|Size of the Encounter Deck
My take on this encounter deck: Considering that this is the Forgotten Age campaign, the encounter deck for Depths of Yoth isn’t actually all that bad. The various serpents are all nothing too special and at this point you should be able to handle them well enough. There are however three major enemies here that can make an appearance: Eater of the Depths can just randomly come from the encounter deck any turn and can be a major problem mostly due to how unpredictable its appearance is. The Harbinger makes a final visit, by now the investigator know her well enough to know how to deal with her. And then there’s Yig, if the agenda advances too much. Encountering him should really be avoided in the first place, which is best done by keeping Vengeance low so you can finish the scenario before even getting to that agenda. Things are different in standalone, of course… so you will need to have a plan for Yig there.
The encounter deck is a bit larger than usual and lacks focus. Some damage here, some horror there, remove an action another time… mostly the deck tries to grind players down with several smaller effects that for themselves aren’t anything to write home about but can be an issue in the long run – which makes a lot of sense for a scenario intended to be playable in a standalone mode where you can try and make it as far as possible before being worn down. A couple of the scenario specific cards scale with depth level, becoming more of a burden as the game goes on.
There is a distinct focus on evading enemies here, even more so than in other Forgotten Age scenarios. Due to how the pursuit area works, evading enemies often keeps them off the board the same way as defeating them would have.
Depths of Yoth is a very well liked scenario for its exploration mechanics and the unique way of playing it as a standalone challenge. The encounter deck however isn’t really anything too special.
Cancel these: Serpent’s Call, Serpent’s Ire. While there’s certainly worse things that can happen than getting poisoned in the second to last scenario, it’s worth avoiding if possible. Serpent’s Call is the only source of poison here and getting rid of it can pay off. Despite the similar name, it’s not to be confused with Serpent’s Ire which is specific to this scenario and potentially the most impactful card in the deck. Spawning an extra enemy and having it attack immediately can set players back more than any of the other treacheries. Deep Dark from Forgotten Ruins is also an option, especially if it’s the second turn in the row where you draw it and you really need to continue on your way.
What it does: Eater of the Depths is a big mini-boss enemy that grabs one of the set-aside locations and puts it into play as its spawn point. It has Hunter and Massive and deals 3 damage and 2 horror, making it a very scary opponent. At 5 combat and 6 stamina, it is also difficult to defeat, even more so if the goal is defeating it in one turn. Its one weakness is its agility which scales with depth level. So if Eater is encountered early on, evading it is still fairly easy, although that can change as the game goes on as well. Defeating Eater of the Depths awards 2 victory points, a suitable reward.
My take: Finally an enemy worthy of the “Monster” trait. Killing this one for its victory points is certainly tempting, but the risk associated with that is not to be underestimated. A lot about how much of a splash this enemy makes depends on how its spawn location connects to the existing ones. If it can hunt straight into a location where the investigators are and would be able to attack everyone there, then it’s important to be proactive about it and have someone pin it down with evasion. Or go and kill it, something that Guardians (and guardian-like investigators like Joe or Tony) should be able to do if it comes to it.
Threat level: High. It’s an imposing enemy, but evading it can solve the problem by burying it at the far end of the queue in the pursuit area.
Dealing with it: A dynamite blast can soften up this enemy to the point where it can be defeated more reasonably. Of course, players might want to save up such cards for an eventual encounter with Yig. If you don’t care about the victory points, one good way of getting rid of the Eater is evading it and then advancing to the next depth level. This will send the creature to the pursuit area, where it will stick around until every other enemy is removed from there: Enemies are taken from the pursuit area in order of their agility, and the Eater has an agility of 0 while not in play.
What it does: Unless Yig is in play, Pit Warden is not added to the board, but into the pursuit area. With only 1 evasion, it joins the queue there right at the end, with only the Eater of Depths being potentially behind it. If it enters play, it’s a reasonably difficult enemy with 4 fight and stamina.
Killing a Pit Warden earns the team a point of Vengeance.
My take: I am wildly unimpressed by these guys. Mostly they don’t even enter play, instead sticking around in the pursuit area forever until it’s finally their turn to spawn or someone draws a Serpent’s Ire. The only situation where they become really threatening is when they spawn at Yig’s location, acting as a life buffer for the Father of Serpents while gaining Retaliation as a relevant ability.
Threat level: Low. Would usually be Low to Medium, but you never get to see those things actually enter play.
Dealing with it: As long as there are other enemies in the pursuit area, these do not matter. And even if they do show up, you can evade them and move on until they get stranded in the pursuit area again. If you are up against Yig himself, you are screwed anyways 🙂
What it does: For the next turn, Children of Valusia will give +1 fight and evade to every Serpent enemy in play. This means all the enemies in this scenario except for Eater of Depths. If multiples are in play, the bonuses stack and only one is discarded at the end of turn. So a combination of multiples of the card has a bigger effect than the sum of its parts.
My take: This card is occasionally annoying, but there’s certainly worse things to draw from the encounter deck. Vengeful Serpents from the Return To box are probably the enemy that gets boosted most by this, but Brood of Yig can also be pushed across the relevant thresholds where they become a lot more difficult to handle.
Threat level: Low to Mid. Can be a problem, but it’d usually be worse to draw another enemy.
Dealing with it: If players have a handle on their enemies, keeping things evaded or defeated, then Children of Valusia can become a freebie. If they are struggling, this only adds to the pile of problems. At this point in the campaign, players should be able to deal with some snakes, even if they get a moderate bonus to their stats for a turn.
What it does: Following an agility test, the investigator suffers 2 damage if they fail. This test scales with the depth level, starting at a difficulty of 2.
My take: Fine? Unless the investigators are poisoned, some incidental damage here and there shouldn’t be too bad. There’s not much else stacking up with it and the encounter deck is fairly thick, so just running the usual soak options should take care of this. Of course, passing the agility test is preferrable, but even if not… i’d rather draw this than another enemy or something else that costs actions.
Threat level: Low. Damage treachery that doesn’t stack up with any others.
Dealing with it: If you are playing a standalone “How deep can you go”, then this card might prompt you do include some solutions for it, either healing or repeatable soak. Otherwise, this will grind you down after a while. For standard campaign play, this does apply some mild pressure, but not in a matter that needs to be adressed specifically.
What it does: Following a willpower test, the investigator suffers 2 horror if they fail. This test scales with the depth level, starting at a difficulty of 2.
My take: The same that was said about Lightless Shadow also goes for Bathophobia. Instead of stacking with poison, there are actually other horror inflicting cards in the encounter deck: Lost in the Wilds (or Resentful Wilds) from Expedition and Ill Omen from Forgotten Ruins. This makes Bathophobia a bit more concerning than its damage counterpart.
Threat level: Low to Mid. I am still not overly concerned about horror from the encounter deck, but there is at least some more support here even if it is heavily diluted from being in a deck that is almost 40 cards.
Dealing with it: The comments on Lightless Shadow apply here as well.
What it does: Serpents Ire takes the Serpent enemy with the highest combat from the pursuit area and spawns it engaged with the investigator. The enemy gets an immediate attack, which can be prevented with an agility test against the enemies fight value.
If no suitable enemies are in the pursuit area, Serpent’s Ire gains surge.
My take: I like this card. It spawns an enemy from the pursuit area, but the interesting part is that it goes by combat value instead of evasion. So enemies like the Pit Warden can skip to the front of the queue here. The immediate attack is also usually difficult to evade, giving this treachery an extra kick. The limitation to Serpent enemies excludes the Eater of the Depths. Let’s all be thankful for that, getting an immediate attack by that thing would’ve been nasty… Still, if Yig or the Harbinger are in the pursuit area, those are bad enough, although the Harbinger with her fight of 2 is at least behind the Pit Wardens in the queue for this card.
Threat level: High. Produces an enemy and a high chance of a free attack by that enemy. With Yig and the Harbinger, there are at least two quality enemies that this can pull.
Dealing with it: As long as there are Pit Wardens in the pursuit area, Serpent’s Ire will be able to grab those instead of Yig or Harbinger. So that’s a good way to keep the worst case away, in case you needed another reason besides their statline to evade those snakes instead of defeating them.
Return to The Depths of Yoth
My take on the modified scenario: One of the scenarios that was the least touched by its Return To modifications. Only a single treachery is added to the exploration deck. And aside from that, the only other changes come from the replacement encounter sets. Yig’s Venom becomes Venomous Hate, once more throwing the Vengeful Serpents at the players. Luckily, this scenario offers another good way to deal with those, as they can be evaded and banished into the pursuit zone, where they won’t return from after drawing another Vengeful Serpent. Serpent Guardian can be a huge pain when it pops up the first time, but is once more an enemy that will just stick in the pursuit area with its 1 evasion. Expedition becomes Doomed Expedition, but this change actually benefits the players. Resentful Wilds isn’t much of an issue at this point because the Vengeance stops being particularly relevant with Depths of Yoth. Lost in the Wilds is a much more impactful card that is now leaving the deck together with the rest of Expedition.
In the end, this scenario plays much the same as it did before. A wise decision to not change too much here, as the originial scenario is one of the best standalone scenarios the game has to offer and a very good scenario just in general.
What it does: Perils of Yoth is added to the exploration deck at every depth level. When it is drawn from there, the exploring player has to choose to either let this exploration attempt fail, setting Perils aside. Or they can take damage and horror equal to the depth level and ignore Perils (but also setting it aside).
My take: A lost action here and there is not going to make or break the scenario success during the campaign. This becomes more interesting when playing the scenario as standalone, when going very deep can make those lost actions add up. Still, not a huge impact in the greater scheme of things.
Threat level: Low. It’s a lost action, nothing spectacular.
Dealing with it: Depending on how confident you are, you could take the damage/horror on the lower levels, but i would advise against it. This sort of reckless behavior only leads to suddenly having to worry about Bathophobia and Lightless Shadow, something i would want to avoid. There’d have to be exceptionally bad circumstances that’d force me to not just lose an action here. Like Yig and his army breathing down my neck and i need to get to the next location NOW. That sort of thing.
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