn’t pose much of a problem. More interesting is taking note of what card they removed and consider what that means for Substance Dissimilation or any other hollow effects in the scenario.

Number in the encounter deck: 1

What it does: At 5 health, the Apocalyptic Presage is a chunky enemy that requires some effort taking out. It also sports enough of a fight value that reliably attacking it requires a dedicated attacker. Its evasion is low which can be used as a fallback if the Presage is too difficult to deal with right now. As soon as this enemy enters play, all investigators need to set aside on of their cards in hand or play, as a hollow. Defeating the Presage rewards a victory point, but the investigator who defeated it can instead chose to discard the Presage and return up to 3 hollows to their owner’s hands.

My take: This thing can be a huge roadblock. And it can come down from the encounter deck at any point (at least Riddle and Rain has the Outsiders set aside for the first couple turns, though). It reminds me a lot of Deep One Bull that way… and the Bull actually has the same statline as Presage, so they do indeed cover pretty much the same bases.
Unlike the Paracausal Entity the cards that are getting hollowed come from the players hands, so they do limit the players options at least somewhat. The effect also hits everyone and not just the one who engages the thing.
Defeating it gives the option of recovering 3 hollowed cards, but it’s going to be rare that this option is worth it. Getting the equivalent of a “Draw 3” is certainly nice, but giving up the victory point is a big ask.

Threat level: High. This enemy is always going to be relevant when it shows up.

Dealing with it: Compared to the Paracausal Entity, this one at least doesn’t keep hollowing cards whenever it gets engaged, so evading it for a turn or three is a decent option to keep the enemy away from you while you finish the scenario. Of course you’ll optimally want to defeat the thing to claim your victory point, but especially early on this might just not be in the cards. Something to note here: Presage is not an Elite enemy, opening it up to a bunch of player cards that can deal with it… including Waylay which is a great way to capitalize on the low evasion value of Presage.

Number in the encounter deck: 2

What it does: Each card in hand or in play that matches a card set aside as a hollow is discarded. Additionally, for each set aside card matched this way, a damage and horror is dealt to the investigator.
Should no cards be discarded by Substance Dissimilation, then the player has to hollow one of their cards from their hand or play.

My take: This card is potentially ridiculous and can devastate a board and/or hand while also dealing a lot of damage and horror at the same time. Its effect is very swingy with a very high ceiling, but of course it will on average not hit quite as hard. But still, having to discard a card from play and being dealt a damage and horror is already ahead of the curve in terms of what treacheries usually do.
I am not a huge fan of this card existing. If there were more ways to interact with the hollowed cards, then this would act as an interesting threat to play around. But the primary way of getting cards hollowed is usually drawn blind from the top of the deck without player choice and recovering cards from there is also incredibly rare. So this plays out as a very random card that just punishes you hard for things you had no influence on without much in the way of combating it.

Threat level: High. Unpredictable and with a high ceiling, this is a dangerous card.

Dealing with it: If the Outsider set is in the deck, this is a card to keep in the back of your mind. For one, anytime you get a choice of what to hollow (like on Presage) you will usually not want to pick cards you have a copy of on the board because then you are opening yourself up to having to trash those cards later. Hollowing cards that already have a hollowed copy is safe in this regard. The other thing is that if you have a lot of hollowed cards right now, drawing Dissimilation can potentially deal a large chunk of horror and damage to you, so if you are already near your stamina or sanity threshold, it can be worth to aggressively get rid of any copies of hollowed cards in your hand or from play by committing them or overwriting them with other cards in their slot so you don’t get nuked unexpectedly.

Shadow of a Doubt

Set Size4
Number of unique Cards2
RoleDamage, Concealment
Threat LevelLow to Mid
# of scenarios3
Appears in: Riddles and Rain, Dancing Mad, Sanguine Shadows

My take on this set: I am not particularly worried when i need to shuffle this set into the encounter deck. Knives in the Dark can be an issue for some investigators, but is very context dependent. Undercover is just filler.
This set does a fine job of giving the concealment mechanic a bit more depth, but will rarely stand out as particularly impactful. That is perfectly fine, of course.

Number in the encounter deck: 2

What it does: Knives in the Dark enters a players threat area and stays there until they pass an agility test at the end of their turn. While affected by Knives in the Dark, the player will suffer 2 damage whenever they expose a decoy. Drawing this card while already having the other copy in the threat area will make it surge instead.

My take: Pretty terrible if you are the one who is doing most of the exposing but the more players are in your team, the easier it is to circumvent. There are a lot of damage sources in encounter decks throughout the Scarlet Keys, so there’s definitely a good potential for Knives in the Dark to stack up in an unpleasant way.
Due to its timing, which follows such classics as Frozen in Fear, this is going to take effect for at least one turn and it’s somewhat hard to get rid of. At least it’s not as debilitating as Frozen in Fear is, i guess.
This is pretty rotten to get on a fragile low agility character like Daisy or Dexter and can hinder them from safely exposing concealed cards for several turns.

Threat level: Medium. Absolutely fine on its own, but if it becomes part of critical mass of damage sources, it can be painful. Mid to High in solo where you have fewer options to play around it.

Dealing with it: The “at the end of your turn, test” timing is about as bad as it gets. You only get one chance to discard the thing each turn and other players can’t discard it for you. If you are stuck with this and can’t offload the exposing duties on someone else, you might just need to get lucky or have other ways to mitigate damage.

Number in the encounter deck: 2

What it does: Following a failed intellect or agility test, an additional decoy is shuffled into the concealed mini-cards at the location with the most of them. If no enemies are in the shadows, Undercover surges.

My take: This is fine. It can potentially waste an action, but that’s totally what we expect from an encounter card anyways. As long as you don’t have to exert great effort when exposing cards, having to go through another decoy won’t slow you down much.

Threat level: Low. Not a very impactful card, in fact it might just do nothing at all.

Dealing with it: No need to deal with it specifically. Just keep exposing those mini-cards and it will sort itself out.

Strange Happenings

Set Size4
Number of unique Cards2
RoleHorror, Discard, Clue Suppression
Threat LevelLow to Mid
# of scenarios2
Appears in: Riddles and Rain, Sanguine Shadows

My take on this set: This is an interesting set that does something similar to the Midnight Masks treacheries in that it goes after the clues the players collected. On the one side this means that efficient clue grabbing can help making these cards much easier to deal with. However, it also means that these can punish you harshly if you are already behind the curve. In Riddles and Rain, the set even teams up with the Midnight Masks treacheries to make for some consistent clue suppression.

Number in the encounter deck: 2

What it does: Following a failed willpower test, the investigator has to either take 1 horror or drop a clue per point they failed by.

My take: Nothing earth-shaking, obviously. This is just Rotting Remains with an extra option for the investigator tacked on. Dropping a clue is at least an action lost, so if you can, taking the horror is much preferable. But it’s certainly good to have the option of placing a clue when this would otherwise put you out of sanity or dangerously close.
Aside from that i just have two things to say: One, i love the (not so subtle) reference to one of the best movies ever made. Two, how does heavy rain qualify as a strange happening in London? I’d be more worried when it stops raining and the fog clears up…

Threat level: Mid. The option to spend clues is expensive, but it is an upside compared to Rotting Remains..

Dealing with it: If you are a low sanity investigator, this card can be a reason to hold onto a clue or two just in case you need to. The cost of dropping a clue varies a lot depending on the situation. You might not even need clues anymore, which will just mean that you can ignore Heavy Rain. You might be at a low shroud location, meaning that Heavy Rain simply cost you an action or two. But you might be at a location where picking up the clue is more costly, so taking the horror becomes more attractive then.

Number in the encounter deck: 2

What it does: The investigator has to either spend one of their clues or discard half of their hand. The card has Peril, so nobody else gets to interfere, neither with opinions nor with cancels.

My take: Discarding half of your hand is pretty bad. There are times when it doesn’t matter and you will feel lucky about drawing Pinch in Reality, but most of the time this is going to sting. There is always the option to pay a clue instead, but that clue is removed from the game then which can have its own issues.

Threat level: Medium. Both sides of this choice are kind of rough.

Dealing with it: As with any card that gives a player choice, there is some mitigation built into it. That being said, this ends up being a cruel choice decently often. Unlike with Heavy Rain, the clue side does spend it here. So there’s not simple picking it up again. In scenarios with low clue counts this can mean having to backtrack just to be able to meet your act threshold. In those cases, throwing away a couple cards certainly becomes more of an option than otherwise.

Dark Veiling

Set Size4
Number of unique Cards2
RoleDamage, Horror, Concealment
Threat LevelMid to High
# of scenarios5
Appears in: Riddles and Rain, Dealings in the Dark, On Thin Ice, Sanguine Shadows, Shades of Suffering

My take on this set: A set that interacts with concealed enemies, without providing any of its own. Instead it will come together with Crimson Conspiracy, Cleanup Crew or both. Both cards in here are reasonably impactful. They share their ability to tax the players actions or their stamina/sanity and both give the player the option to decide on what is more important to them right now: Staying alive or being able to act.
I think these are fine cards, but nothing too out of the ordinary.

Number in the encounter deck: 2

What it does: Seeing Shadows stays in the players threat area until it is discarded through the use of two actions, very similar to many weaknesses. While active, the investigator affected by the card takes a horror whenever they fail a test at a location with a face-down mini card.

My take: In the scenarios that use this set, concealed enemies are usually going to be plentiful. And even when they aren’t, the locations with concealed enemies are usually the places to be to either advance the scenario or just to deal with those enemies. As a result, this is for the most part a straight copy of Atychiphobia.
For many investigators, this is not really feasible to keep on the board for long as the horror can start to stack up quick by itself … and there’s a good amount of other horror sources around in this campaign as well. If you are playing someone like Winifred or Mark who do really well at testing, you might be tempted to keep Seeing Shadows around, but that can easily backfire at some point too.

Threat level: Mid. Depending on the investigator this card can have some impact, but at least it comes with a built in ability to get rid of it.

Dealing with it: It’ll probably be rather obvious to you whether this needs dealing with or not, so you can assess whether to make use of that two action discard. Remember that in multiplayer any player can use those actions to help the one who drew this card out.
Seeing Shadows doesn’t have an effect while at a location without concealed cards, but that is unlikely to consistently be of much help. It might allow you to keep the card around for a turn or two longer, though.

Number in the encounter deck: 2

What it does: The player has to choose: Either each concealed enemy attacks that player… or each player loses an action. The card has Peril, so other players do not get a say in this decision. Should no concealed enemies be in play, Figures in the Dark surges.

My take: This card scales wildly in different directions, making it incredibly inconsistent in how impactful it is. The first option scales with the count of enemies in the shadows. If it’s only one, this will often just deal a damage or a horror which isn’t too much of a deal. But in some cases, there’s going to be several concealed enemies around, making the first option hurt quite a bit. The second option however scales with player count. Playing true solo, this takes one action away, which is expected and fine for an encounter card. But on the upper end, it costs three or four actions, for the equivalent of one player’s full turn or more. That’s going to be a hard pill to swallow. Even just at two players, having to pay two actions isn’t great. Scarlet Keys taxes actions a lot and due to impacting everyone, this has a high chance of stacking up with something else that eats up actions… like Seeing Shadows, for example. Or just the concealment mechanic is general.
It should be noted that high player count also leads to a higher enemy count, so full parties will have both options scale higher than smaller groups.
With both of the options able to scale rather hard towards either being fine or awful, Figures in the Dark is often not going to offer much of a choice at all, with an obvious pick between the two.

Threat level: Mid to High. This card can occasionally be tame, but the high amount of scaling involved is to be respected. Low in Solo, where losing an action is always available as a reasonable option.

Dealing with it: In bigger groups, this card is a good argument for staying on top of your concealed enemies and working aggressively on rooting out whatever spawned in the shadows. The goal is being able to pick the first option without feeling terrible about it. Of course, this can also be achieved by having healing or soak in excess available (which is a good idea for Scarlet Keys anyways).

Crimson Conspiracy

Set Size5
Number of unique Cards2
RoleDoom, Concealment
Threat LevelHigh to Very High
# of scenarios3
Appears in: Riddles and Rain, Dancing Mad, On Thin Ice

My take on this set: This set appears to be the Scarlet Keys version of the cultist set, something we’ve seen in most other campaigns as well: Its primary card is a small enemy that carries a doom and needs to be defeated before it makes the agenda advance prematurely. Previous iterations on the concept gave players ways to deal with the enemy in other ways, be it through damaging them from afar or for example through some parley tests. Not so this one. Coterie Agent heavily profits from being impervious to harm while in the shadows and forces players to go after him the long way, possibly through one or both of his decoys.
That makes this encounter set quite dangerous and a huge hassle to deal with. It also stacks up very well with other sets that introduce concealed enemies which can lead to this just straight up being 5 cards that add a doom that are likely to impact the agenda thresholds.

Number in the encounter deck: 3

What it does: When Coterie Agent is revealed, they hide in the shadows together with two decoys. Their stats are mostly irrelevant, as they have a reaction trigger that discards them as soon as they are exposed. However, until they are, they add a doom to the board.

My take: These can be nasty. Ignoring doom usually isn’t something you can do so you will have to somehow engage with them. This can eat up quite a few actions as you have to travel around and then possibly run into a decoy or two.
Unlike previous versions of the “Cultist”, these can also not easily be bypassed with something like Small Favor because they are immune to player cards and damage while in the shadows. As the final little insult, these are discarded on being exposed and not defeated. That means that any cards you have that do things on defeating enemies will not trigger on getting rid of the Coterie Agent… unless you choose to not trigger their reaction ability on purpose.

Threat level: High to Very High. Unless you get lucky, these will eat up most of your turn. Or if you are unlucky, even more. Also stacks up in a bad way with other concealed cards, making the Agent hard to root out as they might be able to hide behind decoys from other cards as well.

Dealing with it: There’s a high degree of luck involved with these, as you can either immediately flip the right one (so it only cost you one action) or you can run into two decoys and spend the better part of two turns to rooting these guys out. You do have some choice when placing the mini cards. One usually has to go on your current location and that’s the one you can immediately uncover. For the other two, consider not just the shroud on the location but also the connections between them. Ideally each of the three locations is connected to the other two so the worst case at least doesn’t make you backtrack an extra location. Other than that there’s not terribly much you can do to bypass what this card wants you to do, the Concealed ability makes it very resilient. Like all Concealed enemies, they are vulnerable to On The Hunt and Kicking the Hornet’s Nest, though.

Number in the encounter deck: 2

What it does: This adds a doom to a concealed enemy. If none is around, one is fetched up from the encounter deck or discard pile.

My take: As usual, our Cultist encounter set comes with a treachery that serves up these cultists. When there’s no other concealed enemies to interact with, this is fairly straightforward. Riddles and Rain does have the Red-Gloved Man as another potential target for doom, though. And Dancing Mad has the Coterie Assassin and Enforcer to interact with. That makes it actually a bit tamer in Dancing Mad, as those enemies from the Cleanup Crew are easier to uncover if you have to add doom to them. And you can pull them up instead of a Coterie Agent if no concealed enemy is in play, bypassing the doom thing completely. That being said, if there’s a lot of enemies in the shadows (like in Dancing Mad), then the added doom can become very difficult to remove.

Threat level: High. Mostly serves as another copy of the Coterie Agent, but with some variance in either direction depending on how big of a thing concealment is in that scenario.

Dealing with it: If you do have to pull an Agent with this, you will want to get one from the deck instead of the discard pile, just so you don’t have to draw it later. Of course, if you are able to get a different concealed enemy without doom on it, that can be very helpful, too.