This page doesn’t hold back anything. There are detailed spoilers for the full Path to Carcosa 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, both with regards to playing the scenarios and to understanding just what the hell is going on. Actually, that last bit might take a few tries.
When asking Arkham players about their favorite campaign, The Path to Carcosa comfortably leads the pack. It’s easy to see why. Carcosa offers a particularly deep experience on the first play with a lot of wild turns and interesting story developments that can be interpreted several ways. Additionally, there are several paths through the campaign that change various things about the scenarios, giving the campaign excellent replayability.
On this page, i want to take a look at the challenges presented by the scenarios and how they change depending on choices made along the way. Like on the previous articles of this series, i will also try to give some suggestions for investigators particularly suited for Carcosa and for cards that work well here.
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.
Sanity and Horror
One of the main themes of the campaign is people losing their sanity and questioning what they see and can believe. It makes sense then that so many cards deal horror to the investigators and/or have effects that care about the remaining sanity.
The Unspeakable Oath and Dim Carcosa are especially noteworthy here. The first because it throws a large amount of horror at the players and takes a rather long time to play through. Also, it’s setting is an asylum and investigators that lose their last point of sanity there might just have to stay in the asylum forever. The second one because it actually introduces special rules around horror and sanity: If players collect more horror than they have sanity during Dim Carcosa, they aren’t immediately defeated. However there are a couple effects that trigger off of the remaining sanity levels.
But even before Dim Carcosa there are a couple of cards around that have effects depending on sanity levels to introduce this theme early.
There is still plenty of opportunities for players to become defeated from too much damage, but horror is without a doubt the one to be more concerned about.
The cast of The King in Yellow
The second scenario of the campaign, The Last King, is not only one of the most unique and flavorful ones in the game, it’s also of great importance for the rest of The Path to Carcosa. We are introduced to the cast members of The King in Yellow, often referred to as VIPs in the campaign log. There’s five of them (plus Dianne Devine and, if you are doing a Return To, there’s also two non-unique party guests) and when the scenario is over, each of them is either interviewed or not. And each one is either alive. Or not.
Each of the five VIPs is tied to one of the 5 scenarios following Last King. If the relevant person is interviewed, the investigators gain some sort of advantage during the setup. If they are alive, they appear in the scenario in their monstrous form.
Echoes of the Past: If Sebastien was interviewed, extra clues are available for grabs on the start location. If he’s not killed, he’ll accompany the Oathspeaker for the final act of Echoes.
Unspeakable Oath: Interviewing Constance gives 2 extra horror soak at the cost of a random card from their deck for the scenario. If alive, Constance will show up mid-scenario, starting form the place where the investigators are going to resign from.
Phantom of Truth: Jordan Perry’s information awards 3 extra resources and a different starting location. Jordan can show up at the end of the second night.
Pallid Mask: Haruko’s info reveals a location for free at setup. If she’s not been killed, she will enter the catacombs once the players find the Man in the Pallid Mask.
Black Stars Rise: Interviewing Ashleigh gives the players a one-shot ability to remove 1 doom from an agenda during the scenario. If she makes an appearance, it’ll be midway through and she’ll start at the port.
Some of these are bit more impactful than others, of course. Interviewing Constance should be a priority during Last King, as the additional horror soak can do a lot of work during Oath. The other information rewards are less important, but still nice to have. The transformed guests are all formidable enemies and taking them out during Last King will give you some breathing room later on. Especially Haruko can be a huge issue as she is not only possibly the most dangerous of the bunch, but also comes out in a scenario that is already filled with dangerous hunters and tanky enemies that ask a lot from the players. If you plan on killing the Oathspeaker to get a neutral outcome for Echoes, you should probably make sure to get Sebastien out of the way as well. The only one that i think is less important is Ashleigh. She comes into play near the end of Black Stars Rise and far away from the group that she might not even catch up before the scenario is done.
The campaign offers players a way to avoid having to deal with these Elite enemies all together. At Last King’s conclusion, there is a choice to burn down Constance’s house with all of the VIPs in it. Doing so will keep them out of your hair for the rest of the campaign, but comes at a cost of a mental trauma. It also awards a point of Conviction which may or may not be what you want.
As a final point on the VIPs it should be noted that they all appear only once during the campaign following Last King. So even if you do not kill them in the later scenario, you do not have to fear meeting them again. That means evasion can be a good solution to them. This is especially true for Jordan Perry whose 8 stamina and healing ability can make him very resilient otherwise and for Ishimaru Haruko who has 6 fight and punishes players for damaging her without attacking.
The Man in the Pallid Mask
The other presence that is following the investigators around on their way to Carcosa is the Man in the Pallid Mask aka “The Stranger”. He’s first encountered during Curtain Call after which he enters the lead investigator’s deck as a story weakness enemy. That way, he can appear on every following scenario whenever drawn from the player deck. The exceptions are The Pallid Mask and Dim Carcosa which both feature the Stranger in a more prominent way.
He can be defeated either by engaging and fighting him or by investigating at his location, mirroring the mechanical split between Doubt and Conviction. Doing so is not mandatory, but will reward players with a tally mark for “Chasing the Stranger”. These tallies track the investigator’s attempts at uncovering who is behind the mask and are checked at two points during the campaign.
During the dream setup of Phantom of Truth, having four or more tallies will award an extra Doubt or Conviction. More importantly, players will start with 1 to 3 extra doom on the first agenda of Dim Carcosa if they didn’t defeat the Stranger often enough. This penalty isn’t really as bad as it sounds, Dim Carcosa affords a good amount of time to get through it and shaving off one or two turns is not likely going to make much of a difference. In my opinion, it’s not really worth metagaming around or preparing for the Stranger, but you could consider taking him into account when deciding on who is going to be your lead investigator. Choosing someone with a lot of drawing power (or with Mr. Rook!) will lead to having the Man in the Pallid Mask appear more consistently in every scenario.
Hidden cards are a new breed of treacheries that appear in Carcosa for the first time. Instead of being revealed when drawn and having an immediate effect, these are added to the players hand secretly. “Secretly” in this context means the player adds them to their hand without showing the other players what exactly the card is – of course, the fact that they just drew a hidden card is going to be obvious for everyone.
Typically, these cards have some sort of lasting effect while they are in hand like putting restrictions on what actions can be taken or how often. Others might not do anything while there and instead trigger on some other condition. Regardless of their actual game text, they all share one innate drawback for the investigator holding them: Since they are counting towards the maximum hand size during cleanup and can not be discarded in any way (except for what is printed on the card), these effectively reduce the handsize of the player.
While players can not know what Hidden card their teammates drew, it’s usually not that much of a secret either once you played the campaign for a bit. The deluxe box only has one encounter set with Hidden cards, the Delusions. Those all forbid a certain action (playing events, committing cards…) and discard for 2 actions. The replacements from the Return To Carcosa work the other way round. They demand a certain action (move at least once, play at least one card…) and if not satisfied discard while dealing damage and horror. Unspeakable Oath and Dim Carcosa are the only scenarios adding other Hidden cards on top. So ultimately the whole secrecy aspect doesn’t really add a whole lot to these cards effects, they are basically like treacheries that you’d otherwise put in your threat area. Except these ones can’t be hit with Alter Fate.
The ones most impacted by Hidden cards are those investigators that rely on their hand size. Patrice is the most obvious example (it’s no coincidence that her weakness is Hidden, after all) as each Hidden card will directly cost her a drawn card per turn. Event based investigators like Nathaniel and Sefina will also want to get rid of their Hidden cards rather sooner than later so they can fill up their hand with playable options instead.
Looking at the roster of enemies that are opposing us, the first thing to notice is just how much stamina everything has. Not a single enemy from the Carcosa cards only has a single point of health. Even the lowest cultists and asylum inmates have at least 2 health, but it quickly scales up from there.
Even outside of the scenario specific enemies, tanky enemies like the Agent of the King or the Maniac are just waiting in the encounter deck to be randomly drawn as early as the first turn of the first scenarios. Accordingly, players need to be ready to deal good damage without needing excessive combo setup.
The scenarios themselves do have their own bosses and mini-bosses of course. Aside from the already mentioned cast of The King in Yellow, the Beast of Aldebaran is scripted to appear in certain places and puts up a good fight. The enemy version of David Chesterfield and the Oathspeaker are other examples. While it’s not strictly necessary to defeat all of them, the players need to have at least some sort of plan for how to deal with them.
One particular enemy that can catch the investigators off their guard is the Poltergeist. It can not be damaged in combat except by spells and relics, which blanks most of the commonly used weapons. In absence of a weapon with the correct trait, the only way out is either evading it (and it has 4 evasion to make this difficult) or fighting it with intellect by activating the parley ability on its card. Poltergeists are in the encounter deck during Pallid Mask, but more importantly they are also in Curtain Call. So players might want to pack something for this enemy already when building their initial decks. Good options at level 0 are Enchanted Blade, Disk of Itzamna or of course any number of combat spells. Also, there’s Fine Clothes which applies its parley bonus to Poltergeist as well, making the test trivial. As a neutral card, the Clothes are available to everyone, so there’s really no excuse to not at least bring them to Curtain Call.
Doubt and Conviction
Following the scenarios, players are presented with a variety of strange happenings. Depending on how they react to them, they either earn checkmarks for Doubt or for Conviction, reflecting what the players themselves (not necessarily the investigators) think about what is happening. Conviction means the players believe that something supernatural is afoot and that it is on them to stop it, no matter the cost. On the other hand, Doubt represents the players suspecting that they are mistaken and that they need to investigate what is actually happening behind what the narrator tells them. Of course, as promised by the name of the campaign itself, both of these paths lead to Carcosa eventually.
Almost all resolutions will require some sort of choice, either during the resolution itself or there are multiple ways to complete the scenario. Doubt and Conviction are handed out then, except for one case where it is awarded mid-game, on an agenda backside. As a result of this, some card effects or even complete scenarios will change depending on which of the two paths currently has more marks.
Generally speaking, the Doubt path is a bit more fight heavy while the Conviction one leans more towards seeking and parleying. This features most prominently during A Phantom Of Truth, but there are some other bits where this shines through.
The setup for Dim Carcosa, the campaign finale, reveals that there actually have been three paths all along. There are three possible variants of Dim Carcosa: One for Doubt. One for Conviction. And should you manage to collect fewer than six total marks of Doubt and Conviction, there is a third one. However fulfilling this limit requires some very special circumstances, among them to lose at least one scenario…
These are the ways to earn checkmarks for either of the paths:
Curtain Call: During the resolution, either warn the police (->Conviction) or don’t (->Doubt).
Interlude 1: Go back (->Doubt), run away (->neutral) or burn down the house (->Conviction).
Echoes of the Past: You can either take the clasp (->Conviction) or leave it (->Doubt). If you finish the scenario by defeating the Oathspeaker, you do not get this choice (->neutral).
Interlude 2: You can either ignore the warning (-> 2x Doubt) or heed it (-> 2x Conviction).
The Phantom of Truth: If you have at least 4 tallymarks for Chasing the Stranger, you have to choose one of two options during the dream sequence at setup: You either ask the Stranger about what he thinks is beautiful (-> Conviction) or wonder what you are even looking at (-> Doubt). Having fewer than 4 tallys for the Stranger is the neutral path here.
The Pallid Mask: Act a2 asks players to either spend an amount of clues at the Tomb of Shadows (-> 2x Doubt) or to defeat the Stranger (-> 2x Conviction).
Black Stars Rise: If players advance one of the act decks for the first time and only have up to 2 doom on the other act, they earn 1 Conviction. Otherwise, they earn 1 Doubt.
So you could enter Dim Carcosa with up to 9 Conviction, Doubt or a combination of both. With exception for the requirements of the third path, the exact numbers aren’t relevant, the game checks which one is higher. If they are equal, Doubt is the dominant one.
Consequences for the Doubt choices:
– Going back to the house and intruding on the secret meeting will unlock a different ending for Phantom of Truth that will make the players gain a mental trauma, but also 2 extra experience.
– For the base campaign, leaving the Onyx Clasp will lead to the players facing an enemy Daniel Chesterfield in Unspeakable Oath and accordingly are locked out of 2 experience from Interlude 2.
– For the Return to Carcosa, Unspeakable Oath will instead depend on Doubt vs Conviction and not necessarily just on whether the players took the clasp. High doubt will make players find an alive (but near lobotomized) Chesterfield who can indeed be rescued for 2 experience.
– Ignoring the warning will mean that the players can speak Hastur’s name freely. They do forfeit an extra experience that way, though.
– In The Pallid Mask, advancing act a2 with clues will advance to an act 3 that asks the players to find a specific location and gather there. During the resolution, 2 extra tally marks for Chasing the Stranger are marked that are absent in the other resolutions.
– Having more Doubt than Conviction for Phantom of Truth will turn the scenario into a hunt for the organist.
– Dim Carcosa requires players on this path to first defeat the Man in the Pallid Mask with his investigate action and then face an incorporeal Hastur, The King in Yellow. This one can only be damaged by location abilities. Basically, it’s the investigaty version of Dim Carcosa.
– For doubters, the Lost Soul treachery tests intellect against a difficulty equal to the willpower instead of the other way round.
Conversely, showing Conviction leads to this:
– Alerting the police when you also stole from the box office during Curtain Call will make the police suspicious. As a result, one investigator has to take the Paranoia weakness during the Phantom of Truth dream scenes. Don’t steal when you want to earn conviction from Curtain Call and you suffer no drawbacks.
– Burning down the house after Last King will permanently mark all of the VIPs as killed, stopping them from appearing down the road. This makes things a lot easier in many places, but it will also lead to a mental trauma during the Phantom of Truth dreams. Technically, this mental trauma would be skipped if the investigators completely fail Unspeakable Oath… but of course that comes with its own issues. Like having everyone go mad and needing to build new decks…
– During the base campaign, taking the Onyx Clasp will allow players to rescue Daniel Chesterfield from the asylum (relatively) intact during Unspeakable Oath and earn an extra 2 experience that way.
– With Return to Carcosa, Unspeakable Oath instead checks for Doubt against Conviction to determine the relevant act card. Having more Conviction spawns the Host of Confinement instead of Chesterfield, locking players out of the 2 experience for saving Daniel. With Return To, the Clasp also has a couple more uses here and there on locations.
– Heeding the warning will reward 1 experience, however it will also punish players for saying Hastur’s name aloud. Every time they do (even when reading setup instructions, flavor text, introductory dialogue, etc. to the other players), their investigator has to take 1 horror.
– The Conviction version of Phantom of Truth has the players flee from the organist. They need to survive three nights, represented by three agenda cards.
– If the players in The Pallid Mask defeat the stranger, the catacombs will crumble away and the players need to get out. Potentially, this can cost them the XP from multiple locations that are discarded during that last bit. The resolution does not hand out the extra 2 tallymarks for the chase after the Stranger that players on the Doubt route get, however they do of course get the one tally that is always awarded for defeating the stranger.
– The Conviction route for Dim Carcosa sees the players first defeat the Man in the Pallid Mask with damage and then Hastur in his Lord of Carcosa form which is a Hunter enemy with Massive. Basically, it’s the fighty version of Dim Carcosa.
– For believers, the Lost Soul treachery tests willpower against a difficulty equal to the intellect instead of the other way round.
And if all of that wasn’t involved enough already there is a third possible path for Dim Carcosa. This one requires the lead investigator to spend 3 actions at the location of the Man of the Pallid Mask, revealing that he himself was the one behind the mask all along! The players still have to defeat a version of Hastur, The Tattered King. This one isn’t massive like the one from the Doubt route, but he deals a lot more horror on attacks.
To get this third ending, the group needs to acquire less than 6 total Doubt and Conviction. As is evident by the list of opportunities for neutral outcomes above, this isn’t possible when succeeding at everything because there is 9 total checkmarks and only 3 opportunities to go neutral instead. So they need to intentionally fail at least one scenario where it will skip some decision points that would otherwise lead to Doubt or Conviction.
In short, players can:
– fail Curtain Call (skip 1 checkmark)
– run away from the dinner party (skip 1)
– defeat the Oathspeaker or fail Echoes of the Past (skip 1)
– have fewer than 4 tallies for the Stranger by Phantom of Truth (skip 1)
– fail The Pallid Mask before making a decision on act a2 (skip 2 checkmarks)
From these options, they need to pick enough things to skip at least 4 checkmarks.
The contents of the chaos bag fluctuate from scenario to scenario depending on the investigator’s choices regarding conviction, doubt and if they even made it through the scenario unharmed. At campaign start, the only symbol tokens (in addition to the obligatory elder sign and tentacle) are skulls.
Curtain Call adds the first pair of either cultist, tablet or Elder Thing to the bag. Which one is randomly determined. Return To Curtain Call adds the possibility for one each of two of the token types. Groups that plan on failing Curtain Call (because they want to go for the third campaign path) should consider doing so before act 2a flips because that way the tokens aren’t added to the bag, leading to an easier time during Last King.
Every following scenario will usually remove all of the cultist, tablet and Elder Thing tokens and then replace them with a pair of one sort or another depending on the outcome. There’s no clear pattern behind the type of token, so it’s not like (for example) taking the conviction route would always lead to tablets or something like that. Unlike in other campaigns it’s also not the case that the Elder Thing is worse than the other tokens. It’s roughly even between the three.
As a result, this is not worth spending any time on trying to metagame or in some way prepare for. I suggest just taking it as it comes. The campaign guide seems to make a big deal out of replacing the tokens, but i would argue that it’s mostly a red herring. It’s something that adds to the replayability of the campaign and not necessarily something that can be used to tweak the difficulty of the campaign.
A number of extra weaknesses are added to the player decks during Path to Carcosa. In extreme cases, a player could have eight weaknesses (or more, if their investigator already adds more than one…) in their deck at the height of the campaign. These are where these weaknesses are handed out:
Curtain Call: At resolution, lead investigator gains Man in the Pallid Mask.
Echoes of the Past: At resolution, one investigator might gain the Onyx Clasp.
Phantom of Truth: At setup, each investigator gains Lost Soul. Additionally, if the police are suspicious, one investigator gains the Paranoia weakness at setup.
The Pallid Mask: If failed, at least one investigator must add a random Madness or Pact in exchange for 2XP during resolution.
Black Stars Rise: At setup, each investigator gains a random Madness, Pact, Cultist or Detective weakness.
Half of these are always earned, but three can be avoided. Dodging the random Madness or Pact requires successfully finishing Pallid Mask. Notably, both the clasp and the Paranoia weakness are tied to the Conviction path. Not taking the clasp requires either going the neutral or the doubt route. In order for the police to not be suspicious, either don’t go to them in the first place (Doubt) or don’t steal from the register during Curtain Call.
These extra weaknesses can be a pain for any investigators that draw through their deck fast, possibly even multiple times. The Stranger and the Clasp at least remove themselves from the deck circulation because they enter the play area. But depending on what random weaknesses are acquired and how well the player is able to handle Lost Soul, this could become a problem.
Carcosa awards a solid amount of experience for its scenarios, but in some places the players will certainly have to fight for it. Some of it is located in the encounter sets, but it’s not as much as in Dunwich where some scenarios have more XP in the randomly drawn cards than in the scenario itself. Compared with the other campaigns, Carcosa’s XP payout is certainly on the lower end, but still a good amount above Dunwich.
In turn, players shouldn’t find it difficult to build most decks for Carcosa, but the most extravagant things might not fit the budget. It should be noted that the start of the campaign can be a bit rough, however. Having bad luck with Curtain Call could leave you with just 3 or 4XP, followed by two scenarios that both don’t hand out a lot of XP either. After Oath, the XP gains do start to pick up, though.
Available XP per scenario/interlude:
Curtain Call: 5(locations) + 2(Royal Emissary) + 1(Agent of the King) = 8XP
Last King: 3-5XP(clues, scales by player count)
Echoes of the Past: 2(Library)+ 2(Oathspeaker) + 1(Agent of the King) = 5XP
Unspeakable Oath: 3(locations) + 1(Chesterfield) + 1(Beast of Aldebaran) + 2(Screeching Byakhees) = 7XP
Interlude 2: 2(Chesterfield survives) + 1(Heeding the Oath) = 3XP
Phantom of Truth: 4(locations) + 2(Screeching Byakhees) + 2(finding Nigel)= 8XP
Pallid Mask: 5(locations) + 2(Specter of Death) = 7XP
Black Stars Rise: 5(locations) + 1(Beast of Aldebaran) = 6XP
Dim Carcosa: 2(Screeching Byakhees) + 1(Beast of Aldebaran) + 1(Agent of the King) + 5(winning the campaign) = 9XP
Nothing is as easy as it seems in this campaign, so this breakdown actually needs a few lines of explanation. Also, this breakdown assumes successful scenario completions, anything beyond that is also noted below:
The availability of XP in Curtain Call is subject to randomization. There are two sets of locations that both have 2 locations with a VP and 1 without any. Of those, two are chosen. The fifth location VP is always available. So depending on the luck of the draw, there is between 3 and 5 VP on the locations. The Agent needs to be drawn from the deck, further adding some randomness.
XP in Last King is awarded based on the number of clues gathered, 1XP per two clues. However, the number of clues doesn’t completely scale with player count, meaning there’s fewer XP for bigger groups. For a solo player, there’s 10 clues up for grabs, so 5XP. For a full team of 4 there’s 25 clues, which pays out 12XP, but divided by 4 everyone only gets 3XP.
Getting full XP for Echoes requires you to first clear the Hidden Library, but then instead of finishing the scenario with the clues also defeating the Oathspeaker.
Unspeakable Oath has almost half of its XP in its monster deck which may or may not enter play during the game. The XP for Chesterfield is only given for the enemy version which is only encountered when the players do not take the clasp. However, this will lock the players out of the 2XP for having Chesterfield survive that is awarded in the following interlude.
To get the 2XP for finding Nigel Engram, you need to first intrude on a secret meeting after Last King (Doubt choice). Note that these 2XP come with a mental trauma.
Failing Pallid Mask completely will give the players the opportunity to earn another 2XP on top of what is listed above. This will also give them a random weakness, however. It is also worth noting that defeating the Stranger instead of collecting the clues will make locations discard each turn, which will not put those locations into the victory display!
Following these numbers, you can possibly go into Dim Carcosa with 50XP. Of course, when planning a deck, it’s more reasonable to expect around 30-35XP. As with Dunwich, you might want to consider running some player cards that help out, like Delve Too Deep or Charon’s Obol.
The Return To Carcosa changes the following things about the numbers above:
Hastur’s Envoys: This replacement set for the Agents of Hastur features the Preying Byakhee which doesn’t have Victory, but replaces the Screeching Byakhee that does. This reduces the maximum XP of Oath, Phantom and Dim Carcosa by 2 each.
Curtain Call: A new Backstage and Lobby location are added, both with VP on them. This does not increase the maximum, but it does make it more likely to randomly draw locations with VP from the pool.
Last King: Dianne Devine can now be killed for 1VP, increasing the maximum to 4-6XP.
Unspeakable Oath: Players that have to escort Daniel can earn an extra XP by curing his Radical Treatment. This allows them to gain the same amount of XP as those meeting with the enemy version while still being able to pick up 2XP in the following interlude (assuming Daniel survives…)
Pallid Mask: Four new locations without VP enter the catacombs deck, making it less likely for the ones with VP to show up.
Especially the removal of the VP on the Byakhees is a bit of a sore point with these changes. While it likely doesn’t impact the viability of decks in any measurable way, you can easily expect to gain 3-4 fewer XP total throughout the campaign, mostly due to the Byahkees and the changes to Pallid Mask. Which is 1 or 2 nice upgrades less for the deck…
Some investigators are more suited for Carcosa’s challenges than others. That being said, it’s generally a campaign that doesn’t have too specific requirements like for example Circle Undone or Forgotten Age do. Most importantly you’ll need to be able to withstand an above average amount of incoming horror and you will need to be able to deal with rather large enemies immediately. There’s a suprising number of 4 health enemies around in this campaign, starting right in Curtain Call.
I am going to suggest two investigators for each class:
Carolyn Fern specializes in healing horror, keeping her fellow investigators sane. Who else could be a better pick for a madness themed campaign than a psychologist?
Tommy Muldoon can have his allies pick up horror for him while he gets paid. Meanwhile, he himself is a wellrounded investigator that can do a lot of things well enough.
Agnes Baker channels horror into damage, so that’s obviously something she can use a lot here. If she “heeds the warning”, she can from that point on even trigger her ability at will.
Literally any Mystic. All of them have high sanity and are able to use their willpower to meet the generalist angle of Carcosa. Agnes leads the pack due to her horror interactions, but I find it hard to recommend one of the rest over the others.
Tony Morgan is near perfect when it comes to taking out those nasty enemies. His low sanity is an issue, but if you can solve that you get the investigator with the highest damage output (well, it’s either him or Nathaniel).
Finn Edwards combination of evasion and combat capability while also having high intellect is great here. There are two scenarios (Dim Carcosa and Phantom) that are heavy on willpower treacheries, but most of the campaign is not going to bully him too much.
Ursula Downs can get a lot of mileage out of her ability, as many of the Carcosa scenarios feature fairly large maps and lots of clues to get from them. She’s able to play to her strengths really well here.
Joe Diamond is another investigator with a broad skill set. His achilles heel, the low willpower, doesn’t matter as much in Carcosa as it does in other campaigns.
Calvin Wright can use all that incoming horror to become a hypercompetent seeker. Playing him also gives you the opportunity to abuse Dim Carcosa’s rule of not being able to die to horror and stack bonuses from it to absurd levels. It’s a fun thing to do once 🙂
William Yorrick is able to give everyone some extra XP through his signature event and is also one of the better fighters among survivors.
As usual, i want to stress that these are only suggestions. Actually, for Carcosa this is even more true than for the other campaigns as Carcosa is really generic in terms of the requirements on the team. There’s some incoming horror, there’s some unusually large enemies and that’s it. No endless willpower bullying, vengeance penalties or similar shenanigans. This means you can play pretty much whatever you want. The only real limiter is the amount of experience available. You’ll want your deck to be capable on just a handful of XP and you might need to be a bit more frugal when it comes to the luxury stuff.
Notable Player Cards
There’s a couple of player cards that can make the whole trip along the Path to Carcosa a bit easier. Here’s some suggestions, again limiting myself to two per class and not mentioning the super obvious ones that are played in most decks anyways:
Handcuffs are a godsend for the first half of the campaign. Most of the enemies encountered are cultists, so locking them down without a way to generate doom is just great. During Oath, they also shine to tie down the asylum inmates. After Oath, they become less useful and can be replaced with some upgrade.
Spiritual Resolve is costly, but it doesn’t get better when you want to soak damage and horror. The last few times i played Carcosa, this has been my final upgrade that i buy from the Black Stars XP to make sure Dim Carcosa goes my way.
I’ve Got a Plan is one of the few cards that can deal 4 damage in one blow and as mentioned, this is a bit of a magic number at times.
Logical Reasoning can be a necessary upgrade if mental trauma has taken its toll and you are concerned about horror. The upgrade is super expensive but it can wipe out several turns of horror.
Liquid Courage is more horror healing. And rogues can really use it.
Riastrad fills the same purpose that I’ve Got a Plan does, but with fewer restrictions on its use.
Fearless is not particularly impressive in its level 0 version, but the upgrade does a lot of work.
Ward of Protection is of course one of the most played mystic cards of all, but i want to give a shoutout to its much less played level 5 version here. There are some very scary enemies in the encounter deck during the second half of the campaign and being able to stop them from even appearing can be exceptional.
Peter Sylvestre is another widely played card, but i can’t possibly talk about cards that help against horror without mentioning the Big Man.
Stunning Blow automatically evades even the big Elites. This buys the necessary time taking down some of the big guys can take.
Elder Sign Amulet is a card i am rarely happy to take due to it hogging up the accessory slot, but if better class options are not available, then sometimes you got to do what you got to do.
Fine Clothes are a neat thing to have for the first couple scenarios. While the parley tests in Last King aren’t all that difficult and are mostly gated behind other requirements, Fine Clothes can trivialize them which will help a lot. Fine Clothes are also a good solution for the Poltergeist. After Last King, they are less useful. Pallid Mask has the Poltergeist again and another scenario specific enemy that can be parley’d, but that’s pretty much it.
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