|Call of Cthulhu LCG | Published 30 April 2010|
Now he was praying because the Witches' Sabbath was drawing near. May Eve was Walpurgis Night, when hell's blackest evil roamed the earth and all the slaves of Satan gathered for nameless rites and deeds. It was always a very bad time in Arkham, even though the fine folks up in Miskatonic Avenue and High and Saltonstall Streets pretended to know nothing about it. There would be bad doings, and a child or two would probably be missing.
- H.P. Lovecraft, Dreams in the Witch-House
This week the Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game card-of-the-week-spotlight brings you a Cthulhu-sized update on the upcoming Secrets of Arkham expansion set. We'll be taking a look at three (!) cards: A story card, a classic card making a welcome return, and a new addition to the game.
First up is the new Story Deck. When the game launched in its first incarnation six years ago, the concept of a changing Story Deck was launched with it, periodically changing the environment in which players compete. Secrets of Arkham brings a new version of this Story Deck, reintroducing six older stories and adding four never-seen-before stories to the fray.
The Story Card mechanic in Call of Cthulhu is suitably strange and unpredictable. Some stories favor those who are ahead in the game while others favor those who behind. The story of today will give an edge to the player who has the best second-best cards in play.
When They Come At Night is triggered, a kind of mini-game is started in which players have to decide the value of different cards, sometimes in different numbers. It rewards players who prefer variation over consistency in their decks. The player who has all of their eight Alaskan Sledge Dogs (Mountains of Madness, F16) in play would be hit way harder than the player who has eight different characters at his side. You have a lone Syndicate Liaison (Core Set, F68) versus their Cthulhu, The Great Old One (Core Set, F41) and it's obvious who will be getting the better deal. Sometimes it's not that obvious though, and your best laid plans are thwarted by a controversial choice of your opponent.
Fighting an uphill battle to trigger a game-changer is hard. If you manage to activate Twila Katherine Price, Lost in a Dream (Twilight Horror, F3) before any struggles resolve, things may suddenly become a lot more easy. Behind Bars (Sleep of the Dead, F82) allows you to sneak a character even past a big threat. Just resourcing a Stealthy Zoog (Journey to Unknown Kadath, F115) makes even trying to win this story an awkward proposition.
Things get really interesting when you're in the mirror match: Will you name one of your own character or support cards, if your opponent has one too? And what will they name? Yes, They Come At Night hits support card too, which is helpful for decks that don't have access to support card destruction effects. It's only a matter of how far you're willing to go.
Fearing the Fear
Next up is welcome return from a card that makes insanity actually a shocking prospect with grave consequences. The Greatest Fear... (Secrets of Arkham, F48) impacts how you play the game merely by existing. In an update to the original it now comes with two subtypes: Disaster and Madness both illustrating how horribly devastating losing ones mind is. Consider Keeper of Dreams (Journey to Unknown Kadath, F109). In some situations you'll be forced to choose between losing a random card or risk losing two random cards and potentially handing out extra success tokens.
The Greatest Fear... makes your Lunatics both better and worse. On one side, you'll risk opening yourself up to getting hurt a lot by driving your lunatic insane. On the other hand you can play it on yourself to get an extra token to finish the game – or trigger They Come At Night at the most inopportune moment. Sometimes you'll just have to embrace insanity and run with it- giggling uncontrollably is entirely optional, though recommended.
Timing is everything. If your hand is empty it could just happen that something is driven insane in the action window between drawing cards and starting your Operation Phase, robbing you of an opportunity to play a card or add a resource for an entire turn. Manage your hand size with care, or risk being caught red-handed.
From The Ground Up
The final card of today also deals with insanity. It doesn't interact with The Greatest Fear but if you're looking to have lots of insane characters on the table Things in the Ground (Secrets of Arkham, F31) will provide. The last time I showed you a new Yog-Sothoth card you may have noticed that the faction is moving towards its classic play style. Secrets of Arkham's selection of Yog-Sothoth card strengthens the feel of this faction and Things in the Ground fits right in.
From a rules point of view, characters not in play can't go insane and can't be prevented to go insane. The terror icons and willpower they might have isn't active until they are in play so there is nothing to stop them from entering play insane. When it happens they aren't even considered “going insane.” Once in play, they are insane however, so, say Bloodthirsty Zealot (The Spawn of the Sleeper, F13) will enjoy the madness of others and be generally cost effective.
Things in the Ground is an Environment, not a Location, which drastically limits the available removal that could hit it. It's also not Unique, allowing for multiples – Just beware They Come At Night when you do. And while the effect seems symmetrical, you, the Yog-Sothoth player comes prepared, having access to anything in the discard pile while your characters are the biggest threats you can find; You won't have to worry about actually draining domains – Eventually they will restore themselves.
Putting the Shub-Niggurath faction in the mix means you'll have plenty of targets for Shocking Transformation (Core Set, F140) and before you know it Ancient Guardian (Core Set, F126) will ready “Things” multiple times to generate a massive army, destroy decks and setting up a massive advantage for cards like Speak to the Dead (Whispers in the Dark, F20.)
Next week we'll delve further into the Secrets of Arkham by triggering a cascade of effects, welcome back an infamous Sorceror and take a trip to Arkham's sewers. Until then, enjoy Walpurgis Night.
Special thanks to Marius Hartland, who provided this week's card of the week spotlight.
Based on the fiction of H.P. Lovecraft and his literary circle, Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game takes two players deep into the Cthulhu Mythos where investigators clash with the Ancient Ones and Elder Gods for the fate of the world. The Living Card Game format allows players to customize their gaming experience with monthly Asylum Pack expansions to the core game.
Amazing cards! I tend to forgive FFG for the delay of Secrets of Arkham right now. :)