Saturday, 28 August 2021

Carcossa 2021 Norman Withers Seeker Deck

 For the next campaign I will be running the Seeker with the impressive beard - Norman Withers (book version as the campaign standard will be arriving with the new campaign this year).

Apart from the default extras - 

Vengeful Hound 

So specifically stops Norman's strengths but not hard to take down, for anyone else in the party..Good artwork.

Split the Angle 

His personal card is of average utility. It's good as a pump but, at the significant cost of an action, can both forewarn of the top encounter deck card (so it can be given to the person best able to handle it) and even discarded if it is that bad.

His own special ability is to always have the next personal deck card revealed that can be played as if in hand at one less cost! So he is efficient at getting through cards and has some resource advantages. The random weakness I pulled was 'Day of Reckoning' which seems to remove the elder sign from the chaos bag and locks it until the Agenda flips.

For the deck I decided to reinforce these tendencies alongside the usual Seeker tricks to attempt to make him a better clue machine.


Unexpected Courage 

Just a way to help pass those must pass tests. Distinct Jurassic World vibe about the art.

Emergency Cache

Which again needs no real explanation. Though the version shown above is the experienced with an extra card draw as well. Woops.

Mystic Cards

Here I went for cheap helper cards. Firstly 

Deny Existence  

which should allow me to mitigate any really nasty impacts of encounter cards (so hopefully less 'fail by 4 so lose 4 health and die possibilities).

Voice of Ra  

So 'always' a 1 resource gain for zero cost but with the possibility of up to six more if lucky on the draw. I suspect it will tend to be a 3-5 draw usually.

Seeker Cards

Allies - Packing two here 

Dr Milan Christopher w

the always useful (and expensive) though practically a staple for all seeker decks

Mr Rook 

- who rather disconcertingly looms like a younger Michael Gove. Anyway I like Rook because he has more soakability with 2 in each but he allows three times search for a card on a 'fast' action. Now ok there is always the risk of multiple weaknesses but sometimes you can time these. 

Assets - Only four taken 

Magnifying Glass 

which I like as a starter card especially as it’s a fast play, though it is a strong candidate for early replacement with a card from victory points. (Sorry image of the experienced version)

Medical Texts 

as an emergency damage repair, most likely for me. 

Fingerprint kit 

Not so sure about this. I like the extra clues but 4 cost means its another potential early victory point replacement.

Events - Five of these were taken. 

Mind over matter 

After Dr Milan the next 'staple' of Seeker decks. Only an emergency card though as even with a successful attack it would mostly only do one damage.

I've got a plan 

This is far better than the previous for fights and is also a common seeker card mainly as it does between two and four damage for the attack and will, due to the Seekers primary role, often get to the higher totals.

No Stone Unturned

Reinforcement of the deck control theme plus it helps other investigators.



I like having extra movement in decks and this has the added advantage of being  a fast play and one that can push other investigators.

No Stone Unturned

Follows the deck control theme and allows assistance for myself or another investigator who really needs an extra card.

Skills - Two of these were utilised. 


Seemingly featuring Dr Milan though that looks less 'Eureka' than 'get out of my house'. Anyway I like for the search possibility which reinforces the decks card draw/control focus.

Inquiring Mind

Three ? multi purpose pumps is always good and it will be useable 7 times out of 10.


Looking at it there are a few areas where the deck needs strengthening. I would like better allies to act as damage/madness soaks as I am still weak in health. Another way of doing a lot of damage fast would be nice (but as the team has two combat capable fighty types and a probable fighty useful Mystic) not so necessary.

A marginal weakness lies in movement skills as I value that highly. So looking forward cards I would consider buying with experience are

To improve movement

Pathfinder - my favourite movement for Seekers (I think) mainly because it can be used potentially multiple times (though Shortcut is both fast and cheaper and in the default deck)

Esoteric Atlas-  a bit like Pathfinder but moves further (needs locations 2 apart) and can be used 4 times for the same cost.


Defensive improvements

Disc of Itzamna - Discards non-elites spawning at the location

Expose Weakness - very nice draw plus enemy fight drop (with test pass)

Clue enhancement

Deciphered Reality - Great card and at 5 cost it needs to be. Potentially allowing many, many clues to be discovered. This would help Norman move from an average clue finder to a potentially excellent clue finder. Allowing I get enough victory points to make it purchasable.

Deduction - I like this for the 2 book pump and the extra one clue and possibly two clues (that should be doable for a packed out seeker)


Higher Education - useful as a general pump to both book and mind. That looks like Sean Connery to me!

Cryptic Research - fast play 3 card draw for zero cost for any chosen investigator at my location? Useful as a team play card,

Of those above I would probably look at the Disc first then Pathfinder and Deduction. After that it depends greatly on the strengths and weaknesses the team shows as the campaign rolls on. Looking forward to testing the deck out.

Finally for those on ArkhamDB here is the direct deck link.

Friday, 27 August 2021

The Devourer Below NOTZ Reprise


This could have been a tale of how a gang of investigators thwarted the presence of a great evil…But wont be. This scenario went down hill so fast my tea did not get too cool down. The biggest plus point was that Wendy managed to draw and get Lita out (and lots here will know why that might matter. It wasn't all bad though as in the first two turns we actually managed (between us) to get eight clues! That was it though it then sucked rim. I am not quite sure where to start so let's run through the investigators starting with my lovely Agnes.

Only an average starting hand though having to discard two of them didn't help (scenario start restriction due to not finishing before midnight last scenario). No tools for fighting at all and even though I ended up in the location which required willpower to investigate I failed the first test with minus 4. Next turn I drew an encounter card that required cards to be discarded or horror/damage is taken. I lost that test by 4 and could only discard 3 cards so ended up on 2 damage and 1 sanity lost before really starting. A ghoul then hit me to give another damage and the next turn encounter draw was grasping hands which (yes) I failed by 3 (tentacle draw so -5!) being knocked out…again…

Next up Roland. Roland looked like he was ready to go and just as two three enemies spawned (including a Wizard, Acolyte and irritating monster thing he managed to get Frozen in Fear alongside his weakness (fight/move/evade actions cost 2) whilst being in the location where you have to test books to leave. This required careful planning but thanks to Daisy's pumps Roland did manage to eventually get out (after two turns) where he equipped his BAR Rifle and took a plus 4 shot against a monster and drew auto fail wasting tons of ammo. Next round he did take out the Wizard but was perilously low on health and then drew rotting remains which he failed by a three going insane and also being knocked out.

Wendy spent a lot of the early game running round evading things until she got stuck in the location which requires fists to investigate. So couldn't. She was also steadily losing health even with multiple friends in tow. She did save the day though by drawing Lita just in time to accidentally trip her into Umordeths maw (We didn’t even get past act 1 - that first turn seven clues was a high point as firstly Agnes went down dropping it to five and then Roland went down dropping it again). 

Daisy actually had the most secure day of all the investigators keeping a decent health/sanity throughout. Having both Agnes and Roland unable to deal with the multiple monsters turning up meant that she also spent a lot of time staying in a single location tooling up.  Her ability to pump a stat by +2 (due to a book asset) was key to even getting as far as we did though.

Conclusion - This was hard. We did get out without total defeat but the draws made continued a tradition of being crap. Next up we are going to switch to Carcossa. I will be running Norman Withers the Seeker (he looks good, from the books), we will also have Guardian Zoe the knife fanatic, Achele the Mystic and '' the Rogue so an interesting group. I will do a preparatory campaign post on the starting deck prior to the campaign start. Just so I can make guesses as to 'usefulness' that will no doubt be proved totally wrong once playing.

Enemy of the Game

Yithian Observer - These kept turning up and proving to be hard to kill. Thinking about it loads of ghouls and acolytes kept turning up so the fight pressure was enormous.

Card of the Game

Lita Chandler - for when everything sucks and you just have to sacrifice someone to save the world.

Saturday, 21 August 2021

The Midnight Masks - NOTZ Reprise


Creepy masks were the rage in Arkham that year

The Midnight Masks is not an easy scenario. The encounter deck packs multiple methods of distracting you either via multiple enemies or ways to remove clues/assets/life/sanity or even to move the Investigator from where they need to be to somewhere they probably do not. Even with those the other part of the deck is just designed to make things harder to progress. It can be most unpleasant..

As we start with four players the game starts with three acolytes with doom which means a quick and bloody start though until the encounter deck recycles it does reduce the amount of enemies who may turn up. That is indeed how the game started for our valiant band. Another decent starting hand meant that Agnes was tooled up with shrivelling and ready to go and one evil doer fell to her hand (mind?) fast. Roland. Wendy took out the second whilst Roland started tooling and travelling to the third. Daisy meanwhile started hoovering clues. By turn two we were acolyte clear and had enough clues to pop a cultist - which happened to be Herman Collins who spawned right where Agnes was. Rather than discard four (useful) cards I decided to zap him instead and bar an initial 'fail' token (these were extremely prevalent in our play this scenario) the next two were enough and we were one cultist down.

Fortunately enough as I was then picked up and dropped in the central location whilst taking one horror and one damage a journey I repeated around four times more due to 'On Wings of Darkness'- this game proving that the monster in question was obviously pretending to be a Uber driver with a very focused idea of where the journey should end.

Things started to get in an unpleasant groove now as just as we would look like we could do something then three monsters would drop and make it much harder. All players were having to fight and the encounter deck was just brutal. We were progressing though. Agnes took out Wolf Man Drew and the Masked Hunter was 'just' taken out by Roland (Roland using his funky new BAR Rifle after Wendy handily evaded the Hunter allowing him to equip )

Whilst Agnes was being repeatedly picked up and dropped (must have come from the bar work .. boom boom) Wendy kept getting Crypt Chills which must have been the games way of saying 'homelessness is bad'  fortunately she had lots of 'friends' and ensured they took most of the damage.

Roland was already close to both madness and death and the arrival of his weakness (Cover Up) didn't help things. 

Daisy meanwhile was performing magnificently  getting both clues and fighting until another of the many 'auto fails' was on an encounter card 'False Lead' making her put all four clues back on the location she was sitting on. FFS.

We still staggered on. Wendy managed to evade Ruth Turner (I WAS going to discard a stray cat to evade Ruth but was picked up by another  Uber ) The next mythos phase I had to discard a clue or take two damage. I had no clue and only one damage left so Agnes was wiped from the scenario just as two Hunting Nightgaunts arrived.

My comrades were up to the task though. With suspiciously good timing Roland engaged and killed an acolyte with his fists ('just' on with a -3) allowing Daisy to run to Northside and 'just' Parley Victoria Devereux before the Agenda ticked over and it was past midnight.

Conclusion - After the tightness of the initial scenario the second gets lots of movement in and the always present aggressive clock. It certainly sets the bar for how nasty the game can be.

Monster of the Game 

On Wings of Darkness - repeatedly got in Agnes way and were a total nuisance. Without those Agnes would probably have lived to the end and we might even have got all the cultists before stopping. Boo hiss

Worse event of the Scenario

Daisy drawing false lead  the umpteenth auto fail and having to put all 4 clues she had gained back on the location.

Card of the Scenario

Roland's BAR which helped take out the night hunter, acolyte with lots of doom and a hunting nightgaunt 

Friday, 13 August 2021

The Gathering - NOTZ Reprise

Lita 'not shouting yet'

Back to playing and it has been missed. As a change from previous groups my new team is a four person group so it will be interesting to see how a different max player count makes to the scenarios and if it impacts play or immersion in any way. As with previous AARs (After Action Reports) this will be less fiction based and more on game play and approaches taken to the scenario.

Team Organisation

No hard rules were really set for this but mostly all the decks were base set compatible (I think a few cards from out of set were used but not many). The teams characters were Agnes (me, I do love Agnes and wonder if her shrivelling spell was learnt dealing with scum bags trying it on at her place of work), Wendy (played by an experienced player), Daisy (everyone's favourite librarian) and finally Roland. So all in all the group was nicely balanced.

The Scenario

Wendy was the group leader and for the first time it made complete thematic sense why a) the house was a tip b) was totally filled with random weirdoes shouting a lot, who Wendy did not know. Basically it was an empty house all the local homeless were taking over.. So we started thematically, at least until both Dr Milan Christopher and a beat cop turned out to actually also be in the room with no doors. Saying that trying to logically explain occurrences in game is never easy - after all why spend 75 % of the time trying and failing to hit things with fists until 'suddenly' realising that you had a baseball bat or 'gun' in your pocket that might be more efficient.

Anyway in the early running both Daisy and Roland did their jobs well and rapidly started hoovering clues. Daisy the old fashioned way and Roland by dint of hacking various creatures to death with his machete. We shot through the first act but then hit a traditional Arkham speed bump. Roland suddenly found he was 'trapped by fear' (possibly of the repercussions of killing so many things with a 'beat cop' standing next to him) and was then unable to get out of that for two whole turns and when out of the trap then was hit by a weakness which took out another two actions. This took the main fighter out of the action. Fortunately Agnes, she of the gimlet look, was well prepared to help as she had an early Shrivelling and all four charges were rapidly used pulling various nasties off of Wendy and Daisy. Her 'one, two' of damaging a creature, letting it attack her, taking horror and then giving one damage back for that point of horror worked nicely. Meanwhile as most of the group huddled in the cellar it became shrouded by fog pushing it to a nasty six shroud. It was starting to look like the beginnings of one of those slow motion Arkham train wrecks but things suddenly started resolving. Just as Roland freed up in time to kill a monster, Daisy cleared the shroud and hoovered several clues with Agnes and Wendy each helping on the clue front the Agenda shifted again (after no less than three Dooms were drawn in the mythos phase) and suddenly we were in the last agenda the turn before we shifted to the last act. 

The Ghoul Priest is a most unpleasant opponent in a four investigator game as he has twenty health. As a counter he was slightly less 'dangerous' as the group has enough 'weaker fighter' characters to engage then evade him (Wendy did a sterling job here) so rather perversely he spent less time doing actual damage. Anyway. Daisy wandered to the parlour to 'get' Miss Angry chops 'Lita'  and bring her back to assist in damage and the rest of the group started trying to wear the Ghoul Priest down. In the first turn the group (well Roland mainly) pinned six damage on him but the double doom tokens (one normal, one for a ghoul in the hallway) was very rapidly pushing the agenda forward. When we tied that to another Doom we now got to what was obviously going to be the last turn before defeat. So we had to do at least fourteen damage in one turn…

We started with the obvious damage dealer. Roland thought he could get ten if lucky which would leave only four for the rest of us to handle. Unfortunately Arkham is rarely that kind and he only succeeded twice so did six damage. He finished by using a fast action to get rid of the beat cop doing a further damage. So the priest was now reeling having taken thirteen damage. Daisy stepped up to the plate next and managed three (two from a clever 'card switch to 'books' attack and one from discarding a lantern). The Priest was now at sixteen. Between us Agnes and Wendy needed to do four. The issue was that neither of us had any weapons to help. I had used the only shrivelling I drew early and my baseball bat had 'broken' a round earlier killing a ghoul. Wendy had nothing at all. 

I therefore went next. I had a fight of two and the Priest has a fight of four. I did have one 'fist' pump I could use in hand pushing me to three and one 'lucky' which would push me to five - one down is not good odds on standard  even with three actions so I drew a card to see if anything would help and 'luckily' I drew another 'lucky'. That was much better as it essentially put me on seven. I then used another action to get a second resource to pay for the luckys and drew getting a -2 - with both luckys needed I passed by one and did a further two damage. The Priest was now on eighteen. All was on plucky little Wendy.

Like me Wendy had no fighting gear available and no force pumps bar Lita so was on three basic versus four. It would need +1 or the elder sign to succeed which is worse odds than I had. She also had some rats attacking her but she had enough to soak up the attack of opportunity so ignored them. She drew a card and got nothing useful then drew a second card and also drew a 'lucky'. Better but this now meant a -1 or better would be needed. She pulled from the bag a token that failed ( I cannot remember which) but had her own amulet in play so was able to return it and draw again getting a -1 so with the lucky got just enough to do a further two damage killing the Priest.  We had in the nick of time managed to sneak victory from the claws (and bone mask in this case) of defeat..

Post Game

Since it was actually someone else's house plus Wendy had no real possessions she was remarkably happy to let the house burn down. The team lives to fight on again.

Wendy was strangely unconcerned about her doss house burning down

We gained seven experience each so now get to enhance the decks. I tend to go for efficiency (with Mystics) to make the deck run faster and also went out of set as there are limited useful upgrades base wise so I am looking to replace the baseball bats with Spirit Athame's (lovely assets, they make my spells better and give me a one off fight of four per turn). The other upgrade was harder to pick and I was seriously considering either the spell recharge or something to handle treachery's/doom better but in the end went for Word of Command which will replace the Acolyte (I don’t like the extra doom her use causes). This allows me a much better chance to hit one of both Shrivelling's which the Athame would then enhance. Since Word of Command is also a spell that also helps if Agnes's medallion is in player so lots of cards synchronising with other cards which I really like.


Something struck me in game this time and that is the skill set that make's the game perform best. It Is possible to play the game 'logically' where you do the things you expect to do. For example Daisy spends three actions getting clues and expects Roland to kill anything that arrives but though this can work it often doesn't because Arkham is forever throwing speed bumps at various Investigators. At various points to succeed Investigators absolutely need to be able to move out of their comfort zone and non-combat investigators will need the ability to fight (not all the time just at key points) or combat experts might need to parley/get clues or move something. Part of this is mindset and part is the combination of both deck building and knowing your deck and how it can operate. It reminds me a bit of a quote concerning one of my favourite authors (Proust) which I will now hack to relate to the game

'the true skill in Arkham lies in a player's ability to use their deck cards, many, many deck cards, and to manipulate them with the full dexterity of a three-card monte dealer' 1

The best players seem to have the ability to look at a game problem and work out very out of the box solutions to the problems which would flummox a more 'by expectation' player and deck. If you get several players with this skill then chances of success can drastically increase.

Traditional Monster of the Scenario

I would have to for the Ghoul Priest which is perhaps unsurprising. It wasn't that dangerous to us but its huge health and high fight stats made it hard to kill and an issue that almost cost the scenario.

Card of the game

The winner here is probably 'lucky' as it was both fortuitous and all three used copies were absolutely needed.

1 Just for reference the original quote was The grace of French lies in an author’s ability to use pronouns, many, many pronouns, and to manipulate them with the full dexterity of a three-card monte dealer '

And was from Nybooks review of several new versions of Proust's masterpiece by Professor Aciman