Exploring the Abyss

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zozo · 1352

Preparatory Fieldwork (introduction):

Here's my third attempt at Guardians of the Abyss, this summer's casual project on which Ben and I have been working. First up was Silas and Marie (fail) and that was chased by Carolyn and Agnes (you can see my Agnes deck here) (also fail). After two unsuccessful expeditions, both of which buckled after being bogged down by enemies in The Night's Usurper, we decided to tech a bit more to face the challenges of the second scenario specifically, namely "questing" (more below) and the Dreaded Shantaks, and so we plumped for Rita's sublime enemy management, paired with a clue-acquirer par excellence: Ursula.

Getting Your Plot in Place (the core of the deck):

The core of this deck is a post-taboo Ursula: enter Fieldwork and Pathfinder, to ensure Ursula takes the equivalent of five action turns (actions 1 to 3, plus a 'free' move and a 'free' investigate, thanks to her ). As we were playing two player, Deductions and Fingerprint Kits mean almost every location can be cleared in a single (or occasionally a double) action. Round that out with 2x "I've got a plan!" and 2x Crack the Case, my favourite new economy card, and it's a pretty solid 'engine' around which everything else is just a bonus.

Vital supplies (tech cards):

You'll note something in common with my Agnes deck here: Crystalline Elder Sign. Since Ursula has a fairly rounded statline of 3/4/1/4 (ignore the there!), CES boosts everything and means Ursula can turn her hand to evasion if need be (being able to run off alone and hold my own proved invaluable). Coupled with Hawk-Eye Folding Camera for holiday excavation pictures, Ursula sits at 5/6/2/5, which is not to be sniffed at. And both The Eternal Slumber and The Night's Usurper are pretty long scenarios that combine maps on the large side, exploration and lots of treacheries with tests, so getting to a point where one doesn't need to boost a stat all the time with card commitments is excellent.

While the statline in itself is impressive, it also plays directly into two of the challenges of Guardians of the Abyss: 1) your and get tested a lot; 2) to go "questing", you'll find , and all tested. A little note on "questing": this is the name Ben gave to the series of tests in the latter stages of The Night's Usurper. Most tests come in pairs and need to be taken by one person, meaning a rounded, high statline is paramount. If you want the 'optimal' ending, the only stat not tested is... . Once again: enter Ursula!

I've also slotted 2x Forewarned here to handle The Black Wind or Slumber should I need to, and 1x No Stone Unturned, mainly to help Rita set up and find Ornate Bow or Peter Sylvestre if she doesn't see either early. Likewise, Rook can fetch NSU which can fetch CES (or any combination of that), or Rook or NSU can find the camera early too. Get set, get cracking!

Left at Base Camp (notable omissions):

There are some notable omissions here. We decided between Rita's ability and Pathfinder the additional movement of Shortcut wasn't necessary. Likewise with 1 or 2 clues at pretty much every location, Deduction II was left at home. That freed up a bit of xp for Cache II (draw them cards). Likewise, because hands were usually full with 1 or 2 cameras / kits, I opted not to bring Grotesque Statue - it can be marvellous in Ursula but competition for hands was busy enough as it was.

Observations after Fieldtrip (flex slots):

So Mr. "Rook" felt like a nice ally choice here: rather than running Cryptic Research, we have Cache II, Rook and NSU V for draw, as well as lovely Eureka!, which boosts all the stats I want to be testing. However, Ursula does have a 'repeating' weakness in Call of the Unknown. Although it's far from being the worst weakness, and can be played around with ease, it does lessen Rook's impact somewhat, as sucking up 2 horror from Unknown, only to fetch it again with Rook is less than ideal. To that end: +2 Logical Reasoning, just to shore up sanity, made the cut. Between Rook being disposable, the bonus sanity of the Camera and Logical Reasoning, in the end I was pretty robustly set up for horror. But if you wanted to shake things up with this deck, dropping maybe 1x Logical Reasoning or considering a different ally might be the way forward. With Dr. Elli Horowitz, for instance, you could wind up with 1 CES hosted on her, and another in your accessory slot: thank goodness Guardians has two +1s!

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I hope you enjoy this write-up!

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