Circle Undone – Review
I’m not always on the cusp of Arkham Horror LCG releases, but one of the joys of the game is that you don’t have to keep up with the Joneses. As the Dream Eaters cycle spins up I wanted to look back at the previous cycle, The Circle Undone. This campaign sees the game rooting itself back in the town of Arkham after the events of Path to Carcosa and The Forgotten Age took us much further afield. We return to the town in Massachusetts that started it all and find that dangers lie close to home.
Six go hunting Witches
As with the other cores we get a bunch of new investigators and cards to go with them. I’ve only had a chance to play with Joe, Preston and Diana but all the characters are interesting.
Carolyn Fern: The Psychologist
Originally teased in “Fight the Black Wind”, Carolyn is the first true healer to enter the pool. Her core ability is entirely focused on the healing of sanity damage, backed up by her signature card. Her low fight, and inability to use Weapons, firmly places her in the investigative side of the class. Her varied deck building restrictions means I can see a lot of interesting builds for her.
Joe Diamond: The Private Investigator
Joe is nuts. A seeker class investigator who can hold his own in a fight and find clues, rocketed him to the top of the charts for solo and group play alike. The only real weakness on his stat line is the 2 Will and the good Joe decks I’ve played and seen take this into account when building decks.
The Insight deck is an inspired piece of design splitting out 11 Insight keyworded events into a seperate deck. The revealed top card of this is cheaper each turn giving you lots of room for crazy plays. His signature guns round out a powerful, possibly too powerful, investigator.
Preston Fairmont: The Millionaire
Yes you did read that stat line correctly, Preston is bad at everything but maybe not by the end of the cycle. He is definitely one of those investigators who needs carried until they have some of their xp cards and I think he really needs the whole cycle before you can get to a good build for him.
His core ability and signature card let him treat vast amounts of resources as a throw away concern, giving him a real moneybags feel. Certainly one of the weirder investigators we have seen in a while.
Diana Stanley: The Redeemed Cultist
There have always been cards like Ward of Protection that have allowed players to mess around with what happens when in the game. Diana turns that up to 11, focusing heavily on denial cards: abilites that prevent certain effects from happening.
Her signature cards add to her power. Dark Insight gives you a cancellation card right from the start of the game and her signature dagger is so good that many Diana decks run Prepared for the Worst just to go and hunt for it early. Although she starts with low Will this is balanced out by the card draw and resources she gains from putting denial cards below her, slowing gaining in Will until she gets to 6 unboosted.
I’ve played Diana the most out of all the new investigators and with the right build she feels tough, powerful and extremely versatile.
Marie Lambeau: The Entertainer
Buy Circle Undone, get two mystics for the price of one! Spoiled back when the Investigators of Arkham book came out, many have been waiting to see what Marie could do with a bigger card pool. Additional actions are always great and I really love that Mari’s comes with an interesting cost into the bargain.
I’d really like to see this kind of balance more on cards (powerful seeker cards I am looking at you).
She has a good stat line for investigating and a trick up her sleeve in that she can stop the Agenda advancing once per game, handy when you treat Doom as a resource.
Rita Young: The Athelete
The survivor in this set is probably the weakest of the investigators we get. With a high agility, but lacking the pure evasion focused play of Finn Edwards, she feels like a weaker version of that idea. Although she can potentially move faster than Finn, and has the ability to get rid of weak enemies without having to attack, her Elder Sign ability and mediocre stat line make her a difficult, if interesting, character to build for.
Alongside this cavalcade of investigators comes a whole host of new cards. Here are my personal picks of the bunch.
This many not be the best card in the set but the flavour on it is fantastic. Beat up that Cultist and learn where they keep their clues.
Oh, what a surprise, it’s a really powerful Seeker card. To be fair, I really like the flavour on this one and I think it will find its way into a lot of non-seeker decks as a backup clue gathering card.
Shockingly several of the Rogue cards in this set revolve around cash. This one is great for Preston giving him a good boost to his stats. Keep in mind that resources on Inheritance don’t count for this card.
Free. Fast. Versatile. Deny Existence is a fantastic card that has seen its way into the majority of mystic decks and more besides. It can get you out of a tight spot at a moment’s notice and the wild icon isn’t too shabby either. The experienced version of this card, though expensive, is absolutely nuts.
Act of Desperation
Always fun to throw your gun at someone when its out of bullets. Even better if that Investigator can get it back from the trash, Yorrick, or get Resourceful.
A new slot arrives in circle undone, the Tarot slot. This fits with the theme of the story and each class gets its own one plus a generic one. They are pretty good if you can manipulate them into your opening hand, but a little weak under other circumstances (though the survivor one really makes Calvin a lot better). Regrettably FFG didn’t really do anything more with the mechanic outside the core of the cycle, though maybe we will see it return in future cycles.
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 Circle Undone. I’m not going to delve into the 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.
As I alluded to at the top of this piece, Circle Undone brings us back to Arkham and for most of the cycle stays there. We open with a prologue scenario Disappearance at the Twilight Estate set before the events of the cycle. In a really interesting twist each player takes on a role other than their chosen investigator, instead inhabating one of the staff/guests at the party that is being held: the cook, bodyguard etc.
Each of these characters comes with their own specific hand of cards to deal with the events to come. Not a deck, a hand. On top of this reduced set of tools you are told right from the off that you will be defeated. I really like this idea, and think it could be used as a good intro to the game, but I think it is a bit of a slog on subsequent playthroughs.
The scenarios proper start with The Witching Hour. After an encounter with a fortune teller, the Investigators find themselves lost in the woods, separated until they find their way back together. Will they disrupt the ritual?
At Death’s Doorstep takes us back to the manor of the prologue, with the same location setup and the actions of the characters from that scenario, resonating throughout the story.
You must come full circle to find the truth
The Circle Undone is a really strong campaign start: Interesting investigators are coupled with an excellent set of scenarios and a bold new way, the Prologue to establish the setting of this particular cycle.
If you are joining the Arkham LCG at this point, The Circle Undone is a great jumping on point. The Prologue can be used to learn the game and the other scenarios are really great. You can build decks for all the investigators from just a single core and this, Fantasy Flight provide sample decklists, and if you are just getting started you aren’t going to really care about optimisation. That being said the majority of the investigators in this set will only really shine with a large card pool.
Whenever you choose to engage with this cycle, I know you won’t be disappointed. It’s a really excellent chapter in the Arkham LCG, a game that continues to impress and innovate with every expansion.