|Size of the Encounter Deck||40|
My take on this encounter deck: This encounter deck is notable for two things: One, it’s larger than usual. Where most encounter decks are around 30 cards, this one has an extra 10 cards on top. Two, the scenario specific treacheries are special in that they don’t affect the player that drew it, but are global effects. This makes this scenario scale with multiple players a lot, causing each one to be affected by more cards than usual.
Aside from that, the cards are kind of all over the place. There’s some cards that deal damage, others deal horror, some spawn more doom. There’s some discard from the deck, some of assets and the usual stallings cards that come with Striking Fear. Sorcery is in the deck, so Beyond the Veil is a potential threat. However, the Beyond set is not in here, so the only other deck discard that goes along Visions of Futures Past is the scenario specific Rites Howled. Peppered into this are the big and small enemies from the two Thralls set.
This lack of focus combined with the large deck size gives the scenario a high variance and little room to plan for something in particular. You kind of just have to be prepared for everything and roll with the punches.
Cancel these: Ancient Evils, Beyond the Veil. Due to the size of the deck, these cards aren’t as pressing as they usually would be, but in the end the scenario is most likely to fail due to one of the timers running out. Meaning that either the doom thresholds are reached and the final agenda flips or that investigators die to Beyond the Veil once their decks run out. So saving a cancel or two for those cards makes sense.
What it does: With threes across the stat line, Devotee of the Key needs slightly more attention than most generic enemies. The real danger comes from its ability to sacrifice itself for 2 doom. To achieve this, it will move one space each turn, from the Base of the Hill where it spawns to the Sentinel Peak where it will add its doom.
My take: He’s not too difficult to deal with, but he is a high priority. That means he is not a problem on his own, but can stop the groups fighter from helping elsewhere for a turn. I think this is a pretty cool enemy.
Threat level: Mid. They are a priority, but one that shouldn’t be too problematic to dispatch.
Dealing with it: So, here’s the breakdown of how this enemy works:
First Mythos phase, spawn at Base of the Hill.
First Enemy phase, move to Ascending Path.
Second Enemy phase, move to Sentinel Peak.
Third Enemy phase, sacrifice for doom.
While this does sound like plenty of time to deal with the problem, there is the issue of even being able to access those locations. And accessing Sentinel Peak of course triggers all kinds of other pressing developments. In the vast majority of situations, your enemy handler will want to move to Ascending Peak straight away and let the Devotee move into them. Since they move at the end of the enemy phase, they will not get an attack like a Hunter would. The player will then have a full turn to defeat this enemy which shouldn’t be too difficult.
What it does: Crazed Shoggoth is a powerful enemy with lots of health and just enough fight to make that health matter. Evading it is reasonably difficult, but considering how many actions it takes to deal with it otherwise, it is among the best options of getting past the Shoggoth. Crazed Shoggoth deals two damage and horror on attack, which of course is a whole lot. Should the investigator get defeated by Shoggoth’s attack, they are immediately killed for good. Killing the Crazed Shoggoth awards one victory point.
My take: Screw that victory point, this thing is dangerous and i would advise against fighting it unless absolutely necessary. This enemy is one of the very few occasions in Dunwich where evading firmly looks like the better option. Its spawn instructions and the fact that it lacks Hunter allows planting this enemy on a location that was already cleaned before, so that can make the Shoggoth a blank from the get go. There’s also only one of them in the deck, so you may not even encounter it in the first place.
Threat level: High. In terms of raw power, this card is on par with many elite enemies. The lack of Hunter and the likelyhood of being stranded in some Altered location limits the impact of this creature.
Dealing with it: As mentioned, i would advise evading it and stranding it on a location that you don’t intend on visiting again, especially if even Spaces Between can not put it in your path again. If you can not do that or if you want to kill it for the VP, evasion can still come in handy to prevent its attack as you will often not be able to drop it in one turn. Curiously, this enemy is not Elite, which of course opens up some tricks from the pool of player cards.
What it does: Rites Howled affects every investigator, not only the one who drew the card. All investigators discard three cards off their deck, then shuffle all weaknesses from their discards back into their deck.
My take: Another nasty card. Not only does the deck discard work towards that threshold where Beyond the Veil can kill an investigator, but this also recycles all weaknesses back into a deck that is already depleted to some extent. There are three of them in the deck and they synergize with each other. If things line up badly, this can lead to having one or more investigators drawing their weaknesses over and over.
Threat level: High. The reshuffle of the weaknesses is the most relevant part of this card and since it hits all players, it will pretty much always find someone who is going to be majorly inconvenienced by this. If it shuffles back multiple investigators weaknesses, it can become downright obnoxious.
Dealing with it: The type of weakness in the deck will determine how much a player will have to care about this card. Something like Indebted can obviously not be recurred at all, but even an asset like Searching for Izzy could be kept in play for a longer time than usual to avoid having to re-draw it. Investigators with particularly punishing weaknesses, either personal ones like the King in Yellow or random ones like Doomed, might need to take special precautions against this card in the form of cancel cards or preparing for whatever challenge their weakness has for them.
What it does: All enemies and investigators are sent to their nearest Sentinel Hill location, then all other locations are shuffled and randomly returned to the board. Note that any tokens and attached cards would stay on their locations, which makes the randomization process awkward enough that an official FAQ offers some suggestions on how to deal with that.
My take: This treachery has a high variance on how big its effect is. It doesn’t reset any progress, so players can just move back to those locations and gather more clues. However, the locations do have effects on being revealed, so that’s where most of Spaces Between’s impact on the game comes from. Depending on which locations are doubled up on (if any), this treachery can for example translate to some extra horror or lost actions. It doesn’t necessarily increase the number of locations that the players do have to flip, though.
One word of caution: If you “parked” any enemies on one of the Forest locations, this treachery will put them on the main path where you will now have to deal with them. This could include the Crazed Shoggoth.
Threat level: Mid to High. There are some bad scenarios that can play out due to this card, but in most cases it will not be particularly bad.
Dealing with it: There’s not much to do about this card, it just happens and will have effects that are highly situational. That makes it hard to prepare for as well.
What it does: Like the other two treacheries before, this card doesn’t specifically target the player who drew it. Instead, anyone who is currently on a Sentinel Hill location has to take a difficult willpower test. Investigators failing this test are dealt 2 damage.
My take: The card could be a blank if everyone is out in the woods to gather clues. However, this is rarely the case as players usually spend quite some time on the main path, trying to actually uncover the forest locations, hunt a Devotee or just moving from one Sentinel Hill to the next. The willpower test is difficult enough that failing it is the norm and passing it is the exception.
Threat level: Low to Mid for 1 or 2 players. High for larger groups. The impact of the card scales a lot with player count. While a solo investigator could just dodge this half of the time, there will be usually one or more victims in a full group.
Dealing with it: There’s only two of them in the deck, so it’s likely not worth avoiding Sentinel Hill locations just to be safe from this card.
Return to Where Doom Awaits
My take on the modified scenario: No new scenario specific cards enter the encounter deck. That makes sense, as the deck is already so packed that adding a card or three would not have mattered much. Ancient Evils and Chilling Cold are swapped for Resurgent Evils and Creeping Cold. Both are fine replacements, but do not change a whole lot about how the scenario plays. Striking Fear is replaced by Erratic Fear, which might just be my least favorite alternate set (it’s a tie with Delusory Evils, fwiw). This swap removes a good deal of the stalling from the deck and replaces it with some damage effects.
Ultimately the changes to the encounter deck are not enough to have much of an impact on how the scenario plays, the new locations are the most important part of Return to Where Doom Awaits.
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