Devil Reef

Other encounter sets in this scenario: Agents of Hydra, Creatures of the Deep, Malfunction, Rising Tide

Size of the Encounter Deck33
# Enemies9
# Willpower5
# Agility9
# Intellect2
# Doom0
# Damage9
# Horror6

My take on this encounter deck: This is a big encounter deck, which is fitting for this somewhat long scenario. Featuring a lot of locations that are laid out in randomized islands, there is a lot of ground for the investigators to cover. Their goal is finding all of the keys, which are seperated into 4 minor keys and 3 major keys here. Grabbing the major ones requires having combinations of the minor ones first, so it is very likely that the players will need to backtrack to islands they already visited earlier. Helping with that is the fishing vessel, a vehicle that saves up actions by allowing one person to move the whole group – kind of like a twisted take on the player card Safeguard. On the other hand, crossing the ocean locations that are connecting these islands takes up a lot of extra actions without the boat, so splitting up the group is likely not going to be sensible.
As is custom for such open scenarios with lots of locations, the enemies are mostly Hunters, which of course plays well with the need for backtracking and the fact that these enemies are not in any way impeded by the ocean locations. There are two particularly big enemies around: The Lloigor from the Agents of Hydra set and the scenario specific Terror of Devil Reef. The Terror is a massive kraken thing that, depending on how Pit of Despair went, is either tough to kill or impossible to kill. Evading it will be the most likely course of action, meaning that it crosses the players paths every time they set out to move to another island.
This is substituted by a good number of treacheries that deal damage and/or horror, chipping away at their sanity and stamina over time. As a result, preserving you mental and physical health in the face of all those hunters is important.
A large number of treacheries also deals with keeping players out of the boat or punishing them for being in the boat. The ocean locations are dangerous places to be and this scenario does a very good job of getting that across.
I like this scenario a whole lot. Wide open maps like this just do it for me and the two-layered approach to randomizing the locations gives this scenario a great deal of replayability. It’s also challenging and features a cool boss monster. Good stuff.
Cancel these: Horrors from the Deep/Shapes in the Water. I am usually not one to be too concerned about this sort of treacheries, but in absence of doom acceleration in the deck the damage and horror coming from the encounter deck becomes the primary limiter to how long you can survive Devil Reef. Especially if someone is particularly vulnerable due to having either low stamina or sanity from the start, protecting those precious points is worth keeping up cancels for. Be aware that this scenario uses Agents of Hydra, so there are a few cards in here that cause random discard. These can pull saved up cancels from your hand as well.

Number in the encounter deck: 2

What it does: One of the two scenario specific Deep One Hunters, the Predator is significantly more difficult to fight than it is to evade, making it somewhat resilient despite having only 2 health. Whenever the Predator engages an investigator, that investigator has to move one of their clues or keys onto the Predator. Whoever defeats or evades it, gets control of all clues and keys on it.

My take: Not so bad. It is another Hunter in a scenario that is already full of them, however. If that wasn’t the case, i would be tempted to just let it live, but considering that there’s alredy so many enemies roaming around, i would really prefer to kill it. Most armed fighters shouldn’t find that too difficult and 2 stamina is also in the range of many damage events.

Threat level: Low. It has weak attacks and its engagement ability is also not that impactful.

Dealing with it: Even if it gets to attack once or twice, i would be more worried about the lost actions for evading it multiple times than i would be about the horror dealt by its attacks.

Number in the encounter deck: 2

What it does: The other scenario specific enemy around, this Hunting Deep One is more dangerous than the Predator. It does have a more balanced stat line with 3s across the board. Especially the difference between 2 and 3 health is quite relevant. It also has a more impactful engagement ability: The investigator that was engaged either has to leave its vehicle or, if they weren’t in the fisher boat to begin with, has to lose 2 resources. While the investigator stays engaged with the Hunting Deep One, they are also able to board the vehicle again or gain more resources.

My take: This little guy can be a pain. By pulling an investigator out of the boat, it can force the whole team to drop whatever they where doing and fight this thing before they can move on. In some situations, this will also dictate the order in which players will want to act as the one who went over board will surely want to be able to re-enter the vehicle on their turn.
The resource loss can be very hard as well during the first turns. Dropping a 3/3/3 on the party while they are still preparing and possibly stopping one investigator from playing their assets as they planned can be a severe annoyance.
With its 3 health it also either asks the players to spend two actions on defeating it or using some of their burst damage to deal all 3 in one blow. There are some other big threats in this scenario where those (usually quite limited) resources would also be very important, so this is actually a relevant choice. Spending two actions on this to preserve your Razors, Plans, Backstabs and One-Two-Punches for when the Winged One and/or the Kraken show up might be a good idea.

Threat level: Medium. As far as ghoul-sized enemies go, this one is about as dangerous as it gets due to the context it is used in.

Dealing with it: I highly suggest not letting this live. While there is certainly some merit to evading a lot of the enemies in Devil Reef, this is one i wouldn’t want to have to engage over and over again. Both the resource loss and the restriction from vehicles can have some dire consequences if things go bad.

Number in the encounter deck: 3

What it does: Dragged Under enters the investigator’s threat area and immediately forces them to leave any vehicle they were in. To discard it, a player at its location needs to spend an action, then pass either a strength or agility test. While affected by Dragged Under, the investigator is unable to enter vehicles.

My take: Devil Reef might be the first scenario that introduces vehicles into ArkhamLCG, but at the same time it seems to be hellbent on keeping players out of them. Between Dragged Under, Hunting Deep One and Malfunction, this fishing vessel is maybe the most unreliable boat i have ever seen anywhere 🙂
Dragged Under itself isn’t all that problematic, but since it appear in tandem with Malfunction here, a solo investigator would need to be able to pass both intellect and either strength or agility tests to keep being able to use their boat. For many investigators that might be an issue. Investigator teams have it much easier here, since they will usually have someone who is at least somewhat decent for any of the skills.

Threat level: Low to Mid. It’s a lost action at best, but there is some urgency to it.

Dealing with it: As usual, remember that anyone at the treacheries location can take the action and test to discard it and not only the one who has it in their threat area. Like with the Hunting Deep One, this card might have some impact on the order in which players take their turn, so the one who does the test goes before the one who just had to leave the vehicle.

What it does: This is a group of threacheries that deals damage and/or horror to the players when drawn. All of them are particularly dangerous to players who are currently at flooded locations, which usually means on board of the boat.
Stowaway affects everyone who is currently on board of the vehicle. Each of them has to either take 1 damage and horror or be forced to leave their vehicle without being able to enter it again for the rest of the round. Should no investigator be inside a vehicle, Stowaway instead surges.
Horrors from the Deep asks the player to pass an agility test. If they don’t they are dealt 2 damage. Similarly, Shapes in the Water requires a successful willpower test from the player or they are dealt 2 horror. The difficulty of the tests on Horrors and Shapes are increased on flooded and even more so on fully flooded locations.

My take: This is a series of cards that deal damage and horror to players on high seas. It’s a potent package that stacks up very well with the rest of the scenario. As is so often the case with this sort of treachery, they are not exactly terrifying by themselves, but drawing multiples can wear someone down. Between the smaller hunters and the bigger monsters, and the engagement effects of some Deep Ones, it’s easy to collect some damage and horror here and there. Devil Reef is also a scenario that takes a while to play through, so there is plenty of opportunity to draw these treacheries.
Managing the loss of sanity and stamina can be tricky and is one of the more difficult challenges of Devil Reef. If using soak to create a buffer for your own health isn’t an option, then you might want to limit the time you spend at flooded locations. Doing so will avoid Stowaway completely and keep the difficulty of the other two cards manageable.

Threat level: Low to Mid individually, but the whole package is actually a lot more impactful than that.

Dealing with it: There are plenty of good reasons to not stay on the boat for too long. By mostly staying on the islands and possibly making good use of the Underwater Cavern locations, you can make yourself less vulnerable to these treacheries. And to Dragged Under and Hunting Deep One as well, while you are at it.
The option to leave the vehicle on Stowaway i would only take in dire emergencies. Leaving the vehicle means that either the rest of the group has to wait for next turn when you can rejoin them in the boat to move on. Or you have to swim the rest of the way. Neither option seems worth a point of damage and horror to me in the majority of cases.

Number in the encounter deck: 2

What it does: Aquatic Ambush is put into play next to the agenda, where it stays until the end of the round. While in play, attacking enemies at flooded locations becomes more difficult, requiring players to reveal an additional chaos token.

My take: Obviously, this is bad news if you were planning on killing something this turn. Revealing two chaos tokens means not only that the potential negative modifier to the test can be a lot higher, it also doubles the chances of drawing the autofail.
In some situations this can be bypassed at the cost of taking an attack of opportunity by dragging the engaged enemy over to a non-flooded location. But most of the time it will be the choice between either risking the now much more difficult attack or going for an evasion instead. Drawing this just as you were going to fight the kraken would pretty much be the worst case… but then again, it very often does very little as well and then automatically discards itself at the end of the round. It’s a very swingy card.

Threat level: Medium. There will be many turns when this is drawn and doesn’t matter at all. But when it does, it’s very impactful. This is a card that goes up in value with player count, as it increases the chance of drawing both this and a tough enemy in the same turn.

Dealing with it: The default way of reacting to this treachery becoming active is probably to prioritize evasion for the rest of the turn – or to not get into fights in the first place. This is of course not always going to be an option and that is when this treachery can severely limit your options of how to deal with any engaged creatures. Investigators who have testless damage options available may want to save them for such an emergency.

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