Top 10: My favorite treacheries

Introduction: Here’s part two of the totally non-controversial set of “Favorite” lists for the christmas holidays. Following the favorite enemies, it’s now time for the favorite treacheries, of course. Again, this is based on card mechanics or their place in their respective scenarios and not artwork. That’s going to be the third list, coming very soon. 😉

#10: Deep One Assault. Many campaigns have a treachery in their ranks that seem to pop up all the time and that have enough of an impact to be sort of the signature treachery for that campaign. Taken to its extreme, you get something like Beyond the Veil, but Deep One Assault is not quite that oppressive. What it does ensure though is a consistent flood of fishpeople and that all those Hunters or evaded enemies have an edge on the players. Can be quite rough in some scenarios (In Too Deep and Light in the Fog are probably the worst) but aside from those, the card plays an important part. It’s absolutely a love/hate relationship, though!

#9: Rites Howled. Taken for itself it’s not all that impressive really. Even if you play Dunwich a lot, you would be forgiven having to look up the card. What i like about it is its interaction with weaknesses in the player decks. I think more treacheries should do something like that.

#8: Captive Mind. The City of Archives is a strange scenario, so it’s appropriate that it has some cards in it that work differently from what we are used to. The one i appreciate most of them is Captive Mind, which uses skill tests in a way that has not been repeated since then (i think?).

#7: Endless Descent. I am not a huge fan of the full scenario, but the last bit of Thousand Shapes of Horror is quite cool. Whenever this game does something unusual with locations, i usually like it, so this ever expanding stair case is right in my wheelhouse. Of course, when you play the actual scenario, this card can be hella frustrating. But there’s no doubt that it is interesting!

#6: Kidnapped! One of the few treacheries that can have repercussions beyond the scenario it is in, this can snatch up something from your deck for the rest of the campaign. This was a huge deal when Dunwich was fresh and even today it’s one of the cards that sparks some stories. Got to respect that.

#5: Morbid Awareness. Another cute mechanic that hasn’t been reused since. There’s something bad in a location and the closer you are to it, the worse the treachery is going to hit you. Stay far enough away and you can resist it more easily. I just think that’s neat, one of these rare cases where some theme translates perfectly into more abstract game rules.

#4: The Shadow Behind You. Speaking of hilarious things to translate into game text… “Action: You Look Behind You” is just a great line. Of course it helps that the card also plays really well, giving the player some decisions about whether to just take it now or spend actions to delay it.

#3: Terror From Beyond. The Peril keyword has been around since the core set, but this is the first time that it is used to let one player make a choice based on imperfect information. And it’s a banger of a card, making all other players sweat bullets while the one who drew it considers their options. High drama, high impact and creates stories. A recipe for a good and memorable treachery.

#2: Painful Reflection. I don’t have much love for the Return to Carcosa box, but the replacement set for Striking Fear is just excellent. Most of all Painful Reflection, a card that sits in your threat area and taunts you. Do you play other events to bait it? What if it doesn’t trigger? So just play what you were going to? But that might counter it! There’s a lot of mindgames with this card and the beautiful part is that it’s mindgames you have with yourself. If that’s not appropriate for Carcosa, then what is?

#1: Ancient Evils. Anyone surprised by this being my top pick hasn’t been paying attention. The doom counter is a very integral part of the game, a fail condition that makes sure that games don’t take forever and that players don’t durdle around. Turns are limited and so are actions. The doom clock is what gives the whole system of having actions a meaning in the first place. Ancient Evils is a direct extension of the doom clock, giving it just that bit of wiggle room to make sure you can’t properly calculate how many actions you have left. Now, sadly there are like three or four scenarios out of the 20+ that it is a part of where it introduces too much variance through reshuffling or bad interactions with other cards, but in the 15+ other scenarios it’s just an important part of making the game tick.
Remember, the turn you lose is the one at the end. That can very often be better than losing actions now. So stop worrying about Ancient Evils and enjoy your turn free of having immediate pressure and invest those actions into getting a move on. Nobody cares if you have two, four or eight doom left at the end of the scenario 🙂

Top 10: My favorite enemy cards

Introduction: We are moving towards Christmas and the surrounding holidays at a fast pace, so for the next two or three lists at least i want to dial down the controversy and instead give praise to some of my favorite Arkham encounter cards. Starting with the enemies today. This is from a point of view of game mechanics. I’ll do artwork later 😉 These are enemies that i like either because they have cool mechanics, because they are iconic or just because i think they are interesting in some way.

#10: Acolyte. The Core Set classic sets the template for how a cultist looks in this game: Not terribly dangerous by itself, but once many of them congregate, their presence on the board alone becomes a huge issue. Cults need to be stopped and this is mechanically represented extremely well with this card. Huge win on both flavor and mechanics. Getting a card like this right on the first try was extremely important for the Core Set, considering its encounter sets are used in all following products as well. It’s astonishing really how much the designers got those sets exactly right. I’d go as far and say that the game wouldn’t work without how extremely well made the Core is. The Acolyte is a hallmark of that design work.

#9: Corpse Dweller. This chunky boy is just one of the many reasons why The Pallid Mask is my favorite scenario. A minor reason only, but still. What’s cool here is that having this monster in the encounter deck gives a whole new feel of urgency to the basic enemies from the Ghoul set. You could be tempted to just evade a Ghoul Minion and leave it behind, but then this thing might just break out of the Ghoul and start following you. Even in the two-handed games that i play, i have very often cursed the timing on this enemy. I imagine it is only harder to keep from the board in bigger groups.

#8: Eater of the Depths. This is basically the “Refuses to elaborate further” meme, but as an encounter card. We know nothing about this thing. All we know is we are trekking through the Depths of Yoth, minding our own business when out of nowhere this massive thing can show up and deliver a boss fight. 2 victory points, Hunter with truckloads of damage and horror, a bundle of stats. What is even going on here. And yet, this somehow fits that part of the campaign, after all we just left the City of Archives behind us so nothing makes sense anyways. This enemy is probably the one that is most alien to me, most other things are at least explained or handwaved somewhat. In it’s own way that’s fascinating.

#7: Hunting Horror. It’s a real shame that The Miskatonic Museum does have some parts that just don’t work correctly, at least in its original pre-Return incarnation. The idea of having only a single enemy in the scenario that just won’t die but instead return stronger over and over is fantastic and for all it’s faults it has to be said: When the scenario works, it is a really good one. This enemy becomes the primary threat, but also at the same time it works as a timer for the scenario. Really cool stuff mechanically and i wish this concept would be revisited some time. It did take the Return To box for Hunting Horror to become what it should be, but i think in the end it got there. My most recent plays of Return to Museum were all tight and suspenseful affairs and the Hunting Horror is obviously the key element to that.

#6: Arkham Officer. The first half of Murder at the Excelsior Hotel flips a lot of what we assume from the game on its head. We see Arkham’s Finest, represented by enemy cards, investigate the locations like we would. Doom represents the progress in their investigation against the players and should the doom threshold be met, they can make a case against us. This is very well represented on a number of cards, but most importantly on the Arkham Officer himself who seeks out clues and turns them into “doom” progress. We can chat them up, learning what they learned and take the pressure from ourselves at the same time. It all just makes sense, which is impressive.

#5: Whippoorwill. This little birdie (and its partner in crime, the Eager for Death treachery) are another huge flavor win. According to Lovecraft’s Dunwich Horror (and superstition in general) these birds are harbingers of death and hearing them sing is an omen of bad luck. Well, looking at the card, they certainly got the bad luck part right. Whatever you are trying to do gets a lot harder once one (or god forbid, multiples) of these are around. And Eager for Death nails the harbinger of death part, causing horror to those who are wounded. The encounter set is one of my favorites from the early days of the game and the Whippoorwill in particular is just cool because it shows that you don’t always need tentacles and huge fangs to pose a problem to the investigators.

#4: Harbinger of Valusia. Speaking of harbingers of death, this mean green mother from TFA seems to pop up whenever it is the least convenient. She’s a powerful enemy on her own, but her timing means that she often appears when you are already having all sorts of other things to take care of. She’s a constant presence throughout TFA and like so many other things in that campaign she asks for both fighting and evading. She’s also able to punish either if you are bad at it, so there’s that. I particularly like the “Then, if there are 2i resources on it, it vanishes with a sinister hiss.” bit. Starts out with very formal rules conform talk and ends on what is basically flavor text. Arkham gets away with that sort of thing sometimes and i just think that’s neat.

#3: Ghoul Priest. Arkham is a harsh place where failure and defeat lurk at every corner. This is one of the lessons that the Night of the Zealot teaches fledgling players, to make sure they go into any further campaigns with the right expectations. And none better to teach this particular lesson than the Ghoul Priest. An enemy that would command respect if it appeared at the end of a modern campaign with its full card pool, it’s something for the best fighter of the group to sink their teeth into. But here it appears in the Core Set, right in the first scenario where investigators and players alike are as vulnerable as they will ever be. Best case, you are Roland with a .45 Auto or Agnes with a Shrivelling(0). Worst case, you are Wendy with a Baseball Bat. Between 4 fight, a chunk of health points, Retaliate and a boatload of damage and horror, the odds are completely stacked against the players when the Ghoul Priest shows up. I mean… just compare him to the Harbinger of Valusia who is very similar but meant to be a recurring enemy that haunts players for most of a full campaign. Of course, this lesson leads right into the next one, with Lita Chandler teaching players about the value of getting +1 skill and bonus damage. The Gathering is expertly crafted and the Ghoul Priest a perfect capstone for the scenario. A much more memorable villain than Umôrdoth could ever hope to be, defeating it is the first real high that a player gets with this game.

#2: Atlach-Nacha. How crazy is it that we can talk about our favorite card game while using the phrase “Rotating Spider God”? After being largely unimpressed with The Dream-Eaters, Weaver of the Cosmos just blew me away. Which surprised me quite a bit, after all at some point you think (foolishly) that you have seen everything over the course of 5+ campaigns and that surely you can’t be blindsided by this game anymore. Well, i distinctly remember opening the Mythos pack and finding the 5 cards that make up the spider in it. I had the dumbest grin on my face when i realized what’s up. It was like when i first set up Essex Express and marveled at what the game can do with locations. An utterly unique enemy in a fun scenario.

#1: Vengeful Serpent. Everything about Vengeful Serpent is perfect. It does something very unique, but at the same time reinforces what The Forgotten Ages is all about. Like so many other TFA enemies, this one makes the player think about whether to evade them or defeat them, but with most other enemies this is way too often too binary and obvious. You really have to think about this one, though. It uses the Vengeance keyword in a new way. While it doesn’t contribute to Yig’s Wrath, there is some actual vengeance happening here. It’s a Hunter. And a Serpent. And it’s actually really dangerous if you choose poorly in how to handle them! The scenarios that use the Venomous Hate encounter set are all vastly improved by having this guy around because its’ impact is just that big. It also replaces the Fang of Yig, a very inconsequential and frankly boring enemy. Oh, and it also has really good art. This card is fantastic.

Top 10: Most fun basic weaknesses

Introduction: Alright, “most fun” might be overselling it slightly, but there’s no doubt that some weakness are just more interesting than others. In a sea of weaknesses that merely ask to spend an action or two to discard them or are just some damage here and there, these standout weaknesses give players something to play around, some actual challenge that spices up the game. Here’s my Top 10 of basic weaknesses i’d rather draw randomly than most others because they create interesting situations.

#10: Dark Pact. Arkham LCG has a couple of “campaign only” multi-stage weaknesses. While some of those are also the most frustrating things ever (i actually removed Doomed and Offer You Can’t Refuse from my pool), Dark Pact is the best of them. It gets the lowest spot on the Top 10 because it’s probably one of the weakest in the pool, but i do appreciate the flavor of the card and that you can use it to stab a teammate, one of your allies or even yourself.

#9: Your Worst Nightmare. When a weakness can promote interactivity between the players, that’s a win all around. This enemy can’t be defeated by its carrier, so someone else has to take it. Now, of course this is already true for many enemies that come off naturally from the encounter deck, after all most teams have investigators that already need to be protected this way.

#8: Reckless. As one of the few skill weaknesses, Reckless immediately stands out. It sticks with you, draining your resources until you finally manage to get rid of it by failing a test with it. This reminds me a bit of Rex’s Curse, but without all the annoying token pulling. Reckless is quite impactful for investigators that like keeping their resources and does often require taking some lines of play you usually wouldn’t just so you get to take some tests that you can fail on purpose.
EDIT: Okay, so i messed up here. I got how Reckless and Arrogance work mixed up. Obviously you will want to pass a test with Reckless and not fail it. So what i wrote above is poppycock. Sorry about that! Not sure it still belongs on the list now, but it is what it is.

#7: The Thing That Follows. The enemy that keeps coming back. Most enemies you just want to defeat as soon as possible so it’s out of your hair. This one you want to let stick around as long as possible so it doesn’t replace more of your draws. Its impact on the game depends on the location layout of the scenario, so there’s some variance to the card as well which is something i usually appreciate.

#6: Stubborn Detective. This guy is famous for the stories he creates, being so stubborn that he’d literally follow you to the City of Archives because he has a hunch. His ability is also quite unique in that it makes get by without you investigator ability while he’s around. Ultimately he’s not difficult to defeat, but he certainly can create some interesting situations.

#5: Narcolepsy. More multiplayer goodness. Literally only take a single action to disable, but the timing this card has is often awful. Especially when it is in the deck of someone who is usually supposed to take their turn first. There’s also something deeply hilarious to having your team mate get all sleepy while you are fighting Atlach-Nacha or trying to run through a disintegrating train.

#4: The injuries. Hot of the presses, these new EotE weaknesses ask the players to run specific cards to deal with them. In turn, these are more or less impactful depending on how well you adjust to them in your deck building and upgrade choices… i find that very satisfying and rewarding.

#3: Kleptomania. The final three weaknesses are where i’d actually go as far as claiming they are fun to play with. As some other cards mentioned before, Kleptomania has that multiplayer interactivity going on. But more than the others, this one rewards using it creatively and can even create opportunities for combos or at least mildly positive outcomes.

#2: Damned. This one uses the tarot deck from the RtTCU box. While it is wildly unpredictable and often downright nasty, there is just something to be said for a weakness that changes from scenario to scenario and gives you different challenges. Sometimes the effect is minor but often it is major enough that it requires some adjustment of the playstyle for the duration of a game. That’s basically exactly what i want to see from a weakness.

#1: Through the Gates. Of all the weaknesses, this is the one i like playing with the most. Like Damned, it creates different sorts of experiences whenever it is drawn. Sometimes it just plucks something inconsequential from your deck. Other times it costs you something from the board or from the hand. Or goes straight for some key piece of your deck and you will now have to go into damage control mode. Like the Injury weaknesses, this one can be built around when upgrading, as it encourages diversifying your cards instead of buying cards in pairs as you’d usually do.

Final words: Lots of these are just hitting the same buttons: Interactivity, Variance, Uniqueness. Weaknesses are something we have to include in our deck so there’s always some sort of roadblock happening along the way. If i have to see that like once per game (or more) for all of a campaign, it better be something that’s not boring. Something that actually interacts with what else is going on and that gives me something to think about. To be perfectly honest, Dark Pact and Worst Nightmare are already stretching it by that definition, but it turns out that once you remove all the “spend 2 actions” weaknesses and all those that are just a bit too punishing… there’s not all that many left to talk about!

Top 10: Most punishing encounter cards

Introduction: An integral part of the game is having the encounter deck push back at our attempts of making progress towards our goals. When we go into the Mythos phase, we already do so expecting unpleasantry and complications. But some encounter cards just take this to the top and those are the ones that lead to us grimacing in frustration or sighing because we now have something new to care about that we really didn’t want to. Here’s my Top 10 list of encounter cards that i really don’t want to draw. For this, i am making no difference between scenario specific, campaign specific or core cards – meaning i try to ignore how frequently the card is used for its place on the list.

#10: Ants! As mentioned, there’s a certain expectation we have when going into the mythos phase, expectations on what a singular encounter card is going to cost us. A card? An action? Maybe even two? Some life? Well, what we certainly do not expect is having to discard up to 4 cards from our hand and/or board. Random ones from the hand, at that. This card is a menace and thankfully it’s contained to one specific scenario.

#9: Merging Timelines. Another one that can just wreck your hand. What adds to the frustration here is not only that it also can cost you your turn… but that it is completely random. “Ants!” at least gave you a test, this one isn’t that merciful. Short of building your deck to include more singletons there’s nothing you can do about this one. You have to close your eyes and hope you end up with at least part of a turn when all is done.

#8: Brotherhood Cultist / Stolen Mind. It takes a lot for an enemy to get on this list. Usually enemies aren’t terribly frustrating because they come with lots of ways to defeat them built in. Sure, they cost some actions, but usually there will even be investigators on the team that are actively looking for enemies so they find a use for their weapons and fight events. What makes these two special is that they not only collect doom, but they scale their stats with it. Brotherhood Cultist is the well known example, an enemy that you can not afford drawing the autofail against because each attempt at defeating them that fails only makes successive attempts more difficult. Meanwhile, they work towards ending the game faster. Stolen Mind was added by the Return and crossbreeds this behavior with the automatic doom collection from Wizard of the Order, for a disgusting end result.

#7: Meddlesome Familiar. Finally, something that’s not from The Forgotten Age! One of a very, very few cards in the game that are able to cause me actual IRL stress. Brown Jenkins just gets to me and Meddlesome Familiar is a huge part of why. The Secret Name is a drawn out affair that can be taxing and having this card make sure that you always have that stinking familiar in your face is just something else. Nothing quite like taking Jenkins down for the fourth time under use of actions and other resources, only to draw a card that goes “Okay, do it again. Also, have a damage.” It’s mocking me, i swear.

#6: Ancient Evils. Ah, the fan favorite. Probably the most overrated encounter card in the game, but obviously it does have quite the impact. It can be safely assumed that the doom thresholds on agendas are balanced around having Evils in the encounter deck, so i am usually not one to think to much of it. But things get quite sketchy when excessive randomization comes into play (looking at you, Untamed Wilds!), when the thresholds are very small (looking at you, Essex!) or when it comes bundled with Cultists, preferably in the same mythos phase (looking at you, Black Throne!). These are the moments where Ancient Evils can feel absolutely rotten, especially since it doesn’t just work towards killing a single investigator. It tries to directly end the game.

#5: Straitjacket. Man, this one just keeps getting me every time. Unspeakable Oath is a truly excellent scenario that i enjoy a whole lot, but i can not deny the amount of stress and grief that a deck with both Corrosion and Straitjacket causes me. Straitjacket is an immense setback. While it doesn’t send your assets to the bin, they are returned to the hand, so you do lose all the actions and all the resources you spent on them. And before you can replay them you even have to spend 2/3rd of a turn just on discarding the Straitjacket. This thing can just on its own cost two or even more turns. Drawing a second Straitjacket after rebuilding from the first one is a legitimate table flip.

#4: The Sign of Hastur. While we are on the topic of Unspeakable Oath, tableflips and IRL stress, who the hell thought this was a good idea? Increasing all horror by 1 over multiple turns translates into so much additional testless horror, it outclasses any other horror dealing card. It’s also really difficult to get rid of sometimes, so all you can do is try and weather the storm. This is one of those cards that makes me go into high alert mode immediately when it enters play, and for the whole duration that it stays there. I’m pretty sure this card is to blame for at least some of my grey hairs.

#3: Beyond the Veil. The card that holds a whole campaign hostage. It has all the hallmarks of a frustrating encounter card: No printed way of dealing with it. High consequences for having it trigger. Low to no interactivity. What Beyond the Veil adds to the mix is that you get a front row seat to your slow but inevitable demise. Oh, and Surge. Can’t forget the Surge. That always feels like getting a kick in your face while you are already down. I can’t think of another card that this actively discourages me from playing a campaign than this one. Some investigators just don’t stand a chance in Dunwich and it’s all thanks to Beyond the Veil.

#2: Frozen in Fear. A core set classic that has been keeping Rogues and other low willpower investigators down since the inception of the game. Arkham has a lot of debilitating treacheries, as anyone who has seen the typical TCU threat area can attest to. But what sets Frozen in Fear apart is the way its Willpower test works. Unlike so many other cards, this is a test that the player who drew the card will have to pass themselves. No helping out by your friendly Mystic or Guardian. It’s also guaranteed to hinder you for at least one full turn, as the timing is fixed. Fixed to a point just ever so slightly outside of your turn, so you can’t even use something like Eye of the Djinn on it. It’s like the wording of that Forced trigger was specifically crafted to be the most frustrating it can be. Since then, we’ve seen this same templating on other treacheries as well, with TCU’s Realm of Torment being particularly notable. But none of them gets quite the visceral reaction from me that Frozen in Fear does.

#1: Umôrdhoth’s Hunger. This frigging card. The Devourer Below is already a scenario that isn’t exactly known for how fair and fun it is, but the presence of this card just makes it that much worse. Threatening instant demise to one or even multiple investigators, even its best case of costing everyone a card is annoying. Having this card around also means that every discard effect in the encounter deck is more powerful – and RtNotZ introduced quite a few of those. And playing cards is also discouraged, something i never like. Really, this card looks like it came straight out of a LotR Nightmare scenario instead of an Arkham Return to box. This is an easy #1 spot for me, the only saving grace here is that i don’t see the card ever because i don’t play that scenario anymore.

Final words: This list features a lot of TFA and Carcosa. That might be partially influenced by the fact that those are the two campaigns i play the most, so of course they left the biggest impression on me. But it does align with the reputation of those campaigns. The surprise for me here is the relative lack of TCU. I find that campaign somewhat stressful and i expected more than just Meddlesome Familiar (and a mention of Realm of Torment) to make an appearance here. There’s 4 cards from Return To boxes on the list, which is about what i would’ve expected.
I’m sure that with almost 700 different encounter cards, i must have forgotten a few important ones. So please chime in and tell me which ones. What are the cards that make you want to open a window and chuck the damn thing out?

Top 10: Most game-changing cards from the Edge of the Earth Investigator Expansion

Introduction: If we believe arkhamdb (and i don’t see a reason not to), then the Investigator Expansion for Edge of the Earth features 133 unique cards. A truly large number of cards to dump on us all at once, but i’d argue that even if we ignore the timing of them all landing together, the impact of the EotE player cards is more significant than most other cycles. There’s just that much good stuff in it, with barely a coaster in sight. This Top 10 list attempts to figure out the most important additions. Note that in this context “most important” doesn’t necessarily mean “strongest”. I am interested in cards that open up new archetypes or otherwise give us things we didn’t have before. Stuff that actually changes the game. Not just some number tweaks or spins on old cards.
Ah, and i will exclude the actual investigators from this list. Obviously they are the ones that do open whole new angles for deck construction all on their own, but i don’t want to take the first 5 slots of the Top 10 just for them.

#10: Protective Gear. Edge gives us 3 new assets that take the body slot and all of them are interesting in their own way. While the news of getting something other than Bandolier and Backpack for the body slot is already great, the Protective Gear is also notable in that it does offer some great encounter protection to Guardian which didn’t really have much for that before and to Survivor which dabbled in canceling before but never really got there. There’s no test here, as long as the treachery is a hazard, this can blank three encounter cards. And the sizeable soak alone could do a great job of neutralizing two or three encounter cards that deal damage/horror if no Hazard traits are around. It’s expensive to play, but a very nice new tool for the deckbuilding toolbox.

#9: Quickdraw Holster. The other body slot item that made the list. So far, Bandolier stood alone with its effect of giving additional weapon hand slots. Holster is finally some competition and allows Rogues as well as Guardians to keep a sidearm next to their two-handed main weapon. This is huge for investigators with signature firearms that would be interested in going for two-handed weapons but so far didn’t have a way of doing so without it being awkward. Looking at you, Tony. But Finn and Jenny could certainly also use this well. As could any investigator that wants to hold tools and relics in their hands but also keep a weapon on hand. Is it better than Bandolier(2) for Guardian? Probably not. But for Rogue, this is an important new card.

#8: Black Market. In an effort to support Bob’s unique playstyle, the EotE expansion opened up a couple new ways of trading assets between players. The combo potential that is opened by this is immense. This is the sort of card that can only exist in non-competitive games, as i am pretty sure it breaks the game in a hundred different ways. There were some ways to do switcheroos before, but they were very limited (“You owe me one”) and/or restricted to assets (Teamwork). With EotE, these limits are gone. And Black Market is the poster child for this, able to trade any card type from any player to any other player. Meanwhile it’s costed cheap enough that its even a good as just pure card draw in solo. A really fantastic card.

#7: The upgraded Composures. I don’t think i ever put one of the original composures into my deck. Too fragile, too much investment, not enough payoff. Now, these upgrades though… they are pushed to the limit. These are playable even before reading the textbox. They are slotless card with 4 points of soak, costing neither resources nor actions to play. That’s immediately playable. Using Moxie in Sefina could do wonders for her survivability, something i have used Bulletproof Vest for before. Hold Moxie next to the Vest and have a good chuckle. Similar things go for Combat Training, Scientific Theory, Plucky and even Grounded. These cards can do wonders for your next run through TFA, Innsmouth or similar campaigns where a lot of damage and horror rains down on you.
(And yes, we didn’t even look at the text box yet. It’s a really good text box, too!)

#6: Ice Pick. What looks on first glance like it’s just the next little variant on Mag Glasses is actually sort of a powerhouse. When the Council in Exile designed the Flashlight(2), a lot of noise was made around the fact that it can be used in combination with other assets. Arcane Insight has this sort of templating on a 4XP card with 3 charges. And now look at this little 1XP card, giving you that effect an unlimited amount of times and not just for investigations, but also for fights. You can cast Spectral Razor and use this to enhance it. Or while using Archaic Glyphs. With Duke. Or Sled Dogs. Or while using a Lantern. It even works with Monstrous Transformation! This sort of interactivity is exceptional. There’s an upgraded Ice Pick of course and it introduces another layer of shenanigans using Scavenging, but today i am just here for the remarkably open wording of how this helps your tests.

#5: Counterespionage. Any sort of cancel mechanic is immensely powerful, as it can directly translate to a whole lot of saved actions, resources, health and/or sanity. Canceling also allows for better planning, so surely FFG have to be careful about giving us too much of it. With that in mind, i would’ve called you crazy if you told me a few months ago that we are going to have Dismiss in Arkham. Dismiss is crazy good! Or that it would be modular and thus even better than Dismiss. I would’ve called you even crazier if you would’ve told me that it would be a Rogue card. Doing what another class does, but fast and while drawing a card? “Obviously this would be a Seeker card!”, i would’ve told you.
Well, but here we are and the green Dismiss is real. What a card. Solves so many problems in a world where people have been running “You handle this one” just so they wouldn’t be stuck with Frozen in Fear. I’ll play the hell out of this one.

#4: Sled Dogs. The reddit and the Discord are abuzz with people trying to tell you that Sled Dogs are bad, that they are overcosted or, and i quote, “a worse Mauser”. Those people are fools. It’s easy to look at the card and come up with a lot of others that fight better. And then many others that are better movement. And others that offer better soak for the resources. But that fails to realize that Sled Dogs is all of this at once. It’s a bad Mauser that is also a bad Pathfinder, a bad Bulletproof Vest and a bad Elder Sign Amulet. Well, turns out that the sum of all that is actually a pretty great card. And you really only need two of the dogs to get your value. This will give you once per turn either a bonus move action or a non-hand slot attack for 2 damage. While also giving you a 4/4 soak. So the argument that it takes too long for these to pay off also doesn’t hold. Of course, find more dogs and stuff gets out of hand fast. Inconsistent you say? Well, you aren’t doing it right then.
Now, the one argument against the dogs is how much space in the deck they take up. 4 dogs, 2 Calling Favors and maybe even 2 Lucid Dreaming aren’t available in every deck. But everything else is absolutely worth it, considering they are doing 3 jobs at once. On a neutral level zero card!
PS: Rod of Animalism is a bad support card for them, though. I’m pretty sure you want Charisma.

#3: The Tri-Class Talents. All five of these are fantastic pieces of economy, use the 2 resource discount twice and you are already making profit. Their trait requirements are very broad and most decks will at least eye one of these at some point. Paying 3XP for them is a bit rough, but especially non-Rogue decks or such with lots of events of a relevant trait can get a lot of mileage here.
Their capability of handing out cash to pay for your cards is what i would call their primary function, but they are at least noteworthy for enabling Synergy and for their ability to boost skill tests on cards of the correct traits.
I appreciate these a lot as sort of guiding stones that you can build decks around.

#2: The Injuries. I really like that these exist. One of the things that i learned early on in Arkham is that healing is not worth it. Soak is more efficient and spending actions just to undo damage or horror is a fool’s game. Now, that never sat right with me thematically, but it is what it is, right? I am very much in favor of EotE trying to skew the balance towards healing a bit more. It does so with some actually playable healing cards like Bandages and Words of Healing(2), but also with this set of 4 weaknesses. Each imposes a penalty that can be quite severe and the only way to get rid of it is healing it as if it was a damage or horror. A real nice double whammy of nailing a theme and shaking up a bit of gameplay. Anyone who finds themselves with one of these in their deck will want to include some sort of healing for it. Or ask someone in the group to do so. Much, much more interactive and interesting than the old “2 actions: Discard this.” we have seen way too much of.

#1: In the Thick of It. Any other card on #1 would’ve been a sham. This card on its own opens up deckbuilding by a lot. We can now buy crucial pieces for our deck right at the start of the game and no longer have to play the first scenario with our hands tied behind our back because we weren’t able to pick up that essential Charisma, Relic Hunter or Covenant. Combining it with Versatile opens up even more doors. Mateo players can now start the first scenario with 8XP!
This boost in XP is excellent in general, but gets even more important for campaigns like Dunwich or Innsmouth that are either notoriously stingy with XP throughout or at least through the first half of the campaign. You can also bank the XP instead of spending it immediately, making sure that you can get something like a Stick to the Plan after your first scenario for sure.
This is maybe the most important card since Charisma for deckbuilding.

Final words: After the yuckfest that was yesterdays Top10 list i decided to switch it up today and go in a completely different direction. I am sure there is plenty to disagree with here, but that’s fine. Opinions, right?

Which player cards from Edge of the Earth have been keeping your attention? What decks can you suddenly build that weren’t able before? Let me know, so i can leech your deck ideas so we can discuss them!

Top 10: Unsettling Encounter Artwork

Introduction: There are a lot of encounter cards in Arkham LCG, a game that constantly rides the borders between horror, fantasy and camp and all of them have artwork, of course. While the art rarely goes into full horror and usually sticks to the fantastical, there is certainly some around that unsettling in some way. Maybe they are a bit disgusting, maybe they hit a bit too close to home… in any case, here are 10 cards from my point of view that hit a nerve.

Outbreak

#10: Outbreak. Look, i am not afraid of spiders. I actually kinda like spiders and i think there’s some real great spider artwork in this game specifically. However, this bloated thing… yuck. None of the elegance, instead it’s just an ugly pustule on legs. Hans, get the Flammenwerfer.

Ravenous Ghoul

#9: Ravenous Ghoul. Ah, a classic. I remember that this guy stood out to me in the Core Set because its artwork is just that more visceral than the others. Smeared with blood on hands and face, there is also no doubt how it got this soaked in blood. Or what it wants to do to you. It looks extra fierce when you put it next to the somewhat goofy looking Ghoul Minion.

Descent into Madness

#8: Descent into Madness. Eyes are weird. At least from this close. We are just not meant to get this close to an eye. And while there’s not actually a whole lot happening in this image, it gets its point across perfectly. A very realistically drawn eyeball with the veins in it, wide open so we see the red under the lids and all the little details. A great case of the image being enhanced by the flavor text, too. I can’t make out anything specific in the shadows reflected in the eye, but that actually works in the artworks favor.

Abduction

#7: Abduction. Due to Arkham creature design rarely crossing from fantasy into full horror, there is little artwork of enemies that is actually scary. Now, while this is a treachery, it still does show an enemy that somewhat gets the job done for me. The coloration reminds me of Ravenous Ghoul and while i don’t think it is supposed to be a ghoul, i have to wonder… what is it actually? It’s not like we see this thing on any of the enemy cards in Carnivale. All we know is that it eats whatever they can fish out of the canal. Again, good flavor text and it also only vaguely alludes to these things as “they“.

Blood on your Hands

#6: Blood on Your Hands. Just the fact that this scene is presented to us from our own view makes it very real. Most other treacheries show something happening to someone else, making us spectators. This however is first person perspective. Combine this with a really gruesome display of blood and you can’t help but feel a bit uneasy looking at it.

#5: Corrupted Orderly. When we look at the Corrupted Orderly, we also have to consider the Suspicious Orderly, so this is a double feature. While i did claim earlier that i am not bothered by spiders, i can tell you for sure that i am deeply troubled by the idea of someone having spider legs coming out of their mouth. Full artwork here: [1] and [2]. Can i also just talk about how the legs break out of a face mask and how we are all running around with face masks these days? Try not to think too hard about it when you are out shopping the next time…

Visions in Your Mind (Horrors)

#4: Visions in Your Mind. A somewhat generic scary artwork, but it’s very well executed. I am not 100% sure what is going on here, to be honest. Presumably this woman is looking into a mirror and seeing herself decay or something? It’s of course (as the title of the card alludes to) all in her mind, but if this is indeed a look into a mirror… does this mean this is another card from first person? Something to think about during your next Return to Carcosa campaign!

#3: Fine Dining and Tough Crowd. So, i’ll cheat here and put these two cards together on one spot. But really, these two firmly belong to each other, both having a very similar style to them. They give a lot of flavor to The Last King and introduce the players into a lot of the Carcosa theme in an expertly fashion. Tough Crowd shows its horror elements a bit more overtly than Fine Dining, but both are the sort of artwork that don’t seem to bad at first glance but get worse the longer you look at them.

Meddlesome Familiar

#2: Meddlesome Familiar. So, pardon my french, but fuck this guy. More so than the actual Brown Jenkins card, this treachery cements the incredible annoyance that the witch’s familiar brings with it. The artwork is truly disgusting, biting ankles is really awful and relatable and the game effect is also on point. A very exhausting card to draw and the artwork is just right for such a memorable card.

Radical Treatment

#1: Radical Treatment. Carcosa certainly featured a lot in this list, but this one from the Return to Carcosa takes the cake. This appears in Unspeakable Oath, a scenario that already walks on heavy terrain with the asylum and human enemies that are apparently tortured by cultists or other inmates or whatever. It’s all pretty dark and there are some other artworks in this scenario that could’ve made this list, but they pale next to Radical Treatment. Well, this is a picture of a lobotomy in process. Executed on someone who is fully conscious and obviously in panic. Too real. Oof. Sadly not supernatural at all, which just makes this more horrendous than any tentacled enemy could ever be.

Final words: As alluded to along the way, Arkham is rarely scary when it comes to creatures of the Mythos. It mostly starts crossing lines only when it becomes too relatable for us, when there’s things that we could imagine the impact of. I don’t know about you, but i can’t really seriously be afraid of something like the Mindless Dancer or Hunting Horror, despite them having excellent artwork. However, make me think about something biting my achilles tendon or sticking stuff in my eye and you’ll see me squirm. Obviously, this is a personal feeling and i can easily imagine someone shying away from artworks like Maggot Swarm, Night Terrors or some of the more grotesque enemies like Piper of Azathoth or Royal Emissary.

Feel free to write in your own picks! And see you for the next Top 10 list. I plan on doing a couple more over the Christmas and New Year holidays 🙂

Irregular Evils – #35

Site News

Just as a heads up, i felt like posting because i have not actually been posting a whole lot on the site lately. And i want to at least give a life sign 😉
I am still slowly working towards updating the scenario pages from TCU with the Return info. Two out of eight are done, so still a couple to go. I also want to update the TCU deep dive with Return info, which i did not start on doing yet.
I did however start on writing the next entry for the Arkham/LotR/Champions series of articles. This one is going to spend some time talking about number ranges, why they matter and how it influences our gameplay whether some stats scale from 1 to 3 or from 1 to 10. It’s currently looking like it’s going to be a long one.
Progress on all of those is going a bit sluggishly right now, mostly because my attention has been quite divided over the last month. Between rekindling my old flame XCOM2 (both playing and modding) and dusting off my LotR collection there’s not been a whole lot of Arkham since i finished my RtTCU playthrough. I also kinda blame the delays. If i had some new playercards, i’d be all over Arkham right now. Probably diving right back into RtTCU with Lily and Monterey 🙂
Eh, I’ll get to it eventually. Until then, you can however go ahead and check out the Resurgent Evils entry for RtTCU where i lay out what’s in the box and what i think of it.
If that’s not your thing, maybe i can interest you in some War of the Outer Gods?

Irregular Evils – #34

Site News

In case you missed it, Ancient Evils now has pages for the Standalones. At least for the ones i already played, but more are coming soon. I kinda lucked out and was able to get all of them except for Labyrinth which i couldn’t play anyways. So far, Rougarou and Excelsior are both up, Outer Gods i am currently working on. Should probably get posted sometime next week.
Link: Standalone Hub

I also started on a new article series about the design of some Arkham mechanic. In those articles i compare them to how they work in Marvel Champions and Lord of the Rings, trying to gleam interesting stuff from the contrast. I am happy with how the series went so far, there’s three articles up right now and i got a couple more planned.
Link: Article Hub

I also finally got my copy of Return to Circle Undone this week. I am currently playing it, so i should be able to update the scenario pages for the campaign soon and also write up the Resurgent Evils post with the overview of the Return to TCU product. Good stuff.

Spoiler Season

Meanwhile, in the wider Arkham world, spoiler season for Edge of the Earth is in full swing and this week we were bombarded with a flurry of previewed cards through various content creators. While i do not have a card of my own to share, i certainly do have opinions on them, so let’s take a quick look at all of them! Where possible, i will link to the original source so you can check out the cards there. If you want one link to see everything, i suggest this page on Hall of Arkham.

Daniela Reyes: The final investigator was previewed by Optimal Play on their Youtube channel, including signatures and weaknesses. I am certainly interested in playing her, i’ve always been one that likes the Guard Dog and Survival Knife playstyle. Having an investigator dedicated to that is cool. I also have visions of her going around with a Chainsaw…

Medical Texts(2): A fine card. It’s not going to make a huge splash, but i have certainly felt the lack of a Healing Words(2) before. Getting to take actions to heal 2 damage can take the pressure of many situations involving high trauma, in particular during Innsmouth or TFA campaigns. Daisy is a lot less fragile with this thing in her arsenal as well.

Unearth the Ancients(2): Oh, this is powerful. Here’s what you get for 2XP: -1 cost, an extra icon, an extra asset put into play and possible an extra card drawn. Also, you no longer replace the clue. This last part is huge, especially since you can use this card to replace the shroud value on a tough location with the cost of some asset in your hand. And then still throw your Deductions at it to get multiple clues. Really, really good.

Toe to Toe: This card is amazing and will see so much play, it could rival Vicious Blow. “Automatically successful” are some powerful words. This is good even when you play it straight, but add some synergy to it from Guard Dog, Daniela, Calvin, Nathaniel… and you got an absolutely stellar card. And it’s level zero! And no cost! Beautiful.

Brand of Cthugha: Doesn’t compare too favorably with existing combat spells or Enchanted Blade once we consider that this costs an XP. However, this Brand has value as a side arm for Guardians with big guns that doesn’t require a Bandolier. It’s also the only sidearm you can carry with a flamethrower, which is weirdly on theme.

Gang Up: 3 resources seems like a lot, but this card scales really well. Remember that your investigator card counts for this, so all you’d need is Joe Diamond with an Enchanted Blade (or Brand of Cthugha) and Gang Up already hits for 4 damage. That seems really powerful and at that point we aren’t even trying to maximize it yet.

Prophesiae Profana: Ah, the obligatory level 5 seeker card that has the community in upheaval and clamour for pre-release taboos. I don’t think this is anywhere near that busted. Sure, a double stat boost is good and the teleport ability can also be, depending on the scenario. But that “ignore Attacks of Opportunity” thing doesn’t impress me much, to be honest. Maybe it’s a two-player thing, but AoOs are barely even a thing in my games? But still, obviously a powerful card worth the 5XP. I am just not sure how often i would actually play it.

Jeremiah Kirby: This is an interesting card, but it has the age-old problem of being in direct competition with Milan. A deck purposefully built to always draw 5 could get good value from him, but that’s likely going to be the exception. Personally, i like skills in Seeker way too much and Jeremy here will not be able to draw them because skills have no cost at all.

Defensive Stance and Survey the Area: These are skills can easily add 5 or more icons to your skill test. That is going to be worth it somewhere for sure. The first thing i am thinking of is making Leo or Harvey pass agility tests, but there’s likely a whole lot more to do with them. Both skills have a bit of competition from existing cards, some of which (like Daring or Mind over Matter) don’t cost XP. So it will remain to be seen how much play they get. These are certainly fine cards. Being Practiced but not working with Amanda or Practice makes Perfect is super weird, though…

Cyclopean Hammer: Finally a big weapon that can take it up with Timeworn Brand, even if it takes two hands. This thing packs a lot of punch and the forced enemy movement is useful for sure. Icons that make it excellent for use with Well Prepared round out the package. Now this is a card i would enjoy spending 5XP and 5 resources on.

Join the Caravan: I guess? To be honest, i find it hard to get excited about yet another Seeker move card. There’s so many of them already and i don’t see this being worth scaling Synergy for. Could have a spot in Joe’s hunch deck, but this card is sort of whatever to me.

Underworld Support: That’s more my thing! I already have played Highlander on occasion before without an official card that even rewards me for doing it. I don’t think this is all that efficient strictly speaking and i don’t think it should be – playing Highlander is something that you do to pose yourself a deckbuilding challenge. That being said, if you plan on running a couple powerful one-off cards anyways (like anything exceptional, for example), this could help you find what you need.

Nkosi Mbati: Oh, this guy is powerful. The two immediate things that come to mind are Jim Culver treating everything as a skull and that you can name Blesses with this guy. That’s some huge boost to consistency for those sort of decks. But even if you aren’t Jim, treating other tokens as skulls is usually going to be really good. What an interesting card to upgrade your Olive McBride into for token fishing decks.

Sled Dog: Oh my. These could seriously go into a lot of decks. Lola likes these a lot. Leo does as well. The limiting factor is going to be how well you can come up with the resource costs for the dogs. But if you can manage it, that’s a lot of potential power in a level zero neutral card. I am thrilled that these exist, they are going to be worth tinkering around for several investigators. Even Mandy could rather easily find all four of these, put them into play and attack for 4 damage with 5 fight. Mandy! Hilarious.

Blur(4): (This has been previewed by Veronica on the MB Discord, i don’t think i can link there directly). We’ve seen level 1 Blur before, so the interesting part for me here is that we can see how these sort of cards are being upgraded. It’s safe to say that for example the Cthugha blade will have a level 4 version following this template. As for the card itself, i am certainly interested in getting extra actions when evading. Not sure i like paying 4XP for an evade card, though. Suggestion is one hell of a competition here. The nice thing about Blur is that it doesn’t need high willpower, though. Someone like Finn might be interested and i feel like that is the most likely spot for Blur. Mystics probably have better already established cards.

So in conclusion we got a lot of exciting stuff going on right now. And we aren’t even done yet, there’s more to come in the next days.

Irregular Evils – #33

Site News

During the last week, i went over the new replacement encounter sets from the Return to The Circle Undone. I updated all of the relevant encounter set pages with my thoughts on these new cards and how they fit into the game. On the whole, i really like what the box has to offer there. If you want to check these out, find them here:

Impending Evils
Chilling Mists
City of the Damned
Unspeakable Fate
Unstable Realm
Bloodthirsty Spirits
Hexcraft

Soapbox

No idea if this is of interest to anyone, but here’s another thing i did a week ago:

I took my little book of campaign logs and transferred the results into a spreadsheet. These are all full two-handed solo campaigns. It’s missing the very first plays i did when i still had only the Core. Using this, i wanted to take a look at my own preferences and how well/badly i am doing. It was also to inform me on what areas of the game to maybe focus a bit more on in the future. Some immediate things that stuck out to me:

  • I still didn’t properly beat NotZ. Honestly i don’t care about it, three scenarios do not make a campaign and Devourer Below is not satisfying in the slightest. I have no intentions of revisiting the campaign.
  • Circle Undone is the only campaign i lose more often than i win it. Actually surprised, i expected Dunwich to take that crown. It does make sense, though – Before the Black Throne is probably the hardest of the final scenarios. I’ll also note that one of the two wins was the one for the lodge after U&D, so this is even worse than it looks 😀
  • I seem to be quite bad with Survivors! Not even sure why, i really do enjoy them. That 0-3 with Patrice came as a huge surprise to me, she’s one of my favorites. I suppose i don’t need to win to have fun.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, i won with every Guardian at least once. Yay!
  • The only investigators i didn’t play yet are Rita, Gloria and Lola. That’s not entirely true, i did try both Rita and Gloria before but always ended up disliking the deck and aborting the campaign after 2 or 3 scenarios. As for Lola, I think she is just engineered to be frustrating and i find it really hard to bring up the motivation to deal with her absolutely insane restrictions.

So, i obviously knew what had to be done. I spent some time building decks for Gloria and Rita and sent them on their way through Circle Undone, poking at several of my “weak spots” at the same time. It’s actually going better than expected, at least it did so for a while. I still have to stick the landing. The first three scenarios went really well, including a very smooth Secret Name. Wages was its usual self. For the Greater Good was super close and i won 1 doom away from flipping the agenda and spawning the Summoned Beast. Union and Disillusion was a disaster, Gloria fell to damage on turn 5 and Rita fled on turn 6 after deciding she won’t be able to do any of the circle tests. The final two scenarios i still have to play. It’s going to be tough.
While the decks themselves performed reasonably well, there’s no doubt though that Rita and me are never going to be friends. She’ll forever be “Wendy, but bad” in my mind. I suppose i will leave her to the true solo players. Gloria is fine. She’s a high willpower mystic with a gimmick. Just like all the others. And Lola… well, i think the tarot stuff in RtTCU will finally give me a reason to give her a whirl.

Irregular Evils – #32

Site News

This week i finally published my writeups for The Lair of Dagon and Into the Maelstrom, the final two scenarios from the Innsmouth cycle that still didn’t have a page here. The reason for the delay is that the FFG-maintained cardgamedb hasn’t been updated in a long while, so i don’t have the card pictures i use in my articles. What’s worse, since i use german cards myself i didn’t even have the exact english card texts and titles, making posting the scenario pages difficult because they kinda require you to refer to cards by their name 😀

Lucky for me, the fine folks over at the arkhamdb (who are facing similar issues, they pull their card images and texts from the cardgamedb as well) manually typed up the texts – so i was finally able to get those last two scenarios done for you by sourcing the cards from them. Shoutout to them, they are doing god’s work.

It’s currently unknown if the cardgamedb is just being put on the backburner right now or if it’s simply not going to be updated anymore at all from now on. We’ll have to wait and see, i guess.

In terms of content released on this site i probably should also mention the XP overviews that i posted 2 weeks ago. Nothing that took me a whole lot of time to do, it’s just the XP tables from the Best-Laid Plan series all together on one page for easy reference.

As for what’s next, i started pouring over the new replacement encounter sets from the Return to The Circle Undone box. I think i will start updating the relevant encounter pages soon. The update for the scenario pages and the Best-Laid Plans) will have to wait a bit longer as i don’t actually have the box yet and don’t know when i will get it. If the dates at my preferred webstore are to be believed, i might just get Edge of the Earth before i get RtTCU. Ah well, it’s all a bit ridiculous. Get your shit together, FFG. In any case, i am confident that i can update the encounter set reviews just from looking at the cards (and maybe proxying them up for a mock game or two), but for the scenario reviews and the deep dive i need hands-on experience with the full thing for sure.

LCG News

This week we were treated to a livestream were (among other things) Maxine Newman and Jeremy Zwirn got to show off some highlights from the upcoming Edge of the Earth investigator box. Aside from being a fun stream, it gave us a good look at several investigators and a couple of interesting player cards.

Check out the full recording here. Alternatively, you can either watch Wern’s recap video that condenses the info into 20 minutes or, if you are in a hurry, just look at the card images on imgur.

We now have the full info on Norman, Lily and Bob. For Monterey we have everything but the weakness. Daniela we know very little about, but it’s all but sure that she will have the same sort of deckbuilding, starting in Guardian and moving into Survivor.

So there’s plenty of things to be hyped about there. Personally, i am looking forward to seeing more of the player cards that are meant to specifically support these new investigators. The support cards for Norman and Lily are particularly interesting to me as i expect them to fuel the event heavy deck types that i like. We’ve already seen Sweeping Kick in the announcement article, more like that to widen the archetype opened up by Nate’s starter deck would be very welcome!

Alright, that’s all i got for today. Have a good one.

Cheers,
BK