|Size of the Encounter Deck
My take on this encounter deck: This is one of the most well-liked scenarios in the game, and for good reason. It shares a lot of its DNA with Midnight Masks and in fact shares most of the encounter deck. As reflected by using only one of the encounter sets from the Forgotten Age deluxe box, Threads of Fate is a departure from the rest of the campaign, trading the jungle for familiar locations all around Arkham.
The encounter deck mostly runs on two things: Denying clues and advancing the doom clock, thus pushing hard against the player’s tries to further their various goals. Moreso than in Masks, this scenario does also sport a good amount of damage dealing treacheries, and players can easily find themselves overwhelmed from On Wings of Darkness, Hunting Shadow and The Secret Must Be Kept.
Despite the low number of enemies in the deck, the amount of Hunters can be an issue, especially since players usually have other things to do here. Return to Threads of Fate can even throw the Harbinger of Valusia into the mix, but the base scenario does have enough of a punch with Nightgaunts and Brotherhood Cultists already.
Dealing with these enemies is an important step towards staying ahead of the doom clock as well. Most of the enemies here are cultists with their usual doom shenanigans going on. Putting a stop to that and preventing an early advancement of an agenda should be a priority.
The really unique thing about Threads of Fate is of course the existence of multiple act decks and the player choice that comes from being allowed to work on them in any order. These all feature some heavy clue requirements to advance and either require a fight or a parley in the middle, keeping everyone further occupied.
One of the best scenarios in the game.
Cancel these: Nobody’s Home, Conspiracy of Blood. Threads of Fate doesn’t really have any must-counters that stick very far out. The Secret Must Be Kept is the only exceptionally dangerous card, but since it has Peril, holding out a cancel for it is probably not worth it. The rest of the cards should be evaluated by how many actions they waste and for many of them this is going to fluctuate a lot. Nobody’s Home has the potential to be a huge pain, but might also just stick to a location you can safely skip. In a similar way, the Nightgaunt Taxi to the center location (On Wings of Darkness) can be either a big time waster, a minor nuisance or even beneficial depending on the circumstances. Conspiracy of Blood is the only piece of doom acceleration in this scenario that can not be counteracted by shooting someone or something, making it an attractive target for cancels.
What it does: After failing a willpower test, the investigator is dealt both horror and damage. This card scales massively with the number of completed act decks. For each act deck that is no longer in play, The Secret Must Be Kept deals and extra point of damage, and extra point of horror and has its willpower test difficulty increased by one.
The Secret Must Be Kept has Peril, making it harder to cancel and preventing other players from helping with the test.
My take: If you are on your last act deck, this thing deals 3 damage and horror to you if you don’t pass a will(5) test. During Return To Threads of Fate, it can scale even higher. This is a huge threat in the late game and every one of them that you can draw early on is worth a sigh of relief – although a card that deals a horror and damage each is still not exactly harmless.
Usually, this would be a card to hold a cancel for, but Peril makes that less attractive as well. It’s a truely hideous card that can punish investigators for trying to finish up “just one more act” before resigning. It reminds me a lot of Timeline Destabilization, which serves a similar purpose in Boundary Beyond, the scenario that comes right after this one.
Luckily, this is still early in the campaign, so hopefully the players didn’t rack up a lot of trauma yet to make this card even more likely to overwhelm them.
Threat level: High. This is one of the cards that limit how long you can stay in the scenario.
Dealing with it: Keep track of how many of these are still in the deck as you are getting close to finishing up one or two of the act decks. Depending on how much damage these could do, you should reserve some of your health and sanity specifically for these. Otherwise you risk meeting a huge chunk of damage and horror out of left field, something that can easily take an investigator out of the game.
If possible, consider keeping the last bit of an act in play instead of advancing it for as long as you can while working on a different act instead.
What it does: Nobody’s Home attaches to the player’s location where it stays until all the clues there are discovered. If no clues are around when the card is drawn, the card surges. While Nobody’s Home is in play, investigating the attached location requires an extra action.
My take: Anyone being able to grab multiple clues per investigation or bypassing investigative actions alltogether is less impacted. Also, this card makes failing the intellect test hurt a lot more than usual. As a result anyone who is already only mediocre at clue finding is punished a lot more by this card than specialised cluevers.
This card will often tax multiple actions out of the group if they want to pick up those clues, in many cases it may be preferable to just move on and leave the location be. Of course that is not always possible, as it can easily attach to a location that is the target of one of the acts.
I’ve used Alter Fate on Nobody’s Home before, that can certainly be worth it if you don’t have cards that discover clues without an investigation.
Random fun fact: This is the only “Mystery” traited encounter card in the game.
Threat level: Mid. Potentially wastes several actions, but players are often free to just move to another location instead. Also, there is a good number of commonly played cards that bypass this.
Dealing with it: If you can pick up the clues without having to investigate, this card becomes a freebie. Scene of the Crime, Working a Hunch and so on are all great for this. Failing that, having stuff like Deduction or Finger Print Kit can neutralize the action loss.
What it does: Conspiracy of Blood attaches to the current agenda and reduces its doom threshold by one. It is discarded when the agenda advances. To discard it before it can cause the agenda to advance a turn earlier than planned, it can be discarded by parleying a Cultist enemy, spending an action and passing a willpower test. However, should the willpower test fail, a doom is instead added to that cultist.
My take: I usually ignore the parley ability, but it can be worth going for it in big groups where losing a turn can equate to losing 12+ actions. For less players, the action investment, the risk of failing and adding doom, and the fact that you are engaging a cultist without fighting them is too much of a deterrent.
Lowering the doom threshold by one is functionally very similar to adding a doom to the agenda, making this card a weaker Ancient Evils. The main difference comes from Conspiracy not being immediately able to advance the agenda, so if drawn at the right time it can even be a free card.
Threat level: High. Threatening the loss of a full turn is significant, but there are at least ways around it.
Dealing with it: Reserving an Alter Fate or Ward of Protection for Conspiracy of Blood can go a long way towards keeping the doom clock in check. Fine Clothes can make that parley option a lot more attractive, but since Fine Clothes is not really a card that shines in Forgotten Age, it’s more of an option that Rogues with Adaptable. Alternatively, someone might plan far enough ahead to include it in their level zero deck to help with Ichtaca in Wilds, carry it through Doom of Eztli, use it here and then upgrade out of it. Not sure if that is really worth it, but it is an option. There is a good chance for Fine Clothes to be helpful in other places during Threads as well, half of the possible act decks require parleying with some person to advance.
Return to Threads of Fate
My take on the modified scenario: Did you think this scenario can’t get any better? Well, think again because Return to Threads pulls it off. Adding a new fourth act with great rewards, an appearance of the Harbinger and keeping everything else wisely intact makes this an improvement all around. The encounter deck doesn’t really change much, the only thing is swapping out the Dark Cult for the Cult of Pnakotus. Those guys are a bit more swingy than the original, because they allow for dumping a whole lot of doom on the table at the same time. This of course can be a bit of a crisis considering that the agenda thresholds are only six. The best way to combat them is to seek them out early before they can snowball. The spawn instruction on the new Acolytes is something that should encourage players to actually engage and kill those Brotherhood Cultists, since that will benefit them in two ways: Not only is the Acolyte then unable to power up the Brotherhood Cultist, but if there is currently no other cultist enemy around this will allow players to spawn the Acolyte right on top of their enemy handler. Which in turn will help towards making future Acolytes less dangerous. This strategy pays off in Return to Threads where four act decks make sure that every single action you can save somewhere can go towards possibly getting more of the objectives done.
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