The “Return To” boxes expand the original Arkham LCG campaigns by adding more cards, more mechanics, more challenges to the existing scenarios. This series of articles takes a look at each of them, one by one. Immediately following this Introduction is a spoiler-free verdict on the viability of the product, answering the question “Should i get this box?” without spoiling anything about the campaign relevant contents of the box.
Anyone not phased by spoilers can continue reading as i will go into detail about the player cards, the encounter replacement sets, the campaign wide changes and of course the changes to each scenario. On that note, the article assumes you played the campaign before. Using the Return boxes on your first playthrough of a campaign is not recommended.
The Return to Dunwich Legacy doesn’t shake up the campaign structure at all and with one exception doesn’t modify how the scenarios themselves play out. It does however substantially improve the quality of the campaign by fixing weird or faulty interactions that are present in the base version of the campaign. This makes the box provide good value for anyone looking to replay the Dunwich campaign a couple of times.
There is a decent amount of replacement encounter sets in here and most of them are for sets from the core which can make them an option to slot into other campaigns as well.
The box also comes with a very nice selection of player cards, among them are even a few staple cards that can slot into a wide variety of decks. They are not the main attraction of the product but they are an excellent “bonus” for sure.
This is where spoilers start. The Return To doesn’t change anything about the story or the campaign structure, so if you played the campaign, i wouldn’t say that these give away anything meant to surprise you. You will see these cards when setting up the scenario anyways. But still, if you want to go in totally blind, tag out now. Final warning.
The big storage box is mostly empty, containing a small leaflet explaining how to use the contents and of course it also holds the new cards. Included are 22 player cards and 82 encounter cards. The encounter cards break down to six encounter set replacements (26 cards in total) and 56 other encounter cards specific to 1 of the 8 scenarios.
The majority of the box is taken up by an insert that you can throw out once you want to use all of the space to store your Dunwich campaign cards in there. A set of dividers to help organize your encounter cards by set/scenario is also included.
The box itself is sturdy, looks good and using it as a storage solution for your scenario cards works well. It fits all the scenario cards and all encounter sets, sleeved or unsleeved, including those from the Core that are used in Dunwich.
Each class gets 2 new pairs of cards, all of them upgrades from cards that appeared in the base campaign. The selection of cards is stellar. While there are two (maybe three) in there that don’t see much play, the rest are all very good cards or at the very least useful to own.
Guardian gets upgraded Bandolier and Blackjack, both excellent cards. Bandolier(2) is one of my most played Guardian upgrades, i love that card to bits. Blackjack(2) is great for any Guardian in bigger groups.
Seeker gets an upgraded Preposterous Sketches that is useful. Also a new option for the Strange Solution that is not Acidic Ichor and therefore not all that useful.
Rogues arguably gain the least here. Contraband(2) is fine, but by now Swift Reload(2) kinda put it out of a job. There’s a Think On Your Feet(2) in the box, too. I don’t think i ever used it.
Mystics however get to add the super important Rite of Seeking(2) to their arsenal. Yes, Clairvoyance exists now, but Rite is still worth running in some decks. The other card, Clarity of Mind(2) is efficient horror healing, an upgrade that i used several times to offset traumas etc.
Survivors gain Oops!(2) which fixes most complaints about the original card. Still very niche, but has a spot in the failure package. Rise to the Occasion(3) is expensive for a survivor skill card, but let’s you pass tests you had no business passing.
Finally, there are also two copies of a new basic weakness for the random pool. Through the Gates is quite unique in what it does and rather fun. As far as basic weaknesses go, i like it. Great addition to the game.
Campaign wide changes
The changes from Return to The Dunwich Legacy do not extend far past their individual scenarios. There is no additional scenario text and almost no changes to scenario outcomes. The only thing worth mentioning is the addition of Naomi O’Bannion as a story ally reward for rescuing Peter Clover. This adds some extra incentive to doing Extracurricular Activity before The House Always Wins. In the base campaign, doing House first is generally superior. While that is still the case, the gulf between the two option’s rewards has been narrowed a bit.
Looking at the campaign as a whole, the difficulty has been increased by quite a bit. Museum, Essex, Undimensioned and LiTaS are all tougher than before. The others are about the same as their base version. The increased difficulty coupled with the low experience that players earn makes for a challenge that is unique among the campaigns. For that reason, i do not suggest using Return to The Dunwich Legacy to introduce new players to the game. It is a good thing for experienced players, though.
Replacement Encounter Sets
Six of the encounter sets used during The Dunwich Legacy are being replaced with variants from this box. Five of those six are actually originally from the Core Set which potentially makes them interesting for use in other campaigns. The individual cards are discussed in detail elsewhere on this site, so i will stick to just a short summary and a link to the page that has that encounter set discussion.
Beyond the Threshold: A slightly less impactful replacement for The Beyond. Its main features are mellowing how swingy Arcane Barrier can be by switching it with Infinite Doorway and removing the asset hate aspect that Pushed into the Beyond had.
Resurgent Evils: This is the best replacement for Ancient Evils that we have so far. It offers the option to draw two other encounter cards when that extra doom would be devastating, but at the price of Peril. If you think that Ancient Evils is too punishing in general, then Resurgent Evils are your best official way to tweak them.
Secret Doors: Replaces Locked Doors. Instead of testing the physical skills, this tests the two mental ones. I am not a huge fan, i think that Locked Doors generally plays better and offer a more interesting challenge. Still, these are nice for varieties sake.
Creeping Cold: The replacement for Chilling Cold switches the asset hate for hand discard. The inconsistent Obscuring Fog is traded away for a card that is even more inconsistent at doing something. Oh well.
Erratic Fear: One of the most dramatic changes to an encounter set by a replacement, this removes much of what made the original Striking Fear tick. Willpower is barely tested, there’s no horror dealt and Frozen Fear is gone. Instead there are two cards that deal damage and one that deals with clues. This last one is the relevant here, as it can be a severe pain in Essex and Where Doom Awaits.
Yog-Sothoth’s Emissaries: The Agents of Yog-Sothoth replacement is fairly straightforward. The enemy is easier to deal with, but with Hunter it becomes more relevant more often anyways. The treachery is kinda uninteresting in comparison to the neat one from the original.
There’s good and bad things about these sets. I mainly like three things. One, these are mostly Core replacements and are not closely Dunwich flavored, so these have potential application out of The Dunwich Legacy to spice up other campaigns. Two, these replacements mix very well with their base versions so making hybrid sets is not only possible, but possibly even better than just straight up using either of the complete sets. Three, these do a good job of actually shaking up the campaign. I especially appreciate the additional agility and intellect tests that work towards making the encounter deck less one dimensional.
On the other hand, i have two complaints. One, the difficulty seems to be reduced in many parts. This is a minor complaint because the campaign in total actually ends up more difficult, but there are a noticable amount of cards in there that really don’t have a lot of bite to them. Which leads straight into my second point, and this is a fairly big one… many of these are just not that interesting or relevant as the cards they are replacing. Erratic Fear is especially egregious in this regard, as it not only is weirdly incoherent and weak itself but also replaces one of the most impactful encounter sets from the Core.
Still, there is a lot to like here. Personally, i have often used hybrid sets of Creeping/Chilling Cold or Agents/Emissaries of Yog-Sothoth when playing other campaigns as well. Resurgent Evils is a great replacement to have as well. While i am not one of those people myself, i know that there’s a sizeable group of people who hate Ancient Evils. Resurgent Evils addresses many of their concerns and offers an easy fix for all sorts of scenarios using Evils.
Return to Extracurricular Activity
Only four cards are assigned to this scenario. But seeing how it was a perfectly fine scenario before, that’s fine. The Orne Library can now randomly be the Warren Observatory instead and there are two new Hunter enemies, one of which might start in play. Not exactly groundshaking stuff, the replacement sets (four of them are used here) do the main work here.
Return to The House Always Wins
Another scenario that didn’t need a lot of touching up, the changes are limited to one new location that can randomly replace the lounge and to two pairs of treachery cards that deal with “Cheating”. Again, nothing that really shakes up the scenario in any way. As mentioned further up, there is some additional payoff now for rescuing Peter Clover, which makes that particular path through the campaign a bit more desirable.
Return to The Miskatonic Museum
This is where the magic starts to happen. Miskatonic Museum gets a fix to how the front and backside of the agenda cards interact, making sure that the Hunting Horror will get its attachment and grow bigger with each appearance. Two pairs of new treacheries that power up the monster do also help with making this scenario work a lot better and the enemy scarier. Of course, this is a severe difficulty bump for the scenario, but in the most positive way. Oh, there’s also two new Exhibit Halls, so you can randomize those a bit at setup.
Return to The Essex County Express
This scenario is also seeing a massive shake up. Thanks to a new agenda 0 card, it’s no longer possible to be instantly defeated before even taking your first turn. The encounter set swaps do some good work here, as removing Frozen in Fear and replacing Ancient Evils for Resurgent Evils massively lower the chances to just be left without any reasonable options. However a new enemy, the Conductor, is added to the scenario and applies pressure even when the investigators aren’t in a location in danger of leaving play. The whole scenario is more difficult now due to the Conductor, especially in lower player counts. At the same time it is also more in the player’s control though. Harder, but fairer? A good deal for sure. As with most other scenarios, there’s also some new locations for added replayability.
Return to Blood on the Altar
This scenario is mostly unchanged. There is some more bugfixing going on here with a revised central location that has more logical connections to the surrounding locations. The other locations gain new alternate versions for randomization. The Naomi’s Crew encounter set gains a boost in the Return to Blood on the Altar from a new enemy, giving some extra value to the “Extracurricular first, then rescue Peter Clover” route. Good changes, in a subtle way.
Return to Undimensioned and Unseen
The difficulty of this scenario is increased by introducing variants of the Broods that all have some extra mechanical twist (like moving twice, dealing more horror, having more life) and by shuffling two copies of a surging treachery that gives Broods the Elite trait into the encounter deck. This treachery is a reaction to players cheesing the scenario a bit with cards like Waylay or Mind Wipe. It’s still possible to use those cards but can’t be relied on anymore. The scenario did get a little bit harder with the changes, but not excessively so. However, the Return to Undimensioned and Unseen doesn’t address any of the issues that one could have with the scenario (like the reliance on Willpower or the non-interactivity of the random movement), so it’s not really much of an improvement sadly. Meh.
Return to Where Doom Awaits
One of the more important changes from the Return To box happens in this scenario, as it does swap out the first two Sentinel Hill locations so they don’t force players to pass unmodified intellect tests to progress. Instead, any way to discover clues will now do to get the surrounding locations into play. An excellent change that improves this scenario by a lot.
Return to Lost in Time and Space
The biggest change to the campaign finale comes from moving Yog-Sothoth to its own unique location where it is impervious to harm. This removes the investigator’s option to just kill it with weapons except for the last few turns on the final agenda. Also, whenever a player would be “reset” to the starting location because their current one disappeared under their feet, they are now instead moved to Yog’s location. Other than that, not much of substance has been changed here. Some additional locations are shuffled into the encounter deck, but in that massive pile of 45+ cards they aren’t going to change how the scenario plays. Seth Bishop can make another appearance here, but again that is more a gimmick than something game changing.
The changes to how Yog-Sothoth works and to the investigators having to move into its location sometimes once more makes the scenario more difficult than its base version. Not excessively so, but it is certainly noticable.
With the exception of the Essex County Express which sees a considerable shakeup from adding the Conductor enemy, neither the scenarios nor the campaign structure itself are changed a whole lot, it’s still basically all playing/feeling the same as it does in the base set… except better. This is because the Return to Dunwich focuses on “bugfixing” instead of expanding the content, something that the Dunwich campaign is actually in need of.
The box is rounded out nicely with a great selection of player cards that hold up very well still.
Final verdict: There is a lot to like about this box and it’s well worth purchasing to increase the quality of the Dunwich campaign for your replays.
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