Irregular Evils #40: Scenario rankings 2022, part IV

The result of last three parts were the rankings of the scenarios within their campaign and putting them into one of five tiers. Next up is ranking the scenarios within their tiers and thus coming to a full list of scenarios against each other.
In case you missed any of the previous ones, here’s the handy list of links for you:
Part 1: Core, Dunwich, Carcosa
Part 2: Forgotten Age, Circle Undone
Part 3: Dream-Eaters, Innsmouth, Edge of the Earth

Instead of more preambles, let me cut straight to the final list.

Scenario rankings 2022

This paints a much clearer picture than the individual campaign rankings, especially for the second and third tier which both have a good number of scenarios in them. For example there’s quite a difference between what i think of Pit and Despair and what i think of Essex Express, despite them both landing in tier 2. Or between Search for Kadath and Thousand Shapes of Horror within tier 3.

Alright then, let’s compare it to last year and see what changed. As a reminder, i did this year’s ranking without looking up stuff from last year, so i do expect some fluctuation for sure.

Scenario rankings 2021

Starting at tier 1, we got three new entries, two of them from Innsmouth. In Too Deep went from middle of tier 2 to tier 1, which makes sense to me. It’s a scenario that proved to be really fun on replays as well, so it only managed to improve on its good first impression. Light in the Fog wasn’t released last year yet. The other one is Unspeakable Oath and i am really not sure why i didn’t put it near the top last time. While it can have it’s outrageous moments (Sign of Hastur…), it’s an extraordinary scenario. Leaving tier 1 are Clutches of Chaos, Point of No Return and Waking Nightmare. Waking Nightmare didn’t fall very far, it’s still at the top of tier 2, but slightly below other first scenarios from other campaigns. Again, this seems right to me. Clutches dropped a bit further down, all the way to #25. I attribute this to both Innsmouth and Edge making the sort of wide map that Clutches has more common. When i made the list last year, having more than 10 locations was almost a novelty and a big thing in Clutches favor. Point of No Return has some fun interactions, but looking at it now, it’s really not tier 1 material. The rest of tier 1 sees some minor reordering, but nothing too wild. The Pallid Mask stays at the top, but followed closely by Oath and Devil Reef.

There’s something that i find interesting about tier 2 right away. At the top of tier 2 are a lot of the introduction scenarios to the campaigns. Curtain Call, Pit of Despair, Ice and Death, Waking Nightmare, Gathering, Extracurricular Activity, they are all in one lump. Witching Hour is a bit further down, but still in the same tier. I guess the campaigns do know how to make an entrance. Compared to last year, the tier 2 is a lot bigger than it used to be. This can partially be attributed to Return to TCU upranking some scenarios and to Innsmouth just being good. But it’s also noticable that a bunch of what made up tier 3 has moved to the bottom of tier 2 now, scenarios like Essex Express, Phantom of Truth or Witching Hour. So maybe i was just a bit more generous this time around with where i drew the line.

This impression of maybe being a bit more generous continues through the last three tiers, with all of them being a bit more weighted towards the better tier. Note that this doesn’t have to be a fault of the process, it’s a valid conclusion to take from this that i might just like the game more as a whole than i did last year! Search for Kadath deserves a special mention here because i do actually think that i treated it a bit unfairly last year. It does have its annoyances from the midgame setups and general weirdness, but it’s not a bad scenario at all. I put it straight at the top of tier 3 this year and that seems like a much better place for it. Similarly, Dim Carcosa is a bit dull in my opinion, but it doesn’t deserve to be put into the company of scenarios like Gates of Sleep or Echoes of the Past that are truly boring.

Not much changed at the bottom, but it should be noted that Return to TCU did indeed save Before the Black Throne. I think it’s perfectly fine now.

Bonus round

Okay, here’s one more thing. I apologize for the colors in advance, i know that this looks absolutely ridiculous:

Scenario rankings by campaign

So what’s this? This is the scenario rankings 2022, but i replaced each scenario name with the name of its campaign. Then i gave every campaign its own color for a first impression. Then, i also calculated the average placement for each campaign.

What we end up with is Innsmouth and Carcosa at the top, with average rankings of 19.5 and 22.25. This should come as little surprise, after all these two campaigns are responsible for 7 of the 9 scenarios i put in tier 1. Forgotten Age follows with 28.7, quite a bit behind the first two, but still noticeably ahead of the following one. NotZ, Dunwich and Circle are all quite close, in the 33.0 range give or take a bit. (Of course NotZ is an outlier here with only three scenarios to its name, so it probably shouldn’t even be included in this comparison, but whatever. It’s not like i am doing science here, this is just messing around with numbers). Way behind the rest, we got Dream-Eaters and Edge of the Earth at the bottom. I was actually shocked to see Edge even below Dream-Eaters, considering the low opinion i have of Dream-Eaters… but it is what it is.

Now, we shouldn’t jump to conclusions here of course. Especially when it comes to Edge of the Earth, i don’t think it looks all that grim. This exercise only looks at the individual scenarios, not at the campaign as a whole. And EotE certainly has a very strong campaign structure that makes up for it’s individually mediocre scenarios. In a similar vein, Innsmouth might have the strongest set of scenarios, but its campaign is sadly very linear and loses a lot of its strengths on replaying it. At the same time, TFA has a great campaign structure as well, with different routes to take, lots of choices to make and scenarios changing depending on these choices. So this “result” up there is not at all how i would rank the campaigns among each other, there’s more to it than just having good scenarios. (For the record, my current campaign ranking would be RtTFA > RtPTC > TIC >>>> EotE > RtTCU > RtTDL >> TDE > NotZ, with a very large difference between TIC and EotE. Those top three campaigns are completely in a class of their own compared to the others.)

That’s Numberwang!

And thus ends the scenario rankings 2022. Thanks for checking it out, see you next year.

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