Agents of the Outside

Set Size4
Number of unique Cards2
RoleHollow, Enemy
Threat LevelMedium
# of scenarios4
Appears in: Dancing Mad, On Thin Ice, Without a Trace, Congress of the Keys (all)

My take on this set: I like this set a whole lot. I think it’s very well balanced, with two cards that are scary and impactful, but at the same time also not overbearing and able to be played around. The decision on whether or not to deal with an aloof Outsider (either from this set or others) that is not an immediate threat gets a new dimension through the threat of Matter Inversion. Just in general, these two cards interact very well with both Secret War and Outsiders, two sets that are often used together with Agents of the Outside.
Thumbs up, great pair of cards.

Number in the encounter deck: 2

What it does: As a 3/3/3 that deals 1 damage and 1 horror, Paradigm Effacer has very archetypical stats. Its ability sets it apart, though. It’s an aloof hunter that follows the investigators around. Whenever an investigator ends their turn at the Effacer’s location, they have to hollow the top of their deck. If they have 3 or more hollows already, Effacer gets a free attack out of it as well.

My take: This is a pretty cool enemy. It certainly is impactful, just the fact that it is Aloof and has 3 health makes it awkward to get rid of… unless you happen to have a Spectral Razor at hand, which is basically the perfect answer to Effacer. Since it triggers on the end of the player turn and not the enemy phase, you can avoid its ability pretty well by just keeping on the move. This can make it tempting to let it stay in play, but that just leaves it on the board as a great target for the eventual Matter Inversion.
I think this enemy hits a lot of sweet spots in terms of how threatening it is. It is impactful, but not in a manner that is overbearing.

Threat level: Mid. Since it just follows you around and takes away the occasional card, it doesn’t have immediate impact. But over time, it can sneak up on you.

Dealing with it: Without a way to engage as a free action or a way to deal 3 damage in one hit, this takes a full turn to defeat. Anything you have to speed that up is going to be helpful of course. How much of a priority this enemy is will depend a bit on how many cards of yours have been hollowed already. If none, then you could trigger its ability twice without it attacking which is generally fine. Otherwise you will probably have to do something about this enemy. Note that its ability fires even if its engaged with you, so should you fail to defeat it in one turn it will both attack you regularly and possibly attack you again from its ability. Just another reason to get to it early while that isn’t a possibility yet.

Number in the encounter deck: 2

What it does: Matter Inversion attaches to an Outsider enemy and makes it more difficult to handle. It removes Aloof, lets it gain Retaliate and also gives a bonus to both fight and evade. Notably, no modifications to health, damage or horror are made. Evading the enemy enhanced by Matter Inversion will discard the treachery and allow the player to regain one of their hollows.
Only one Matter Inversion can be attached to an enemy at the same time. If Matter Inversion is drawn without a suitable target, it surges.

My take: In my experience this surges a lot because i am not in a habit of letting enemies stick around for long. Whenever it was allowed to do its thing, it was quite relevant, though. Effacer is already a decent enemy, increasing its fight and evade from 3 to 4 makes it downright dangerous, with Retaliate adding to its already high potential for multiple attacks in one turn. The other notable Outside with Aloof and Hunter that can suddenly come down looking for a fight is the Otherworldly Mimic (from the Secret War set which is often used in conjunction with Agents of the Outside). Mimic likewise has its fight increased from 3 to 4, making Retaliate a decent threat. Actually, the same is true for the Paracausal Entity from Outsiders as well… just without the Aloof interaction.
If you are really unlucky, you could have to attach this to Apocalyptic Presage… or one of the big enemies from Without a Trace. Unless you do find yourself in such an unlucky spot, the “evade to discard” thing is likely not going to be too relevant. It does give the rare opportunity to get back a crucial hollowed card, but especially when you are giving an enemy back its Aloof keyword it will usually not be worth the effort.

Threat level: Low to Mid. This turns up the heat on its possible targets considerably. That being said, it will usually be preferable to drawing another actual enemy.

Dealing with it: The nice thing about enemy attachments is that defeating that enemy will deal with two encounter draws at the same time. Matter Inversion does make the enemy noticeably more difficult and risky to fight, but if you do have ways of either dealing testless damage or just testing with very high modified skill values you can bypass this risk and just enjoy a nice little 2-for-1 here. For example, you could use Blood-Rites on a Mimic with Matter Inversion to kill two cards without a test or use something like Spectral Razor for a skill value that will most likely do the trick.

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