Ancient Evils

Set Size3
Number of unique Cards1
Threat LevelVery High
# of scenarios26
VariantsResurgent Evils, Delusory Evils, Impending Evils
Appears in: The Gathering, The Devourer Below, Extracurricular Activities, Essex County Express, Blood on the Altar, Where Doom Awaits, The Last King, Black Stars Rise, Untamed Wilds, Shattered Aeons, The Witching Hour, For the Greater Good, Union and Disillusion, Before the Black Throne, Dark Side of the Moon, Point of No Return, Weaver of the Cosmos, Horror in High Gear, Into the Maelstrom, Ice and Death 1+2+3, Heart of Madness 1+2, Dealings in the Dark, Congress of the Keys (all)

What it does: Ancient Evils is one of the most iconic – and feared – encounter cards from the Core Set. It’s deceptively impactful. Its effect is pretty straight-forward: one doom is added to the current agenda, effectively robbing every investigator of one turn. While having no immediate effect on the board state, this does mean that the scenario will be over more quickly.

Additionally, Ancient Evils can immediately cause the agenda to advance. This is relevant because it means that it doesn’t become a dead draw during the turn where the agenda would’ve advanced anyways.

My take: I like that this card exists. A big piece of Arkham LCG’s story telling deals with uncertainty and unreliability. Things simply don’t go as planned. It is fitting then that a card exists to apply this to the doom threshold, especially as players are actually gaming this mechanic with concepts like the “Witching Hour”, the turn where you can use effects that apply doom freely because the agenda is going to advance anyways. An untimely Ancient Evils can throw a wrench in any such plans.
While Ancient Evils is absolutely a terrifying effect that accelerates the game towards a bad ending from having the agenda turn over, this card is still vastly overestimated. The good news is that Evils doesn’t influence the board state in any way, so players don’t lose any sort of momentum by having to deal with an enemy or a disabling treachery. Usually we expect an encounter card to cost us between one or two actions and/or cut into our resources, sanity or life. Evils does none of those things and as long as you usually still have doom on the doom clock left at the end of the scenario you could even argue that Evils did nothing. But it’s not quite as simple, of course. The mere presence of Evils in the deck forces players to be quick about getting to their goals, without being able to afford too much of setup time. Many players feel that this card is unfair and has no counterplay, but that isn’t really the case. The counterplay is being efficient about your actions and using the momentum from not drawing an immediately impactful encounter card to your advantage.
I am less of a fan when it comes to scenarios where these are frequently reshuffled. The scenarios in which Ancient Evils feels bad are the exception, though. Mostly you can just assume that the presence of Ancient Evils in the encounter deck has been factored in by the developers and that you are getting an extra two to three turns on the agenda to compensate.

Threat level: Very high. Usually an encounter card will take somewhere between 1 and 3 investigator actions to deal with. Ancient Evils will remove a full turn from each investigator, so it even scales a lot with number of investigators and can not be offset by gaining extra actions.

Dealing with it: The presence of the Ancient Evils in the encounter set means that there is some unreliability to the doom clock represented by the agenda cards. For example, instead of having 15 turns to finish a scenario, it suddenly becomes 12-15. This isn’t much of a problem in itself, after all the developers of the scenario very likely factored this into their balancing. Where it becomes more threatening however are scenarios that frequently reshuffle the encounter discard back into the encounter deck, introducing a much higher variance in the number of Ancient Evil cards seen over the course of a scenario.

Aside from manipulating the encounter deck itself, the only thing that can be done to directly counter them is neutralizing them with a card like Ward of Protection or Test of Will. But really, the presence of this card in the encounter deck means that investigators need to be proactive in achieving the scenario goals and moving towards the resolution without wasting time.

Return to The Dunwich Legacy: Resurgent Evils

Set Size3
Number of unique Cards1
Threat LevelHigh

What it does: Resurgent Evils is a replacement for Ancient Evils that comes with the Return to Dunwich box. Instead of straight up adding a doom to the current agenda, it offers a cruel choice to the player who drew it: Either do the standard Ancient Evils effect or draw the two next encounter cards instead. Offering this choice is balanced by the addition of the Peril keyword. Peril severely limits the chance of being able to neutralize this card.

My take: A suitable replacement for Ancient Evils for those who feel that the original card is too punishing or too random. I recommend using these in scenarios with lots of encounter deck reshuffles or with high player count. Just be aware that it is possible to draw another Resurgent Evils off the revelation effect of the first.

Return to The Path to Carcosa: Delusory Evils

Set Size3
Number of unique Cards1
RoleDoom, Hidden
Threat LevelLow to Medium

What it does: This is the replacement Evil from the Return to Carcosa box. Like Resurgent Evils before it, the player who draws the card has to decide if they take it as a straight doom advance or if they go for an alternative effect. In this case, the card uses the Hidden mechanic to stay in hand until the player does especially well on a test. That test then automatically fails instead. Like all hidden cards it has Peril, so again there are precious few ways of just dealing with the card without consequences.

My take: I think this is a very weak card, especially when i compare it to what it replaces. Instead of affecting everyone at the table, it now affects only one person. Instead of costing three actions (or more) per investigator, it only thwarts a single test. On the surface, this means that the card has a much lower impact than the other two Evils. Granted, a test that is succeeded by 3 or more is often one that was important enough to ditch skill icons to and invest. But it might as well be an investigation check on a low shroud location which incidentally is also a good way to get rid of the card. I would not consider swapping this card in outside of the Return to Carcosa campaign itself because the power differential between this card and what it replaces is just too large.

Return to Circle Undone: Impending Evils

What it does: Impending Evils deals 1 damage and 1 horror to the player that drew it, unless they choose to attach Impending Evils to the agenda deck. If they do, the card gains surge.
Once all 3 copies are attached, they are discarded and the current agenda immediately advances, no matter how much doom is on it currently.

My take: That “advance the agenda” effect looks scary at first glance, but it will never happen accidentally since the player can always choose to take a damage and horror instead. Attaching the card makes it surge into another encounter card, which to me means that i will usually want to take the damage and horror unless i am pretty beat up already.
So how threatening would an encounter card be that simply deals 1 damage and 1 horror and has Peril? I’d argue it’d be about on par with Rotting Remains or Grasping Hands. Compared to that fictional card, all the extra bells and whistles on Impending Evils are strictly in favor of the player since they are free to ignore it at their leisure. So, in conclusion we have a card here that is less threatening than Rotting Remains.
That being said, this is certainly not a softball like Delusory Evils is, this card does have some teeth in the context of the TCU campaign. Especially Before the Black Throne already hammers the players with horror and damage from one side and doom effects from the other. Choosing the correct mode for Impending Evils could end up being trickier than the card suggests at first. The card also fits very well into Union and Disillusion where it can trigger both Psychopomp’s Song and Death Approaches, keeping that little circle of hurt the encounter deck is built around going.
I would not use this replacement outside of the TCU campaign, though. The relevance of the damage/horror is dependent on the scenarios adding more pressure on top of it, something that many other campaigns don’t necessarily do. Eh, i suppose Shattered Aeons and Horror in High Gear could be good fits for using Impending Evils.

Threat level: Medium. Not as bad as it looks at first glance, but contextually relevant.

Dealing with it: Whenever possible, i would try to take the damage and horror, since there is no guarantee that surging the card would not just pull up something worse. That special effect to advance the agenda immediately should never come into play at all, as far as i am concerned that is just flavor text that makes the card look cool.

6 Replies to “Ancient Evils”

  1. How do you feel about house-ruling Ancient Evils to have Victory 0, to stop it from reshuffling in over and over again? (Or potentially even just the first two Ancient Evils.)

    (I’m pretty shocked that Delusory Evils doesn’t simply stay in hand permanently, ruining all the investigator’s future over-successes, whether that be by 3 or another number.)

  2. I guess that could be done, but i don’t think it ultimately matters that much. There’s only like two or three scenarios that even feature this combination of AE + reshuffling. And for at least one (Before the Black Throne) that’s even the main gimmick.

    In my opinion Resurgent Evils is the perfect fix for anyone who dislikes Ancient Evil because it offers a way out for those emergencies, but also comes with a drawback in the form of Peril to not just make it a strict “cheat” in favor of the investigators.

  3. I’m designing my own Ancient Evils replacement and was wondering if you’d be willing to give you thoughts on it. Specifically, it’s a general-purpose replacement for Resurgent Evils, because Resurgent Evils becomes toothless at 3-4 player count where the choice is laughable and the extra encounter card is a speedbump. To make it scale better, I was inspired by the fact that Ancient Evils basically repeats one of the 2 major components to the Mythos Phase, and the fact that the other one also scales: 1 encounter card drawn per investigator. A choice between repeating adding a doom and repeating the draw-encounter-cards step seems like it would be more of a choice. In summary:

    Peril, choose one: usual doom thing, or in player order, each investigator draws 1 encounter card.

    Currently, there’s a clause appended to handle the solo case by turning it into Resurgent Evils — (If you are the only surviving investigator, draw 2 encounter cards instead.). Although I wonder if a better design is to truly double the cards drawn, by having the player always draw an additional card when choosing the “each player draws” effect. The total encounter cards drawn on a turn where this peril was drawn are currently 2 for solo, 3 for 2player, 5 for 3 player, and 7 for 4player. Outside of solo, having it scale more harshly for higher player counts (i.e. draw 175% cards at 4 player, but only 150% at 2player) is interesting since bigger parties can handle encounter cards more effeciently.

    current text:

    Pervasive Evils
    Revelation — Choose one:
    *In player order, each investigator [reminder text](including you)[/reminder text] draws 1 encounter card. (If you are the only surviving investigator, draw 2 cards instead.)
    *Place 1 doom on the current agenda. This effect can cause the current agenda to advance.

    1. Not really sure because i only play 2p myself, so i do lack having an actual 4p perspective. My uninformed take would be that your change makes sense for the card itself. But i would think that doing that change isn’t all that necessary due to how 4p scales the number of encounter cards drawn each turn?

      Issues i see are that drawing so many encounter cards in one turn would really crank up the variance. What if you draw 5 enemies? It also puts the chance to just draw the next Evils through the roof. I suspect that your card wouldn’t really play all that well in practice or that it would just end up being way too frustrating sometimes depending on the encounter draws.

      If i were to face your card, i’d just take the doom pretty much always.

  4. Idea of a fix for Delusory Evils:

    “Peril. Hidden.

    Revelation – Secretly add this card to your hand.

    Forced: When you would succeed at a test by 3 or more, automatically fail instead. Then, discard Delusory Evils from your hand and place 1 doom on the current agenda (this effect can cause the agenda to advance).”

    Now, like with Painful Reflection, you’ve got a card that’s both less dangerous than it actually looks (stay at +2 above the test difficulty and you should avoid triggering Delusory Evils) and a ticking time bomb (would The Last King basically turn into a MacGyver episode?).

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