News for May 2010
Secrets Unveiled, Part 3 2
A Call of Cthulhu Card of the Week by guest writer Marius Hartland
Call of Cthulhu LCG | Published 14 May 2010

Possibly Gilman ought not to have studied so hard. Non-Euclidean calculus and quantum physics are enough to stretch any brain, and when one mixes them with folklore, and tries to trace a strange background of multi-dimensional reality behind the ghoulish hints of the Gothic tales and the wild whispers of the chimney-corner, one can hardly expect to be wholly free from mental tension. Gilman came from Haverhill, but it was only after he had entered college in Arkham that he began to connect his mathematics with the fantastic legends of elder magic.
      - H.P. Lovecraft, Dreams in the Witch-House

Part three of the spotlight on the upcoming Secrets of Arkham is a bit of a Miskatonic University special. It’s not strange that Arkhams’ famous institution of learning is the focal point of much of the weirdness that haunts the streets of this hoary town, since the professors and students continually push against the limits of knowledge there, brushing against the arcane world that we call the Cthulhu Mythos. Many dark tomes and artifacts are stored there to be scrutinized by doomed souls hankering knowledge and often biting off more than they can chew.

Still, one cannot ignore the signs that humanity lives on borrowed time and the research conducted by these brave men and women may be the only thing that can fend off the eldritch threats that inhabit the outskirts of reality. Even if success is only temporary and often comes at a great cost, it may be the only thing that stands between us and extinction. Knowledge is power, after all. It’s a shame power tends to corrupt.

In game terms, this means getting more cards, and use these cards to get more success tokens at stories. And then winning the Stories.

There is one problem with Stories though, and it has to do with the position of the Story Phase in the turn order. There are some cards that allow stories to be won outside of the Story Phase, but generally this is where the interactions happen; Right before you pass the turn. Should you trigger a story effect, this means that the other player gains an advantage by being the first to make use of/recover from whatever the story effect was. This is a slight dent in the symmetry of most story effects, so it’s time to show an Orwellian twist to make sure that “some animals are more equal than others.”

In the past we’ve seen story cards drawing you cards: In Eldritch Edition “Throne of the Black Pharaoh” could force each player to draw 10 cards when triggered. Obsessive Research takes a different approach, rewarding those who empty their hands the quickest to take the most advantage of its effect. This unequal reward might encourage you to trigger the effect more often. It makes “bounce” effects like the one on Fishers from Outside (Core Set, F105) more powerful too. Unlike a fixed amount of draw, Obsessive Research allows for all kinds of to maximize your side of the effect while minimizing the draw power of your opponent.
 
For Miskatonic University it’s even more of a double edged sword. The scholars tend to prefer rushing strategies, that involve going insane and dying a lot. On the other hand they do have access to replenish the hand of the player, reducing the draw from the effect. The upside is that, when equalized Miskatonic has lots of tools to its disposal to start gaining an advantage in an equal situation.
 
Obsessive Research also has an impact on the ‘negative card advantage’ mechanic The Syndicate employed in the Dreamlands. Once you tweak hand size from the equilibrium, Clover Club Executive (Sleep of the Dead, F85) can start tipping the numbers in your favor. In addition, the Irish mob can mulligan the resulting hand with Clover Club Cardroom, Parlor of Higher Stakes (Sleep of the Dead, F86) – and even make a very informed decision in the near future when there is a jar with eyes standing on your desk.

Miskatonic University always has a little edge when it comes to stories. Besides their focus on high skill and investigation, Howard Ludvinski, Visiting Artist (The Antediluvian Dreams, F43) can let you re-trigger a won story at any time, asking only for one-third of your victory in order to get back some steam when the tide starts turning against them.

Something in the air of the hoary town worked obscurely on his imagination. The professors at Miskatonic had urged him to slacken up, and had voluntarily cut down his course at several points.
      - H.P. Lovecraft, Dreams in the Witch-House

The university is all about this frantic research and keeping many options open all the time. Focused Art Student goes a long way in keeping up your hand size, but to make sure Miskatonic is absolutely serious about drawing cards, Scientific Text (SoA, F7) is a new entry on their required reading list.

It's an attachment, so your deck has to be character focused to use it well. Specifically, it needs Miskatonic characters to use. Besides adding a little extra arcane, it easily offsets any inherent disadvantage from being an attachment by allowing you to get a replacement card almost immediatly. And Erin Morai can emulate Focused Art Student with it. Having a one-sided, timing friendly and non-unique version of The Back Room (Search for the Silver Key, F66) around that doesn't get eaten by Dholes or burned down by angry pyromaniacs is an asset too. But Miskatonic isn't known just for dry, matter-of-fact text books, now is it?

Moreover, they had stopped him from consulting the dubious old books on forbidden secrets that were kept under lock and key in a vault at the university library. But all these precautions came late in the day, so that Gilman had some terrible hints from the dreaded Necronomicon of Abdul Alhazred, the fragmentary Book of Eibon, and the suppressed Unaussprechlicken Kulten of von Junzt to correlate with his abstract formulae on the properties of space and the linkage of dimensions known and unknown.
      - H.P. Lovecraft, Dreams in the Witch-House

One of the most powerful and coveted possessions in the Miskatonic library is a book so infamous that even many in our universe belief it is real and want to learn the contents. It is thought to have the true names of beings so powerful their mere existence can rend mind and matter asunder. This tome is a character of its own. Just by picking it from a shelve it can summon up dreadful entities bringing endless destruction before you can say “klaatu barada nikto.”

That book is The Necronomicon (SoA, F9.)

What is the Cthulhu Mythos without naming the Book of Dead Names? The core set had these cursed pages in it for a long time. But some where afraid of the power it represented. What fun is it summoning Great Cthulhu when some student whips out a book and takes control of him? The game has grown and progressed enough to unleash exactly that kind of power. The tome can only control temporarily, but sometimes it can be long enough to find a way to sacrifice whatever is under your spell.

Don't forget about Tyler either. Taking control of some of the more powerful characters may cause a hero/villain conflict. Tyler will help solve that for you. Erin backs him up by allowing an extra control effect – although that requires a lot of resources. Fortunately, The Necronomicon is under safe keeping by a certain librarian also making his way back. But for how long?

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.

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Comments (2)

jhaelen
Published: 5/16/2010 4:23:14 PM
#2

The more previews, the better!

I like getting a bunch of ideas how to use some of the new cards, setting up combos, etc.

The Necronomicon strikes me as a bit too expensive. Then again, there's no limitation to cost/skill/subtypes, so it might be worth it in some situations. Visiting Author could help.

Hellfury
Published: 5/14/2010 6:22:36 PM
#1

Thanks for the hard work and very informative articles, Marius.

I have to admit I am quite tired of being constantly teased. Wake me up when FFG can actually release this.

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