Beyond the Veil – Echoes of the Past
This article will look at an individual scenario of Arkham Horror: The Card Game. These will be my impressions after playing through the scenario and will be focusing on the mechanics and how those reinforce the story elements of a given scenario. These articles will contain extensive spoilers and assume a familiarity with the terms and mechanics of the game. Please do not read on if you have not played the scenario in the title yet.
With the events of the Theatre and its lavish Party behind them, the investigators turn their attention to clues picked up at the soiree. Some of the guests mentioned that the play had been through this town before and you know that most of the town records are kept in the Manor House in Southside that belongs to the historical society. Determined to dig into the strangeness you have witnessed you make your way with all haste to this vault of knowledge, hoping to find clarity.
Immediatedly upon setup this scenario starts to hark back to the events of the core. If you have ‘interviewed’ Sebastien Moreau then you get an extra clue on one of the locations straight off. There is also another nice touch in that if you ‘fled the dinner party’ you get to take an extra action in your first turn as you arrive with time to spare.
The search for truth
Upon arrival at the mansion you are set upon the task of finding information about the King in Yellow, to glean what you can from the past and hopefully find a way to prevent the events occurring in the present.
Both Agenda and Act have the same threshold to flip, but what is this on the Agenda card? “Do not add doom to this Agenda during the Mythos Phase”. Surely that means no doom will ever be added to the Agenda? Well actually, this is a bit of a mistake from the design team. What it should say is “Skip the ‘Place 1 doom on the current agenda’ step of the Mythos phase.” I did play this wrong the first time round so it is always worth keeping an eye on the FAQ as the game evolves. This does mean the Agenda won’t advance in the regular way, but let’s look at the second part to this card. The Forced effect of the Agenda is that if enemies pick up clues, they will flip to their Doom side. Now we are starting to get a hint as to what might be about to occur and the scenario card has 1 result that will put doom on enemies in play.
This scenario is laid out like the mansion it takes place in; 3 floors with a central staircase to move between them. The removal of one room from each floor gives a nice element of replayability to the scenario as well. As you move around the mansion you are competing with the emerging cultists for the clues that appear on the locations, we will cover that more when we look at the encounter deck for this scenario. Should you ever run out of clues each of the Quiet Halls can be activated to place more clues on itself as a bit of a top up.
If you take too long and Agenda 2 flips over the horrible Possessed Oathspeaker may appear in play, alongside Sebastien Moreau in his monstrous form. The pressure is always on in this scenario and if you don’t stay on top of the cultists that are flooding the mansion things can get very bad, extremely quickly.
As you gather clues you learn that there is a hidden library in the Manor where the information is likely being held. As you rummage through more of the documents you find in the manor, you are accosted by a member of the historical society
Mr. Peabody is a rather helpful chap in that not only can he make a location easier to investigate but he can also give it a new trait called Passageway. This is particularly useful in that your final destination is the Hidden Library which as you’ll notice is connected to….nothing. Unless you happen to know where the secret Passageway is of course.
Within the Library lies your final goal: information about the previous performance of the King in Yellow and a strange clasp amongst the papers. The investigators are left with a choice: to have the courage of their Conviction and see the clasp as something important to the case or to Doubt that it has anything to do with it and leave it be. Taking it means an investigator having to deal with the annoyance of it being in their deck, but who knows if it will open up a route for you in a future scenario? The Chaos Bag itself can undergo a chance at the end of this scenario, removing some icons for others depending on the outcome of the scenario. This is a nice piece of foreshadowing, letting the players mull over what possible horror this may wreak on them in a future game.
Whatever the outcome of the scenario you are pointed toward the next clue you need to decipher the King in Yellow; a stagehand for the first performance of the play called Daniel was admitted to Arkham Asylum, perhaps you can still find him there?
The specific set of encounters for this scenario are all concentrated on shuffling clues around in unexpected ways, and the set specific to Echoes of the Past is packed with annoying cultists and their devious tricks! The Seekers of Carcosa, some of whom may be in play already depending on the number of players, go around just sucking up clues, becoming Doom due to the Agenda card. The Cult’s Search, moves doom on Cultists to the Agenda or brings more into play. Led Astray can give you a difficult choice between giving cultists a clue, and therefore a Doom, or to place a doom on the current agenda. This last one is interesting as you might have time to beat the Doom back out of the cultist but Doom on the Agenda can never be reversed.
The final part of the Echoes encounter set is the monstrous Possessed Oathspeaker.
When this guy turns up you better really step things up or choose to beat him down; doing so triggers resolution 3 and gives you his coat. To be fair it is a pretty sweet piece of clothing. It’s worth noting that while you are in the early stages of your investigation you can’t even think about hurting this guy, so you are going to have to really lay into him during the final Act card if you can.
The remainder of the encounter deck is similarly focused on producing cultists and messing around with clues. The cultists in the Yellow Sign set we encountered during Curtain Call are uniquely suited to hoovering up clues, which become Doom of course. The Delusions set makes an appearance to mess with our heads a we wonder what our compatriots are holding in their hands. From the core we get bits of Midnight Masks, Locked Doors and the ever present Dark Cult. From Midnight Masks we only get the cards that affect clue manipulation, keeping the encounter deck slim and focused on the task of parting you from your hard earned information.
This scenario is a real race against the encounter deck more than the Agenda. As the cultists appear and hoover up clues you have to keep them under control and make sure to beat the Doom out of them as it occurs. For a combat focused group this could make the scenario a bit easier than was perhaps intended by the designers and I’ve heard varying reports on how easily people have handled the challenges of the mansion.
I really like this scenario as it successfully brings your attention to how you manage the encounter deck and emphasises the threat of cultists that you may have previously dispatched with some ease. Changing the nature of the enemy is a great way to keep players on their toes. I’ve been delighted by the way the design team constantly mess with our expectations and I look forward to them upending the cart in future expansions.
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