|Size of the Encounter Deck
My take on this encounter deck: I appreciate the design behind using just a single enemy and having the rest of the encounter deck devoted to enhancing that enemy or slowing down the investigators. Ideally, there are three different clocks in play that the players will have to beat on their search through the museum: One, the doom clock as usual. There’s not a whole lot of doom acceleration in the deck and the agenda thresholds are somewhat big, so this is usually less of a concern. Two, Beyond the Veil. The scenario has Sorcery, The Beyond and three copies of a scenario specific card working towards the deck depletion theme, so being hit by the ten damage for decking out is a real threat. Three, the Hunting Horror keeps growing over time and can in theory become a threat that ends the scenario. A templating error in the original scenario makes this unlikely to happen, but with Return To in the mix losing to Hunting Horror spiraling out of control is certainly a possibility.
The Chilling Cold and Locked Doors encounter sets further play into these themes, trying to slow down the players and stopping them from clearing the locations. Only the Bad Luck set sticks out as not fitting at all. Both thematically and mechanically it doesn’t really add anything to the scenario.
Cancel these: Beyond the Veil, Slithering Behind You. Canceling BtV takes a lot of pressure from the person who would now otherwise see themselves confronted with yet another ticking timebomb. Canceling Slithering Behind You while the Horror is out of play will not only stop the Horror from appearing, more importantly it will prevent the addition of one more resource to Shadow-Spawned. If playing with Return To, then Night Beyond Void is a priority cancel as well, of course.
What it does: The only enemy in the deck is not much to feel threatened about at first but when defeated it will not stay down forever. Meager combat stats and little damage make the Hunting Horror little more than a recurring annoyance at first, however if it is allowed to grow via Shadow-Spawned, it can quickly become more difficult to take down as fight and health both ramp up. Following the same progression, Retaliate isn’t much of a big deal at first but missing an attack becomes more likely as the Horror starts collecting stat bonuses. The Hunter keyword is obligatory for such an enemy and works in tandem with the conditional Massive from the Shadow-Spawned attachment to deal damage and horror to every investigator at the location it moves into. Its ability to randomly ready at the start of the enemy phase weakens the use of evasion and similar effects.
My take: It’s such a pity that the original version of Miscatonic Museum is held back by the templating issues that will stop the Horror from growing when the agendas advance. But when setting those aside and playing the scenario as intended (including the fix from the Return To box), the Horror is a formidable enemy that can become a real problem. Once it has three resources, it has Massive, 6 health and 5 fight/evade, which is when the Horror really becomes interesting. The damage/horror it causes on attack sadly doesn’t scale, so it never gets past being a huge roadblock instead of being an immediate threat on its own… luckily that is also fixed in the Return To Miscatonic Museum.
Threat level: Mid to High when playing the scenario as intended. Low to Mid when using the rules as written. Without getting counters from the agendas, the Horror just doesn’t have enough opportunities to grow into a credible threat that’d require much effort to defeat.
Dealing with it: Under rules as written, it is possible to spawn the Horror from the first agenda without attaching Shadow-Spawned and then using evade to keep it on the board in its weak state. Such shenanigans aside, the biggest threat comes from the Horror being able spawn anywhere and move anywhere via Stalked in the Dark. So a vulnerable investigator might find themselves staring down a 5+ fight enemy suddenly that they can’t defeat on their own. Luckily, all the locations are close to each other so whoever is able to fight the creature should be close enough to catch up fast. The Horror deals little combat damage, and the encounter deck doesn’t add a lot of pressure in that way either. As a result it’s also entirely possible for an investigator to tank the hits from Hunting Horror for a couple of turns while the other players finish up the scenario.
What it does: Slithering Behind You will bring the Hunting Horror into play from anywhere at the player’s location, engaged with the investigator. Should the Horror already be in play, a doom is added to the Horror instead.
My take: Aside from the agendas, the cultist token and the forced effect on the final location, this is the only way for the Horror to enter play. As such, i really would’ve like to see the full three of them in the deck because they are so important for the central mechanic to work and the deck is pretty large. Under rules as written, this is even the primary way for the Horror to get its Shadow-Spawned attachment. On my first play of the scenario i actually played this card wrong, as i expected it to put resources on the Horror while it’s in play instead of doom. That being said, doom does make sense here, as it plays right into the theme of putting the players on a clock to find the Necronomicon.
Threat level: Mid to High. One of the cornerstones that make this scenario tick.
Dealing with it: You’ll usually not deal with this card directly, but instead deal with the Horror it spawns. That being said, it can be canceled and as a result, cards like Ward of Protection or Test of Will can make this scenario considerably easier – much more so than usual.
Note that killing the Horror will make the doom go away. Unlike the resource tokens, the doom tokens will not stick around when the Horror and its attachment are being moved to the void.
What it does: Stalked in the Dark will move the Hunting Horror to the player’s location, engaged and ready. The Horror will then attack everyone at that location. If the Horror is currently out of play, the card surges.
My take: A good effect that makes sure the Horror stays on top of the players and can not be evaded and “parked” somewhere out of place. The Surge is a bit of a missed opportunity here, i think. In my opinion, this card could have easily put the Horror into play as well, or put a resource on the attachment. As it is now, the card doesn’t do anything but cycle if the players manage to keep the Horror out of play by defeating it quickly.
Threat level: Low to Mid. Most of the time, when the Hunting Horror is in play, it is already engaged with someone or at least within striking distance of the Hunter keyword. So this will not do much more than one or two extra attacks in most cases.
Dealing with it: By defeating the Horror whenever it pops up, this card can be turned into a blank that only ever surges. The only time when this card needs to be kept in mind is if the players try to pin down the Horror by evading and/or tanking it over several turns.
What it does: If the investigator fails on a willpower test, the player will need to decide to either discard five cards from their deck or to take one damage to all of their allies and to themselves. If the Hunting Horror is at the investigator’s location, the willpower test increases in difficulty.
My take: As its name indicates, Passage into the Veil plays right into the trigger condition of Beyond the Veil from the Sorcery set. With both Sorcery and The Beyond being part of the encounter deck, discarding 5 cards from the deck is a real cost. And so is the damage, if it hits ally assets. The damage to players isn’t really supported by other damage cards, but having to discard crucial cards like Lola Santiago or Peter Sylvestre can be quite punishing.
Threat level: Mid to High. The willpower test isn’t terribly difficult, but the consequences on failing the test are appropriately dire.
Dealing with it: In this scenario, it is probably going to be preferrable to take the damage instead of the deck discard. The latter has so many other encounter cards playing off of it in a bad way, leading to an early due to Beyond the Veil. That being said, protecting a key asset can be a consideration, especially Lola can be a game changer in this scenario.
What it does: If the player fails an intellect check, they lose one action for each point they failed by.
My take: An untimely auto-fail or just a botched test in general can cost a complete turn. This is much more likely to occur for the investigators whose job it is to deal with the Hunting Horror than for those who clear the locations and work towards finishing the scenario. All things considered, this card is usually not that bad but it does have some bad case scenarios that depend on the current board state.
Threat level: Mid. Usually not much to worry about as even investigators with low intellect can usually work towards losing only one or two actions, but still: losing actions is troublesome.
Dealing with it: There’s little opportunity to plan for this card. It only becomes a huge problem if the player who is currently engaged with the Horror draws it, but even then the Horror doesn’t apply enough pressure with its attacks for this to be truely devastating. As long as the players stick together, there’s also always the opportunity for other players to commit spare intellect icons to the test when it’s important.
Return to The Miscatonic Museum
My take on the modified scenario: Miscatonic Museum might be the scenario that is most improved by any of the Return To boxes. While the two additions to the encounter deck do certainly contribute a good deal to turning the Hunting Horror into the monster it’s supposed to be, the bigger change of course comes from the fix to the interaction of the A and B sides of the agendas. Personally, i would use that fix anytime i play Miscatonic Museum, even when not playing Return To.
In terms of additions to the encounter deck, Return To adds two more opportunities for the Horror to grow in size and two cards that add some much needed punch to its attacks.
As far as i am concerned, this scenario update gets gold stars all around, it turns a very lackluster base scenario into a much more thrilling race against several parallel mechanics.
What it does: Night Beyond Void advances the stat growth of the Hunting Horror by placing a resource on Shadow-Spawned. It does so even when the attachment is currently out of play or not even attached to Hunting Horror yet. Afterwards, the card is placed in the Victory display, so each of the two cards can only do their thing once.
My take: Another important piece to the puzzle of making the Hunting Horror a dangerous foe. With Return to MM in the mix, there are now seven triggers for the Horror to grow: two from the agendas, two from Slithering Behind You, two from this card and one from the final location. On top of that there’s the cultist token which isn’t much of a factor on Easy and Standard, but can be relevant on higher difficulties. This is a nice critical mass of effects to make sure that players get to encounter a beefed up central enemy rather sooner than later.
Threat level: High. Plus one to all relevant stats of the Hunting Horror is a big deal, especially when this treachery is drawn early in the scenario it can increase the early game pressure by a lot.
Dealing with it: If a Ward or Test of Faith is used on Night Beyond Void, it still goes to the victory display because those player cards only cancel the revelation effect (exception: Ward(5)). In spite of that, Slithering Behind You is probably the better target for these cards, though. Aside from using an available cancel to stop the treachery itself, players will just have to face down a bigger Hunting Horror and will have to deal with that accordingly.
What it does: Dark Bidding attaches to Hunting Horror until the next time that enemy attacks. On that attack, Dark Bidding is discarded and the attack deals an additional damage and horror. On top of that, the Hunting Horror is healed for two damage when the card triggers.
My take: Dark Bidding fixes one of my gripes with the original scenario where the big bad enemy didn’t deal enough damage to really feel very threatening. With Dark Bidding in the deck, this dynamic changes and powers up Stalked in the Dark as well. The healing is not quite as relevant as the extra damage, but can make the Hunting Horror soak up another action at times.
Threat level: Mid to High. While it only represents one horror and one damage on its own, this damage is only dealt when the enemy would already attack. So it always stacks up with another damage source. The heal isn’t completely irrelevant either.
Dealing with it: An investigator who is able to take the hit might very well provoke an attack of opportunity to clear this treachery from the Hunting Horror. That way, Stalked in the Dark can not apply the damage to someone vulnerable and the heal can be wasted while the Horror is still at full life.
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