Other encounter sets in this scenario: Pnakotic Brotherhood, Temporal Flux, Ancient Evils
Depending on previous scenario choices: Agents of Yig (1) or Dark Cult (2) or both (3)
Note: Three of the treacheries start out in the exploration deck. For the purpose of this encounter deck review, this is marginal and will be ignored here.
|Size of the Encounter Deck||31||31||37|
My take on this encounter deck: The composition of the finale’s encounter deck varies depending on whether you’ve mostly been favoring Alejandro (1), Ichtaca (2) or both/neither (3). And i have to say, the encounter deck is much more difficult with Dark Cult in it than with Agents of Yig. There is not a single point of Vengeance in the encounter deck, only two that come from the agendas, so at this point the Serpents shouldn’t pose any threat that the players can’t handle. The Serpent from Yoth can’t even get its final bonus. Not putting one or two points of Vengeance on Ichtaca is a missed opportunity in my opinion… On the other side, the Cultists synergize very well with both the Pnakotic set and the Ancient Evils. They layout of the locations also is very favorable for the Cultists and Wizard of the Order in particular can become a complete show stopper. There are not a whole lot of enemies in the encounter deck, which is due to the story enemies from outside the deck doing some heavy lifting in that regard. Half or a third of the encounter deck puts more Doom into play and about one in four cards try to stall the players by putting clues back on locations and/or moving the players around. This pressure is further increased by having some of the Doom cards come from the exploration deck. The encounter discard reshuffles into the deck twice from agenda progress, so that adds some high variance to the doom progress as well.
It should also be noted that there is a high number of Willpower testing treacheries in the deck. While not necessarily on the most impactful cards in the deck, being prepared to pass a few Willpower tests will pay off by taking less damage and horror overall.
Counter these: Ancient Evils, Between Worlds. Especially if Dark Cult is also present, Ancient Evils becomes once more a large threat due to its pressure on the time players have to complete the acts. Between Worlds has a terrifying worst case scenario that leads to a lot of lost actions and horror taken, possibly even having to engage the Formless Spawn. So if that can be prevented with a cancel card, that’s good value for sure.
Return to Shattered Aeons adds a very nasty treachery as well, so holding a cancel for that can also absolutely be worth it.
What it does: These big enemies will only come into play once the players reach act 2b which shuffles the Shattered locations into the exploration deck. As soon as it’s on the board, the Temporal Devourer will pose a credible threat with its high health and above average fight and evade values. It has Hunter, but players may want to seek out the Devourer anyways because whenever the Devourer enters a location it will add a clue to that place. Due to how the locations are grouped only one step around a central location, they usually won’t spawn very far away.
My take: Aside from the story enemies and maybe Wizard of the Order, this is the only enemy in the scenario that puts up a fight when engaged. It will take a dedicated fighter to deal with the Devourer and even then it will likely take a full turn. The clues that are left behind can lead to further horror or damage down the line. This is just an all around strong enemy and a pain to deal with. At least it doesn’t deal a lot of damage.
Threat level: Mid to High. Can’t be ignored, has high combat values, Hunter and another annoying ability attached. What keeps it from being too overbearing is how it can only spawn once the first two acts were advanced, so it can not appear while investigators are still setting up.
Dealing with it: The fighter of the group should probably make the Devourer their priority so it can’t add more clues to the board. While the clues are not strictly necessary to be cleared to progress, they can deal a sizeable amount of damage to the player group from the Forced ability on the A Pocket in Time location.
What it does: Wracked by Time deals two damage to a player that fails a Willpower test. Unlike most other treacheries, this will not only affect the player who drew the card but also anyone else who is currently at a Shattered location. If assets are used to soak this damage, the assets will be reshuffled into their decks if not defeated.
My take: These are a good bit more dangerous than most other damage treacheries. It can hit you even if you are not the one who drew it which makes it easier to stack up on damage from multiple Wracked in Time. Once the Shattered locations are in play, getting further damage from the Pocket in Time can also contribute. Mitigating the damage comes with a downside, but in most cases that shouldn’t be too much of a problem. There are three of them in the deck and two reshuffles on the agendas, so Wracked in Time is a fairly constant presence throughout the scenario.
Threat level: Mid. Much harder to ignore than similar cards and much harder to mitigate due to the damage potentially stacking up fast.
Dealing with it: Mostly, keep in mind that this card exists and make sure that you can either soak the damage or that you have enough health available to tough it out. If possible, try not to end your turn on a Shattered location and instead move back to the central location which is safe from Wracked in Time.
What it does: Between Worlds forces the player to move to a new location connected to the Nexus of N’kai. Should the player still be at that location at the end of the round, they are dealt damage and horror and moved to the Nexus.
My take: This card terrifies me because its worst case scenario is pretty bad. In the first turns of the scenario, the card is somewhat benign and at most eats up a move action or two while dealing one horror from the Forced ability of Nexus of N’kai. Later on, this becomes a lot worse, though. Not only does it consume more actions for moving back, but it also drives the player right back into the arms of the Formless Spawn.
Threat level: Low to Mid to High. How threatening this card is depends entirely on whether the Formless Spawn is present on the Nexus. If it isn’t, then the impact is fairly low as distances in this scenario are short and moving back shouldn’t cost too many actions and a horror on its own is okay. If the Spawn is there, then this can cause bigger problems, especially if the player isn’t able to reliably evade the Spawn to prevent the attack of opportunity.
Dealing with it: This card is one of the main reasons to be proactive about the Formless Spawn and kill it while it’s still at two fight and evade. That will take several actions but can save a lot of implicit damage dealt by this card later.
Moving from the location created by Between Worlds to the Nexus deals 1 horror from the clue on the location, which of course can be prevented by investigators that can pick up the clue beforehand. If that is worth it or not depends on the situation, usually the action should be more valuable though.
What it does: Creeping Darkness enters play with a doom token on it and attaches itself to the Nexus of N’kai. It also provides the Formless Spawn with some extra health. The card can be discarded by spending two actions and either carry a torch or pass a Willpower check.
My take: The extra health on the Spawn doesn’t matter too much, although i think it’s curious that it scales with investigator count while the Spawn itself doesn’t. The more important part is the doom added. Aside from the usual implications of advancing the agenda earlier, this doom also boosts the Formless Spawn’s fight and evade value.
Threat level: Mid. The main threat comes from the doom added, but there is a way to get rid of it built into the card. Creeping Darkness can become a bigger problem if the Spawn is still in play.
Dealing with it: That double action will of course trigger an attack of opportunity from the Spawn, so evade it first. Better yet, kill the Spawn early on so this card (along with Between Worlds) loses a lot of its impact. In true solo play, ignoring the Spawn completely is a consideration, as moving to the location and discarding this card would take more actions that you’d lose to the doom token.
What it does: If the player fails a Willpower test, each location aside from the Nexus gets another clue added to it. This makes moving around a lot more dangerous due to the Forced abilities on Nexus and Pocket in Time.
My take: Not that bad, actually. It might put a lot of clues on the board, but usually only few of them still matter. Might eat up an action or three from the Seeker, but as far as encounter cards go in Shattered Aeons, this one is a bit of a breather.
Threat level: Low. A few points of damage or horror, avoidable by taking extra investigation actions. Nothing too serious.
Dealing with it: By “completing” one location before even revealing the next one, this card’s impact can be kept to a minimum.
Return to Shattered Aeons
My take on the modified scenario: Only one card is added to the encounter deck, but this is a scenario that is impacted significantly by the exploration rules changes. Especially at low player counts, the final stretch of the scenario is now a lot easier as the Return to scenario dumps a stack of eight locations into the exploration deck, making successful explorations very likely. The new treachery is a huge threat but comes with a choice to avoid it once and shuffle it into the exploration deck instead. Thanks to the thick stack of locations this is actually a valid choice. The lower difficulty due to the more forgiving exploration is partially offset by the encounter replacement sets. Temporal Flux and Dark Cult are upgraded to their RtTFA counterparts. Especially the Cult of Pnakotus is really quite dangerous if the cultists get to appear in a location behind the Nexus and the Formless Spawn.
What it does: The player has the option to either resolve this treachery right now in full or to shuffle it into the exploration deck. Of course, when drawn from the exploration deck, they no longer get this choice. Once the first option is chosen, the player has to reveal four chaos tokens and is dealt one damage and one horror for each bad symbol drawn.
My take: I frequently look down on treacheries that just deal a few points of damage or horror, but a card that can potentially deal four of each has me afraid as well. If i draw this in the second half of the scenario, once the eight Shattered locations are added to the deck, i would always choose to shuffle it into the exploration deck. I’d rather gamble on not drawing this again than i’d want to gamble on the tokens coming up in my favor. With the smaller exploration deck of the first half, this might just be something to take full on.
Threat level: Very High. In a scenario that already is chock full with effects that deal damage or horror this card can easily defeat a player or at least strip away their soak.
Dealing with it: Usually i’d be very hesitant to shuffle things into the exploration deck as that will often only postpone the effect and then cost an extra action for the failed exploration. In this case, there are good reasons to do so however. One, the effect is suitably dangerous and with an investigator that could actually die to it on a bad token pull i might just not want to risk it. Two, for big parts of the scenario, the exploration deck is kind of huge and there’s a good chance you may not see this card again after all.
A card that is fairly good at dealing with Unknowable Past is the Veda Whitsley story ally from the Return to Threads of Fate. She can either fish this treachery out of a small exploration deck or she can just be used to tank the effect with her three health and sanity.
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