Best-Laid Plans: The Crew of the Theodosia

Introduction

There’s nine members to the expedition team and they are a huge part of the campaign with a total of 27 cards dedicated to them, three for each person: The initial story asset card represents them in gameplay. A second asset card, the resolute version, can be earned along the way to replace the initial card, upgrading the abilities and stats. Finally, each person also has a memento card, which players can earn if the team member died.

There are two main ways to interact with these characters. For each scenario, each player is allowed to take one of the crew with them as a partner asset that is in play from the start, giving access to their abilities and soak. During interludes between the main scenarios, the players are also allowed to get help from the team which can give such bonuses as trauma removal, extra XP or additional cards on the next starting hand. Additionally, there are several points in the campaign book where having certain people around will prevent bad things from happening or aiding in other ways.

Dr. Amy Kensler

The professor of biology is the leader of the expedition. Her ability allows investigating at a high base value while also scouting the top card of a deck. She does have a good amount of sanity. The resolute version gives her an additional point of stamina and turns her ability into a free action. Her memento is Kensler’s Log, which allows investigating at high base value while picking up an extra clue.

Visiting her during interludes doesn’t give an immediately tangible benefit. Instead she shares her research with the players, which gives some unique campaign log entries, possibly unlocking a special ending to the campaign.

Going into Heart of Madness, you will pick up a physical trauma if Amy is no longer alive then.

My take: I rarely take Kensler on missions. Her investigation is nice of course, but that’s something that your investigators should be able to do anyways. And three charges ultimately don’t change a whole lot, it’s just a potential three extra clues picked up. Once resolute, getting those without having to spend an action makes it more attractive, but it’s still just value and doesn’t really solve an actual problem. Especially when upgraded, her stats are really nice, though. If you are looking to pawn off some horror to a partner, she can fill that need quite well.
She uses secrets, so her uses can be refilled with several Seeker cards. Those are usually able to refill something better, though.
Kensler’s Log however is excellent, possibly one of the best mementos actually. Its value depends a lot on if you are able to get more mileage out of it, either by feeding secrets into it to refill it or recycling it with the likes of Scavenging. In the right deck, Kensler’s Log can turn into a sort of super charged upgraded Ice Pick, providing a steady stream of two-clue investigations.

Roald Ellsworth

Roald Ellsworth is a seasoned explorer and as such helps investigators when it comes to dealing with persistent treacheries which usually represent weather or other environmental dangers. He has a high amount of supplies and his ability can be used as a free action even on the non-resolute version which means there’s a very low opportunity cost to triggering his ability. He’s got good stamina which the resolute version increases further. The resolute version also no longer requires charges to be used, the charges can instead be spent to trigger him multiple times per turn. His memento is Ellsworth’s Boots, a piece of footwear that offers free moves after clearing the last clue from locations.

Visiting him during interludes rewards unique campaign log entries that give minor bonuses during the setup for the next main scenario.

There are no explicit penalties or bonuses in the scenario setup texts for keeping Roald alive.

My take: Roald is amazing, at least for the first half of the campaign he does A LOT of work. Treacheries that stay in play are everywhere and are often quite annoying to deal with. Roald can just switch those off for a turn without losing any tempo. It really can’t be overstated how excellent this ability is and how many dangerous situations it defuses. Especially during Forbidden Peaks, his ability can make the difference between winning and losing the scenario as having to stay on a spot with a treachery while engaged with one or more enemies is a common occurrence.
His resolute version is fine, but not as much of an upgrade as many others are because he’s already at free action speed from the start. Also, as the campaign goes on, he becomes less and less important, so this devalues the resolute version as well.

He uses supplies, so he could be refilled with Emergency Cache or Contraband, but this is hardly going to be necessary as he already starts with a generous amount of uses and even gains the ability to be used without spending anything.
The memento is okay, but it’s really just a copy of the seeker card Hiking Boots, except without the agility bonus (but better icons). A bit disappointing, to be honest. But usually worth including if you had the misfortune of seeing Ellsworth die on you. Can be nice if you have someone on clue duty who is not a seeker, as it will give them some good amount of extra mobility their class (particularly survivor and mystic) might not be able to provide otherwise. Still, this is one explorer that is 100% worth more to you alive than he is dead.

James “Cookie” Fredericks

Like Roald, James is a veteran explorer who has been on expeditions before. His stats are slanted towards stamina even more, and even the resolute version never gets a second point of sanity. His ability is a fight ability, using a high base skill but without any extra damage. The enemy that is attacked by Cookie will not be able to attack for the rest of the round, unless it is Elite. The resolute version gives James another point of stamina, a point of base attack and most crucially, it turns his ability into a free action. His memento is his revolver which only has two shots in it, but is fast and can attack with a high base attack. Unlike James himself, the revolver does actually get the bonus damage.

During interludes, Cookie can be visited for an extra point of experience.

In the setup for City of Elder Things, investigators have to add a Frost token to the chaos bag, unless they have Dynamite and Cookie is still alive.

My take: Cookie is a bit of a hard sell for me. Since he doesn’t have that crucial extra damage to his fight action, it can be tough to find opportunities to uses for his ability that are worth spending an action. It gets better when Cookie is resolute, as the change to free action means that he can be used similar to the Garotte Wire, finishing off those 3 health enemies that are everywhere in this campaign.
If you are expecting to run into situations where you are getting swarmed by enemies, Cookie can be a good failsafe. Especially during Ice and Death #3 and Forbidden Peaks, the ability to turn off the attack of an enemy can take the edge of hectic combat situations. Sadly both the Seeping Nightmares and the Terror in the Stars are Elite, though…
If you are using the resolute version a lot to control combat like that, it can be worth thinking about ways to generate more ammo for Cookie, using cards like Contraband or Venturer.
The back half of the campaign heavily features the Miasma set, which is relevant because the encounter card Nebulous Miasma is able to kill Cookie in one hit. So be very aware of that.
Most enemies in Edge of the Earth do have more than 2 stamina and that makes his revolver very awkward to use. On paper, it’s a fine weapon and both rogue and guardian have ways to replenish it. But in practice the 2 damage just doesn’t cut it, killing a a basic Eidolon or Elder Thing will usually already take both shots of this weapon. If you are a low fight investigator that is looking for an emergency option, Cookie’s .32 can do the job but usually I’d hesitate to even pick this card up if Cookie dies.

Takada Hiroko

Takada Hiroko is the mechanic of the expedition and as such she is able to assist the investigators in acquiring their gadgets. This is represented by an ability to request a good amount of resources from her. Her soak is evenly divided between stamina and sanity at first, the resolute version gains an extra sanity. Also, she hands out an extra resource when resolute, effectively increasing the payout from 9 to 12 resources. Her memento is Takada’s Cache, a super charged version of Emergency Cache that is not only fast, but also draws an extra card.

When visited during an interlude, Takada will let an investigator start the next main scenario with an extra 3 resources.

During setup for Forbidden Peaks, players will have to either a Frost token to the bag or gain a mental trauma. This will be prevented if Takada is still alive at that point.

My take: Takada is a very solid pick to bring on scenarios. Her even split stats mean that she’s not particularly vulnerable to certain treacheries. And her ability is equivalent to having three Emergency Caches on tap. This is huge for decks that want to spend their first turn or two playing expensive assets. Having a guarantee that these resources are available can be very impactful. Compared with most other partner assets, her resolute version isn’t that much of an upgrade. You do get an extra resource out of activating her afterwards, but that’s not nearly as important as when you turn the ability of other crew members into a free action or gain extra charges. So turning her resolute only becomes a priority if you are playing a deck that actually relies on these resources. Once you can be sure that she sticks around, she does indeed open up some interesting deck building options, though.
Should you be unfortunate enough to have Takada die on you, you do at least get a quite powerful memento card for it. Takada’s Cache gives you a shot in the arm once during the scenario without costing you an action or a draw, just straight 3 resources into the pool. This is obviously great and well worth picking up. But of course it’s a card that is shuffled into the deck, so it’s not as reliable and enabling for the first turns as Takada herself is. It’s “just” good value.

Avery Claypool

Avery Claypool joins the expedition as their guide through the antarctic weather conditions. His ability allows cancellation of Frost tokens up to five times. Like Takada, his stats are evenly split, but when resolute he does gain an extra stamina instead of sanity. The more important part of him turning resolute is how his ability changes. Instead of having to spend supplies to cancel a Frost and reveal a new one, Claypool is then able to do this just for exhausting. If he spends a supply in addition, he can even make it so no other token has to be drawn. Claypool’s Furs is his memento, a body slot asset that offers great damage soak for a low price. Additionally, it is Fast and comes with an ability to spend some of the soak to cancel Frost tokens.

During Interludes, Avery can remove a Frost token from the chaos bag for the remainder of the campaign.

In the setup leading up to Forbidden Peaks, Avery’s presence will prevent the addition of another Frost token or physical trauma.

My take: Avery Claypool might just be the most important crew member to survive if you want the campaign to go somewhat easy on you. Even before considering that you can take him on scenarios, his interlude ability is excellent and will make sure that the Frost tokens don’t take over the bag. I would suggest using it every time you can.
His ability as a partner asset starts out strong, with 5 uses and no further costs he can tip five tests in your favor. It can become downright ridiculous once Avery turns resolute, as there is no longer a limit to how often his ability can be used (well, except for exhausting). And by spending his supplies you can even turn Frost tokens into something beneficial for you, stopping to draw further tokens and guaranteeing success similar to how Ancient Covenant works. You could even consider leaning into this strategy by providing Claypool with additional uses through Emergency Cache, Venturer or Contraband.
Claypool is a great ally and having him die on you basically means playing the campaign in Hard Mode. There’s this weird bit of tension between his interlude ability and his partner asset ability: If he’s alive then he can purge Frosts from the bag, making him less of a necessity to bring along. However, if he’s dead the Frosts start piling up and that’s when you’d really want to have him during the scenario.
Now, if disaster strikes and Claypool does indeed die, you do at least get his furs. This asset is quite good, even without the ability attached a 2 resource asset with Fast that soaks 3 damage is ahead of the curve. Note that the cancellation on the Furs works differently than on Claypool himself, the cancelled token is thrown back before redrawing. It’s still a fine ability to have, of course.

Dr. Mala Sinha

Mala is the medic and her abilities do reflect that through and through. Three times, you get to spend an action to heal damage from investigator or an ally (not Mala herself, though) at your location. Once resolute, you can even do this as a fast action. Her memento is the Medical Kit, a cheap asset that can be used at fast speed three times to heal either a damage or a horror.

Players can visit Mala during Interludes to heal a point of physical trauma on either themselves or on a crew member. She can heal herself with this ability at least, but you’ll usually want to remove a player trauma instead.

Should Mala no longer be alive by the time the group goes into the City of the Elder Things, every player will have to add a Frostbitten weakness to their decks.

My take: She’s useful, but only in specific circumstances i would actually bring her along on scenarios. Spending an action to heal two points of damage is actually a fine ratio and thus she can be a good solution if your investigator did manage to pick up a bit too much physical trauma for comfort. You could use her ability to get more out of certain allies like Grete Wagner, but for that to be worth it you’ll probably want her to be resolute so you don’t have to spend the action on it. She can also be a good solution if you are stuck with a Leg or Arm Injury as your random basic weakness.
As with many other partner allies, she uses supplies so you can use something like Emergency Cache to create more healing activations if it’s necessary.
Her memento, the medical kit, is quite good. It’s cheap and it can be used without spending an action, so there is very little opportunity cost here. Unlike Mala herself, the medkit is also able to cure horror, which is certainly useful.

Eliyah Ashevak

Eliyah is a hunter and a dog handler. His ability allows evading an enemy with a high base skill. Once resolute, this base skill is further increased and the evasion can happen without spending an action. Either version also allows a free move following a successful evasion. He has an evenly split statline and is the only one who gains both a point of sanity and stamina on turning resolute, bringing his total up to 8 instead of 7 like everyone else. His memento is the dog Anyu, a versatile ally that offers free moves or help with skill tests.

During Interludes, Eliyah can be visited to cure a point of mental trauma, either to an investigator or to a partner ally.

In the lead up to the Forgotten Peaks a Frost token is added to the bag. This can be prevented if Eliyah is still around and if the players salvaged the Wooden Sledge item.

My take: Eliyah sort of mirrors Cookie in many aspects, but at least for my money he’s almost strictly better. Cookies ability to attack only deals a single point of damage, so it’s mostly useful for disabling an attack. Eliyah does the same through evasion, though. And disengages the enemy. And switches off things like Retaliate. And it works on Elites. And you do get a bonus move on top. He also has a much more useful distribution of stamina and sanity than Cookie does. I find Eliyah quite useful, his evasion can be a real life saver. If your investigators aren’t able to evade themselves, Eliyah is also one of the best solutions to get past Frenzied Explorer from the Left Behind set who can otherwise be a huge issue. Turning him resolute is a priority, getting to evade without spending an action is a lot better than the regular version.
The one thing that is a bit awkward with Eliyah is his use of secrets instead of supplies or ammo, which makes it somewhat difficult to recharge him if you want to lean into his ability more.
If Eliyah dies, you do get to keep Anyu. She’s sort of a Pathfinder on legs, which is already a very nice thing to have. Anyu can also help passing other skill tests and does also possess Eliyah’s ability to evade at a fixed base value. That value is lower than it is on Eliyah, but can still make the difference for dealing with things like Frenzied Explorer or even the Nameless Madness in the finale.

Professor William Dyer

One of the people who returned from the original trip to the “Mountains of Madness”, William Dyer is on this expedition to make sure it doesn’t share the fate of the first one. His stats are focused fully on sanity, not even his resolute version picks up a second point of stamina. In addition to being a great source of horror soak, he is also able to cure horror from investigators and other allies. This requires an action until he turns resolute, which will make his ability become a free trigger. His memento is Dyer’s Sketches, a fast card draw event.

Investigators that visit Dyer during interludes can remove up to five Tekeli-li weaknesses from their decks.

During setup of City of Elder Things, the investigators have to add a Possessed weakness to their deck if William is no longer alive.

My take: His usefulness during scenarios is similar to Mala, providing the ability to deal with mental trauma. There are a few things that make him a bit less generally useful than Mala, though. For one, his statline can be a bit of a problem because just a single point of damage can defeat him. This is particularly an issue in scenarios with the Deadly Weather set, due to the Polar Vortex card that will just kill him. For that reason, he really shouldn’t be chosen to accompany you to the Forbidden Peaks. Unlike Mala, he uses secrets instead of supplies, so replenishing his uses is a bit more difficult as well.
Dyer’s Sketches, his memento event, is certainly good enough to pick up. Drawing three cards for 2 resources is a great deal, especially for classes that don’t have good card draw available from their own card pool.

Danforth

Dyer’s student Danforth is the second survivor of the original expedition into the Antarctic. He’s on this journey because he actually feels like being drawn to the place again. Like Dyer, his stats are skewed towards high sanity, but not quite as extreme. His ability allows drawing additional cards whenever you draw a Tekeli-li, to make up for the lost draw and the negative effects. When resolute, he draws even more extra cards and discards any further Tekeli-li, so you don’t chain into them anymore. His memento is the Collected Works of Poe, which can be used to pluck Tekeli-li weaknesses out of player decks.

During interludes, players can visit Danforth to start the next scenario with two extra cards in their starting hand.

If Danforth is no longer alive when the investigators go into Heart of Madness, they suffer a mental trauma each.

My take: Danforth is one of my favorite partner allies to bring with me. His ability takes the sting out of drawing Tekeli-li. Despite not actually cancelling the weaknesses, you do at least not have to give up your draw and even get a bonus card out of it to somewhat offset the bad effect of the Tekeli-li. Turning Danforth resolute turns this ability up to eleven, drawing even another card on top and also preventing Tekeli-li chains. With Danforth on the table, it can sometimes even be beneficial to draw those weaknesses. He has 5 secrets which is plenty. Use them all and you drew 10 extra cards. 15, if resolute. For no cost. That’s insane. Of course, if you do have tech to refuel his secrets, it can be worth it. If you do plan on using Danforth a lot, unlocking the resolute version should be a priority. The upgrade is really quite significant.
While Danforth is very useful himself, his memento is much less so. It allows digging through the top of the deck for Tekeli-li to remove, however doing so costs an action. And since the ability only searches through the top six cards, it can easily miss… which wouldn’t be so bad if the ability wouldn’t also reshuffle, so you can now have your weaknesses on top afterwards. It also only has three charges. I think his memento is possibly the weakest of the bunch, maybe tied with Cookie’s revolver. It’s just all around underwhelming and i don’t think i would even pick it up if it could be used as a free action.




4 Replies to “Best-Laid Plans: The Crew of the Theodosia”

  1. If it WERE a free action to activate, Collected Works of Poe would at least be 1 action and 1 resource for a draw-3 that might also negate some Tekeli-lis. (Obviously, as a hand asset it can still be awkward sometimes, but it’s disposable after a couple turns.) That’s not unreasonable, though isn’t exactly shiny as a special story card (e.g. it could also be fast and probably be fine). It’s easy to miss that regardless of the Tekeli-li-removal, you get to draw a card.

    As an action to trigger, though, it’s just insulting — once you account for the initial investment, it’s generally worse than performing multiple already-inherently-bad basic-draw actions.

    In the future, I definitely intend to at minimum house-rule it like the Scroll of secrets Taboo.

  2. I think, depending on how many Tekeli-Lis you have, and if you did not go for the Dr. Kensler resolution, the works of Poe can be a fine take during the final night, particularly for Daisy, but also for other gators, who can reliably get and use it before the first agenda flip in HoM part 2. Rinsing out Tekeli-Lis before they do double duty is nice.

    1. I don’t know. I guess? Only looking at 6 cards to find Tekelis is just soooo bad. It does at least draw a card so even when you miss with it you aren’t completely wasting your action. But paying a resource and an action to play it for the privilege of maybe removing a weakness while using a draw action is really iffy. It’s not like i usually want to take draw actions anyways. And it even takes a handslot while you have it around.

      There’s just too many small costs on this one. I wish it was Fast to play or something like that, so i could feel better about its opportunity cost.

      I simply expect more out of a story asset. They get added to my deck on top of what’s already there, so if it’s just worse than my regular cards in the deck then i am bloating my deck for nothing. If Works of Poe was a regular player card, i would not find room for it in my deck… and I feel like a story asset should be stronger than your typical player card.

      1. It really depends on the numbers of Tekeli-Lis in somebody’s deck. If Danford dies in the plane crash, and Prof. Dyer is also killed off, decks can get quite bloated by Tekeli-Li cards themselves, so it gets quite likely, you hit one, even if you search only 6 cards deep. If everybody has only a couple of them in their deck, I would never play the card, rather commit it for two will or a wild. In case of “Heart of Madness” part 1, I would spare it for late in the game, keep track on the status of Tekeli-Lis in the decks, then play it, when the decks are already small, and only if you estimate, that you likely rinse out something before the next game. In Part 2, Daisy might find it with Research Librarian, play it, use it three times on turn 1 and 2. That’s 5 of her 8 actions to play the librarian, play the book and use it three times, but likely worth it, if there is somebody on the team with a fat deck with 8+ Tekeli-Li cards. If there isn’t any more, I would not play it.

Leave a Reply