Almost exactly one year after the previous Taboo/FAQ we got the 2.1 version this week. As is par for the course, we get some new rule clarifications, interpretations and also re-interpretations. Additionally, some changes to the optional list of Taboos was made, intended to provide some balance shifts for those that opt into using them. Again, let me stress that the Taboo list is optional, if you are new to the game, your card pool is still small or if you straight up don’t care about these changes, then by all means ignore them.
For those that do care, here’s a list of the changes plus some enlightened commentary by yours truly.
These are the cards that got a modifier to their XP cost, making them more expensive (chained) or cheaper (unchained) to buy when upgrading your decks. Remember this doesn’t alter their card level, so this will not push cards in or out of some investigator’s card pool. I will only go over what changed to the previous version of the taboo.
Pathfinder(+1): Used to be chained at +2, so this becomes cheaper to include. I did not really expect this, Pathfinder is quite good. A slotless card that basically provides an extra action each turn is easily worth paying 3XP for. That being said, I don’t have strong feelings on this change and I don’t expect it to change much how often this card gets used or not for me.
Switchblade(+0): Used to be chained at +1. I always thought chaining this one was a bit weird, as there’s really only one investigator, Tony, that can use it properly. Fully agree with the unchain, it was just unnecessary.
Higher Education(+0): Used to be chained at +3, so this is a big one. This is a very powerful card that trivializes skill checks. I am very surprised to see this being unchained, i think this is an unhealthy card for the game that promotes a very boring and stale playstyle. This one should stay nuked imo.
Streetwise(+0): Used to be chained at +3. The other good one of the Dunwich talents, but way less so than Higher Ed. Still, funneling money into skill boosts at a rate better than 1:1 is particularly valuable for Rogue. Unlike Higher Ed, this doesn’t quite deserve the +3 chain to 6XP, but seeing it at its original 3XP probably makes it a bit too good.
Scrapper(+0): Used to be chained at +1. This is totally fine to unchain. There are tons of cards by now that let you trade resources to skill boosts 1:1, Scrapper is nothing special anymore.
David Renfield(+0): Got chained +3 in 2.0, this got dropped again. Good. Chaining Renfield in anticipation of being too good in a doom archetype that ended up a complete stinker was ridiculous. He got a mutation instead which is fair. More about that in a bit.
Sharpshooter(-1): New to the list. Buying this card now costs 2XP instead of 3XP. I do appreciate the sentiment, Sharpshooter is indeed a card that needs help. That being said, i don’t think this changes much. The issue with Sharpshooter isn’t the XP cost, it’s the fact that it exhausts on use, so failing your attack leaves you with your pants down. While that is very rogue, it also makes it a hard sell to build a deck around.
Jeremiah Kirby(0): Like Renfield, the poor guy was chained in 2.0 (to +2) and this has been lifted in favor of a mutation. I very, very, very much like this change, this means that Kirby can go up against Milan for slots at deck creation again. More on the mutation in a bit.
Runic Axe, Inscription of the Hunt (+1): New to the list. Fine? The Inscription of the Hunt is very powerful, getting repeatable free moves should cost 2XP. It now costs the same as Pathfinder, which i can agree with.
Shed A Light(+2): New to the list. Oof, swing and a miss in my opinion. This changes very little to the monstrum that is the “reduce to zero” archetype. Old Keyring(3) was the card to hit instead and with a mutation instead of a chaining. I agree with the reasoning behind the change, but i don’t think this effectively does anything too worthwhile.
Mutations are cards that got errata to their card text. These are mostly small changes that can be memorized easily, but a couple are a bit more involved. As with the Chainings and Unchainings, these can be used to either make cards stronger or weaker.
Hypnotic Gaze and Banish: Both of these rarely played cards now get their additional effects on any symbol token, not just the ones named on the card. I don’t think this makes Banish a whole lot more playable, but being able to reliably deal damage with Hypnotic Gaze in bless/curse decks has potential.
The upgraded version of Hypnotic Gaze is not explicitly mentioned in the document, but it’s safe to assume that it is affected by this change as well. EDIT: Duke confirmed on Discord that Hypnotic Gaze(2) is intentionally excluded from this mutation. Personal opinion: That’s just being inconsistent for no reason and truly bizarre. For my own games, I will go against this and apply this mutation to the level 2 version as well because i see no reason not to.
David Renfield: He got unchained, but his ability is now limited to creating a maximum of 3 resources. That seems perfectly fair and agreeable.
Persuasion: No longer requires the target to be Humanoid. Hey, this is pretty good removal now! I could see myself using this card now, when it was basically unplayable before. Good change.
Interrogate: Same thing, no longer needs the target to be Humanoid. A way for Guardian to reliably pick up two clues? This might on average be better than (or as good as) Scene of the Crime now. And Scene is a perfectly respectable card. Again, turning an unplayable coaster into something worthwhile, i approve.
Daredevil: Weaknesses discarded by Daredevil are now drawn, not shuffled back. Hey, this is actually a buff despite being worded like adding a risk to your tests. Drawing a weakness is still card draw, now that weakness doesn’t replace your draw in a later turn. Well, at least if the weakness doesn’t reshuffle, but that’s the exception. I like Daredevil a lot in all sorts of decks and this mutation makes me think that i will only like it more. Note that this only applies to the level zero version.
Trish Scarborough: Her investigator ability can no longer evade Elites. She can still gain extra clues off of the presence of an Elite. Yep, that’s fair. Trish is pretty ridiculous and shaving a bit off of her top end power is perfectly justified.
Ancient Covenant: No longer can be activated on other players skill tests, only your own. I think it’s still the best Covenant, but at least it now has one strike against it when compared to the others. It’s now the only “selfish” one and in a high player count environment that might push you towards Sacred Covenant instead if you are one of the few investigators that can run both of them. I’m not sure this change accomplishes much, but i have no strong feelings on this.
Geared Up: Is now limited to 5 items. Ha. I pretty much considered Geared Up to be unplayable outside of the “Backpack+Shoeffners+20 items” abuse case. I can see that this extreme needed to be reined in, but is the card just unplayable in total now? Dunno, this isn’t a card i am particularly interested in so i will leave the commentary on this one to people that actually play it.
Jeremiah Kirby: Can now be triggered only twice per game. I guess this is okay. It’s at least preferable to the chaining. This completely clamps down on any Hit and Run/Calling in Favors shenanigans and i feel like this could have been a “max 4 per game” instead to allow at least a little bit of interaction between those cards while just removing loops and abuse cases. That being said, i am fine with just playing Kirby “fairly”.
Burn After Reading: Also gains a “max 2 per game”. It already exiles itself, so this was targeted at party play where everyone was bringing two of these to a standalone or campaign finale. Sure, that seems fair.
Research Notes: The second ability is limited to spending a max of 3 evidence (and thus picking up a max of 3 clues) now. Note that a max is group wide and across all assets, so this clamps down a bit on the interaction of having two copies of this card out. Having two Notes out is still quite powerful and i think i would’ve preferred just a straight up “limit 1 per investigator” on the asset. But sure, worth a try doing it like this instead. Can always be more heavy handed in a later mutation.
Power Word: Alright, so there are multiple parts to this one.
First off, “Cower” is no longer an innate ability of the card, instead it moves to the upgrade sheet and now costs an XP. This seems fine to me. The ability to repeatedly exhaust an enemy is worth an XP and the innate ability to move an enemy can still be used to protect yourself from the enemy.
Then, “Mercy” is removed completely as an option. It represented a lot of repeatable testless healing of both stamina and horror, at an efficient rate. I can see that being too good as it trivializes most of the challenge from the encounter deck. As a side-effect this means that Vincent can no longer use Power Word at all and that Carolyn can only upgrade it to level 1. Again, this looks like a reasonable change to me.
Finally, the card is no longer testless. All commands now need a Will(3) test to work. I get what they are going for here, Power Word being repeatable and testless is indeed a problem. But this seems like a very awkward change to me on two levels. For one, one of the main appeals of this card is how it replaces being testless with having to find the right enemies to attach to. This is what made it usable for the likes of Amina. Now, Power Word is just another “Willpower matters” spell like all the others. That is really bad in my opinion because it doesn’t change much if someone like Akachi or Agnes uses Power Word, but makes it so Power Word simply isn’t playable in Amina anymore. The other reason i don’t like this change is because it’s just tiresome to resolve. So many extra tests to do, that’s a lot of fiddling around with the chaos bag. Just on that basis alone I would not want to include Power Word anymore.
I’ve never been one to play Power Word, it doesn’t really appeal to me much in theme and mechanics. But i did appreciate it (like much of TSK) for breaking the “Willpower Matters” mold in Mystic and i am sad to see this fall to the wayside here.
The list of Taboos is only one part of the FAQ document, with it also come a couple rules clarifications and changes. Disclaimer: I do have a good grasp on the general rules of the game, but deeper minutiae and timings often escape me. I’ll still try to comment on the two most important changes:
For each/For every: The way it works now, if an “for each” effect can be calculated in full in advance, it happens in one go. If it can’t, it resolves in seperate instances. If it has a choice, it always resolves seperately. The big takeaway here is that Deny Existence can no longer cancel Terrible Secret and Crisis of Faith (the weaknesses of Diana and Mary) in full. You might want to run some horror healing in those two investigators now instead or in addition to Deny.
Ignoring all costs: If a card instructs you to ignore all costs, it doesn’t ignore “additional costs”. So basically, it only ignores costs left of the colon, none of the ones on the right. This seems to be targeted at making cards like Knowledge is Power a bit less potent and freeing up some design space for cards with powerful additional costs, but has some consequences that aren’t all that intuitive. For example, you can play KiP to use a Shrivelling in your hand, but no longer play it to use Brand of Cthugha from your hand. Pushed to the Limit from the upcoming Hemlock Vale will be able to fire a M1918 BAR for 5 damage from your discard, but you won’t be able to empower an Enchanted Blade when using Pushed to the Limit on it. Kinda weird.
There’s a bunch more red text in the FAQ document with notes on rules explanations, much of it regarding Scarlet Keys, in particular concerning the keys and the Concealed keyword. But nothing that really merits being specifically called out here.