Last updated: January 17, 2019
Table of Contents
- 1. Basic Information
- 2. Buying Advice (the short version)
- 3. Campaigns
- 3.1 The Dunwich Legacy
- 3.2 The Path to Carcosa
- 3.3 The Forgotten Age
- 4. “Return to….” boxes
- 5. Stand-Alone Scenarios
- 6. Novellas
- 7. Second Core Set
One of the features I enjoy most about Tales from the Cards, a blog for the Lord of the Rings: The Card Game, is its new player buying guide. As much as I’d like to just
steal import that format directly into this blog, Arkham Horror: The Card Game‘s campaign driven nature throws that into a twist: the game incentivizes you to grab an entire cycle as opposed to picking and choosing individualized mythos packs. Nor is difficulty and challenge a key consideration, rather it’s more about the experience in Arkham.
Yet there are still questions new players may have when they wonder what to buy beyond their first core set. What cycle should I start with? Do I need a second core? Is Carnevale of Horrors worth picking up? This guide will hopefully answer some of those questions. Because of how unique Arkham’s format is, I will cover cycles/campaigns as follows:
- Overall cycle thoughts: a brief summary of my thoughts on the cycle, its campaign, and the scenarios therein.
- Investigators: a look at the investigators in the deluxe box
- Player cards: my thoughts on the player cards featured in the deluxe box and over the course of the cycle
I will also provide some advice on the following
- Stand alone scenarios, novellas, etc: Should you pick these up?
- Second core set: a guide for those wondering when to buy a second core set
1. Basic Information
Arkham Horror: The Card Game is a living card game (“LCG”) whose format relies on regular releases of new product that expand the game. Content comes in one of several ways, but the meat and potatoes is “cycles”, a grouping of (mostly) monthly releases that are tied together.
In Arkham’s case, a cycle consists of a Deluxe Box and six Mythos Packs that comprise a campaign. The Deluxe Box consists of several new investigators (usually 1 for each faction), a full play set (2 copies) of new player cards, encounter sets, and (so far) two scenarios. Each Mythos Pack consist of a full play set of new player cards and a new scenario; because the scenarios use encounter sets from the Deluxe Box, owning the Deluxe Box for that cycle is required to play the scenario. The reverse is not true however; you may buy a Deluxe Box and never touch the Mythos Packs in that cycle, though you will not be able to enjoy the full campaign of course. Furthermore, if you want to enjoy the full campaign, you will need all six Mythos Packs.
Additional releases thus far include:
- Stand-Alone Scenarios: as its name suggests, these do not require anything outside the Stand-Alone pack. Many of them can either be played as a true stand-alone scenario, or inserted as “side scenarios” to a campaign. They do not feature any player cards outside of whatever rewards the campaign may have to offer (e.g. an Ally card or Item earned during the scenario). These are normally special releases for events such as Gen Con and Arkham Nights that are later made available available at retail.
- Return to… boxes: the Return to… boxes revisit an already released campaign by adding alternative or additional cards to add variety, modify how a scenario worked, or fix possible flaws in a scenarios design. Each Return to… box also includes a set of player cards, normally being upgrades of cards released during the titular cycle.
- Novellas: short books that expand upon a particular investigators story. Each also includes “Replacement” cards, new signature cards which that investigator may use instead of, or in addition to, their standard signatures. The Novellas also have an alternate art investigator card and corresponding location marker.
- Second Core Set: One of these is required to play the game (you have one, don’t you?). The core set contains 5 investigators, 3 scenarios, a number of encounter sets used in later campaigns, and most notably, a partial play set of all player cards (1 of 2 copies). Acquiring a second provides you with a full set (2 of 2 copies).
2. Buying Advice (the short version)
Generally, to get the most bang for your buck I recommend buying cycles in release order and (at some point) pick up a second core set. This will help fill in your player card collection along with a gentle ramp up in campaign difficulty. If for some reason you can’t however, you can use these rough notes:
- Dunwich Cycle: Good first introduction to the game and a good variety of scenarios. You want a run of the mill monster story. Great for players with a limited collection and/or looking for powerful cards to add to their pool.
- Carcosa Cycle: You aren’t afraid of unconventional scenarios. You find themes of cosmic and psychological horror appealing. You want more complex investigators and/or more subtle (but powerful) player cards.
- Forgotten Age Cycle: You’re not afraid of a bone crushingly challenging campaign. You want a less straightforward “Us vs. Great Old One” story. You’re looking for more deck building archetypes to play with.
Cycles and a Second Core Set should be prioritized over Stand-Alones, Return to… boxes, and Novellas if money is a concern. Otherwise, pick them off based on what sounds interesting to you.
- Stand-Alone: You’re looking for a self contained scenario that offers a more unique experience with some additional challenge. You don’t care about player cards.
- “Return to…” boxes: You’re looking to put a fresh coat of paint on a campaign you’ve thoroughly enjoyed, and get some player cards as a bonus.
- Novellas: Either (a) you want to know more about the investigator’s back story, or (b) you really like said investigator and want some new signature cards to play with.
- Second core: you like deck building and you have decided to go all in on the game.
3.1. The Dunwich Legacy
3.1.a. Overall Cycle Thoughts
Arkham’s first cycle is a prototypical monster shlock adventure that can feel “safe” or even stale compared to where the game has since taken us. That being said, this also makes Dunwich Legacy a terrific entry point for new players. The scenarios push the boundaries of the game without turning the mechanics upside down, and there is a fair bit of challenge to be found as you try to solve the campaigns tricks and foils. The first two scenarios from the deluxe box (Extracurricular Activities and The House Always Wins), in particular, remain some of the best the game has to offer and are worth the price of admission alone. For new players who fancy the idea of chasing down monsters in the woods over dressing up for dinner parties, the Dunwich Legacy is a great place to start.
The story itself is a semi-sequel to H.P. Lovecraft’s The Dunwich Horror; it starts off with Henry Armitage checking out his colleagues from the aforementioned story, and thereafter you find yourself drawn into a not dissimilar story. While it’s unlikely to blow your mind, it is also serviceable, and enough to make you want to learn more.
3.1.b. The Investigators
New investigators: Zoey Samaras, Rex Murphy, Jenny Barnes, Jim Culver, “Ashcan” Pete
The 5 “Dunwich investigators” are an excellent starting point for new players both for those who are looking to jump their collections power, and for those who are building decks from limited collections. This is in part due to their shared deck building option, i.e. [Faction] level 0-5 and up to 5 other cards; this provides extraordinary flexibility while simultaneously limiting their options to build legal decks without conflicts. It also helps that each investigator is extraordinarily good at what they do. Zoey Samaras is the Guardian killing machine, Jenny Barnes’ additional income allows her to dip into more Rogue tricks, and Rex Murphy is arguably the most powerful investigator in the game for discovering clues; Zoey and Rex are a classic pairing for this reason, and will instantly help anyone looking for a good investigator tandem. Then there is “Ashcan” Pete, the Survivor, who thanks to his trusty signature asset, his loyal hound Duke, gives you a solid “true solo” investigator. However, Mystic fans without a more complete collection may be disappointed; Jim Culver is unfortunately a fairly middling investigator without the chaos bag “control” archetype player cards from later cycles.
3.1.c. The Player Cards
(Deluxe Box) Notable Player Cards: Taunt(2), Laboratory Assistant, Shortcut, Double or Nothing, Rite of Seeking, Fire Axe, Peter Sylvestre, Peter Sylvestre(2)
(Cycle) Notable Player Cards: Prepared for the Worst, Emergency Aid, Brother Xavier(1), Stand Together(3), “I’ve had worse…”(4), Lightning Gun(5), Dr. William T. Maelson, Art Student, “I’ve got a plan”, Inquiring Mind, Preposterous Sketches, Pathfinder(1), Higher Education(3), Strange Solution: Acidic Ichor(4), Lone Wolf, Quick Thinking, Adaptable(1), Switchblade(2), Streetwise(3), The Gold-Pocket Watch(4), Delve Too Deep, Alyssa Graham, Shrivelling(3), Rite of Seeking(4), Shrivelling(5), Dark Horse, Flare(1), Stroke of Luck(2), Aquinnah(3), Painkillers, Smoking Pipe, Fine Clothes, Emergency Cache(2), Charisma(3), The Red-Gloved Man(5)
Arkham Horror’s first cycle brings us a series of power cards seemingly designed to expand our deck building options as quickly as possible; for that reason alone, The Dunwich Horror is an excellent starting point for new players. Mystics, for example, almost single handedly transform into offensive powerhouses and investigating specialists with the upgraded Shrivellings and Rite of Seeking(s). That’s not all, however, as the cycle helps fill each factions gaps from the Core set; this is achieved in part via the new “Permanent” cards which, once purchased, start in play and cannot be removed. In the Dunwich Legacy, such Permanents either take the form of additional slots (Charisma(3)) or resource spending boosters (eg Streetwise(3) and Higher Education(3)). The Rogue faction, in particular, gets a sorely needed boost, while Seekers get an assortment of power cards that have led some to dub The Dunwich Legacy “the Seeker cycle”. Guardians have some real gems like the Lightning Gun(5) (whose shadow will forever cast upon all “big guns”), while having some real duds like the Springfield M1903(4) (in said aforementioned shadow). Survivors unfortunately don’t have too much to look forward to, there are a few gems like Fire Axe, Peter Sylvester, and Dark Horse which is a deck-type defining card built around having no resources.
3.2. The Path to Carcosa
3.2.a.Overall Cycle Thoughts
The Path to Carcosa established a high water mark for the game both in its narrative and scenario design. The campaign starts with you attending a performance of the infamous King in Yellow stage play, and after waking up from a mid-theatre nap, you find yourself in the middle of cultists, monsters, and madness as you chase the mysterious Man in the Pallid Mask across the globe for answers. Madness is aptly one of the principle themes of the campaign, with players constantly being forced to decide whether to have Conviction (and believe the events are real), or Doubt (and believe there must be something more to it). Without spoiling anything, these choices between Conviction and Doubt results in divergent outcomes not just to the narrative but also how some scenarios function. The scenarios themselves further push the limits of the games system, whether it’s interviewing guests at a dinner party (The Last King) or getting lost in the catacombs of Paris (The Pallid Mask). It’s worth mentioning that the first two scenarios of the campaign can be a bit of a difficulty bump at first, however after making some adjustments the difficulty curve of the campaign eventually smooths over. For those looking for a campaign that shows Arkham Horror: The Card Game at it’s best, look no further than here.
3.2.b. The Investigators
New investigators: Mark Harrigan, Minh Thi Phan, Sefina Rousseau, Akachi Onyele, William Yorick, Lola Hayes
The Carcosa investigators immediately pushed the boundaries of what an investigator could do. Almost every single one has a unique ability that makes all those who came before them look like a potato. With that in mind this may not be the best batch of investigators for those new to card games or working from a limited collection. On the other hand, for those looking for investigators oozing with possibilities then look no further than the Path to Carcosa. Mark Harrigan, the Guardian, spins damage into card draw, Minh Thi Phan, the Seeker, provides skill advantage for the team, and William Yorick, the
necromancer Survivor, provides untold asset recursion by being able to play assets from his discard pile. Sefina Rousseau is the spelltastic Rogue in the bunch – possessing a unique ability to duplicate her events – while the true Mystic Akachi Onyele makes up for her plain aesthetic by being the most confident spellcaster up to this point. Then there’s the games first Neutral investigator, Lola Hayes, who if you want to burn your brain building a deck for, then she is your investigator of choice. That being said, all of these investigators are best with 2+ investigators and can be ill suited to a true solo campaign.
3.2.c. The Player Cards
Notable Player Cards (Deluxe Box): “Let me handle this!”, Ever Vigilant(1), Fieldwork, No Stone Unturned, Sleight of Hand, Lockpicks(1), Uncage the Soul, Spirit Athame(1), Lantern, Gravedigger’s Shovel, Resourceful
Notable Player Cards (Cycle): On the Hunt, Inspiring Presence, .45 Automatic(2), Stick to the Plan(3), Anatomical Diagrams, Logical Reasoning, Eureka, Forewarned(1), Shortcut(2), No Stone Unturned(5), Narrow Escape, “Watch this!”, Moxie(1), Charon’s Obol(1), .41 Derringer(2), Sneak Attack(2), Lupara(3), Suggestion(4), Cheat Death(5), David Renfield, St. Hubert’s Key: Cleansing Fire, Storm of Spirits, Recharge(2), Ward of Protection(2), Time Warp(2), Madame Labranche: Mysterious Benefactress, Fight or Flight, Plucky(1), A Test of Will(1), Newspaper(2), True Survivor(3), Calling in Favours, Emergency Cache(3), Key of Ys(5)
The cards from the Carcosa cycle are perhaps best described as “utility” cards that fill the gaps that The Dunwich Legacy’s power cards left us. Consequently, those looking for big splashy effects like a big gun or Spell will likely be disappointed, and for that reason The Path to Carcosa is probably not the best place to start your collection. Rogue’s are arguably excepted, as they received a number of powerful cards from the quick firing Lupara(3) to the XP-warping Charon’s Obol(1). Neutral cards too, received some bombs like the deck defining Calling in Favours that allows you to cycle out Ally’s, or the incredibly powerful Key of Ys(5). The other factions, however, largely receive cards designed to improve the overall consistency and efficacy of their deck, but a “main dish” these cards are often not. Indeed, some cards like Madam Labranche (Survivor) and Uncage the Soul (Mystic) almost demand the cards from The Dunwich Legacy to truly shine.
3.3. The Forgotten Age
3.3.a. Overall Cycle Thoughts
The Forgotten Age is undoubtedly the most controversial cycle to date, and it will perhaps remain that way for the life of the game. The narrative and gameplay are reminiscent of a choose your own adventure book where players will explore jungles, caverns, and temples of Central America (with a brief stop in Arkham, of course), and it starts off with an expedition to search the ruins of Eztli for a mysterious artifact. As one may expect, this relic is guarded (both by the indigenous population and more monstrous protectors), and removing the relic turns out to have serious, apocalyptic consequences. The narrative is the most sprawling and ambitious one to date, and to that end the campaign is a resounding success; the narrative is rich and mysterious with an impressive amount of alternate story lines (considering the games limitations).
Where the campaign tends to fall flat is the crushing difficulty of the campaign. This is in part due to the Explore, Supply, and Poison mechanics, three fixtures of the cycle that are rich in theme but their implementation can lead to downright table flipping moments. It is particularly harsh in your first campaign where it can feel downright unfair to be punished with X because you did not take Y. That’s not to say the campaign doesn’t have its strong points; Threads of Fate, City of Archives, and Depths of Yoth rank among the best scenarios in the game. Unfortunately, two scenarios (Boundary Beyond and Heart of the Elders) have a bit of a sour reputation for dragging down the campaign. This is not to discourage players from experiencing The Forgotten Age (as it does get more fun with subsequent play throughs), but think of it as a warning note: this cycle is not for the new player nor the faint of heart.
3.3.b. The Investigators
New investigators: Leo Anderson, Ursula Downs, Finn Edwards, Father Mateo, Calvin Wright
The Forgotten Age brings us another strong crop of investigators, and are perhaps the best suite of true solo investigators we’ve had since the Core set. Where Path to Carcosa’s investigators pushed their designs to the games (then) limits, this cycles investigators feel more down to earth and straightforward. Leo Anderson (Guardian), Ursula Downs (Seeker), and Finn Edwards (Rogue) hold few surprises with their abilities conferring fairly obvious action advantage; Leo has action advantage to play allies, Ursula has a conditional free Investigate, and Finn has an extra action to Evade. This straightforward style of design means they tend to be more generally powerful but not without a rich assortment of deck building strategies to maximize the use out of their power. Father Mateo (Mystic) has a reputation for being the blandest investigator in the game (a once per game ability will do that), but I will say he is more fun than he first appears. Notwithstanding the foregoing, Calvin Wright (Survivor) is the boxes token funky janky investigator; with 0 skill stats across the board, Calvin relies on taking damage/horror to increase his skills. This is a design choice that forces players to completely shift their ordinary style of deck building and play, though this may
3.3.c. The Player Cards
Notable Player Cards (Deluxe Box): Survival Knife, Venturer, Dr. Eli Horowitz: Assistant Curator, “You handle this one!”, Mists of R’lyeh, The Cthonian Stone: Stygian Waymark, Yaotl: Lost Son of Eztli
Notable Player Cards (Cycle): Take the Initiative, Scene of the Crime, Handcuffs, Well Prepared(2) M1918 BAR(4), Flamethrower(5), True Understanding, Pnakotic Manuscripts(5), Lucky Cigarette Case, High Roller(2), Lola Santiago(3), Arcane Research, Olive McBride, Recall the Future(2), Counterspell(2), Seal of the Seventh Sign(5), Winging It, Live and Learn, Stunning Blow, Cornered(2), Old Hunting Rifle(3), Ornate Bow(3), Timeworn Brand(5)
It’s unfortunate that the campaign is difficult to recommend to new players because the player cards are an excellent place to start for a new player looking to build their collection. With the exception of Seeker and Rogue each faction gets a nice combination of power cards, cards to round out an investigators skill set, and cards that form the basis of an archetype. Guardians get big guns (Flamethrower, M1918 BAR) and things to make those big guns better (Custom Ammunition(3), Reliable(1)), Mystics get all the tools for a chaos bag control arche-type along with a sorely needed attack Spell (Shards of the Void(3)), and Survivors get a “discard cards from hand” archetype along with a bunch of other cards to rebound from failure (Live and Learn, Take Heart). Rogues receive a grab bag of cards, some better than others, but there are a number of tools to support evasion (Slip Away) and two excellent upgrades in High Roller(2) and Lola Santiago(3). Seekers will find slim pickings this cycle, but most of them will likely age better with time. The big winner though is, well, everyone; Neutral receives a number of big, bomb cards, not least of which is two neutral weapons (Ornate Bow(3) and Timeworn Brand(5)) that will find a home in any investigator who may be in need of weapon but lacking access to one.
4. Return to…
4.1 Return to the Night of the Zealot
4.1.a. Player Cards
Notable cards: Physical Training(2), Hyperawareness(2), Arcane Studies(2), Hot Streak(2)
The cards can generally be divided into two categories: (1) upgraded boosters from the core set, and (2) upgraded versions of previously panned and/or underused cards. The boosters are level 2 versions of the same card at 0 cost with double the skill icons. For this reason, your mileage will vary depending on the card and a particular investigator; Physical Training(2) and Arcane Studies(2) generally stand out, but the others can fade into the background given the emergence of other skill boosters, most notably the Permanents from The Dunwich Legacy. The second category of cards, Dynamite Blast(2), Barricade(3), Mind Wipe(3), and Rabbit’s Foot(3) take a previously criticized card but spruce up the ability and slap 2-3XP on it. Unfortunately, while the ability is an improvement it tends to fall short given the added XP cost. The sole stand out is Hot Streak(2), a lower level version of a great level 4 original, which is sure to find use in any investigator with access to level 2 Rogue cards but not level 4. All in all, while there is some value to this box, it’s probably not the best place to start your collection.
This Return set primarily does three things. First, and most dramatically, it upgrades and expands The Gathering; what was previously a tutorial scenario with only 4-5 locations is now a big boy scenario with 8-10 locations and features a host of scenario tricks. You won’t be snoozing through this scenario anymore! Second, it introduces a lot of variety, particularly to locations in Midnight Masks and The Devourer Below, as well as additional cultists to interrogate in Midnight Masks. Third, it gives the campaign a greater sense of strategy and identity; it seems the encounter deck/Umôrdhoth hates your hand, and as a result the campaign is rife with effects to force you to discard your hand (with additional negative effects if you cannot). Also included is alternate versions of the Ghouls and Dark Cult encounter sets which nudge up the difficulty of the campaign.
4.21 Return to The Dunwich Legacy
5. Stand-Alone Scenarios
5.1 Curse of the Rougarou:
In “COTR”, you will head out to the bayous of New Orleans as rumours of a creature (the scenarios namesake) is on the loose. The scenario tasks you with tracking the creature, who is mostly passive (“mostly”), but from there it gives the players a choice: do you kill it or try to understand it? Either choice has its ups and downs but it will affect how you approach the entire scenario. What truly makes the scenario, however, are its locations and unique setup that replicate the feeling of trekking through a Lovecraftian swamp. The scenario rewards themselves are quite interesting, potentially granting you a unique Ally (a fantastic companion for Mark Harrigan) and (SPOILER!) the potential to turn into a werewolf.
5.2 Carnevale of Horrors:
Carnevale of Horrors is quite probably my favourite scenario. The scenario takes place during a Venetian parade that a cult has infiltrated and is attempting to do what all cults do: bring a Great Old One into our world through human sacrifices. Your job is to go around the parade to find all the innocent parade goers and escort them to safety. However, it’s a masked parade, so some of those innocents may turn out to be tough cultist enemies ready to smack you. This all takes place on a one way circular map (it is a parade, after all) that takes you through Venice. All of this, and what happens next, makes Carnevale of Horrors incredibly unique and different from everything else available. It is also probably one of the toughest scenarios available, so for those looking for a challenge look no further than here.
5.3 Labyrinths of Lunacy
5.4 Guardians of the Abyss
Important note: at this time I have not yet read the Novellas and can thus only comment on the player cards.
The Novellas are short novels published by Fantasy Flight Games, each one focusing on one investigator from the Mythos. As a bonus, they come packaged with (1) replacement signature cards for a current investigator, or (2) an early release of a future investigator with replacement signatures. These replacement signatures can be used instead of or addition to an investigators default signature cards (but you cannot mix and match). At a price tag of roughly $15 each the Novellas are perhaps not the best purchase unless you intend to actually read them… but if you’re insane like me, then here are my thoughts.
6.1 Hour of the Huntress (Jenny Barnes)
Jenny receives two replacement cards, Green-Man Medallion and the Sacrificial Beast. The Green-Man Medallion provides Jenny a means to spend her resources during a scenario to to provide discounts on her XP card purchases. This can really shift not just how Jenny plays but also her upgrade path, and consequently her deck building as well; indeed, you may design your deck get the most mileage out of the Medallion. If it does have a failing, it’s that its value depreciates over the course of the campaign as its discount becomes more and more superfluous. The Sacrificial Beast, meanwhile, is the exact opposite; it is a unique enemy that spawns as the furthest location from you and while it’s in play you cannot gain resources through card effects (including Jenny’s ability). Ouch.
6.2 Ire of the Void (Norman Withers)
At time of writing, Norman Withers is a new investigator to the game but will receive a regular release at some point. Norman himself is quite unique; his ability is to play with the top card of your deck revealed which you can play at reduced cost (as if it were in your hand). His deck building options are even zanier in that you start as a Seeker but transform into a Mystic. Consequently, he ranks amongst the most unique investigators period, nevermind being an incredibly unique Seeker/Mystic. This is all very cool stuff, but what about his replacements? Well, we don’t know what his actual signatures are yet, but his Replacements leave us wanting. The weakness is incredibly tame (a 2 fight, 2 health enemy) and the signature asset requires a fair amount of support to do anything. Consequently if you’re thinking of buying Ire of the Void, you should do it to have early access to Norman Withers and not necessarily his Replacements.
6.3 The Dirge of Reason (Roland Banks)
Roland receives two replacement cards, Mysteries Remain and The Dirge of Reason. Mysteries Remain gives you the option to either discover a clue from your location for free, or to place a clue (from the token pool) on your location. The Dirge of Reason forces you to dump 2 of your clues on your location, and if you cannot then you take a horror and shuffle it back into your deck. For many, these two cards are improvements on Roland’s original signatures, particular his weakness Cover Up. While Roland’s default signatures still provide a fair amount of value (and happen to work really well with these replacements), the replacement cards do provide a lot of punch for Roland, especially in solo.
6.4 To Fight the Black Wind (Carolyn Fern)
At time of writing, Carolyn Fern is a new investigator to the game but will receive a regular release during The Circle Undone cycle. Carolyn trends towards being a support focused Guardian featuring an ability that keys off healed horror and has one of the widest deck building options in the game. But what about her replacements? They are pretty lacklustre, sadly. Foolishness is an ally that, once you heal all the horror off him (dealt from his enters play effect), provides an across the board +1 skill boost; unfortunately, despite how attractive this may appear it is ultimately a lot of work for what turns out to be a menial benefit. The replacement weakness, To Fight the Black Wind, however, ranks among the worst signature weaknesses in the game due to its ability to stack up potentially unavoidable doom.
6.5 The Deep Gate (Silas Marsh)
At time of writing, Silas Marsh is a new investigator to the game but will receive a regular release at some point. Silas is a skill focused Survivor whose ability allows him to pull back a committed skill card during a skill test after the chaos token is revealed; this gives him a safety net to ensure skill cards are rarely wasted. Silas himself trends towards an enemy manager, however his ability allows him to make up for his 2 willpower and 2 intellect. But what about his replacements? They are pretty good. Nautical Prowess is a powerful skill card especially if you are able to combine it with Silas’ elder sign effect, while Dreams of the Deep is an “anti-skill card” that deals 2 damage to you each round it remains in your hand; to get rid of Dreams of the Deep, you’ll have to commit it to a test where it gives you -2 to your skill value.
7. Second Core Set
Notable Player Cards: Machete, Dodge, Vicious Blow, Beat Cop(2), Dr. Milan Christoper, Mind Over Matter, Deduction, Elusive, Backstab, Cat Burglar, Hot Streak, Forbidden Knowledge, Shrivelling, Drawn to the Flame, Ward of Protection, Grotesque Statue(4), “Look what I found”, Lucky, Lucky(2), Will to Survive(3), and much much more
One of the first questions most people ask is “do I really need to buy more than 1 core set?” The answer is, well, “depends’. First, my general advice is if (a) you can afford it, (b) you have decided to go “all in” on the game, and (c) enjoy deck building, then you should get a second core set at some point; having 2x copies of the core set cards allows for more consistent deck building, particularly Mystics who often struggle with consistency. Even where alternatives can be found elsewhere in the card pool, the core set remains a great “one stop shop solution” to being able to make solid, functional decks. Second, for people wanting to play 3-4 player then a second core set is pretty much mandatory; you will not have enough tokens, etc. nor enough cards to play.
Overall, I think until any or all of the above applies to you then you can get away without a second core until those factors change. Pick up a campaign (or two) which provide relatively more value and decide if this really is the game for you. It’s worth noting that a second core set represents a tiny sum of what you will spend on this game (10.15% of total purchases after 2xCycles and 2xStand Alone), but it’s definitely something that doesn’t need to be prioritized.