This is an overview of the player cards in the Innsmouth Conspiracy Investigator expansion. I will be looking at the investigators first, then go over the rest grouped by class. For most cards I will try to keep it short and to the point to not stretch this article more than necessary.
For every group of cards I will nominate the three most useful and the three least useful cards. This isn’t necessarily about raw power, but more about how good they are at fueling a lot of your decks.
Finally, I will give my opinion on how well this selection of player cards stands on its own, answering if it’s worthwhile to get as a first expansion next to the core set and if this expansion + Core is enough to support the investigators contained in this expansion.
These articles do ignore the optional list of taboos. This is because they are mostly aimed at new players trying to figure out which investigator expansion to get next and taboo isn’t a thing that I want to weigh them down with. It’d also make things unnecessary complicated.
The ranking I use for cards is Bad < Okay < Good < Excellent < Staple with each of those spanning quite a range. I use something like “Okay to Good” or “Good to Okay” when I want to specify whether it’s on the upper or lower range of that rank. Please don’t take these rankings too seriously and more as a guideline, cards need to be evaluated in context and compressing these contexts down into just one word is really unprecise. I still find it useful for this overview as a shortcut to put the cards into relation quickly.
The Innsmouth Conspiracy has one investigator per class. Three of them follow the 5/2 mainclass/subclass template introduced by the Core Set:
Sister Mary is Guardian/Mystic and showcases the support side of Guardian. She passively adds bless tokens to the chaos bag, improving everyone’s chance to pass tests and/or fueling bless synergies. While her stat line doesn’t make her a great fighter from the beginning, she can certainly be built into one with the tools from this expansion.
Trish Scarborough is the Rogue/Seeker and able to dance circles around enemies while picking their location clean from clues. She gets powerful bonuses to evasion and clueing while enemies are around, giving her a clear role that she’s able to fulfill in a very competent manner.
Dexter Drake is Mystic/Rogue and the solution for anyone who noticed that Mystic cards tend to be good but also very expensive. Not only does Dexter have access to many of the great resource cards that Rogue has, but he also has a ability to discard assets from play to put others into play, saving resources and actions in the process.
The other two investigators have deckbuilding around the two primary category of skills, Innate and Practiced:
Amanda Sharpe is a mainclass Seeker that also gets to play Practiced skills from other classes of up to level 3. She has a very low stat line by default, but gets to apply a skill per turn to all of her tests, virtually shifting around her capabilities from turn to turn. Due to Practiced skills being a diverse bunch of cards, Amanda herself can go into various directions with her deckbuilding, from classic clue seeker to an all-out fighter that puts some Guardians to shame.
Silas Marsh is the survivor of the group and he gets to play any Innate skill card up to level 2 in addition to the usual red cards. His stats are tilted towards the two physical ones, making him a great enemy handler that can meet foes with either evasion or combat, depending on the situation. His investigator ability lets him return a committed skill back to his hand after seeing the chaos token for the test. This can save skills from the tentacle, pull them back when not needed or be used for cards that do something on committing.
Blessed Blade: Okay. There are ways to make this weapon do some neat things, but it’s for the most part just a very inconsistent weapon that needs work just to get on a level with Machete.
Blessing of Isis(3): Excellent. Investigators with a good Elder Sign effect can use this to trigger that effect very often, for sometimes spectacular effect.
Book of Psalms: Good. A solid source of bless tokens, but it’s a slow and somewhat clunky card that is usually not what you want in your handslots.
Enchanted Armor(2): Okay. Not really worth the effort. Can potentially take a couple of hits, but it’s unreliable unless you get up to shenanigans.
Holy Rosary(2): Excellent. With their generally high base willpower, guardians are well suited to use this. How useful it is varies with the campaign, but this is a great source of blesses in most of them.
Holy Spear(5): Excellent. The pinnacle weapon for the bless build, this is a nice and consistent source of 3 damage attacks.
Keen Eye: Bad. Very resource intensive, Guardian just doesn’t have the cash to make this card tick.
Nephthys(4): Good to Excellent. A great way to get even more mileage out of your blesses that goes in tandem with whatever you are using them for primarily.
Riot Whistle: Okay. Does a fine job for guardians in big multiplayer groups that expect to often pull enemies from their teammates. Also counters Aloof. It’s a very narrow card however and the accessory slot usually can do better.
Rite of Sanctification: Excellent. Turns blesses into economy that can even be shared with others. Very useful.
Sacred Covenant(2): Excellent to Staple. If anyone in your team is handling blesses (and you can’t take the Ancient Covenant) you will want this as it makes sure blesses don’t get wasted on tests that would’ve already passed without them.
Shield of Faith(2): Good to Excellent. This can save you a lot of damage and horror. Since it can cancel attacks of opportunity, it also makes you more flexible in how to take your turns.
Enchant Weapon(3): Staple. Adding an extra damage to your weapon is fantastic and so is the extra skill value from the willpower. A bit expensive, but utterly worth it.
Hallow(3): Bad. Too difficult to set up to be worth the price of entry. Also, I’d honestly rather keep the bless tokens in the bag to enhance my odds rather than spend them this way.
Hand of Fate: Okay. 3 resources is a lot for a Dodge, but I have played this before and it did its job.
Radiant Smite(1): Excellent. A fight event that can deal up to 4 damage in one blow is simply efficient. Even if you remove the blesses afterwards instead of returning them to the bag, this is worth it.
Righteous Hunt(1): Good. You gain a lot here for just a single resource. This is playable even when you don’t care about the bless tokens.
Most useful: Enchant Weapon, Holy Rosary(2), Sacred Covenant
Least useful: Keen Eye, Enchanted Armor, Hallow
Verdict: Guardian in Innsmouth is all about the Bless mechanic. It can add its own blesses to the bag, but with the exception of the upgraded Rosary and Righteous Hunt the blue cards that do so are all a bit jank in their own way. Guardian does have great ways of using the blesses once they are there, turning them into resources, attack shields or damage.
Aside from the Bless stuff, Guardian has only one card that is really worth special notice, but that one is one hell of a card: Enchant Weapon can go on any weapon, but is of course best on a melee weapon without charges so the Guardian can get its bonus over and over. This seriously increases the value that Guardian can get out one-handed weapons in particular and is a very noticeable power spike for their fighting capabilities.
The blue investigator for this box is Mary, who leans more towards the support side and is perfectly set up to make the most out of the cards that are fueled by blesses. Her access to level 2 Mystic gives her the ability to go further into the supporting direction with cancels and the like or to dip her toes into clue grabbing through Mystic spells that leverage her willpower. She is well supported with this box. The Mystic side of Innsmouth isn’t great for her, but the Guardian side makes up for it.
Overall this is a good haul of cards for Guardian, but most cards require a big commitment into blesses and aren’t universally good.
Cryptic Grimoire: Rather difficult to translate as you will have to add the final couple curses before anyone gets opportunity to draw them from the bag again. The two upgrades are very different:
CG – Elder Herald(4): Good. This is the anchor for an archetype but requires quite a lot of devotion to the cause. Not only do you need to provide curse tokens and then also draw them yourself, but you also need to load up on Insight events to make use of the payoff. That payoff is pretty great, but it’s a lot of work to get there.
CG – Elder Guardian(4): Okay to Bad. The effect is obviously powerful, but getting there is even more work than with the Elder Herald. Providing the bag with the curses isn’t even the issue, it’s having to draw 5 of them before this even does something for the first time. Not worth the effort.
Ancestral Knowledge(3Ex): Staple. Seeker has excellent skills, so having to play 10 of them isn’t an issue at all. This equals to 5 cards drawn extra over the first turns and kickstarts your early investigations (Deduction…), card selection (Eureka…) or both (Perception). Well worth the 6XP.
Ariadne’s Twine(3): Excellent. A great engine card that can continuously fuel your Secret powered assets. Many of those are quite powerful, and Twine can make them last as long as you are willing to keep spending resources.
Blasphemous Covenant(2): Excellent. Disarms curses for you, turning them into something good. Of course you can still wipe out by drawing multiples, but if you loaded up the bag with curses this shifts the odds in your favor massively. This does return the curse to the bag afterwards, but even that can be an advantage in the right deck.
Cryptographic Cipher: Okay. As long as you crushing those intellect tests anyways, this can allow you to investigate without using an action. However, I find this to mostly be inferior to other investigation tools and would rather have something that helps me with the difficult locations, even if it’s “just” a Flashlight.
Eldritch Sophist: Good. Quite expensive, but the ability is very good. Can be a used as a placeholder until you get Ariadne’s Twine or on his own merits.
Guided by the Unseen(3): Excellent to Staple. Note that this card has an erratum, limiting it to once per test. This is a really good card. Since you only need to spend a secret after looking at the top of your (or their) deck, you can make sure that you don’t waste any secrets on commiting random cards. It’s also not limited to skills, so this can find your cards with good icons on them as well.
Hyperawareness(4): Good. It can do a fine job as an investigation tool that doesn’t take up an equipment slot that also provides the means for emergency evades. I enjoy this cycle of level 4 talents, but Hyperawareness isn’t really among the ones i play often.
Deep Knowledge: Excellent to Staple. Two curses are a small price to pay for a quick card injection. The ability to use it on other investigators is great on this one as well.
Gaze of Ouraxsh(2): Good to Excellent. You just need a single curse(or tentacle) among the 7 tokens to make this a perfectly reasonable card. It scales much higher of course and while you likely won’t be living the 8 damage dream, this (in the right deck) routinely deals 3 or 4 damage, obviously a great effect for just 2 resources.
Stirring Up Trouble(1): Excellent to Staple. Two “free” clues are great. Even if the curses come back to haunt you later, you make up enough tempo when playing this that you can let the consequences be an issue for future you. If you actively want to seed the bag with curses, this also lets you get a whole lot all at once.
The Stygian Eye(3): Good. Thanks to the triple willpower icons, this isn’t even wasted if you are currently not in the situation to profit off of it. You don’t need to have a completely full bag either, the effect is powerful enough that paying 2 or 3 for it isn’t unreasonable.
The Truth Beckons: Okay. The effect isn’t bad, but the card is just too narrow with too many conditionals.
Fey(1): Excellent. Triple willpower on a skill is worth it before even considering the recursion potential. Don’t plan on recurring this thing, you can just run it for encounter protection even if there aren’t any curse tokens anywhere.
Plan of Action: Bad to Okay. A rather bad card that can only make the cut if you are hungry for more Practiced cards. This is a very limited card, basically an Unexpected Courage you have to jump through hoops for.
Most useful: Ancestral Knowledge, Stirring Up Trouble, Deep Knowledge
Least useful: Plan of Action, The Truth Beckons, Cryptographic Cypher
Verdict: The Seeker cards have much more general appeal. They are on the Curse side of the Bless/Curse divide and, in typical Seeker fashion, gain excellent value out of throwing a couple of them into the bag. Both Stirring Up Trouble and Deep Knowledge are great cards, even if the curses are something you just live with afterwards and don’t exploit in any special way. But if you want to, then Gaze of Ouraxsh is right there and can be a great one-off to kill a pesky enemy. Or two.
With Sophist and Ariadne’s Twine, this set gives two key pieces for a Secrets archetype that keeps refilling one or two particularly strong assets with uses. Of course it also provides a good target for those secrets in Guided by the Unseen, a card that helps Seeker get more out of its already impressive arsenal of skills with clue gathering or card draw attached. Those same skills are further catered to with Ancestral Knowledge, a Permanent that effectively draws 5 free cards and frontloads those great skill cards so you can be sure to get a couple great first turns.
Their researchable asset for this cycle is the Cryptic Grimoire. It’s hard to translate and the upgrade you get for it is in one case powerful but requires even more specialization. And the other is just not all that good. The first one can be its own decktype if you devote yourself into it, but i wouldn’t call it good in the usual sense. It really goes into exactly that one deck and nowhere else.
Innsmouth’s Seeker, Amanda, is special among her Seeker peers in that she is very, very flexible. Her abilities wax and wane depending on the skill she uses for that turn and since she gets access to all Practiced skills, that can be anything from Seeker classics like Deduction to heavy fight cards like Vicious Blow. The list of available Practiced cards she can get in addition to the usual Seeker stuff isn’t terribly large with just Innsmouth+Core, which makes her stand on rather shaky ground on a starter collection like that. She can of course use any card for icons under her so if you take care to take cards with good icons she’ll be somewhat playable. But to be actually good and something special she really needs some additional cards from other expansions.
Conclusion: Good pool of cards, even without exploiting curse synergies. Amanda Sharpe’s deckbuilding isn’t able to be properly satisfied out of the box however, so if you want to play her the way she’s meant to be played you will need more cards from other sets.
.25 Automatic(0): Okay. Having to exhaust an enemy first before attacking it is inefficient. This partially is made up by the weapon itself being Fast, but this still ranks rather low.
.25 Automatic(2): Good to Excellent. This removes the inefficiency from the level zero and if you manage to get two of them into play you are even attacking twice for just one action. You do still have to take all of those tests, of course. But if you are proficient with both evading and fighting, this is pretty great.
Lucky Penny(2Ex): Okay to Good. A way to mitigate a bag full of curses, but an inconsistent one. Turning blesses into curses for a card is not particularly good either. If any of your cards trigger on revealing either a bless or a curse, the Lucky Penny wreaks havoc on their consistency.
Dark Ritual: Bad. Outside of being tech for a single scenario I don’t see any use for this card at all. For any other use this gets completely dunked on by Favor of the Moon.
Eye of the Djinn(2Ex): Excellent to Staple. This is great even without the token interactions. Getting to test anything at a high base value is super helpful. While it won’t work against treacheries during the Mythos phase, it can be used to discard something like a Frozen in Fear or similar. Or be used as an investigation tool. There’s a lot of great uses for it and the token interactions make it even better.
False Covenant(2): Good. Neuters the first curse per turn which is fine, but unlike the Seeker Covenant, this doesn’t turn curses into something that can actively benefit you.
Geas(2Ex): Good to Excellent. Geas does come with a significant drawback, but the payoff is often worth it. It can also be used to fill the bag with curses real quick if that’s what you want.
Hard Knocks(4): Good to Excellent. Both are very relevant stats and Rogue is the class that makes best use of the skill talents. That being said, Rogue can also usually afford using one of the lower level Hard Knocks and save some XP along the way.
Lucky Dice(3Ex): Okay. Way too expensive in terms of XP, but can be a way to quickly dump a lot of curses into the bag. It’s also fine for its primary job of retaking tests, but become very unreliant for that very soon as the number of curses in the bag increases.
Obfuscation: Okay to Good. Nice for Trish in particular who has reasons for investigating while engaged, but not all that great in general. Rogues are generally pretty good at avoiding attacks of opportunity, so aside from Trish this is mostly a card for offclass rogues.
Priest of Two Faiths(1): Excellent. A good source of bless tokens and if you can make use of the curses as well, he’s even better.
Tristan Botley(2): Good. I’d only play him if I was willing to pay for him the regular way because the token based trigger never seems to work when you need it. With 2 flexible stat increases, he pulls his weight on the board for sure.
Breaking and Entering: Excellent. Leveraging your agility to find clues is very good and the free evade on top works great in many rogues. A super solid card that rarely disappoints.
Faustian Bargain: Staple. One of the best cards you could have in your starting hand and also fantastic later on. Five resources is a whole lot and the ability to spread them around is also very useful here. Two curses is a laughably small price to pay.
Riastrad(1): Excellent. Requires at least an okay fight stat to build on, but even just going from fight 3 to fight 6 and attacking for 4 damage is brutal. Another card that is well worth taking a few curses for.
Under Surveillance(1): Bad to Okay. Way too many things have to align for this to be worth it. That resource cost is also a massive drag.
Justify the Means(3): Good. The XP cost makes this less attractive, otherwise I’d play this a lot more. As a way to pass a crucial scenario test or get rid of a pesky treachery, this works well.
Skeptic(1): Bad. This is an awful way of trying to mitigate curses. It’s unreliable even with a full set of 10 curses in the bag. The whole issue with curses is how unpredictable they are, having a skill that is only good when you can predict them is just missing the point.
Most useful: Faustian Bargain, Eye of the Djinn, Riastrad
Least useful: Dark Ritual, Under Surveillance, Skeptic
Verdict: Very similar to Seeker in how it interacts with the Innsmouth token theme. Rogue also mostly deals in curses, adding them to the bag to fuel some powerful effects. Since this is not dependent on there already being some tokens in the bag beforehand, those cards are perfectly playable outside of curse synergies as well and Faustian Bargain is indeed maybe the best resource card that Rogue has at level zero (with only Lone Wolf being a contender for that honor). Riastrad is a powerful fight card that can act as a nice emergency button to press. And Justify The Means does at least bring something valuable to the table albeit at a rather unappealing XP cost. Aside from this, Rogue does dabble in blesses a bit as well. Priest of Two Faiths is a great way to initially throw a handful of blesses into the bag, ready to be then sealed for value on a Favor. Two Exceptionals, the Lucky Penny and the Eye of the Djinn have cross-synergies between both token types. As does Tristan Botley. Curiously the Eye is even useful without any tokens, making it one of the best green cards in the Innsmouth expansion.
Noteworthy cards outside of the token shenanigans are the upgraded .25 Auto which is a potent weapon for evade/fight hybrids like Skids or Wini and Breaking and Entering for combining investigation with evasion. In direct comparison, the Rogue additions here are about on par with what’s on display for Seeker.
Trish is the rogue of the set and she has some of the best deckbuilding possible, as her combination of Rogue and Seeker gives her access to the two classes with the most raw efficiency behind their cards. Trish’s deal is evading enemies and getting bonus clues while investigating with that enemy still in her location. Out of the cards here, Obfuscation and Breaking and Entering play into that and are thus both great for her. Since she can grab all of the cards from Seeker and Rogue that add curses, she can specialize in that as well and milk Gaze of Ouraxsh, Lucky Penny and Djinn’s Eye for all they are worth. Between Core and Innsmouth, Trish is already well supported.
All together a very good offering for Rogue.
Armageddon(0): Good. Ah, another full suite of spell assets. Those are easy enough to evaluate since they have plenty precedent. Compared to a basic Shrivelling this costs 1 more but has 1 fewer charge. It does however not have a drawback at all and has the potential to combo with curses for extra damage or charges. Level zero decks don’t have enough curse support yet to make Armageddon work very well so you’ll likely just take this to be able to upgrade into the level 4 cheaper. Otherwise Shrivelling (or Azure Flame) are likely going to be better even with some mild curse support.
Armageddon(4): Excellent. Once you do have that steady curse support, Armageddon can deal huge chunks of damage and refill itself quite well. (Obviously the ratings for all these spells apply only to a curse context, without it they are pretty much unplayable.)
Abyssal Tome(2): Okay to Good. A very interesting weapon-like card that is of special interest to seekers as a repeatable way to attacking with their intellect. Has to ramp up in damage and handles doom, so those are of course massive considerations that make this card risky and unwieldy.
Eye of Chaos(0): Also costs one more than the standard alternatives, but with the same number of charges. This actually works fine at level zero. No drawback, might pick up an extra clue if you are lucky… those are worth an extra resource.
Eye of Chaos(4): Staple. In a proper curse deck this card is completely nuts and able to pick up clues left and right (quite literally). Getting three clues is easy and four happens often enough to matter. And should you not need them because there are none in range, you can always put some more charges down to keep going. This card is incredibly powerful and easily the best curse payoff in the set.
Blood Pact: Okay. Actually better than the level 3 version with Permanent from Dunwich, because this is a card that you actually want to be able to get rid of.
Shroud of Shadows(0): Good to Excellent. The closest comparison is Forgotten Age’s Mists of R’lyeh and like with Armageddon earlier we see an extra resource cost with one fewer charges here. The ability to move enemies is actually really neat and the occasional curse will make the user gain distance from whatever they evaded. Pretty nice.
Shroud of Shadows(4): Good to Excellent. The cumulative effect from multiple curse tokens isn’t as strong here as it is on the other two curse spell assets. Still, that just means that you can use those curses to refill the charges often and go all-in on evasion through willpower.
Curse of Aeons(3): Bad. One of the few actual coasters in this game, this does very little very infrequently.
Flute of the Outer Gods(4Ex): Bad. Can deal damage to an enemy or move it which sounds good enough. But for each charge you want you need to seal one curse and pay a resource. But first you need to buy the card for 8XP. Just all-around horribly overcosted.
Ikiaq(3): Excellent. If you ignore most of her text, she’s a 4-soak ally with two excellent stat boosts. That’s already very good by itself and she’d make it into decks just on that. She further allows sacrificing those stat boosts to cancel weaknesses, which is an (almost) unique effect. A very powerful card.
Paradoxical Covenant(2): Okay to Good. Among the Covenants this is both the weirdest one and the one that is the most difficult to use. The payoff is automatic successes on tap, which is nuts. But the way there is rough.
Sword Cane: Good to Excellent. Anything that lets mystics use their willpower for other stuff is worth a look and this is both cheap and doesn’t use charges. It does exhaust however, so if you want to use this as an evade card, you need a backup plan in case it fails.
Rite of Equilibrium(5): Okay. The ability to just toss 10 blesses and curses into the chaos bag on turn 1 is very appealing in a lot of contexts, but 5XP is also sort of an insane price for it considering that it gets a lot worse over time with tokens already in the bag limiting how much you can choose for X.
Tides of Fate: Okay to Bad. If you want to actively turn blesses into curses because you want to translate your Cryptic Grimoire or something, this might be playable. But beyond that it doesn’t do a whole lot that’s worth doing.
Ward of Radiance: Excellent. Even in a bless deck i would prefer running Ward of Protection because this sort of variance on an encounter cancel is a bit questionable. That being said, the odds are good if the bag has been prepared appropriately and this does its job without costing either a resource or sanity like Ward does.
Promise of Power: Staple. I don’t think i played a Mystic or off-class Mystic deck without Promise of Power since Innsmouth’s release. Four wild icons on a skill is completely crazy and 1 single curse is barely noticeable.
Most useful: Promise of Power, Sword Cane, Eye of Chaos(all)
Least useful: Curse of Aeons(3), Rite of Equilibrium(5), Flute of the Outer Gods(4Ex)
Verdict: As is often the case, the Mystic card pool is dominated by a set of spell assets for fighting, investigating and evading. Obviously with a curse theme this time. They are quite powerful within their intended synergy, but of course they are complete chaff without that. There’s some additional curse support in the class, among it the fantastic Promise of Power but also the atrocious Curse of Aeons. To make the spell suite take off, you’ll want to pair Mystic with Rogue and/or Seeker cards that seed the bag with more curses because Promise of Power obviously won’t get you there alone. Luckily, the Mystic for this set is Dexter Drake and he’s main class Mystic and subclass Rogue. So the set basically gives you the Cursed archetype on a silver platter, a really good deck that can tackle all sorts of hard content. Absolutely no complaints on that front. Dexter’s sleight of hand tricks with assets get a nod here with the Sword Cane which is quite decent for him (and for mystics in general). There’s also two doom assets that offer short term power and that he can easily get rid of once they become dangerous.
There’s some high concept cards here that are trying to be a bit too clever for their own good. Flute of the Outer Gods, Rite of Equilibrium, Tides of Fate and Paradoxical Covenant are all a bit too involved to work well enough. The Covenant can do some neat things if you devote yourself to it, but mostly those are all a bit too gimmicky and/or expensive.
Alltogether a good assortment of cards, but like Guardian it’s very heavily centered on the token shenanigans. Dexter’s awesome, though. And he pulls all of this together in a way that’s satisfying enough.
Ancient Covenant(2): Staple. By stopping blesses from “rolling” into other tokens, it prevents wasting bless tokens from finding multiple on one test, basically doing a similar job as the blue Covenant. Meanwhile it also turns those blesses into what are basically straight up “+2” tokens. Imagine a chaos bag with up to 10 extra “+2” tokens in it and you can imagine how absolutely insane this is.
Dig Deep(4): Excellent. Let’s the survivor dunk on most things the encounter deck tries to throw at it, giving them as much willpower or agility as they need. Great card, just 4XP is sometimes too much to ask.
Jacob Morrison(3): Excellent. Gives you free “Lucky!”s with every bless token, to make sure you also pass those tests where you didn’t get a bless. Having him ready basically means that you are testing at +2, no matter what you draw from the bag.
Mariner’s Compass: Excellent to Staple. A part of the popular “Dark Horse” archetype (named after the Dunwich card), this is a repeatable way to get 2 clues per action, something that usually requires spending charges, secrets, supplies or whatever.
Spirit of Humanity(2): Excellent. Even without any token synergies, this is a decent source of healing as long as you don’t overdo it. With synergies this becomes really good, of course.
Token of Faith: Bad to Okay. Takes up an accessory slot for a rather mediocre way of mitigating curses. The saving grace is that it can trigger on anyone’s test, not just the survivor’s.
A Watchful Peace(3): Good. A bit of a problem card because when taken to the extreme it can allow you to basically play without an encounter deck. The “Good.” rating reflects its “fair” use without taking it to the abuse case. Scales in usefulness with the number of players.
Butterfly Effect(1): Okay. Allows responding to tokens to either throw another card in to pass or return a card because it’s not actually needed. While flexible, Survivor already has plenty other reactive cards (like Lucky) that do much of the same and aren’t dependent on pulling symbol tokens.
Harmony Restored(2): Okay to Good. So this requires both curses and blesses to do its thing, but will reward you with a powerful effect that tilts the chaos bag in your favor and hands out a good chunk of resources. When it works it’s amazing, but that can be tricky to set up. The two icons come in very handy for when it doesn’t work out.
Keep Faith: Excellent. One of the best cards to get some initial blesses into the bag or to top them off later. Recurring this can make it so that it keeps blesses in stock all on its own.
Shrine of the Moirai(3): Excellent. A powerful source of recursion that the whole party is able to use. The extra encounter cards are a suitable drawback for this sort of recursion capability which over time returns up to 6 cards for just one action and a resource.
Third Time’s a Charm(2): Okay. Allows fishing for specific tokens, which isn’t really a huge thing in Survivor though. Other than that i see little reason why i would use this instead of Lucky, Live and Learn or similar.
Beloved: Bad to Okay. If you are interested in a willpower/agility skill and are already running Unexpected Courages, this fits the bill. I wouldn’t use this for its textbox, though. If i play blesses as Survivor, i use the red Covenant and therefore have this effect already on tap as a reactive effect.
Predestined: Okay. As a source of blesses, this is fine. You’ll probably upgrade out of it rather soon, though.
Signum Crucis(2): Okay to Good. Depends a lot on your base skill values of course. But as long as you can get 2 or more blesses out of it, it’s okay. Personally I’d want 3 on a regular basis to pay the XP for it, otherwise i might as well stick with Predestined. Note that this is really good for Silas: Because the tokens get added right after committing the skill to the test, Silas can return the card to his hand with his investigator ability afterwards and do it again next turn. Amanda can also use it and her 2/2/2/2 statline is of course well suited to get a lot of blesses out of this card.
Unrelenting(1): Excellent. Getting card draw with your skills is always great. This will make your chaos bag worse while doing so but you do draw the cards no matter the test result. Also can go the other way and remove three bad tokens to help with passing, but that’s usually not what you run this for. Silas can do the same trick with this as with Signum Crucis, thus turning it into an endless stream of card draw.
Most useful: Spirit of Humanity(2), Unrelenting(1), Mariner’s Compass
Least useful: Beloved, Third Times A Charm(2), Token of Faith
Verdict: In Survivor we get the second half of the Bless support after Guardian did the first half. While Guardian was mostly about payoffs and only few ways of adding tokens (efficiently), Survivor gives a bunch of ways to throw Blesses around. Keep Faith is the gold standard, Spirit of Humanity is a great source for either kind of token (and good even outside of token contexts) while Signum Crucis and Predestined at least do a good job if you need even more blesses. Ancient Covenant and Jacob Morrison are maybe the two best bless payoffs in the set and allow Survivors to cheat their way past the chaos bag in new and exciting ways.
Aside from Bless stuff, there’s a couple cards that are a bit unconnected to the rest. Dig Deep is a fantastic piece of encounter protection if you can spare the XP for it. Shrine of the Moirai is a very powerful recursion card that the whole team can use. And Mariner’s Compass is a great investigation tool.
The Survivor for Innsmouth is Silas, a skill specialist that can take committed skills back to his hand in case they aren’t needed. Or to abuse skills that do something on committing over and over, like Unrelenting and Signum Crucis from this set. Silas is best as a fighter/evader and while he does have a set of signature assets that help him doing so, i would’ve hoped for some sort of Survivor weapon in here as well. So unless you already have Fireaxe, Meat Cleaver or similar in your collection, you might just be looking at Baseball Bat here. That being said, Silas doesn’t depend on weapons to fight and with some Survivor clue tech he makes a passable evasion/clue hybrid out of the box. His access to Innate skills 0-2 needs other sets to really do something as well. So i’d say that Silas can work out of Innsmouth + Core, but like Amanda it’s only in a very limited fashion without showcasing his true potential.
The Survivor card pool from Innsmouth is okay. Two or three cards that have significance beyond bless synergies, but otherwise a bit on the unimpressive side.
Favor of the Moon/Favor of the Sun: Staple. These two cards supercharge any bless and curse token strategy by increasing it’s consistency by a lot. They are crucial for making cards like Blessed Blade, the curse spell suite or even Paradoxical Covenant work and any bless or curse deck will want its appropriate Favor. Note that these are unique, so you can’t have two of the same Favor in play to sandbag six blesses or tuck away six curses.
Purifying Corruption(4): Good. I am not terribly fond of that fast trigger ability, but having an asset in play that can just cancel three treacheries is very appealing and powerful enough that you can work around the horror and damage as well. Ultimately the 4XP are a major turnoff though. Still, that’s a lot of power bundled into one card.
Manipulate Destiny(2): Okay. When you play this you need to be okay with either outcome. The heal is particularly nice, but not really worth spending 2XP on.
Tempt Fate: Staple. If you have no token synergies at all, this replaces itself while making the chaos bag slightly worse. But as soon as you add any token synergies, Tempt Fate shoots up in value. Conveniently adds exactly enough tokens to fill up either Favor.
Well, to get the obvious out of the way: If you aren’t into the whole idea of blesses and curses, this set is not going to be great for you. But if you are (or the idea at least doesn’t bother you) this set does offer a range of powerful cards for you. Especially the cards that add curses to the bag in exchange for power (Deep Knowledge, Faustian Bargain, Spirit of Humanity, etc) are balanced in a way that they are still very worth it even without specifically addressing those curses afterwards. There’s an okay amount of cards that don’t play into the token theme either and some of them are also quite good, like the Mariner’s Compass or Enchant Weapon. So while this set often gets a bit sidelined for being “the weird one with the insular token theme” i think that is usually a bit overstated and the cards do have a lot to offer to a collection in a more generic way than the broad public opinion seems to suggest.
If you are interested in the Cursed and Blessed archetypes, this box is of course unique in that it does give you two fully developed archetypes to play with right away. Usually these archetypes are a bit more loosely seeded across multiple expansions. This can be a boon for new players looking for a quick injection of power, similar to what the Investigator Starters have to offer. I would still prefer the Starters for being more diverse and generally powerful, though.
Of the investigators in the box, we have two that are lacking a bit with just Core+Innsmouth. Both Amanda and Silas, the two skill focused investigators, don’t actually have all that many skills to key off of at that point and can’t really showcase their potential all that well. The other three are well supported though. Mary dives deep into the Blessed archetype and works well as just a generic vehicle for supporting the team. Trish and Dexter are both very powerful on base of their investigator abilities and statline while also able to make good use of the Cursed cards (and both in very different ways to each other, which I appreciate a lot). Three out of five is not enough for me to recommend this set as a first buy for new players, especially since it compounds with the innate awkwardness of the token focus in the set. However, this is a good set to get as a later buy, when you are used to how the game usually works and can introduce the blesses and curses as a neat way to shake up the game.
That’s it for the Innsmouth player card overview.
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