Pnakotic Manuscripts
Mind-Expanding Ideas

Seeker
Asset. Hand

Item. Relic. Tome.

Cost: 5. XP: 5.
Test Icons:

Uses (3 secrets).

When an investigator at your location would perform a skill test during a revelation effect, spend 1 secret: Do not reveal chaos tokens for that test.

Spend 1 secret: Choose an investigator at your location. Do not reveal chaos tokens for the next skill test that investigator performs this round.

A. L. Ashbaugh
Shattered Aeons #307.
Pnakotic Manuscripts
Reviews

It felt like the community went pretty bonkers over this card when it came out. I've been using it most of the way through Carcosa so here's my thoughts.

It costs a lot of XP and a lot of money, and you'll maybe want two copies to make sure you get actually it at a useful time. You might feel it needs even more support too in the way of cards to add more secrets on to it, so that's even more slots/resources/xp ploughed into it. This adds up to a lot so it better be pretty damn good.

Basically, it's not been as good as I hoped.

Maybe it's the investigator party mix that's the issue, but I'm Daisy Walker which seems like the intended user. Maybe it's that running it in Carcosa isn't so good. Maybe running it with only two investigators is the problem due to not always being at the same place as another investigator. Who knows?

What tends to happen is that first it requires a lot of saving up if I don't have Dr. Milan Christopher out, which is already annoying. Then I get it on the table and then it sits there waiting for a good opportunity that only seldom comes. The reaction to encounters seems great, but then there's lots of reason it's not useful:

  • you pull an enemy. It can't help with that
  • you need to test a stat that is too low and you can't boost so it will fail anyway e.g. agility
  • there's no skill test involved in the encounter
  • you're not at the same location as your team mate so can't help them out
  • your team mates encounter is a Peril
  • the downside of the encounter is relatively harmless so there's no point wasting it e.g. adding some doom to an agenda that will advance next turn anyway or something

The secrets can sit on the card unused for a while. I find similar things can happen with cards like Ward of Protection and Forewarned which I have also been using, where using the card is just as bad as the potential penalty from the encounter, or it's an enemy so you can't use it - these cards are great and powerful but sometimes can wait a long time for the right opportunity. Pnakotic Manuscripts has been falling into the same category for me.

The other ability this card has does have it uses and has been used to good effect, but the times where you would like to use it are often problematic:

  • you need a clutch evade as Daisy Walker, however you'll take an attack of opportunity using it which can be really damaging and exactly what you're trying to avoid. Also her agility is so low that it often wouldn't help anyway.
  • you want to help a team mate do something important/difficult/awesome, but you can only help on the first pull and they need to do something else first
  • your team mate needs to do something important/difficult/awesome, but they need to take their turn before you do so you can't help them out
  • your team mate needs to hack away at an enemy and you can only help them out on the first chop. This one is of course still good, but with a big monster you need consistency
  • your team mate needs to do something important/difficult/awesome but they're not in the same place as you and you really need to work the setup to make it click

Now, it is good when combo'd with risky things like the Old Hunting Rifle. It's great for that stuff for sure; however, we've been managing the campaign pretty fine without using that card for a while now. I haven't tried it with things like Lightning Gun etc., but it's probably less great for them as you get so much combat boost that's it's often not really necessary. From reading around it has potential for those all-or-nothing plays that Rogue decks sometimes have and that's probably got some legs. However, in that use case you're waiting for even more stars to align than just everyday usage which is already a bit problematic so you may only get that working a couple times in the whole campaign.

So yeah, in my opinion based on current plays it's basically a lot more situational than it appears. This doesn't make it terrible, but costing 5XP and 5 resources is a very high price to pay for it and I'm not entirely convinced it's worth it.

PS: not sure if anyone else felt like this, but this card also weirdly makes the game less fun too, which is not something I expected. If you remove key pulls from the bag from big moments in the game you have these super plays that have no risk. As a result they can be less exciting; Arkham is all about that chaos bag.

Octo · 43
I had almost the same experience with this card and agree: this card isn't good. It is only useful for big multiplayer combos like an attack using double or nothing. "Mind over matter" can help you pass agility tests and "Premonition" can help you to pull those muliplayer combos...at 0 XP, without having to pay 5 resources and at fast speed. — Alogon · 23
Could be really great in a Rex Murphy Burglary/Scavenging deck with Dr. Milan and Crack the Case, he could have the economy to play it again and again — mogwen · 87
The expense wasn't a problem so long as I had Dr. Milan out. My experience was not that it was unaffordable, but that it in the end wasn't that useful. — Octo · 43
YMMV, but the Daisy in my playgroup, which was 3-4 people, ran this during our run of Forgotten Age, and he got it most games after he bought it. I don't think he emptied it all the time, rather, he used it to make sure people passed tests that were close and that they needed to pass, or where there was a price you had to pay to take them. It worked like a Will to Survive, but more spread out. Was it The Best Thing Ever? No. Were we very glad to have it? Yes. Yes we were. — Schielman · 2