Front Page

Content

Board Games

Forums

Site Tools

Submissions

About

You May Also Like...

  • Up Your Game
  • Beyond the Veil - Arkham Horror Card Game: The Circle Undone – Disappearance at the Twilight Estate

Beyond the Veil - Arkham Horror Card Game: The Circle Undone – Disappearance at the Twilight Estate

T Updated
Arkham Horror Card Game: The Circle Undone
There Will Be Games

This article will look at an individual scenario of Arkham Horror: The Card Game. These will be my impressions after playing through the scenario and will be focusing on the mechanics and how those reinforce the story elements of a given scenario. These articles will contain extensive spoilers and assume a familiarity with the terms and mechanics of the game. Please do not read on if you have not played the scenario in the title yet.

The Circle Undone brings us back from the jungles of South America to the home comforts of Arkham, Masschussetes. There’s no place like home.

Before you get all excited and break out the new investigators we need to tackle the prologue scenario. Players will take on the roles of a bodyguard, secretary, philanthropist and housekeeper attending a party at the Twilight Estate when things go very wrong indeed. Most interestingly of all you won’t have a deck of resources to rely on, just a single hand of cards.

Disappearance at the Twilight Estate Disappearance at the Twilight Estate

Disappearance at the Twilight Estate Disappearance at the Twilight Estate

As a mysterious fog rolls in across the estate you will do your best to find out what is going on whilst keeping your character alive for as long as possible. There is no surviving this scenario, it makes it very clear from the start that no one will get out of here alive. You are going to be defeated, it’s just a matter of how.

Each of our characters starts off in a different part of the estate, gathering their meager resources to go up against unknown horrors. Faced with encounter cards right from the off this scenario doesn’t hold back and you are going to have to use your hands as efficiently as possible to come out of it well.

Disappearance at the Twilight Estate Disappearance at the Twilight Estate

The art on the Agenda cards for this set is just stunning.

The Agenda, with its beautiful tarot art by Lenka Simeckova, will slowly chip away at your health, picking up the pace of the degradation as time marches on. The reverse tells us multiple ways our cast will meet their ends.

The Act card merely reinforces the fact that we aren’t going to make it out alice and our job is to get all the clues we possibly can before succumbing to the inevitable.

The way out of the mansion is blocked, the Entry Hall unable to be entered during the scenario. The guests panic, but the four of you are driven to find the truth, battling your way through the house. Each of the locations is used to showcase the new Haunted mechanic: punishing you for failing Investigate actions on these locations. This is a great new edition to the game and I hope that the designers continue to play with this kind of idea.

Disappearance at the Twilight Estate Disappearance at the Twilight Estate Disappearance at the Twilight Estate

Disappearance at the Twilight Estate Disappearance at the Twilight Estate Disappearance at the Twilight Estate

Worth remembering that victory points mean nothing in this scenario. No one gets out alive, remember.

Overall this is a pretty straightforward scenario: avoid the gribblies, grab as many clues as you can, and survive as long as you can.

Scenario Card

Disappearance at the Twilight Estate 13

The chaos bag goes through its normal setup for this scenario, but interestingly only starts with skulls in it from a bad token point of view. 

For the prologue the skulls hit us for a large -3 and trigger all the haunted effects if we are fighting or running away. That might not seem too bad, but the encounter deck can really build up those problems.

Strange Encounters

One of the nice things about this scenario is that we get some exposure to the encounter cards for this campaign before our investigators have to handle them for real. It’s interesting to note that, much like Forgotten Age, this scenario mostly uses cards from the Circle Undone core. This pushes the encounter deck more into the unknown which I really like. The designers will mess with some of the core set cards later in this cycle.

The Inexorable Fate set brings us Fate of all Fools one of which starts in play with Gabriella. The first of these does nothing but subsequent copies will either increase doom or damage the first person who drew one, Gabriella in this case. The decision about what to do will often come down to who got the first one.

Terror in the Night similarly builds and has the added problem of potentially coming round repeatedly when the encounter deck cycles or goes through one of its frequent reshuffles. In this particular scenario we start with 1 in play.

Disappearance at the Twilight Estate Disappearance at the Twilight Estate

Beware your fate.

In the Realm of Death set both Shapes in the Mist and Realm of Torment focus on the Haunted keyword, forcing them to be triggered immediately/ beginning of the turn.

Disappearance at the Twilight Estate Disappearance at the Twilight Estate

Haunted comes into its own with this set

The Spectral Predators set gives us the first monsters of the campaign as well as doubling down on the Haunted mechanic. Whispers in the Dark piles another Haunted effect on top of the ones already present on every location. Horrible if anything from the Realm of Death set hits.

Shadow Hounds aren’t too tough to deal with and you really don’t want their Forced ability to come into play. The Nether Mist starts in play with Jerome in the Office, and has some great flavour. Effectively you can ignore it if you are confident of your investigative skills. If you do falter then you, get to shout ‘They’re coming out of the walls’ as the mist comes for you. Win win?

Disappearance at the Twilight Estate Disappearance at the Twilight Estate Disappearance at the Twilight Estate

Beautiful art on these gribblies

The Trapped Spirits set sees us potentially taking 3 damage from the card and it costs a lot to boost the test with cards. Next we come to one of my favourites from this deck, the Wraith. You can never get rid of them with their Forced ability seeing them retreat into the walls of the house when you beat down on them. They do a hefty amount of mental damage as well, so once they do retreat you might want to be careful failing Investigate checks.

Disappearance at the Twilight Estate Disappearance at the Twilight Estate

Love the Wraith

The last new set in this deck deals with the Spectral Watcher. Much like the Wraith this monster just keeps on coming. Although he doesn’t hit too hard he is a constant drain on your resources, making him a particular pain in this scenario when you have so few. Watcher’s Grasp turbo charges the Watcher, making it come after the investigator who draws it.

Disappearance at the Twilight Estate Disappearance at the Twilight Estate

Note that the watcher is an Ancient One.

Begin at the beginning

I love this scenario. It comes totally out of left field and feels like a really fresh way to start a campaign. I do think it doesn’t shake out quite as well on subsequent playthroughs and I do wonder how many groups might skip over it when playing through the campaign after the first time through. Either way this is a great start to a new campaign!

There Will Be Games

Iain McAllister  (He/Him)
Associate Writer and Podcaster

Iain McAllister lives in Dalkeith, Scotland with his wife Cath and their two dogs, Maddie and Gypsy. He has been a keen member of the local gaming scene for many years setting up and participating in many of the clubs that are part of Edinburgh's vibrant gaming scene.

You can find more of his work on The Giant Brain which publishes a wide range of articles about the hobby including reviews, previews, convention reports and critique. The Giant Brain is also the home of the Brainwaves podcast, a fortnightly podcast covering industry news that Iain hosts with his friend Jamie Adams.

image

Articles & Podcasts by Iain McAllister

 

Iain McAllister
Associate Writer and Podcaster

Articles & Podcasts by Iain

 

 

Log in to comment

DarthJoJo's Avatar
DarthJoJo replied the topic: #311082 11 Jun 2020 22:48
I kind of think this scenario is brilliant narratively. Missing characters have been done in previous campaigns, but this is the first time we are really personally invested in them. We have attachments to Jerome and Gavriella as we remember their final moments, their victories and failures and are eager to find them again.

It's just a shame that the focus of the campaign isn't kept tighter on them. The individual scenarios just kind of follow one another, and it's a struggle to see the connective tissue, the cause and effect between them. This wouldn't be such an issue as I'm more into the game for the game than its story, but there is so much text in this campaign. It draws attention to how it fails to work on the scale of plot.
thegiantbrain's Avatar
thegiantbrain replied the topic: #311096 12 Jun 2020 13:17
I don't entirely agree. It takes the game a while to come back to them and it would be nicer if that was earlier in the story. I do really like the Circle Undone as I think there are lots of interesting branching narratives. Now Shellie has got to posting these, I better get on with writing the rest!
DarthJoJo's Avatar
DarthJoJo replied the topic: #311114 12 Jun 2020 21:12
That’s kind of my point. The prologue sets up the second scenario beautifully, but then you forget about the disappearances and decide to sleep in a haunted house and spend the night in a graveyard before getting back on the case. The prologue is such a strong hook but ultimately feels more than a little squandered.

I love the branching narrative and feel that’s it’s better implemented than in Forgotten Age, but it almost feels like another lost opportunity. The two approaches to entering the Silver Twilight Lodge are so amazing that I’m disappointed more scenarios don’t go so far. I get it though. I’m sure that took a long time to design and develop.
thegiantbrain's Avatar
thegiantbrain replied the topic: #311119 13 Jun 2020 03:46
Yeah I see what you mean. I think it is disappointing that more doesn't happen in the prologue that can change the other scenarios or have more resonance. As it is I know plenty of people who skip the prologue and just assume a result as it isn't that fun to play after the first time through and the consequences are minimal.

I would like to see more in the way of interludes you can play, mini side scenarios that show, rather than tell story. I feel in Dream Eaters especially the amount of text between scenarios is getting increasingly unwieldy.
Dr. Mabuse's Avatar
Dr. Mabuse replied the topic: #311143 15 Jun 2020 05:51
In general, how do you play through a campaign? Do you retry scenarios or plow through regardless of the outcome?
DarthJoJo's Avatar
DarthJoJo replied the topic: #311144 15 Jun 2020 07:49
I generally keep going through the campaign. The two big exceptions are making a rules mistake so enormous it drastically changes a scenario’s difficulty or getting so absolutely hosed by the encounter deck that I’m knocked out in the first two rounds. I’m not spending more time on setup and tear down than playing.

It’s worth noting that you rarely “win” or “lose” a scenario. There are better and worse resolutions, but it’s not often binary. Scenarios like Midnight Masks the best result is incredibly difficult, but that’s the design. Besides, failure can be interesting. The designers have gotten better at weaving different resolutions into the campaigns fabric such that you won’t see everything in the game if you just trounce everyone in your path.
Dr. Mabuse's Avatar
Dr. Mabuse replied the topic: #311145 15 Jun 2020 12:26
That's great to know, thanks! I finally assembled 5/6 scenario packs for Carcosa, so making the plunge into the campaign now.
thegiantbrain's Avatar
thegiantbrain replied the topic: #311172 17 Jun 2020 02:54
Yeah I plow on through barring mechanical mistakes. I love that each time I run through a campaign it is it's own self contained story.