Best-Laid Plans: The Forgotten Age

Spoilers

This page doesn’t hold back anything. There are detailed spoilers for the full Forgotten Age campaign ahead, including the “Return to” box. I highly suggest that you stop reading now if you have not played this campaign once or twice before. Don’t ruin that blind run experience for yourself. Come back once you at least gave it a try (and likely died somewhere in the jungle, mangled and poisoned as is tradition).

Introduction

The Forgotten Age has a very rough reputation as being unfairly harsh, punishing or just straight up difficult. While some of that reputation is not completely unfounded, TFA’s difficulty is often mitigated by just knowing what is coming up. For no other campaign the difference between going in blind and going in with previous experience is as big. Considering that The Forgotten Age is built around a theme of exploration, this actually is weirdly appropriate.
This article is meant to take a comprehensive look at the challenges in play when facing this campaign and to give some suggestions on meeting those challenges in terms of investigator choice, deck building and other gameplay decisions.
This article is not going to look at each encounter set and each scenario in detail, this site already has pages for those. Please refer to those for more zoomed in views on the single cards that make up the encounter sets and encounter decks.

Poison

There are many ways for investigators to become poisoned, with varying degrees of being able to avoid it. This is mostly facilitated through the use of the Poison encounter set, which provides the weakness cards for the players and two surging treacheries that deal some damage to the poisoned players.

Better get used to seeing these, they are used in all but two scenarios.

But of course that is not the only consequence for getting poisoned. Some scenarios have chaos token effects that turn into autofails. Those are Untamed Wilds, Heart of the Elders (both #1 and #2) and Shattered Eons. There are also a couple of locations that trigger off of it (one in Depths of Yoth, two in Untamed Wilds and Heart of the Elders #1). The encounter set Yig’s Venom gives some additional poison payoff during the four scenarios it is used in, however that is completely replaced when using the Return To version Venomous Hate which no longer has any poison relevance except for one card that causes it.

Most of these effects are fairly minor: a damage here, a lost action there. But it does stack up over the course of a game. In terms of more lasting consequences, there are three points between the scenarios where poisoned players gain a physical trauma. These are after Untamed Wilds, after Boundary Beyond and after the City of Archives.

The only way of getting rid of poison is using the medicine supply between scenarios or spending XP after Threads of Fate. Doing so before gaining any trauma should be a priority, some investigators (especially those with high stamina) might decide to carry it over between scenarios otherwise.

So, how does one get themselves poisoned? The most obvious one is getting bit by a snake. The Pit Viper will poison anyone who gets damaged by it and is used during Untamed Wilds and Heart of the Elders #1. When playing the Return To TFA, it is also used during Doom of Etzli on a particularly nasty special location. The same encounter set also has Snake Bite, a treachery that requires either a difficult evasion test or sacrificing an ally to avoid being poisoned. The two Heart of the Elders scenarios have Poisonous Spores which will give you a turn to move away from. Finally, the Yig’s Venom set has a singleton treachery that poisons you unless you are willing to draw two more encounter cards.

Untamed Wilds has two more opportunities to get poisoned: One is on the backside of the first agenda, affecting anyone who fails a willpower test. The other is on the backside of the second (and final) agenda, giving everyone a complimentary poison weakness in addition to their defeat.

It’s really not a matter of *if* you get poisoned, only *when*. And *how often*.

Looking at all of this, it becomes apparent that there are some poison hot spots that players will need to be especially cautious about. The two most important ones are Untamed Wilds (which has the additional challenge of being scenario 1) and Heart of the Elders #1 (which you might even need to run through twice. Or more).
When purchasing supplies, you should definitely budget for one full round of antidotes. Especially the agenda flip in Untamed Wilds will usually get at least half the team. Anyone with low agility can also expect to be bitten by a Pit Viper some time along the way. Even high agility investigators can be caught off-guard by the Snake Bite treachery. There is a resupply point after Threads of Fate where you can buy more medicine, but your initial load should at least cover a rough Untamed Wilds.

Supplies

Medicine is of course not the only supply you need and since you have a limited budget, it’s not easy figuring out what to take. This is the mechanic that is especially puzzling for players on their blind playthrough as there is really no knowing what is important and what isn’t. Also, there is a second chance to buy supplies after Threads of Fate (and if playing Return to, you can potentially have a huge amount of supply points there). Since the selection is different then, some supplies are only available at the start, thus increasing their importance to buy early on.

Finish them all and Return to Forgotten Age will make it rain supply points.

These are the supplies available at campaign start: Provisions, Medicine, Rope, Blanket, Canteen, Torches, Compass, Map, Binoculars, Chalk, Pendant.
These are available after Threads: Provisions, Medicine, Gasoline, Blanket, Canteen, Compass, Binoculars, Chalk, Pocketknife, Pickaxe

Only at start: Rope, Torches, Map, Pendant
Only after Threads: Gasoline, Pocketknife, Pickaxe

Rope and Pendant aren’t particularly important in my opinion, but Torches and Map are a must have (even more so in Return To, but they are both plenty relevant in base TFA). So i strongly advise to pack both Torches and a Map right away. Among other things, they are used to manipulate the exploration deck in some scenarios, allowing you to sidestep the treacheries that wait in there and make more educated attempts at steering your path towards more useful locations.

Provisions look important (after all, who would go on a trip without food), but many investigators are actually able to skip them. As a result, they would enter a few scenarios with three fewer start resources, but there are certainly investigators able to live with that.
Medicine, as discussed in the previous chapter, is important to prevent trauma and other consequences of getting poisoned. Bring some. If you are playing Return To, bring an extra Medicine to possibly spend it during Threads of Fate, there’s an act deck there that can offer a significant shortcut in exchange for 1 medicine.
Rope is used for a shortcut in Depths of Yoth. If you plan on getting high Yig’s Fury, you might want to grab the Rope to give you a bit more leeway in Depths. Otherwise, it only has some effects on locations which is not really worth the 3 supply points.
Blankets prevent trauma from happening. While this does sound important, i think these can be skipped. Or at least postponed until after Threads. Failure to bring a blanket will hand out some trauma, but each time you are able to choose which type of trauma. For that reason i think that at least initially the supplies are better spent on bringing medicine.
The Canteen is cheap and offers some smaller benefits. Take it if you have two points to spare. It is necessary if you do want to collect the Eztli key for use in the hidden scenario, though.
The Compass is a huge help during HotE#2 especially, but appears on some locations earlier as well. It’s not a priority on the initial loadout, but make sure to grab it after Threads.
Binoculars i would consider part of the important initial loadout. Having them is rewarded with 2XP right at the start, while not having them is punished with trauma. That’s reason enough for me to not wait with getting it until Threads.
Not buying Chalk at the start of the campaign means gaining an extra point of vengeance during Doom of Eztli. If you can live with that, you might put this off until after Threads, however i would make sure to get it then. It makes Heart of the Elders #2 a lot easier as it is used to skip some nasty agenda instructions there.
The Pendant is only used during City of Archives where it will help with resigning and with the result of a failed scenario. Unless your investigator expects to struggle with City of Archives, i would definitely skip this.
Gasoline is needed two times. If you fail to bring it, investigators are unable to take mulligans in the next scenario which is just very bad unless you happen to be soloing Sefina… Just buy two of them after Threads.
The Pocket Knife has two uses: Protect yourself from the Strangleweed, an annoying enemy in Heart of the Elders. And to stop Ichtaca from taking the Relic away from you leading up into Shattered Aeons. Both aren’t *that* important, and players who are forging their own path will not even be able to run into the second one.
Finally, the Pickaxe offers some benefits during HotE#2 and Depths of Yoth, but also not enough to make it a priority.

To sum things up, my suggestion for the initial loadout is buying Torches, Map, Binoculars, and Chalk. Then some medicine, depending on your confidence of getting through Untamed Wilds unpoisoned. Some provisions, possibly skimping on them a bit if some low maintenance investigators like certain Survivors are around who can take the loss of 3 resources… or some Rogues who can generate that money back in quick time. If you got some leftover points, grabbing the canteen isn’t bad either. But you might as well get an extra medicine, just to be sure.

For the second supply round after Threads, get the two Gasoline for sure. Buy Chalk or Binocs if you didn’t initially. Investigators with concerns about their trauma will want to pack a blanket now that the budget isn’t as restricted as at the start. I like the Pickaxe enough to get it here as well. For the rest of the supplies, restock on Medicine and Provisions. If you are playing Return To and did well during Threads, you will find yourself with lots of supply points here and can possibly buy out the store.

Trauma

A big part of TFA’s bad reputation comes from having a bunch of extra opportunities to earn additional trauma from various sources. Both Poison and Supplies tie into this. The interludes following Untamed Wilds, Boundary Beyond and City of Archives will add a physical trauma to everyone who is still poisoned at that point. At the same time, any investigator without a blanket will have to suffer one trauma of their choice. Not having binoculars on at least one investigator will cause one mental trauma to someone.
Of course, the above average difficulty can also easily lead to getting defeated early and doing its part to making the following scenarios even more difficult.
As the final cherry on top, you can gain one or two physical trauma (or be outright killed) after a failed Depths of Yoth with less than four depth levels done. This should usually only happen if the group collected too much Yig’s Fury over the course of the campaign.

Kill too many of his children and the father of snakes will get furious. You won’t like him when he’s angry.

So basically TFA has three campaign-wide mechanics that lead to additional trauma: Poison, Supplies and Vengeance. But while that sounds very daunting (and on your blind play it certainly is), these can all be managed fairly well by being conscious about them. And while you will certainly not want to just take all of them on the chin, it’s not like you lose automatically if you just pick up two, three or even five trauma. Especially the blankets aren’t all that necessary as long as you keep winning the actual scenarios, since you can always pick the kind of trauma that you can handle best. The difference between starting with 6 stamina or 7 stamina (or sanity) isn’t *that* large, and supply points are very few during the initial campaign setup.

One thing to notice is that there is almost no strictly mental trauma being dealt here. Except for the missing binoculars, this is all stuff that either deals physical trauma or lets the player pick. So anyone with high stamina can be much more relaxed about the trauma situation here, while someone like Daisy or Mary is going to have a harder time making it through all of this. Such vulnerable investigators might want to invest into some more soak or healing to counteract the trauma they are gaining. Usually healing cards are somewhat shunned for being action inefficient, but when trauma makes everyone start with damage and horror already on them, they become a lot more valuable.

Agility

At its release, The Forgotten Age was the first campaign to put much of an emphasis on agility. A large number of treacheries use agility tests instead of the more common willpower tests. Also, the Vengeance mechanic strongly encourages using evasion instead of fighting to deal with a portion of the enemy base. On a blind playthrough, this will usually catch players completely off-guard because it is such a departure from conventions up to then. Even when playing the campaigns out of order today, the difference is quite staggering. While agility tests are a much bigger part of the encounter deck in the more recent campaigns than in the early days of the game, it did so far never reach the same levels as in TFA again.

This has some implications for the investigator choice and for deckbuilding. While it is not impossible to play low agility investigators through The Forgotten Age (after all, Leo Anderson was released in this deluxe box), those will need to either make concessions to that in their deck or find some other way of preparing for being bullied by treacheries all day. What are you going to do when a Pit Viper engages you? What when you draw Snake Bite? How about when you get stuck with an Entombed? How many Last Mistakes can you afford to do? Ideally you have answers to such questions because you’ll be asked them throughout the campaign. Over. And over. And over again.

However, it should be pointed out that while this campaign tilts more towards agility than others, that doesn’t mean that the usual willpower tests become unimportant or that you should evade your way through all of the scenarios. There are still plenty of very important willpower tests around, starting right from Untamed Wild’s saving throw against poison on the agenda backside and continuing over several treacheries right until Shattered Aeons. Shattered Aeons has half its encounter deck filled with willpower stuff and willpower is one of two skills that are used to seal the locations and finish the scenario.
There are also quite a lot of enemies that you will want to defeat permanently, including a bunch of hunter enemies, big beasts with victory on them and cultists that stack doom tokens.

Vengeance

A lot of the snake enemies throughout the campaign will have Vengeance on them. Just like cards with victory, these will go into the victory display when defeated. However, doing so is not a good thing, as the players will collect Yig’s Fury over the campaign this way. Also, the scenarios might have short term repercussions for the Vengeance in the victory display as well.

Ignore Vengeance at your own peril. The encounter cards won’t.

Short term consequences include worse tokens, increased difficulty of treachery tests, increased shroud and increased stats on enemies. They are usually balanced in such a way that small amounts of Vengeance already have a noticeable effect and can spiral out of control when it really starts to pile up. The cards from Agents of Yig are good examples for this. Of course, these effects overlap with the consequences for poison on many occasions. Investigators that have a couple points of vengeance in their display and are also poisoned might find themselves with a truly horrible chaos bag in some scenarios.

Any Vengeance earned is 1:1 converted into Yig’s Fury at the end of the scenario. The big payoff for this happens at the start of Depths of Yoth, which will become considerably harder with high Fury counts, to the point where it can become borderline impossible. Unless the players are exceptionally fast at clearing the locations and moving on, the likely result of that is failing to reach depth five in that scenario and falling the rest of the way, resulting in trauma or even straight up death. Low Fury lets players breeze through the scenario with plenty of time instead, possibly not even encountering this campaign’s Great Old One: Yig, the father of serpents.

Depths of Yoth uses thresholds of Fury to determine how many agenda cards are discarded at setup. These thresholds are 1, 6, 11, 15, 18 and 21. Personally, i think collecting up to 10 Fury is perfectly fine, all that will cost you is one agenda card with 3 doom on it which still leaves you with plenty of time to get through the scenario without having to fight Yig. Note that reaching 11 Fury will cost you the second agenda, which not only discards another 3 doom from your timer, but will also cost you the chance to pick up the “strange liquid” for the secret shortcut within the secret extra scenario.

Picking up further Fury during Depths of Yoth doesn’t matter too much. There is one more punishment for Yig’s Fury coming up during the setup of Shattered Aeons, but it’s not too terrible: For each 10 points of Fury, Shattered Aeons starts with one point of Vengeance already in the victory display. Staying at 9 Fury (or 19) is something you might want to keep in mind.

Snakes on a campaign

Picking up some Fury over the course of the campaign will be very difficult to avoid. While it does primarily come from enemies, there are also some treacheries that will add Vengeance if the players aren’t willing to play around them. Of special note are two cards: Resentful Wilds from the Return To can be literally impossible to avoid if it attaches to the wrong location. And Ancestral Fear is a surging peril Ancient Evils whose doom persists through the agenda advancing… unless you take the Vengeance instead. In which case it still surges! Horrible. Just horrible.
There are a couple of points that allow players the choice to gain extra experience if they are willing to gain some extra Vengeance. The two most important ones are the decision on whether to collect all clues from the Chamber of Time in Doom of Eztli and on whether to kill Padma Amrita or not in Boundary Beyond.
So if you make an effort to keep your Yig’s Fury low, you can afford to pick up more experience for your team, which is nice for sure.

Hunter enemies

There are two notable things to talk about when looking over the pool of enemies in The Forgotten Age. One, there is a lot of Hunter enemies going around. Two, a lot of the enemies have 3 health.

Some of those Hunters come with Vengeance, which is really bad news. Drawing an early Boa Constrictor is one of the worst things that can happen to you in Untamed Wilds and Heart of the Elders#1, as you will either need to take that Yig’s Fury or have to play the rest of the scenario with this thing breathing down your neck. Heart of the Elders actually doubles down on this by also having Basilisks. And Return to Heart of the Elders triples down on it again with Feathered Serpents. Are we having fun yet?

These guys can eat a bullet and live. Plan accordingly and bring better bullets.

Most Hunters can be killed without permanent consequences, though. So come prepared to do so, however keep in mind that not a single one of those Hunter enemies from the base version of the campaign has only one or two health. (Return To has the Vengeful Serpent as a 2 health Hunter, but that thing comes with its own host of issues…) The two most often encountered Hunters are the Brood of Yig and the Brotherhood Cultist, both clocking in at 3 health. Scenario specific enemies go beyond that with 4-6 health or scaling with player count. This trend for higher health pools goes further than just the Hunter enemies, of course. As a result, your basic Shrivelling charges or .45 ammo counters sometimes feel woefully inadequate.

The Harbinger

As soon as the investigators put their hands on the Relic during Doom of Eztli, the Harbinger of Valusia starts her pursuit of the players, following them across various scenarios throughout the campaign.

She has 5 Vengeance, so killing her is usually a bad idea. It’s not all that easy in the first place, as she starts out with 10 health per investigator and will flee after being attacked or evaded 2 times per investigator. If you aren’t playing solo this means that one turns worth of attacks is not enough to make her flee. If she does get to attack, she deals two horror and damage, so you will likely want to incorporate evasion here to avoid this or gang up on her with multiple investigators.

Here she is, before and after her “Return To” facelift.

Evasion isn’t the answer to all problems with her either. Since evading her also disengages, you can’t just take consecutive evasion actions the same way you can with attacks. She doesn’t regenerate her health from appearance to appearance, so the default way of handling her will usually mean a mix of attacks and evasion, enough to make her flee but without killing her. This is actually one of the few moments where punching without a weapon can pay off to make sure you can keep attacking her, just make sure that your combat value is high enough because she will punish missteps with her Retaliate… and she has an extra ability to do so even when exhausted, so evading her first will not help. This extra ability was actually removed with Return To, so feel free to evade her there before attacking to be on the safe side. To compensate, she starts out with 1 extra evade value, but at least you got some more tools to handle her then.

She makes her appearance during Doom of Eztli, Boundary Beyond, Heart of the Elders #2 and Depths of Yoth. Additionally, Return To introduces her into Threads of Fate. So you will meet her plenty of times. Depending on how much health she has left, killing her during Depths of Yoth before Yig shows up can be a good idea. But until then it’s usually better to make her flee because she has enough Vengeance on her to push you over another threshold at the Depth of Yoth setup.

Exploration

Exploration is another recurring mechanic throughout the campaign. Instead of putting the locations into play at the start of the game into fixed positions, they are shuffled up into a deck that you draw from. Added to that deck are some encounter cards that represent the dangers of exploration. To draw from the deck costs an action, but if do successfully explore into a valid location, you do get to move to it as well, more or less refunding that action spent on exploring. Of course, this makes finding a treachery (or, if you are playing Return To, an enemy) really bad as you not only have to suffer from that card, but you also lost an extra action to the exploration. So you’ll need to find ways to mitigate the risk as best as you can and if possible, avoid doing exploration with your last action.

The exact details around how the exploration deck is used to vary from scenario to scenario, but only two of them do not use exploration at all. Those are Threads of Fate and City of Archives.

You thought there were only locations in the exploration deck? How precious.

The whole exploration concept was overhauled by the Return To box in a major way. Two changes in particular did a lot to make exploration less random and easier to manipulate. With Return To, there are no longer any treacheries in the exploration deck at the start of the scenario. Instead, the top card of the encounter deck is shuffled into the exploration deck whenever a location was successfully explored. This means the risk for pulling from the deck increases over time, instead of frontloading the danger like the base TFA box does. It is also more interesting as you never know what sort of danger waits for you in the exploration deck. The other big change concerns the use of certain supply items to scout or manipulate the exploration deck. In base TFA, you need to be at the starting location to use your torch or map. With Return To, you can use them from any location, giving players much better options of using their actions. It also improves the value of those supplies greatly.

If you do not use Return To, it is worth keeping in mind that exploration is most dangerous at the start of the game, but gets less risky over time as you start removing the treacheries from the deck (by having to draw them, but still…). Using the correct supply item from the starting location can help a lot to get the first one or two locations on the table and get started on collecting clues and whatnot. If you do use Return, be aware that there can be enemies in the exploration deck now. So even more than before, do not explore with your last action or risk drawing an enemy and taking it straight to the enemy phase with you. Also, abuse the hell out of those supply items, making sure that you draw what you want to and to be able to look at the deck and learn what cards you had to shuffle in.

Depending on what encounter cards you had to shuffle into the exploration deck, consider who spends the actual action. Having someone with good agility and/or willpower do it increases your chances of at least being able to pass the tests on any treacheries you might draw. Similarly, a high agility for evasion can save an investigator who explores into an enemy they can’t or don’t want to kill.

Snake Pit
Why did it have to be snakes?

Like the supply mechanics, the ones around exploration feel a lot different on replays than they do on the blind run. When you are still unfamiliar with the locations and their connections, diving into the exploration deck produces seemingly randomized spots to move on to and the scenario plays … well, like an exploration. You keep learning about your surroundings as the game goes on. However, if you played the campaign a couple of times you start knowing what to expect. You start looking at the printed connections on your locations and can use this information in your decision making. While playing Depths of Yoth, you might realize that your current location can not possibly lead into Steps of Yoth, so you might move one location over to a location that can before exploring. During Return to Doom of Eztli you might notice that your current location can lead into a Snake Pit and thus be extra careful about exploring there. While having this knowledge after a while will take some of the “magic” out of the mechanics, it does make them more interesting to interact with as it offers some agency to players to get a leg up on the scenario.

Experience

For all the nastiness that Forgotten Age is known for, there is one silver lining. This campaign pays out a lot of experience points, provided of course that you do a good job of clearing those jungle locations, slay the victory enemies and fulfill the scenario goals. When all is said and done, you should be entering Shattered Aeons with about 50XP under your belt.

This allows you to do three things: It enables some cool upgrade heavy decks that would not even be possible to do in a more XP starved campaign. It allows to get some luxury upgrades that you would otherwise not be able to get. It gives you the necessary XP to pick up the cards geared towards mitigating all the dangerous stuff mentioned before.

Available XP per scenario/interlude:
Untamed Wilds: 8 (locations) + 1 (Ichtaca) + 1 (Serpent from Yoth) = 10XP
Interlude 1: 2XP for one investigator (binoculars)
Doom of Eztli: 5 (locations) + 1 (Serpent from Yoth) = 6XP
Threads of Fate: 4 (locations) + 3 (locations/enemies in the agenda decks) + 3 (resolution, 1 for each first agenda) = 10XP
Boundary Beyond: 2 (Padma) + 1 (Serpent of Tenochtitlan) + 6 (1 for each cleared location) = 9XP
Heart of the Elders#1: 5 (locations) + 2 (Apex Strangleweeds) = 7XP
Heart of the Elders#2: 6 (locations) + 1 (Serpent from Yoth) = 7XP
The City of Archives: 6 (locations) + 2 (Yithian Observers) + 4 (perfected process) = 12XP
Depths of Yoth: 5 (depth levels) + 5 (Yig) + 2 (Eater of Depths) + 1 (Serpent from Yoth) = 13XP
Interlude 5: 2XP (only for investigators carrying a map)
Shattered Aeons: 4 (locations) + 2 (Formless Spawn) + 2 (Ichtaca) + 2(Alejandro) + 1 (Serpent from Yoth) = 11XP

Included in the numbers above are the opportunities where you can choose to gain XP if you also take Vengeance. Not included are the bonus XP you can get for forging your own path.

Going by these numbers, you can potentially go into Shattered Aeons with 77XP. Note that to do so, you’d have to only get 5 ways in Boundary Beyond or you’d skip the possibility to pick up the 7XP of HotE#1.

Changes to all of this from Return To:
Doom of Eztli: only 4XP on locations and one of them requires a map, total is now 5XP
Threads of Fate: agenda XP is increased massively, but can no longer go towards upgrades. New total for card upgrades is 8XP.
City of Archives: one more XP on a location, raising the total to 13XP

In the grand scheme of things, this doesn’t really change a whole lot to the XP distribution. The change to the resolution of Threads is the most impactful, but the extra supplies are worth the couple “lost” XP, actually they pay off by making it easier to earn more XP later.

Alejandro Vela and Ichtaca

These two people will accompany the players all the way from Untamed Wilds to Shattered Aeons. Aligning yourself with either of them (or none) marks the three paths along the campaign, with various consequences.

Aside from getting access to their asset cards, you will have to add different chaos tokens to your bag. For following Alejandro, tablet tokens are added. For following Ichtaca, you get cultist tokens. Generally speaking, there is no better or worse set of tokens between these two, both aren’t that great.

Would you trust these people with your life?

The tokens also serve as a device to track your influence with either of them and two scenarios change their encounter decks depending on if you have more tablets or more cultists in your bag. Those are Boundary Beyond and Shattered Eons. If you had been favoring Ichtaca, you get more cultist enemies in those scenarios while siding with Alejandro adds serpents and/or Eztli warriors. Personally, i think that the cultists add a lot more difficulty to those scenarios than the alternatives do due to all the doom tokens coming from Dark Cult and Pnakotic Brotherhood.

To make up for this, Ichtaca is generally a better ally than Alejandro. Your milage may vary, of course. Ultimately both are actually really nice and if you are strapped for ally slots, they also both come with pretty good skill icons.

During Shattered Aeons, you will run into an enemy version of at least one of them. Both Alejandro and Ichtaca are very hard enemies that put up a fight worthy of a campaign finale. They also have Parley options that allow you to switch your scenario goal to another scene where you try to save Valusia or Pnakotus instead of your world. In what is a bit non-intuitive, this means that if you (for example) want to finish the campaign by helping Ichtaca restore Valusia, you can not earn her trust leading up to Shattered Aeons or she won’t appear in the scenario. A bit strange how that works, but it is what it is.

As usual, we had the choice between evil and slightly different evil. Isn’t this game great?

To earn Ichtaca’s trust (and thus prevent her from appearing in Shattered Aeons to fight you), you need to complete the Ichtaca related scene deck in Threads, then find at least 3 ways during Boundary Beyond and also have 2 cultist tokens in the bag during the resolution of Boundary.
In order to not have to deal with Alejandro in Shattered Aeons, you need to complete the Alejandro related scene deck in Threads, control the Custodian at the end of City of Archives and have 2 tablet tokens in the bag at that point.
Unless you are going for the third option (keep reading…), try to fulfill one of these. Having to deal with both of those boss enemies at the same time in Shattered Aeons is a huge pain that should absolutely be avoided.

As a third option, you can decide that you want to trust neither of them, instead choosing to “forge your own path”. This is an option that you have during setup of Threads of Fate, provided you first chose to give the artifact to Harlan Earlstone (thus acting against Alejandros will) and then letting Ichtaca go without talking to her during Threads of Fate setup. Doing so will remove all tablets and cultists from the bag, but add an Elder Thing token to take its place (and another one at a later point). You will also no longer be able to add either person’s asset to your decks. However, you will gain 2XP whenever you would have added one of their assets. You can gain a good amount of XP for doing this, but the Elder Thing is worse than either cultist or tablet for sure. You’ll also get a mix of the flexible encounter sets in Boundary Beyond and will have to add both flexible sets in Shattered Aeons. Shattered Aeons will feature both enemy versions of Alejandro and Ichtaca, which can be quite challenging. Forging your own path is more difficult than the other two paths, but the additional XP can make it feel rewarding enough. It is also a prerequisite if you want to go for the final bonus scenario.

The City of Archives

The scenarios for themselves all have their own page on this site, so i don’t want to go over them one by one again. The City of Archives however, deserves a second look here as its influence can go a bit beyond the usual because it can be a breaking point for some decks or investigators.

Losing all your special investigator abilities can leave some decks without any coherence, so that’s something that you may want to consider straight from the initial choice of the investigator before even starting the campaign. How good is your Yorrick deck if you are unable to recur your assets? What about Leo no longer being able to cycle through his allies for cheap? Does your Nathaniel deck fall apart if you can no longer add your bonus damage to those events you are packing in your deck? Calvin players should know that all the trauma they’ve been stacking will transfer to the Yithian body, making you very fragile in this scenario.

Pictured: William Yorrick, Diana Stanley, Finn Edwards (left to right)

This is certainly not going to cripple every investigator, in fact most will be just fine. Some might even be better off, like Lola. But if you find that your deck relies a lot on its investigator ability to even function, you should be aware that City of Archives is going to be a tough one for you. To compensate, maybe pay some extra attention to having good skill icons on your cards so you can at least make better use of the Yithian investigator ability.

The Hidden Final Scenario

The split of the Heart of the Elders mythos pack into two scenarios brought up the number of scenarios for this campaign to 9, but there is actually a tenth scenario that can be unlocked after Shattered Aeons if the investigators did follow exactly down a certain road.

First off, you need to be forging your own path as described above. During Threads of Fate, you will then need to recover the artifact by finishing the correct scene deck. Doing so will earn you a special version of the Relic (“Repossess the Past”) during the interlude between Depths of Yoth and Shattered Aeons. Playing Shattered Aeons, you need to not parley with either of the two enemy versions of Ichtaca and Alejandro, instead finishing the scenario by fulfilling Mend the Shatter (scene 4a). The resolution of Shattered Aeons will then send you off to the scenario Turn Back Time.

Good luck.

Turn Back Time is basically a re-run of Doom of Eztli, but with a very nasty chaos bag. The four Elder Thing tokens you have at that point will all give a large negative modifier and add a doom on failing the test, which plays right into what Doom of Eztli already does. Instead of running out of the temple, you will need to fight Yig in the end, a challenging fight that is rewarded with getting to the “true ending”.

Return To introduces a way to make this scenario a bit easier by collecting a key that opens a shortcut to the Chamber of Time. To get this key, you will need to find the “sticky goop” from a location in HotE#2 and also collect the “strange liquid” in Depths of Yoth. In both cases, you need to have a canteen to be able to write down these two special supply items. Getting the strange liquid happens automatically when advancing the agenda in Depths, however you need to reach that scenario with a maximum of 10 Yig’s Fury or the agenda is removed from the game at setup. The required location in HotE#2 is the Subterranean Swamp, however there is a 50/50 chance that this location isn’t even in the exploration deck, making finding the key impossible… good luck!

Investigator Choices

Looking back at everything said before, a few things stand out as far as requirements go that our investigators must overcome, either based on their own strength or by building the deck for them. They should be able to withstand tests from encounter cards, mostly agility and willpower. They should be able to defeat enemies (including some very chunky ones) but also be able to get past some without adding their vengeance to the victory display. Finally, the ability to withstand an above average amount of incoming damage, even after picking up some trauma, makes surviving everything a lot easier. Picking up trauma should be expected, for that matter. While there is some horror coming from treacheries and enemies, a high stamina is certainly worth more than a high sanity when tackling this campaign. Finally, they should be able to function during City of Archives.

Some suggestions, i’ll keep it to two per class:
Mark Harrigan is a wellrounded investigator without any glaring weaknesses and Sophie lets him crush treachery tests. He also has a pile of health to boot.
Tommy Muldoon can throw allies in front of most things and actually get paid for having horrible things target him. His low agility will need to be compensated for, but the survivor card pool has some nice options for that, even if it’s just Lucky.
Ursula Downs is pretty much custom made for this job, combining mobility with high agility and decent willpower while not being as fragile as the common Seeker.
Amanda Sharpe is similarly tough and able to use her skill cards to beat TFA’s nastiness.
Finn Edwards should feel right at home in the jungle, getting a lot of mileage out of his free evades. He’ll have to compensate for his willpower, though.
Trish Scarborough‘s high stamina for a seeker(ish) investigator gives her a leg up against the many dangers of the campaign. Keeping enemies around instead of killing them is exactly what she wants to do anyways.
Luke Robinson‘s mobility through the gate box does a good job of keeping him several steps ahead of pursuing enemies while giving him a pseudo evade when staring down a Boa or similar after all because he drew it. He is however quite fragile and will have to stay aware of that.
Diana Stanley is the sort of hybrid character that can do everything at the same time, and she’ll do it while keeping the encounter deck in check with her cancels.
Calvin Wright likes getting trauma. Sure, he’ll have to to make sure he doesn’t die to it ultimately, but nobody sleeps without a blanket as confidently as he does.
Rita Young is often underappreciated (included by me). However, her mix of abilities is really quite nice for this campaign. She can evade like few others, her 3 fight enable her to dispose of cultists and her ability allows her to run circles around Hunters. If there is such a thing as the perfect campaign for her, this is it.

I would avoid investigators with very low agility (Norman, Preston), with low stamina (Mary) or both (Daisy, Gloria) unless i am really sure i can work my way around that. Something similar goes for characters like Nathaniel and Tony who are so specialized on killing stuff that this can come back to bite them when they are expected to let stuff live for once.

A Preliminary Analysis of Preston Fairmont – Rite of Seeking
“Listen here, Boa. I am giving you $100 if you piss off.” – Famous last words

I want to make clear that this is just some suggestions. Ultimately, the deck building in this game is open enough that you can make anything work if you want to and especially in a group setting you can have one person pick up the slack for someone else. I’m not saying “Don’t send Preston into the jungle”. I am saying “If you send Preston into the jungle, make extra sure he can survive it” because he’s going to have a tougher time than Trish or Mark would.

Notable Player Cards

To finish off this extensive look at all things Forgotten Age, let’s take a peek at some player cards that are quite good in the context of the campaign. I will try to mention cards that aren’t too obvious, you probably don’t need me to tell you that Spectral Razor, Ward of Protection and Pathfinder are good cards. As with the investigators, i’ll keep it to two cards per class:

Handcuffs have a surprising amount of good targets, including the Brotherhood Cultist, the Brood of Yig and even Boundary Beyond’s Serpent of Tenochtitlan.
Well Prepared is simply fantastic here, all of the many story assets come with a lot of icons to copy. The Relic is of course leading the pack with 3 wild icons, but Ichtaca, Alejandro and the Journal are all worth leeching off as well. Return To adds Veda Whitley for further insanity.
Tooth of Eztli: Encounter deck defense and card draw, this card can go a long way to keeping investigators safe, as long as they bring at least some agility and willpower themselves.
Dr William T. Maleson basically exists to die for you. Now that Rook has been taboo’d to hell and back, there is little for seekers to soak some damage for you at a reasonable price. If you don’t want to go for Bulletproof Vests or something from the off-class (if available), then the good doctor does the trick of dying for your Final Mistakes just fine.
Backstab: Dealing three damage with one action is a big deal in this campaign and this is how rogues do it. I am a fan of this card in general, but for TFA i consider it a staple unless i am playing Tony or Preston or something…
Slip Away: This can tie down a lot of otherwise very dangerous enemies that you don’t want to kill. Like the Boa or Basilisk. This card can save your bacon against enemies like that and you should take a serious look at the upgrade, too.
Mists of R’lyeh: Of all the evasion options for Mystics, this one sticks out because it also moves you, giving you further distance from a Hunter. To be fair, Mists is usually considered the best of the evasion spells, but in this case something like Ineffable Truth would even be actively bad because it kills Pit Vipers.
Mind Wipe: Blanking text boxes removes Vengeance and allows you to kill a Vengeance enemy without adding it to victory display. This is a bit of a wild piece of tech, you decide if it’s too janky for your tastes.
Close Call allows survivors to shuffle something back into the encounter deck after evading it, which is a clean way of getting rid of monsters with vengeance or big health pools. In other campaigns i favor Waylay over Close Call, but the additional use case against vengeance makes it worth the 2XP difference.
Hiding Spot is one more piece of anti-enemy tech. The nature of the exploration mechanics mean that you might very well backtrack through some enemies that you left behind. From Pit Vipers you evaded three turns ago to hunters that are still catching up, Hiding Spot allows the whole team to pass the creature in one turn and move on. The bigger the group, the better your timing needs to be for this, though. So this is more of a card for solo players and 2 player teams.
Thermos is expensive, but if there ever is a campaign where you can be sure to get your money’s worth, it’s this one.
Bulletproof Vest is an easy way to give someone fragile like Daisy a lot more leeway in how they have to approach things. And Forgotten Age is generous enough with the XP that you can afford these sort of things.

Surge

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4 Replies to “Best-Laid Plans: The Forgotten Age”

  1. This is an awesome, in-depth post. I disagree with some of your points on supplies, though.

    “Gasoline is needed two times. If you fail to bring it, investigators are unable to take mulligans in the next scenario which is just very bad unless you happen to be soloing Sefina… Just buy two of them after Threads.”

    In Heart of the Elders, you can simply resign and instantly restart the scenario at no penalty if you dislike your opening hand. You can do this as many times as you want. So, don’t bother taking Gasoline for that scenario. Getting 1 for Boundary Beyond is fair.

    I find that using actions to manipulate the explore deck is mostly a trap. Most of the time you’re going to draw them eventually anyway. Instead of wasting actions, you’re better off simply taking an investigator who can deal with those treacheries when they’re drawn, saving valuable time.

    The Pendant is only used in City of Archives of course, but City of Archives is an insta-death moment for the campaign. It can either end the campaign immediately or leave you permanently wrecked. For that reason I still think it’s worth taking.

  2. Oh wow, that HotE endless mulligan thing is awful. I hate it :D Clearly that’s not in the spirit/intention of the game. I suppose it could be (ab)used like that, though… at least in solo… so point taken. In the end, it’s one supply point though. At least when you play with Return, you have all the supply points you could need after Threads.

    As for manipulating the explore deck, i had very good success with it. Basically, pulling treacheries or enemies from exploring is awful. Can easily waste 3 actions or more and then does so all at once. Spending a few actions spread out over turns to avoid that seems excellent to me. Of course, this becomes easier to do the more players you have, but at least in two-handed (which is what i play) i felt it was very rewarding to do. That is only for Return, however. In the base campaign, the restriction to the start location makes it almost useless.

    If the Pendant was available after Threads, i’d take it in a heartbeat. But at the initial supply, it’s a big ask, even though it only costs 1. I generally don’t struggle with City of Archives, but sure – if you can squeeze it in, go for it.

  3. “Turn Back Time is basically a re-run of Doom of Eztli, but with a very nasty chaos bag. The three Elder Thing tokens you have at that point”

    To note, you should have *4* elder thing tokens in the chaos bag during Turn Back Time. There’s 1 in the chaos bag by default, the tablet/cultist from The Untamed Wilds gets replaced by 1 in Threads of Fate for forging your own path, you get 1 in The Depths of Yoth in the forging your own path intro, and you get 1 in the setup to Turn Back Time itself (it’s buried in the setup bullets and easy to miss).

    *Technically* there is a way to enter Turn Back Time with only 3 elder things, but it’s both extremely unintuitive and IMO an ultra-nonsense exploit of some very, VERY poor wording. To do this, one needs to not advance Act 2 in The Untamed Wilds (and really, just don’t advance Act 1, since doing so is optional and provides no benefit) and therefore not add a tablet/cultist. The Threads of Fate intro states “Remove all [cultist] and [tablet] tokens from the chaos bag and replace them with 1 [elder thing] token.” It has been technically ruled that you cannot “replace” no token with some token, so you end up not adding the elder thing token in that case. This is… …really, really stupid — so I recommend ignoring that and treating the text as just “add” instead of “replace them with.” (The text is honestly needlessly confusing in other ways, since there’s no way to see it while having more than 1 cultist/tablet token anyway.)

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