We have been to the town of Dunwich, to Paris and back in Path to Carcosa so the obvious place next is…the Jungle? Setting out beyond the Mexican border our investigators find themselves on the trail of mysterious artefacts, lost civilisations and snakes. Lots and lots of snakes.
Opening the tome
It’s always exciting to crack open a new campaign starter set for Arkham. Not only is it the start of a new campaign and months of new story, but the designers are unleashing their latest ideas around on us. Let’s take a look at the new investigators joining us in the jungle, starting with the one I was most excited by.
Calvin Wright: The Haunted
Yes that stat line is correct, Calvin starts out with 0 in everything. As he takes physical and mental damage his stats get better leading to all sorts of interesting possibilities. For a start Trauma is not something to be feared as much as every point of it just makes you stronger. Cards like ‘I’ll see you in hell’ become more appealing as you can permanently increase your stats through its use. You have to be careful though, as too much damage too quickly can lead to him permanently checking out of the game.
Father Mateo: The Priest
I’m playing this character in my current run through the game and I am really enjoying the change of pace from Survivor and Guardian. He is almost pure mystic, with only 1 card from survivor currently carrying the Blessed keyword, hopefully we will see more of that in Circle Undone. To compensate for his narrow focus you start with 5xp to get some of the more powerful mystic cards into your deck. His signature card allows you to Seal the Elder sign, taking the token from the bag and putting it on the book. You can choose to pop this when you test automatically getting the Elder Sign, which on his trigger is an auto pass and either a card and a resource or a whole extra action. Fantastic effect.
Seal is one of the two new mechanics in this set, and over the course of the packs we will see more and more cards allow us to manipulate the bag and trigger on the various symbol tokens. I’ve built a bag diving Mateo myself for my current run and it is really interesting, if a bit brain burning.
Leo Anderson: The Expedition Leader
Leo is a fairly straightforward Guardian card pool but with a particular emphasis on allies, especially with his signature card allowing for two extra slots, though he does take up 1 himself. A Charisma path with “Leo & Friends” does seem to be the best route for him.
Ursula Downs: The Explorer
I’ve seen Ursula in action and with Pathfinder and Fieldwork down she can really zip about the map, hoovering up clues as she goes. She is perfectly suited to the Forgotten Age with it’s reliance on another new mechanic Exploration. Many of the scenarios as well as having the normal encounter deck, will also have an exploration deck, a set of locations and treacheries. You take an explore action by turning over cards until you either hit a treachery or find a location you can path to: treacheries are discarded, locations you can’t path to are shuffled back in. when you do hit a location you can move to it immediately, meaning Ursula can just dive in and start getting clues. Another really strong seeker character.
Finn Edwards: The Bootlegger
I haven’t had a chance to play Finn yet, but I really want to. His ability is keyed to another mechanic in Forgotten Age, Vengeance. Some creatures have vengeance on them, and when killed go to the victory display. At the end of each scenario you total up your vengeance and add it to an ongoing total, which will have different effects on the campaign. Finn with his ability to evade for free once a round, gets round this by avoiding enemies rather than fighting them. I also really like the flavour of his deck building requirements.
The investigators come with a bunch of new cards to add to the pool, from mysterious relics to horrible new weaknesses.
With an ally focused Guardian in this set this card should see a good bit of use. Played on a Beat Cop or a Guard Dog to give them more longevity seems like a good choice.
Ancient Stone: Unidentified
Ooh, another shot at the Strange Solution style of cards. An inbuilt ability to get extra clues isn’t too shabby but this time round you have to do as many identifications as you can before upgrading in order for it to be worthwhile. An interesting bit of theme, though not sure how much play it will see.
I love the flavour on this card, and it’s another way for Rogues to get in on the investigation game.
Mists of R’lyeh
Seeing some more evasion themed cards is great, especially considering the Vengeance in this campaign.
Another of those cards I am not sure how much play it will see, but I really love the flavour of it.
This has been pretty controversial amongst the community but I don’t really mind that this can eventually kill a character. There are ways to look into your deck to avoid it and that sense of ticking clock is just delicious. Also it needs to trigger twice before you start on the path of your destruction, the whole path of weaknesses triggering 5 times over 8 scenarios in order for you to die. Too harsh? Not sure, but I’ll report back should I ever draw it.
This is your spoiler warning! Awooga, Awooga, abandon article if you do not want to know what happens at all in the scenarios in the Forgotten Age. I’m not going to delve into mechanics of the scenarios, I’ll be looking at those in a future Beyond the Veil articles, but I will be touching on the basic story.
Set in the summer of 1925 the narrative of the game takes place in the journal of an expedition heading south of the Mexico border to investigate a hitherto unheard of Aztec civilisation. Gathering Supplies you head into the jungles hoping to find this ancient city Iztli in the Untamed Wilds.
The Exploration deck is introduced straight off the bat. Rather than there being several locations to move around and investigate straight away, we start at a Base Camp and take Exploration actions to try and find our way through the jungle. As you wander the jungle many threats will block your way, both from the Encounter deck and Exploration deck. You will not only come across a tribe determined to stop your path through the jungle, but also snakes and traps to be overcome.
Whether you talk to the locals and try and convince them you mean them no harm, fight with them to drive them off or end up being defeated by the challenges you will reach the ruins of the city and discover the Doom of Eztli.
This is my favourite of the two scenarios in the box, and feels very pulpy: a dive into an ancient ruin, powerful and mysterious artifacts and snakes. Why did it have to be snakes? As you make your way through the rooms of this place, you will discover many hints that a civilisation much older than the Aztecs built it and eventually recover a strange artifact. As you do the tomb seems to collapse around you, and powerful creatures appear to stop you leaving with their prize. A great scenario with a real sense of urgency to it.
Right from the off this campaign feels a lot more pulpy and I am looking forward to diving into it’s scenarios more in the Beyond the Veil series. I am not totally sold on the supplies mechanic present in the scenarios but will have to reserve judgement till I see how it plays out. The threat of vengeance really lends another dimension to confronting enemies, often meaning that often discretion is the better part of valour. The new investigators are all really interesting and allowing new possibilities for deckbuilding: I’m especially enjoying the bag manipulation side of this expansion.
I’ll be polishing off Carcosa soon and then getting into Forgotten Age as well as putting up a review of Circle Undone once I’ve played through those scenarios a couple of times. Until then, pack your gun, whip and hat and head into the jungle. You never know what you might find.