Other encounter sets in this scenario:
Wages of Sin uses two encounter decks, one for spectral and one for worldly locations
Spectral: Inexorable Fate, Realm of Death, The Watcher, Trapped Spirits
Worldly: Anette’s Coven, City of Sins, Witchcraft
|Size of the Encounter Deck
My take on these encounter decks: Oh boy, Wages of Sin. Full disclosure, this is my least favorite scenario. I’ll make an effort to not have that paint my opinions on the individual cards because those are actually largely fine.
As its central gimmick, Wages of Sin uses two encounter decks and two-sided locations. Depending on which location side you are currently at, you draw from either the spectral or the non-spectral deck. Neat. A bit fiddly and prone to accidentally drawing the wrong cards, but not more so than other scenario gimmicks like infestation tests or random Brood movements.
The worldly deck is themed around witches and their hexes, so it is full of willpower tests and a few enemies. There’s also a surprising amount of damage and horror coming from these cards.
As the game goes on, the locations are locked into their spectral side and accordingly the spectral deck takes over. The focus from willpower, damage and horror disappears. The enemies are also largely weaker than the ones in the witch deck. Instead, there’s the interactions with the Haunted keyword and … well, that’s basically it.
The scenario comes down to seeking out the Heretics, a bunch of previously set aside enemies, defeating them and escorting their backside story card “Unfinished Business” to another location to lay them to rest. The difficulty of those tasks is heavily randomized and might take several turns. Or just an action or two. While lugging this Unfinished Business from one corner of the map to the other, you have to keep all those enemies and treacheries at bay while the Unfinished Business also triggers some effects each turn. Oh, and the Watcher is also on your tail.
This scenario is notorious for being quite difficult, the saving grace here is that you only require to banish one of the Heretics to gain full completion. Everything after that is only victory points. So resign at your own discretion.
I do like the thing with the two encounter decks, but sadly i feel like it’s mostly been a wasted opportunity here. There is only a very brief window in which players actually get to choose whether they want to flip locations around, instead the locations are locked to either side for most of the scenario. Really a pity, this could have been a fun exercise in weighing which side you want to be at, with risk/reward from the interactions of enemies with spectral locations as well. Oh well. Maybe some other time.
I can’t help but think that this scenario would have been better off without the Watcher as well. It’s hard enough already, having this damage sponge constantly breathing down your neck while you have to backtrack all over the map is grating.
As a final point that i’d like to make, i think the spectral deck is quite a bit less interesting than the worldly one. It lacks the focus on doing something really well that the worldly one has. Inexorable Fate in particular is really weird in here. The deck is only used for about half of the scenario (maybe slightly more), so those “collect three” cards are even less likely to come together than usual despite the smaller deck size. I suppose that changes with higher player count, but that’s a whole other issue that is already baked into Inexorable Fate itself.
Cancel these: This is the rare scenario that doesn’t have a particular card stick out as being a priority in my opinion. My suggestion is to hold onto those cancels for as long as you can and use them to protect whoever is carrying an Unfinished Business. They need to spend as little time as possible on dealing with any treacheries so they can work towards finishing the mission.
What it does: Both decks have two copies of a somewhat powerful Hunter shuffled into them, this is the spectral one. It spawns at the Chapel Attic or Crypt and it only gains Hunter while at a spectral location, so as long as those two locations are not flipped, it stays put. It is however able to hunt from a spectral location into a non-spectral one. While it remains at a spectral location, its damage and horror values are increased.
It can be defeated relatively easily, but the only way to do so permanently is with a Spell or Relic card. Each other way of defeat will only banish it to a spectral location of the player’s choice where it will appear exhausted, but healed.
My take: If you don’t have a spell or relic at hand, these guys are nasty. This scenario requires a lot of backtracking along the locations to get the Heretics where they need to be. This will mean that you have to dodge these multiple times over. Which can become a bit of a chore, considering you might also try to dodge the Watcher while suffering from whatever negative effects the Heretic inflicts on you.
On the other hand, if you do have the appropriately traited cards at hand, these enemies are almost trivial. Spend a charge from your Shrivelling, don’t pull the autofail and all you have to do is to make sure they don’t hunt into you.
Threat level: Medium. Hunters that hit hard are dangerous and this scenario’s layout plays to their strength.
Dealing with it: So, hopefully you have something that kills them permanently. For Wraiths, that wasn’t that important, but these can be a pain if you don’t. Your only bet in that case is be quick about your business and banish them to the other side of the map whenever possible. Maybe even straight to where another fighter is so he can spend an action the next turn to take it down again.
What it does: The spectral deck has four copies of cards that interact with the Unfinished Business side of the Heretics. Half of those are Burdens of the Past, which triggers the Forced ability on the Unfinished Business. If the player controls no Unfinished Business, Burdens of the Past surges.
My take: There’s four possible effects that can be triggered by this: gain 1 damage, gain 1 horror, lose 2 resources, discard 2 cards. Alternatively, flip the Unfinished Business back to its Heretic side (which you don’t want, obviously). I suppose all of those effects are relatively okay considering they come from your encounter card for this turn. The only issue comes from the timing with the card. Since you draw this in your mythos phase, you just had to suffer through that effect at the end of the previous round. If that left you without cards to discard or resources to lose, you’d have to flip the card to its Heretic side.
Threat level: Low to Mid. A relatively weak effect that can possibly lead to having the Unfinished Business become an enemy again.
Dealing with it: It’s sort of hard to prepare for this card, often you don’t know what sort of Unfinished Business you are going to pick up when defeating the Heretic. Unless you spent the clues to peek, of course. In that case you could at least have saved up some resources or drawn some extra cards to prepare for this eventuality. Luckily, the chances for all of this coming together are fairly slim and likely not worth specifically worrying about.
What it does: This is the other card that deals with the Unfinished Business. After drawing Bane of the Living, the player has to either turn an Unfinished Business back into a Heretic (at half health) or spawn and engage the next Geist enemy from the spectral deck.
My take: There’s only four enemies in the spectral deck and all of them are Geists. So this will have you engage either a Wraith or a Malevolent Spirit. Both are probably fine, as they both die to any weapon attack and fairly easily so. Sure, it might require a relic or spell to defeat them permanently, but when you are trying to get rid of a Heretic, this card shouldn’t take away much of your time in the short term.
Should the player who draws this card not have an Unfinished Business, they have to draw out the enemy, of course. So in a way, this card makes up for the low creature count in the spectral deck by providing another 2 “wildcard” copies of those enemies.
Threat level: Either Low or Medium, entirely dependent on which enemy you pull.
Dealing with it: I don’t consider the first choice on the card to really be an option. Either of the enemies from the deck is easier to defeat (or at least semi-defeat) than the Heretic. Also, delivering that Heretic to whatever other location is the actual goal of the scenario. So i don’t see any reason why one should voluntarily flip it over.
What it does: The other scenario specific Hunter enemy, this one goes into the non-spectral deck with the rest of the witches. Vengeful Witch has a 3 in all of her stats, making her a good deal tougher than most of the other enemies in the two encounter decks. Not only does she attack for 1 horror and damage each, she will also deal this as direct horror and damage when defeated to every investigator at her location.
She also is Alert, so evading instead of defeating also carries the risk of some extra attacks.
My take: Ugh, i hate her. She’s more difficult to defeat than most of the other enemies and will even give you a last slap on her way out. Having her deal the damage and horror to multiple investigators should usually be easy enough to prevent, but still. Having her hunt into your location means she gets to deal 2 damage and 2 horror to you while taking either at least 2 actions to defeat or some of your limited amount of burst damage that is also in demand for dealing with the Watcher and the Heretics. All all-around bad deal for the players.
Threat level: Medium to High. She’s not the most threatening thing around by far, but she pushes all the right buttons to be as much of a pain as possible.
Dealing with it: Unless you are already at the Gallows or Graves, she will need a couple turns to get to you. A fighter should meet her proactively, moving into her location and kill her. That way you do get to avoid the attack from her moving into you and you get to contain her attack on defeat to only one investigator. Preferably, this should be done by someone with a 3 damage attack, of course. While it does take a Spectral Razor or similar away from your arsenal for dealing with the Watcher, it’s likely worth spending to not have the witch become more of a threat.
What it does: On reveal, Punishment is put into the player’s threat area where it sticks around until someone at their location spends an action and passes a willpower test. With an exhausted witch at the same location, this test automatically succeeds.
While under effect of Punishment, the investigator suffers 1 damage whenever an enemy is defeated anywhere.
My take: Another in a long line of Hex treachery that follow the same template. At least this one doesn’t stop the player from doing their things like Bedeviled and Wracked do. But still, while not immediately threatening, the damage from this stacks up over time and there are enough other sources of damage around that you’d want to get rid of it rather sooner than later.
Threat level: Low to Mid. Depending on your tolerance for some extra damage, this isn’t as urgent as other Hex cards.
Dealing with it: Have the investigator with the best Willpower discard this for an action at your earliest convenience. It’s usually not worth having to spend extra actions on moving around for, so just find the time when you get an opportunity to discard it. The damage can be counteracted by soak from assets, but shouldn’t be underestimated. While there’s not too many fights happening in this scenario, it can rack up a good amount of testless damage over time. Note that defeating the Watcher or banishing (but not discarding) Wraiths and Malevolent Spirits will still trigger this card.
What it does: The player has to choose between one of two effects. Either they have to pass a willpower test or take 2 horror. Or they have to draw from the spectral deck, adding Peril and “can not be canceled” to that card.
My take: Anyone with high willpower can take the test, i guess. I actually do like my chances with the spectral deck, though. The cards that trigger haunted effects do just whiff (or worst case, surge) when drawn here and so do the ones that mess with Unfinished Business. The enemies aren’t all that dangerous. Drawing out an early Malevolent Spirit can even be beneficial. Sure, it will add Peril and can not be canceled, but many of those spectral cards do already have Peril.
Threat level: Low. It’s a surge-like effect that can also be replaced with a test. Nothing to worry about too much.
Dealing with it: Well, ultimately you deal with the card you draw afterwards, provided you don’t just take the test. There is a decent amount of extra horror going around, interestingly enough most of it is in the worldly deck, though. So taking that test can be a relatively safe option if you don’t want to risk pulling something like Fate of All Fools.
What it does: When drawn from the non-spectral deck, this is shuffled into the spectral deck and surges. When drawn from the spectral deck, it deals 2 damage and is put into the non-spectral discard.
My take: Cute. It deals 2 testless damage, but you have to draw it twice. This thing is actually sort of dangerous. During the first half of the scenario, you mostly draw from the worldly deck, so any Grave-Lights drawn then are moved over to the other deck where they wait for the second half of the game, when the pressure on players ramps up. Cards like Grave-Light will punish those who let Punishment stick around for too long or those who lost a chunk of life to the Forced effect of an Unfinished Business in particular, but anyone who took a couple attacks might also be in danger. Something to keep in mind for sure.
Threat level: Medium. Although you need to draw it twice before it does something, the first time surges. So this is basically 2 testless damage from one encounter draw.
Dealing with it: It’s testless and without any player choice attached, so there isn’t much you can do about it. The usual applies: damage and horror are only relevant once they take away your last point. Keep a buffer, deploy soaks and when close to the edge of being defeated, stay away from fights or similar risks. Better yet, resign if you are in actual danger.
Return to The Wages of Sin
My take on the modified scenario: Considering that Wages of Sin is generally considered on of the least fun scenarios around, hopes were high for a fix that reworks this scenario the same way that RtTFA did for Doom of Eztli. Sadly, this is not what we got. Despite what looks like an enormous amount of changes, the scenario barely changed for most people. Five of the seven encounter sets are swapped out (Watcher and Coven are the ones that stick around) which does two things: One, agility tests become a thing. Two, the powerlevel of some notable cards got taken down a peg. Certainly a good thing in total, but the fundamental issue of the scenario (Heretics, purging them, the random aspect behind them) is unchanged and so is the obnoxious amount of Hunters on this map. Some new Heretics and locations introduce some more variety, as we are used to by now.
For anyone following Erynn’s storyline, there’s a new objective here that can allow you to recruit her – however that will require purging 3 Heretics, so it’s very difficult to actually do and requires sacrificing the XP you would usually get for the Unfinished Business cards.
All things considered, there’s a lot of card stock from the box devoted to changing up the scenario, but at least for my money the changes don’t actually fix the things i didn’t like about Wages of Sin.
What it does: Two of these are added to the worldly encounter deck. Like Grave-Light, they go from the worldly deck to the spectral one on reveal and will only do their actual effect when drawn the second time from there. When revealed from the spectral deck, all Haunted abilities are triggered twice and Witchweed either surges or is shuffled back into the worldly deck.
My take: First things first, i will always shuffle this card back into the standard encounter deck when given the choice. By the time you find this card from the spectral deck, the standard deck is already basically out of play anyways. The effect on reveal from spectral is a good deal stronger than Grave-Light’s. Triggering Haunted twice can be rough, like causing a lot of discard effects or adding two encounter cards to player’s threat area. This is offset by being a freebie on the first draw, though.
Threat level: Low to Mid. A freebie on the first draw and with high variance on the second draw. Can really screw you over if things align against you, but it’s equally likely to be mild.
Dealing with it: Witchweed makes up for Realm of Death’s replacement with a slightly more manageable version. So it doesn’t actually introduce something too new to the scenario, but it does increase the chance of having to interact with the Haunted mechanic more. This is tough to avoid, after all the scenario really dictates where you have to go and you rarely get to pick locations based on where you would like to be during the Mythos phase. With 4-6 treacheries that care about Haunted in an encounter deck of 20-22 cards it’s not really worth playing around much. Which in turn only makes this card have more impact when it does come up. It does also have Peril, so cancel cards aren’t the best answer either. You might just have to take these on the chin.
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