|Size of the Encounter Deck||30|
My take on this encounter deck: That is a lot of doom related cards. This scenario uses two agendas, so naturally the additional doom effects get diluted a bit by having to cover both of them, but still this is a major thing to worry about here. Generally, i don’t find this scenario all that difficult, but a lot of that comes from having replayed it a couple of times. When you don’t know what is coming, this is a lot harder as the unfamiliar way of having to manage doom and the surprising amount of horror coming your way can prove to be a deadly combination.
As is appropriate for the last scenario before the finale, there are also a bunch of tough enemies around. Most of them lack Hunter, so having someone around that can competently apply evasion is a huge boon here.
The final interesting twist is how the encounter deck changes depending on which agendas advance. Focusing on “a” adds Tidal Terrors to the deck and powers up the Crashing Flood treachery. Putting a priority on “c” instead will make Riftseekers appear and will make Worlds Merge be more impacting. Deciding on focusing on one or the other or on making it an even split between the two is a cool way for the players to have some influence on what dangers they face. Ultimately all four of the cards mentioned are quite demanding, though.
This is a neat scenario. While it does lose some of its teeth once you played it a couple of times and can metagame some of its twists, i think this both more challenging and more interesting than Dim Carcosa.
Cancel these: Spires of Carcosa, Crashing Flood/Worlds Merge. Both of the treacheries that are tied to a certain agenda can hit really hard once they are powered up a bit. Having a cancel or two in the back pocket to step in when it would threaten someone is a good idea. Among the doom cards, Spires of Carcosa sticks out. Not only does it count for both agendas, but it also adds two doom. If you don’t have someone at the scene who you are confident that they can discard Spires in two actions, feel free to just bin it with a Ward.
What it does: Tidal Horror is a big Hunter enemy. With 4 health and 4 fight, it is reasonably tough to defeat. It has only low evade though.
Tidal Horror hits for 2 horror and 1 damage on attacking, which is also above average.
It spawns on either the port or the chapel, so it likely does take a few turns for it to catch up with the players.
This enemy is not in the encounter deck at first, it gets added when the “a” agenda advances.
My take: Something for the Guardian to do. These guys are just a little bit shy from being an Elite enemy, this is about as dangerous as it gets for the “normal” monsters. Since this is the penultimate scenario, it can be expected that players are able to deal with enemies like this. What makes it interesting is that there are quite a few enemies like this in the encounter deck. Between this, the Spawn of Hali and the Riftseekers, the players potentially have to chew through a lot of enemy health, quite possibly leaving them without ammo or charges when the Beast of Aldebaran shows up.
The good news: When this enemy shows up, the group is likely already within the church, so the Tidal Horror will need about 4 or 5 turns of hunting before it gets to engage something. That could very well be enough to finish the scenario at that point.
Threat level: High. It’s quite dangerous in combat and part of a deck that has more enemies to back it up.
Dealing with it: How to best deal with this enemy is going to depend on how far into the scenario you are. If you are well on your way to finishing up, you can likely run away from it and maybe evade it once or twice to stall it. That way you can save your consumables and devote them to kill other things in your way like that Beast of Aldebaran.
If that is not an option (maybe you advanced the “a” agenda early and you immediately drew one of these) then killing it is probably preferable to having it follow you around into the church. It hits too hard to be kept alive then.
What it does: Rift Seeker is an enemy with above average stats, giving it some resilience to attacks. Whenever it attacks, the target of that attack needs to either take an additional damage and horror or add a doom token to each agenda.
Instead of defeating it the usual way, it can be parley’d by spending an action, taking 2 horror and placing a doom on each agenda.
This enemy is not in the encounter deck at first, it gets added when the “c” agenda advances.
My take: I’d have to be either very desperate or very confident to consider using that parley option. Taking extra doom just to kill something that has three fight and health isn’t really something i am interested in. If things go very wrong and you are still engaged with this on your last action while also being low on stamina or sanity you might use the Parley to just be done with it. Also, if you are already well on your way to the final location and just need to wrap up the scenario with doom to spare, this option can be nice.
Usually you’ll just want to hit this thing once or twice though.
Threat level: Low to Mid. It isn’t terribly difficult to defeat, but it hits fairly hard if it lives.
Dealing with it: As usual, being able to deal 3 damage in one go saves an action. If it does get to attack, you are hopefully able to take the extra damage and horror, as adding doom should really be avoided. While getting low on sanity or stamina leaves you open to get defeated by Worlds Merge, Crashing Flood or Marked by the Sign, there is also plenty of doom effects going around that would punish you for taking the doom instead. It’s going to be a very situational choice.
Note that Rift Seeker is the only Byakhee without Hunter, so evading it can be an option for those who can beat the evade value of 4. The scenario is fairly linear with minimal backtracking, so you’d probably be able to leave it behind without having to worry about it later.
What it does: After failing an agility test, the player has to take damage and lose actions. The damage and number of actions lost scale with how far the “a” agenda advanced.
My take: This is the only damage treachery in the deck, so even though there are three of them and they can deal up to three damage, that part usually only gets too worrysome if you are already wounded from fighting some enemies or if you are particularly vulnerable by nature (like Sister Mary with her 5 stamina). Losing actions can be very brutal, though. A fully powered Crashing Floods can make someone skip their whole turn, leaving them vulnerable to any enemies on the board.
Threat level: High. The enemies in this scenario are too dangerous to skip your turn around them.
Dealing with it: See the next card.
What it does: After failing a willpower test, the player has to take horror and discard cards from their hand. The horror and number of cards scale with how far the “c” agenda advanced.
My take: I usually do not care too much about the discard here, at least it is not random. But taking up to 3 horror is a big deal. There are three of this card in the deck, together with another three horror treacheries from The Stranger and several enemies that can deal 2 horror per attack. As a result, you might just be defeated from drawing two of these and failing to pass the willpower test.
Threat level: High. One of the most threatening horror treacheries in the game.
Dealing with it: Arguably, this is even the weaker one of the two agenda related treacheries in this scenario. Worlds Merge and Crashing Flood are the two treacheries that get stronger depending on which agenda you decided to advance. The thing with Crashing Flood is that it can potentially cost a full turn, which can then lead to being attacked by one of the many monsters in this deck, effectively also pressuring the sanity and stamina of the player. Bigger groups can make up for someone losing a turn more easily, so those should probably advance “a” before “c”. For a solo player, losing all their actions can absolutely be fatal, so they will likely want “c” over “a”. For two and three players, it’s going to be somewhere in between, maybe even without a “right” answer. Personally, i usually advance “c” first, because i also don’t want Tidal Horrors in my encounter deck too early. This does add extra pressure on the sanity of my investigators, but in the Carcosa campaign, i do plan for that by default.
Return to Black Stars Rise
My take on the modified scenario: This scenario is mostly unchanged. Two locations are now included in the randomization at setup, but that doesn’t change a whole lot. Two new cards are added to the encounter deck that deal some testless damage or horror. Those are dangerous because there is enough other stuff in the encounter deck to back it up, especially on the horror side of things.
The only encounter set that is being replaced is Ancient Evils, which gets dropped for Delusory Evils. This change just doesn’t make sense to me at all. This whole scenario is built around the doom interactions with the agenda, why would one remove Ancient Evils? It wasn’t even a problem here, it was borderline helpful. One of the agendas even references the card by name, giving it Surge! Nope, doesn’t make a lick of sense to me. And it doesn’t help that i find Delusory Evils itself incredibly off-putting and irrelevant. Among us: I ignore that swap and keep using Ancient Evils. Don’t tell the boardgame police, please 🙂
What it does: Hastur’s Grasp an Gaze is a pair of treacheries that are secretly added to the player’s hand as a Hidden card when drawn. They both trigger when a doom token is added to “their” agenda, they will then discard and deal 2 damage or horror to the player.
My take: Just like with Crashing Floods and Worlds Merge, it’s the “a” agenda that deals damage and the “c” agenda that deals horror. This makes them stack up with those treacheries very well, which is especially relevant for Hastur’s Gaze. After all, sanity was already under attack quite severely and this doesn’t help.
I don’t really see the point of them being Hidden cards. Aside from Delusory Evils, they are the only ones in the encounter deck. And the delay on dealing the damage or horror likely isn’t going to matter.
Threat level: Low to Mid for Grasp, Medium for Gaze. More damage and horror to stack up with Crashing Floods and Worlds Merge.
Dealing with it: Unless you are willing to break at least the spirit of the Hidden rules, you’ll likely just have to take this testless damage or horror rather sooner than later. At least you get to play a soak asset from your hand first if you got one. If you are playing solo, you might delay this a bit, but there’s not really much of a point to that either. The card is going to trigger eventually.
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