Eldritch Horror: Signs of Carcosa Review - Quicker Than You Can Say, Wooble!

More juicy cards for Eldritch Horror - what's not to like? If you want more cards, go buy it. There, end of review. . . . what you're still here? Alright, fine let's discuss this in more detail. First up, I'm actually more stoked about this expansion than most mainly because of the Ancient One involved. Hastur (or The Unspeakable One) is one who I like the back story of combined with the Yellow Sign and the King in Yellow, where unsuspecting individuals would come across a play and then become obsessed with the horrific other worldliness. It used to be a fun one to play against in the Arkham Horror board game where an additional timer was included in the form of Acts (like in a play) and if you got to Act III, you went mad and lost.

So I'm expecting to have a scenario here where my health is generally not an issue, but sanity on the other hand will drop for me quicker than during a game of Kingdom Builder. I tend to win my games of Eldritch Horror, but if anyone dies it tends to be from death instead of madness so I welcome a potential change to the formula. Let's see what this small box expansion delivers.



Designer: Corey Konieczka
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
Age: 14+
Players: 1-6
Time: 90-150 min
RRP: £14.99


Off To Hartleypool To Buy Some Exploding Trousers


The array of cards is the same as it generally has been for the small box expansions:

8 Mystery, 84 Encounter, 24 Mythos, 4 Prelude, 4 Artifact, 16 Asset, 28 Condition, 12 Spell, 16 Unique Asset, 4 Investigators, 1 Ancient One



So as usual, it bolsters most of the existing decks of cards and adds some unique mystery and encounter cards tailored specifically to the new Ancient One. Now the elephant in the room is that some people in the first print run experience missing components when ordering this expansion. I was the same as I was missing an Ancient One and the Investigators (not the best start!), but the After Sales service at Fantasy Flight Games were able to resolve this issue promptly and deliver the missing parts so just go through their channels if you get the same problem. Slap on the wrist this time Fantasy Flight, now don't do it again!

As all expected, the cards for this game are being churned out like crazy so yet again we get the same issues we had with Arkham Horror in terms of storage. I used a Daedalus insert originally, but it was quickly out-grown, although I still use various parts of it and have managed to squeeze everything to do with Eldritch Horror into two big boxes nicely organised. It's quite a feat actually, I'm impressed, but once the next expansion hits, I'm screwed unless it's a big box, but I hate the idea of having to store 3 boxes for Eldritch Horror.........well I do it already for Sentinels of the Multiverse so what the hell I guess? Just be warned, that more cards = more storage issues.


Cluck Cluck, Gibber Gibber, My Old Man's A Mushroom, Etc. 


The first thing you'll notice on Hastur is a low Doom value. At only 11 this doesn't give you a lot of time to prepare before his arrival. The second thing you'll notice is that only two mysteries have to be solved to win the game and so you think, "ah that's not so bad then". But then you read about Lead Investigators gaining a Blight condition during every Reckoning unless the group loses a chunk of sanity.

Blight is a new condition which instantly discards an Ally asset, so bye bye juicy useful stat boosting ally right off the bat. Never a good thing considering how useful allies are. But on top of that, during the next Reckoning your allies will do some completely crazy which affects you in a negative way like randomly decide to burn the building down while you're in it, etc. Thematically it's a cool condition that reflects the madness generated by Hastur, but boy does it bite you at the worst moment sometimes.

On top of that, the Cultists have the annoying habit of summoning Byakhee monsters to ambush you so you're relentlessly having to deal with extra monsters if you don't take those Cultists down. So even though Hastur shortens the timeframe of the game a little, you're going to be pressured severely during it, but I think this makes for a win-win situation. Less potential game length and a decent challenge.



Beep...............Beep..........Pah-Pah!! 


Recent expansions have brought us some oddball Investigators with what I would call "janky" abilities. I.e. ones that require a little care to use effectively. Here I welcome that Fantasy Flight seems to have gone back to basics with these new characters. Besides incorporating backgrounds which are interesting (who doesn't want to play a magician in an Arkham horror setting?) their abilities are fairly straightforward yet also incredibly useful. Moving monsters to gates, acquiring specific item types for free and ignoring impairments are solid abilities, but I like the thematic flair to some of them as well.

For example my favourite for theme is Michael the Gangster. He can acquire items or service assets for free. Fantastic, sounds great. But in doing so he picks up a Wanted condition and I love the artwork where it shows the iconic shadowed face of the driver with the pursuers behind him poking their heads out and firing tommy-guns. That's such a classic sight from old gangster movies and Michael even has an easier chance of out-running them built in.

As well as that the Urchin likes to obtain trinkets and is good at eluding monsters. The Magician is naturally adept at acquiring and casting spells, but his ability to bump a monster to a nearby gate is very handy to keep them all in one location or just to get past one to find a clue. And Jenny has all the wealth and resources to grab assets for the team. As I said, all of them are useful and I found myself torn between who I wanted to use in my first 2-handed solo game.



Verdict


This is a nice twist on the game play from what we've seen so far. Typically having a ton of Allies was a good thing and could lead to some investigators getting very powerful. Signs of Carcosa basically says "death to allies" and makes them more of a burden or at least kills them off pretty quickly with the Blight condition. However I love how some of the cards give an investigator significant boosts for dealing with the madness effects of working solo. Very nice thematic touches like this are woven throughout these cards.

Hastur poses a serious challenge compared to many Ancient Ones. At first you think it's easy when reading, but then when you get into the action, it becomes a frantic race against time. The death toll will increase with this one, but tension is good, I want more challenging Ancient Ones. The investigators are some of the most useful I've seen to date, nothing too complex or weird, just simple to use abilities that will always come in handy.



Comparing this to the other small box expansions, this takes the top spot, overtaking even the very solid Forsaken Lore from long ago. Or was it only a short while ago? This is how Fantasy Flight warps your comprehension of time.



If you are interested in this game you can find a copy at your friendly local gaming store - http://www.findyourgamestore.co.uk/



YOU WILL LIKE THIS GAME IF:


You feel you can never have enough cards.


You want a scenario where time and sanity become more of a factor than outright brutality.


You have a keen interest in the lore of The Unspeakable One.



YOU WILL NOT LIKE THIS GAME IF:


You're only interested in big box expansions.


You haven't got a convenient way to store the game - I'm struggling as it is with a custom insert.




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