Introduction: Here’s part two of the totally non-controversial set of “Favorite” lists for the christmas holidays. Following the favorite enemies, it’s now time for the favorite treacheries, of course. Again, this is based on card mechanics or their place in their respective scenarios and not artwork. That’s going to be the third list, coming very soon. 😉
#10: Deep One Assault. Many campaigns have a treachery in their ranks that seem to pop up all the time and that have enough of an impact to be sort of the signature treachery for that campaign. Taken to its extreme, you get something like Beyond the Veil, but Deep One Assault is not quite that oppressive. What it does ensure though is a consistent flood of fishpeople and that all those Hunters or evaded enemies have an edge on the players. Can be quite rough in some scenarios (In Too Deep and Light in the Fog are probably the worst) but aside from those, the card plays an important part. It’s absolutely a love/hate relationship, though!
#9: Rites Howled. Taken for itself it’s not all that impressive really. Even if you play Dunwich a lot, you would be forgiven having to look up the card. What i like about it is its interaction with weaknesses in the player decks. I think more treacheries should do something like that.
#8: Captive Mind. The City of Archives is a strange scenario, so it’s appropriate that it has some cards in it that work differently from what we are used to. The one i appreciate most of them is Captive Mind, which uses skill tests in a way that has not been repeated since then (i think?).
#7: Endless Descent. I am not a huge fan of the full scenario, but the last bit of Thousand Shapes of Horror is quite cool. Whenever this game does something unusual with locations, i usually like it, so this ever expanding stair case is right in my wheelhouse. Of course, when you play the actual scenario, this card can be hella frustrating. But there’s no doubt that it is interesting!
#6: Kidnapped! One of the few treacheries that can have repercussions beyond the scenario it is in, this can snatch up something from your deck for the rest of the campaign. This was a huge deal when Dunwich was fresh and even today it’s one of the cards that sparks some stories. Got to respect that.
#5: Morbid Awareness. Another cute mechanic that hasn’t been reused since. There’s something bad in a location and the closer you are to it, the worse the treachery is going to hit you. Stay far enough away and you can resist it more easily. I just think that’s neat, one of these rare cases where some theme translates perfectly into more abstract game rules.
#4: The Shadow Behind You. Speaking of hilarious things to translate into game text… “Action: You Look Behind You” is just a great line. Of course it helps that the card also plays really well, giving the player some decisions about whether to just take it now or spend actions to delay it.
#3: Terror From Beyond. The Peril keyword has been around since the core set, but this is the first time that it is used to let one player make a choice based on imperfect information. And it’s a banger of a card, making all other players sweat bullets while the one who drew it considers their options. High drama, high impact and creates stories. A recipe for a good and memorable treachery.
#2: Painful Reflection. I don’t have much love for the Return to Carcosa box, but the replacement set for Striking Fear is just excellent. Most of all Painful Reflection, a card that sits in your threat area and taunts you. Do you play other events to bait it? What if it doesn’t trigger? So just play what you were going to? But that might counter it! There’s a lot of mindgames with this card and the beautiful part is that it’s mindgames you have with yourself. If that’s not appropriate for Carcosa, then what is?
#1: Ancient Evils. Anyone surprised by this being my top pick hasn’t been paying attention. The doom counter is a very integral part of the game, a fail condition that makes sure that games don’t take forever and that players don’t durdle around. Turns are limited and so are actions. The doom clock is what gives the whole system of having actions a meaning in the first place. Ancient Evils is a direct extension of the doom clock, giving it just that bit of wiggle room to make sure you can’t properly calculate how many actions you have left. Now, sadly there are like three or four scenarios out of the 20+ that it is a part of where it introduces too much variance through reshuffling or bad interactions with other cards, but in the 15+ other scenarios it’s just an important part of making the game tick.
Remember, the turn you lose is the one at the end. That can very often be better than losing actions now. So stop worrying about Ancient Evils and enjoy your turn free of having immediate pressure and invest those actions into getting a move on. Nobody cares if you have two, four or eight doom left at the end of the scenario 🙂