Inexorable Fate

Set Size6
Number of unique Cards2
RoleDoom, Damage, Horror
Threat LevelMid to High, scaling with player count
# of scenarios5
VariantsUnspeakable Fate
Appears in: At Death’s Doorstep, The Secret Name, The Wages of Sin, Union and Disillusion, Before the Black Throne

My take on this set: This is a weird one. Clearly it is meant to be a very iconic set for the Circle Undone, both thematically and in terms of gameplay mechanics. It’s also the set that is used the most. Representing the theme of destiny and fate waiting for everyone that is present throughout most of the campaign, these cards act like an alternative timer for the players, similar to Beyond the Veil in Dunwich. However, there are two things that hold this set back from being as remarkable as Dunwich’s Sorcery set. One, the set scales way too much depending on the number of players. If you are playing TCU with one or two investigators, these cards are barely doing their thing while a full party of four can get barraged with them. This is a problem the set shares with the Agents of Azathoth set. Two, some of the other encounter sets that are frequently paired with Inexorable Fate have considerable anti-synergy with it. The sets related to the witches and their coven have discarding cards from the encounter deck as one of their themes, which will often dump cards from this set where they can’t be drawn again until the deck reshuffles. As a result, a lot of variance is introduced to how often people draw these cards, compounding with the player count scaling to a point where these cards range anywhere from “complete freebies” to “horribly frustrating”. Not a great place to be.
Final verdict: A good effort and some interesting mechanics, but as a whole this set fails at being the mechanical centerpiece that it could’ve been.

Number in the encounter deck: 3

What it does: When the first Fate of All Fools is drawn for this game, it is put into that players threat area. Should a copy of Fate of All Fools already be in play, the player has to choose instead: Either a doom is added to the Fate in play or the investigator controlling it has to take 2 direct damage.

My take: Drawing this card for the first time is a freebie, but every further copy after that asks to make a difficult choice. The first instinct is taking the damage whenever possible because adding doom affects everyone. However, since it’s explicitly direct damage, many of the common ways to mitigate that damage are disabled, so there is certainly a limit to how much damage a player can allow themselves. This card scales very hard with the number of investigators in play, because naturally drawing more encounter cards leads to drawing more of these, thus piling more damage onto that one player no matter who actually ended up drawing the extra copies.

Threat level: Mid to High, scaling with number of players. At low player counts, you may not even see all three of these, however with a full party it is entirely possible to go through the encounter deck completely and get swamped by drawing these over and over.

Dealing with it: As the names of the cards indicate, the Fate of All Fools can be completely shut off with Alter Fate. Holding Alter Fate, you can just dump doom on the treachery only to discard it when it becomes a problem. That way, the one player card can blank multiple encounter cards.
If players have a way to heal damage, that can also be a good way to mitigate the impact of this treachery.

Number in the encounter deck: 3

What it does: If the player does not pass a difficult willpower test, Terror in the Night is put into play next to the agenda. Once three copies of this card are put into play this way, they all are discarded and each player suffers 3 points of horror.
Terror in the Night gains surge if the player fails his willpower test by three or more.

My take: There is a lot of assembly required for this effect to come together. First the cards need to be drawn, then the tests all need to fail. So in practice the effect doesn’t happen all that often, leaving the players with some turns where they get a lucky break – at least as long as they do not completely fail the test and have to surge into the next card.
If the effect does fire, it looks fairly severe at first glance. But considering that it took three encounter cards to get there, it’s not *that* bad.
Personally, i always get a chuckle out of discarding this card for Coven Initiate or Centuries of Secrets. That seems to happen a whole lot, often enough that i can’t really be afraid of this card.

Threat level: Low to Medium, scaling with number of players. At low player counts, this doesn’t really fire. At high player counts, the chances go up but since you need to only stop one of these from getting into play, it still is very manageable.

Dealing with it: Preventing the card from surging should be the first priority when drawing it. That way, even if the effect comes together, you did at least gain some tempo in the turns where nothing immediately happened to you.
To stop the horror from being dealt to everyone, only one of these cards needs to be stopped, so you do have two cards that can be allowed to enter play. For that reason, overcommitting Willpower icons to one of these or just playing a cancel card will blank not only that one card, but also further copies – at least until the encounter deck reshuffles.
Again, Alter Fate can do some real work here.

Return to Circle Undone: Unspeakable Fate

My take on this set: This replacement set is just as remarkably weird as the original one. Fate of all Fools got directly replaced by a card that has very similar templating… and even shares the same name, a first among replacement sets so far.
The other card, Unavoidable Demise, is completely new and sports some unique mechanics that let it escalate even if the test on it succeeds. The replacement fixes the dependency on drawing the full set to do its thing and meanwhile takes over the damage dealing capacities that was on Fate of All Fools before.
I like this replacement set. As someone that only plays two-handed, the switch of Terror in the Night for Unavoidable Demise is a very good one for me. I don’t particularly care much about the chance from one Fate of All Fools to another. But hey, maybe it could be cool to just drop both Terror and Demise and instead use all six copies of Fate some time…

Number in the encounter deck: 3

What it does: When Fate of All Fools is drawn with no others in the game, it is put into that players threat area. Should a copy of Fate of All Fools already be in play, the player has to instead draw the next encounter card without being able to cancel it. That encounter card also gains Peril and no cards can be committed to skill tests while it resolves.

My take: Uh, this is a weird one. Starting by the fact that it has the same name as the card it replaces and ending with its very unique effect, this is not quite like anything we’ve seen before. The name being the same was likely done so you can mix and match the original version with the new one and get some variance from that. Neat. Its actual effect is quite potent. A lot of encounter cards in this campaign (including Unavoidable Demise from this set) come with tests on them and not being able to commit cards can be a problem. Especially if it’s one of those where the effect scales with how many points you fail by, several of which were added by the Return To.
Is it more threatening than the choice of a doom versus 2 damage from the original Fate of all Fools? Probably not. But it’s close enough. I think this is at the very least a more interesting card, roughly on the same powerlevel. On the one hand, it does remove a piece of player choice. On the other hand it’s entirely possible that the next encounter card doesn’t benefit from the bonuses of this card’s effect at all, for example an enemy.

Threat level: Mid to High, with the same caveats as the original.

Dealing with it: The change in how it works removes the option of letting doom stack up on this card to basically Alter Fate all of them at once. Something worth mentioning is that while the encounter card it triggers is not able to be canceled, Fate of All Fools certainly is. Of course, this decision needs to be made before seeing what’s coming up.

Number in the encounter deck: 3

What it does: After failing an agility test, the investigator is dealt 2 damage. However, should they succeed the card is put into play next to the agenda deck. The difficulty and damage of the test scales with the number of Unavoidable Demise in play.

My take: Oh wow. This looks innocent at first, with just an easy agility test on it that can easily be passed. But as the card scales up the test gets harder and can deal up to 4 damage in one swoop. This is a very dangerous card and especially so for any investigator with low agility. With three copies of the card in the deck , that damage could stack up really fast.
Full groups that cycle through the deck multiple times can run into the situation where they draw a fully powered Demise multiple times, something that can easily knock someone out.
Something notable about this card is how it removes the complete dependency on pulling all three copies to do something that Terror in the Night has, thus making it much more relevant to small groups.

Threat level: High to Very High. A huge source of damage that can spiral out of control.

Dealing with it: In a perfect world, you could count on passing the agility test three times and be done with the card for the rest of the scenario. Of course, it doesn’t always work out like that and failing the tests becomes more likely as the damage also ramps up.

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