|Size of the Encounter Deck||36|
My take on this encounter deck: The Dim Carcosa encounter deck is best described as relentless. There’s not really anything like a break for the investigators here, it is chock full of high impact cards that assault the ever dwindling sanity of the players. Aside from the cards that play into the horror mechanics of the scenario, there is a good amount of big creatures here as well, enough of them to be a problem for hybrid investigators. Having a “proper” fighter here is very much recommended.
Cancel these: Possession, Realm of Madness. Canceling Possession can be the only way to save an investigator from instant death once they moved past the horror threshold. Aside from that, there is no shortage of worthy targets in this scenario. The Yellow Sign, Realm of Madness, The Final Act, half of Striking Fear … depending on whether you think you can avoid going insane you may want to cancel either the cards that deal horror or the ones that punish you for having a stack of it already. Realm of Madness stands out to me because it is both at the same time, either discarding your stuff or dealing horror when it fails to cost you any cards.
What it does: With 5 fight and 4 health, the Creature Out Of Demhe is a challenging enemy to beat down. It has only two evade, which at least makes dealing with the creature temporarily that way an attractive option. It deals only one damage and horror, but will attack every investigator at its location because it is Massive. If its location or a connected one is flipped, it also gets to attack each player at that location.
My take: Looks tougher than it really is. Evasion is a very worthwhile option here and disables both its regular attacks and its bonus attacks from the Forced effect. If it spawns in a location with many connections that have not been flipped yet, defeating it might become necessary, but it’s nothing that your enemy handler shouldn’t be able to do at this point. Consider it practice for the Beast of Aldebaran.
Threat level: Mid to High. Can be evaded very well and it doesn’t hit hard enough to be a major threat.
Dealing with it: Evading it once for each location that you want to flip can eat up a lot of your actions, so consider your options. You could either prepare so you can evade once, then flip multiple locations on the same turn. You could kill it. You could just tank the hits. Or a combination of those.
What it does: The Winged One is a byakhee enemy that moves towards locations that are being flipped. Its statline is nothing too special with 3 fight and health, however it deals 3 damage and a horror with each hit and it has Retaliate. It also has 4 evasion which protects it fairly well against attempts to exhaust it before attacks.
My take: Three damage attacks on a retaliate enemy are nasty. While it does only have mediocre combat stats, it means that an auto-fail or otherwise failed attack will be severely punished. This is an enemy to respect.
Threat level: Mid to High. A hard hitting enemy that is just resilient enough to pose a problem.
Dealing with it: Any attack action made against this enemy has the risk of backfiring hard on a failed test. For that reason, anything that can make it so you don’t have to attack twice is valuable. Beat Cop, Spectral Razor, Backstab, whatever it is that you can use to take it down in one attack only is going to be valuable here. Usually i’d not be opposed to throwing dynamite at an enemy like this, but that dynamite should probably go towards clearing the Palace of the King…
What it does: Dismal Curse deals two damage if the player fails at a Willpower test. This base effect is scaled with how much horror that investigator already has on them: If it’s enough horror to deplete their sanity, the test becomes more difficult. If it’s even twice as much horror as their sanity could usually take, Dismal Curse deals twice the amount of damage.
My take: These are in the deck three times and become more and more of a problem as the scenario goes on. It’s really difficult to avoid horror in Dim Carcosa and this is one of the cards that can turn a failure to keep your sanity intact into a loss.
Threat level: Mid. Starts out mild but can escalate later on.
Dealing with it: Keeping your sanity up should be the prime goal for this scenario. More than any of the other Carcosa scenarios, this encounter deck hammers away at your investigator with horror upon horror and having a way to mitigate it with soak, high Willpower or cards like Moment of Respite should be considered mandatory. Failing that, this treachery (and the ones that follow) will make sure that players are going to be defeated as a result of that horror in spite of the special game rules for the scenario.
What it does: Realm of Madness turns the horror on the investigator that drew this card into discard, forcing them to ditch cards from their hand or play until the resource cost of those cards is at least as high as the horror on them. If no card was discarded this way, the player is dealt 2 horror instead.
My take: Potentially devastating, especially for investigators who only use few assets and/or are built around skills or other low cost cards. Someone like Silas or any investigator built around Dark Horse could easily lose their board and their hand to this card.
Threat level: High. There are some investigators that get completely countered by this card, but really anyone with a decent amount of horror on them will be severely impacted by Realm of Madness.
Dealing with it: Once a certain amount of horror has built up on the investigator card, the only way to prepare for Realm of Madness is by keeping some sacrificial high cost cards in hand. It’s better to have Leo de Luca in hand and discarding him than it is to pay for Leo and then have to discard him from play.
What it does: If the investigator has enough horror on them to deplete their sanity, The Final Act will add two doom to the agenda, possibly advancing it. Either way, it surges.
My take: A double Ancient Evils with Surge? Sounds fair! More like “The Final Agenda” 😐
There’s only one in the deck, so it’s completely unpredictable and when it randomly pops up it punishes you hard for not keeping your sanity intact. This card either just surges without doing anything or it feels ridiculously unfair. I am not convinced that this much of a variance is a good thing.
Threat level: Very High. Surging Double Evils, what more is there to say?
Dealing with it: See above, keep your sanity. If that’s not possible, your last bet is someone having a cancel ready. It will still surge, but it can’t really get worse.
What it does: Possession is a trio of Hidden cards that all have the same effect, but can be get rid of in different ways. While holding Possession, an investigator is immediately defeated and killed once they have twice as much horror as their sanity can take. To get rid of the card before this happens, the investigator either has to spend an action and five resources, spend an action and deal two damage to a friendly investigator or intentionally fail a test.
My take: Gaining enough horror that these kill you instantly is so much easier than one would think and thus anyone who has that much horror will live in constant fear from one mythos phase to the next. If they aren’t instantly lethal, they are not terribly difficult to discard. Torturous is the only one that can sometimes be an issue if the player currently just doesn’t have any resources. The other two can be fulfilled quickly.
Threat level: High. They can spell instant death. For anyone not yet over the horror threshold they are somewhat mild, though.
Dealing with it: During this scenario, keep that threshold of twice your sanity in mind. Avoid going over it at all costs unless you yourself hold a cancel card in your hand that can negate the revelation effect.
Return to Dim Carcosa
My take on the modified scenario: The High Priest of Hastur is added to the encounter deck, an enemy with unique mechanics. This gives some extra relevance to the Possession cards, but doesn’t really change the scenario much otherwise. The replacement encounter sets are more interesting: Delusions becomes Maddening Delusions. This change trades one card that triggered off of having some horror (Descent into Madness) for a complete set of six cards that all deal extra horror. This makes it a lot more difficult to keep your waning sanity. Striking Fear becomes Neurotic Fear. This kicks Rotting Remains from the encounter deck, a tragic loss and most of the reason why the encounter set was used in this scenario in the first place. While i do like the Neurotic Fear set in general, i don’t think it really fits into what Dim Carcosa is trying to do. Finally, Agents of Hastur becomes Hastur’s Envoys, a very significant trade. The Sign of Hastur is a beast of a card in this scenario and the Preying Byakhee is no slouch either.
What it does: Its statline of 6/4/2 speaks a clear language: The High Priest isn’t meant to be fought, you are meant to evade it and run away. It’s a Hunter enemy that spawns in the Palace and then follows whoever has the most cards in hand. Its attack deal neither damage nor horror, but any investigator attacked by it will immediately be driven insane should they hold a Possession in hand.
My take: Meh. I haven’t found these guys to be particularly threatening. They do lend some extra threat to the Possession cards, but those are already a fairly high priority to get rid of. Their low evasion works as sort of a failsafe that can be exploited to get out of their grip. This is particularly relevant for anyone already holding a Possession, of course.
Threat level: Low. A nuisance that slightly increases the relevance of another card in the deck.
Dealing with it: Instead of dealing with the High Priest, i suggest dealing with the Possession. Failing that, evading the Priest is easy enough to do. Their high fight value does make them a bit difficult to defeat, but if you do can either overpower the difficulty or even better deal testless damage, then killing the Priests is absolutely worth it.
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