Other encounter sets in this scenario: Nightgaunts, Agents of Azathoth
If going against the lodge (1): Silver Twilight Lodge, Striking Fear, Midnight Masks Treacheries
If going against the coven (2): Anette’s Coven, City of Sins, Witchcraft
|Size of the Encounter Deck||35||33|
My take on this encounter deck: This encounter deck uses a sizeable stack of scenario specific cards that all support the central gimmick of the breach mechanic. Breaches replace the usual doom clock and in turn most of the encounter deck pushes towards keeping the players occupied with stopping locations from having an incursion. Only six enemies (plus the Piper of Azathoth) are in the deck, half of which are pushovers. For the other three enemies, the differences in how the two factions play out start becoming apparent. While the witches field three somewhat dangerous Hunter enemies that actively pursue the players, the lodge has three resilient enemies that remain stationary but threaten advancing the agenda if not dealt with. On the lodge side, the doom on the cultists threatens to stack up with the doom on locations from previous incursions to shorten the time until the agenda advances. The witches do not have this advantage, but make up for it with the powerful treacheries from the Witchcraft set and a more impactful group of scenario specific cards.
As far as stat tests go, willpower is by far the one most asked for, especially when facing the coven. If the group fights the cultists instead, intellect gains some importance to counteract the False Leads treachery. Speaking of treacheries from the Midnight Masks, Hunting Shadow is a particularly nasty choice here because there is plenty of damage going around and completely losing a clue undoes a lot of progress.
No matter the opposition, having an investigator with high will and/or intellect is crucial for this scenario to discard the otherwise crippling Primordial Gateway.
All things considered, this encounter deck is chock full of impactful cards with only few cards offering a bit of a breather. A worthy penultimate scenario that serves as a boss fight against the leader of whatever faction the group chose to oppose.
Cancel these: Primordial Gateway is a prime candidate for sure. When fighting the witches, Toil and Trouble is often also very bad and worth a cancel. On the lodge side, Frozen in Fear once more becomes an issue. With how much you are on the move in this one, getting stuck with that treachery can be a huge hindrance.
What it does: If there’s no breach on the location so far, Terror Unleashed will place one. Independent of whether a breach was placed or not, the player will also have to take damage and/or horror, with the total amount being set by the number of breaches and doom on the location.
My take: If you find yourself drawing this after just moving to a location about to have an incursion, this is some testless damage or horror, but at least you get to distribute it how you see fit. On an empty location it’s an extra breach to clear which shouldn’t be a large problem.
Threat level: Low. Investigators with low health and sanity could feel threatened by this, but on its own it’s one of the more tame draws from the encounter deck.
Dealing with it: You can mitigate the horror and damage using the usual ways. If on the brink of death and/or insanity, it could be worth ending your turn on a location without breaches to conserve your health and sanity, otherwise soaking the tokens and not getting another breach might be preferrable. The best of both worlds would obviously to draw it while on a location with exactly one breach, but that is a) hard to plan and b) not worth the effort to plan.
What it does: After a willpower test, Chaos Manifest opens up new breaches, depending on how well the player did at the test. For each point they failed by, a different random location gets a breach token added.
My take: All these tokens add up pretty fast and getting three out of one encounter card pull is a lot of stuff to deal with. Luckily the willpower test can usually be at least partially passed to reduce the impact.
Threat level: Mid. Every breach placed costs cards and/or actions, and Chaos Manifest threatens to place multiples.
Dealing with it: Depending on how the board currently looks, the willpower check on this card can either be something where you just see what happens or a high priority test. Especially with multiple locations around that are threatening an incursion, dumping extra icons into this test can be worth many, many actions saved.
What it does: Primordial Gateway attaches to a random location and threatens an immediate incursion there. Up to three breaches are placed on the location and the location abilities to clear those breaches are turned off. To regain access to them, the players will have to spend an action and pass an intellect or willpower test at difficulty 4. Passing that test will discard the treachery, but the breaches will of course stay and need to be removed seperately.
My take: No matter how well players were doing before, now there’s an emergency. The extra requirement to discard the treachery makes this extra hard to defuse, often putting the players at the mercy of where the next random breach opens in the Mythos phase. Treat this card as if it were Ancient Evils. Unless you are going against the Coven, it’s the closest equivalent in the encounter deck.
Threat level: Very High. This card leaves a lot of problems behind that will always require many actions, often spread over several turns, to counteract.
Dealing with it: Except for canceling it, there is not much that can be done to stop the primary effect (putting a location at the brink of incursion) from happening. Alter Fate can be used to circumvent the test to close the gateway, but that doesn’t seem worth it usually.
What it does: Witness of Chaos is only in the encounter deck when going up against Anette and her sisters. She is a Hunter enemy with four life and fight, so defeating her is not trivial. She does have only two agility, but she should be defeated rather sooner than later. This is because whenever she enters a location, no matter if it’s by spawning or as a result of Hunter, she will open a breach there. She spawns in the place with the fewest clues, so at least she won’t cause an incursion on entering play. Defeating her awards a victory point.
My take: This enemy needs to die. And quick. Defeating her already takes up a few actions and every breach she is allowed to drop only adds to that. Not counting the Piper, there are only six enemies in the encounter deck, this is the one to focus on.
Threat level: High. Kill on sight.
Dealing with it: You’ll usually not want to wait for the Witness to come to you and instead seek her out right away. Especially if the group has a dedicated fighter. However, if the path the Witness would take is still somewhat free of breaches, then more immediate threats (like a location about to have an incursion) might take precedence.
What it does: Toil and Trouble has Peril, having the player who drew it make a choice between two options: Either they resolve the topmost Power treachery in the encounter pile again. Or they immediately resolve an incursion at their location. This card is only in the encounter deck with Anette as the Big Bad.
My take: This is the actual closest card to Ancient Evils that you can get in this scenario. It will be rare that you’ll want to pick the incursion option here, and luckily there are at least a few Power treachery cards in the deck that can make Toil and Trouble only half-bad. But if you find yourself having to pick between resolving Primordial Gateway and resolving an incursion, things can start to look very grim.
Threat level: Mid to High. The power of this card is very dependent on the Power card that it would recur.
Dealing with it: This scenario has three different Power cards: Chaos Manifest, Primordial Gateway and Daemonic Piping. All of them will usually be preferable to having an incursion, but Piping can be a special case. Especially if it would be the third copy and thus spawn the Piper of Azathoth, it can be beneficial to just accept the incursion and delay the Piper until the next reshuffle.
Another factor is how many breaches your current location is carrying. If it is already at three breaches, then those would at least be removed by the incursion. Resolving a Chaos Manifest could easily tip your location over as well, so unless you are very close to losing to doom just picking that incursion might be the better deal.
What it does: If fighting against the lodge, two copies of the Lodge Enforcer are shuffled into the encounter deck. Enforcers mirror the Witness of Chaos: Instead of spawning at the location with the fewest clues and hunting the players, they spawn at the location with the most clues and guard it. They are slightly easier to fight, having only three strength instead of four, but any missteps are punished by Retaliate. The Enforcer blanks the text box of the location it occupies, stopping players from removing the breaches there. Defeating them awards a victory point.
My take: Enforcers act as a variant on the Primordial Gateway, presenting the players with another thing to pass before they can keep a location from heading towards an incursion. Unlike Gateway, they do not create breaches themselves. So as long as there are no current hot spots on the board, they can end up being less of an immediate concern. For that reason, i would say that they are a bit less troublesome than their witch counterpart which is just always a priority.
Threat level: Mid to High. Lodge Enforcer makes bad situations worse, but if things are under control, he doesn’t create a bad situation on his own.
Dealing with it: Defeating him should not be terribly difficult, but since it takes actions to get to his location and he likely won’t go down in one hit, it may take more than a turn. In emergencies that can be a problem, so the player who is engaged with Enforcer might consider taking an attack of opportunity to move to a connecting location, somewhere the Enforcer’s ability to blank a location is less relevant. The other players can then immediately start defusing the original location again.
What it does: Secrets of the Beyond turns all doom on a cultist into breaches on that enemy’s location. If there is no doom to convert, the treachery surges.
My take: This card seems a bit toothless to me, especially when compared to the witches counterpart, Toil and Trouble. Only four cultists with doom are in the encounter deck, three of which carry only one doom. Only the Keeper of Secrets has the potential to place multiple breaches with this card, but Keeper is already a priority because he directly threatens the agenda doom threshold.
Threat level: Low. In all but very few circumstances, this will either surge or just place down a single breach.
Dealing with it: Keeper of Secrets should already be a priority, Secrets of the Beyond is just another reason to get it off the board as soon as possible. Beyond that, Secrets just isn’t much to worry about.
Return to Clutches of Chaos
My take on the modified scenario: The changes to this scenario are minor. Two encounter sets are swapped out, Witchcraft and City of Sins. Both of those are only used when going against Anette, so if you are facing Carl instead your encounter deck actually stays like in the base scenario.
That being said, there is a full new set of six locations added by the Return, further increasing the variance of the random location setup. They aren’t more difficult than the base versions, they are just more variety which i certainly do appreciate.
Clutches has always been a scenario i personally enjoyed a lot and having more variety for it is exactly what i wanted. While the lack of new stuff for the encounter deck is a bit of a let down at first glance, it has already been chock full of high impact cards – not changing too much about it might just be for the better.
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