Blight

Set Size4
Number of unique Cards2
RoleCombat, Damage, Discard
Threat LevelMid
# of scenarios5
Appears in: Hemlock House, Silent Heath, Lost Sister, The Thing From the Depths, The Longest Night

Blight is used in five out of eight scenarios in the Hemlock Vale campaign. It is therefore the most common encounter set around and the investigators will face it at least three times. Blight is at its core a very simple set, focused on dealing damage to the players.
This adds a considerable amount of attrition to the encounter deck, which can especially help to wear you down in scenarios that go on for a while (Silent Heath), that already apply quite some pressure through enemies (Lost Sister) or both (Longest Night).
This is unlikely to be an encounter set you particularly fear, but it’s one that certainly does its part. Desiccation in particular can really sneak up on you and limit your good options.
Notably, none of the cards in this set can force you to take damage, you always have alternate options: You can discard a card for Enervation or do things other than play cards with your actions. Now, these options aren’t always going to be particularly pleasant either. At least these treacheries won’t actually kill you the way a Grasping Hands would… but they can certainly put you in a bad spot. Speaking of Grasping Hands, a bit of good news is that the one scenario that uses the Ghouls set in Hemlock Vale doesn’t also use Blight. So you don’t have to be afraid of any of the following two cards setting up a lethal Grasping Hands. Hey, nothing wrong with being grateful for small mercies. Because as we’ll see there some other stacking up of effects going on that isn’t exactly pleasant!

Threat Level: Low to Mid.

A test versus difficulty 5 is super difficult and something that even a Mark or Tony can expect to fail unless they devote further resources into the test. Luckily, the difficulty goes down for anyone already hurt, but the threat of 2 damage or your most expensive card in hand is something that you will often not have a good choice between.
There’s a couple things i find particularly interesting here. For one, this is the rare treachery that is most impactful at the start of the scenario when you probably don’t have any damage on you yet except from trauma. Later in the scenario, once you have been beaten down a bit, this can even become a freebie or at least an easy test.
Another remarkable thing about it is that it’s a fight test. Usually we’d expect an agility test on treacheries like this. Feast of Hemlock Vale actually has a couple fight tests on treacheries as part of its efforts to test investigators on all four skills. Notably, there is a pretty big overlap between “having low fight” and “having low health” on investigators, which can turn this card into a problem for these sort of frail characters.
This only counts damage “on you” for its reduction of the difficulty. That means it rewards taking damage on the chin instead of using soak, as damage on your allies, leather coats, etc. will not count towards lowering the threshold here.
All that being said, giving the player a choice to either take the damage or lose one of their cards (even when it’s a specific one) is providing them with a way to mitigate the worst case. Losing a card is often not a terribly bad deal, but of course with all the discard synergy going on in the campaign it can become situationally a lot worse, for example when it triggers a Miasmatic Shadow to engage you.
Overall, this can be pretty bad when drawn in the first turn as it will ask you to pick between losing one of your best cards or taking 2 damage. Later on, it often drops off massively as you will either be able to more easily lose a card or already have taken a couple points of damage so that the difficulty of the test drops to reasonable levels. Compared to its horror counterpart from the Transfiguration set, Strange Mutations, this also notably gives you all the information you need when deciding whether to invest into trying to pass this test or not as it doesn’t involve random discard. Often you will look at your hand, check which card is your highest costed one and just decide that losing that card is perfectly fine. Strange Mutations doesn’t offer that luxury.
If you have a decent combat value, consider putting some of the damage you get from other sources on yourself even when you have soak available to get the difficulty of the Enervation test into a range where you can reasonably pass it. If you happen to fail anyways, you can always put the damage from Enervation on the soak then. But at least you’ll give yourself a small edge through an easier test if you intentionally take some damage on yourself as well.

Threat Level: Mid (High in four player games?)

And here’s one of the primary reasons why that damage might have accumulated. While this won’t shut down your card plays completely the way Dissonant Voices from Striking Fear does, it will simply ping you for each card played. And it will do so for all investigators. This can translate to a hefty chunk of damage dealt overall by this treachery because typically Hemlock Vale doesn’t really allow you a turn off. Desiccation turns where nobody gets damaged are kind of rare, even in two player games you’ll usually be willing to take a ping or two so you don’t lose momentum.
As someone who only plays two-player games, i can only speculate how terrifying this must be in four player groups. Not only because it scales up with player count, but also because drawing two of them in one turn means that you take 2 damage per card played… and then only discard one of them at the end of the round so everyone is still impeded on the following turn. That’s incredibly rough! Honestly, I don’t really see why only 1 per round discards when they do actually stack while in play.
Silent Heath and The Longest Night both use the Striking Fear set which means those two scenarios do have both Dissonant Voices and Desiccation in them. Which opens up the possibility to have a turn where you can’t play anything at all only to move into a turn where playing things to catch up with the previous turn hurts your life total. Or the other way round, a turn where you decide not to play your cards during Desiccation because you want to save up some health… only to draw Dissonant Voices the turn after and have to sit out another turn. Considering that this is The Longest Night, this sort of delay can be very harsh.
This card is of course particularly hard on investigators that are event based like Sefina, Nathaniel or Diana. But it can randomly be a huge pain on anyone. I find myself underestimating this card a lot and will often take two or more damage from it across investigators even in a two player game. The damage is spread out across players which makes it appear less of a problem, but this is likely not going to be the only damage you have to suffer.

2 Replies to “Blight”

  1. Desiccation + Dissonant Voices made The Longest Night hell for Nathaniel Cho. Combine those with all the discard, and this is a rough campaign event-based fighters.

  2. One note on Dessication – as someone who does play 3 and 4p, I imagine this one can actually end up being less threatening in some ways there than 2p. Reason being that while the ceiling is higher and it’s more likely to impact somebody’s plan, you also more often have someone who is already set-up to handle pressing threats so I’ve found we can often get away taking no damage and still having a reasonably efficient turn!

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