|Size of the Encounter Deck
My take on this encounter deck: This scenario is a race between the players and the cultists and the encounter deck is (with one notable exception) laser focused on this theme. One third of the encounter cards are cultists, supplemented by a host of other cards that add more doom to those cultists or to the agenda. Locked Doors and the treacheries from the Midnight Masks scenario attack the clues gathered by the players or try to slow their investigations.
The only thing not quite fitting here is the Delusions set. They are the only hidden cards in the whole deck, so that’s a bit unexciting and they are not really doing a whole lot towards the scenarios theme.
Except on the Locked Doors, no stat tests appear on any of the encounter cards, so that’s not something to worry about in this scenario either.
As long as players are able to whack any cultists as they pop up on the board, this scenario shouldn’t pose any trouble.
Cancel these: The Cult’s Search, The King’s Edict. These two cards have the potential to swing the game around by either creating or moving a large amount of doom. If those two cards can be canceled when they pop up, the rest can be prevented by simply killing every Cultist that turns up. Led Astray, this scenario’s version of Ancient Evils, can be kept under control by always having a clue to put on a cultist. It does have Peril, so unless the one with the cancel card drew it themselves, they won’t be able to cancel it anyways.
What it does: Seeker of Carcosa enters play at an empty location and will start collecting clues on that place. These clues will be transformed into doom by the agenda effect, making the Seeker act very similar to Wizard of the Order. Their fight stat is low, but that is made up by the Aloof keyword and three health, both of which demand extra actions to defeat this cultist.
My take: These are a priority to take out, just like the Wizard of the Order that it is emulating. At one or two players, the doom threshold of the agenda is low enough that having these survive for a turn or two can easily make the agenda advance. They are almost the only thing to worry about from the encounter deck, though. So focusing on them is usually not a big ask.
Threat level: High. If unanswered, the Seeker of Carcosa can end the scenario fairly quickly.
Dealing with it: Just like the Wizard of the Order, this enemy needs to be dealt with as soon as possible and in a permanent fashion. That means defeating them with damage, which in many cases will take a bunch of actions to move into their location, engage them and attack one ore more times. Good ways around this are events that deal 3 or more damage: Spectral Razor, Dynamite Blast, etc are all good ways to basically spend resources to save actions. Note that Handcuffs are only a mediocre solution at best: Handcuffs will not stop the Seeker of Carcosa from taking clues off their location and they will not stop the agenda from turning those clues into doom. They would stop directly placing the doom on the Seeker once the location runs out, though.
What it does: Led Astray acts as this scenario’s specific variant of Ancient Evils, adding one doom to the board. The player has to choose if that doom is added directly to the agenda or if they want to spend one of their clues to add that doom to a cultist of their choice instead. If the doom is put directly on the agenda, it can advance the agenda immediately.
My take: As far as Ancient Evils variants go, this one is quite tame. As long as the investigator has a clue to spend, they can put that doom token on a cultist that the players were planning on defeating this turn anyways. Of course, this requires the player to have a clue and there to be a cultist around. If no cultist is on the board, that means the players are currently winning, so Led Astray shouldn’t be much of a problem.
Threat level: Mid to High. As long as the first option is available, the card is usually not as bad as drawing any Cultist from the top of the encounter deck.
Dealing with it: Consider keeping an extra clue on hand just to be able to make Led Astray less impacting. Keeping cultists around on purpose shouldn’t be worth it, though.
What it does: This treachery moves all doom from every cultist in play onto the agenda. If not cultists with doom are around, the players find any cultist from the encounter deck or discard pile and put it into play.
My take: The first half of the card is the actually scary one, as it can put doom directly on the agenda where it can no longer be discarded from play. If no doom is in play, the card is much less dangerous and can even be used slightly in the investigators favor by searching for specific enemies that the players might want to take out.
Threat level: Mid to High. The card is worst when things are already going bad, but will often be just a cultist of the players choice. The cards gets some extra punch with three and four players, as it increases the chance of drawing some cultist with doom and then The Cult’s Search in one mythos phase.
Dealing with it: The Cult’s Search doesn’t need any special consideration, as it’s best dealt with by doing what the scenario wants you to do anyways: Kill cultists before they gather too much doom. When there are no cultists in play, use the search to find a Wizard of the Order, Seeker of Carcosa or Keeper of the Oath to dispatch them while you have some breathing room.
Return to Echoes of the Past
My take on the modified scenario: The Return to Carcosa campaign adds another floor to the building, potentially spreading out players and cultists further. More importantly, it adds two new enemies to the encounter deck that pack a bit more punch than the usual cultist enemies do. These Keepers of the Oath also drain clues from anyone on their floor or, while they are standing on a passageway themselves, on any passageway on the board.
The modified scenario improves on the original, mostly by having the Keepers of the Oath stack up with other cultists and thus making it more likely for the agenda to advance. It’s still possible to beat the scenario by just killing everything, but it got a bit harder at least. Players can counteract this by waiting with advancing their agenda until they are ready to dispatch the Keepers.
There are no changes to the encounter deck except for replacing Delusions with Maddening Delusions.
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