Returning to Carcosa. Return to The Path to Carcosa Preview
Hey everybody how's it's going, it's me, Nate, Lost in time and space back once again and today I want talk about you “The Return to the Path to Carcosa”. The latest in the “Return to” line, this product aims to breathe new life into the original campaign cycle. In this article I'll go over the two official announcements made by FFG and share my thoughts and speculations. But before we discuss returning to Carcosa, I want to take a look at the original Path to Carcosa and see what needs changing first. This article will contain MASSIVE spoilers for the Path to Carcosa campaign. You have been warned. With all that intro stuff out of the way let's step onto the Shores of Hali once more.
I recently played through Carcosa again with a solo Roland deck, as well as a solo Jenny deck and even with 2 full cycles having come and gone, I still think this campaign is the game's Magnum Opus, so to speak. There are a lot of things to like about the Path to Carcosa The story is great, the King in Yellow back drop has worked excellently in Arkham Horror in the past and the LCG is no exception. This cycle boasts some of the games most beloved scenarios such as The Unspeakable Oath and The Pallid Mask. Replaying them again it was easy to see why so many people consider this campaign their favorite. This campaign, more than any other feels the most consistent from scenario to scenario. More specifically, the difficultly of each scenario feels like a linear progression rather than drastic spikes, barring one exception which we go over in a moment but this feels true even after subsequent play throughs.
That's not to say that this campaign doesn't have it's short comings. Echoes of the past in particular especially in solo play, feels like a cake walk compared to most scenarios whereas the following scenario “Unspeakable Oath” can be a ball buster. From a story perspective these scenarios are great! Running around a closed historical society in the dead of night in search of info about “The king in yellow” is a neat premise, but falls short mechanically with how doom accumulates in Echoes making the scenario feel like you're just waiting for stuff to happen. Conversely, Unspeakable Oath is a very action intensive scenario where a couple bad pulls from the chaos bag can really screw you and to add further insanity to injury, your campaign can end here! Thematically I LOVE the idea of your character going to the asylum to interrogate an inmate, only to realize they themselves are insane and get locked up, super cool. Game play wise however, it can create some feel bad moments with newer players who become attached to their investigator, or for solo players looking to finish a campaign. This road block is controversial amongst fans of the game, with some wanting their to be a change or additional ending where you can continue despite escaping the Asylum. I and maybe others feel indifferent about it. I can appreciate the story the scenario is telling enough for me to fall victim to Dr. Mintz strange “treatments”.
There are also some other issues in this campaign such as, Dianne Devine becoming a non-issue in most runs of the Last King, or unintentionally setting scenarios up incorrectly due to strange wording. A personal gripe I have with this campaign is the constant removing and adding of special symbols from the chaos bag after every scenario. I find this aspect of the set-up to just be tedious. If you're like me then, it's likely you don't just shotgun one campaign after another. You probably play a scenario or two with a group of friends and maybe in your spare time you have a solo campaign you're playing. If you're switching the tokens in and out between games. It can be easy to forget which set of special tokens you're supposed to have in the bag. Maybe I'm just dumb but I don't really understand what this is trying to convey story-wise either. The low point of the Carcosa campaign for me is Black Stars Rise. I don't think it's a bad scenario per se, but it feels lacking in some regard. The gimmick and story of this scenario don't resonate with me, and the set-up is confusing and convoluted. As a whole this scenario feels like it's missing a sense of urgency which is ironic given the intended nature of having 2 agenda decks. This scenario seems to have a similar problem that Echoes had, but also lacks the intrigue. You already know the gist of the scenario before you even play it and on repeated playthroughs it feels like you just go through the motions in order to get to “Dim Carcosa.” If you disagree, be sure to berate me in the comments below, but for now let's move on what we know is coming in the Return to Carcosa.
In their first article published back in April of 2019, FFG revealed the product itself along with spoiling some of the encounter cards from the campaign's earlier scenarios. Looking at the product fan we can see that this “Return to” box comes with Set dividers along with new encounter and player cards. If you look closely at the encounter deck in the top right of the image we can see a glimpse into what Returning to Arkham Asylum will really be like. The card to the left of the encounter deck we can talk about in a bit but the other two cards have no been spoiled as of the making of this video. The center card is a new a treachery that has some of THE most horrifying art. I get squeamish just watching someone take out a contact lens so seeing a trans-orbital lobotomy on a card might cause me to go temporarily insane. The other is a new enemy, with the humanoid and lunatic traits and has 3 health and 3 evade and deals at least 1 horror of damage and I think there's a Victory number there as well but it's too hard to discern. The image also teases some of the new upgrades included in this Return to Box. We can see Alchemical Transmutation (everyone's favorite Mystic card!), Eat Lead, Suggestion all receive upgrades in this expansion. The last player card in the fan is a new weakness to add to the pool.
From there the article goes on to share details about some of the changes made to scenarios “Curtain Call” and “The Last King”. Curtain Call will have new backstage locations and a new unique enemy, La Comtesse.
This card can be brutal if you are not equipped at evading enemies and have low sanity. Guardians such as Mark Harrigan, Roland Banks or Zoey Samaras may be forced to take down the servitor for fear of going insane or in need of some other benefit such as clues or resources. While not too intimidating on the board, La Comtesse is most threatening when she's cutting your hand size in half! This scenario, and campaign for that matter, has a cycle of encounter cards that have a similar mechanic of placing themselves into your hand and restricting you in some way. This scenario is definitely not short on ways to horrify the investigators and this enemy helps to up the ante. It's worth noting the card number on the bottom right. La Comtesse is 7/7 for the return to Curtain Call set. With new backstage locations confirmed there are only 3-4 other cards not yet revealed. I'm curious if they will also add new Lobby doorway locations as well, and if so that potentially leaves room for 1 other card. Maybe we'll see a new Royal Emissary enemy? I could see that as a possible new change to the scenario.
The article continues by revealing a new attendees of the play's cast party.
This card is the antithesis of Dianne Devine. Affecting the bystander with the most clues can make planning your next move damn near impossible if drawn at a bad time. Well I'm assuming you shuffle these into the encounter deck anyway. That was left open to interpretation. Perhaps the party guest enters play through some other means. Regardless it seems the only way to rid yourself of them is to buy them off. For investigators who are strapped for cash, this can prove to be a cumbersome ordeal.
Beyond those scenario changes, the article hints at a possible plot change for Unspeakable Oath where the investigators enter the Asylum as patients rather than visitors. Love it. FFG also say that there will a 3rd and 4th version of the second act in the return to Unspeakable Oath. Again, Love it. This is one of my personal favorite scenarios in the game, so more replayability is just gravy. As for what could behind those new versions of the second act, I think it's safe to say that will we be able to Parley with the enemy version of Daniel Chesterfield with at least one of the new acts. The other version I'm assuming is for when you are a patient of the asylum.
FFG also shared 2 of the upgraded player cards included in this box set, Logical Reasoning and the .32 Colt. Both of these cards at a first glance seem to be powerful upgrades from their level 0 counterparts. Logical reasoning can heal an investigator up to 6 horror! This can be extremely useful for Dim Carcosa where having too much horror on you can have dire consequences. The new Colt seems to be great for guardians or off-class guardians who may not necessarily need a combat boost like Mark or Yorick but need a reliable source of extra damage. The fast action on the card allows you to spend a resource and return it your hand to reload the weapon making it a steady stream of extra damage, provided you can hit your shots. This is a good alternative to the 45 automatic or Machete if you are playing with the taboo list. The 2 cost is also worth noting, being one of the cheapest combat options in the class. This card having 2 combat icons is nothing to scoff at either. I'm looking forward to trying this card out.
The second article posted July 22nd while not sharing any new player cards does share some further insight into the new scenario cards. The article states that the Agents of Hastur from the core set will be replaced with Hastur's envoys, the Delusions set will be swapped with Maddening delusions, and Decay and Filth will become Decaying Reality. FFG share a couple of the new encounter cards. Bleeding walls is going to suck, especially in solo play. Losing actions and taking horror is the last thing an investigator with low sanity wants to be doing. Fragile thoughts, the event parallel to corrosion, makes me think that these are likely from the Decaying Reality set. Assuming that is the case then we'll see these cards in scenarios such as The Last King and Unspeakable Oath.
The article continues by revealing a new cycle of treacheries named “Visions in your mind” originally teased in the product fan. Like previous encounter cards from the original Carcosa cycle, these Visions in your mind are added to your hand and negatively effect your investigator in some way. In this instance these cards cause to take a direct damage and a horror unless a certain action is taken during your turn. Failure has you take damage unless take a resource action and the fan shows us enough of the Death card to speculate that it deals damage to you unless you take a move action. As for the other two, my guess is that one deals damage unless take a draw action and the other an investigate action.
From there FFG shares 2 other new encounter cards for the Return to the Unspeakable Oath. Starting with Clouded memory, this horrid card either deals horror and surges, or sets you back at least one action, potentially more. Drawing multiples of these throughout the course of the scenario can possibly be campaign ending so you'll have to choose wisely when resolving this card.
The other card has possibly the most horrifying art on an enemy to date. The way the tentacle covers the screaming patients mouth. Shudders . The Host of Insanity is a strong enemy but depending on the investigators previous actions they may be able to Parley with the Avatar and Evade it. How this enemy enters play is left unspoken to date but I suspect the Host is connected to the possible story line of the investigators entering the Asylum as patients. If that is true maybe the Host replaces Daniel Chesterfield. The host is card number 4/6 and Clouded Memory was 6/6, I think it's likely that there are 2 copies of Clouded memory in this box set.
FFG has shared a good amount of information about what to expect when returning to the Arkham Asylum and of the events leading up to it but has revealed little of the later scenarios in the campaign. In A phantom of Truth I think it's likely we could see a new Organist enemy card along with new variant locations and a 3rd version of Act 1. Moving into The Pallid Mask, we may see new encounter sets for the core set Ghouls and Chilling cold. Other changes may include new catacombs locations and an alternate version of Agenda 1. Black Stars Rise will likely include a 3rd version of 2 2nd agenda cards to represent the new possible story path hinted in the achievement “The Path is Mine” from the initial article. Dim Carcosa will also be likely to include similar changes but I would like to see new locations and possibly a new Hastur enemy as well. Outside of scenario specific changes, I hope we get a new Man in the pallid mask weakness that is chosen at random during Curtain Call and that I don't have to constantly swap tokens out of the chaos bag but I doubt that will happen. I'm curious about this third story path that has been hinted at and I want to know how the investigators wind up being admitted to the Asylum. Or maybe I don't...please no more lobotomies Dr.Mintz
As always though I want to know what you think. What changes would you like to see or are most excited for? What player cards would you like to see upgrades for? Leave your thoughts down in the comments below.