News for May 2011
The Expendables 7
A Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game spotlight by guest writer Marius Hartland
Call of Cthulhu LCG | Published 06 May 2011

These pages - much in whose earlier parts will be familiar to close readers of the general and scientific press - are written in the cabin of the ship that is bringing me home. I shall give them to my son, Professor Wingate Peaslee of Miskatonic University - the only member of my family who stuck to me after my queer amnesia of long ago, and the man best informed on the inner facts of my case. Of all living persons, he is least likely to ridicule what I shall tell of that fateful night.
     – H.P. Lovecraft - The Shadow Out Of Time

Tell me: What is the point of an uncaring universe when there is nothing to not care about? Things like that just need context to work. Good thing there is the Miskatonic University, which seems to so exist solely to produce educated, reliable witnesses that can describe exactly how indescribable the true nature of the universe really is. And full of hubris, convinced of their scientific prowess, they fall one by one. For science!

Playing Miskatonic as your faction isn’t for those who are easily disturbed, then. Being mauled by Byakhees is all part of the plan. How else would one actually learn something? Other factions may use cowardly evasion or barbaric destruction to achieve their goals, but Miskatonic likes to reason with things up close and personal. They gang up on the stories, unwavering, taking a few losses for the good of all of mankind. One goes insane, another one take a wound while the rest use their superior skill and investigation techniques to score the much coveted success tokens.

Taking One for the Team

To keep this up, MU needs to have two things covered. For one, they need to draw extra cards to replace those that are lost in the name of progress. And then there is the ability to outperform other decks in the number of actions taken. Let’s get an idea like this on paper. It might look a little like this:

Character cards: 32                       

3x Chess Prodigy (The Horror Beneath the Surface, F25)
2x Dr. Carson, Fringe Psychologist (The Spawn of the Sleeper, F3)
3x Focused Art Student (Whispers in the Dark, F8)
3x Hapless Graduate Student (The Horror Beneath the Surface, F23)
3x Jamie Winthrop, Whiz Kid (The Gleaming Spiral, F88)
3x Itinerant Scholar (Core Set, F30)
3x Laboratory Assistant (Core Set F29)
3x Medical Student (Perilous Trials, F28)
3x Museum Curator (The Wailer Below, F70)
3x Obsessive Insomniac (In Memory of Day, F24)
3x Professor Nathaniel Peaslee, Scholar of the Arcane (Core Set, F24)

Event cards: 11

3x Dr. Carson's Treatment (Core Set, F39)
2x Feast or Famine (Core Set, F37)
3x Night Class (In the Dread of Night, F44)
3x Eldritch Nexus (Core Set, F154)

Support cards:  7            

2x Field Research Station (The Wailer Below, F68)
3x The Yuggoth Contract, Nefarious Pact (Whispers in the Dark, F12)
2x Dimensional Rift (Secrets of Arkham, F50)

Total: 50

The “take more actions” part comes from the great number of 1-cost (and below) cards. There are a number of Eldritch Nexuses in there too. This card is ‘free’ in that it creates a new domain to replace the one drained to play it. You’re down a card, yes, but there is plenty of card draw available to compensate, hopefully. Itinerant Scholar takes this even further by storing an available action, and stealing the opportunity from your opponent, taking out their biggest domain in the process. The Scholar takes your “restricted” slot but it’s well worth it.

The Trade Off

Let’s face it; You’re sitting on a glass cannon here. Given the choice of cards it’s easy for your characters to go insane, even without any action from your opponent. See this as a feature. Doctor Carson and his treatment helps out here, but the core solution is putting the brains of your insane characters in jars, then selling them to the Mi-Go. The Yuggoth Contract is your main card draw engine here. In addition, it gives you a way to get rid of Professor Peaslee – just so you can bring everything back that died that phase. All it takes to have your team ready and returned to sanity is a little near death experience. Peaslee, the contract and Itinerant Scholar can create a soft-lock by the way, seriously hurting the ability of opponents to play cards.

Also note that Peaslee will “forget” to return to your hand when he moves through your discard pile, if he entered play due to Night Class. Night Class does open up a lot of tricks in general, and some cards replace themselves when played, so having to replay them is quite the bonus sometimes. Digging ten cards deep with the Curator? Done!

Quantity Over Quality

Dimensional Rift in a rush deck you say? Are you INSANE? Yes and uhm… yes! See, the deck is all about quantity over quality and being able to wipe the board means you should be able to rebuilt faster. A ready for use rift also gives a clear signal to opponents to hold off playing that Cthulhu, because it won’t be on the table for long. A quick reset, timed right can outright win you the game, even if the situation looked unwinnable seconds before. Who knows, you might luck out and get a Night Class into Museum Curator into Rift action right there. With the Scholar on board, it’s even more easy to use the rift when it hits the table, while denying the opposition to rebuilt. Timing the rift is essential, be careful when you think it can be smashed before activation.

Chess Prodigy and Jamie Winthrop are there to ensure icon superiority. If you find that you’ll hit double digits in number of characters regularly, you might want to consider Norm Grzbowski (Ancient Horrors, F5) too, but his strategy is a little more vulnerable to removal. Not having to go through struggles is pretty good if you can pull it off, though. Let’s keep that on the short list. Feast or Famine is included to help Jamie draw during the story phase.

Another card worth taking a look at for this deck is The Necronomicon (Secrets of Arkham, F9). What is better than sacrificing your own characters to draw cards? Stealing other peoples’ characters, using them, then sacrificing them to draw cards! Museum Curator gives you the freedom to include almost any support card, so why not?

Having a deck is only the beginning. This is where the testing and playing starts. While decks are technical mechanisms, there is an element of taste and style to them. They need to fit your preferences. (I tend to prefer all or nothing aggression, but you might be more comfortable with more reactive, control-ish decks. So, more rifts for you!) Also, the meta game continuously shifts and is different when you cross over to other play groups (something you’ll risk when going to one of the upcoming regionals). So, there is a lot of shaving and tweaking to do.

From Theory to Practice

So, it’s time to play the deck. A lot. It has a lot of little tricks and interactions, and you may find some during a game that you haven’t thought off. Or maybe you start wishing you had included one card or another. You’ll have to make room for it though. Knowing your own deck, predicting what it can do and when allows you to plan ahead.

Whatever deck you make, always have a turn-by-turn plan. You draw cards randomly, but luck can be helped by including cards in the right number, with the right amount of backups. This should help getting the right card when you want it. It should help knowing when to take the offense, and when to hold back.

A good trick to see what to chance is to keep track of your resources after each game you play. When something ends up as a resource a significant number of times, it might be an idea to use fewer of those cards, or cut it altogether. Apparently you always find something better to play. However, always keep the overall goals of your deck in mind. If those goals don’t work, try something else.

And try to have a little fun when you send those eager investigators to their doom...

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.

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Comments (7)

Published: 5/9/2011 5:31:21 AM

@Tokhuah: I'm kinda with Cadavaca on this one. "Return a card to hand" also moves cards from one zone to your hand, but doesn't count as draw. And for example, destroy and sacrifice have the same result, but aren't interchangable. So, I would say it's very doubtful Jamie would trigger off the foot.

@JHaelen: Thanks. Daring, yes. Crazy even maybe. Still, Norm is the cheapest option to live through a Catastrophic Explosion, even without a team to back him up. That definately gives him some value in a MU deck.

Published: 5/8/2011 3:53:07 AM

Since FAQs are the place for nitpicking I don't feel too much like a jerk for suggesting that a "drawn card" is not synonymous with a "card that has been drawn". I ask in return where the FAQ suggests that Rabbit's Foot *is* card draw.

Anyway, I'm basing my statement on my recollection of such a ruling from Game of Thrones. I could well be incorrect.

Published: 5/8/2011 2:26:02 AM

@ Cadavaca: Please direct me to the section of the FAQ that would indicate that Rabbits Foot is not card draw.  Tere is this:

(v1.0) Player Hand
A player only has a “hand” if said player
has at least one drawn card not currently
in play. Thus, if a player does not possess
at least one unplayed drawn card, he
does not have a “hand” for the purposes
of triggering effects, paying costs, or
being targeted by card effects that
require having a “hand.”

If Rabbits Foot was not a card drawn then how would you differentiate those cards with other cards drawn into your hand?  Would a player with only 2 cards in hand from Rabbits Foot be immune to Clover Club Executive?  If they are not drawn cards then they cannot be targeted by effects that require a hand...

By putting the cards in your hand you are drawing them.

Published: 5/6/2011 6:17:16 PM

That's truly a great report Marius.I like the new approach with an example deck in the article a lot.

Thanks for the write up!

Published: 5/6/2011 5:58:36 PM

Wow, brilliant! :-)

A preview article combined with a complete deck build and the detailed reasoning behind it - Very nice!

And a Miskatonic Deck, no less. But thinking about including Norm Grzbowski is really a bit too daring ;-)

Published: 5/6/2011 5:46:48 PM

Rabbit's Foot doesn't draw cards though; it reveals them and puts them into your hand.

Published: 5/6/2011 5:21:56 PM

Jamie Winthrop needs Rabbits Foot in the deck to be useful.

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