Innsmouth Spoiler Roundup

This is a first look at the encounter cards that were spoiled for The Innsmouth Conspiracy deluxe box and its Mythos packs. The article includes only cards that were officially spoiled, so no inofficial leaks or anything like that.

Note: This post was written a week before the deluxe box released, so it contains speculation and wild guessing.

Sources

FFG: The Innsmouth Conspiracy
FFG: In Too Deep
FFG: Devil Reef
Whisperer in Darkness: Two Encounter Spoilers

Deep Ones

Let’s start right away with the main attraction of the Innsmouth setting: Fish people. Dagon’s children are a staple of the Lovecraft mythos and seeing them take center stage in the upcoming cycle is really neat.

The three Deep Ones we saw scattered around the game before didn’t have a whole lot of coherence, with nothing really tying them together mechanically. The new ones change this. Like the Young Deep One from the Core set’s Agents of Cthulhu, the new breed of Deep Ones all have some sort of Forced trigger that punishes players immediately on engaging the monster. From the examples we got so far, these effects can be very varied: What we saw so far are a bonus attack, card discard and an interaction with a scenario mechanic. As a result, players might prefer to kill these enemies outright instead of evading them, because otherwise they risk triggering this Forced effect multiple times. On the other hand, they all have a measly 1 or 2 in evade. In two of three cases they also have high health and fight values, so that will be interesting to figure out how we’ll ultimately want to deal with these buggers.
As is appropriate for enemies that are defined by triggers on engagement, the Deep Ones have abilities to go after the players. Usually, that is going to be the Hunter keyword as usual, but the Deep One Bull at least shows that other triggers are also a possibility. The Bull triggers its movement on players killing other Deep Ones, once again playing into the fight/evade divide.
The scenarios probably want us to evade and run from the enemies instead of murdering everything like usual… how well that is going to work is of course going to depend a lot on the location layout, how much backtracking there is going to be, if the Flooded mechanic is going to cut off movement routes and all these other things we don’t know much about yet. But there is certainly a whole lot of potential to how these enemies might play out.

Flooded

We don’t know too much about how exactly this mechanic is going to work, but we got the rough outline: Locations can either be not flooded, partially flooded or fully flooded. This does nothing on its own, but other cards can key off of this. The ones we know so far are two of the Deep Ones and an Agenda card.

There are two main things i can think off on how to use this system. The first one is shaping the location grid dynamically by locking off locations and opening up others as tides rise and fall at them. The other one is as a soft limit on how much time the players have. We have seen such limits in various other places from Doom mechanics over Beyond the Veil to alert levels.

Keys

Among the new tokens in the deluxe expansion is a set of keys that can be earned during scenarios and that will unlock Flashbacks.

Flashbacks are story text from the campaign guides. If there is gameplay advantages attached to them or not, is unknown so far, but i would certainly assume so because otherwise they would be very unattractive on replays.

Treacheries

Three treacheries were revealed so far.
One of them, Innsmouth Look, is a variant of a treachery template we have seen two times before with Curse of Yig and Dreams of R’lyeh. Let’s hope that something is done with players gaining the Deep One trait this time around, i always thought that was a huge missed opportunity with Curse of Yig. If not, there are likely a whole lot of investigators who can ignore this treachery, as long as they don’t routinely use their intellect skill.
The other two treacheries are from the same encounter set of the deluxe box. Both of them force players to do a test and then be punished for failing it. The new thing with them is automatically failing on pulling the Elder Thing (for Memory of Oblivion) or Cultist (for Macabre Memento), so effectively you end up having one or two more auto-fails in the bag during those tests. Not only that, but the Elder Things and Cultists usually have their own fail-effects attached to them, making them worse than the tentacle here. If this is limited to just this encounter set or if it’s something that extends to other cards in the cycle remains to be seen. It’s certainly an interesting variation, though. Memory of Oblivion autofailing is going to knock out 4 cards out of a players hand, which sounds quite impacting.

In Too Deep

The announcement for In Too Deep focuses on showcasing the Barricade mechanic that defines this scenario. On the run from Deep Ones, we are expected to maneuver through a massive grid of 15 locations from one end to the other. Between the barricades making it difficult to pass from one location to the other and the Flooded mechanic messing with where you may want to go or not, this has the potential to be a very dynamic affair. I am very much looking forward to this scenario.

Devil Reef

For this announcement, we got a first look at vehicles. At least two scenarios in the cycle will be built around us using vehicles to get from place to place, this being the first one of them and featuring boats that get us from one Island to the next.

The Vehicle keyword is fairly simple. It just means that any player at its location can enter or leave it as a free action. When the vehicle moves, anyone in it moves with it. Nothing too exciting by itself, the rest of the scenario is going to determine how important these end up being. I assume the scenario is going to be built around them fairly massively, though.
FFG left us with final spoiler in that article: A kraken that attacks the ship and everyone in it. It hits hard, it has lots of life and is a Hunter. Taking it down will likely require someone evading it to shut down Retaliate and the Massive multi-attack, tying back into the evasion theme that we already started seeing in the Deep Ones. I think a team that has no ways to evade enemies is going to really struggle with this campaign, in a manner that is very similar to The Forgotten Age.

But what about the Agents of Cthulhu?

I want to close this first look with something that is not really a spoiler, but pure speculation on my part. You know that Agents of Chtulhu set, the one that lies sleeping on the bottom of your core set, just like Cthulhu himself sleeping until its time to awake? I don’t think it’s time to sleeve up those cards quite yet. I predict they are once more not going to be used in these scenarios, both for flavor reasons (Innsmouth Conspiracy is about Dagon, not Cthulhu) and for mechanical ones. Having both Innsmouth Look and Dreams of R’lyeh in the same encounter decks seems too redundant to me.

[Spoilers!] Return to The Forgotten Age: First Impressions

Currently, pictures of the new replacement encounter sets from the Return to TFA box are making the rounds on reddit and Discord. Here they are. I am not going to do a full review of them quite yet, i will wait with that until release and having played with the new campaign myself. They will then get added to the pages of their base sets. But i do have some initial opinions for now:

Cult of Pnakotus

Replaces: Dark Cult
Used in: Threads of Fate, Boundary Beyond, Shattered Aeons

My initial take: Instead of giving us another variant of Ancient Evils, we are getting a new Cult this time. And it’s an interesting one. I think the new Acolyte is a good amount weaker than its Core cousin. The main reason being that as long as no other Cultists are around, you are free to spawn this new one right on top of your Guardian, which will more than offset the Aloof in terms of actions. The other two cards are quite a bit more scary. Four life on the Wizard replacement is very relevant. And From Another Time can just be completely crazy and spread up to four doom around. Scary stuff. Both Acolyte and From Another Time incentivize players to keep the board free from Cultists at all time. I suppose this gets harder when playing with three and four players?

Doomed Expedition

Replaces: Expedition
Used in: Untamed Wilds, Heart of the Elders #1, Depths of Yoth

My initial take: If i am not mistaken, there can be situations where Resentful Wilds makes zero Vengeance runs impossible? Personally, i am not terribly interested in gimmick runs like that, but this seems at least relevant to mention. Tbh, i would rather draw this instead of the original Lost in the Wilds any day. Best-Laid Plans also doesn’t strike me as a particularly frightening card at first glance. You are likely going to take the two action penalty everytime, as having to draw an additional exploration card represents a missed action as well and the treachery itself usually will represent at least another one. So longterm, the straight two actions are the better deal. There’ll be exceptions and it’ll be obvious when: Either the exploration deck is used up anyways or the treachery on top is a very mild one. Low on Supplies is a much less obvious choice and has impact on everyone. Meh, I’m not too excited about this set tbh.

Temporal Hunters

Replaces: Temporal Flux
Used in: Doom of Eztli, Boundary Beyond, Shattered Aeons

My initial take: Oh, i really like that Alpha. Scary card. High combat values, Alert, Retaliate and on each attack it eats up an asset. This can get ugly really quick, especially if it spawns on some rather defenseless character. This is a card to save up a three damage attack for, like Spectral Razor or Vicious Blow. Merging Timelines has a very high ceiling and could just completely wreck a players hand. And turn. No saving throw allowed either. Damn, Temporal Flux was already a high caliber set, but Temporal Hunters dials it up further. This set is going to create a lot of bad beat stories once we all get our hands on the full campaign. My only complaint: Temporal Flux was already a very well executed set, why not replace something a bit more iffy?

Venomous Hate

Replaces: Yig’s Venom
Used in: Doom of Eztli, Boundary Beyond, Heart of the Elders #2, Depths of Yoth

My initial take: Wrath of Yig nerfs the crap out of Serpent’s Call. Not sure how i feel about that, although i will admit that Call was really frustrating to draw sometimes. Attaching a saving throw makes a huge difference here. I like the Vengeful Serpents, though. Fang of Yig had some gimmicks that were rarely ever relevant, leaving them to be little less than fancy Ravenous Ghouls. These new ones have a cool mechanic behind them that will require at least thinking about differently depending on the situation and are more than just a different combination of numbers. Excellent! Speaking of excellent designs, i like the Guardian as well. I’m almost sad it loses Aloof with vengeance though. Would’ve been cooler if it turned into the most annoying Whippoorwill ever.

Final take

All things considered, this looks like a interesting bunch of new cards. Final evaluation of course has to wait until i got to play with them and maybe stumble over some interactions that i am missing in my little drive-by reviewing that i am doing here. I am lukewarm on the Doomed Expedition set, but the others seem cool to me and like they introduce new elements to the game. Interested to see in how the Cultist thing is going to work out. I hope the mechanics on the new Acolyte don’t fall flat in two-player, that’d be a pity. but even if so, the other two cards in that set have enough punch to make some nasty stuff happen.

Looking at which scenarios are using the replacement sets, we can see that City of Archives is the only one that isn’t using any of the replacements. But that scenario wasn’t using any TFA sets to begin with…

If RtTFA is supposed to lower the notorious difficulty of TFA, i would say that this is at least not necessarily apparent from these encounter sets. The change from Serpent’s Call to Wrath of Yig stands out as something that makes our lives easier, but on the whole i would say this roughly keeps the same level, maybe ticks it up a bit.

And now… we wait.