Currently, pictures of the new replacement encounter sets from the Return to TFA box are making the rounds on reddit and Discord. Here they are. I am not going to do a full review of them quite yet, i will wait with that until release and having played with the new campaign myself. They will then get added to the pages of their base sets. But i do have some initial opinions for now:
Cult of Pnakotus
Replaces: Dark Cult
Used in: Threads of Fate, Boundary Beyond, Shattered Aeons
My initial take: Instead of giving us another variant of Ancient Evils, we are getting a new Cult this time. And it’s an interesting one. I think the new Acolyte is a good amount weaker than its Core cousin. The main reason being that as long as no other Cultists are around, you are free to spawn this new one right on top of your Guardian, which will more than offset the Aloof in terms of actions. The other two cards are quite a bit more scary. Four life on the Wizard replacement is very relevant. And From Another Time can just be completely crazy and spread up to four doom around. Scary stuff. Both Acolyte and From Another Time incentivize players to keep the board free from Cultists at all time. I suppose this gets harder when playing with three and four players?
Used in: Untamed Wilds, Heart of the Elders #1, Depths of Yoth
My initial take: If i am not mistaken, there can be situations where Resentful Wilds makes zero Vengeance runs impossible? Personally, i am not terribly interested in gimmick runs like that, but this seems at least relevant to mention. Tbh, i would rather draw this instead of the original Lost in the Wilds any day. Best-Laid Plans also doesn’t strike me as a particularly frightening card at first glance. You are likely going to take the two action penalty everytime, as having to draw an additional exploration card represents a missed action as well and the treachery itself usually will represent at least another one. So longterm, the straight two actions are the better deal. There’ll be exceptions and it’ll be obvious when: Either the exploration deck is used up anyways or the treachery on top is a very mild one. Low on Supplies is a much less obvious choice and has impact on everyone. Meh, I’m not too excited about this set tbh.
Replaces: Temporal Flux
Used in: Doom of Eztli, Boundary Beyond, Shattered Aeons
My initial take: Oh, i really like that Alpha. Scary card. High combat values, Alert, Retaliate and on each attack it eats up an asset. This can get ugly really quick, especially if it spawns on some rather defenseless character. This is a card to save up a three damage attack for, like Spectral Razor or Vicious Blow. Merging Timelines has a very high ceiling and could just completely wreck a players hand. And turn. No saving throw allowed either. Damn, Temporal Flux was already a high caliber set, but Temporal Hunters dials it up further. This set is going to create a lot of bad beat stories once we all get our hands on the full campaign. My only complaint: Temporal Flux was already a very well executed set, why not replace something a bit more iffy?
Replaces: Yig’s Venom
Used in: Doom of Eztli, Boundary Beyond, Heart of the Elders #2, Depths of Yoth
My initial take: Wrath of Yig nerfs the crap out of Serpent’s Call. Not sure how i feel about that, although i will admit that Call was really frustrating to draw sometimes. Attaching a saving throw makes a huge difference here. I like the Vengeful Serpents, though. Fang of Yig had some gimmicks that were rarely ever relevant, leaving them to be little less than fancy Ravenous Ghouls. These new ones have a cool mechanic behind them that will require at least thinking about differently depending on the situation and are more than just a different combination of numbers. Excellent! Speaking of excellent designs, i like the Guardian as well. I’m almost sad it loses Aloof with vengeance though. Would’ve been cooler if it turned into the most annoying Whippoorwill ever.
All things considered, this looks like a interesting bunch of new cards. Final evaluation of course has to wait until i got to play with them and maybe stumble over some interactions that i am missing in my little drive-by reviewing that i am doing here. I am lukewarm on the Doomed Expedition set, but the others seem cool to me and like they introduce new elements to the game. Interested to see in how the Cultist thing is going to work out. I hope the mechanics on the new Acolyte don’t fall flat in two-player, that’d be a pity. but even if so, the other two cards in that set have enough punch to make some nasty stuff happen.
Looking at which scenarios are using the replacement sets, we can see that City of Archives is the only one that isn’t using any of the replacements. But that scenario wasn’t using any TFA sets to begin with…
If RtTFA is supposed to lower the notorious difficulty of TFA, i would say that this is at least not necessarily apparent from these encounter sets. The change from Serpent’s Call to Wrath of Yig stands out as something that makes our lives easier, but on the whole i would say this roughly keeps the same level, maybe ticks it up a bit.
And now… we wait.