Transfiguration

Set Size4
Number of unique Cards2
RoleHorror, Asset hate, Willpower, Fight
Threat LevelMid
# of scenarios4
Appears in: Hemlock House, Silent Heath, Longest Night, Fate of the Vale

This small set is something that you are likely going to be seeing multiple times during a campaign since it is used both in the finale and in The Longest Night. Both treacheries in it do have a solid impact. While they are probably not going to be the main thing you are worried about, they can certainly be a pain.
In three out of the four scenarios, it is used alongside Blight, another encounter set that does share some characteristics with Transfiguration. Strange Mutations and Enervation are both treacheries using the same template with one of them caring about fight and damage, the other about willpower and horror. Having these two treacheries around pushes players to rely less on their soak and instead take some damage/horror on their investigators instead. The way these two treacheries scale makes it likely that players will have to suffer some initial damage and/or horror early which will in turn make other sources of the same more relevant while at the same time making Strange Mutations and Enervation less threatening.
The other thing where Blight and Transfiguration overlap is in them testing fight, which is a bit unusual. But between Enervation and Fungal Rot, your fighters will for once be able to use their best stat to protect from the mythos. It’s still only four cards in the encounter deck, but add the enemies on top of that and your fight stat suddenly goes a long way.

Threat Level: Low to Mid.

Like its damage counterpart, Enervation from the Blight set, there is a scaling component happening here where this card hits very hard in the early turns and falls off later on due to the reduction in difficulty once you have some horror on you.
At difficulty 5, this will usually even ask your high willpower mystics and guardians to devote some sort of resources to your test if you want to pass and even then it will not be a sure thing at all. In almost all cases it will be preferable to just accept the fail and treat this as two testless horror. You do have the option of discarding two random cards instead, but again this will early on not be all that viable because you risk getting your setup severely impacted.
As the game goes on, this becomes a lot easier to handle. Not just because the difficulty goes down if have gotten some horror from other sources already, but also because the alternate price of two random cards becomes easier to stomach. Generally speaking, i would rather want to pay the alternate cost on Enervation (discard your highest cost card from hand) than on Strange Mutations, though. For investigators with heavy skill or event focus this does hit a bit harder, as losing two random cards is going to be more difficult for them even after they have set up their assets.
The player choice available does a reasonable job of reining this treachery in. While it looks pretty ghastly by the numbers (and i am certainly not claiming it is trivial) you can at least always make sure to pick the lesser of two evils. As long as you have at least one card in hand, this won’t defeat you. Actually, once you are in danger of being defeated by this, you likely reduce the willpower test low enough to pass it in the first place.
Having Strange Mutations in the encounter deck can be a reason to put horror on your investigator intentionally even when you do have soaking assets in play because the difficulty reduction will only take horror tokens into account that are actually on you, not on your soak.

Threat level: Mid

There’s a decent amount of asset hate in this campaign, trying to undo our early setup. Unlike something like Crypt Chill, Fungal Rot is not completely ditching that asset however. Instead it is just disabled until someone spends the action and successfully passes the fight test. Fungal Rot is, next to the earlier mentioned Enervation from Blight, one of two notable treacheries that test fight instead of one of the other, more commonly tested skills. So for once, the guardian can come to help the mystic or seeker with their treachery.
How hard this treachery hits is going to be incredibly context dependent. By itself, it just asks for an action and a relatively easy test to be undone so sometimes you just get lucky and it doesn’t do much. But when it does matter, it does so in a big way. To get the obvious one out of the way, The Longest Night keeps you under high pressure every turn. With a constant barrage on enemies on your doorstep, having your main weapon suddenly turn off is going to be a problem. And it’s not like your guardian just has the time to walk over to your rogue to turn their Lockpicks back on, either. Silent Heath and Fate of the Vale certainly have their moments of high pressure as well, but one other thing that makes Longest Night stand out is that it also has Creeping Cold and therefore Crypt Chill in its encounter deck. With both Crypt Chill and Fungal Rot against you, you can run into serious problems when you are overly dependent on one certain item.
Fungal Rot is a whole tier below Crypt Chill in terms of how scary it is though, mostly because it doesn’t permanently disable the asset. Since it uses a fight test, the group of investigators that is most dependent on having a certain Item (=their weapon) available is also best able to free it up again. The one thing where Fungal Rot is worse than Crypt Chill however is that its effect is frontloaded, you only get a saving throw to deal with the aftermath, not to deflect the effect in the first place. That is relevant, but let’s be real… 9 times out of 10, we fail the willpower(4) on Crypt Chill anyways.
In total that means two things that i would advise to already think of when building your decks for the Hemlock Vale: One, don’t go all in on just one Item asset. That’s a bad idea in general, but here even more than usual. Think about what your deck does when it doesn’t have its Cyclops Hammer, Ancient Stone or Becky available. Does it fold? Bad deck. Have a backup plan. Again, i believe this to be just generally sound deckbuilding advice, but it’s somewhat enforced here. Two, play some cheap Item assets that you can afford to lose or have disabled for a couple turns. Examples would be something like a Scroll of Secrets or a Magnifying Glass. The cycle of Masks from the Hemlock Vale investigator expansion are also fantastic for holding a Fungal Rot for a bit. That being said, the best Items to get a Fungal Rot on are probably Occult Lexicon and Hallowed Mirror… not only does that not impact your Blood-Rites and Soothing Melodies, but with their text boxes blanked you can even discard them and free up the slot without losing the events from your deck. Not something that you can really plan for, but hey… it can happen!

2 Replies to “Transfiguration”

    1. I know right! 😀 It even has the same fight test. Took me a bunch of iteration to get to my version of the card, but i can point towards Fungal Rot now as a confirmation that my custom card is totally balanced and not at all frustrating to play against 😀

      EDIT: Ha, even the set symbol is similar :>

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