Cryptic Grimoire
Text of the Elder Guardian

Asset. Hand

Item. Tome. Blessed.

Cost: 3. XP: 4.



: After you resolve 1 or more tokens during a skill test: Place that many secrets on Cryptic Grimoire.

When you would draw the top card of the encounter deck, spend 5 secrets: Draw a card from your deck instead.

Alexandr Elichev
Horror in High Gear #192.
Cryptic Grimoire


(from the official FAQ or responses to the official rules question form)
  • NB: ArkhamDB now incorporates errata from the Arkham Horror FAQ in its card text, so the ArkhamDB text and the card image above differ, as the ArkhamDB text has been edited to contain this erratum (updated August 2022): Erratum: The purchase restriction on this card should be replaced with the keyword: "Researched." - FAQ, v.2.0, August 2022
Last updated


I'll leave my original review down below, but like pointed out by Thatwasademo, the recent FAQ actually proved wrong my understanding of Uses. (And that from the people, who told me, that I should not have action-free translated the Archaic Glyphs with Astounding Revelations, when I played Mandy.) I still think, that 5 secrets are a hard ask for an effect, that does not even trigger before knowing, which card you avoid, and is trounced by the effect from A Watchful Peace from class in the same cycle, at least in multiplayer. Text of the Elder Herald is likely the stronger card of the two, but I'm now actually interested in translating the damn thing. I will update the review, once I have actual played with these cards.

Original Review:

So now Seekers have their way to mitigate the encounter deck just like a Mystic, do they?

Let's compare that to the staple core set Mystic card for that cause, Ward of Protection. It costs 2 resources and an action more to play, and doesn't cost you a horror. And I think, it won't be likely usable more than once, even if you play the card early. There are no "Uses (X secrets)" on the card, so you can't fill it with Astounding Revelations, Eldritch Sophists and the like. You only get secrets on this card, if you (not any player) resolve -token(s) during a skill test. You can't cancel the token(s) drawn either, and likely fail the test or at least gain one clue less than otherwise. So to charge up this grimoire once, you likely loose 2 to 5 actions. (On top of what your fellow investigators might loose, when they draw a .) It won't help, if you draw a on some other occasion, like Daisy playing Voice of Ra. You are paying 3 resources, a card and an action upfront to possibly save yourself an encounter draw and replace your card with a delay. This seems really weak for an unconditioned level 0 card, let alone something that requires 4 XP and a "quest" fulfilled earlier in the campaign. We probably shouldn't tax the 2 to 5 lost actions, because there should be other incentives to put -tokens into the bag than this card. It's OK, that different classes don't excel at all tasks equally. That's part of there theme and diversifies game play. Mystic's Astral Travel ain't a Shortcut, and that's fine. At least, it does not cost 4 XP!

Compared to the other Cryptic Grimoire, the 5 -threshold also looks unfavourable. This one is more to compare with Chuck Fergus, who is more flexible, grants a bigger discount, gives some soak and will likely be activated much more often in any given game. But at least he costs 1 XP more. I think, you still must reliable put at least 6 secrets on that one to get some use of it, which is much easier to archive than 10! (With 4 you only trade 3 resources, an action and a card to 2 resources and 2 actions, so basically buying an action for a resource, a card and some upfront cost.) I'm not really impressed with either version. "Quest cards" should give you something amazing for the extra effort. In particular since this one isn't the easiest to fulfil. I'm not sure, if I would take this path, even in decks heavily investing in to get some extra mileage out of them.

Susumu · 347
If want to control the encounter deck in seeker, use seeker scroll of secrets (3). Draw the last 3 cards of the enc dey, maybe discard one and put them on top in any order. Use Eldritch sophist, Adrianes twin,... to recharge it. Or versatile scavenge it. — Django · 4962
Sry for double post. I think both of these grimoires are good to generate secrets and move them with eldritch sophist to old book of lore 2, rook, scroll of secrets 3,...; Seeker has some ways to generate curses (Deep Knowledge, Stirrin up trouble) and their covenent allows them to ignore the modifier. — Django · 4962
I'm pretty sure you can use secret manipulation to get more secrets on this - the rules about uses only forbid putting uses on a card with a different uses(x) type, but they don't forbid putting them on a card that doesn't have uses(x) at all. — TheNameWasTaken · 3
If your intent for these cards is just to generate some secrets for other cards, you can sure get them for half the XP using "Shrewd Analysis", as it really doesn't matter which one you get for this. This might actually be worth it in a curse deck. "Astounding Revelation" taxes a secret roughly like 2 resources. So you would need at least 3 secrets to be put onto the card to come slightly above breaking even. Still, that's not the use I want for a quest card, that wastes actions on early scenarios. — Susumu · 347
@ TheNameWasTaken: the RR defines "Uses" as the keyword ability. Since the Grimoires don't bear the keyword, the rule for transfering uses onto the card does not aply. It's the same with the untranslated "Archaic Glyphs". You can't place secrets on them by any other means than the action on the card. — Susumu · 347
I think looking at this card in a vacuum is the wrong approach, sure in a vacuum 5 curse tokens are crippling, but throw in seeker covenant and instantly it turns from "fail five tests" to "exhaust a permanent five times". Out there right now is the potential for a curse cycling deck that never draws encounter cards and one day soon it will exist, but for now maybe the all curse build is still too far away. — Zerogrim · 287
Sure, the seeker covenant will help you pass the test, and even put the curses back into the bag, so you won't decrease the odds of drawing them again. Still, I doubt it would helf you a lot, to resolve 10 or 15 tokens. And 3 resources, 4 XP and a quest are to much to call for an asset, that has the "once per game" option to draw a card from the own deck instead of the encounter deck. This card would need despertly some support (like the keyword "Uses (0 secrets)." to get somewhere around being decent. — Susumu · 347
@Susumu That's the point - you *can* use secret manipulation effects on the lv0 glyphs, and you can use them here. If you can't, then Tony's bounty contracts don't work at all - enemies don't have "uses(bounties)" in their text boxes, after all. So either you can put bounties on enemies and secrets on cards without uses(secrets), or you can't do either and we have an investigator whose personal permanent is blank. — TheNameWasTaken · 3
@TheNameWasTaken It's just specific beats general. If a card specifically tells you to put a secret/bounty without "Uses", you can do so. — Nils · 1
*on a card without "Uses" — Nils · 1
Yeah, I think the fact, that "Bounty Contract" specifies to move them on enemies (not just cards) makes it apply the "Golden Rule", that a card text may contradict a general rule. When I was playing Mandy, I translated the Glyphs using the reaction trigger of "Astounding Revelation". And I was later taught, this was cheating. — Susumu · 347
But Bounty Contracts doesn't say ".. an enemy, even if it doesn't have Uses(Bounties)". It just says "an enemy". So why wouldn't the same apply for Astounding Revelation? — TheNameWasTaken · 3
That is a good point. Perhaps we need a collection of "Uses". Basically everything that is denoted as "Uses" on any single card is restricted. Everything else, like "Bounties", is not "Uses" and therefore doesn't follow its rules? I don't know... — Nils · 1
Check the recent FAQ on Enraptured if you're still confused about this point — Thatwasademo · 53
Official FAQ answer (see Enraptured) "You can technically add secrets to a card that doesn’t have uses, there is nothing in the rules to prevent you from doing that. Normally this won’t help you at all—if you add a secret to a machete, it won’t do anything for you whatsoever—but there exist cards that use secrets even without the uses keyword, such as the untranslated Archaic Glyphs and enraptured will surely combo with them!" — Mataza · 18

Oh boy... there are bad cards, there are laughably bad cards, there's Flute of the Outer Gods, then there's this absolute hunk of junk. My goodness, what a terrible waste. Let me point some things out...

You'll need dedicated support curse token bag manipulation to make this card even close to being viable. That is going to almost certainly mean help from a red character running the absolutely overpowered Spirit of Humanity. Nothing else is going to come close in multiplayer in keeping the chaos bag stocked full of tokens. Even so.... good luck ever getting 5 charges on this card purely from curse tokens that ONLY you can pull. You're lucky to pull 5 curse tokens in an entire mission with a chaos bag filled with 10 at most times. So even if you DO manage to get 5 charges on it, and you manage to ignore one single encounter card, what have you invested...

You've struggled through the untranslated grimoire, which is just a dead card in your deck.

You've spent a whopping 4 xp to purchase this card.

You've had to find this card early in the mission so that you have a prayer of getting 5 secrets.

You have a precious hand slot taken up for the entirety of the mission.

You make all this investment for a card, that if drawn in the last half or so of a mission, is completely dead. There's no point trying to play this card when you only have a few turns left. It's only viable if found and played early.

All that to ignore MAYBE.... and I say MAAAAAAYBE 1-2 encounter cards (and draw 2 cards).

My goodness. You can make it your life mission to manipulate secrets via Eldritch Sophist, Ariadne's Twine, Favor of the Moon, etc... but my god. You're devoting all this effort simply to cancel a couple encounter cards with a big fat maybe attached.

There's no comparison to say, A Watchful Peace. Absolutely none. Cheaper to play. Far easier to play. No silly untranslated hoop to jump through. No hand slot to take up, and simply 5 bless tokens from anywhere.

I've run a campaign with a dedicated support curse token, Spirit of Humanity Agnes Baker, keeping the bag full of curse tokens, and i proc'd this card precisely zero times. Give it a wide miss.

A simply taboo fix that is DESPERATELY needed is to proc the curse tokens from any investigator at your location.

AussieKSU · 1036
I think 2x forewarned is also a good comparison for a much easier way to cancel 2 encounter cards in seeker. — Django · 4962
There are worse cards out there. Treachery cancelation is a pretty powerful effect, and this one even more so since you are effectively ignoring enemies as well. I agree it’s not a great option for multiplayer since other players will be pulling your curses, but it’s less important when you have other players to help deal with your problems. Seeker has plenty of draw and tutors to ensure the grimoire hits the table early. And you can power it up with secrets from Truth From Fiction, Astounding Revelation, and Ariadne’s Twine. — LaRoix · 1634
Can confirm. I ran this with Ursula, paired with Marie, both running full curse suite and aggressively trying to make this card work. I knew it was bad, but just wanted to see for myself. Well, I think it was the 4th scenario before I even got the grimoire translated at all...and then in the following four, I wasn't able to use this card one single time. Haaard pass on this card--it's beyond useless.. — Pinchers · 122
Tried it twice. Swapped it out twice. — MrGoldbee · 1412
What if we tried this with no curse support at all? Would it work better with the standard Seeker secret cards artificially pumping it with charges? Especially if it's just one of many "get secrets on this card and we win the game" cards in your deck. Might be worth playing a whole campaign to figure out. — SGPrometheus · 769
SGPrometheus, it's an interesting thought, but my opinion would be that after all you'd do to get the secrets on the card... Ardianne's Twin, Sophist, events, etc... you'll likely get far more return from playing traditional cancels. — AussieKSU · 1036
Also take a look at Ward of Radiance, when it comes to cancel efficiency. Super card. — AussieKSU · 1036
The more I read this review and its comments, to more I realize what an awful card this is. I guess they were afraid of having a encounter canceller that technically has unlimited uses. — Nenananas · 249
This can counter Overzealous. If you trigger this when you would draw encounter card by Overzealous, you also don't need to resolve surge. I think, this is the ONLY efficient usage of this card. — elkeinkrad · 473
Elkeinkrad, i saw this card, and wanted to try it in a mandy deck to counter her weakness, which draws an encounter card. On top of that, she is likely going to get quite a bit of search to fine her tomes. Despite this, I had such little success with it. — AussieKSU · 1036
A sufficiently strong seeker deck can reliably guarantee 1.5 curses drawn each round with Favor of the Moon. This means an encounter card skipped every 3 rounds, assuming nobody else draws curses and you don't generate any secrets. Of course, with such a strong deck there's a lots of other things that can be exploited. — wheelgroup · 1
Can confirm, this card is steaming hot garbage. — snacc · 969
Wheelgroup I think you miss the part where you discard favor of the moon after you use its curses. So after 3 uses your chance to get curses reliable should decrease significantly. — Tharzax · 1
How FotM works is, you play FotM, releasing 1 curse per round. On the 3rd turn, after using the last curse on it, you discard the FoTM and play a new FoTM and use it on the same round. Then 2 rounds later, being a seeker you've drawn through your discard and have your other FotM in hand again, playing it again. This means that every 2 rounds, you release 3 curses, giving the 1.5 curse per round number. Of course, with that kind of draw power you don't actually need the draw from Cryptic Grimoire, and you could be Daisy Walker just playing Ward of Protection every round instead. — suika · 9296

This is not bad in a curse Amanda Sharpe deck.
Challenge 1, get the original grimoire translated. Tempt Fate helps, Promise of Power as your under card helps, Deep Knowledge helps... I have played a few times with an Amanda Deck (published) that has seen the grimoire translated in 75% of scenario 1.

Challenge 2, get secrets on it to make it work. Truth from Fiction helps, Enrapture as an under card helps, Eldritch Sophist helps, Favor of the Moon on your previous Tempt Fates helps... In the games that I have played with a translated grimoire, I have gotten use out of it at least once every game, most games twice, but rarely 3 times.

It is expensive, but I have a successful character (at least on normal) Amanda is still strong despite playing this strategy. Fey works nicely here as an under card, save the Favor of the Moon play for the last skill test and return it to your hand. Rinse and repeat until the favor is gone. Gaze of Ouraxsh can be great if you need some punch.

dlikos · 129
If you are only triggering this once or twice per game, despite dedicating multiple support cards to triggering it, the card is bad. 3 resources, 4 XP, a hand slot, and however many more support cards/resources/slots required to make this work for 2 cards/2 cancels? That's terrible. I mean, just play Forewarned at that point. You can run it in Amanda if you want, but make no mistake - you're intentionally gimping yourself by running this card. Making bad cards work can be fun, but this card is most certainly bad. The input required to use this card even once, twice, three times in a scenario is absurd for the effect it gives you, which is a good effect, but not nearly enough given the difficulty of triggering it. — Soul_Turtle · 424