Today is game day, and for today’s blog I’m throwing myself into the Forgotten Age campaign like there’s no tomorrow! Traditionally, I used to write up my Arkham Horror LCG blogs in pairs, so four blogs to cover the whole campaign. However, I’ve really gotten into this one, and have played the next three scenarios in pretty quick succession, so buckle up as we go on a trans-continental journey, from Arkham to the jungles of Mexico!
We’re back in Arkham – I won’t say “safely back”, for obvious reasons – for Threads of Fate, and Ichtaca has joined the investigators, demanding that we return the Relic of Ages to its rightful place. Upon checking, we discover that both Harlan and Alejandro appear to be in danger. Ichtaca impatiently leaves, so it’s up to the investigators to find out just what’s going on.
I loved this one. We’re back in Arkham, so we’ve got the familiar locations that we love so much. The encounter set uses much from the core set, including stuff from the Midnight Masks once again. I’ve lost count of how many times these treacheries are used in other scenarios, but I just love it – it feels very Arkham to me, you know? We have the Dark Cults encounter set as well, which I do enjoy, and a new set of cultists, the Pnakotic Brotherhood, who function slightly differently to the regular cultists in that engaging them adds doom to them, and their stats are buffed for each point of doom on them. So we have a lot of cultists gathering doom to themselves, and each card in the agenda deck only has a threshold of 6. Added to this, when you advance the agenda, you might well be adding doom to begin proceedings. Added to this, there is a new treachery card, Conspiracy of Blood, which lowers the threshold by 1 until you parlay with a cultist. It’s just brutal, but the whole thing works so well together that I can’t help but love it!
The big change about this one, though, is that we have three act decks in play, and the text of all of them is considered in play. There’s a lot to keep track of, but the scenario just acts like it is one giant investigation, and as such it works beautifully – yes, there’s a lot going on, but it doesn’t feel particularly hectic or anything. Instead, we’re faced with what feels very much like a board game version of the game, as we move around the fairly static locations and choose our path to investigate. I like this a lot, because it feels like we can actually play the game, rather than it continually surprising us with new locations and stuff.
That’s not to say that there are no surprises. Each act deck symbolises a strand of the investigation – looking for Harlan, looking for Alejandro, and looking for the relic itself – and the decks are built based on earlier story choices that we have made. This really gives it great replayability, I must say! As the investigation progresses, we meet folks who turn out to be enemies, and so have to defeat them to triumph in the end. I think the scenario wasn’t particularly difficult in this respect, the most annoying aspect (for me) was the inclusion of the Nightgaunt deck, as I really hate those guys! But I love an Arkham teeming with cultists, and the opportunity to uncover a conspiracy, and I think this scenario really delivered on that front!
In the end, I was able to complete all three of the act decks with two rounds of doom to spare, so recovered Alejandro, the Relic of Ages, and Ichtaca is still on side. Turns out, we’re going back to the jungle to restore the relic, so at the end of the game there was another opportunity to resupply ourselves. I have no idea whether taking a blanket along this time will be of any use, but between the two investigators, I have a decent spread of all the available items now, except for the pick axe, so let’s see whether that’ll turn out to be an almighty blunder!
The next scenario is The Boundary Beyond, and we’re in Mexico City as we try to get some information from Alejandro’s academic buddies. Something doesn’t feel quite right, though, and soon the modern-day locations start to be replaced by their ancient equivalents. The fabric of reality seems to be tearing, and the past is starting to intrude into the present, quite literally!!
This was a very interesting scenario to me. The exploration deck is made up of two versions of these ancient locations, and if you’re at a location that has a matching symbol to one that you draw from that deck, you travel to it, placing that card on top of your current location. However, there’s a 1/6 chance that you’ll draw the right card, not accounting for the added treachery cards, so you can actually spend a lot of wasted time trying to find that location. The idea is great, but the fact that you’re trying to make it happen, in-game, while the story makes it sound more like a disaster movie where you have no control over it, I did feel like this was a bit of a fail, overall. Perhaps if the locations were in the encounter deck, and you replaced them but took a sanity hit if it happened to the location where your investigators are, it might have worked better (though I feel like that’s been done already…)
To add insult to injury, the Harbinger of Valusia turns up again in this one, albeit still with the same amount of damage as when we left her. What a nightmare! Of course, I love recurring elements like this, but it did make for a difficult climax as the Harbinger was at the location where we need to be to advance the Act deck.
After the excitement of the temporal distortion, we have another Interlude where our supplies become important once more. I found that I didn’t mind it this time around, probably because there wasn’t anything quite so horrible coming my way! But we then leave the city behind, and venture once more into the jungle…
Heart of the Elders is one of the more bizarre scenarios for this game, for sure! Within the encounter cards are three distinct decks, and they’re all split off as we first explore the jungle around the mouth of a mysterious cave, before then delving into the cave to see just what we can see. I get it, of course – depending on the outcome to the last scenario, you have the possibility to actually skip the first of the two mini-scenarios, so it’s clear that the developers wouldn’t want to make a dud scenario when this was still in the monthly release model.
The second of these mini-scenarios was really interesting, as the choice of supplies that we’ve brought along was really informing the gameplay, such as locations having effects like taking damage unless you’ve brought a rope, etc. I think this is what I like as regards the supplies theme – so far, it’s been fairly limited in-game to allowing us to look at the Exploration deck if we have a compass, or somesuch, but otherwise these things have been confined to the book-keeping sections of the campaign. Hopefully they’ll take on yet more importance to the actual scenario as time moves on!
Not since Path to Carcosa have I not understood what it is that I’m trying to do, but here I think there is a level of obfuscation that feels similar to The Circle Undone, where I ended up siding with the Silver Twilight Lodge and “winning” before the campaign was truly over. This time, I have a relic, and I’m returning it to the jungle, along with an Aztec lady and a Mexican academic. After delving into the cave, I end up discovering a portal to Yoth, where several Yithians come out and said academic casually tells them to take my brains! What the?!
Okay, so from reading Lovecraft I know that the Yithians are on the friendlier end of the spectrum when it comes to extraterrestrial beings, but it still feels like a betrayal, and I kinda wish that I hadn’t tried to rescue him now! I know that it’s easy to say at this point, but I did feel like there was something up with Alejandro during the initial scenarios, but I guess it’s too late to worry now. It’s going to be interesting to see where we’re headed next, anyway!
So scenario five is bonkers, but I still find this campaign kinda fascinating. It’s definitely harder than I was expecting, but I don’t think it’s as merciless yet as many people seemed to make out back in the day. I mean, the treacheries are so annoying, and some enemies can be just brutal, but I think I’ve got a really good investigator duo in Ursula and Lily, as I have high investigation and high evade, and high combat abilities. Luckily, willpower hasn’t been a big issue so far, but with Lily having a lot of mystic cards in her deck, there are ways and means there.
Overall, I seem to be doing quite well, and I’m getting a good amount of experience to level my investigators up – in total, I’ve now gained 24 experience points, and while I have been taking the opportunity to level up cards regularly, I still have 11 points unspent following the last two scenarios. I think it’s curious that we’re headed to an Other World after the third mythos pack of the cycle, as historically these things were saved for the finale, but I wonder if that means we could potentially have even more weirdness to come? At any rate, I think it’s a decent stopping point to regroup and refuel, and I’ve also passed the threshold for the next Discipline for Lily Chen, which is quite exciting!