|The Key and the Gate
A Story Card spoiler for the Call of Cthulhu LCG™ Core Set
|Call of Cthulhu LCG | Published 15 December 2008|
By: Marius Hartland
Yog-Sothoth knows the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the key and guardian of the gate. Past, present, future, all are one in Yog-Sothoth. He knows where the Old Ones broke through of old, and where They shall break through again. He knows where They have trod earth's fields, and where They still tread them, and why no one can behold Them as They tread. —H.P. Lovecraft, "The Dunwich Horror"
Winning stories is one of the main objectives of the Call of Cthulhu Living Card Game™. But there is another, almost inevitable strategy that can be used to win: forcing your opponent’s deck to run out of cards. Typically, players want the number of cards in their decks to be as low as possible, to ensure any given card shows up in your hand as soon and as frequently as possible, especially when said deck is running some sort of combo. To balance this out, a deck can't consist of less than fifty cards. At the start of the game, you'll draw eight of these, and each turn you'll draw two – aside from card effects, of course. This leaves you about twenty-one turns before someone runs out of cards and the game ends. And each turn you get a chance to use a card as a resource. But what if the normal flow of time is disrupted? What if suddenly, you find yourself Frozen in Time?
Now that we're at the seventh Story Card in the Core Set, you can probably see why it's called a Story Deck, and not a Story Pile. A pile of cards is just that, but when there is a pattern beneath it all, it's worthy of being called a Deck. Frozen in Time doesn't just zip you back or forward in time, it also fills up your discard pile. And with the effects seen before, it might as well be called your Discard Deck.
It was an All-in-One and One-in-All of limitless being and self — not merely a thing of one Space-Time continuum, but allied to the ultimate animating essence of existence's whole unbounded sweep — the last, utter sweep which has no confines and which outreaches fancy and mathematics alike. It was perhaps that which certain secret cults of earth have whispered of as YOG-SOTHOTH, and which has been a deity under other names; that which the crustaceans of Yuggoth worship as the Beyond-One, and which the vaporous brains of the spiral nebulae know by an untranslatable Sign...
—H. P. Lovecraft and E. Hoffmann Price, "Through the Gates of the Silver Key"
There are many things one can do with the discard pile in the Call of Cthulhu LCG™. Reanimation is one, but the absolute king of the discard pile is Yog-Sothoth. Especially his incarnation as Yog-Sothoth – In Whom The Spheres Meet. Since his cost is reduced for each Spell card in your discard pile (to a minimum of one) a little time freeze can help bring this aspect of Yog-Sothoth out quite quickly, so you'll have an invulnerable, icon heavy and skilled character on your side. Opener Of The Gate from the Ancient Horrors Asylum Pack will turn your monster cards into spell cards, making the threshold Yog-Sothoth lurks behind even lower. Using The Ritual Conspiracy on an already depleted deck makes matters even more urgent.
Your opponent may choose to just discard some of their resources instead, though. Normally, the cards in your deck don't really matter. Discarding a few has a chance of getting rid of the card they wanted, but it also has the chance of bringing them a turn closer to actually drawing it. But that's fine. Let them destroy their resources. That too is likely to make the game longer, and with each draw phase they are two cards closer to the abyss.
There are plenty of ways to interact with the discard pile, some that we have already seen in previews of the upcoming Story Deck. Filling the discard pile with resources and a chunk of deck will work fine with Opening Night, giving you the option of filling the table with madmen. Last week's Ancient Apocrypha results in a scenario that’s even more interesting, when the two stories meet in play: You can go for the Apocrypha first, loading up a new domain, then go for Frozen in Time so everyone has to break it down again or potentially lose a huge chunk of deck. Or, you can go for Frozen in Time first, fill up your discard pile with characters so you'll end up with a huge, undrained domain. And if you're on the offense and are allowed to choose the order in which it happens, whatever the other player chooses to do with Frozen in Time, can determine whether you'll actually trigger Apocrypha – possibly denying them the resources they where expecting by not triggering it. It is a strategy game, after all.
Next week we'll see that when the past catches up with you, there is Nowhere to Hide!