But first, a rant!
Before i get to this week’s Scarlet Keys spoilers, i would like to take this opportunity to call out something positive about a couple of the new cards we’ve seen already: Captivating Discovery, Motivational Speech, “I’ll Take That!”, one of this week’s previews. These cards have in common that they break an all too present trend of having nondescript dudes in suits and a fedora on the artwork. Instead, these cards embrace the rich background of the Arkham Files and have some of the investigators on them that we know and instantly recognize: Rex, Charlie, Skids, Pete&Duke. My wish is that this becomes the new norm. We have almost 60 investigators now, that’s a huge array of protagonists to use, plaster them all over the player cards. The Improvised Shield could’ve been held up by Stella. Or Preston! The Grievious Wound could show Zoey with a scary blade. Or William with his shovel. That sort of thing. Now to be fair, the Edge of the Earth has had some great art in this regard in it. I am especially happy when i see some of the more “out there” investigators on the cards, like Sefina on Blur, Akachi on Winds of Power or Dexter on Ethereal Slip. So it’s definitely going in the right direction.
I suppose what i want to say is… If anyone from FFG is reading this: please more like this! Let’s get rid of of those placeholder dudes on your artwork and let this world you built really breathe.
Alright. Now to the cards. But first, as usual the sources you can look up the details and give the content creators behind the previews their due clicks, subscribes, follows, button smashes etc.
Heed the Dream was previewed by Optimal Play on Youtube
Pocket Multi Tool was previewed by Los Archivos de Arkham on Twitch
Predator or Prey was previewed by Miskatonic University Radio on Twitch
Thieves’ Kit and Elle Rubash were previewed by Mythos Busters on Twitch
Damning Testimony was previewed by Drawn To The Flame on their podcast
Fighting Lessons was previewed by Whisperer in Darkness on Youtube
That’s a neat little workhorse of a card that has some things going for it. Two icons for either attack or evasion is a good baseline and Practiced is a relevant trait for sure. Unlike the somewhat similar Leadership, this also has its full range of effect if you use it on yourself. The ability to commit to just any test is more useful in bigger groups than in smaller ones, but since it is part of the supporter archetype around Carson Sinclair that is to be expected. I could see this skill make an appearance outside of the full support archetype as well, mostly if the investigator can make good use of the Practiced trait. Otherwise Daring provides steep competition with an extra icon and a card draw attached to it that this card of course doesn’t have.
I think this is fine, but probably mostly reserved for the supporter archetype. I’m probably rarely going to take this “just in case i need to help someone else”. As the Guardian, attacking is kinda your job already most of the time.
This is a very important card for rogue that plugs a couple holes in the deckbuilding of some investigators. Over the last years we have gotten several rogue investigators with 5 agility and also a couple ways to substitute agility for other tests, similar to the way that Mystics go about using their willpower. With Thieves’ Kit, we now get a green Sixth Sense. With a dash of Christopher Milan sprinkled over it. Now, both Sixth Sense and Milan are among the best cards of their respective classes, so this comparison should have you on edge already. Thieves’ Kit does of course have a use limit through supplies on it, so it can’t be used indefinitely but by the time it’s used up you got 6 investigations out of it and probably made a profit in resources along the way. That’s pretty great. While it doesn’t offer a stat bonus by itself, the ability to use agility instead of intellect allows rogues to use a wide array of agility skills (or just spare agility icons on other cards) to enhance their investigation tests. Replacing the test isn’t even mandatory, so you can still use the kit with intellect icons on someone like Trish for example just to get the resource for investigating.
The direct competition for Thieves’ Kit is Lockpicks, of course. And for high intellect investigators it will probably turn out that Lockpicks is better, enabling oversuccess or just being more reliable. But Thieves’ Kit does have a couple advantages. As mentioned, the flexibility to commit either agility icons or intellect icons is great (remember, you can’t commit agility icons to Lockpick tests). Paying itself off over time is very nice as well. But most importantly, the Kit doesn’t exhaust on use like a Lockpick does. So you can use it more often and failing doesn’t leave you without a tool for the rest of the turn. Lockpicks also really need the 1XP upgrade to be reliable. It’s not a huge cost, but it’s not nothing either.
I look forward to playing the Kit alongside Pilfer in my high agility rogues. I’ve been doing the “agility for everything” thing for a while and it’s rather good. The Kit is going to be a huge boon to that archetype, filling in when using Pilfer for a clue or two just isn’t viable while at the same time giving me back resources that i can then throw into more Pilfering at the next location. Sweet card.
Oh, and one more thing. A card fan from the spanish Asmodee store shows that there’s a level 3 upgraded Thieves’ Kit in the set as well. We don’t know anything about it yet, but with this good as a level zero baseline and at 3XP that is probably going to be one hell of a card to look forward to!
What a weird card this is. On the podcast, they compared Damning Testimony to Fingerprint Kit and as a baseline in terms of power that seems accurate enough. I don’t think i would ever play this at level zero, but once you got the 2XP for Blackmail added into the mix, the card starts looking a lot more reasonable. Investigating three times with a +2 bonus, discovering two clues each time? Sure, i could see that happening even in spite of the requirement for an enemy and the weird split between locations regarding the clues you discover. To be really something to get majorly interested in, i would want to get either Surveil or Expose on top, though. And that already puts us at 5 or 6XP. 7 or 8XP, if we also want Fabricated Evidence, which we probably do. What we get for this is an asset that lets us remote investigate locations that can potentially be quite far away (Surveil) or a very neat little piece of tech to kill Acolytes, Whipoorwills and similar low health enemies that spawn on remote locations (Expose).
As an investigation tool, it ends up in a similar spot as Fingerprint Kit. It’s a fine card, but i rarely end up actually putting it in a deck. While rogue is better suited to cough up the 4 resources to play this thing than seeker is, there’s a considerable barrier of XP that needs to be spent before this card becomes good. I am not sure i have that sort of XP in rogue.
So i suspect that i will probably only use this for its Expose mode. Paying 8Xp to get two copies of a card that just murders Acolytes all over the map can be a great deal for Circle Undone and Forgotten Age in particular, but most other campaigns have other enemies this would be good against as well. Not just the Whipoorwills, but also for example Deep One Hatchlings in Innsmouth or Web-Spinners in Dream-Eaters.
Something notable here is that while Expose does have the “non-Elite” clause, the rest of the card does not. So you can use it to slowly steal clues from under an Elite enemy’s guard without having to engage them. You can also use the Extort mode to exhaust Elites. Both of those could potentially be useful as well.
As with the other customizable cards, this one is hard to evaluate in full just from looking at it for a bit. I don’t think i will use this much just to discover clues (Thieves’ Kit kinda stole its thunder for that), but there are some uses for the enemy handling parts for sure. It just needs to be seen if the relatively high XP investment is something you’ll want to do in practice.
Woah, now there’s some power. Hiding away up to two doom on your player cards away from the agenda threshold basically puts both Amina and Marie into a whole new context. Marie only needs one doom in play for her to enable her investigator ability, with Elle she can do that rather safely. Since Elle can mask a second doom, she can then also help dealing with Baron Samedi, Marie’s weakness. Amina doesn’t really want doom in play, but when she uses her ability she’ll end up with some until she can get rid of it. Elle will give her more time to deal with those permanents. That is incredibly powerful for those two investigators.
But even outside of Marie and Amina, Elle has some good uses. Arcane Initiate isn’t that much of an issue, but some other doom centric cards like Abyssal Tome, David Renfield or De Vermis Mysteriis look a lot more appealing to keep in play with Elle helping to soften the considerable downsides of those cards.
This is a very good card for its purpose and of a much higher power level than i anticipated we would get. At this point i didn’t even mention the +1 skill value for attached cards yet, which will help Amina in particular who has to overcome her awful statline of all 3s. With Elle, she uses the Sickle and Dowsing Rod that were previewed by FFG earlier at a skill of 5, which is where it starts becoming good enough to lean on it.
Heed the Dream
I pretty much love everything about this card. Considering the rant i posted at the top of the page, the artwork of Ashcan Pete with his good boy Duke is just something that makes me happy. As for the card itself, i like it both on a mechanical level and for its actual effect. Starting with the mechanics, having Revelation on a player card is a bit of a novelty. We had this on weaknesses before of course, but now it’s extended to card we put into our decks voluntarily. So what does Revelation mean? It’s a double edged sword, because on the one hand it costs neither resources nor actions to play, but on the other hand we have no choice in the matter with regards to timing or whether we want to play it at all. When we draw this, we have to. And we have to do it now, not later. We’ll get back to that in a bit, let’s look at the effect. Taken at face value, this card straight up draws X cards, where X is the number of players. It’s actually a bit better than that even, as we get a choice in which cards to draw. A free Draw X? That’s spectacular and would be worth it even in 2 player. However, this comes with the cost of removing 2X cards from the game. This isn’t all that bad when you play this for the first time, after all you probably have more than 2 good cards in your deck and so are the other players. Decks (unless particularly degenerate) usually don’t fold in on themselves when removing a card or two. If you have two of them and start looping your deck (remember your deck is getting smaller) this could become an issue however. And this is where we return to the whole thing about having to play it when we draw it. There’s no way of holding it back, so given enough time, this will eat up all decks. While that might be only relevant in particularly long scenarios like Kadath or Secret Name, it’s still something to at least keep in mind. For that reason i think this might be a card you will want to run only a single copy of. Or i don’t know, play Forced Learning or something.
But i do think you want one copy almost always. Getting free cards for everyone at no immediate cost is pretty crazy, especially for Survivors who usually don’t get value cards like this. And Survivors usually have spare XP to spend after getting their core upgrades. Unless they are juggling chainsaws, i suppose.
Finally, i actually look forward to resolving this card. Seems like a fun minigame. In the preview video, it is compared to Magic’s iconic “Fact or Fiction” and i think that is a very apt reference. Fact or Fiction is a card with a very high skill ceiling that i enjoyed playing immensely back when i was still into Magic, Heed the Dream could capture some of that feeling.
Really cool card and quite powerful. Next i want to see “Peril.” printed on a player card. 🙂
Predator or Prey
We also got Predator or Prey, another Dilemma and Survivor card, giving some credence to the theory that Dilemma might be a thing we’ll only see on red cards. The jury is still out on that particular theory, of course.
Sadly, I like Predator or Prey a lot less than Heed the Dream. The ability to manipulate enemies is potentially powerful, but very dependent on the right timing. However by putting it on a card with the Dilemma mechanics, you take away the ability to time it right. In turn, getting something good out of it is sort of left to chance. In the end, this might on average save an action here or there, but mostly this doesn’t really feel like it’s worth a deck slot to me. It’s just too unreliable for me to be comfortable with it. I’ll pass on this one and let someone else figure out how to use it. It is able to move Elite enemies, so surely there’s a way to do some silly stuff with that in standalone scenarios. But i can’t think of a campaign where this would be consistently useful. Maaaaybe Forgotten Age…
Pocket Multi Tool
Like with the other customizable cards we’ve seen, there’s quite a lot to unpack here. The most important thing to note right away: the Multi Tool can give you the bonus for any skill test, it’s not limited to investigation or combat like Ice Pick. This can even be used during the Mythos phase when trying to resist an encounter card. The other important thing is that it uses the same templating as Ice Pick, meaning it can be combined with an action ability on any of your cards. This can help you use Sixth Sense, it can help you attack with Sled Dogs, it can even be used to increase your chances with something wild like Parallel Skids’ weird gamble ability or a Money Talks test. Basically, if you could use Lucky! on the test, the Multi Tool is also valid. That sort of flexibility is certainly powerful. It also means that including it as a mere investigation tool or as a weapon feels kinda wasted, might as well use Ice Pick at that point (or the upgraded Flashlight which i still hope is going to be in this set). Personally, the thing that interests me most here is the encounter protection it offers. I have played Tooth of Eztli many times before just for the +1 will and agility. This offers +1 to any such test as a baseline and just a single XP turns it up to +2. That’s stellar. The hand slot is a big ask, but there’s absolutely enough raw power here that this deserves consideration. Spring-Loaded is also looking really spicy, turning the Multi Tool into a sort of Jake Morrison that does in fact ready each turn and takes a hand slot instead of an ally slot. Jake Morrison is quite powerful, this new card has the potential to be even better.
No matter what else you do with the Multi Tool, if you are playing in a group, throwing out the 1XP for Detachable won’t hurt either. I’m not quite sure on how Spring-Loaded and Detachable are supposed to interact, but i suppose that’s going to get cleared up soon enough. Until it is, i will be holding Maxine to her “It Works The Way You Want It To (TM)” and declare that this will just mean that other investigators get to trigger that reaction as well. Because that’s how i want it to work 🙂
So in conclusion, this also looks like a very cool card to me.