|Call of Cthulhu LCG | Published 16 July 2010|
The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.
These famous words of H.P. Lovecraft, from his most well known story – The Call of Cthulhu – explain to us the core of the Mythos. There are just some things better left unknown. Science wouldn't be science, however, if curiosity got the better of us and we start mucking about with those exact things. There might be a small chance to make things right once things go very, very wrong... and for that we need tools. One of those scientists knew this. Like Archimedes said: “Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.”
For a tool-using species like ours, the lever is one of the most basic tools at our disposal. We use it in different shapes and forms, but it works best if the lever itself is strong enough to carry the force – a metal bar is ideal for these purposes. The crowbar has always been a favorite way in which this principle is applied, to break open crates or to force doors for example. This tool is ideal for criminals going where they shouldn't, and for theoretical physicists who just happen to be caught up in the middle of a resonance cascade when science is pushed just a little too far (spilling extra-dimensional horrors all over the lab). Crates, doors, skulls. When things needed to be cracked open, a solid metal bar with a pronged, pointy end is often the right tool for the job. Just watch out for those G-Men (Core Set, F13.)
Skill vs Printed Skill
Last week we looked at a card using Printed Skill. This might have seen a little odd. Doesn't Hastur reduce skill on some cards? Wouldn't that combo better? The answer: Yes and no. Harbinger looks at Printed Skill, because it's aimed at getting around skill that has been raised. While in some situations, it makes the card less effective, there is enough skill boost around to make a different approach worth it. Also, it's a Hastur card, with “Insanity” in it's name. Insanity is a game-state that can actually influence printed card traits, by turning the card over. The Harbinger is a specific tool for a specific job.
On the other side of this spectrum, you'll find today’s card. The Crowbar (Murmurs of Evil, F32) works with actual, real-time skill levels to determine if it's effective in bashing a head (or whatever part of the anatomy holds the vital organs of the garden-variety Mythos Horror you encounter on your research) in. It's a cheap, improvised weapon that leaves who- or whatever is swinging it exhausted, which will help in controlling the tempo of your games. While it is less likely you can solve stories yourself with exhausted characters, it may be enough to slow down a rush of low-skilled characters. In a sense (and in the right deck) it's the machine-gun version of Tear Gas (The Thing From the Shore, F86.) You won't even need to truly expend a card. Just play the crowbar, beat something up and you'll get it back to let another character have a go.
Risk vs Reward
Also keep an eye on your timing. You can use the Crowbar at almost any time, but you only can play it during you Operations Phase, since it's a normal support card. This means you can activate it multiple times on your turn, and only once when it's not your turn. Do you go out and swing at everything while reducing the ability to win stories yourself and putting yourself wide open for any character that hits play on their turn? Or do you play conservatively, waiting to see what will be on the table when it is your opponents turn to commit characters, so you'll know exactly what to expect, and have your full defense available? It's a balancing act. Wait too long and the Crowbar, or whoever is carrying it at the time could be killed, stopping the zombie-killings right there.
Good vs Evil
Anything that can be replayed over and over can be part of a combo-engine. One cute little trick is to involve John Henry Price (Search for the Silver Key, F61.) Not only can he equip the crowbar for free, but he draws you an extra card for the effort. If you can ready him (with, for example Erin Moirai (Murmurs of Evil, F28)) and you can keep wounding characters this can catch you quite a few birds with one stone. Or metal bar, if you prefer.
Siding with the Mythos factions the Crowbar can be used to make sure that if an insane character is ever flipped face up again, it is because they're on the way to the discard pile. There is also some synergy to be had with The Silver Key (Search for the Silver Key, F72) giving superior control over what can commit. Hint: It's not the guy you just slammed the Crowbar into. For an extended melee range look at Spell-bound Shoggoth (Core Set, F107.)
Whatever side you are on, there soon will be some new tools at your disposal. One of them is pointy and heavy. No wonder the Mi-Go like to stay hidden. It's a dangerous world out there.
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.
Sweet! Love the Half-Life references.