(replaces Anette’s Coven from Circle Undone)
Goal of this replacement set: I have some issues with the original set that i want to improve upon. While at it, i also want to use this set to counteract some of the player count scaling in Circle Undone that makes a couple cards very uninteresting if you play with only one or two investigators.
Goal 1: The witches simply weren’t particularly impactful or memorable. I think this is not acceptable for a set that represents one of the two major factions of the campaign. While i do not think they should be good fighters, i do think that they should do some more than just mill two encounter cards.
Goal 2: The witches were anti-synergistic with two cards from Circle Undone that attach to the agenda and fire when three of them are collected. These two cards (Daemonic Pipings from the Agents of Azathoth and Terror in the Night from Inexorable Fate) could be discarded by a Coven Initiate, helping the players because they wouldn’t need to be afraid of finding all three of them before the encounter deck reshuffles. Especially at low player counts that meant that those cards basically never assembled together for their full effect. The new set should help with that instead, so a two player party might run into the Piper outside of Before the Black Throne sometimes after all.
Special note: Unlike the other encounter replacement sets from the ARES series, i would recommend using this set only when playing with few players. It’s intended to help with a specific scaling issue that simply doesn’t exist at full parties.
I should also note that this set jacks up the difficulty a bit more than the other replacement sets, so be aware of that. Encounter recursion effects can be very powerful and a bit unpredictable, making them hard to balance. These cards have the potential to unearth some really nasty cards, from Rotten Remains to Realm of Torment. Daemonic Pipings and Shapes in the Mist even have Surge.
I don’t think that the average case for these two replacement witches is all that bad and one of the goals was increasing the threat coming from the coven. But be aware that there is a bigger amount of variance here that can come and bite you when you least want it to.
About this card: The Disciple leaves the base stats, the horror and the traits of the original Initiate intact. It even shares the triggered ability of discarding the top two cards. However, instead of an ability that triggers only when those were the last cards of the encounter deck (so … almost never), the replacement version triggers on discarding a Terror card among those two. Daemonic Pipings and Terror of the Night are of course Terror cards, but there are a couple others that can be picked up and thrown at the player. Of particular note is the Striking Fear set which consists entirely of Terror treacheries. Luckily, it is only paired with the Coven set during the first scenario.
About this card: The Ritualist continues the theme of caring about Terrors in the encounter discard pile. It trades in the physical strength of the original Priestess for a recursion ability that can pull Terror cards back that got discarded either from other encounter cards (like Centuries of Secrets) or simply by resolving. While her stats are nothing to really write home about, killing her in combat should be done by using a 3-damage attack, to minimize the danger of autofailing into a Retaliate that brings back a Frozen in Fear or something similarly gruesome. Her ability won’t outright draw more encounter cards (i felt like that was too much), but she can stack the encounter deck against you if you let her.