|Secrets Unveiled, Part 4
A Call of Cthulhu Card of the Week by guest writer Marius Hartland
|Call of Cthulhu LCG | Published 21 May 2010|
Secrets of Arkham, the expansion for Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game, will be on store shelves next week. Today, we're pleased to present the final installment in Marius Hartland's four-part preview of this exciting expansion.
. . .
I never heard of Innsmouth till the day before I saw it for the first and - so far - last time. I was celebrating my coming of age by a tour of New England - sightseeing, antiquarian, and genealogical - and had planned to go directly from ancient Newburyport to Arkham, whence my mother's family was derived. I had no car, but was travelling by train, trolley and motor-coach, always seeking the cheapest possible route. In Newburyport they told me that the steam train was the thing to take to Arkham; and it was only at the station ticket-office, when I demurred at the high fare, that I learned about Innsmouth. The stout, shrewd-faced agent, whose speech shewed him to be no local man, seemed sympathetic toward my efforts at economy, and made a suggestion that none of my other informants had offered.
"You could take that old bus, I suppose," he said with a certain hesitation.
- H.P. Lovecraft. The Shadow over Innsmouth
You're good. Real good. You know the matchup by heart; you have the experience to know what the other player has and what they'll play before they do – the next three turns are already mapped out in your head. A card in hand for almost every contingency. What can go wrong?
Suddenly you're in topdeck mode. Two big domains, full of resources. Two cards per turn. Sometimes even the best laid plans are reduced to rabble and the situation asks for quick, on-your-feet thinking. And while some stories harshly punish overexerting, Change of Plans (Secrets of Arkham, F54) certainly helps in enticing you to bring everything to the table before it hits and you'll have to depend on the luck of the draw. Good thing that Secrets of Arkham brings a couple of ways to blow things up when things don't go your way. Or command anything via The Necronomicon (Secrets of Arkham, F9) – Good thing you have some extra resources at hand now.
The story of last week has almost the opposite effect. Obsessive Research (Secrets of Arkham, F53) fills your hand, where Change of Plans destroys it. Secrets of Arkham (Secrets of Arkham, F51) sometimes allows to trigger both, in either order so there are some huge domains or a full hand and the means to play it. It's your choice. And it's not the only story in this story deck to nullify part of the effect either.
Bringing Out the Big Guns
Like the weeks before, aside from looking at a story card an old and a new card will make an appearance. The Syndicate usually doesn't have much focused characters. Sometimes they hire some mystical individuals to make sure they have an equal icon spread going on, but it's rare to find a character in this faction that comes with a strong bias towards a particular type of struggle. Instead, they generally rely on evasion and disruption to get their game on. Once in a while, a situation arises that needs special attention. And when that happens, it's time to call in the Elite Hit Squad (Secrets of Arkham, F13.)
They don't like to sit around waiting for things to happen. And if you pay them well, they bring in more members on a case-by-case basis. Even if the base stats are generous for a Syndicate card, getting in some extra domains using effects like Overzealous Initiate (Core Set, F145) makes them hard to tackle.
There are some blindspots in their tactics, but an Alhazred Lamp (Core Set, F75) solves any icon deficiencies they might encounter. The lack of defensive capabilities can be solved by causing a little Panic (Core Set, F77) at the right time. The hit squad will do the rest in moving the action forward.
When all the focus goes to the combat phase, it's hard to ignore The Agency though. They love their wounding effects and going into combat. Good thing they now get to bring out an old standby: Nothing says 'combat' better than ancient Yithian technology. James Logan seems to agree.
Lightning Gun (Secrets of Arkham, F3) delivers just that. For any hit squad, three combat phases tend to be better than one. The Agency has a fine selection of weaponry, but the 'fire and forget' nature of this artifact means all domains can contribute towards the skill and combat boost of Elite Hit Squad. In multiples, it can easilly outdo a Shotgun (Core Set, F14) and all without expending a single domain. It can be enough to take down a horror like Nyogtha, The Sentient Void (Ancient Horrors, F18) in one fell swoop.
Mixing up your arsenal pays off. Remember that attachments are fragile. They are as strong as the character that holds them and they can meet sudden support card destruction leaving your men on the job suddenly looking foolish as they try to pound that Byakhee with their fists. Time it right, and the opposition has no choice but to stay away from your investigations into the Secrets of Arkham.
Based on the fiction of H.P. Lovecraft and his literary circle, Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game takes two players deep into the Cthulhu Mythos where investigators clash with the Ancient Ones and Elder Gods for the fate of the world. The Living Card Game format allows players to customize their gaming experience with monthly Asylum Pack expansions to the core game.