|Size of the Encounter Deck||39|
My take on this encounter deck: The encounter deck starts out with only 29 of these cards. For the first half of the scenario, the enemies are mostly limited to the cultists, but punctuated by the appearance of the set aside High Priest and potentially by the Dhole from the encounter deck. The goal for this first part is reaching the Onyx Castle without losing too much time to fighting the Dhole or to the doom mechanics from the Dark Cult set. Having the agenda advance prematurely due to doom tokens on cultists would be really bad, so avoiding that should be the primary concern here.
Once the full encounter deck is assembled and the final confrontation with Nyarlathotep is afoot, managing the Hidden cards becomes the biggest thing that the players have to care about. Conserving actions and putting as many of them towards advancing your goals is imperative to winning the scenario. As a special challenge, the Crawling Mist is shuffled into the deck only for the latter half, ensuring that players are knee deep in Hidden cards when it shows up. This makes Mist a much more dangerous enemy here than it has been in the other scenarios using the Agents of Nyarlathotep set.
Cancel these: Myriad Forms, Deeper Slumber. There aren’t a whole lot of non-Peril treacheries around in this scenario, so there is slim pickings for your counterspells in the first place. That being said, keeping a Ward back to cancel Myriad Forms can just be the deciding factor that keeps the group from losing at the spot. So do that. Deeper Slumber can also become a problem card, as the smaller handsize combined with all those Hidden cards can be a major constraint on a players options. Deeper Slumber can be discarded by spending two actions, but since actions are extraordinarily precious in this scenario it can be a good alternative to cancel the Slumber from entering play instead.
What it does: The finale of The Dream-Eater’s A-campaign revolves around finding the copies of Nyarlathotep in the encounter deck, keeping them in hand until you can find a Whispering Chaos and then use them at the appropriate location. Five copies of Nyarlathotep and four copies of Whispering Chaos are shuffled into the encounter deck for the last act, which implicitly has the effect of having fewer immediately bad things happening during the Mythos phase… basically, drawing these is a bit of a freebie.
My take: I don’t want to go too deep into the mechanics of this “fight”. Suffice to say that the final stretch of the scenario is laser focused around players passing each other cards and trying to match them at whatever tower location is indicated by the Whispers card. This occupies enough of the turn that despite drawing fewer “active” treacheries and enemies from the top, the pressure on the players keeps up. It’s a novel and well done mechanic, and the scenario would be one of the best finales if it weren’t for that ridiculously tight doom clock. But that’s a topic that doesn’t really belong here. Let’s get back to the encounter deck itself.
Threat level: N/A. The unique way of dealing with these cards can’t really be compared to standard treacheries or enemies.
Dealing with it: These cards don’t really *do* anything except for clogging your hand – they are more like an extension of the agenda and act decks, handing personalized instructions to the players on how to proceed if they want to win the scenario.
What it does: The Restless Journey is a trio of Hidden treachery cards. While a player holds one of these, they aren’t able to commit more than a single card to skill tests per round. Notably, that is a restriction per round and not per test. Appropriately, discarding these will lead to such a skill test, with each of the copies requiring a different one. Initiating this test won’t cost an action and it will always discard the card, however failing that skill test will add a doom to the agenda, potentially immediately advancing it.
My take: Activating the towers and neutralizing aspects of Nyarlathotep requires skill tests that you can’t afford to fail. Restless Journey stops you from saving up skill icons to brute force those tests, so they do need to be dealt with at some point. Some investigators may struggle with whatever skill test they need to pass to avoid the extra doom, but do note that Restless Journey is discarded at that point and you can commit without restriction again.
Threat level: Mid to High. These are restricting enough that you’ll want to get rid of them, however even doing that can be a problem for some investigators.
Dealing with it: This scenario offers no time for mistakes, so having one of these turn into an Ancient Evils is to be avoided at all costs. The auto-fail can always show up of course, but aside from that you shouldn’t really accept any risks here. Consider using the ability on the central location to dump these cards on one of the players as an alternative way to defuse them. That player will then just not be able to banish any copies of Nyarlathotep themselves but they can in turn hand their relevant Hidden cards to other players. All of this costs actions of course, but weighed against the potential to lose a full turn for everyone it can be worth it.
What it does: Liar with No Face is rather menacing Hunter enemy. It has fight and evade of 3, but won’t go down in one hit and can deal a lot of horror and damage if it gets to attack. Per default, it will deal 2 horror, but an addition 2 damage are added on top should the attacked player hold a Whispering Chaos card in their hand.
My take: These are a huge pain and need to be defeated immediately. Having them stick around is simply not an option due to the very Hunter friendly layout of the tower locations.
Threat level: Mid to High. They aren’t difficult to deal with per se, but they do require immediate attention and will cost a player several actions.
Dealing with it: The Forced effect on Liar should hopefully never matter, because when this enemy gets to attack, you already messed up. If it appears during the first half of the scenario, evading it could be an option if you can manage to advance to the second half before it catches up. However, that is unlikely to be the case outside of the small time window between defeating the High Priest and opening the Onyx Gates.
What it does: Dhole of the Wastes is a giant monster that hits hard and is even harder to defeat. With six health and fight, even seasoned fighters will be challenged to take it down before it can attack. Due to its much lower agility value, evading it is much more feasible. Defeating the Dhole awards a victory, for whatever that is worth in the final scenario of this campaign.
My take: Having these pop up right at the beginning of the scenario can cost the campaign almost on its own. It will consume many actions while players will have to move past this enemy multiple times as they make their way across the Wastes, to the Monastary and back, then finally to the Onyx Gates. In a weird twist, this enemy can also break through the Great Hall near the end of the scenario and be in the way while everyone’s busy trying to manage their Hidden cards. This is a terrifying card that can dictate how players have to act for several turns.
Threat level: Very High. Either it’s a very difficult fight that might just span multiple turns or it’s a perpetual source of frustration as players need to constantly keep it evaded so they don’t get smacked around.
Dealing with it: The best case here is finding this enemy while already past the Cold Wastes, but not yet in the Onyx Castle. That way it can be evaded maybe once or twice and then be discarded when advancing the scene, although that will of course shuffle the Dhole back into the deck. Once in the tower, a solution for removing the Dhole from the board should be found. Being able to take this out with testless damage can help a lot here. It is also not an Elite enemy, so cards like Slip Away can buy a lot of time while Waylay is of course excellent as a tech card to specifically deal with this monster.
What it does: The player who drew Abandoned by the Gods has to pass a willpower test against difficulty 3. If they don’t, they have to call a number from 0 to 4 for each point they failed by. All players then have to discard any event and asset cards from their hand with printed resource costs equal to a called number. The card has Peril, making it difficult to cancel and forbidding other players to help with the willpower test.
My take: This card is remarkably swingy. Depending on who draws it, it can either be a near freebie as the test isn’t all that difficult to many investigators. It can also devastate everyones hand when drawn by someone weak in willpower or just as a result of a test gone south. I am not a fan of how large the variance on the effect of this card is.
Threat level: High. Willpower tests like these are the bread and butter of treachery effects and players should really be prepared for it in some way. That being said, failing one of these can be a huge pain for everyone at the table.
Dealing with it: Being able to pass crucial Willpower tests is one of the fundamentals when deck building, so hopefully everyone has some plan for this already in place. If this plan requires some limited resource (like only two copies of Guts, Steadfast, You handle this one or similar cards), then saving some for Abandoned by the Gods is easily worth it because of the global impact on every player that this treachery can have.
After failing the test, the player has a last chance to minimize the impact by choosing the resource costs least likely to matter. As a general rule of thumb, players play only very few 4 and 3 costed cards, so it’s likely that those are the first numbers to choose. Of course this is not a hard rule, context matters like with similar Peril cards in other encounter sets.
What it does: Myriad Forms is only shuffled into the encounter deck for the encounter with Nyarlathotep. The player who drew Myriad Forms will have to reveal any copies of Nyarlathotep in their hand which will then attack and shuffle back into the encounter deck. Any copies in play move and attack like they would during the enemy phase. Should no attacks be made as a result of this card, it surges.
My take: Is this the most frustrating card in all of the AHLCG? Maybe. The attacks aren’t even all that bad, but having to shuffle back any of the Hidden cards sets the players so far back that there is little chance of recovering from it in time. The scenario is already balanced on a razor’s edge with little room for missteps, this card can undo multiple turns of progression. No matter how well you did from turn one to now, just pulling this card can fail the whole campaign. Quite frankly, i don’t think this card should exist.
Threat level: Very High. “You probably lose the campaign. If you don’t, this gains surge.”
Dealing with it: There are no tests or anything like that on the card, so aside from canceling it the only thing that can be done against it is hope that someone draws it while they aren’t holding any Nyarlathotep cards in hand. To minimize your chances of being wrecked by this card, make haste in activating your towers as soon as possible. You want to keep Nyarlathotep in your hand for as few turns as possible.
As a saving grace, this card is one of the few treacheries in this encounter deck that does not have Peril, so cancel it if you can. With a bit of pre-planning, you can also use cards like First Watch, “Let me handle this!” and “You handle this one!” to pass this card to a player that doesn’t have Nyarlathotep in their hand. It will of course still surge, but at least you stay in the game.