Blending In

A Preview of The Thousand Young Expansion for Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game


"There were legends of a hidden lake unglimpsed by mortal sight, in which dwelt a huge, formless white polypous thing with luminous eyes; and squatters whispered that bat-winged devils flew up out of caverns in inner earth to worship it at midnight. They said it had been there before D’Iberville, before La Salle, before the Indians, and before even the wholesome beasts and birds of the woods. It was nightmare itself, and to see it was to die."
     –H.P. Lovecraft, The Call of Cthulhu

As we saw in our last preview, The Thousand Young deluxe expansion for Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game spews forth a whole host of new Monsters, Ghouls, Chthonians, Mi-Go, and other characters to swell the already bloated ranks of the Shub-Niggurath faction. Yet even as this expansion offers the Shub faction's fans a wide range of new characters, tactics, and tools from which they can piece together their decks, it transports the game from staid, stoic, eerie New England of H.P. Lovecraft's fiction to the culturally diverse streets of New Orleans and the steamy, dark, terrifying bayous of southern Louisiana.

Today, we look at some of the ways that The Thousand Young explores and exploits its setting, both as it allows Shub's followers to blend in with an already rich collection of mixed cultures and as it conceals some of the faction's vilest activities deep within swamps full of moss-covered trees.

In the Streets and Behind Closed Doors

With its unique blend of French, Spanish, and African influences, New Orleans has long held a special place within the American psyche. It's a place of mystery, wherein a multitude of rich cultural, artistic, linguistic, and spiritual traditions bleed together, transforming them so that any person on the street may appear both familiar and completely "other" at the same time. This also makes the city an ideal place for Shub's Cultists to hide their personal worship of the fecund Ancient One.

In New Orleans, few would blink an eye at a man or woman blending Voodoo traditions with Roman Catholicism, and what do Shub's Sorcerers do but add a few more elements to that mixture? Of course, the religious practices of a shadow mage such as Jean Deveraeux (The Thousand Young, 4) aren't quite like anything else within the city. Though they may outwardly appear to blend some of the same elements, they are far darker and much more immediate.

While the costs of his devotion are likely dire, they are unknown, but the benefits are truly impressive. As a reward for his faith, Shub grants him an unholy, inhuman Toughness, along with a commanding presence that can melt the minds of lesser men. Moreover, Jean Deveraeux gains the ability to exert an unusual measure of control over the events he witnesses; whenever he is committed to a story that your opponent wins, you may choose whether or not to trigger its effect, as though you had won the story. Not only does this grant you the power to decide whether or not the story effect triggers, it makes you the primary beneficiary of any asymmetrical story effect, such as that on Chaos Unleashed (The Shifting Sands, 8).

It is terrifying, indeed, to think that someone with powers so dark and unnatural may freely roam the city's streets, but it's more likely that he spends his time secreted away in some hidden part of the French Quarter (The Thousand Young, 26).

Designed to enhance the Resilient keyword that the expansion introduces, French Quarter is one of eight one-cost, unique Location supports that reveals the top card of your deck until the end of the phase in which you trigger it, and it's an easy way to load your characters with the Terror or Combat icons that feature prominently among Shub's most Resilient characters. Of course, the character you find doesn't have to bear the Resilient keyword, but if you have characters with the Resilient keyword, you can make certain they'll find their way to the top ofyour deck when you need them most.

For example, you could play a Baka (The Thousand Young, 9) to wound a Baka, along with an opponent's character. Then you could send your wounded, Resilient Baka back to the top of your deck before you trigger French Quarter. Alternatively, you could return Baron Samedi (The Thousand Young, 19) to your hand to lower the cost to play Nyarlathotep (The Thousand Young, 36), but choose, instead, when removing Baron Samedi from play to place him on the top of your deck with his Resilient effect, rather than back in your hand.

Such foul rituals aren't limited to the French Quarter. Each of the game's other factions gains a Location support with a similar effect, revealing the top card of your deck for a potential benefit. Whether you look for mad musicians within Tremé (The Thousand Young, 43) or the secretive Lodge members that dwell within the mansions of the Garden District (The Thousand Young, 49), the time you spend trodding along the streets of New Orleans is bound to be eventful.

Any wrong turn may lead toward madness or death. The question is: will you be able to identify the followers of Shub-Niggurath before it's too late?

Spawned in the Bayou

Meanwhile, even as Shub's Cultists and Sorcerers find anonymity amid the diverse and blended culture of New Orleans, other of the Black Goat's spawn find room to grow within the bayous of southern Louisiana, tucked deep into the darkest swamps, and sheltered from human eyes by trees laden with Spanish moss.

We saw some hints of the monstrosities within the bayous presented in The Call of Cthulhu when Lovecraft related the tale of Inspector Legrasse, who led nineteen officers into the swamps to break up some foul ritual that was being conducted therein. The Inspector had thought of the ritual as some form of Voodoo, but the truth is that it was another form of ceremony. It was something truly evil, an ancient religious practice directed toward the ancient powers that lie just beyond the standard range of human perception, and its consequences were even worse than the horrid and grotesque movements, sounds, and sacrifices it involved.

The Thousand Young gives us yet more reason to fear the darkest swamps of southern Louisiana.

  • Baleful Dark Young (The Thousand Young, 10) arise from those fetid regions where Shub-Niggurath is busy Birthing a Thousand Young (The Thousand Young, 33).
  • Giant, lumbering Marsh Gugs (The Thousand Young, 14) prowl the bayou for prey, and to them, nearly everything is prey.
  • Finally, if you should meet someone who might be able to provide you guidance, there's no guarantee you'll want to follow that person's advice. You're more likely to meet some Bayou Shaman (The Thousand Young, 5) eager to dwell close to the source of his unholy power than you are to meet some kind-hearted, benevolent spirit.

The result is that by transporting us to New Orleans and the swamps of southern Louisiana, The Thousand Young explores a new sense of dread and terror, where commonplace cultures and flora are tinged by the darkest elements of the mythos. When the sun sets and the sweltering night swallows the sky, there's no telling where Shub-Niggurath's followers may wander, nor what evil schemes they may pursue. In a faction that's so well adapted to responding to any situation that may arise within a game, where Shub's Cultists and Servitors often undergo Shocking Transformations (Core Set, 140), the seemingly disparate characters and abilities of The Thousand Young may fit perfectly into Shub's grander designs. If there are enough spawn, if they are given enough time to grow strong, if they have a wide enough array of talents, no power on earth can stop them.

Out of the Swamps

The Thousand Young transports Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game to the streets of New Orleans and the swamps of southern Louisiana, but Shub's ambitions reach far beyond those boundaries. It can only be a matter of time before her Cultists and her spawn begin to travel outward. Will you be ready? Will you seek the Black Goat's blessings and join her tribe? Or will you take a stand against her and her thousand offspring? Make your choice carefully.

In the meantime, head to your local retailer today to pre-order your copy of The Thousand Young!

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