Refractions

Set Size5
Number of unique Cards2
RoleHorror, Discard
Threat LevelHigh
# of scenarios3
Appears in: Written in Rock, Silent Heath, Fate of the Vale

This is a dangerous set. Three copies of a Beyond-the-Veil-alike card are definitely the thing that immediately draws attention here, but that other treachery is not to be underestimated either. It represents quite a bit of hand disruption that stacks up with a lot of the rest of the encounter sets. Note that both Silent Heath and Fate of the Vale use the Transfiguration set as well, which means that through Strange Mutations another “Willpower for horror or discard” treachery aside from Empyrean Brilliance can be found in the encounter deck. Alien Whispers from the Agents of the Colour also goes in a very similar direction and that set is also used in both Heath and Fate. This can actually lead to a bit of a deceptive impression about the campaign. If you don’t play Silent Heath as one of the day scenarios, then you’ll likely find that you aren’t actually testing willpower a whole lot… only to then face that combination of encounter cards in the finale and get a bit of a rude awakening as you are suddenly bombarded with willpower tests.

Number in the encounter set: 3

Threat level: High.

Oh great, we are doing Beyond the Veil again… and looking at the flavor text, the designers aren’t all that subtle about it either! This gives all the various discard effects in this campaign a capstone payoff, something that will elevate all of those from being a nuisance and disruption to a genuine threat that can defeat a player.
Captivating Gleam is a lot less campaign warping than Beyond the Veil though. Completely running out of cards is mostly avoidable, even if it does require the odd action spent on card draw here and there if you don’t have some extra draw capabilities in your deck already… which a good deck should arguably have.
What really turns Gleam into a frightening card is the word “Surge”. Even if it only impacts you a little, it will likely still be something you have to care about. And since it doesn’t take up your actual encounter draw for that mythos phase, even that little impact would come tacked on to another full encounter card. That’s not great, especially when considering that the encounter decks in this campaign are already pretty packed with high impact cards.
Obviously, any discard effects can become a more pressing matter when Captivating Gleam is around. Cards that discard multiple cards are especially scary, like Strange Mutations from the Transfiguration set… or Empyrean Brilliance from this one! However, the actual card to be concerned about is the Hemlock Curse, the campaign weakness that you can earn for “finishing your meal”. Failing a test with Hemlock Curse committed to it will discard your entire hand and thus immediately trigger Gleam for 5 horror.
Which brings us to the specific threat that Gleam presents, a hit of 5 horror. Five horror is a much smaller number than the ten damage that Beyond the Veil dealt for triggering. While the 10 damage were all but guaranteed to take out a player unless they are able to hide behind a lot of soak, 5 horror are a lot more reasonable to actually survive. Of course it is still going to be a huge hit and Gleam is not going to be the only source of horror around… but at least it’s not an instant-KO like its bigger sister card from Dunwich.
Overall, this card deserves some respect but not in the same way that Beyond the Veil did. It hits for a hefty chunk that you need to avoid, but it won’t just defeat you outright (well… unless you have 5 sanity and no soak, i guess). Triggering it is also much more avoidable and doing so asks you to do something you wanted to do anyways (draw cards). In comparison, Beyond the Veil was largely inevitable and wanted you do do something against your own interests (avoid drawing cards). It’s a suitably powerful card that manages to make an impact without overshadowing everything else. I like it!

Number in the encounter set: 2

Threat Level: Mid to High at Day, High at Night.

This card changes pretty drastically depending on Day and Night.
During the day, it primarily goes after your cards in hand, trying to knock two cards out of it. The willpower test is manageable as long as you don’t have a lot of cards in your hand but gets a very significant bump once you do have 5 or more cards. At least the discard isn’t random, so with a lot of cards in hand you hopefully have some to spare that don’t hurt you too much. It works quite similar to Enervation and Strange Mutations in that it gets more difficult to pass the test if you have a lot left to lose of what the treachery goes after.
At night, Empyrean Brilliance will always trigger a discard. While it can no longer discard two cards, the one card will be at random and it happens before you take a test so there is no escape from it. This means that Empyrean Brilliance will be able to trigger any Miasmatic Shadows that are following you around as those are frequently used in the same encounter decks as Refractions. In addition to losing a random card (which can already be plenty disrupting), the investigator might also have to take 2 horror if they fail a willpower test. That can be very rough as it will make Captivating Gleam that much more threatening. And if you did indeed provoke an attack by a Miasmatic Shadow this way, you are suddenly down 3 sanity, 1 health and a random card. I am honestly more afraid of this card than i am of Captivating Gleam. The Hemlock Vale campaign does scale the amount of willpower testing back a bit to make room for more intellect, fight and agility tests… but cards like this one make sure that your willpower absolutely still matters a lot, no matter if it’s Night or Day.

5 Replies to “Refractions”

  1. To quote myself from a reddit post implying that this makes Patrice unplayable in FHV:

    “Eh, i don’t think it’s quite on unplayable levels. But similarly to playing Dunwich with some investigators, you will need to make a bunch of concessions. The ways to solve the problems range from putting Deny Existence under Katja Eastbank to using Forced Learning to replace your draw/discard ability when needed. You don’t even need to play a scenario with Gleam in it until the finale, so you got time to prepare. And hey, her weakness even makes her immune to Gleam, so she just needs to survive until she draws the Watcher 😀

    It’s the reason why “Win a campaign with Patrice” is an achievement in the campaign book 🙂

    I think the bigger problem for Patrice is actually that she discards a card every turn (unless she spends all five) which will trigger all sorts of nasty shit.

    It’s fine. It’s one investigator. With the array of different ones we have now, stuff like this is going to pop up. I’d rather live with one investigator not being able to effortlessly do one campaign than seeing the designers be limited to the most basic effects everywhere out of fear that there’d be something weird with Patrice, Luke, Gloria or whoever else.”

    1. Oh, I wasn’t saying that that makes Gleam bad design – like you said, I think it’s okay if some investigators struggle more against some cards than others (provided they can still deal with them somehow, unlike the Broods of Yog-Sothoth) – I was just saying that Patrice drawing Gleam is basically the exemplar for the “Heh heh. I’m in danger” meme.

      1. Oh, of course. I got that. I didn’t mean to imply you shared the sentiment i was responding to on reddit. Just thought that copying my response over here would be useful since i failed to address the Patrice issue in the body of the article. Mostly because i don’t really think there’s much of a Patrice issue in the first place.

  2. I think, with Peter and Pawterson, she also has a decent chance to just tank it. Even if it hits her twice in a game. Sure, that is a lot of mitigation with cards, she normally probably wouldn’t take, but like you said, it’s an achievement for a reason.

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