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.
The Graveyard of Scenario IV turned out to be not the jolly jape we were hoping for. Who could have seen that coming? It has been a few days since we visited and events in Arkham are continuing to go downhill.
Over the course of our investigation we’ve learnt a lot about the witches that have been involved in our adventures. We are still in the dark about the mysterious Lodge that has been a presence throughout. Time to change that.
Your standing with the lodge will determine how we are getting inside: with a warm welcome or a spot of infiltration.
Essentially the setup gives us two separate scenarios. Either we are wandering around as members of the Lodge or we are sneaking about and trying to not get spotted. Either way we are told from the off by the Agenda that leaving bodies in our wake is a bad move. This is a lovely way to play around with Doom in more interesting ways.
Whatever method we use to get into the Lodge, the core of the scenario remains the same. Locate some keys, find out what the lodge is up to, and then, well we will get to that. Our locations looks the same with some important differences.
As members we walk in the front door and head straight to the lobby. Well almost straight. This version of the lobby gives us a parly action at the Lodge Gates to get in. Costs an action, adds a whole lot of flavour. Sometimes flavour comes from subtle touches like this.
When we break in we start at the Gates as well but we are going in through the cellar. The clues at the gate nicely represent us casing the joint and looking for a crack in their defences.
Act 1 flips for members once they’ve got three times the number of investigators in clues, and that means going to the lounge and lodge cellar. For the robbers its two times the number of investigators, which means lobby and cellar. Until all the keys are retrieved the Catacombs are out of bounds. It’s important to note that as robbers we can also negate doom on enemies by evading them, getting around the thorny issues presented by Agenda 1. We’ve also got August Lindquist to deal with in the Lounge who holds one of the keys we will need.
However we are getting in, the two strands of this scenario start to coalesce after Act 1. Nathan Wick will turn up carrying a mysterious puzzle box. Either we get on board with the lodge and help them bind this Revenant with the box, or we want to nick it and scarper. Of course we can persuade Nathan to hand the box over to us rather than have the lodge crack it open, but maybe you just want to twiddle your thumbs until they open it up, letting the doom clock run down.
Turns out those keys that are lying about are what we need to unlock this box. Nothing bad has ever come out of mysterious boxes being opened in horror films. Interestingly the box refers mechanically to things we don’t understand yet, and won’t get a chance to figure out until we hit the Unvisited Isle in scenario 6.
Meanwhile the Agenda has been merrily ticking along. Keep in mind that during Act 1 and 2 if we are the robbers we can evade enemies to remove Doom. The first Agenda escalates matters on flipping, throwing some cultists in our faces.
Agenda 2 really brings matters to a head as the Silver Twilight Lodge enemies become a lot more vigilant, losing Aloof whilst in Sanctum locations.
If we are members of the lodge when we open the box then we have a choice. If we join up fully with the lodge we can pick the brains of the head honcho Carl Sanford and find out a little bit more about what on earth is going on. If we are robbing the place then we get away with it and proceed to Scenario 6: The Unvisited Isle. The other option is to watch the Lodge crack it open, ending in a nasty fight that also pushes us towards the Island. It’s all For the Greater Good after all.
At the start of the campaign we embraced or rejected our fate, giving us either tablets or Elder Things in the Chaos Bag. In this scenario Skulls are a straight up negative modifier, getting harder as doom accumulates on our foes.
The cultist token leans into the fact we are sneaking around a lodge infested location we are in, making things significantly worse by not only hitting us with a -2 modifier but also pulling up a follow up token.
Both of the fate related tokens give us a -3. The tablet, embraced fate, give us a chance to mess with destiny as we can remove doom from enemies in a variety of ways. The elder thing puts that doom out of reach, outside forces refusing to reconcile with our choice to ignore out eventual destiny.
Depending on your relationship with the lodge you won’t see all the cards we are going to look at. We’ll look at those two sets that we will see depending on our relationship with the lodge.
If we aren’t members of the lodge then we are sneaking around downstairs so the Acolytes, Wizards of the Order, Cell Keeper and Knight of the Inner Circle come into play. The first two we know already. The Cell Keeper, rather appropriately, holds one of the keys we need, and will have to be dealt with. The Knight of the Inner Circle feel like the elite guards of the basement, patrolling around, hunting those who would steal keys and attacking those they see.
If we are going in the front door as members then we have to contend more with the lodge, a mix of old and new cards: Lodge Neophyte, Keeper of Secrets, Lodge Jailor and Knight of the Outer Void. The first two we know from earlier in the campaign, and will cause issues with their domm unless we talk softly to them. We could ‘deal’ with them another way of course, but don’t forget about that pesky Agenda.
The Jailor joins these two in pushing doom into the scenario, but also has a key on him. In fact I would place good money on him basically being the same character as the Cell Keeper by the looks of the art on the card. Knight of the Outer Void gives us an interesting choice. If we have characters that are good at talking we can put more doom on them and convert it to clues. Of course if we get this wrong, the gig is up!
Nathan Wick is the last card which depends on your relationship with the Lodge. Either 3 fight/ 4 evade or 4 fight/ 3 evade. He’s not a particularly formidable foe at this stage in the campaign. He’s not a monster, is he?
Talking of monsters. If we let the doom timer tick down then we get to meet this lovely chap.
It really is enormous, but easy to evade if there isn’t too much doom in play, and since an Agenda just ticked over there probably isn’t that much lying around. I love how rampaging the beast is, killing the cultists that summoned it with its Forced ability.
Ok, we are done with situational cards, let’s look at the rest of the deck that you will see regardless.
From the encounter set for this scenario we have a few new cards to deal with. Mark of the Order encourages us to split the keys up among the party, but also hurts smaller count groups. I can’t decide if that is a good thing or not. I guess you could read it as a smaller crew is at more risk in a job, but it does feel like it is just punishing players without reason for not playing at the 4 player count.
Expulsion can be super harsh at the wrong moment, especially if you are trying to keep a low profile. Finally Call to Order brings us back those we have defeated before, a stream of cultists to mess with our plans.
Finally let’s look at the cards that come from other sets. Mysterious Chanting increases the risk of overwhelming us and Ancient Evils makes the end of the game timer uncertain. Locked Door is rather appropriate considering what we are up to and Mysteries of the Lodge will keep us on our toes by making cultists just a bit harder to deal with. Centuries of Secrets and Evil Past interact mostly with each other this time out.
Great or Good?
I really like this scenario. It feels very contained, almost claustrophobic, in terms of the number of locations and very different depending on your relationship with the Lodge: are you social engineering your way around, or sneaking around in the basement? Every room is drenched in secrets, every doorway a trap. Next stop is the Unvisited Isle, which will not live up to its name, in Union and Disillusion.