New Madness is upon us, as we face the invisible terrors of Undimensioned and Unseen, the latest release for Arkham Horror the card game. Is it any good? And will our sanity be enough to see us through? Let’s find out.
A Little Background
Undimensioned and Unseen is the 4th Mythos Pack in the Dunwich Legacy Cycle for Arkham Horror the Card Game, so you’ll need both the Core Box and the Dunwich Deluxe Expansion to be able to play it. Arkham Horror is a Living Card Game from Fantasy Flight Games, and if you’re not familiar with the LCG model, I’d definitely recommend taking a look at the introduction we provided into this world last year.
Undimensioned and Unseen sits in the first full-length campaign for Arkham Horror, the Dunwich Legacy. Dunwich Legacy is an 8-part adventure, which began with 2 scenarios in the Deluxe expansion of the same name, and since then has been taking players through a further 6 adventures, each released in a monthly Mythos Pack, of which Undimensioned and Unseen is the fourth.
The Dunwich Legacy began with the players being summoned by Professor Armitage, the Hero of H.P. Lovecraft’s The Dunwich Horror, and sent to investigate the disappearance of Professors Rice and Morgan (also taken from Lovecraft’s tale). Depending on how the earlier scenarios played out, the players may have rescued one of the professors, whilst the other one was captured, before breaking into a museum to find a copy of the Necronomicon, narrowly surviving a train-ride which almost saw them pulled through a rift in time and space, and (hopefully) averting the sacrifice of various characters to the Ancient One known as Yog-Sothoth. Now, the story picks up in Undimensioned and Unseen with a new challenge to stop whatever is haunting Dunwich, and new player-cards to aid you in doing so.
Undimensioned and Unseen – what happens this time?
At the start of Undimensioned and Unseen, the players must set aside and/or put into play a number of Brood of Yog-Sothoth monsters – it only takes the briefest glance to notice that these monstrosities are completely immune to all your standard forms of attack (Undimensioned?) and invisible to the naked eye (Unseen), so something entirely new is going to be required to defeat them. Fortunately, there are other cards which you set aside that might help you take them down in due course
As we have seen several times in the game up until now, Undimensioned and Unseen has a fixed map lay-out for the locations, with the same locations appearing in every play-through. Again, in a familiar twist though, for each location, there are 2 different version included, with the unique side only revealed once an investigator enters the location, so replay-ability remains high, and there is always a significant element of the unknown as you venture into the fray.
Fighting the Invisible
Warning: This section contains spoilers for Undimensioned and Unseen!
After a prelude in which you must decide whether to calm or to shoo the panicked folk of Dunwich, Undimensioned and Unseen sends you off into the wilds of this backwater town, in search of invisible monsters. You’ll first need to find enough clues, then take them to the Whateley ruins, where you can advance to Act 2, and take control of a copy of the Esoteric Formula, an asset that will allow you to make willpower-based attacks against the creatures.
The key to using the Esoteric Formula, an asset that requires a lot of willpower when used by itself, is to get clues onto the Brood of Yog-Sothoth enemies – fortunately, Undimensioned and Unseen provides a variety of different ways to do this, via location effects, and via the Powder of Ibn-Gazi which your party should (hopefully) have acquired at the end of Blood on the Altar.
I found the set-up for Undimensioned and Unseen rather interesting, as it becomes harder the better you did in Blood on the Altar (the more people who were sacrificed, then fewer Brood of Yog-Sothoth in the game) – whilst it was a bit of an unexpected twist, this actually makes a refreshing change, throwing up an extra challenge for those who have found things all plain-sailing up until now, and offering a moment’s respite for those who have been struggling, and preventing things from spiralling completely out of control.
Undimensioned and Unseen still requires you to keep up a decent pace, as more Brood enemies will appear over time, and it has some nasty tricks ready to play on you. The encounter deck generally leans very heavily on boosting or moving the Brood enemies, and there are comparatively few conventional monsters or generic treacheries to deal with.
Overall, Undimensioned and Unseen felt like one of the most restrictive scenarios we’ve seen so far: you have to defeat all the enemies, and you can only defeat them by using the Esoteric formula, meaning that every investigator has to rely on their willpower, rather than being able to use cards from their deck to play more to their strengths. Inevitably, this puts some investigators in a very good place, and leaves others really struggling. The manipulation of clues to reduce enemy strength means that you do at least have options in a low-willpower party, but this was definitely that some groups strolled through with comparative ease, and others found brutally difficult, needing to resign or be defeated.
I can’t quite decide how I feel about this overall – done too much, I think it would just annoy me, but actually (as a one-off), it really fits the Lovecraftian theme to have a situation that is simply impossible, and it really reinforces the RPG-style feel of this game, where it’s not about a simple choice between win and lose, but there are minor triumphs and setbacks along the way to something broader.
One thing I definitely wasn’t happy to see again, was the way that Undimensioned and Unseen recycled the trick of having locations that have one “nice” version and one “nasty” version. Those who read my Blood on the Altar review may remember that I wasn’t a fan of this last time round, and my feelings haven’t changed – the randomised nature of the set-up means that two different parties coming to the same scenario can find themselves confronted with a significantly harder (or easier) map than each other, and it just encourages taking a game-y approach of re-playing the scenario until you get a more favourable set-up.
End of Spoilers!
How Can I hit it if I can’t see it? With Difficulty!
Both the Elder gods and the designers of Arkham Horror like to laugh at mortals as they make their little plans, and I don’t imagine for a moment that it was an accident when FFG decided to give their Guardians access to the new Springfield Rifle in the pack where it wouldn’t be usable. On the other hand, the ability to heal horror with If It Bleeds… will be a welcome addition for those low-sanity investigators.
Survivors could be forgiven for playing spot the difference with the first of their new cards, Survival Instinct, which is an upgraded version of a Core Set offering. It’s still a skill card with Agility pips (although now 2 rather than 1), and still a card that will be at its most effective when committed to an evasion check. The important distinction is that whereas the core set version allowed you to disengage from each other enemy at your location and move away, those other enemies are now all evaded – leaving them exhausted and unable to attack you this round. 2XP feels like a lot to pay for this, but in an enemy-heavy scenario, particularly with a character who can’t handle combat, this is definitely worth a look.
Meanwhile, Dark Horse picks up the “no resources” theme, allowing an investigator a global +1 stat boost whilst out of money. The most obvious combo here is with Fire Axe, but it feels like they’re starting to open up a whole new style of deck for Survivors to play, and I look forward to trying it.
Undimensioned and Unseen brings Mystics a powered-up version of Rite of Seeking, the spell from Dunwich Legacy which allows them to investigate using their will-power. At 5-cost, it is more expensive than the level 0 version (4), but otherwise it’s a much more powerful card, offering a significant boost to the Willpower you use for the investigation, and get 2 extra clues instead of 1. Given how expensive it is, you’ll probably only want this if you have an investigator who really struggles for Intelligence, but it’s certainly powerful for those who can afford it. If your Mystic has a more respectable Intellect score, then you might be better off with Alyssa Graham, who will give you an ongoing +1 boost, soak up some Horror, and allow you to scry encounter or player decks.
The new cards for Rogues in Undimensioned and Unseen build on the theme of succeeding by 2 or more – the upgraded version of Opportunist still only offers you a single wild skill pip, but the fact that you only need to succeed by 2 rather than 3 does noticeably improve the likelihood of getting to recycle it. Alternatively, Quick Thinking offers the same boost to a skill test, but with the chance of taking an immediate action after passing, which can allow your Rogues a great deal of flexibility in dealing with the problems around them. Lastly, the Lucky Dice allow you to spend money to re-draw chaos tokens, protecting you from everything but a Tentacle.
Lastly, Seekers have a new skill and a new event, allowing them to put their intelligence to use for the party as a whole. Expose Weakness looks a bit convoluted at first glance, requiring you to spend an action passing a test, simply in order to make future checks a bit easier. However, the fact that this effect lasts until the end of the phase makes this one potentially really powerful – even more so if you combine it with Inquiring Mind to add 3 to your result – in a multiplayer game, for the cost of a 0-cost, level 0 card, the Seeker has the potential to dramatically reduce the boss’s Fight value, not only enabling them to land a few hits themselves, but also ensuring that their teammates can pile on for the kill.
Undimensioned and Unseen: Final Thoughts
After a fairly ‘normal’ scenario in Blood on the Altar, Undimensioned and Unseen ramps up the weirdness with a set of invisible monsters. Despite all that though, this is another solid pack, with interesting mechanics as investigators attempt to manoeuvre enemies in order to have a better chance at defeating them.
Once again, there is a good spread of player cards on offer and it’s only fitting that now, as we reach scenario 6 of 8, we’re getting to a point where there’s a good selection of higher-level cards for you to upgrade you decks with.
Another success, well worth keeping going 8/10.
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I'm an avid board and card-gamer, still trying to figure out where Board Gaming fits into life as the dad of a very grabby toddler.
I enjoy thematic games (Fantasy, Cthulhu, etc) and play a lot of cooperative games, along with a bit of competitive gaming (currently Legend of the Five Rings) when I can make it out of the house.
When not playing games, I can be found doing a mundane office job, or working on my own Blog, Fistful of Meeples.