|Size of the Encounter Deck||32|
My take on this encounter deck: Considering that Curtain Call is the first scenario of the campaign and that the investigators face it with their undeveloped level 0 decks, this encounter deck is incredibly vicious. Striking Fear, Delusions, Evil Portents and Hauntings all have treacheries that are meant to waste several of the player’s actions, while Evil Portents in particular also pushes down on the already tight doom clock.
Between Spires of Carcosa, Spirit’s Torment, Poltergeist and of course the Man in the Pallid Mask there is quite some extra stuff to deal with for Seekers and other investigators with high intellect, which is unusual. Unprepared players will find themselves struggling to progress here, this is one of the few places where a Mystic can’t just put down Rites of Seeking or Sixth Sense and be done with it.
Speaking of cards that hit you when unprepared, the Poltergeist has one of its two appearances here. Should nobody carry a spell or relic, that thing can be a massive pain. The other enemies from the deck are rather tame, even fledgeling investigators will find little trouble dealing with Fanatics and Rats. The Royal Emissary is usually enough to keep fighters occupied and only the Agent of the King provides a decent combat challenge aside from it.
This is easily the most difficult first scenario from all the campaigns. The last act can be especially brutal if the effect that spreads through the theater is a bad one and players get hammered by action intensive treacheries. There’s nothing quite like not being able to shake off Frozen in Fear and having to spend three actions on each move while being on a tight doom clock with a Royal Emissary in pursuit.
Cancel these: Spires of Carcosa, Frozen in Fear. If unanswered, Spires can flip the agenda all on its own. Even if answered, it wasted two thirds of the Seekers turn, which is a problem. Canceling it can take a lot of pressure away. Frozen in Fear once again shows up when wasting actions is something to desperately avoid.
Return to Curtain Call
My take on the modified scenario: This is already a pretty great scenario out of the deluxe box and the Return to Carcosa wisely doesn’t shake it up too much. Focusing on providing extra variance from additional locations and plugging some “exploits” by making the Emissary progress in danger on each reappearance, only a single card is added to the encounter deck. It is a super interesting one, but as 1 out of 33 cards it can of course not change a whole lot about how to approach the scenario.
What it does: La Comtesse is easy to defeat at only one fight, despite her stamina being surprisingly high enough to take a hit. When defeated, La Comtesse is added to the player’s hand as a Hidden card where it will count as four cards, effectively reducing the hand size by as many cards. Additionally, the player holding La Comtesse in their hand has to suffer a horror for each card they discard during upkeep.
My take: What a great card, the design is outstanding. I have only one gripe about this card: Why is it added to Curtain Call and not to a scenario where she matters a bit more? Or one where the tension of the card (Do i defeat her or do i keep evading her?) is a bit more of an actual choice.
Constantly evading her is just not an option in this scenario. The small map, the constant backtracking and the high pressure on conserving your actions make that option a non-starter. So that leaves players with having to defeat her and then continue dealing with the Hidden card.
Once added to a players hand, there is no way to discard her again, so she will stay there until the end of the scenario. Reducing the hand size by four is not a big deal for some investigators, but crippling for others. So when she shows up, the main thing to figure out is who has to take her.
Threat level: Mid. One way or another, this card is going to make its presence felt from the turn it is drawn to the end of the scenario.
Dealing with it: There are few cards in the full card pool that can stop La Comtesse from doing her thing for the rest of the game and since its the first scenario, the options are of course even more limited. The Guardian card Handcuffs is pretty much perfect and a useful card throughout the campaign in general. But aside from that, there is just not a whole lot around. So unless players are already on the last leg of the scenario and on their way out, it’s likely best to just defeat her and deal with the fallout instead of getting weighed down by avoiding her over and over.
Whoever ends up with her in hand will have to plan on not having to discard at the end of the turn. This requires playing or committing a card per turn on average, which shouldn’t be too hard. The last stretch of the scenario, when actions on playing random cards aren’t really something that can reasonably be spent, conveniently comes with tests on the locations with horror on them. These tests can be used to ditch cards as commits to avoid going over the hand size.
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