Week in Review
In a bit of a sprint to the end, this week finished up the Forgotten Age. Deadly Traps was the last encounter set on the to-do list. The rest of the week went towards reviewing three scenario decks: Doom of Eztli, Threads of Fate and Heart of the Elders #2.
As a sort of thought experiment, i ranked the scenarios within their campaign from best to worst. After doing so, i also put them into 5 different tiers, to make the rankings from one campaign with those from the others. There were some interesting things i noticed, so i thought i would make two posts about this here. Before i go on with part one, here’s what the colors/tiers mean:
I should also mention that (where applicable) i ranked the Return To versions of the scenarios because those are the ones that i am actually playing. Also, these rankings are from the perspective of someone who already played all of these many times. So replayability is a huge factor here. Many of these would rank much higher if i were to look at my initial impressions when they were new. Alright, let’s start. I will post my ranking (with my favorite at the top) and then write a few short sentences about it. I’ll try to keep it brief, i could probably ramble about each of the lists for a long time, but i kinda want to spend not more than two, maaaaaybe three of these Soapbox columns on this.
Despite there only being three scenarios in this mini campaign, i had to have a little think about The Gathering vs Midnight Masks. In the end i decided to put Gathering over Masks in the end, the reason being that i basically never play Masks anymore. Threads of Fate pretty much replaced it. The Gathering however still sees some play as a standalone or side scenario (Let’s play Carcosa, but first let’s burn our house down!) and i like it quite a bit in its Return To version. Devourer Below is on of the four scenarios i put into the lowest tier, there’s only one other that i like even less than this punishing crapshoot of a scenario.
The first “real” campaign, this one has something from every tier. Lost in Time and Space is my favorite final mission, it is wonderfully alien and till today no other scenario dared to shuffle all of its locations into the encounter deck. BotA is a nice, meaty scenario that has all the usual ingredients, but caps it off with a remarkable boss enemy and threatens some consequences that can impact the player’s decks for the rest of the campaign. Extracurricular is the scenario that new players should play first, i think it’s a better introduction into Arkham than Gathering due to showcasing the campaign structure, multiple endings and all that fun stuff instead of just being super linear. On the other end of the spectrum are Where Doom Awaits and Undimensioned and Unseen. U+U is just tedious. Unless players don’t have the necessary willpower to even hurt the Broods, then it’s just dumb and worth a turn 1 resign. Where Doom Awaits got fixed somewhat in the Return To, but it’s still quite unremarkable and not worth being the last scenario before the finale. As for the three in the middle, i always had a soft spot for Museum so i put it on top. I very much enjoy the idea of having only one enemy around and Return To Museum fixes this scenario to a point where it usually works. House goes to the bottom because it’s a bit boring? While the first play of it is pretty cool and atmospheric, at least on replays there is little here that is really all that interesting.
Carcosa, the fan favorite. I always liked about this campaign that it doesn’t have a real stinker in it. Even the two that i put into tier 4 are at the upper end of that tier. Echoes is near trivial. Dim Carcosa is sort of robbed of its wonder once you’ve seen the backsides of all cards and once you’ve seen the same sort of locations used en masse in Dream-Eaters (which did it better). What is left is okay, but for a campaign finale i expect more than that. On the top of the ranking however are two of my absolute favorites. The locations in Pallid Mask are amazing and the whole scenario is quite dynamic and very, very replayable. The Last King is very different, can be played in a multitude of ways and again scores with immense replayability. Oath is hard, Oath is tense, Oath is satisfying to complete. Sadly, Oath can be a bit ridiculous as well sometimes, especially the Return To has it’s infuriating moments. Looking at you, Sign of Hastur. Curtain Call is a good scenario, i wish it was the third in the campaign or something so players already have some XP cards in their deck. It’s really difficult and comes with a few “gotcha” moments that can really screw you over in the first scenario. No spells or relic weapons? Enjoy this poltergeist!
Phantom of Truth is really two scenarios. I like the one where i hunt the Organist a lot more than the one where i run from him. Either way, evasion is way too good here. Black Stars loses a lot of its charme on replays. Once you know what to look for inside the church, figuring out the correct agenda is quite easy, making the rest of the scenario way easier than it is on the first couple plays.
(to be continued next weekend, with TFA, TCU, TDE and a little bit of TIC)