Into the Maelstrom

Other encounter sets in this scenario: Ancient Evils, Agents of Hydra, Creatures of the Deep, Shattered Memories, Syzygy

Size of the Encounter Deck35
# Enemies10
# Willpower9
# Agility0
# Doom11
# Damage5
# Horror4
Note: These numbers include the Aquatic Abomination and the Lloigor, both of which are only shuffled into the encounter deck once the first agenda flips.

My take on this encounter deck: After Lair of Dagon having only smaller enemies, the Innsmouth finale throws some big ones at the players. Between the Abomination, the Deep One Bull and the Lloigor, there is plenty of huge targets for Guardians that might be itching for a fight. And that’s not counting the two Old Ones, which might come into play near the end as well. One interesting thing to note about the previously mentioned three big enemies: None of them is Elite, so your Waylays and Disks of Itzamnas can have a field day.
Aside from that, there’s not too much to the scenario, though. You waltz through a net of locations, grab clues and aim to spend them before the time runs out. Nothing you haven’t already seen earlier in the campaign. If you made it to here, it’s unlikely that Into the Maelstrom is going to give you much trouble.
Cancel these: Ancient Evils, Memory of Oblivion. The challenges set forth by the scenario aren’t too difficult, so it all comes down to passing them in time. Ancient Evils takes away this time, so get rid of it. Especially if you want to finish the scenario before waking up Hydra and Dagon. Memory of Oblivion is notable for being able to completely shred your hand should you pull a nasty modifier. If you removed the Elder Things from the bag by now, Memory of Oblivion gets a bit easier to handle, so it becomes less of a priority. But you’d probably not want to risk having to discard your cancels to it anyways, so just knock that treachery into its discard.

Number in the encounter deck: 1

What it does: Aquatic Abomination is a large enemy with lots of health and high combat. It also deals 2 damage and horror with each attack. All of this makes it tough to defeat in a fight, however it has low agility which can be exploited to keep it exhausted. The abomination is a Hunter and able to move from any fully flooded locations to another in one step. After moving, it can not attack in that same phase.

My take: That’s a big one. The abomination’s special Hunter ability makes sure that evading it is never something that keeps the thing out of your hair forever. At the same time, fighting it is difficult and time consuming. While Dagon and Hydra are fairly passive for most of the scenario, this big ugly monster makes sure that you have to face at least one large boss monster.

Threat level: High to Very high. A high priority threat that needs dealing with and that is going to take away a lot of actions from you.

Dealing with it: How to best deal with this thing will depend a lot on how early you draw it. Killing it would require having someone who can reliably hit a 5 combat enemy and would take a bunch of actions. On the other hand, having it engage you over and over would cost an action every two turns as well.
If you draw it late enough and you already unflooded several locations, the priority of the enemy goes down a bit. It’s still a big enemy, but most of its threat comes from the ability to straight up move into flooded locations. Note that its special movement is only possible when it also starts in a fully flooded location. So if you can make it move into more shallow waters and then evade it, that can buy you more time before having to face it again.
It should also be noted that the abomination is not an Elite enemy. That makes it one of the best targets in the game for Waylay, a card that gets a lot of mileage throughout the campaign anyways.
Number in the encounter deck: 2

What it does: The Brood spawns at either the Gateway or the Lair of Dagon and starts hunting from there. Their attack is rather weak, dealing only a single point of damage. However, on engaging the player has to either put a doom on Dagon (getting him closer to waking up) or suffer a bonus attack from Dagon. At 4 health, the Dagon’s Brood can take a hit or two.

My take: Depending on the player count, the Gateway and the Lair are 3 or 4 movements away from each other. So typically the enemy will spawn 1 or 2 movements away from a player. Ultimately, these aren’t too difficult to take out, due to their low combat value. However, their engagement effect either brings Dagon closer to awakening or deals 2 damage and a horror from Dagon’s attack. That’s quite a lot. While Dagon is still asleep, there’s no choice here and you have to take the doom. So that’s an issue for sure.

Threat level: High. Not all that dangerous, but 4 health means they at least take up some time. But its real strength comes from the extra doom that works towards having the Old Ones fully get into play earlier.

Dealing with it: Clearly, these need to be killed as the board is not big enough to leave them behind after evading them and you really don’t want to trigger the engagement effect multiple times. If Dagon is already awake, damaging the Old One will mirror that damage to its Broods, which is certainly convenient and one of the few ways to not spend much time on them.

Number in the encounter deck: 2

What it does: Hydra’s Brood is very similar to Dagon’s Brood in how it operates. It has one less stamina, which is very relevant but at least partially compensates this with a higher combat value. Like the other Brood, this one spawns either at the Gateway or at the Lair of its Old One. It also has the same engagement ability. Hydra’s Brood deals horror on attack instead of damage.

My take: The things said about Dagon’s Brood also hold true for Hydra’s. They are easier to kill, at 3 health they can often be taken out with one hit and the difference between 1 and 3 combat isn’t terribly relevant to any enemy handler during a campaign finale.

Threat level: High. The Dagon’s Brood is already not that much of a threat in a fight, but since Hydra’s Brood is also easier to take out it usually won’t even take away too many actions. Still, that engagement ability makes it just as dangerous

Dealing with it: Everything said before is true here as well. Additionally, 3 health instead of 4 puts it in range to die to things like Dynamite Blast or Marksmanship which can kill it before you have to ever engage it. With Dagon’s Brood, pulling that off is much more difficult.

Number in the encounter deck: 3

What it does: The investigator (and only they… because of Peril) has to either increase the flood level of their location or discard assets with a total cost of at least the shroud value.

My take: Most of the time you’ll want to increase the flood level for this instead of losing your assets. But of course that is only going to be possible as long as the location isn’t fully flooded yet. Since the deck is fairly big, these three cards and the two Tidal Alignments are not a huge driver for the actual flooding. They are more relevant as a card that punishes players for sticking around in already flooded locations. Every increase in flood level means one more level to clear from a location to win the scenario, though. So that will have to be weighed against losing your assets.

Threat level: Mid. A genuinely tough decision and the three copies stack with each other remarkably well.

Dealing with it: The amount of work represented by having to lower another flood level for the scenario scales with player count (1 damage to an Old One or 1 clue per player), so the more players are in the group, the more it becomes attractive to feed assets into this. Since you can’t just feed any 1 cost asset into this, that just might not always be an option, though. Note that drawing these early can cost you your diving suit!

Number in the encounter deck: 2

What it does: After failing a Willpower test, the investigator has to either place a doom on the agenda (possibly advancing it) or suffer an attack from the nearest Old One. The difficulty for this test starts out low, but is increased for each sanctum location that already has a key on it.

My take: Between Ancient Evils, Syzygy, the Broods and this card, there is no shortage of doom accelerants in this scenario. Whenever possible, taking more doom should be avoided and this card does at least give you a choice. Taking an attack from one of the old ones will deal 3 combined horror and damage, so that’s certainly not nothing. But this is the final scenario of a campaign that has been battering players with horror and damage from all kinds of sources, so hopefully the players are prepared for this sort of thing by now.

Threat level: Mid to High. Another all around bad choice.

Dealing with it: Thankfully there are only two of these cards in the encounter deck and only few other sources of damage and horror. That means that taking the extra attack should almost always be preferable to the doom token which stacks up with a lot more other cards here. If you draw this before the Ancient Ones awaken, this won’t offer a choice, but hopefully the willpower test isn’t too bad at that point either.
Number in the encounter deck: 2

What it does: Each investigator at flooded locations is dealt one horror. For investigators at fully flooded locations, this horror is direct and can not be prevented. If nobody is a valid target, Thalassophobia surges.

My take: Not a particular dangerous card. Compared to what else the deck has in store, a single point of horror should usually come off as a relief.

Threat level: Low.

Dealing with it: Just don’t get caught on your last point of sanity and you will be fine.

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