Encounter sets in this scenario: Dark Veiling, Mysteries Abound, Shadow of a Doubt, Strange Happenings, Locked Doors, Nightgaunts
Available experience: 3 (Targets) + 2 (Sanguine Watcher) = 5XP
Location: Buenos Aires
Involved Coterie Members and Keys: La Chica Roja, The Sanguine Watcher, The Weeping Lady
Time spent: 1 to 3 time (1 if Seeing Red never enters play, 3 if Sanguine Watcher is defeated, 2 otherwise)
Nearest other scenarios: Havana (2 time)
|Size of the Encounter Deck||30|
Synopsis: The investigators try to catch the “Girl in the Carmine Coat” aka “La Chica Roja” in Buenos Aires. La Chica Roja is currently breaking into a couple of potential places trying to recover pieces to one of the keys. The aim for the first half of the scenario is getting to those pieces before she does by exposing her before the time runs out. The locations have abilities that allow spending clues for help with this task. This has to be done 3 times. If the investigators have to concede at least one of the pieces to La Chica Roja, the scenario ends after either party gains 3 pieces, but should the team cleanly beat her 3-0, then a second half is played. During that second part, the group teams up with La Chica to defeat The Sanguine Watcher, a much more menacing coterie member that is also after the keys. Defeating the Watcher can be done either by brute force or through exposing Ritual Sites that the Watcher’s life is bound to.
My take on this scenario: This scenario is quite different from what we are used to. Gaining clues is usually the way to advance the game in the players favor, but it takes a backseat here. In theory, you could even finish this scenario completely without ever picking up a single clue. That being said, there are definitive advantages to having some on hand for location abilities, so it’s not like your seekers are suddenly unable to contribute.
In fact, everyone is able to contribute just fine thanks to the open ended nature of the concealment ability which allows exposing mini-cards with fighting, evading or investigating.
The first part of the scenario, where you try to expose La Chica Roja under time pressure, is not all that difficult to win. But in order to gain access to the second part, you need to do it three times without ever failing… which can be more of an issue depending on luck and your action efficiency. The main things to look out for is the incoming damage and horror from the encounter deck and from exposing decoys. Especially if one investigator is doing the bulk of the exposing, this can stack up fast. Having soak and/or healing available to help with that should make the whole thing bearable enough, though.
If you decide for going after the Watcher in part two, a rather steep boss battle is in order. The Sanguine Watcher is a tough one and between his stats and the novel way of how to beat him in an alternate fashion, he’d actually make a reasonable final campaign boss.
One interesting decision about this scenario is *when* to do it. The scenario itself doesn’t have any elements that scale with time, so you aren’t penalized with extra doom etc. if you get here late unlike in some others. On the other hand, the Watcher can be a serious problem for many teams before they got a chance to upgrade their weapons and soak. But then again, those Cultist tokens are quite nasty in here, so maybe doing Buenos Aires in the first half of the campaign would be preferable after all… Of course, there’s also always the alternative of going to Buenos Aires early on and just do the first part. That will make La Chica Roja an enemy to possibly encounter later, but it will get you a rather powerful key early on and just cost 1 time.
Scenario specific encounter sets: As usual, the scenario set does provide the locations, acts, agendas, token reference and the unique enemies. In addition to those, there are also some cards for the encounter deck. First is the Bound Nightgaunt, an enemy that mirrors the ability of the Nightgaunt from the Core Set (which is also used in this scenario), but for attacks instead of evasions. Then there’s Outsmarted, which can make the nearest Coterie enemy attack you or put a doom on the agenda. Luckily La Chica Roja qualifies for this treachery even from the shadows so you can always take a damage and a horror instead of the doom. Calling Card stops players from spending clues which can be quite awful and the card is also not easy to remove. Doing so however rewards with a free peek at a concealed mini-card. Finally, Cat and Mouse surges, but is completely optional. So the player can just ignore it if they choose. Should they opt in, they get to expose a mini-card at their location. If it’s a decoy, they are lucky and can just discard it. If it’s an enemy, all mini-cards are flipped back and re-shuffled, potentially wasting your efforts on previous locations. Since the card is completely optional, you can view it as strictly positive … just don’t risk the reshuffle if it would hurt too much. However be aware that exposing a decoy for free with this will still trigger the attack from La Chica Roja.
Chaos Tokens: The skull is tame in this one, scaling by the number of targets you secured. So it will only scale up to -3 (-4 on Hard), and only for the last act. So that’s fine. The Elder Thing is also not too bad, with just a -2(-3) and only doing something on failing. Beyond those two, things do get more worrying, though. Tablets do only have a -1(-2) to them, but drawing the tablet will also cancel all committed card icons and effects which can be quite bad for a couple of investigators. Finally, the cultist token is a whopping -5(-7!) and if you fail by 2 or more, you have to shuffle and redistribute face-down mini cards at your and connected locations. Cultists are added over time during the campaign, so this is the primary way the scenario scales the difficulty depending on if you are coming here late or early in your travels.
Act/Agenda: There are two parts to this scenario. The act and agenda deck only applies to the first one, where you try to expose La Chica Roja before the time runs out.
The agenda deck consists of only one card with a doom threshold of 7, but starts with 1 doom on it per player for some party size scaling. The agenda also gives an extra ability to La Chica Roja, allowing her to attack any player that uncovers a decoy.
The act deck has two cards, one for when you are trying to expose La Chica Roja and one for when you engage her. The second act provides a parlay ability as an alternative to defeating her.
The final part of the scenario, where the group faces the Sanguine Watcher, uses one shared act/agenda card. It affords a solid 11 doom to close out the game, but will gain a doom when exposing a decoy. Aside from that it just states the new objective: Defeat the Sanguine Watcher.
La Chica Roja: Most of the text on her card relates to scenario mechanics, you aren’t really fighting her straight on all that much. The only time when you do that is after exposing her, when the act 2 card makes you defeat or parlay her. Since she only has 3 fight and 2 health (which also doesn’t scale with player count), defeating her is quite easy and more like a formality. Of note is her doing a damage and a horror on attack which will come up whenever someone exposes a decoy (the agenda will make La Chica Roja attack then) or when In Plain Sight attaches to her.
The Sanguine Watcher: This guy is a lot more terrifying in a straight up fight. 5 health per player is a lot, he hits for 2 damage and horror and he has Retaliate with decent fight to leverage that further. So fighting him will be a tough challenge for sure, but it is certainly doable with investigators that specialize in defeating enemies.
If fighting him head on is too dicey, there is an alternate route to hurting him. The Apportioned Ka, a ritual that represents how the Watcher prolongs his own life, can be found out among its decoys. Doing so will deal 5 damage to the Watcher, so it would need to be done once per investigator to defeat the Watcher. Going this route avoids having to deal with the high damage and horror that the Watcher deals in combat, but comes with its own risks. For one, exposing decoys adds doom to the agenda. But more importantly, this will expose players to the Forced ability on the Watcher: If he’s ready at the end of the enemy phase (so if he didn’t attack), he will deal either 2 damage or 2 horror to everyone.
So there are different ways to handle the Watcher and you can of course also do a little of each, weakening him through the Ritual before finishing him off the direct way. Evasion can also come in handy as a way to stop the Forced effect from happening while the rest of the team goes after the Apportioned Ka.
Other Enemies: Aside from the confrontation with the Watcher, fighting isn’t a huge part of Sanguine Shadows. There are however four Nightgaunts in the deck that do require being dealt with. Due to how small the map is and the frequent backtracking you do, evading them isn’t something i’d recommend. The scenario specific Bound Nightgaunt works similar to the one from the Core Set, doubling the negative modifiers of tokens drawn when attacking it which is offset by a fight value of 1. As a result, the token pull has a lot more variance than usual and committing additional icons to the test has less value than usual. It shouldn’t be a problem for any competent fighter as they would just be able to take it down without committing cards.
Aside from the Nightgaunts, the scenario uses the Coterie Envoys from the Mysteries Abound set. Those aren’t dangerous in the usual sense, but they can hinder you from exposing mini-cards. If you can use a location ability to peek at the mini-card the Envoy is protecting, it can very well turn out that they are just covering a decoy and that you do not have to spend a turn on defeating them. So quite often, you can just let them stick around.
Treacheries: According to the numbers in the table at the top of the article, 16 out of 30 cards in the encounter deck relate to the concealment mechanic in some form. This is especially emphasized through the scenario specific Cat and Mouse and Calling Card treacheries. There is also a good amount of damage/horror coming the players way even though there isn’t too much fighting happening. Cards like Heavy Rain from Strange Happenings or even just the classic Wings of Darkness from Nightgaunts stack up in a dangerous way with all the free attacks that La Chica Roja is getting from exposed decoys and also from the In Plain Sight treachery. Something else to note here that is a bit atypical: There’s more agility testing in this encounter deck than willpower. It’s still not a large amount, so you aren’t screwed if you don’t have a high agility investigator. But on the flip side, a high willpower will do next to nothing in terms of encounter protection for you here.
Locations: The locations are all arranged around a central one, the Avenida de Mayo. Of the other 7 locations, one is always removed at random during setup as a minor randomization element. Since all the locations are clustered like that, ways are short here. This is of course necessary due to all the backtracking you have to do each time the act and agenda reset for another bout. The shroud and clue values on the locations are a very mixed bag. Not only do the shrouds range from 2 to 5, but the clue numbers are also wild with some of them being fixed and others scaling by player count. Gaining those clues is a bit of a secondary thing in this scenario though. You don’t need them to advance the act, but you can spend them on location abilities that allow peeking at concealed mini-cards.
Reward and Failure: The Key for this scenario is The Weeping Lady. This artifact can be gained comparatively easily, it simply requires succeeding in getting to three targets before La Chica Roja does. So you don’t need to get to the Seeing Red part of the scenario for that. The Weeping Lady is reasonably powerful, allowing to discover a free clue without an action at any time which of course can also be used to expose a concealed mini-card. Flipping it back requires discarding a card from play from each player though, which is a cost that scales heavily with player count. At one or two players, paying this cost can usually be engineered to happen once or twice per scenario, but for three or four players this is a huge ask and just might not be doable. In fact, having this Key around becomes downright risky at those player counts because you might run into situations where the Paradimensional Understanding weakness forces you to shift it at the worst of times if you don’t play around that risk.
After completing this scenario, you will also not have seen the last of either La Chica Roja or the Watcher. La Chica Roja is a rather awful enemy to draw in later scenarios as she will not only drain resources while on the board, but also easily shifting any keys attached to her. And if she ends up with the Weeping Lady (due to failing the scenario during act 1 or 2) this will completely decimate your board to the point that it’s going to be very hard to recover from. Sanguine Watcher isn’t great as an enemy either as he retains his high stats and his insane damage/horror. He no longer retaliates, but he will gain Hunter as a way to leverage this damage/horror. He’ll shift keys on defeat, but that will only come up if he steals one. There is no scenario resolution that will both make the Watcher the bearer of the Weeping Lady and keep him around as one the players have not seen the last of.
Ending the scenario (either in win or fail) during act 1 or 2 will make players have to face La Chica Roja from then on. The Watcher will pursue them if the players win during Seeing Red. In a strange twist, failing during Seeing Red will add neither La Chica Roja nor the Watcher to the groups list of enemies.
The amount of time spent does increase the further you get into the scenario: Winning or Failing during act 1 or 2 takes 1 time. Failing during Seeing Red takes 2 time. Winning Seeing Red takes 3 time.
In terms of XP, you gain 1 for each target found during act 1 and 2, so up to 3. If you go into Seeing Red, you gain the opportunity for another 2XP from the Sanguine Hunter for a total of 5.