|Size of the Encounter Deck||27|
|# Intellect and Shroud Manipulation||6|
My take on this encounter deck: As far as encounter decks go, this one is quite forgiving, even for a campaign opener. Most of the deck is focused on trying to stall the players and keeping them from investigating the locations around the Enchanted Path. To this effect, the Dreamlands encounter set teams up with Chilling Cold’s Obscuring Fog to increase shroud values while also collaborating with Dreamer’s Curse and the Hidden cards from Agents of Nyarlathothep to restrict player actions.
In terms of enemies, there’s seven of them in a deck of 27 here, so about a quarter of the deck. Half of those enemies are small Zoogs that are easy enough to defeat or evade and shouldn’t give anyone much trouble. Two bigger Zoogs, the Ancient and the Inconspicuous one, are a bit more dangerous. The Crawling Mist from the Agents of Nyarlathothep makes its first appearance, but it is limited in its power due to having only three Hidden cards to potentially get boosted from. It’s still a noteable enemy for a first scenario, but usually you will be glad to see it so you can collect your victory point from it. A more dangerous enemy than the Mist actually comes from the set-aside area: Laboring Gug, a 5/5/2 enemy is spawned by one of the locations and requires some investment to defeat if players want to get that victory point.
Whenever i play this scenario, i do not really feel like i am under much threat. The first half of the scenario doesn’t even use the encounter deck and once it does, the threats fail to impress me too much. The enemies have a few challenges, but the time pressure from the stalling treacheries doesn’t really matter too much thanks to a rather generous doom threshold on the agenda. As a result, i think this is the easiest first scenario in any of the campaigns, including The Gathering.
What it does: With a three in every of its stats, the Ancient Zoog is more durable than any of its fellow Zoogs. It does not have Swarming, though. When drawn, it will spawn at an unrevealed Enchanted Woods, where it will hang out with Aloof. While in play and ready, each swarming Zoog in play receives an extra swarm card each enemy phase.
My take: “Move -> engage -> attack” is already three actions, so unless you have extra actions or are able to deal 3 damage to this critter with one attack, this has a good chance of living into the enemy phase. How bad that is will depend on what Zoogs are in play and how many. As with Zoog Burrows, addings swarm cards to some Furtive Zoog that was left behind, isn’t anything worth caring about. In the end, Ancient Zoog is another card that plays off of the Inconspicuous Zoog, providing it with fresh bodies to keep disenaging and hunting.
Threat level: Low to Mid. Becomes a priority with Inconspicuous Zoog around, but isn’t all that relevant without it.
Dealing with it: Aloof and three health makes it hard to kill. Even Spectral Razor can’t do it in one shot because the thing is Elite. So unless you have some other way to deal 3 in one go or a way to bypass the Aloof, you might just have to spend a full turn on getting rid of it if you want it gone. One card that comes to mind here is Dynamite Blast. Although slightly overkill when used just on the Ancient Zoog, the Dynamite can potentially take out the Inconspicuous Zoog at the same time, solving almost all of the enemy problems in the scenario in one go.
What it does: Lost in the Woods surges, so its effect always comes in addition with another encounter card. It threatens to deal 1 horror and remove 1 action from each investigator at an Enchanted Woods location. To avoid this, the investigators have to pass a willpower test.
My take: As far as surging treacheries go, this is a pretty bad one. Costing an action on top of whatever else the encounter deck holds is already relevant, but this possibly also applies to multiple players and it also can deal horror. There is a willpower saving throw on the card, which is the saving grace of this innocent looking but lowkey quite impactful little treachery.
Threat level: Mid to High. Surge on a relevant card, always an unwelcome sight.
Dealing with it: That’s what we get for straying from the path, right? Well, unless you really dislike getting experience, staying at the Enchanted Path isn’t really an option so usually players will just need to take this card for granted. Passing the willpower test would be optimal of course, but if that fails, hope to surge into a card that doesn’t also penalize your actions. If this threatens to affect multiple players, this can even be worth canceling despite the Surge still happening.