|Size of the Encounter Deck||38|
My take on this encounter deck: This scenario has a lot going on. A LOT. And the encounter deck reflects this. 38 cards is a big stack of cards for the encounter deck, and many of them do Surge (or are at least able to surge). So despite the size of the deck the card combos woven in there do still come into play often.
The scenario has multiple mechanical centers: Oceiros and his capturing mechanic. The Hatchling/Nursemaid combo. Flood tokens are back in a big way. Like all Innsmouth scenarios, this one does something funky with the location connectors again. And all of those interact with the encounter deck, making this scenario a really cohesive experience.
The scenario is also quite difficult. Of course this is already scenario six of the campaign, so obviously the kids gloves have been off for a while but this is a noticable increase even next to the already quite tense Horror in High Gear and Devil Reef. It also does have the possibility for a total campaign fail should the investigators drown in the caves…
And as if that wasn’t enough, the act and agenda decks work slightly different this time. Doom is carried from one agenda to the next and advancing the act deck will also advance the agenda (and vice versa). So there is some considerable time pressure on the players to have the act deck stay ahead of the agenda deck because advancing the agenda first has some nasty consequences.
Stepping back from the bigger picture and looking at the numbers above, there’s nothing too remarkable that would stand out. Willpower is a but more pronounced than usual. Except for Syzygy which has other modes, there is no doom cards around. Damage from treacheries could become a concern. Horror is relatively easy to manage for once, as thankfully both Innsmouth Look and Dreams of R’lyeh are absent, but there are a decent number of sources around, including Rotting Remains.
Cancel these: Deep One Assault. Frozen in Fear. The Deep One Assault is a card that does a lot of work throughout the campaign, but it has never been as potent as here. The primary reasons for that are the close connections between the locations (making it very likely that any remaining Deep Ones on the board can engage you) and the highly synergistic enemies here. Hatchlings, Nursemaid and Oceiros himself are all a huge issue and Assault can dump multiples of them on a player. In turn, Deep One Assault is by far the most dangerous treachery in this encounter deck and should be warded on sight, if possible. Very closely behind is Frozen in Fear, the old staple card that seems to pop up whenever we really want to move around fast. Depending on your investigators, it might even be a bigger issue than Deep One Assault. In any case, there’s no shortage of heavy hitters in this encounter deck.
What it does: At first glace, the Deep One Hatchling is just as small and harmless as you’d expect from a youngling. But still, this enemy can be a threat. For one, it surges and after engaging, the player has to either lose a point of sanity to an immediate attack or one of their actions. Defeating the Hatchling is easy enough but will move the nearest unengaged and ready Deep One towards the investigator. That Deep One loses Aloof for that movement, allowing Nursemaids to immediately engage.
There are four of these in the encounter deck, which makes dealing with them a major part of the scenario.
My take: Since it has Surge it takes only very little for this card to become a menace. And there is quite the potential here for the Hatchling to become a very relevant card. The impact of enemy cards can most often be measured in how many actions it takes to remove them and this one potentially takes one action away just for engaging. And then probably another one to deal with it. That alone would be enough to make the Hatchling dangerous, but of course the Forced on defeat and the Surge come extra on top.
Make no mistake, this thing is one of the most dangerous things in the encounter deck.
Threat level: High. Even the best case is quite bad but it can spiral out of control very easily.
Dealing with it: The first decision to make after drawing this enemy is whether to lose the action or take the attack. It attacks only for a point of horror so this can be a very sensible option since there is little else in the encounter deck that deals horror. The other big decision is on either defeating or evading the Hatchling. The enemy doesn’t have Hunter, so evading it can make sense as long as nobody is planning to move through that location again. If killing the enemy is possible without having to engage another one, that is an opportunity worth taking. On the other side of the spectrum, the worst case would be having to attract a nursemaid. Drawing a surging hatchling only to kill it and immediately engage a nursemaid that draws yet another encounter card… yuck. That’s a case where evasion should certainly be the better call.
As a final note on evading hatchlings… having too many of these around can turn drawing a Deep One Assault into even more of a nightmare than usual.
What it does: Very untypical for the otherwise engagement happy Deep Ones, the Nursemaid is aloof. All other Deep Ones at her location and connected ones gain +1 fight and evade, a significant increase for Lurkers and the Bull in particular. It should be noted that Oceiros Marsh is also a Deep One, so he too will get the bonus which increases his chance to retaliate and thereby capture the attacking investigator.
In an investigator engages the Nursemaid, they need to draw the top card of the encounter deck. To stop this from completely escalating, the drawn card at least loses surge.
The Nursemaid also has Retaliate but due to her low health and medium fight stat, it’s not going to matter very often.
My take: During A Light in the Fog, all locations in one row are connected with each other, giving the Nursemaid the ability to always cover at least 4 locations with her ability, potentially up to 6 if she spawns at one of the grottos that connect the rows with each other.
Her engage ability is obviously very powerful, basically it’s a delayed Surge that might even trigger multiple times. There are three main things that might cause players to engage her and get subjected to the ability: They can either do so on their own accord, to be able to fight her. They could kill a Hatchling at a connected location and have the nursemaid shuffle over to them. Or they could draw Deep One Assault. Especially that last one can be really painful and of the three it’s also the one that is most difficult to avoid.
Thankfully there’s only two of these in the encounter deck.
Threat level: High. A “surging” enemy that boosts all other enemies around it. Yikes.
Dealing with it: If you find yourself in a situation where you have to engage this thing, at least make sure that you kill her afterwards so nobody has to do it again later. This is really not an enemy to evade, she belongs in the discard pile – the sooner, the better.
The best way to deal with her is never engaging her and just killing her with indirect damage. I keep mentioning Dynamite Blast in these Innsmouth reviews, i think that card might just be really useful here… but of course a Blood-Rite or similar might do. The nursemaid is even worth sticking around so you can ping her twice with Beat Cop.
In absence of such silver bullets you will need to eventually decide if you can risk having her stick around or if you can just engage her, draw the extra encounter card and kill her to be done with it. This will very much depend on the board state and on whether or not you have a Ward in your sleeve for Deep One Assault.
What it does: The investigator has to pass a willpower test or take 2 horror. The difficulty of the test scales with the highest fight value of Deep Ones in play. If no Deep Ones are around, Hideous Lullaby surges instead.
My take: Fairly basic card and one of the few sources of horror in this encounter deck. There are three of these in the deck, but horror isn’t the primary concern her unless the investigator is naturally concerned about it due to a low starting sanity. Oceiros and the Bull both have four fight, followed by Nurse with three, Lurker with two and of course the Hatchlings with one. So if you are really unlucky you might need to test against difficulty 4 or 5 here, but usually it will be a good amount lower, giving even low willpower investigators a fair chance to succeed here.
Threat level: Low. 2 horror is not nothing, but it lacks the backup from more sources to become a bigger issue.
Dealing with it: Any investigator who is threatened by cards like this should have the necessary soak in their deck to deal with it. Plainly speaking, if they made it through Horror in High Gear, this card should be a non-issue for them.
What it does: After failing a combat test, the investigator is dealt 2 damage and then has to put Kiss of Brine into their threat area until the end of the enemy phase. While affected by Kiss of Brine, that player can not gain any resources or draw cards. The difficulty of the test is low, but is increased significantly at flooded locations.
Passing the test will avoid all of the effects.
My take: It’s easy to miss that this is discarded at the end of the enemy phase and not at the end of the turn. That means it’s no longer present for the upkeep, so the player can draw their card and gain their resource then. This of course severely limits the impact of the effect this card has as the restrictions apply primarily to the investigator phase.
Of course, there is still the 2 damage dealt and those are relevant as they stack up with other damage sources (like Tidal Alignment and the Lurking Deep One’s engagement effect).
Threat level: Low to Mid. This is mostly a damage card, the extra bits are rarely going to be much of a factor.
Dealing with it: If you are affected by this, you might need to postpone playing the Faustian Bargain, Blood-Rite or whatever for a turn. Except for this, which is likely barely a minor convenience most of the time, this just deals 2 damage which you can deal with in the usual ways. There are some extra damage sources that compound with this one, so keep an eye on that.
What it does: If the player fails a willpower test, they have to put Totality into their threat area where it will stay until the end of the turn. Totality deals 1 horror to the investigator each time they enter a flooded location.
My take: This could in theory deal a decent amount of horror, but will in practice rarely do so. For one, the willpower test can completely deflect it and it is discarded at the end of the turn automatically. But even while active, the horror is only dealt as a direct result of a choice that the player has to make during that turn. So if they are concerned about their sanity, sticking to dry locations or limiting their movements offers a way out.
Now of course, there are situations where staying in place is not ideal during this scenario, but the bottom line is that this card depends a lot on circumstances to be an issue and that it then can be mitigated with player choice.
Like most encounter cards that deal with flooded locations, this one is powered up more and more towards the end of the scenario. This is even more true in A Light in the Fog as that is very likely going to end in a rush through flooded locations to the exit. When drawing Totality in those last moments, this card can be really bad and become a candidate for canceling or for dumping multiple cards for icons into the will test.
Threat level: Mid. Very dependent on context, but there are certainly some ugly scenarios that can come up with this card.
Dealing with it: Except for the last couple turns you will likely find that the choice of staying in place or taking an extra horror will be fairly obvious to you. Aside from this, Lullaby and Undertow are the only other cards that directly deal horror. Like Totality, Undertow also offers ways to not gain the horror in the first place. So you can make relatively informed decisions when predicting how much of your sanity you can spend for this card..
What it does: Worth His Salt is only added to the deck mid-scenario, after Oceiros Marsh has entered the scene and the players found their way into the grottos. When drawn, this card attaches to Oceiros, no matter if he’s in play or in the victory display. When Oceiros does his hunter movement, Worth His Salt can make him move twice. However, he will not be able to attack in that same phase if he needed this move.
Worth is Salt is discarded when Oceiros attacks. That attack will deal an extra damage and horror.
My take: Unless you planned on evading Oceiros forever, this isn’t that bad. If anything, this card is a reason to not evade him and kill him instead. It’s not a particularly easy fight, but having a Hunter that moves two locations per turn around is just not going to work out in a scenario where the locations are all very closely connected with each other.
Note that the bottom Forced effect triggers not only if Oceiros attacks during the enemy phase, but also when he gets bonus attacks from his Retaliate keyword.
The silver lining here is that Oceiros comes back from the victory display only once. So once you defeat him in the caves, these two cards become freebies.
Threat level: Medium. This card severely limits players in trying to handle Oceiros with evasion.
Dealing with it: If you areset on trying to evade Oceiros for the scenario, these are worth canceling. Otherwise you don’t really deal with this card, you deal with the big guy. Running is not going to work, so have your best fighter(s) go straight to it so you can get back to advancing the scenario as soon as possible.
What it does: If the investigator fails a difficult agility test, they are captured. Also, their keys are placed on the Holding Cells.
My take: Getting captured can be annoying, but it’s not necessarily a big problem. As a reminder, getting captured entails three things: 1) The investigator is moved to the Holding Cells, 2) The investigator can not move or fight until freed and 3) all of their hand slot assets are returned to the player’s hand. That last point can potentially undo a lot of spent resources and/or actions and is going to be a major factor in how bad getting captured really is. I suppose it could in some cases even be beneficial by returning spent assets back to the hand, ready to be replayed with full charges. But that is not really plannable, so that probably shouldn’t factor into the evaluation of this card too much.
To free themselves, the investigator has to take an action and pass an agility or combat test. Alternatively, they can use the yellow key to automatically succeed, however Taken Captive will place all their keys on the location so the player may have to discover the clues from the location first before being able to pick their key up again. If all else fails, a team member can bail them out by spending that action at the cells for them. The cells are one or two steps away from all other locations, so that’s at least reasonable.
I’d like to mention as well that there’s a precious victory point on the cells and that this location only enters play when someone gets captured at some point. This treachery offers a way to do so without having to tangle with Oceiros… which could potentially be in the interest of particularly greedy players 🙂
In any case, failing this treachery will cost quite a few actions. The movement back from the cells, the actions to free yourself, the actions to play your hand assets again… this is a significant obstacle before even considering that this could for example separate your main fighter from the seeker they are protecting.
Threat level: Mid to High. While there are ways to mitigate the effects of this treachery, it is usually going to eat up several actions, possibly even from multiple players.
Dealing with it: Another high impact card worth throwing your cancels at. A Light in the Fog is not pulling any punches! There are few ways of preparing for this card and the test is not easy either. This keeps the possibility of getting captured around even when Oceiros is dealt with. Other than saving up some resources to be able to replay a crucial asset there’s not a whole lot that can be done to prepare for the eventuality.