Wednesday 27 June 2018

The Dunwich Legacy - Blood on the Altar

Dear Diary: 
We have finally arrived in Dunwich and, if I may use crass language, what an utter shit hole. The place looks like its forgotten its no longer in the time of the pilgrim fathers and that interior toilets are an actual thing. I don't think I have ever been quite so depressed by any place on God's earth. And I have visited Chicago...twice....  Every step so far we have been hounded by the despicable minions of the evil one.  Is this the epi-centre? or just another dump stop on the way to doom? 
Bible Reading of the Day: Isaiah Book 13 Verse 1 
And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. 
Oh yes. I will...
So Dunwich. A real estate agents nightmare.  Due to the 'House Always Wins' we will have the gangsters hunting us down but as none of those will come close to being a real threat to Zoey  I think they may turn out to be a pleasant relax from the other, nastier, encounter cards. As the famous saying goes, 'a gangster card a turn keeps the horrific other encounter cards at bay' - or something like that.

The locals, in Dunwich, were perhaps not pleasing to the eye.

I really need to get my hands on a playing mat but, to be honest, cannot really afford it. On the other hand my general game pimping has gone well. A couple of scenarios ago I passed a new success marker. Craig had just announced he had purchased several cunningly disguised card containters which looked liked books and Egoitz promtply said he also had purchased something equally useful and I did think'here we go again. No doubt a container  carved from dinosaur bones by Salvador Dali but then he held up a plastic box. Yes indeed I have also purchased plastic container boxes myself. This therefore managed to not pitch me into a horrific depression on how un-pimped my Arkham set was. Anyway back to the game.

Obligatory Setup shot. The burned ruins were actually removed (due to playing over pcs setups depend on when we all connect and can speak to the player running the locations/encounter decks)

This scenario is essentially two clocks. Your success (or otherwise) is very tied to your speed versus these clocks. This is one of the common facets of the game but elsewhere the encounter deck can be more troublesome whereas in Blood On the Altar it's primary aim is to increase time pressure which I find particular easy to cope with (no more sweating that the encounter deck you draw will break you..).

This did turn out to be an immersive scenario due to some lucky draws. For instance even though I managed to get no knives I did draw Doctor Francis Morgan first turn and Yorick got out Armitage first turn. Both highly relevant characters for this particualar location. The other immersive event occurred later.

Morgam, been in Dunwich before..done that...didn't enjoy it even slightly

The first clock is much harder the less investigators are present and is tied to the luck of hitting the correct two cards early enough. Due to the amount of 1 and 2 clue (only) locations multiple investigators can clean sites out far faster and this, essentially, is what happened in this playing. Plus we were lucky. After a standard 'kitting out' first turn I had wandered over to a one clue  4 shroud location which I cleared with 'Working a Hunch' and its encounter card turned out to be the key to the chamber!

The following turn Rex cleared the general store (Rex is particuarly good in this scenario as he decreases the clock pressure) and flipped the hidden chamber. 

Clock One down. Now things were not entirely rosy. We had included the other Necronomicon in the Museum mission and this scenario it started to bite us. We had repeated drawings of the squiggly head so the agenda flipped fast and someone was sacrificed but still that could have been worse. 

We now had to prepare for clock two but the game introduced an entirely random 'nice' touch in that all of a sudden we started drawing all the O'Bannion thugs all over the map so it 'appeared' as if they had co-ordinated a simultaneous attack. Which was wiped out but still it felt most in character...

Here they come and they are not happy. Even less happy once we eivscerate them but that's their fault for bringing guns to a Cuthulu fight.

The other amusing event that happened around now was that we had drawn a servant of many mouths and I had moved to engage with my last action placing a damage on it with my lovely cross. Yorick was now most heroic and moved into the commons to hit it with his machete. First action - auto fail. So instead of the servant he hit me (as I was engaged) for one damage then suffered the retaliate giving him two. He then tried again and drew -3 so hit me again and suffered more retaliation. Most amusing. I killed it with one thwack the next turn  (even though I was knife free at this point) mainly as I was worried Yorick would kill himself if he tried any more.

Anyway back to the clock. I used a shorcut to speedily get the hidden chamber in play so we could start the second clock. Here since Silas is so un-dangerous you essentially get a choice. Either stay in the location (and get hit 2 damage 2 mental) each turn and attack/get clues or enter carry out one action and leave. Either is possible and if a team has taken little damage then staying in the location can be fine. We had plenty of time so took the slower option of entering and leaving. Well I  say slower but as Rex had Pathfinder in play he could actually move in for free, take two investigate actions and then leave. The only stresser was the store had that encounter card that deals one horror if anyone if present at the end of turn. 

Even with this speed improvement the next agenda flipped and a further sacrifice occurred. 

When we finished Rex also had the Necronomicon out so we actually hit Resolution 2 which was a pleasant surprise and a first for all of us.

As always Rex is covered by clues. 


Without Rex or with a harder time finding the entrance this would have been much more time pressured. As it stood Rex practically solo'd the scenario with Zoey and Yorick running interferance on the monsters in the encounter deck. It's not all good news though as this is the scenario where if you do badly it makes the next one easier and the next one is a b**tard one to get through. Due to Yorick's signiture card we pulled in 5 xp again so we will be appoaching it with the most tooled up party I think I have ever had.

Best Monster Award

In terms of appearance perhaps Silas Marsh but this time the winner is the Servant of Many Mouths. Mainly due to him turning Yorick into a collinder whilst Yorick repeatedly hit me in the face with his machete.

Play of the Game

Goes to Yorick - See Best Monster Award.

Thursday 21 June 2018

The Dunwich Legacy - The Essex County Express

Dear Diary
Bible Reading of the Day Mathew 13:49
So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous
shall indeed be an angel taking out the wicked and not in the disgusting dating sense! We are due to take a train to a fallen town called 'Dunwich'. I find it troubling that its nomenclature resembles 'Done Witch'. No doubt a subtle reminder that these people are wicked and their town a curse amongst the righteous? Then again perhaps they are righteous and only need the wicked removing? Without guidance I will have to rely on knife and wits.

Out of the early scenarios I had enjoyed the starter campaign and been impressed by the diversity in the initial Dunwich Scenarios but this scenario was the first to really blow me away.. It introduces a sense of dread and real time pressure alongside a linear target that you have to fight to meet. This will be my 3rd playing.. The first time I played was part of a three person group (one of the people was brand new to the game) unfortunately that person decided to spend all their actions gearing up and due to a particularly unfortunate encounter draw first turn was still in the first carriage when it was ripped into the rift. I was Rex that time and was defeated (physical trauma I think) by around two carriages before the engine car. My son was playing Pete and actually managed to get to the end and start the train -  so that was Resolution 1 but not 3.

Second time of playing I was with a different team and this went appallingly badly. I have little memory of the horror that ensued except that we were overwhelmed in one of the middle cars so went Resolution 1 then 3 (thus arriving in Arkham 'late'). 

I therefore had a lot of dread going into this then even with the elite team.

Another glorious setup shot. Note the sexy new investigator holders though I am still lacking a play mat

A lot of the problems (and skill in scenario design) is that there are a lot of ways to chip away at your  horror and forces you to go 'fast' and not neccessarily 'safe'. Early on we managed to get through the first two carriages with me 'only' on two horror. Then the scenario started bending its structure to apply pressure. We were two away from the agenda flipping and I drew my weakness and it suddenly occurred to me that should that weakness be the Wizard of the Order then he would spawn in the Engine Car and thus turn into a doom gathering machine as there was no way to get to him quickly. Considering a lot of people fail without having a guarenteed double doom each turn that was a bit of a gulptastic moment. Fortunately it was 'only' an emergent monstrosity. Moving onto the encounter deck Rex drew a passenger in the last carriage (the one which would be ripped away if the agenda flipped) which surged into a Wizard of the Order in the next carriage (which meant the agenda would now flip if he remained alive).  I then drew another passenger which surged into a test I passed. Finally Yorick drew a frozen in fear.

So to summarise, with the board situation only, if we left the passengers and did not kill the Wizard then we would all take two mental trauma, putting me on five with probably more to come. If we killed the Wizard but did not rescue the passengers then another Wizard (are there two in the deck? ) Or a more likely Ancient Evils would have the same effect. Since there were two passengers if we sent one person to get the passengers then they would spend one action moving back (thankfully in a carriage that did not demand cards to enter) two actions to parley so would then have no actions to return thus being at risk should the Wizard not die or a bad encounter card be drawn.

If we sent two people back to get a passenger each then they would have to be Rex and Zoe as Yorick was frozen in fear so he could not get a passenger and return in the same turn. But if we did that then the Wizard would not die as Yorick also could not kill the Wizard with the frozen in fear. To quote Christopher Plummer in 'Waterloo' - 

"this will require careful timing'

To be honest in a vanilla game we would take that last option. As long as we were not in the last cart the Wizard could hang around another turn even though it speeds up the agenda. As it stands this group is awesome so we used what has not been mentioned to cut this gordian knot.

I used pathfinder for a free move backwards allowing me to grab both passengers and return then Rex moved into the next car and dealt with the Wizard (Rex the mighty warrior). Now you may ask why I exhaustively ran through the options when I had the solution in hand and this is certainly a valid query but without that card we would have been pushed into a nasty place and perhaps defeated due to time pressure so the situation demanded study! Plus I think its great that the game has the capability to force you into these sort of play offs.

Loads's Emergent Monstrosities. The one at the location with us survives another turn with the Zoey weakness one hazily visible to the right in the engine car

The next sticky moment was another Emergent Monstrosity who spawned in (what became) the dining car. Zoe moved in and thus was promptly engaged by a grappling horror which was speedily dispatched with my 'reliable' machete (thank heavans the Emergant starts exhausted as otherwise my machete would not have worked). Yorick was meanwhile having fun killing some graveyard ghouls (they must have got 'on' the train to follow him. How did they buy tickets?) so Rex made a valiant attempt to kill the Emergent Monstrosity but after moving in suddenly realised he had no clues so could not play his masterful trap card and do huge amounts of damage (actually I reminded him after he moved in that the agenda had flipped so all his clues should be discarded causing a 'bugger' moment) instead he did two damage. We happily finished it off in the next turn.

Things started speeding up though as we rapidly moved to the 'two a time' carriage destruction and had to grab another passenger from certain doom. Then we came to the engine car. Yorick went in first and managed to avoid permeant trauma climbing over the coal scuttle and then engaged the Emergent Monstrosity who was waiting for him. This went badly as another Grappling Horror turned up and prevented him getting an extra damage with his machete. End result 0 damage on the Emergent with the Horror killed due mainly to a beat cop valiantly sacrificing himself.

Yorick provides the springboard for Zoey's soon to be massive attack against an Emergent Monstrosity. I don't remember Zoey stripping to her underclothes or Yorick shaving so let's say 'alternate universe'

Zoe then attached Professor Warren Rice and moved in before grabbing two clues with 'Working a Hunch' then taunting the Emergent Monstrosity onto her. Only one action left and that did two damage. I was slightly concerned at this point as I had three horror and would take another two (allowing I did not kill Rice) meaning I was one off defeat. A bad encounter card (killing a passenger or failing a test slightly) would be very bad news. As it stood Rex had it in hand and he ran in, grabbed a clue which allowed him to use 'Logical Reasoning' clearing two horror. I could then soak the damage on Rice and soak the horror on me with three in hand which should be plenty. The next turn I handily stomped on the monstrosity before Rex cleared the clues and we had won. Resolution two at last.

Here is Zoey 'heavily' tooled and dragging several scared passengers with her as she starts to fight the hideous Emergent Monstrosity that God has told her must (and does) die. Note the Relic Hunter which did absolutely nothing this scenario.


Well the team keeps coming through. Another five experience gathered meaning we are (hopefully) going to be even more deadly in the next scenario.  Even though I am familiar with this one I still was able to feel that sense of time pressure and urgency and the game hung together beautifully. With my xp I have decided to simply improve my existing card pool and taken the XP version of taunt. I had considered visous blow and charisma but considering the amount of scenarios remaining I need to focus on effectiveness and taunt allows me to draw more cards hopefully getting closer to the key ones I need. If we manage four xp plus next scenario then the improved vicious blow is definitely on the list.

Monster of the Game

If the Wizard has been drawn as Zoe's weakeness then he would have won this hands down by being the main reason for failure. As it stands the Emergent Monstrosity wins.. Both of them…

Play of the Game

This is awarded to the entire team for the last turn was synchronised beautifully to defeat the beastie, clear the clues and win the day! If the award goes to a card I give it to Logical Reasoning if only because it was a useful defensive play avoiding the Hail Mary approach to play!

Thursday 14 June 2018

The Dunwich Legacy - The Miskatonic Museum

Dear Diary 
So to recap. The second coming certainly looks close. I have had to dismember assorted scum all over Arkham. Is there no place in this iniquitous town that is  not filled with abominable, armed nasties and other disgusting horrors. Fortunately I have sharp steel and an equally steely heart. Our journey continues except that now the Professor wants us to find a book of evil. We even have some special words to say when we retrieve it..
The museum is our target and since they are at the forefront of disgusting Darwinian arguments I shall enjoy any righteous destruction I need to cause. The local priest also says that dinosaur bones are made out of plaster-caste so lets blow rasberries at the curator while there.
         Reading of the day
Ezekiel 3:17-18
Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me. 18 When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.

Another old bloke after a specific nasty book. Co-incidence?

So after a skipped week mainly caused by me prepping for the Birmingham games expo (19k plus visitors making it probably the 3rd biggest tabletop games convention in the world) our valiant trio return for a sally into the local museum.  Beyond sticking it to the forces of evil (considering I am playing Zoey perhaps 'stabbing it' would be better) my main aim is to get enough XP to allow the extra item slot from Relic Hunter ( it needs three XP and I have two remaining). I don't think it is possible to get 5 more, beyond that, for an extra key though that would be nice.  I bascically want the ability to have both the key and my cross in play turning Zoe into a high ability multi-talented investigating machine. As a quick aside I will playing the Keys of Ys with a house rule which is that whenever Zoe (or one of her cards) would receive horror then one will go on the Keys. If you can delay it resolving then I think it is slightly overpowered.

A now obligatory 'out of focus' shot for game start. I had funky new bases for the other two investigators arrive: but they wont be appearing until the next game

We got in to the museum easily enough with a Shroud of 3 proving of little difficulty to a 'Higher Education Rex' but then things started to look unexpectedly ominous.  I had another good start and was reasonably satisfied with my turn two with a Survivor Knife and machete in play and a 'First Aid' in hand. Then I drew my weakness and in 'this' scenario discarding cards from the encounter deck until you find an enemy manages to draw 'just' one enemy  the 'Hunting Horror' so gets the big nasty out early.

Japansese Dragon influences. Plus how does it fly?? surely the tail would make an enormous drag chute???

No matter we would just have a larger beastie down the line. At the same time just after Yorick had spent a turn knocking down a locked door another locked door appeared where Rex was standing leaving only a more unpleasant encounter hall. Yorick wanted a go at the horror with his own machete first as he had his signiture card in hand but he missed and received damage for his trouble. I then strode in and slapped it down easily enough releived that I was not going to get out-guardianed by both my non-guardian compatriots..

Anyway I was relieved I had one of my weaknesses out of the way as  'every cloud has a silver lining etc' but this game laughs sarcastically at silver linings so at the end of that turn my encounter card turned out to be 'slithering behind you'

So the bloody Hunting Horror came out again and on me with 3 fight, 4 health and 3 evade. Before most groups meet it for the first time we now had met it twice and larger. Again this is what Zoey does so I went for my turn first. The resulting three attacks were ' auto fail, -4, -3'…great. End result was me with 4 physical trauma,  4 mental trauma and the horror with no damage. Yorick promptly charged to the rescue moving in and engaging before hitting it for 2. This then allowed me to kill the following phase..

Even without that somewhat phyrric victory I was feeling rather battered and worried that my knives were not sharp enough as we would have at least 2-4 more visitations at average luck and if 4 then it would be at 7 fight 8 health and 7 evade. Ignoring  that which has not occurred I tried to focus on the immediate issues and used the first aid to remove most of the mental damage then a guard dog was bought into play to help protect against my weakened physical state. As a plus Rex was very,very rapidly hoovering up clues and opening Exhibit Halls so perhaps we could avoid too many more repeat appearances.

 Some point mid-game. The guard dog is indeed proving itself 'psychotic killer chef's best friend'

Without giving much time to gather breath  the agenda finally flipped and the Hunting Horror arrived again. Though in retrospect the agenda text trying to raise tension with the appearance of the big nasty was somewhat spoilt by the fact we had beaten it twice. It was also now a 4 fight 5 health 4 evade and I was only at 5 fight with the machete so game on.

Predictably perhaps my attacks at only one above did not go well but at least my guard dog soaked the physical damage up with the dog doing 3 damage back whilst I reeled under a further 3 trauma bringing me back up to 4. This did serve a purpose and that was to allow Rex to open up one of the key exhibit halls and luckily enough it was the Restricted Hall. Rex promptly moved across and the hunting horror immediately followed him. This allowed me to get the Keys of Ys in play before getting a single failed attack in. I was now not worried now though as with the Key of Ys in play I was  on 6 fight with the machete and 7 fight with the survival knife and it was the survivors knife that finished the beastie off for the third time.

Apart from the strange yellow tint the photo app seems to have applied . How is that for a combat setup even for this particularly nasty nasty.

We could have finished at this point but as we had around 6-7 turns before it turned up again and I was confident I could hold even the massive version off so we decided to leave a clue on the Restricted Hall and to start cleaning clues off of the other victory locations (including those halls we had not revealed yet). This was a lot of work for Rex but he was very good at doing it whilst I carried on steadily tooling. My end display added a replacement handy guard dog and a 'Reliable' on my machete. 

If the Horror appeared again my base attack would now be base 7 and if I took more horror base 8 then base 9.  Allowing I did not use the survival knife I could soak up any retailiates on the Key and Dog.

As it stands it was  not needed. Rex gathered most of the clues with Yorick picking off the last just as the agenda was about to pop.


Bit of a roller coaster ride this one. The start was hectic but it did stabalize at the end. I love the impact of the growing horror and the fact the rest of the encounter deck is all about attacking  your hand size and assets (I ended up with  the dreaded Beyond the Veil in play and only five cards in hand). 

The unexpected synergy of Zoeys signiture weakness and this one big nasty was unexpected but a hurdle we were able to surmount. Plus we managed another 6 experience! This means I can buy a second copy of Keys of Ys AND relic hunter (ooooo I just realised it is not unique I could get two copies in play and conceivably have 10, 8, 10, 8 base stats…

For the resolution Zoey argued resolutely that there was only one book of power everyone should use and that is , obviously, the bible - but Rex was to drunk on increasing power and Yorick was ambivalent on the subject.

Why would anyone want to read this book?

Card of the Game

The Hunting horror is great and an excellent 'different' big nasty. Plus the encounter deck does a good job of supporting its presence and actions. But for this game I am going to go for the amazing art of ''Passage into the veil"  - great work by the artist Owen William Weber.

I mentioned mid game that I loved the evocative art for this so promptly drew it three times in a row. The Key helped me defeat its nefarious purposes though.

Play of the Game

'Not dying' perhaps..No, play of the game goes to the highly educated Rex who managed to scoop up 5 clues with one action at one point. Here is his card at end game AFTER all locations had been revealed….

Run out of clue tokens for Rex. Alas poor Yorick is 'cursed' to only have one in comparison

Next Up

The dreaded Essex County Express. This is one of the hardest scenarios in this campaign so it will be a challenge..

Zoey studied her knife intently and tooks some test slashes before smartly dicing some onions for a tasty stew. That old testamanet beastie had certainly been a challenge. It so was not a surprise that God had told her where it was and that it needed to go. Actually, thinking about it, it looked a lot like a huge winged snake. If any monster was probably the snake from the Garden of Eden then this was it. It was a shame her compatriots were so open to corruption that they they decided to keep a book of evil. It practically had a sales team marketting it with the words 'fall into Satan' or  'read this and be corrupted' all over it. No matter her knives would do for them too if it came to that. Rex was not a surprise as the man was obviously desperate to be 'relevant'. Yorick's decsion though was. Perhaps his work in the cemetary had bought him closer to temptation than most. He would certainly regret his choice when he considered the implications. At least she hoped he would.