|Size of the Encounter Deck
My take on this encounter deck: Like Heart of the Elders #1, this is a very thematic and synergistic encounter deck that focuses on one thing. But instead of drowning the players in Hunter enemies, the second part goes all-in on the area denial plan. Between No Turning Back, Entombed, Poisonous Spores and Deep Dark, the encounter deck manipulates where the players can or can’t move and tries to slow them down that way. At the same time, the doom clock is advanced by the cards from Forgotten Ruins. Poisoned investigators in particular also have to contend with a plethora of damage dealing treacheries chipping away at their health. The scenario features only few enemies, a notable contrast to Heart of the Elders #1, which was just swarming with creatures. The Harbinger makes an appearance but due to the lack of other enemies to back it up, it can be driven off easily.
There is a high focus on agility and strength tests here, possibly to give something to do to those who would usually be on enemy handling duty.
As long as the group doesn’t struggle with agility tests from the encounter deck, this is a somewhat unexciting affair. If you have chalk in your supplies and thus can skip the setback on the backside of act 1, it’s even downright trivial. To be honest, i think this is one of the more boring scenarios. Probably my least favorite scenario from this campaign.
What it does: No Turning Back attaches to the player’s location or one connected to it, then blocks it off. The affected location can not be entered or left by investigators. To discard this card, a player at that location or a connected one has to spend an action. If they don’t carry a pickaxe, they also need to pass a strength test.
My take: You will usually put this at a location behind you, cutting off the way back. This can become an issue if that investigator is one ore more locations ahead of other party members, as that will impede those from moving further ahead.
The pickaxe is not a particularly important supply and (at least in my personal opinion) i’ll usually only take it if i have supply points to spare after Threads of Hope.
In any case, if someone is needed to do that strength test, that is often not too troublesome either. There is not a whole lot of enemies in this scenario and fighters can find a way to leverage their strength skill here.
Threat level: Low. This is a scaled back version of Entombed, which is also in this scenario and much more scary.
Dealing with it: In smaller groups, chances are that this can be put somewhere where it doesn’t stop players from moving on. It will then only restrict the options to backtrack, something that is usually not important in this scenario. In bigger groups, it’s more likely to split up the team, but in that case it’s also more likely that someone has the strength (or the pickaxe) to get rid of it. Occasionally, this interacts with Poisonous Spores, but aside from that this is a relatively benign treachery.
My take: Pitfall and Poisonous Spores make a repeat appearance from Heart of the Elders #1. Their role in the scenario doesn’t really change all that much. Pitfall gets some extra damage sources to stack up with Final Mistake from the Deadly Traps set while Poisonous Spores interacts with the scenario specific No Turning Back and Deadly Trap’s Entomb. On the plus side, there are fewer hunter enemies around that would shepherd you into the Spores, so it kinda evens out. For more thoughts on these two cards, please refer to Heart of the Elders #1.
Return to Heart of the Elders #2
My take on the modified scenario: This scenario isn’t changed too much. No new scenario specific treacheries are added. There are some new locations that have interactions with supplies, but that’s only some extra variety. So once more, the changed exploration rules are the main feature of the Return To scenario. Which of course is a positive change for sure.
Yig’s Venom is swapped out for Venomous Hate and that does indeed change the scenario a bit. The addition of the Vengeful Serpents has been very relevant for all the scenarios it is used in and Heart of the Elders #2 is no exception. The swap increases the number of enemies in the deck from 6 to 8, and due to how the Vengeful Serpents work, some of them are even recurring. This does increase the amount of fighting happening inbetween by a lot and just like in HotE#1, the area denial works wonders to make running from Hunters a difficult thing to do.
Return to HotE#2 improves on the base scenario, but not by enough to make it a quest to actually look forward to. It’s still kinda basic, with everything before and after it just being more engaging.
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