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  • Beyond the Veil - Arkham Horror Card Game: Forgotten Age - Untamed Wilds

Beyond the Veil - Arkham Horror Card Game: Forgotten Age - Untamed Wilds

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Beyond the Veil - The Arkham Horror Card Game: Forgotten Age - Untamed Wilds
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.

We have faced the Dunwich Legacy, walked the Path to Carcosa and now our journeys will take us into the jungles of the Forgotten Age. Dunwich was the designers showing the scope of what could be done with the system, Carcosa really played with our minds and the possibilities of the design space and Forgotten Age takes us to a more pulpy version of the Mythos. If you want to see what I thought of the base set in general you can take a look at this review, but now we are going to dive into the scenarios of the Forgotten Age, starting with The Untamed Wilds.

Jungle Fever

Our expedition begins in the jungles of southern Mexico in a search for a hitherto unheard of city state called Eztli. This would be a discovery of historical significance and as such our investigators, or should I call them adventurers in this case, head into the jungle to see what they can discover.

Right from the off this campaign introduces new mechanics as instead of a fixed map like all our previous scenarios, we start with on location and Explore out into the wilderness. The exploration deck has locations and treacheries in it and if we want to find our way out of the forest we are going to have to be able to distinguish the woods from the trauma. When you decide to Explore, an action that either comes from a location or the Act/Agenda deck, you draw cards from the top of the location deck until you either get one that connects to the location you are on, or you hit a treachery.

Forgotten Age 1From the Forgotten Age reveal article on FFG’s site

The other mechanics we now have to deal with are Alert, an evasion based version of Retaliate, and Vengeance. When some creatures are killed they will go to the victory display and start to add to our vengeance score that will affect the course of the campaign. Some cards will also now Seal a token as part of their effect, taking a token out of the chaos bag and placing it on the card. Sometimes this is helpful, sometimes not so much but it is an interesting direction to take the mechanics of the game opening up a world of possible interactions. Oh one more thing, we have to load up with Supplies on our journey into the jungle. These are points to spent on everything from fuel to medicine, all of which will have an effect on different stages of the story.

Father Mateo I presume?

Setting out from base camp we trapse off into the jungle to find our way to the lost city of Eztli. This scenarios is setup as a relatively straightforward affair to show off the new explore mechanic. We advance the first act by spending clues at non-campsite locations and the Agenda allows us to explore. These first steps into the jungle also show us how important the supplies can be, as there is a very efficient action we can take on the campsite if we have bothered to bring a map.

Forgotten Age 2 Forgotten Age 2

Forgotten AgeTop tip, take a map.

We pick our way through the jungle coming across all sorts of wondrous places, some that will cost us to travel through, others that will revive. As we explore, we realise all of a sudden that we are not alone! When Ithaca and her fellows turn up it is time for us to make our first choice. We can either try and talk to her, or we can defend ourselves and assume she is up to no good. Ithaca does do quite a bit of damage so you need to either have someone who can tank her whilst you have a chat, or just have everyone try and talk to her over the course of as few rounds as possible.

Forgotten AgeShe really doesn’t mess around

Forgotten Age 6 Forgotten Age

How we take care Ichataca will start to inform how the jungle is going to react to us. If we persuade her to lead us to the temple then we add a cultist token to the bag for the rest of the campaign. If we have a fight then we add a tablet token instead and get to take Alejandro Vela. This guy is rather useful so maybe we should raise our arms against the locals? There are interesting moral choices here as well as mechanical ones and the Scenario card reflects this choice.

Forgotten Age Forgotten Age

We start out this campaign with only skulls in the bag on top of the usual tokens, punishing us if we start to rack up the Vengeance. If we talk to Ichataca then things get more dangerous as we head into the jungle, but hopefully our guide will help us. Right? If we fight her then Alejandro is pushing us forwards and if we don’t listen to him we will get punished for cards remaining in the Exploration deck. He really wants to get to the temple!

Whichever way we go we get the set aside ruins cards put into play and have to pick our way through to find the Ruins of Eztli. Our choice of how we handled Ichataca will however affect the final Act we have to deal with and also how some of the encounter cards will act. If we talked to her then the Eztli Guardians cannot attack us and we also ignore the effects of an encounter card from their set. If we chose to fight then the ruins are guarded and we have a much harder time with the native people.

The Agenda deck is very straightforward, triggering pretty early to introduce the Agents of Yig into our encounter deck and take a shot at poisoning us. The scenario is relatively zippy, tolerating only 15 doom total before the investigators are defeated. You can’t hang around in a hostile jungle after all!

Strange Encounters

Our first scenario with a new set of encounter cards is always an eye opening experience. The set for the scenario doesn’t really contain much outside of the story cards for The Untamed Wilds, it is the rest of the deck that is interesting. The first thing to note is that there are very few sets used from the core set, only Ancient Evils making an unsurprising return. It seems to me (I have played some of Circle Undone by this point) that they are trying to make the expansions stand on their own a bit more and rely less on the sets from the core.

Outside of Ancient Evils everything is new in this set. The Rainforest set is full of locations for the Exploration deck and some treacheries to trip us up: Overgrowth slowing our progress and Voice of the Jungle urging us on, even if we aren’t ready!

Forgotten Age 10 Forgotten Age

The Serpents set does exactly what it says on the tin, giving us our first taste of a Vengeance featuring monster and trying to Poision us. Poison is a new weakness you can pick up throughout The Forgotten Age and can affect events during a scenario and inbetween. I’m quite a fan of the flavour on Boa Constrictor, your exhausted cards staying that way whilst it squeezes the life out of you.

Forgotten Age 12 Forgotten Age 13 Forgotten Age 14

The Expedition set again affects our ability to move around, some of these cards will also go into the Exploration deck at the start of the game. Low on Supplies is a particularly horrible card as you must make a choice for the whole group, none of which anyone is really going to like and you can’t even discuss it before you choose!

Forgotten Age

I really like the Guardians of Time set. The monsters are weak but really interesting and can put out a lot of damage depending on where they spawn. Arrows from the Trees is a beautiful piece of flavour and one of my favourite cards of this particular encounter deck.

Forgotten Age 16 Forgotten Age Arrows from the Trees

Finally we have some Creeping Poison, hitting us if we are poisoned and the Agents of Yig that come in part way through the scenario. All these cards revolve around the amount of vengeance in the victory display, teaching us some early lessons of what this new mechanic will do. Will the designers be consistent with this throughout? Certainly in Path to Carcosa they showed delight in playing with our expectations so maybe you can go a high vengeance route?

Forgotten Age Forgotten Age 19

Steely Resolve

The Resolutions for this scenario are fairly straightforward, giving you access to Alejandro if you went the route of fighting with Ichataca and her men but not if you decided to parly. You build trust with her instead, hopefully leading to her eventually joining your party down the line.

Honestly I am not entirely sure that I am comfortable with the first scenario in this campaign. Although the cast of the LCG is very diverse it still feels a little like the white man coming into native territory to grab their stuff. There is a fine line to walk and I am not sure the writing in this scenario gets it right 100% of the time leaving a bad taste in the mouth. Lovecraft has always been problematic when it comes to issues of race and that issue definitely feels like it raises its head here.

Having said that I did enjoy the exploration mechanic and the feeling of time pressure in this scenario. I’ve wanted something like the exploration deck to come into play since I first started with the Arkham LCG and I am delighted they have implemented it so well. The pulp flavour is strong throughout this scenario and it feels refreshing to have a more of an adventuring feel to the proceedings. Onwards to The Doom of Eztli

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.

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Articles & Podcasts by Iain McAllister

 

Iain McAllister
Associate Writer and Podcaster

Articles & Podcasts by Iain

 

 

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DarthJoJo's Avatar
DarthJoJo replied the topic: #305696 02 Jan 2020 14:22
“ Honestly I am not entirely sure that I am comfortable with the first scenario in this campaign. Although the cast of the LCG is very diverse it still feels a little like the white man coming into native territory to grab their stuff. There is a fine line to walk and I am not sure the writing in this scenario gets it right 100% of the time leaving a bad taste in the mouth.”

I remember this coming up in a couple of places when the expansion was announced, but I disagree in that I think it was generally handled well over the entirety of the campaign. This first scenario does lean hard on ‘we don’t belong here’ tropes, but mechanically the Eztli are represented as just wanting to protect their stuff. They are clearly not the aggressors here. Furthermore, the whole plot kicks off because of the investigators and their actions in Mexico. If you hadn’t shown up, the time stream would have been just fine.

But yeah, this might somehow be my favorite campaign. It does include my least favorite scenario of all time and can absolutely feel unfair in ways that you don’t see in other campaigns, but it works for me. It’s nice to get out of Arkham and the city.
thegiantbrain's Avatar
thegiantbrain replied the topic: #305719 03 Jan 2020 03:25
I agree that it plays out well over the course of the campaign but I still felt a little uncomfortable, especially as I was playing the Priest which gave it an added 'bring religion to the savages vibe'.

Forgotten Age is my least favourite campaign so far. I think the first half of it is pretty good, pulpy style storytelling. It then falls apart a bit in the second half. It really felt like there was some padding in the latter half. It got me wondering about them making shorter campaigns, maybe with a cheaper core to compensate for the shorter story.
DarthJoJo's Avatar
DarthJoJo replied the topic: #305815 05 Jan 2020 21:15

thegiantbrain wrote: I agree that it plays out well over the course of the campaign but I still felt a little uncomfortable, especially as I was playing the Priest which gave it an added 'bring religion to the savages vibe'.

Forgotten Age is my least favourite campaign so far. I think the first half of it is pretty good, pulpy style storytelling. It then falls apart a bit in the second half. It really felt like there was some padding in the latter half. It got me wondering about them making shorter campaigns, maybe with a cheaper core to compensate for the shorter story.

There definitely is padding in the back half. Eliminating City of Archives wouldn't change the story at all, but I enjoy its gimmick too much to want it cut. I absolutely hate Heart of the Elders. It's a straight, repetitive grind, and I can't imagine anything in the Return box changing that. However, because of the more proactive state of the investigators in this campaign, it's necessary to make failure in Boundary Beyond work narratively. In the other campaigns you could always handwave a failed scenario with 'you found a clue' and are back on the trail but not in Forgotten Age.

One of the things I was most excited for with the release of Dream Eaters was the two four-part campaign structure. Sometimes I do want to bang out a campaign over the weekend with my wife or friends, and that's not happening in a traditional campaign. It's been kind of a pain during release because I don't want to keep rebuilding decks in between every pack drop, but I'm confident it'll be worth it in the end. Unfortunately, I can't see Fantasy Flight ever trying a six- or five-part campaign. They're too wedded to the deluxe and six pack release format of LCGs since time immemorial.

And, for what it's worth, I'm fairly sure Father Mateo is canonically Mexican. I'm pretty sure none of the new characters Fantasy Flight has introduced in the LCG and Eldritch Horror have been white. Whether that makes a difference to 'bringing religion to the savages' I don't know.