Hemlock Vale Spoiler Roundup #11

Intro

It’s the end of the scheduled previews. Are we getting more after this? Who knows?
Maybe we have the full list in our hands in just a moment’s time?
Until we do, let’s check out the final stretch of community previews. It’s a real zoo down there, we have cats, wolves, foxes, moths, mice. Even a giant spider features prominently.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-7.png

Sources

Cat Mask was previewed by El Mito Del Caos on their YouTube.

“Throw the book at them!” and Wolf Mask were previewed by Quick Learner on their YouTube

Fox Mask was previewed by the r/arkhamhorrorlcg subreddit.

Matchbox and The Silver Moth were previewed on a FFG Liveplay on the FFG YouTube.

Mouse Mask was previewed by will.i.game on their Instagram.

Guardian

We basically knew about this one since all the way back in early August. Still, seeing it confirmed is nice. My opinion on the Wolf Mask didn’t really change since my first impression. If anything, it went up. This card is just utterly ridiculous and joins the likes of Take Heart, Spectral Razor or Faustian Bargain in a line of cards where i need very good reasons to not play it if i can. And if there’s a reason, the chances are that the reason is wanting to play a different mask. Due to being 1 cost and not using a relevant slot, there is next to no opportunity cost to just throwing a copy of a mask into every deck from now on, chances are that one of them is going to be fantastic for you.
On a less powergamey note, this makes me want to revisit Empower Self/Well Prepared Diana. Again. It didn’t properly work out the last three times, but surely this will be the missing piece? Surely.

Seeker

This is my favorite artwork on a card in a while, it even beats out Rex falling from a ladder because he’s pogging out too hard. I just really like when there’s not just generic trenchcoat people on the artwork, but when the game remembers it actually has a cool and unique setting that is allowed to get weird and show off it’s incredible cast of characters.
Is the card worth it in gameplay? Eh. Not getting that extra point of damage is super rough and makes it very limited in where it’s actually properly usable. Getting the option for evasion is neat, Daisy with an Old Book of Lore basically gets to play Pocket Sand at skill level 5 which is not nothing. Getting a free activation out of your book sounds good, but since you just spent a full action and a card on a 1 damage attack that honestly isn’t as good as it appears. You even still have to spend any charges on the item, so you don’t really gain much more for your card here than a free attack. I guess you can use it to trigger a tome while engaged without an attack of opportunity, but that is such a narrow usecase. So to me, the evade mode is the draw to the card… and that kind of means that Core Set staple Mind over Matter is just straight up better thanks to being more flexible? Throw the Book is not a completely hopeless coaster, but it will need some convincing. Maybe Vincent can do something with Grey’s Anatomy here? Being able to use that without an attack of opportunity is valuable and he would attack at 6. Still seems aggressively meh and you would need to keep this card in your deck for a few scenarios until you even have the level 5 tome…

Giving willpower and intellect, this is a potent package for seekers, both in terms of progressing the game and in terms of encounter protection. Replenishing it is not quite as easy as the other masks as you need to reveal those locations yourself and depending on the scenario that might be easier said than done. Still, that seems perfectly fair for a mask that gives intellect boosts (which could be argued to be the most valuable ones) and you are near guaranteed to get your money’s worth here as triggering it like 5 or 6 times in a scenario should be trivial, provided you draw it early. But even when you draw it late, the worst case of two charges for a resource and a card isn’t all that bad either.
Like all masks, this is a good card and when compared to the other mask that raises intellect which is dependent of being around enemies you will often want to go for this one if it’s available to you. As with the fox mask, there is a certain group of investigators that are all quite interested in this, as “seeker that likes to move” is an archetype we’ve seen a few times now.
Also, Luke gains a charge whenever he uses the Dream-Gate, right? 😀 The mask has the perfect stats for Luke, too. So without having looked into it too much, i hereby declare Luke the best user for this one.

Rogue

Agility and Intellect together are my jam on Rogues. The flex evasion/clue finder is an archetype very dear to me and this mask obviously goes straight into that sort of deck. I can actually see running out of offerings on this one regularly as it’s not quite as easy to trigger as Wolf Mask is. But as before, for a mask that gives intellect that is perfectly fine in my opinion. As with all masks, you get your initial 2 offerings which are already giving you a very decent amount of value. And then you gain a bunch more over the turns. Notably, the trigger is a bit weird. I would have expected an evasion based trigger, but actually this triggers on leaving the location. That means you don’t actually have to evade, just strolling by a location where another investigator has something engaged or where an Aloof enemy hangs around is going to give you uses. On the flipside, evading an enemy that is engaged with you is not enough, you also need to leave the location if you want the offering.
This will be a huge card for Wendy, Wini, Trish and everyone else who plays a similar evade/clue game. There’s a lot of those, actually.
Sadly not playable in Rita though, because Rita doesn’t get nice things 😀

Mystic

I already had the Masks pegged as something that could pull Amina out of her ditch of mediocrity but i didn’t expect there to be a mask that was actually tailored to her. Seems unnecessary since she already has access to all five? I like that this one boosts fight instead of the usual intellect that we see on mystic statboosters all the time. That opens up some opportunities to capitalize on a middling fight value which is something that a surprising amount of Mystics have – and in the past have struggled to make proper use out of aside from occasionally swinging an Enchanted Blade around.
So, being an obvious plant aside (although i would still argue Wolf vs Cat for a fighting Amina), this still seems plenty good in other decks. It counts any card that gets doomed, which includes encounter cards like cultists or even the agenda. A slotless card that costs 1 and gives you 2 statboosts, then another 2 here and there because the new agenda just got its first doom or because a cultist showed up is actually still really, really good. Add Arcane Initiate to your deck to squeeze another trigger or two out of the mask and you are getting a lot of value here without even trying too hard.
While this is heavily Amina coded, I do see the best use for this mask on Mystics that care about both willpower and fight, so basically the classic Enchanted Blade candidates: Akachi, Dexter and Diana. Diana can again use the Wolf Mask and depending on how her priorities lie that might be an alternative. Dexter is unlikely to be interested in the rogue mask, so he defaults to this one. Cat Mask is the only mask available to Akachi.

Survivor

Right, because Darrell and the whole archetype associated with him wasn’t overpowered enough. And I suppose Old Keyring(3) not working on shroud 3 locations was just too much of a limitation, thank god that got fixed. That was sarcasm. Ugh, this card makes me recoil because i just despise that whole difficulty zero archetype so much.
My own misgivings aside, this is obviously a very good card. Cheap, relevant bonus, works through the whole turn, can be used on other investigators, stacks with anything else going on. It’s level zero. No hand slot. It’s an item that discards itself when empty for easy recursion. Makes the primary survivor recursion engine easier to trigger in the first place. Despite looking super innocent like it’s just a mini-Flashlight, everything about this card is pushed and there is little to no opportunity cost to it beyond the deck slot.
It’s a very very powerful card. I am sure this is just perfectly fair when used in Wilson, Kymani, Silas or whoever… and using it in conjunction with something like Lola Santiago even sounds very interesting.
It’s just the way that it fits into stuff that is already overtuned to eleven and turns it up further to twelve that makes me roll my eyes. For what it’s worth, Keyring(3) is the problem, not Matchbox – and i am aware that I am currently going off on a card that probably doesn’t deserve quite that amount of disdain from me.
So, in conclusion: Good to great card when played in normal decks. Looking forward to explore what it can do for investigators like Tommy that just want to pick up a clue or three on the side, maybe combo it with Look What I Found one or two times per game. I’ll just ignore that its another cog in the “pick up eight testless clues per turn, every turn” machine for my own sanity’s sake.

Weakness

And here’s our first weakness for this expansion and it is … not as bad as it looks at first glance? When it enters play it will take up an accessory slot which potentially sucks if it kicks out one of your assets. But on the other hand that means you could (almost) neutralize it with 3XP for a Relic Hunter. It will still take away a point of sanity in that case, but that would be fine for most investigators. Sure, someone like Roland will not like that at all, but he’s going to struggle with any sort of mental trauma anyways.
You also get the option to reshuffle it for 1 horror. That means you can keep your critical asset around if you’d otherwise would have to discard it, but also that you might end up losing another draw to it later on.
There are a couple worst case scenarios to Silver Moth, but the high degree of player choice attached allows you to always go for the case that is least dangerous for you right now.
I think this weakness is overall fairly mild. A point of horror here and there, alternatively the equivalent to a point of trauma for a couple turns until you discard it through its ability. That’s perfectly in line with other weaknesses in the RBW pool. Sure, it’s no wet blanket like Nihilism, but that’s a good thing.

One Reply to “Hemlock Vale Spoiler Roundup #11”

  1. The Cat Mask makes me orgasm.
    I’m currently playing a True Magick + Blood Pact + Sin Eater Dexter, and the Cat Mask is the perfect combo piece that I wouldn’t dare dream of. It even recharges not once, but twice per turn, giving a whooping 4 instances of +2 WP!
    See you later Holy Rosary, you have served your purpose.

Leave a Reply