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.
Now we are back in our own bodies after the events in City of Archives, it is time to resume our descent into the vast subterranean world we have discovered, seeking the Nexus. Just as Aljeandro revealed his true colours in the last scenario we now see where Ichtaca stands. Either she is going to turn against us because we have forged our own path from scenario 3: Threads of Fate or she turns to our side despite being a snake worshiping cultist when her faith was restored during scenario 4: The Boundary Beyond.
Ichtaca turning against us chucks yet another token in the chaos bag, the Elder thing. It also means we might have the Relic removed from our decks as she steals it and runs off into the darkness with it. Come back here!
Down, down, down, down
It’s been a long fight to get to this point and our choices will once more come back to haunt us. Throughout the campaign we have been building up Vengeance that until this point has not really impacted us to greatly. It comes back now with a, well vengeance I guess. When setting up the Agenda and Act deck we start later and later in the Agenda deck depending on the amount of Vengeance we have accumulated over the course of the campaign. This may mean starting with some really bad customers in play but it definitely means we have less time to get to our objective.
We have an exploration deck as we have before, minus any treacheries. In order to explore we must remove all the clues on a location, echoing the mechanic that gave us an impression of the vastness of this realm in Scenario 5: Heart of the Elders. When we get to the Steps of Yoth we advance only to find that we reset!
During setup we have put a resource on the scenario card to represent the Depth we are at, something that has no direct mechanical effect but other cards may reference. When we advance we go down a level in this cave system, increasing the Depth by one resetting our starting point, recreating the exploration deck and shifting any enemies to the Pursuit area. This is a new out of play area that enemies go to that are basically on our tale. Depending on your level of vengeance you mind find that big old snake daddy Yig himself is residing there right from the off. Various card abilities will pull enemies from this area back into play.
The first time we dive into the depths we realise our final objective. If we get to level 5 or more we can get to head to R2, which is hopefully full of puppies and sunshine. Any investigators not on the steps get defeated so it really has to be a team effort to get down each level.
The Agenda deck ticks ever onwards as we descend through the depths. Every time we advance the Agenda we look to the pursuit are and spawn the enemy with the highest evade value at the location where the investigators set out from on this particular level. A cool mechanic, and one that can be manipulated to your advantage.
The exploration deck is wonderfully varied each level. We have 10 locations to choose from, well 9 since one of them has to be the Steps of Yoth. The exploration deck is pretty short each time you descend, being only 5 location cards long. Let’s have a look at where we might end up.
Crumbling Precipice sees us potentially falling to our deaths! The Forked Path gives us a little respite from the horror if we have a map on us, giving us two locations with one action. Broken Passage accelerates the Agenda if we want to explore from it.
Abandoned Site and Caverns of Yoth get more difficult as the scenario goes on, gaining shroud or clues equal to the depth level. Bright Canyon can be scanned through binoculars but hurts as if we are poisoned, quite likely by now in the campaign that at least one investigator is. Remember we can’t explore from a location with clues on it.
Bridge over N’kai gets extra shroud equal to the vengeance points in the victory display and that’s where our final two locations come in. Hall of Heresy and City of the Serpents can both be counted as in the victory display under certain conditions. Phew.
If we do manage to get to level 5 then we know that the Nexus is near and we get extra experience equal to the depth level, alongside the usual updating of our friend the Harbringer. If we fail to get that far then we fell into the depths and the outcome will depend on how far we are from the bottom. Level 1, it’s game over. Everyone is killed. Level 2 then we land with a thud picking up 2 physical trauma and an Injury weakness to boot. Level 3 is just 1 physical trauma and 4 we are actually ok. If any of the trauma causes all investigators to be killed then we lose the campaign.
In the Interlude we head towards the Nexus, getting new tokens in the bag if we don’t have the relic to hand or potentially getting a new shiny version of it, and some extra experience if we have our faithful map to hand. However things go we lose all our supplies as we lose track of how long we have spent in this underground realm. Hopefully our efforts will not be for naught as head into Scenario 8: Shattered Aeons.
Skulls in this one just get harder as the depth increases, meaning that cards like Ritual Candles can be really handy in the dark. Funny that. Cultists prove to be incredibly bad, healing any of our Serpent enemies. Although Ichtaca might still be on our side our belief in her has allowed our enemies time to prepare.
Tablets make our progress through the caverns even slower as they put clues back on the locations and the Elder thing is -2 unless there is 3 or more vengeance because then we just automatically fail.
The set for this particular scenario is very snake focused as it turns out. Well if you will kick a snakes nest as the saying goes.
Serpent’s Ire brings enemies back from the pursuit area but this time with the highest fight rather than evade, as the Agenda does. If we are really unlucky it means that enemy will automatically attack us. Bathophobia (fear of depths) is a fairly straightforward treachery of the type that gets harder as the scenario goes on. It does hit for 2 horror so this is definitely not one to fail. Lightless Shadow is in a similar vein being an agility test that gets harder as the depth number increases, hitting us for 2 damage. Children of Valusia makes Serpents Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger. Mostly it will just last a turn, but can easily build up to cause some real issues.
Monster wise we get some snakes keeping an eye on us and two big boys. The Pit Warden whenever it spawns just goes straight to the pursuit area. They are unlikely to be spawned by the Agenda advancing as their evade is so low, but the Serpent’s Ire is much more likely to bring them than anyone else. Eater of the Depths gets harder to avoid as we head deeper and also brings another location with him, which could be a blessing or a curse depending on what it is. Finally we have the big snake daddy Yig.
The Ancient one for a campaign turning up before the final scenario is an interesting move and this is some enemy. Huge amounts of health, defended by his snake friends and all his mates get retaliate and alert. Take him down if you can for those sweet victory points: his evade and fight are not that huge. However he is a serpent alongside everything else which means all the cards that boost serpent enemies are going to help him as well.
The rest of the encounter set is made of familiar themes, boosted a bit by the cards in this set. Brood of Yig can get huge with the right location cards in play as can the Serpent from Yoth, though once dispatched he wont come back. The Forgotten Ruins set comes back to haunt us, making the Agenda advance quicker if we don’t handle its challenges well. Poisoned of course is still about and finally the Explored set sees us being slowed by Lost in the Wilds and Low on Supplies.
After the odd, if incongrous, City of Archives, Depths of Yoth is a really fantastic scenario. Creating a real feeling of descending into more and more dangerous depths the scenario feels very replayable and has a sense of fun about it. This is probably why it has been adopted by the community for “How low you can go” challenges where teams compete to get to the lowest depth possible.
It is an interesting change to see an Ancient One appear in the penultimate scenario and it leaves us wondering what the final scenario could bring. Will their be another ancient one? Will Yig make reappear? Will we finally learn what on earth has been going on? All these question and more will be answered in Shattered Aeons.