Norman Withers

To be honest I kinda wish this deckbuilding option was for Harvey Walters, but it's taking him long enough to appear - heard that FFG doesn't want to use him as regularly as he was a Chaosium invention (I remember him being listed in the CoC rulebook back in the 80s, but he was a journalist then...)

Krysmopompas · 10
Crystalline Elder Sign

Existing reviews have outlined briefly the conditions under which Crystalline Elder Sign is good and bad perfectly well: it is best when played by a solo investigator making at least some use of all their stats, and worse the more investigators you play with, or when you mostly just use willpower and/or intellect and St. Hubert's Key would suffice. I'd like to delve just a little deeper into why this is the case, and why Crystalline Elder Sign is good when it is, because 3xp is a hefty investment and you should get every bit of value you can out of that.

Removing a +1 or token from the chaos bag is bad because it removes one token that would have been a success for you on skill tests where you were at least even with the skill test. By getting +1 to all your stats, however, you make new tokens that would have otherwise been fails into successes. For instance, after sealing the +1 on Hard Standalone Threads of Fate, with three or more doom in play, you improve your success on a skill test that you would have been 1 over from 6/15 to 9/14 on a skill test you're now 2 over, thanks to the +1 stat boost. Your odds of success in this case go from 40% to just over 64%. This is pretty good! There will be similar cases in every scenario, and this improvement will be across all your stats meaning it is for every single skill test you take after you play Crystalline Elder Sign.

The downside is that sealing the +1 or hurts your teammates too. Now, removing one success token won't have a huge impact on any test where your teammate was already at a reasonable advantage, but that effect adds up across multiple skill tests, so you better be pretty justified in how many benefits you reap from your boosted stats. As mentioned, you really have to use your combat and agility at least sometimes to justify Crystalline Elder Sign over St. Hubert's Key, and this is a problem for most Mystics who want to turn their problems into ones they can solve with their superior willpower by the use of spells. One standout exception to this rule is Jim Culver who can leverage his average combat with Enchanted Blade and its upgrade along with his -modifying ability to make the chaos bag more amenable to making marginal skill tests, including incidental intellect and agility tests from investigating and drawing treacheries.

There are other cases where Crystalline Elder Sign contributes even more. Sealing a +1 or slightly increases the odds of drawing the special tokens that many Mystics cards look for. This is particularly strong for Shards of the Void, Song of the Dead, Sixth Sense, and Wither, all of which gain powerful bonuses on revealing 0s, s, and and . On the other hand this is a downside for the Mystics classics Shrivelling and Rite of Seeking. One fun corner case where Crystalline Elder Sign's sealing is good: removing the actually benefits Daisy Walker should her weakness The Necronomicon be in play. Shame she's just short of it being in her card pool!

Other reviews have already stated the conclusion of mine: play Crystalline Elder Sign in lower player counts and when you are actually regularly testing combat and agility. Ignore it when St. Hubert's Key or Holy Rosary will suffice.

aeongate · 27
I still think even in solo this card is bad. Costs XP, uses an accessory slot, makes the bag worse. In solo you dont need to test every stat, even as a Mystic, and buffing a stat to 3 is only okay on Easy. Just stick with Rosary or Key imo. — StyxTBeuford · 632
I used this in 2 player TFA with Diana and 4 Player Marie in TCU. Was Great Upgrade to Huberts key to boost their evasion in addition to Int and will. Also it’s not unique so in Standard you can have 2 in Play — Django · 2150
Crystalline Elder Sign demonstrably makes the bag better in solo in virtually every scenario, because getting +1 skill value is virtually always better than there being one more +1 in the bag. I also think we're getting close to enough good Mystic cards that lean on combat - the Enchanted Blade is fantastic, and Summoned Hound gets a boost from it too. — aeongate · 27
Again, even in solo there's few Mystics I would reliably want to have testing ever stat. Akachi, Diana, and maybe Marie sans combat. But that's not really the issue. For a similar resource price you could take St. Hubert's Key which boosts your two more relevant stats anyway, and unless you are fighting with blade or evading raw that seems like the better choice solo. +1 Will if you're using mostly will is better if you don't have to make the bag worse. Factor in the added utility of Key/Rosary and the XP cost of the CES (which could have been used to purchase a Seal of the Elder Sign and autosuceed a test you're down on in a bad stat, for example) and I feel CES just pales so much even solo. — StyxTBeuford · 632
I think Summoned Hound is maybe the best use for it mentioned — StyxTBeuford · 632
Fine Clothes

I can't offer a purely statistical justification for this card. It's hard to make a case for it in a generic deck. And yet... it will win you scenarios. It is the Robert Horry of cards -- mediocre numbers, magical late-game performance. I am almost positive that there will be a time in your campaign, if you start with this card, when you will fall in love with it. Recruiting Randolph Carter, coaxing Peter Clover out of the club, mollifying the suspicious Josef Meiger -- these are the tests that having you digging around for five minutes in the chaos bag because you're so terrified about what you might pull out. Maybe there are monsters bearing down on you. Maybe the chaos clock is about to strike 12. Maybe your interlocutor is programmed to jump you if you fail the check. You just know you can't fail. And if you have your Fine Clothes on, you probably won't. It seems like an absurdly situational card, because the tests it deals with (for the most part) are located on unique enemies or locations or other scenario cards -- the sorts of things you don't think much about when designing a general, all-purpose deck. Nevertheless, Parley actions are actually reasonably common, as previous reviewers have pointed out, and when they show up, you often HAVE to pass them to proceed. It's not like cluevering or dealing with monsters, where you often have a range of options. Partly for this reason, Parley actions tend to be some of the most consequential in the game. And their corresponding skill checks -- nasty indeed! All the more so because you tend to make them late in scenarios, when the ugly tokens (I'm looking at you, skull!) have gotten even uglier. Who cares if Fine Clothes does nothing but soak a bit of damage for three scenarios in a row? In the fourth, it's going to be the difference between ekeing out a win that you replay in your head for days, or pulling the -3 and staring at in your palm for days.

I think including Fine Clothes as a one of in any solo deck is usually a good call. In fact at any player count if you can draw/search your deck well enough, Fine Clothes becomes an amazing card. Essential for toolbox decks imo because yeah, Parleys are common enough. I find myself taking this more and Leather Coat less these days. — StyxTBeuford · 632
I don't think there's a more perfect card for Adaptable in the game :) — bee123 · 16
Custom Ammunition

Feels like this is a card for Zoe! Flamethrower is best suited for her, as she wants enemies to be engaged with her. And flamethrower with custom ammo can do up to 30 damage total in a monster heavy scenario. That's 2 more than extra ammo can give you. It's not cheap for guardians, who a always low on cash. Fast is really needed here. Zoe in a tough scenario can engage a lot of enemies, get resourses, and pay for custom ammo without AoO. With that tactic you'd need something like Narrow Escape, which she could take.

ambiryan13 · 1
You are wrong im afraid. With Flamethrower though you can damage many monsters you are only attacking one, the one with the highest fight value. If the enemy with the highest fight value is a monster then you deal 5 damage which you can distribute across enemies engaged with you, otherwise you deal 4. I still think this goes great on flamethrower however. — NarkasisBroon · 1
Very well, custom ammo still comes out on top in terms of math in a monster heavy scenario vs extra ammo. 6 attack with 5 damage minus 7 with 4 damage = 2 damage left. I feel like Zoe has extra XP and resoureses to "fuel" that card. Other guardians have different classes to upgrade — ambiryan13 · 1
(Mark might take it as well) — ambiryan13 · 1
"Fool me once..."

The Guardian's answer to Ward of Protection. While this doesn't cancel the effect of the card drawn by the playing investigator, the ability to block the next copy can be very valuable, especially for treacheries that stack and build up or draw out a scenario enemy (such as Daemonic Piping) or generally annoying treacheries like Ancient Evils. In a 3 or 4 player group where you are cycling through the encounter deck fairly quickly, this is a strong addition for those who can take, and all for only 1 XP!

c-hung · 2
Daemonic Piping is actually a bad example here, since the treachery has to be discarded first. By the time Piper of Azathoth is discarded, it's generally already gone and summoned the Piper. — Abodmuthkat · 146
That said, an interesting note here is that the cancellation effect is optional. So if you did manage to discard it (maybe with Alter Fate), you can choose to keep it trapped instead of cancelling other copies of it. — Abodmuthkat · 146
Except Daemonic Piping would still be in play, and thus trigger the summoning if all three go up. That said, Terror in the Night is countered by this. — Abodmuthkat · 146
Ah, good catch. OK, so maybe can't tie up every treachery card, but still very handy to have to block a number of annoying treacheries at low cost. — c-hung · 2
Could Diana counter a treachery with ward of protection and then use this card to counter later versions of it? — crayne · 2
Only if you resolved any of its effects (which could include Surge I believe), otherwise no. So Warding an Ancient Evils doesn't let you FMO the next one. Personally I have a really low opinion on this card because of how reliant it is on being drawn early and how many high impact treacheries don't discard initially or at all in some cases, especially in TCU. — StyxTBeuford · 632
Like Terrot in the Night could be countered by this, sure, but that's only relevant in terms of reshuffles anyway- if you passed one Terror in the Night test to even trigger FMO in the first place, you're fairly unlikely to have to worry about all 3 copies ever being in play at once, so FMO's very unlikely to have any effect at all. — StyxTBeuford · 632
It seems like a super niche card, for sure. Can it counter weaknesses? If so, Lola might have some use for it, maybe. Or in some campaigns, where everyone gains a copy of the same weakness at some point? Other than that , maybe it's a card for 'treacheries-drawn-in-weird-circumstances". Like you could use it to put a stop to "draw the top omen in the discard pile". Or for exploration treacheries? Like it seems like a decent answer to that one endlessly annoying card for the Boundary Beyond. Other than that, it seems expensive in xp and deck-slots for the amount of conditions you have to meet to use it effectively. — bee123 · 16
It does work on weaknesses, so a Mr. Rook deck could use it to kill a weakness permanently for deckcycling. Funny enough this works with Dirge of Reason but not with Cover Up, so the version of Roland you use matters. — StyxTBeuford · 632
I agree Explore makes sense to use this on. Timeline Destabilization seems like a bad target though since failing it doesnt cause it to discard. Works well with Window to Another Time however. — StyxTBeuford · 632
Yeah, that discard condition is far more obnoxious than it seems. So many important treacheries don't discard, and a lot of weaknesses don't either. But yeah, it seems like a Circle Undone card with the stacking treacheries but I think TFA is its campaign if anything is. Exploration, the poison treacheries, some City of archives stuff too, but even then it can't get at other people's peril cards , can it? It's sooooo situational :( — bee123 · 16
Yeah it only attaches on something you draw. Then it becomes useful towards anyone else drawing it, but that initial condition and timing is harsher than I think people seem to think it is. — StyxTBeuford · 632
I use this card with Diana and believe that " resolving any of its effects" includes no effect after being cancelled by ward of protection. This works well with daemonic piping also as you would discard it once the revelation effect is cancelled by a ward. — Head Rat · 1
Surge applies after the card's revelation effect and the card is discarded (unless otherwise stated), so if you cancel the revelation effect then when you discard the card you haven't resolved any of its effects yet. Then surge applies. — Yenreb · 1