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Circle Undone Review

T Updated January 27, 2020
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
1106 0
Arkham Horror Circle Undone
There Will Be Games

I’m not always on the cusp of Arkham Horror LCG releases, but one of the joys of the game is that you don’t have to keep up with the Joneses. As the Dream Eaters cycle spins up I wanted to look back at the previous cycle, The Circle Undone. This campaign sees the game rooting itself back in the town of Arkham after the events of Path to Carcosa and The Forgotten Age took us much further afield. We return to the town in Massachusetts that started it all and find that dangers lie close to home.

Six go hunting Witches

As with the other cores we get a bunch of new investigators and cards to go with them. I’ve only had a chance to play with Joe, Preston and Diana but all the characters are interesting.

Carolyn Fern: The Psychologist

Carolyn Fern Investigator Card

Originally teased in “Fight the Black Wind”, Carolyn is the first true healer to enter the pool. Her core ability is entirely focused on the healing of sanity damage, backed up by her signature card. Her low fight, and inability to use Weapons, firmly places her in the investigative side of the class. Her varied deck building restrictions means I can see a lot of interesting builds for her.

Joe Diamond: The Private Investigator

Joe Diamond Investigator Card

Joe is nuts. A seeker class investigator who can hold his own in a fight and find clues, rocketed him to the top of the charts for solo and group play alike. The only real weakness on his stat line is the 2 Will and the good Joe decks I’ve played and seen take this into account when building decks.

The Insight deck is an inspired piece of design splitting out 11 Insight keyworded events into a seperate deck. The revealed top card of this is cheaper each turn giving you lots of room for crazy plays. His signature guns round out a powerful, possibly too powerful, investigator.

Preston Fairmont: The Millionaire

Preston Fairmont Investigator CardYes you did read that stat line correctly, Preston is bad at everything but maybe not by the end of the cycle. He is definitely one of those investigators who needs carried until they have some of their xp cards and I think he really needs the whol cycle before you can get to a good build gor him.

His core ability and signature card let him treat vast amounts of resources as a throw away concern, giving him a real moneybags feel. Certainly one of the weirder investigators we have seen in a while.

Diana Stanley: The Redeemed Cultist

Diana Stanley Investigator CardThere have always been cards like Ward of Protection that have allowed players to mess around with what happens when in the game. Diana turns that up to 11, focusing heavily on denial cards: abilites that prevent certain effects from happening.

Her signature cards add to her power. Dark Insight gives you a cancellation card right from the start of the game and her signature dagger is so good that many Diana decks run Prepared for the Worst just to go and hunt for it early. Although she starts with low Will this is balanced out by the card draw and resources she gains from putting denial cards below her, slowing gaining in Will until she gets to 6 unboosted.

I’ve played Diana the most out of all the new investigators and with the right build she feels tough, powerful and extremely versatile.

Marie Lambeau: The Entertainer

Marie Lambeau Investigator Card

Buy Circle Undone, get two mystics for the price of one! Spoiled back when the Investigators of Arkham book came out, many have been waiting to see what Marie could do with a bigger card pool. Additional actions are always great and I really love that Mari’s comes with an interesting cost into the bargain.

I’d really like to see this kind of balance more on cards (powerful seeker cards I am looking at you).

She has a good stat line for investigating and a trick up her sleeve in that she can stop the Agenda advancing once per game, handy when you treat Doom as a resource.

Rita Young: The Athelete

Rita Young Investigator Card

The survivor in this set is probably the weakest of the investigators we get. With a high agility, but lacking the pure evasion focused play of Finn Edwards, she feels like a weaker version of that idea. Although she can potentially move faster than Finn, and has the ability to get rid of weak enemies without having to attack, her Elder Sign ability and mediocre stat line make her a difficult, if interesting, character to build for.

New Toys

Alongside this cavalcade of investigators comes a whole host of new cards. Here are my personal picks of the bunch.

Circle Undone 01Interrogate: This many not be the best card in the set but the flavour on it is fantastic. Beat up that Cultist and learn where they keep their clues. Circle Undone 02Fingerprint Kit: Oh, what a surprise, it’s a really powerful Seeker card. To be fair, I really like the flavour on this one and I think it will find its way into a lot of non-seeker decks as a backup clue gathering card. Circle Undone 03Well Connected: Shockingly several of the Rogue cards in this set revolve around cash. This one is great for Preston giving him a good boost to his stats. Keep in mind that resources on Inheritance don’t count for this card.

Circle Undone 04Deny Existence Free: Fast. Versatile. Deny Existence is a fantastic card that has seen its way into the majority of mystic decks and more besides. It can get you out of a tight spot at a moment’s notice and the wild icon isn’t too shabby either. The experienced version of this card, though expensive, is absolutely nuts. Circle Undone 05Act of Desperation: Always fun to throw your gun at someone when its out of bullets. Even better if that Investigator can get it back from the trash, Yorrick, or get Resourceful.

Tarot Cards

A new slot arrives in circle undone, the Tarot slot. This fits with the theme of the story and each class gets its own one plus a generic one. They are pretty good if you can manipulate them into your opening hand, but a little weak under other circumstances (though the survivor one really makes Calvin a lot better). Regrettably FFG didn’t really do anything more with the mechanic outside the core of the cycle, though maybe we will see it return in future cycles.

Circle Undone 06 Circle Undone 07 Circle Undone 08 Circle Undone 09 Circle Undone 10 Circle Undone 11

Spoiler Warning!

This is your spoiler warning! Awooga, Awooga, abandon article if you do not want to know what happens at all in the scenarios in the Forgotten Age. I’m not going to delve into the mechanics of the scenarios, I’ll be looking at those in a future Beyond the Veil articles, but I will be touching on the basic story.

As I alluded to at the top of this piece, Circle Undone brings us back to Arkham and for most of the cycle stays there. We open with a prologue scenario Disappearance at the Twilight Estate set before the events of the cycle. In a really interesting twist each player takes on a role other than their chosen investigator, instead inhabating one of the staff/guests at the party that is being held: the cook, bodyguard etc.

Each of these characters comes with their own specific hand of cards to deal with the events to come. Not a deck, a hand. On top of this reduced set of tools you are told right from the off that you will be defeated. I really like this idea, and think it could be used as a good intro to the game, but I think it is a bit of a slog on subsequent playthroughs.

The scenarios proper start with The Witching Hour. After an encounter with a fortune teller, the Investigators find themselves lost in the woods, separated until they find their way back together. Will they disrupt the ritual?

Death’s Doorstep takes us back to the manor of the prologue, with the same location setup and the actions of the characters from that scenario, resonating throughout the story.

You must come full circle to find the truth

The Circle Undone is a really strong campaign start: Interesting investigators are coupled with an excellent set of scenarios and a bold new way, the Prologue to establish the setting of this particular cycle.

If you are joining the Arkham LCG at this point, The Circle Undone is a great jumping on point. The Prologue can be used to learn the game and the other scenarios are really great. You can build decks for all the investigators from just a single core and this, Fantasy Flight provide sample decklists, and if you are just getting started you aren’t going to really care about optimisation. That being said the majority of the investigators in this set will only really shine with a large card pool.

Whenever you choose to engage with this cycle, I know you won’t be disappointed. It’s a really excellent chapter in the Arkham LCG, a game that continues to impress and innovate with every expansion. 


Editor reviews

1 reviews

Rating 
 
4.0
Arkham Horror: The Card Game: Cycle Undone
T
1 reviews
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.

Articles & Podcasts by Iain McAllister

 

Iain McAllister
Associate Writer and Podcaster

Articles & Podcasts by Iain

 

 

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ubarose's Avatar
ubarose replied the topic: #306460 21 Jan 2020 16:16
We are almost finished with our first campaign was Path to Carcosa (we skipped Dunwich & Forgotten Age). I was thinking of going backwards to one that we skipped, but this review is making me reconsider, and moving on to Circle Undone. Will we regret not having some of the cards from the earlier sets?
DarthJoJo's Avatar
DarthJoJo replied the topic: #306470 21 Jan 2020 21:14

ubarose wrote: We are almost finished with our first campaign was Path to Carcosa (we skipped Dunwich & Forgotten Age). I was thinking of going backwards to one that we skipped, but this review is making me reconsider, and moving on to Circle Undone. Will we regret not having some of the cards from the earlier sets?

You'll probably be fine if you buy the entire campaign at once. Some of the investigators, especially the ones with more stringent deckbuilding or focused roles like Joe Diamond and Carolyn Fern will feel a little hamstrung with the smaller cardpool. Most of them should be fine.

This is a more difficult campaign though, right up there with Forgotten Age. I think it feels a little more fair than the trip to Mexico, but there are definitely scenarios that will stretch you to your limit. In that case a larger cardpool will give you more options. If it feels like you're banging your head against a wall, you can always drop the difficulty down a step.
DarthJoJo's Avatar
DarthJoJo replied the topic: #306471 21 Jan 2020 21:30
Regarding the prologue, I'm not quite sure what to think. On the one hand, I absolutely love it. I think it was a great choice to include this narratively. Night of the Zealot and Path to Carcosa began with the investigators looking into strange occurrences around town. Matt Newman easily could have opened Circle the same way, but by having us play as these people in their last moments, the hook is so much stronger. You know who these people are and want to know what happened to them. They're more than a line of text.

On the other hand, I've heard plenty of people in the community just roll a die to take care of the mechanical consequences of the prologue rather than play it. I haven't gotten there myself, but I can understand repeated playthroughs feeling the same.

Regarding the investigators, Carolyn is a real stand out for me. I love playing support, and she is as support as they come in this game. I've played her in the epic multiplayer scenarios at Arkham Nights the last two years. Even though she might have the worst combat options in the game, no one throws Dynamite Blasts like her.

I also love Marie Lambeau, one of my top three favorite investigators. Like Calvin Wright and Tommy Muldoon, I love how her design causes you to go back through the binder and re-evaluate some borderline cards.
thegiantbrain's Avatar
thegiantbrain replied the topic: #306564 24 Jan 2020 07:48
It's Diana for me. She can prove herself a great investigator capable of taking hits and investigating once she is up and running.

Going to be running through this campaign again soon.