Beyond the Veil – In the Clutches of Chaos
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.
Last time on Beyond the Veil we were turning the Unvisited Isle into the Visited Isle and deciding whether or not to side with the bad guys. Assuming you didn’t put on a robe and become one of the Silver Twilight Lodge you now have to do the hard part and actually save the world as the town of Arkham finds itself In the Clutches of Chaos.
The start of the scenario sees us once more meeting with Anna Kaslow, the fortune teller who set us on our path, or caused us to fight against our destiny, way back in Scenario 1. She sets us back on the path, now up against the witches or the lodge as reality itself starts to tear itself apart.
We set about the town, breaches in reality popping up all over the place. Breaches are represented by resource tokens and once a fourth one is placed on a location an incursion occurs. When that happens breaches are spread to adjacent locations and incursions are capable of rippling outwards. Sound familiar? Yes it’s time to play Pandemic: Arkham.
With two of each location this scenario has a lot of variability and cleverly uses the spare location as a randomiser for the placement of the breaches.
How do we go about our task of saving Arkham? Well the Agenda shows us that doom is going manifest on the board rather than on the Agenda itself, through the application of its Forced ability. It also reminds us when to resolve an incursion.
The Act is a little more helpful, telling us we can use breaches on it to put clues on locations. How do we get breaches on the Act? Well.
All the locations in this scenario have a way to adjust that, from discarding assets or cards, taking damage, or engaging in tests. We have our direction! Tamper down breaches, get them on the act, put clues on locations and then use them to advance.
Both our Agenda and Act deck are very short this scenario. The Agenda consists of only one card with a short fuse of 7 doom. That’s fine though as we can to some extent control the rate of doom as well as where and when it appears.
The Act deck sees us needing to get 3 clues per investigator which translates to 9 breaches per investigator. We are going to need those breaches to complete our task, but have to manage them closely to stop things getting out of hand. This task completed the scenario pulls a Midnight Masks on us and gives us Annete Mason or Carl Sanford to contend with as the big bad. Who we face will depend on who we have sided with in previous scenarios.
Both the Act 2 cards are resolved in the same way, allowing us to advance only when the big bad is defeated. Handily the ability to suppress breaches is still in effect giving us the time to do what needs to be done, even if we don’t need the clues at that point.
Skulls are straight forward enough, getting harder depending on how unstable your current location is.
Cultist tokens are the machinations of the lodge, creating more breaches and bringing about the end. If we are involved with the lodge, we have betrayed them by this point. The cultist tokens represent their revenge.
Tablets are from us accepting our Fate, slowing our ability to remove breaches. It is our Fate to cause the breakdown of reality.
The Elder Thing tablet came from rejecting our Fate, a harsher penalty comes with it over the tablet and more breaches are caused.
We have a core set of encounter cards here and then of two possible additional sets. These additional sets will either be witch or lodge focused depending on the main enemy.
The set for the scenario quite naturally focuses on the creation of breaches and hurting your ability to manage them. Chaos Manifest is a straight Will check with breaches as the penalty. Primordial Gateway is nastier. Shutting down the ability to move breaches to the act whilst simultaneously loading that location with them. It’s a good target for cancellation if you have it. Shutting it down is pretty tricky with a lore/will 4 check.
Terror Unleashed starts off as a card that can be tanked a bit but as the scenario goes on becomes increasingly dangerous. Hope to see it early if you see it at all.
If we are up against the coven then we get the return of a lot of familiar faces. It’s also a smaller set than the Silver Twilight Lodge. This means we are more likely to see breach focused cards when fighting against them. On the flipside of that the witch encounter set has cards like Centuries of Secrets and Coven Initiate that may discard past those cards.
Some new cards are added to our old favourites. Toil and Trouble makes us choose between activating a power treachery if there is one in the discard pile or triggering an incursion, causing an uptick in doom. Power treacheries this will hit are Chaos Manifest or Primordial Gateway. As we’ve just looked at Primordial Gateway is definitely the worst of those two. Witness of Chaos is another witch, allowing us some easier removal of some of the curse cards in the deck, but also hunts us placing breaches as they go.
The coven deck has a lot of Will checks in it so be prepared to help each other out passing the before they overwhelm you.
A touch of Silver
The Silver Twilight Lodge is up to no good, Striking Fear into the hearts of our investigators. It’s been a while since we have seen this particular set and it can really slow our investigators down. Not ideal when the clock is ticking.
Of course the Lodge themselves are present. Keeper of Secrets and Lodge Neophyte increase the speed of doom accumulation on the map. Watch out for the Mysteries of the Lodge making your job a lot harder when it comes to taking doom of those cultists.
The set from the scenario added here is breach focused. Secrets of the Beyond makes suppressing doom on cultist enemies an absolute priority. The Lodge Enforcer is like a moving Primordial Gateway, shutting down our ability to manage breaches at its location.
The Silver Twilight Lodge set has more enemies than the coven and is less Will focus. It does does five you more moving targets though. The set messes with the speed with which doom accumulates. Efficient management of the threats is the name of the game.
In the resolution to this scenario there are some fun thematic choices. Detective, Police, or Agency investigators can arrest Annette or Sanford. Alternatively you can learn from Annette as a Sorceror, Miskatonic, or Scholar. You can also take control of the Silver Twilight Lodge if you are Sorceror, Silver Twilight, or Cultist type investigator. I really enjoy these fun little touches that give each investigator a different choice.
The interlude sees a lot of our previous efforts come into focus as we prepare to step through the breach that has opened up above the town. We record: The path winds before you and mark tallies based on mementos gathered and the actions you have taken.
I do find it a little odd that you are fighting breaches for the whole scenario only to step through one at the end. It feels slightly anti-climatic. That said I think the scenario itself is a good one with a real sense of having to manage the chaos of a town under siege. It’s fun to see the designers riff on other familiar games, I’ve especially enjoyed this trend in one of the recent Innsmouth scenarios I played through.
The last scenario awaits us as we stand Before the Black Throne.