Weekly Evils – #10

Week in Review

I was looking forward to the two posts of this week. Whippoorwills is one of my favorite encounter sets of the game and Extracurricular Activity is among my favorite scenarios.

As for Innsmouth, i decided on just keeping my rotation through the campaigns going on. So there should be some Innsmouth content in five weeks, following a week each for Carcosa, TFA, TCU and TDE. That way, i’ll also be able to talk about the cards with more confidence, after having played with them several times more.

Soapbox

We finally got the latest update to the FAQ and to the Taboo list. I will leave analysing the finer details of the FAQ to people who are smarter than me, but i can offer up some hot takes on the Taboo changes:

Machete(was +2XP, now is +1XP): This is a change i actually made for myself already a few months ago when i wanted to include a copy of the card in my Highlander Yorrick but was not willing to spend 2XP on it. So naturally i approve. Machete at 1XP feels like it’s the correct spot.

Scrapper(was +3XP, now is +1XP): I don’t really care for this card either way, to be honest. I just don’t use the Talents all that much. Scrapper at 6XP was pretty outlandish in my opinion for sure, though.

Streetwise/Higher Education(were +5XP, now are +3XP): Sure. Again, i just think that these Talents are boring in the first place, so this doesn’t affect me much. These were cards that i fell back on with a small card pool, but instead of throwing countless resources at Streetwise, i’d rather Double Double my Intel Reports or something 😉 Spending 8XP was out of the question for me. Not sure if 6XP is much better, but i guess the cards are certainly powerful enough to warrant the XP cost.

Pathfinder(now +2XP): Good change. This is a card that was seriously crowding out other options. Also, since it’s slotless, it often felt like a mandatory buy for your first two XP, no matter which Seeker (or off-class Seeker) you were playing. This gives the card at least some opportunity cost to include. Thumbs up.

Flamethrower(now +1XP): Another card that i personally do not care about a whole lot. Requiring a body slot and thus stopping me from having a bandolier with it was enough of a deterrent to stop me from putting this in my decks. Not sure what an extra XP is supposed to do here, to be honest. If the card is as much better as the other 5XP cards as is often claimed, then an extra XP won’t make me suddenly go for the ‘lesser’ option. Meh, this is a change i don’t see doing a whole lot.

Mr. “Rook”(now +4XP): Perfectly justified in my opinion, the powerlevel is easily up with other 4XP cards. However, i would have preferred a mechanical change. Right now, the whole “choose 3, 6 or 9 cards” mechanic on the card is basically worthless as there is no reason to ever pick less than 9. A mechanical change could’ve made Rook actually play better while reining him in enough that he could stay at 0XP. Or at least at 2XP or so. Proposal: Change Rook so that whenever he finds a weakness, the rest of the search is canceled. Alternative Proposal: Change Rook’s activation to require an action instead of a free trigger.

Knowledge is Power(now +2XP): Fiiiine. I get that it’s a powerful card and that it’s good enough that spending 2XP on it is reasonable. But it’s just a really fun card that you can do lots of cool stuff with. Not being able to put it into my starting deck rubs me the wrong way. I guess i’ll live with it, but i am not completely happy with it.

Segment of Onyx(now +3XP for the set): Yup, perfectly reasonable. 4XP is still kind of a steal for this card, to be honest. But at least it’s got a bit of a threshold before you include it into your deck now. 1XP meant that it went into pretty much anything that drew about 2 cards per turn. Not much more to say about this one, this is pretty uncontroversial, right?

Necronomicon(now +3XP): Meh. I think that the change to Sleight of Hand was enough to cut the most broken interactions from Necronomicon, so i don’t think this is really needed. This card got nerfed so fast, i didn’t even get to play with it yet 😀

Quick Thinking(now once per round): Sure. Removing that interaction with Amanda is a good call and if it stops abusive corner cases while still keeping the card perfectly playable in most “fair” decks, i am all for it.

Sleight of Hand(now affects only L1-3 item assets): Booo. If the LotRLCG survived all these years being Sneak Attack‘d by Gandalf, then we can survive Sleight of Hand on Sawed-Off Shotguns. This change intends to stop the card from interacting with the Necronomicon, but i feel like this hits too many other cool targets as collateral damage. Also, the FFG article suggests i should Sleight of Hand a Colt Vest Pocket. Come on now.

All-In(now RFGs on resolution): Sure, understandable. This is a bit sad considering that it has a really cool place in a deck with Daredevil and the like, but recursion on an actionless draw 5 is a bit much for sure.

Scroll of Secrets(now activates free instead of as an action): Oh, this deserves some testing. As printed, the Scroll is laughably bad but this change could put some life into it. Even if it doesn’t work out, it’s a great attempt and i wholeheartedly approve of trying to revitalise overlooked cards as well in these Taboo changes instead of only hammering down the powerful ones. Ripping the action cost off of this card removes the exact part that was its problem. Now, i am not convinced yet that i have the deck slots for this effect unless i get some extra synergy (the article mentions Gloria and Dexter), but it’s certainly worth a try.

.35 Winchester(now also get +2 damage on other “non-negative” tokens): Potentially this is huge. I tried to make this card work before in a Diana deck with token manipulation. It was on the cusp of being good, but the inconsistency caught up with the deck in the end. This change makes looking at the card again attractive, as not only will it now trigger on Blesses, but also on symbol tokens that have a +0 modifier. Mostly that’s skulls, but those are also in the bag in the largest quantity. Not sold on Jim Culver for this deck, i would still go with Diana, i think. Or go heavy on the bless tokens, but that’d have to wait until we have more of the Innsmouth cards at our hands.

Double or Nothing(it’s dead): Some cards can be abused in a multitude of ways but still have “fair” applications that are worth keeping around. Double or Nothing is not one of those cards. It’s just a broken card that does broken stuff and its existence was consistently weighing on the rest of the card pool as any new skill card that came out had to be considered for what happens when you double it. I for one will not miss Double or Nothing, if only for the fact that i never played it before and never planned on doing so either. There was no point in any of my deckbuilding where i thought that adding Double or Nothing would add something fun to it.

So in conclusion, this taboo change is one that i can overwhelmingly agree with. I still think that Sleight of Hand is a perfectly fine card as printed, but oh well. All things considered, i will just end up using these as proposed.

Weekly Evils – #9

Week in Review

We got a milestone this week. All the encounter sets and scenarios from the Core now have a page on this site. After sneakily doing the various “Agents of” sets over the last couple weeks, i was able to close out the Core set this week with Agents of Cthulhu and The Devourer Below.

This is of course particularly good timing, because Agents of Cthulhu features also in one of the Innsmouth Conspiracy missions from the deluxe expansion that just released a week ago. Bit of a happy accident, but i’ll take it!

Soapbox

Yep, i got Innsmouth and i already played through both of the scenarios. They are both really, really good. I am very impressed. I will likely start writing down my thoughts on the Innsmouth encounter sets next week (maybe give the two scenarios another play as well), but we’ll see when i get to the point when i can publish them. Certainly not immediately next week, but there is a chance that i can get Innsmouth rolling on this site the week after.

One thing i have been thinking about is how to use the two scenarios as side missions. After all, it’s still going to be a while until we have the whole campaign and i kinda want to play these again, using them in a different campaign. Due to the Flashback nature of the scenarios, one would have to ignore parts of the story bits to do so, but i think it could work. The first scenario also does things with the chaos bag, making including it as a side scenario a bit weird. However, here’s my proposal (very minor spoilers):

Pit of Despair: If you want to use it as a side scenario, add a Cultist, an Elder Thing and a Tablet token to your chaos bag (instead of paying XP as you’d do with other side scenarios). This is a bit of a high risk/high reward play, as there is a nice 6 extra XP to earn if everything goes well, but if you end up not being able to neutralize every token added, that’d have some consequences for the rest of the campaign.

The Vanishing of Elina Harper: The scenario is very light on XP, so i would suggest just paying 2XP to add it as a side scenario to your campaign. The main payoff would be the chance to grab Elina Harper herself for one of the decks, who is a notably powerful story ally.

Weekly Evils – #8

Week in Review

This week i took a look at Where The Gods Dwell, the final scenario of the first Dream-Eaters mini-campaign. With it came reviews for the final two of its encounter sets: Whispers of Hypnos, a somewhat uninspiring set/card that is mostly notable for being the only set that is used in both the A and B side of the campaign. And Agents of Nyarlathothep, a set that actually scratches at the fourth wall. Wild.

Early in the week, i also posted an Innsmouth Spoiler Roundup, collecting all the official FFG-sanctioned spoilers that we got until that point, close to the actual release of the deluxe box. I commented a bit on various things and ended up making a speculation in the final bit of the article. Well, we already know today that this speculation is wrong 🙂

Soapbox

Yesterday was the official release date for The Innsmouth Conspiracy deluxe expansion. Personally, i didn’t get it yet but i assume that i do next week. I’ll start reviewing some of the sets from Innsmouth once i familiarized myself a bit with them. If that’s already next week or the week after, we’ll see.

Innsmouth drops another three to five new investigators on us, depending on whether you already own Dexter and/or Silas. And i didn’t even finish playing all of the starter investigators yet! So much game left to explore, it’s really great.

Aside from Innsmouth release, there isn’t really much to soapbox about yet. So … that’s it. Enjoy your weekend, no matter if it features ravenous fish people or not!

Weekly Evils – #7

Week in Review

This week, The City of Archives proved to be the longest article in a while as the scenario just has a whole lot of scenario specific stuff going on. Looking over the scenario in detail actually gave me some appreciation for some of the mechanics in it, especially for the expanded version from Return To Forgotten Age. Moving on to Circle Undone, a review of the next “Agents” set was in order, the still very underused Agents of Shub-Niggurath. This of course lead into the scenario review for The Witching Hour. Next week’s target scenario is going to be Where the Gods Dwell.

Soapbox

Instead of the usual look at what else is going on Arkham-wise (feel free to check out the Innsmouth player card leaks and the announcement of Devil Reef, though!) i want to take this opportunity to do some introspective on the progress of Ancient Evils and announce a minor change in posting frequency:

I’ve been doing some number crunching and estimating of my progress towards reviewing all the sets and scenarios. As more and more of the encounter sets are done, the focus shifts more an more towards scenario reviews. And those are a lot more time intensive for me to do compared to encounter set reviews, to the point where doing two of them per week is not going to be possible without becoming too much of a burden on my available time. I still have a bit of a buffer in terms of prepared content to release, but i think it’s time to adjust my schedule slightly so it doesn’t become an issue down the line.

Not counting Innsmouth and also not counting reviews i already have a first draft done for, there are still twenty scenarios and twenty-one encounter sets left for me to tackle. Keeping this in mind, i am going to change my schedule for posting these reviews beginning with next week. Every week will now have a scenario review on Friday and one or two (mostly one) related encounter set reviews will happen earlier that week, on Monday or Wednesday or both. If it’s only one, then this will of course lead to only two posts in that week instead of the current three.

The extra time will go towards preparing more content in advance and of course towards covering Innsmouth once i got it in my hands. After all, that box is going to drop another ten(-ish) encounter sets and two more scenarios on us soon. I’m reaaaally looking forward to this and will make them a priority once they are there. I am also planning on going back to some of the first articles and giving them a facelift. Nothing huge, but things like adjusting some early ratings from when i didn’t have a solid scale in mind yet.

The Weekly Evils is going to be unaffected by this, i will keep posting one per week. I like the little soapbox i created here for me to comment on random things and i also tied it to the Encounter Set of the Week thread on reddit, which is convenient for me.

tl;dr: If all goes as planned, i should be caught up with the released content in February 2021. From now on, one scenario review plus the related encounter sets per week. Innsmouth soon. Much excite. Many wow. Such content.

Weekly Evils – #6

Week in Review

Another week came and went, so another three encounter sets were reviewed. Agents of Hastur was first, laying the path for Dim Carcosa. Dim Carcosa was this week’s main attraction, the finale to the Carcosa campaign has quite a few interesting bits to it. Agents of Yog-Sothoth rounded out the week, this Core encounter set is needed so we can fully appreciate City of Archives next week.

In terms of custom content, i made the first ARES card for Carcosa. Gnawing Evils is meant to replace the unsatisfying Delusory Evils from the Return to Carcosa box.

Soapbox

Barkham doesn’t interest me much personally beyond the excellent art on its encounter cards, so that’s not something i have much to say about. It’s not like anyone got their copy anyways, so …

I’ve been spending this week finishing my Carcosa campaign, leading to a situation where i both was putting the final touches on my Dim Carcosa review on this site and having the cards for the scenario on the living room table. Nate and Jackie did admirably, they really tore through this campaign with high marks all around. Since there aren’t any big news this week to cover, let me show you my Nathaniel deck: Link to ArkhamDB
This is one of the very few decks where i felt like every card belonged and there was very little wiggle room on how to build it differently. Nathaniel does one thing (punch monsters!) and he does it very, very well. Before the investigator decks were released, he was the one of them i was looking forward the most because event-based decks appeal to me. I was not disappointed. My only worry would be how linear he is, there’s not really a lot of ways to build his deck.

Weekly Evils – #5

Week in Review

The main content advanced as usual with three more pages on encounter sets and decks. The first two were dedicated to Dunwich Legacy’s Where Doom Awaits and the one encounter set from that scenario that was still missing from this site, Beast Thralls. Moving on from Dunwich, the Inhabitants of Carcosa were next. Next week is going to lead into Dim Carcosa, then move on to Forgotten Age.

I released downloadable Word documents with the custom cards from ARES: Core and ARES: Dunwich, which should allow for convenient printing of those if you should wish to try them for yourself. They went through some last minute changes as results from my playtesting, you can find more details in the comments of the card pages. If you want to download the Word documents, please follow the links at the bottom of the ARES: Core and ARES: Dunwich main pages.

Soapbox

Spoiler season for the Innsmouth Conspiracy continues, with a couple new cards spoiled. In a preview stream by the Miskatonic University Radio channel, we got to see three cards:
The Blessed Blade, a slightly expensive weapon that is mediocre at fighting and slow at adding tokens to the bag. Let’s hope there’s an upgrade for that in a later mythos pack, because this one failed to impress me at all.
There’s Obfuscation which lets rogues avoid attacks of opportunity, clearly a plant for Trish Scarborough to investigate and evade enemies without any care. Not sure i see a place for that card in any other of my decks, but it’s a fair and well-costed card that just needs a role to play.
And finally the mystic skill Promise of Power which offers four (4!) wild icons in exchange for adding a single(1!) curse to the bag. Seems super powerful to me, a future mystic staple unless i am severely underestimating how much of a deal a single curse token is.

Personally, I’ve been trucking on with my own first campaign with the new starter investigators. Nate and Jackie are making short work of the Carcosa campaign. The highlight so far was killing every single person and grabbing every single clue in Last King. That was super satisfying. Nate is a beast in combat and i think i got a really good and tight deck going on. Tweaking the last few cards for that has been fun. For Jacqueline, i was at first skeptical about how much of a “starter” she really is as the first look made her seem quite complicated. Turns out, she’s anything but. No real token synergy needed, you can just use her ability to cheat the chaos bag which is super powerful. I am not a huge fan of the generic “Shrivel/Rites of Seeking” mystic, but Jacqueline does that particular archetype really well.

Weekly Evils – #4

Week in Review

Looping around after looking at Dream-Eaters the week before, this week went back to the Core Set. Checking out Rats first, and then The Gathering, i can’t help but admire once again how much the Core Set got right from the get go. The initial collection of encounter sets is just fantastic, and Gathering showcases this perfectly. But there’s no time to linger, and on Friday i already moved on to reviewing Bishop’s Thralls, the first stop towards next week’s Where Doom Awaits.

In terms of other content, i didn’t get much done to the point where i wanted to upload it already. I spent some time on fixing up several of the custom cards from ARES: Dunwich. The playtesting campaign was very insightful and triggered a couple changes, both small and big. Hopefully i find the time to but a bow on that next week and do a proper release with printer friendly PDFs and stuff. No promises, though.

Soapbox

The investigator starter decks appeared at my door step this week, so that’s been what’s on my mind Arkham-wise once i finished up my Alternate Dunwich playtest. The community has been busy and review articles and podcasts and playthrough videos have been popping up left and right as people give their first takes. Super interesting, been reading and watching a lot of that.
I’ve been playing Nate and Jackie through three scenarios so far and they appear to be great additions to the stable. Nathaniel’s focus on events puts a really fresh spin on the fighty Guardian, just as expected. And Jacqueline suprises me with how powerful her ability really is. It’s really difficult to fail tests when you routinely get to take skills at a modified value of 7 and get the pick the best of three icons from the bag.

But while many of us are already hard pressed to find the time to fully explore these five new investigators until Innsmouth releases with yet another handful of them, FFG decided to drop YET ANOTHER one on us. The Dark Revelations novella, featuring “The Writer” Gloria Goldberg, is set to release in November. She’s yet another Mystic with stats leaning heavily towards the non-physical skills, but her ability is something interesting for sure. I’ll reserve my full judgment until we know the full picture, but i do hope her deck building makes her more interesting than that super vanilla Mystic statline suggests.

Weekly Evils – #3

Week in Review

It was Spider Week on Ancient Evils, and so the encounter sets Agents of Atlach-Nacha, Spiders and the scenario Weaver of the Cosmos were added to the posts.
I also added my “Return To” comments to the pages for the previously reviewed Shattered Aeons and Heart of the Elders #1. So the reviews are up-to-date on that front now.
Following right on the heels of the RtTFA campaign was starting another run through Dunwich Legacy, to test my custom ARES cards. Looking good so far. Some tweaks and changes that i want to do, but everything seems to at least be working without major issues. Well, still three more scenarios to go, after that i will update the cards and probably put up some printer friendly PDF sheets to download so you can make your own copies of the things. I might actually already get that done next week, we’ll see.

Soapbox

This week, the investigator starter decks saw their release. Well, at least in some parts of the world and not in the numbers that would be needed for everyone to get their hands on them, but that’s FFG for you. If they wouldn’t be making the damn best card games on the market, i would’ve stopped putting up with their crap years ago. Ah well. Logistical issues aside, i am looking forward to getting these myself. New investigators are great content and the number of new cards is sure going to shake up deck building a lot. And three out of the five investigators have me genuinely excited because their way of playing seems very different to me to what investigators we already have. Nathaniel Cho, the event focused Guardian, looks especially like just my cup of tea. Maybe i’ll get my set of decks this week? Pretty please?

The other Arkham related thing on the horizon is The Innsmouth Conspiracy cycle. While still a few months away, the hype and spoiler season started this week with several previews that were handed to community bloggers and casters. The first ones trickled in already and more are to come over the next week or weeks. Exciting times, looking at new player cards with brand new mechanics is always fun and so is following the discussions and speculations around the new Bless and Curse tokens. On the official FFG site, there’s also a new post announcing the first Mythos Pack for Innsmouth. Called In Too Deep, it sees players run through the largest map of locations yet, hindered by barricades and rising tides while fish people are on their tail. Sounds great! I like the pulpy setting of Innsmouth, i will certainly enjoy this campaign being more “grounded” than the weirdness of Dream-Eaters.

Weekly Evils – #2

Week in Review

This week’s posts to the Main Content were all moving towards the scenario deck review of In the Clutches of Chaos. The two sets that were needed in preparation for that were Anette’s Coven and Witchcraft. Grab your lighter and your hairspray because next week will be Spider Week. Lots and lots and lots of spiders.
I also finished up the initial release versions for all of the Dunwich alternate replacement sets that i wanted to make and posted a whooping five sets to the Custom Content: Bishop’s Vassals, Dunwich Folk, Otherworldly Abominations, Naomi’s Enforcers and Churchyard Crows are done, leaving only Sorcery without a replacement – and that one is perfect as is, so i consider “ARES: Dunwich” complete for now. The next step is playtesting the replacements, of course.
As far as organizational stuff goes, i removed almost all of the post categories that i put on posts before. Things like “Horror”, “Doom” or “Discard(Deck)” were attached to posts as tags. But there was little practical use for it and it was a bit of a pain for me to do everytime, so i killed that. The only categories left are “Main Content”, “Spoiler”, “Custom” and “Weekly Evils”, and a drop down menu at the bottom of the site lets you find those posts in the order they were posted in. You can also grab a RSS feed of a category by adding “/feed” to the URL, for example in case you only want to be notified if Main Content gets posted.

Soapbox

HBO ran its first episode of Lovecraft Country. I thought it was decent. I guess it’s too early to say more, but i liked that it spent the lion’s share of the pilot’s runtime on establishing the main characters and not diving into any supernatural stuff for most of the episode. The change from social drama to creature horror was a bit abrupt, almost like two different series stitched together, but we’ll see where it goes from here. Personally i could do with more time spent on Lovecraft’s creatures than on his world view in future episodes, but the main characters are strong enough to carry both parts. I’m optimistic for the rest of the season. Should be good.

Somehow, despite being more interested in making custom content than actually playing the game right now, i managed to ride through most of Return to The Forgotten Age last week. Finished City of Archives, so only two more scenarios to go which should be doable over the rest of the weekend. Both Carolyn and Silas grew nicely into their decks, i’m happy about that. And RtTFA has confirmed itself as quite the good product. The changes to the scenarios are welcome, but the changes to exploration are probably what i like most. Money well spent, i can’t imagine playing base TFA anymore.

Hopefully, i can at least start next week with a new campaign: Return to Dunwich, using all of my replacement sets from the ARES project… that should be interesting. Not sure what characters i’ll be using. Parallel Skids? Could be an option, my printer’s going to be running hot right for all the encounter cards anyways.

Weekly Evils – #1

Welcome to the first installment of Weekly Evils. As the name implies, one of these will go up every week. There’s not a specific day set aside for it, it will just happen some time on the weekend. These posts will serve two purposes, each of them gets its own little sub-headline.
First, the week in review. This is a recap of developments on the Ancient Evils site itself. So, new posts on encounter sets, changes to layouts, additions made, etc. Basically everything related to this site itself. I’ll try to keep that part relatively short unless i actually did do a lot of changes.
Second, the soapbox. That’s where i look beyond the confines of this site at whatever else is happening in ArkhamLCG land that i feel like commenting on. I might not always have to say something, we’ll see.
But enough of the preambles, let’s get to it.

Week in Review

This week’s additions to the Main Content were the Serpents encounter set, a look at the Heart of the Elders #1 full encounter deck and then moving on to TCU’s Agents of Azathoth set. I added another replacement set to the custom content section: Monstrous Thralls is intended to replace Beast Thralls and has some nasty critters on display. More custom sets will be coming shortly, i have several mostly done that i only need to give the last bits of extra care.
Return to the Forgotten Age saw its release, so i also added my full and revised thoughts on three of the four sets to the pages of the sets they replace. The ones added are the Cult of Pnakotus, the Doomed Expedition and Temporal Hunters. I don’t have a page for Yig’s Venom yet, so the review on Venomous Hate will have to wait until then. In those pages i went into much more detailed thoughts than in the first impressions that i had posted a few weeks ago. Playing with the cards (and in two cases, actually reading the card properly) also changed my opinions on several of them quite a bit, so check that out if you are interested.

Soapbox

The two interesting things this week were the release of Return to The Forgotten Age and the release of the Print and Play alternate version of Skids O’Toole.

I managed to snatch up a copy of RtTFA and am currently in the middle of a campaign, playing two-handed with Silas and Carolyn, both investigators i never played before. It’s … a challenge! I really like the RtTFA box, it improves many of the mechanics in the campaign, adds a solid amount of variety and i do enjoy the new encounter sets quite a bit. Great product, i wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who wants to replay TFA. Looking at what the rest of the community says, i do not seem to be alone with this opinion, general reception seems to have been excellent.

Parallel “Skids” O’Toole takes everything that made up “Skids” identity card, tossed all out the window, took a completely unrelated investigator with wildly different abilities and card access and called that thing “Skids”. Now everyone is losing their minds about how great the rework is and i just don’t get it 😀
Don’t get me wrong, i think this new investigator looks great fun. Those deck building options are amazing and make my head hurt with all the crazy stuff you can do with it. But how is this a rework of Skids? It’s completely new and the only thing remaining from the original is the stat line and the signature cards… signature cards that weren’t terribly exciting in the first place. Compare to the rework of Daisy Walker. Parallel Daisy is noticably different, but she is still very much Daisy, with the same themes as her original. It’s like telling me you know how to make a bland salad really tasty … and then replacing it with a steak. It’s an improvement, sure. But did you actually do what you said you would do? In the end my complaints are largely academic, though. We got new content, it’s good content, it’s free, so i am happy about it. I like steak. And for what it’s worth, the two Skids being so different from each other means that the option to mix and match their fronts and backs makes for some very fascinating combinations as well. That wasn’t really the case with Daisy and her shadow clone, so Skids got that going for him. Once i got through my first trip through the jungle, i will print up that shadow Skids and see what fun things can be done with him for sure.