Agents of Azathoth

Set Size4
Number of unique Cards2
Threat LevelHigh
# of scenarios3
Appears in: The Witching Hour, In the Clutches of Chaos, Before the Black Throne

My take on this set: A refreshing detour from the other “Agents of” sets, this one basically consists of only one enemy and the convoluted way of how it enters play. I very much like this design and how it achieves making a card that immediately does nothing more than “Nothing happens, draw another card.” into something that i dread drawing from the deck.
My only gripe with the set would be how different these sort of set collection cards work depending on player count. In four players, going through the encounter deck happens a lot faster than at two or even one players and as a result meeting the Piper is much more likely there. Now granted, the Piper’s stats and abilities really do call for a coordinated effort in taking it down, so maybe that’s all fair enough in the end. But as someone who only plays at two player count myself, i don’t think i saw the Piper outside of Before the Black Throne so far. A bit of a pity.

What it does: Daemonic Piping has no immediate effect except for being put into play next to the agenda deck and surging into another encounter card. Once all three copies of Piping have been put into play this way, this will however summon the Piper of Azathoth, a powerful Hunter enemy that deals a lot of horror damage to investigators at its location. The Piper can only enter play through the treachery effect because it is set aside at at setup and is not part of the actual encounter deck. Should the Piper already be in play when drawing the Daemonic Piping treachery, each investigator at its location and the ones connected to it will suffer further horror.

My take: An interesting and unique spin on a boss enemy. The requirement of having to draw all three Pipings first makes sure that the Piper will only enter play a couple turns in, when players are set up with their assets and ready to fight it. That sort of failsafe is sorely needed; the Piper is a formidable enemy that is very hard to take down. The high fight stat in combination with Retaliate and a lot of life can lead to frustration even for seasoned enemy handlers such as Tony Morgan or Mark Harrigan. These are some very hard to earn victory points indeed and will usually require two or more investigators working together.

Threat level: Mid for the Pipings, Very High for the Piper itself. Pipings might be the most frightening “Do Nothing but Surge for now” treachery in the game.

Dealing with Daemonic Pipings: Obviously there’s a bit of variance to when the Pipings are drawn. In games with one or two investigators, there’s a good chance that you won’t even go through the encounter deck during the scenario and that the third Pipings never shows up. In Witching Hour and Clutches of Chaos(Coven), there is also a number of cards in the encounter deck that discard encounter cards, possibly defusing the threat of a Piper appearing until the next reshuffle.
Canceling one of the treacheries is a good way to prevent the Piper for a while, but it should be noted that a card like Ward of Protection(0) or (2) or Forewarned will only cancel the revalation effect, so the Surge will still happen. Only Ward(5) will completely stop the card from doing anything.

Dealing with the Piper of Azathoth: The achilles heel of this enemy is its low agility of only 2. Just evading it can be a temporary solution, but especially with its ability to attack even when exhausted it can be hard to completely avoid being smacked for two horror here and there. To deal with it in a permanent way, exhaust it by evading it before beating down. This will shut down the Retaliate keyword, removing a lot of the risk that comes from engaging the Piper. To avoid being attacked in the enemy phase, investigators should team up to have a chance at taking down the monster in one phase. Seven health translates to about three to four successful attack actions. Add the evasion action on top and it’s apparent that these are two hard earned victory points indeed. Using whatever burst damage is available, from Vicious Blow over Timeless Brand to Beat Cop activations, is going to be key to minimizing the amount of damage that the Piper can deal to you. A card like Dynamite Blast can also be useful to soften up the Piper before engaging it.

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