This is the third part in a series of reviews of the Dunwich Legacy cycle for Arkham Horror The Card Game. You can read the previous articles here:
- Arkham Horror The Card Game core set review
- Dunwich Legacy box review
- Dunwich Legacy mythos packs part 1 review (Miskatonic Museum, Essex County Express and Blood on the Altar)
For those concerned with spoilers, the overall thoughts section (up next) is spoiler free, the following section discusses the new player cards in these sets, and then finally we discuss the scenarios themselves. There are some moderate spoilers in the detailed scenario discussions, so you may wish to avoid those if you’ve not played them yet. There will be a clear warning ahead of them.
We come to this article off the back of an altogether excellent series of scenarios, from the mysterious set up of the Dunwich Legacy box to the horrifying climax of Blood on the Altar. Unfortunately the story loses its previous coherency in this final three scenarios. The main villain is revealed casually in a paragraph of text, and it’s a character you will have only heard of if you’re very familiar with the original Dunwich Horror story. Put it this way, I’ve read the book and I didn’t realise the baddie was a character there. An in game reveal would have been far more interesting and, I’d dare say, effective.
That said, the conclusion to the campaign is suitably epic and imaginative. Getting to it is just lacking narrative focus, rushed even. The build up to Blood in the Altar is 5 missions long; it is an undeniable climax that left me breathless with the horror of it, mostly because I knew we had to continue forward and live with the consequences. There are then only 3 missions left, but I did not feel like the narrative thread from Blood on the Altar was carried forward. Undimensioned and Unseen, while certainly belonging where it does, feels disjointed from the scenarios before and after it. I feel like there is a 9th scenario missing that should fit between Blood on the Altar and Undimensioned And Unseen, in which you unmask the leader of the conspiracy. But I suppose an 8 scenario campaign is quite long (and expensive) enough as it is.
Overall, the Dunwich Legacy cycle has been an absolute triumph. It has showcased just what this system is capable of, with fantastic scenarios to play full of imaginative mechanics and (nit-picky criticisms aside) stellar storytelling. I can’t recommend collecting this cycle enough. By the end you’ll have more than enough cards to begin deck building intelligently without needing a second core, although it wouldn’t hurt for some of the valuable basic cards. But more importantly you’ll have had the chance to fully experience Arkham Horror The Card Game. The base gives you a taste, it’s there to tickle your fancy. If you enjoyed that, it’s absolutely worth investigating further, and then, like me, you’ll probably be hooked. Roll on the Path to Carcosa!
Dunwich Legacy Campaign Rating: Beyond Time & Space
OK! Now for some more detailed chat. First up, the new player cards and then, after the spoiler warning, discussion of the scenarios themselves.
Undimensioned and Unseen
The most intriguing card of this sets somewhat mediocre selection is, thematically appropriately, a weird old guy in a shack. Dark Horse boosts all your stats whenever you have no resources, and can even allow you to turn down the free resource you get each round. That, if nothing else, is interesting! A low resource strategy is a fascinating one, not necessarily one I feel comfortable with, but one I’d be willing to try with this card in hand. Alyssa Graham is a nice ally to have for dealing with the worst cards in the various decks out there, at the pretty intimidating cost of doom. But next pack will help you out with that. The Lucky Dice help you out with that mean and nasty chaos bag, but are pretty expensive both to use and to get in the first place. Inquiring Mind is a kick-ass skill card but only when there are still clues to discover at your location (or the card gets bored…) Sadly, the initially promising Springfield M1903 (+3 fight! +2 damage!) turns out to be utterly useless. A sniper rifle just isn’t much cop in the close quarters combat of this game.
Where Doom Awaits
Doom may be awaiting us in this set, but much more excitingly we finally get a resolution to the Strange Solution card I was so excited by way back at the start of the Dunwich Legacy cycle! I had wondered if it would be linked to the story, but then it would never have been usable in other cycles. We discover in this pack then what you benefit from with the Strange Solution: a choice of three powerful upgraded cards enabling powerful evading, combat or healing potential, each of which requiring you have researched the solution before you can upgrade to them, a really quite cool (and unique!) deck building consideration.
There are some good cards in this set. “I’ve had worse…” is a most understated title for an exceptional card: turn up to 5 damage or horror into resources, in a fast event for 0 resources. You show ‘em tough lady! Moonlight Ritual is an incredible card in a mystic deck, in combination with the various others that gather doom. Ace in the Hole is a real… ace… in the… hole netting you a neat 3 bonus actions. Stroke of Luck gets you an auto-win on a skill test, but it’s an exile card. No more good luck until you pay for it again. Finally, a Moment of Respite lets you heal horror! I love getting to heal horror!
Of course, there are also some more dubious cards too… Fine Clothes wins the award for creepiest art. Meanwhile, the wholy uninspiring power associated with Leadership must be a commentary on senior public leadership. It must be!
Lost in Time and Space
Holy Lightning Gun! Lost in Time and Space comes with some insane Lightning Gun *ahem*, player cards that you will absolutely want to get your hands on. Most of these require the full 5XP to put in your deck, but they are so much fun you’ll absolutely want to save up for them. Lightning Gun! The Lightning Gun hits with exactly the kind of power you’d expect (+5 fight! +2 damage!) but unlike real lightning you really can strike the same place twice (not that you’ll probably need to). Of course, it comes at an appropriately steep price. In the category of cheaper but fascinating, check out the Gold Pocket Watch which lets you actually fiddle with time, skipping or repeating phases, but only once per game. It combos spectacularly with the wonderfully evocative, The Red-Gloved Man, who raises two of your base skills to 6 until the next mythos phase, when he quietly strides off into the night. Use the Gold Pocket Watch to skip that Mythos phase though, and you get him for two full rounds. Quite a lot of XP to spend in setting such a combo up, of course.
The seeker decks get a stupidly good clue hoover in Deciphered Reality, so long as you intentionally open up lots of locations ahead of using it. The rogues also get (yes, this is their second most interesting card…) a Chicago Typewriter, offering 4 lucky monsters a spectacularly painful brochure. The mystics sadly only get yet another upgraded Shrivelling, but at least it makes you ponder whether to save up for this one or go for the previous cheaper one, and a new Ward of Protection which lets you outright ignore an encounter card… which could be insanely useful! Even the survivor’s get something good to play with in Try and Try Again, a skill that lets you throw cards at unlikely skill checks without being too worried if you fail.
What a set. This expansion is worth picking up just for the player cards themselves.
Undimensioned and Unseen
Still reeling from our experiences in Dunwich in Blood on the Altar, we casually wake up to a new day only marred by the tragic murders of our colleagues. I’m rather surprised you’d even consider going to sleep in the village after the last scenario but this is what I meant by a feeling of disconnection from the previous scenario. It is as though the slate has been wiped clean and in that vein this scenario adjusts it’s difficulty quite significantly depending on how you’ve been doing up until now. Given the beleaguered state of our investigators, this was a mechanism I rather appreciated!
It turns out the suspicious leader of this murderous conspiracy has released his invisible pets to ravage the countryside. To hope to fight them you must first figure out how to deal with them at all! Thankfully, a convenient plot device is on hand to resolve this issue which lets you get on with the meat of the scenario, and it’s a juicy, deliciously cooked slice of meat too!
The monsters are brutally tough, and by this point in the campaign the chaos bag has had all sorts of nasty tokens added in. Fortunately, the hills and terrain through which you fight offer numerous opportunities to weaken your foe, luring them into swampy ground or trapping them amongst dense tree cover. This makes the scenario a game of trying to lure the monsters into the right location, triggering the abilities of those locations to weaken them, and then delivering the coup de gras! It’s a great scenario. Or at least it was on the easiest difficulty (because we had such a rough time in Blood on the Altar!) I’m slightly concerned the difficulty scaling might make this process a bit repetitive, or borderline impossible but, to be fair, I wasn’t good enough to get to try it at that level!
Where Doom Awaits
Something terrible is happening on top of the hill. Lights, chanting. Even a spot of morris dancing. It’s all been building up to this and we have only one chance to stop it. Now. Where the hell did the path go?
The artwork here may be somewhat misleading. That well carved roadway up the hill is not nearly so obvious to find… and it’s also night time… and there are wolves after me, help!
The very landscape itself seems to be warping and twisting. By searching the area you’ll hopefully find a way up the hill but all too often Mythos cards will flip over those discovered locations and force you to shuffle them up again. Are these malignant magics or are you just getting lost in the dark? It’s a fairly conventional, find the clues and progress, style of scenario. Perhaps it’s biggest challenge is just how long it is! The first agenda needs a massive 12 doom tokens to advance and this is the first time I’ve needed to know what to do when you run out of cards in your player deck! FYI you reshuffle… unless you’ve been hit by the dreaded Beyond the Veil encounter card.
What is very interesting about Where Doom Awaits is just what you find at the top of the hill when you do make it there. Even though we are in the spoiler-ish section I won’t say much, other than it turns out you might not need Lost in Time and Space after all! But that’d be a shame. Because it’s a really good one.
Lost in Time and Space
From the title alone you probably know what has happened here, especially if you have any familiarity with the tropes of Lovecraft stories and games. You’re through a gate and into a realm beyond imagination. Which is always going to be a bit of a hard sell when you’re sat at your table sipping on your beverage of choice (we even had a very Christmas-y log fire burning beside us… via youtube video but still). It’s not going to make you feel lost in the eldritch dimensions. Or is it!?
Lost in Time and Space begins with a single location card. You can’t go anywhere else. That’s immediately unique and, indeed, disorientating. It leaves you bereft of an objective, it actually manages to make you feel lost, trapped in this strange (and beautifully illustrated) land. As time passes though, other locations will appear from the encounter deck, like gateways appearing in walls that were previously solid. It’s wonderfully thematic and, as with so much about this card game, wonderfully clever.
Pressing onwards you might eventually find your way home, but more so than any previous scenario, you’ll also be troubled by visions of your actions before. Those keywords and phrases you are told to write down at various points in the campaign finally come to a head. You ‘see’ the horrific outcomes of failures past. You are lost in time as well as space, after all. Will you escape? Will you be able to seal the gate in time? It was a stellar scenario. I was so absorbed in it that I didn’t want my in-game partner to complete the sealing ritual until I’d made it there with him lest my character be trapped there forever! Don’t leave me here! Please!
After the 8 games of this campaign, spread across 6 months of real play time, the struggles to find the scenario packs I was missing, the difficulty of arranging convenient game nights with 1 other player (let alone 3!), I was genuinely attached to my character. That was surprising and let me end the campaign on a real high. My one criticism of the scenario would be one of the outcomes that sees you attempting to defeat an Elder God and, well, all the pistol shots in the world shouldn’t be able to do a thing to something like that… then again, I suppose his stats do make any positive outcome rather unlikely!
Our copies of Where Doom Awaits and Lost In Time And Space were provided for review by Asmodee UK (previously Esdevium Games). I bought Undimensioned and Unseen myself. The individual mythos packs are available for £14.99 per pack from your local hobby store.
Some time soon (or long past…) we’ll be looking at a Path to Carcosa! Be sure to keep an eye on the blog for that! If you’ve enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it, there are links below for your convenience!