|Number of unique Cards||3|
|# of scenarios||4|
My take on this set: Focusing on delivering payoffs for the poison mechanic, this set is used in half of The Forgotten Age. It’s a bit of a mixed cocktail, with its impact mostly propped up by that one copy of Serpent’s Call. Aside from that, there are a somewhat generic, slightly above average enemy and a highly variable treachery that is most dangerous when it can surge into another card.
Despite that lukewarm first impression, it should be noted that the set is more dangerous to at least two groups of investigators. One, any investigator that relies heavily on assets to handle enemies can find themselves suddently without access to those assets, which can escalate any already ongoing issues on the board. Two, solo investigators can not count on any teammates to bail them out, so they will miss those assets more than anyone else.
What it does: Fang of Yig is a medium sized enemy with a 3 in all of its stats and Retaliate for a little bit of extra risk in combat. Investigators who are poisoned are prohibited from using their cards while engaged with Fang of Yig which does add an extra layer of punishment to the poison mechanic but is fairly rare to actually matter in practice.
My take: In spite of all that text on them, these are about as generic as it gets. They rarely play any different than your garden variety Ravenous Ghoul. Retaliate slightly pushes investigators towards evading them instead of attacking them. Especially when no attack for three damage is available, that can be a very viable alternative. Doom of Eztli and Boundary Beyond do feature a bit of backtracking, but the other two scenarios allow players to leave this enemy behind after exhausting it. This is a solid creature, but falls victim to not being all that special when put into a campaign where three health is already the norm on many enemies.
When they actually get to engage a player with poison, that player will find that many of their solutions to three health creatures (Vicious Blow can no longer be committed, Spectral Razor becomes unplayable…) are no longer available to them. This will force them to deal with the thing the conventional way, taking two attacks or having a teammate bail them out.
Threat level: Low to Mid. When the poison clause matters, these go up in danger but even then they shouldn’t be a big obstacly by any means.
Dealing with it: It should go without saying that getting poisoned is to be avoided, and there are far worse payoffs than Fang of Yig for it. It’s a fairly generic enemy either way – even if you aren’t allowed to use any special means to kill it, just attacking it twice should do the trick. That does open yourself up to getting retaliated, so consider evading the snake instead. It doesn’t have Hunter (a rare treat in TFA…), so that’s actually a fine way of dealing with it semi-permanently.
What it does: While affected by Snakescourge, the textboxes of all non-weakness Item assets are blanked, stopping investigators from gaining their static bonuses or activating their abilities. Snakescourge lasts until the end of the round, where it is automatically discarded to its own Forced effect.
If the player is poisoned, the card gains surge, thus dramatically increasing its impact.
My take: Very hit or miss, Snakescourge is hard to evaluate. Often, it will fail to do a whole lot but when players rely on certain assets to do their job, it can be surprisingly debilitating. This is most often the case for fighters who will find themselves without a weapon for a turn. For most other characters, the temporary loss of their items usually only translates to -1 to a stat or two as they lose access to their Magnifying Glasses and Holy Rosaries.
The card reminds me of Dissonant Voices from the Striking Fear set in its effect, sometimes stopping players from certain actions but allowing them to do other things instead. Where it shines is as a payoff for the poison mechanic, though. Tacking Surge on a potentially annoying effect can lead to bad beats, especially if it surges into an enemy.
Threat level: Low to Mid. There is a lot of variance to the effect, but especially when the conditional surge is active this card can become a bit of a problem.
Dealing with it: This card is a much better reason than Fang of Yig to care about poison. Drawing extra encounter cards can hurt a lot and surging into an enemy while having your weapons disappear for a turn can lead to some ugly turns.
As long as it doesn’t surge, it will often fizzle completely or just lead to minor inconveniences that should be easy to improvise around.
What it does: A rather simple treachery that makes players pick their poison. Literally. Either they have Serpent’s Call surge into the next two encounter cards or they have to get poisoned. Obviously, investigators that are already poisoned are unable to choose that option again.
My take: So what will it be? Pest or Cholera? Being drawn or being quartered? Being hanged or being shot? You get the picture, there is no good choice here, both options are quite severe on their own. Personally, i will almost always pick the poison option because i am deathly afraid of picking up two encounter cards at once.
This card is in equal parts an enabler and a payoff card for poison. On the one hand it can make you suffer from poison to unlock the related punishments from the other cards of this set (and from chaos tokens, other encounter cards, locations, …). But on the other hand, being poisoned already when you draw this makes you suffer from two encounter cards without any choice. Luckily there is only one of these in the deck.
Threat level: High to Very High. Whatever happens, you are not going to like it.
Dealing with it: The best way of preparing for this is probably to bring an extra medicine or two when picking up your supplies. Accepting right away that there will be some moments where you get poisoned and need to be cured from it can off yourself the freedom to take the poison option on this card without having to also consider the long term effects. It will make the rest of the scenario a bit more difficult, though. If it’s near the end of the scenario and you have the board under control (well, as far as possible in those four scenarios that use this card) taking the two encounter cards becomes more palatable, but i’d still not be happy about it.
Return to The Forgotten Age: Venomous Hate
|Number of unique Cards||3|
|Role||Enemy, Poison, Vengeance|
|Threat Level||Mid to High|
My take on this set: Venomous Hate discards the poison theme of the original set almost entirely. There is one poison card left, but all cards in the set are Vengeance-related. Notably, they do not use Vengeance the usual way but put their own twists on it. As another change from what most other replacement sets do, this one breaks up the numerical breakdown of how many copies of a card are in the set, shifting from 2-2-1 to 3-1-1. That gives it two spots for powerful singleton cards. This set contains one of my favorite enemy cards overall, the Vengeful Serpent, but the other two aren’t exactly bad either. In total, the difficulty of this set is noticably higher than Yig’s Venom, despite the standout card from the original set being severely nerfed in a couple of ways. I think this is a good tradeoff. I’d rather have a set of threatening but not overpowering cards instead of a set with one killer card and a bunch of mediocre ones. Vast improvement, 10/10, would get lost in the jungle again.
What it does: The Vengeful Serpent is a Hunter enemy with a 2/2/2 statline. Individually weak, their ability turns them into a major threat. Defeated Serpents go into the victory display (without adding vengeance or victory points) and return to play whenever the next Serpent enters play. With three of these in the deck, this often happens rather sooner than later.
My take: Amazing. I adore the design of this card and how it uses very simple rules and abilities to turn this critter into something that deserves special consideration by the player. Make no mistake, these are dangerous. Slaughtering them may not increase Yig’s Wrath, but every dead Serpent will just power up the upcoming ones. Since they are Hunters, they are a huge bother to evade and spend actions on repeatedly. Especially during Doom of Eztli and Boundary Beyond it’s hard to just leave them behind. The Fang of Yig from the original set didn’t have Hunter, so these just add another three occurences of that keyword to the four scenarios they are in. This is a considerable amount of extra pressure, forcing investigators to stay mobile.
Threat level: Mid to High. These are not to be underestimated. If players do not have a solid plan of dealing with these creatures, they can easily get swarmed or bogged down in lost actions.
Dealing with it: It’s very likely that players will end up having to kill one or two of these along the way for some short-term benefit. This can easily turn into a problem later when drawing the next Serpents. They aren’t terribly difficult to deal with by themselves, but they are really good at escalating any already ongoing problems. Being already engaged with an enemy can turn south fast when another two or three snakes get dropped into that combat from just one card. Having to kill them one by one will also make it easy for any other Hunter enemies on the board to catch up. So when deciding on whether to kill a Vengeful Serpent, consider the short term benefits of having more actions available now to progress against the potential long term danger of having these drop into an already messy situation. Once there are three Serpents on the board, these can be killed with impunity of course. It’s not like most investigators are able to evade three enemies and move away anyways. Conveniently, the Serpents will still go into the victory display in that case, so they will not turn up again when the encounter deck reshuffles. There are some player cards that can help with these, like Storm of Spirits or Handcuffs, but they are mostly unsatisfying and/or conditional answers that do not answer the problem completely.
What it does: The Serpent Guardian is easy to evade, but at four fight, five stamina and with Aloof, it’s a tough enemy to kill. They spawn at a location with at least 1 clue and guard it, increasing the shroud of that location by 2 while they are there. Should players have collected three or more points of Vengeance, the creature stops guarding its location and trades Aloof for Hunter to put its combat values to work.
My take: The best case would of course be that there’s no Vengeance in the victory display and the enemy gets stuck at some low shroud location that can still be cleared. Worst case would be having it appear at an important high shroud location with no option to bypass the shroud increase. That could lead to a turn’s worth of actions (or more) required from a player to engage and slay the snake. Should it come down to a fight, that one evasion is a major achilles heel that can be leveraged to at least not be hit for two damage in the enemy phase.
Threat level: Mid. It’s potentially a dangerous enemy in the vein of Serpent of Yoth or Boa Constrictor, but the conditional nature of it keeps it easier to handle.
Dealing with it: Ideally, you are able to stay below the threshold where the Guardian turns into a Hunter and can bypass the shroud increase. That can be done either by simply having a high intellect yourself to brute force the test or by discovering clues through card effects. If the Guardian becomes a Hunter, you’ll have to once more consider the threat of having a Hunter that hits for two damage stick around against the effort of dispatching it. At least this one is easy to evade and doesn’t give any Vengeance penalties itself, so both options are a bit more reasonable than on the Boa or the Basilisk.
What it does: Wrath of Yig threatens to poison the investigator that drew the card. To avoid this, they have to pass a willpower test against a difficulty that scales with the current amount of vengeance points in the victory display. Investigators who are already poisoned will be dealt two damage instead if they fail the test.
My take: A much powered down version of Serpent’s Call. First off, getting to attempt a test to completely evade the effect is a huge change in favor of the players. The baseline difficulty is also quite low and only becomes more troublesome with added vengeance. Finally, the two damage for already poisoned players is a lot milder than the two extra encounter cards from Serpent’s Call. Wrath of Yig is still a notable card in the encounter deck, one that you are generally not happy to see. But it’s a mere shadow of Serpent’s Call.
Threat level: Mid to High. Being poisoned stinks, but this one gives a fair fighting chance to avoid that fate.
Dealing with it: Like mentioned for Serpent’s Call, bring an extra medicine in your supplies. Getting poisoned by this can be avoided with a test, but chances are that you will still see one or two extra poisonings over the course of a campaign thanks to this card. The two damage to poisoned investigators seem very mild at first, but it does stack with Creeping Poison and all the various traps and arrows from the encounter deck. Still, it’s preferrable to drawing two extra encounter cards, as long as you make sure that you are able to soak through some extra points of damage.
Avoiding the poison from this card is valuable enough that i would strongly consider throwing everything i got at the willpower test. I’d want to test at least at four above target so only the -5 and the auto-fail can get me. Of course, that won’t be possible or reasonable every time.