News for October 2013
A Little Bit of (Manufactured) Luck
A Preview of the Syndicate's Crooked Wagers in Denizens of the Underworld
Call of Cthulhu LCG | Published 24 October 2013

In Denizens of the Underworld, the sixth deluxe expansion for Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game, crime pays. Roughly two-thirds of the expansion’s 165 new cards bolster the Syndicate and its business endeavors, providing the faction’s Criminals a host of new tricks and new weapons to combat the rise of any cultists, lunatics, and Ancient Ones that might dare invade their turf or cut into their profit margins.

Naturally, in a deluxe expansion that highlights Arkham’s largest criminal organization, you’ll find plenty of thugs, goons, muscle, and hit men. You’ll also find arsonists, cat burglars, tacticians, and stooges the boss has slated to take a dive when the time is right. The eerie, Lovecraftian world of Call of Cthulhu is filled with strange horrors and deadly monsters, and the Syndicate’s boss, Danny O’Bannion, has learned over the years when to use a hatchet and when to use a tommy gun.

However, during the same time, O’Bannion has also learned to appreciate the value of maintaining a respectable public front for his organization. This is where The Clover Club (Denizens of the Underworld, 20) comes into play.

The House Always Wins

Arguably Arkham’s most fashionable nightclub, The Clover Club constantly draws large crowds of people hoping to enjoy good booze and good luck in games of cards and dice. Of course, since The Clover Club is one of Danny O’Bannion’s enterprises, its staff always keep a close eye on the daily earnings, and the house always comes out ahead.

House Advantage (Denizens of the Underworld, 23) is the first card in Call of Cthulhu that offers complete immunity to your opponent’s card effects, at least so long as all the cards you control belong to the Syndicate faction. That means it’s immune to every form of exhaustion, destruction, and sacrifice effect your opponent could potentially trigger. Why? Because the house always wins.

On its own, House Advantage won’t eliminate your opponent’s characters or place success tokens on your stories, but it will help you filter your deck so that you can more quickly access the characters, supports, and events that will win the game for you. At its most basic, House Advantage grants you the ability to peek at the top card of your deck before you draw it. If that’s not the card that you need, then you can choose to draw from the bottom of your deck instead. Sure, you’re gambling that the bottom card of your deck will be better than the top card, but that’s life in The Clover Club.

However, it’s when you start looking at how the Syndicate might construct plans around its House Advantage that you’ll first truly begin to understand how The Clover Club turns a nightly profit:

  • House Advantage plays well with Miranda Keeper (Words of Power, 33) and any of the numerous cards with which the Syndicate allows you to reduce your opponent’s characters’ skill. Whether or not you pull a support card into your hand with Miranda Keeper’s ability, she’ll allow you to place the remainder of those top five cards at the bottom of your deck in any order. Come your draw phase, you’ll know exactly what you can draw from the bottom two cards of your deck, but before you draw, you’ll also have a chance to peek at the top card of your deck. Thus, you now have perfect knowledge of up to six cards you might draw.
  • Tactic cards form another of the themes in Denizens of the Underworld, and House Advantage pairs well with Naomi O’Bannion (Denizens of the Underworld, 1) to let you make the most of your Tactic events. Naomi O’Bannion allows you to get double mileage out of powerful Tactics like Gang Warfare (Perilous Trials, 38). After you play Gang Warfare from your hand during your operations phase, you can ready Naomi O’Bannion to trigger it again at any time. In truth, Naomi O’Bannion’s ability does more than double the number of uses you get from your Tactics; it adds new flexibility to each of them. By adding House Advantage to the mix, you can draw the Tactics that you place on the bottom of your deck and loop them almost endlessly.

  • Another great way to use your House Advantage is to “cheat” at games of chance. Because you’ll be able to see when you have a high-skill character at the top of your deck, you’ll know when it’s a good time to place your bets and Roll the Dice (Denizens of the Underworld, 36). Meanwhile, because House Advantage allows you to keep drawing from the bottom of your deck, you can keep that high-skill character in place for your next game of chance. On the other hand, if the character has low skill and low cost, you might want to play a different game, using Peter Clover (Seekers of Knowledge, 53) to mess with your opponent’s plans by uncommitting a key character from the story of your choice.

Notably, though House Advantage requires that each card you control has the Syndicate icon, it doesn’t require that each card you resource, play, or filter to the top of your deck should be a Syndicate card. In fact, should your Syndicate characters forge some dark pact with one of the Ancient Ones, such as Cthulhu (Core Set, 41), few other characters would have skill is great enough to challenge you at Roll the Dice. Additionally, when you explore alliances with other factions, you may find interesting uses for their events, including Tactics like Flush Them Out (Written and Bound, 2).

Send in the Ringers

The Syndicate isn’t just good at stacking the odds in its favor at The Clover Club. It’s good at sending ringers to win games elsewhere, too. In fact, the Syndicate is always ready to send its most skillful (and devious) gamblers to any game where the stakes are suitably high. Perhaps, some shadowy organization will sell entries to an underground casino where players can try to win ancient, unearthed relics or dark tomes. Perhaps, O’Bannion will sell seats to his own, invitation-only tournament and call in his ringers to ensure the Syndicate doesn’t lose hold of its most valuable possessions.

This is where the Clover Club High Roller (Denizens of the Underworld, 10) and Clover Club Ringer (Denizens of the Underworld, 11) come into play.

These gamblers excel when the chips are down. With his Investigation icon, the Clover Club High Roller can help you make a quick play for a story, and his response can help you win it:

Response: After you succeed at a story where Clover Club High Roller is committed, wound Clover Club High Roller to add a success token to that story.”

His ability makes him an immediate threat to win any story with multiple Investigation struggles, such as Purity of Purpose (Terror in Venice, 26). He can earn as many as four success tokens for two Investigation victories and succeeding unopposed. Then, assign him a wound, and the story is yours. If you’ve been supplying your Syndicate members with ample supplies of Dutch Courage (Core Set, 73), that wound won’t even spell the High Roller’s doom. He’ll be wounded, but he’ll still be able to push for another story.

Meanwhile, the Clover Club Ringer may force your opponent to think twice about how to commit to stories. Anywhere she goes, she can win a story struggle, even when she loses it. Though she’s vulnerable in both Terror and Combat struggles, the Clover Club Ringer will be a thorn in the side of any rush deck that aims to get ahead on Investigation struggles. Even if she gets into the middle of Combat and loses, she’ll see that your opponent loses as well. After all, a one-for-one trade sometimes plays to your advantage.

Make Your Own Luck

With the upcoming release of Denizens of the Underworld, the Syndicate looks to make its own luck. You can make your own luck, too. Head to your local retailer to pre-order your copy today, then practice your card counting, load your deck, and get ready to roll the dice!

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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