Ghouls

Set Size7
Number of unique Cards3
RoleEnemies, Agility, Damage
Threat LevelLow
# of scenarios5
VariantsGhouls of Umôrdhoth
Appears in: The Gathering, The Devourer Below, The Pallid Mask, Thousand Shapes of Horror, Point of No Return

My take on this set: Arkham LCG’s combat tutorial. The Ghoul set introduces the most basic enemies to the game with clean and simple 2/2/2 and 3/3/3 stats. Alongside those, we get one of the very few cards from the early life cycle of the game that tests agility, and that card is a reason to have some respect for this encounter set even when playing more advanced scenarios.

Number in the encounter deck: 3

What it does: Grasping Hands deals damage to the investigator, based on how badly he does at an Agility test. With three of them in the encounter deck, these can stack up quick to become dangerous if one person draws multiples.

My take: I think this card is a good deal more threatening than its Willpower testing counterpart Rotting Remains. Willpower tests are much more common than agility tests, so players are usually more prepared for them. For low agility investigators, the damage from these can become significant fast once it starts to stack up with combat damage or additional copies of Grasping Hands.

Threat level: Low to Mid. Like all cards that deal non-direct damage or horror, the card for itself isn’t all that threatening because its effects can be soaked and there is no immediate break in momentum. It can become a serious issue at the tail end of a mission though if players are already battered up by whatever else was going on.

Dealing with it: For low agility investigators: First line of defense is staying above four life. Second line of defense is preparing for the agility test, for example by keeping some icons in hand. As an example, this is one of the few opportunities to actually make use of that icon on the .45 Automatic. Third line of defense is making your allies take the hit for you.

Number in the encounter deck: 3

What it does: Ghoul Minions are weak enemies that usually go down in one hit from a weapon. Even most non-fighters can be expected to be able to take these down with fisticuffs if they need to.

My take: There’s three of them in the deck and usually you will be happy to see them because they tend to be one of the least threatening cards in the encounter deck. Defeating them only takes a single action in most cases and the low fight value means that missing them is little concern if you are even remotely prepared for a fight.

Threat level: Very Low. They are just not all that tough and can be dispatched or evaded easily.

Dealing with it: Pretty much any weapon will do. An investigator with high base fight value might even consider punching the Ghouls to save their ammo for later. Evading them is always an option as well, of course.

Number in the encounter deck: 1

What it does: The Ravenous Ghoul is the baseline for an enemy that starts to pose an actual threat to the investigators. At three life, it usually requires an extra action to defeat. At three fight and evasion, low-skilled investigators can no longer expect to pass a test without investing in it.

My take: This card teaches how much of a difference an additional point in a stat can do. The increase from a 2/2/2 stat line to a 3/3/3 is huge, a valuable lesson to learn.

Threat level: Low. While an increase of strength over the Ghoul Minion, the Ravenous Ghoul is still a low impact enemy when looking at the greater picture. Its stats mean that a Seeker or similar character might need help from his teammates to deal with it, but even if the Ravenous Ghoul gets to attack once, he doesn’t hit hard enough to pose a serious threat.

Dealing with it: There’s only one of them in the deck, so no planning ahead is necessary. The standard ways to dealing with enemies apply.

Return to The Night of the Zealot: Ghouls of Umôrdhoth

Set Size7
Number of unique Cards3
RoleEnemies, Willpower, Discard(Hand), Damage
Threat LevelLow

My take on this set: The replacement set for the Ghouls changes very little about the actual enemies. The change to the damage treachery is much more extensive, it has been reworked to be the primary piece of a discard theme that was added to all cards in the set. Due to a lack of further discard support in the Return to Night of the Zealot, this theme largely doesn’t come together though. Even Return to Devourer Below which threatens to immediately kill a player should they be left without a card after drawing a certain treachery, only gains little extra from the discard mini-theme. This hurts the impact of these cards, most importantly Chill from Beyond is not even half the card that Grasping Hands is.

Number in the encounter deck: 3

What it does: Chill from Below replaces the Agility test on Grasping Hands with a Willpower test. Instead of dealing damage, it attacks the cards in hand and only deals damage once there are no cards left to discard.

My take: I heavily dislike this card. I dislike that the agility test gets scrapped and replaced by a Willpower test because there are too few agility tests around in the first place. I dislike that the damage part gets weakened by discarding cards first, removing every bit of threat that came from Grasping Hands. What is left is a card that is in the encounter deck three times and just doesn’t do a whole lot.

Threat level: Low. Low to Mid during Return to Devourer Below. Willpower tests are something that players are usually prepared for and 3 is not a particularly difficult number to beat. It might cost a card in hand or two at times, but that’s not a particularly dangerous effect from an encounter card.

Dealing with it: This card is usually not worth special attention. If protecting specific cards in hand is a concern for a player, keeping a couple other cards to feed into a Chill from Below is a good idea to lower the chances to hit something relevant. During Return to Devourer Below, Chill from Below feeds into the discard theme that can lead to an instant kill on Umôrdhoth’s Hunger. That interaction gives the card a bit more relevance there.

Number in the encounter deck: 3

What it does: Grave-Eaters replace the Ghoul Minions in The Return to Night of the Zealot. They keep the iconic stat line and damage. They gain a new ability that discards cards from a player’s hand when they attack.

My take: Technically, they are an upgrade on the Ghoul Minion, but in practice this is not really all that relevant. After all, it’s rare that a Ghoul actually lives through the investigator phase.

Threat level: Very Low. The extra ability doesn’t increase the strength of this enemy in a way that matters much.

Dealing with it: No changes from the unmodified version.

Number in the encounter deck: 1

What it does: The Acolyte of Umôrdhoth replaces the Ravenous Ghoul. It loses one point of evasion, but instead gains an extra ability that stops investigators from evading if they have no cards in hand.

My take: A slight downgrade of the Ravenous Ghoul. The ability only matters if no cards are left in hand, a rare occasion … unless you got hit by Chill from Below and/or Grave-Eaters a couple of times, i guess. I have to say, if this is the payoff for the discard theme running through this replacement set, that’s one hell of a weak payoff. Totally not worth to ruin a perfectly fine 3/3/3 stat line for that.

Threat level: Low. The difference to the Ravenous Ghoul is minor. Worst case the special ability of the Acolyte of Umôrdhoth translates to having to draw a card, taking one Attack of Opportunity.

Dealing with it: The standard ways to dealing with enemies apply.

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