Mr Pawterson always told Wendy things would turn out okay. But then again, Mr Pawterson was a teddy bear, and he didn’t know any better.
Echoes of the Past is the latest Mythos pack for Arkham Horror, the Living Card Game. It continues the Path to Carcosa campaign, which began in the deluxe expansion of the same name a few months ago. If you’re not familiar with the game or even the idea of a Living Card Game, check out the links above. Otherwise, join us we send our Investigator’s off to Arkham’s Historical Society, in search of clues for the strange events they keep witnessing.
The Story so Far
Having witnessed madness and destruction at the theatre during a staging of The King in Yellow, and a macabre and disturbing after-party with the cast and creators, your investigators are already being forced to doubt what their eyes can see. Now in search of information from the last time this ill-fated play was seen in Arkham, Echoes of the Past takes you to the HQ of Arkham’s Historical Society. Sadly the Cultists have got there before you!
Echoes of the Past: What’s in the box?
Echoes of the Past keeps up the standard structure for a Mythos pack – all the encounter cards you need for the scenario, and insert with the narrative and set-up instructions, and a selection of player-cards. The cards are much as you’d expect from any Fantasy Flight LCG, good-quality card stock, clear text, and some nice art.
Echoes of the Past – A race to find the answers
The Echoes of the Past scenario offers a new twist in the flow of the game. Up until now investigators have been frantically hunting around for clues whilst the game advanced its agenda with a steady round-by-round drip of clues. This time, the Game is making its own hunt, with the cultists in the scenario also gathering clues, which they turn to Doom – if you keep the cultists under control, you might have a very long time indeed, but if multiple enemies spawn at once and you can’t manage them, things could start unravelling very quickly. It’s a fun twist, and makes for a very variable and replayable scenario.
The Following Section Contains Scenario Spoilers for Echoes of the Past!
The scenario power means you won’t be getting those clues back!
The big twist for this scenario is the way that doom is amassed, with Cultists pinching the clues from the various locations, then turn them into Doom. This creates some very interesting interactions with existing card sets – for example last time we saw the Agent of the King they stole your clues, but you got them back when you defeated them. In Echoes of the Past, those clues turn into Doom straightaway, meaning that you can only remove the Doom from play by killing them, and can’t recover the clues. It’s frustrating in terms of trying to advance the game as an Investigator, but I really like the way that they’re able to do new things with existing cards.
Echoes of the Past starts to see choices from earlier scenarios coming back to you: at the start of the scenario, you may find that you have extra time if you ran away from the party early, or additional clues on the entry location if you interviewed the right VIP (this is particularly nice as you can pick up half the clues you need for stage 1 without ever leaving the 2-shroud starting location). The downside is that if you didn’t subsequently kill that VIP, he will appear in his monster form during Agenda 3 as an extra peril for you to fight. Suddenly Mark is feeling a lot better about burning down the house at the end of Scenario 2!
Your key task in Echoes of the Past is to find reports from the last time The King in Yellow was staged in Arkham: by stages you will find an initial lead, then find the Historical Society Curator (cowering in fear of the Cultists) then, with his help, enter the Hidden Library, where you can finally spend the required number of clues to complete the scenario.
Even that isn’t the end – depending on how you resolve Echoes of the Past, you will have choices to make which may give you one of a pair of strange new relics: The Onyx Clasp is a weakness, but is it worth handicapping yourself to keep it away from the cultists?
Our second group to reach this scenario – Mark and Minh Thi absolutely stormed through it, Minh grabbing a load of clues (we had the extras on the entrance hall), and Mark killing all the Cultists, meaning that we had finished the scenario with a respectable 3 VP before the Agenda had even advanced past stage 1. Minh was still angry with Mark for burning down the house at the end of the last scenario, and refused to take the Clasp.
An interesting twist with Echoes of the Past, it that the Tattered Cloak asset is only available if you end the scenario by defeating the boss enemy (rather than by investigating). As this enemy only appears at the end of Agenda 2 Mark never got a shot at him, and I really liked the fact that there is a clear downside, a closing off of options for Investigators who cruise through this scenario too comfortably.
The Tattered Cloak itself is a very interesting card – it offers the chance of a powerful stat boost, provided you’re prepared to walk the narrow line between Desperation and Madness. Whilst we don’t yet know what narrative consequences it might have later in the cycle, I’m already considering a new play-through to combine this card with some of the new “Desperate” player-cards below.
Echoes of the Past isn’t particularly outlandish in structure – investigate a bit, fight a bit, move around a map that looks the same shape but has some randomisation of rooms – but it still manages to feel quite individual with the alternate timer mechanic. The ‘rewards’ which you can walk away with are particularly interesting, and I look forward to seeing what consequences they have.
End of Spoilers!
New toys for me? For Composure and Desperation!
As you’d expect, Echoes of the Past comes with a selection of player-cards too, and I’m going to start with my new favourite card in Arkham LCG: Cherished Keepsake. A zero-cost, level zero card, this has the very simple ability to save you from 2 Horror, and some marvellous flavour-text on the wisdom of taking advice from teddy bears.
Ironically, although the flavour text refers to Wendy, she’s not actually that great a pick for this, as one of the few Investigators who already has a use for her Accessory slot (you could go down the Relic Hunter route). William Yorrick, king of recursion seems the best target, able to continuously cycle this and leather coats for free, but it’s worth a look for anyone with lowish sanity and access to Survivor cards.
The new “Composure” Talents round out the options for Investigators to spend resources and boost their stats temporarily. For the most part, these composures round out the set, meaning that between the Assets in the core set, the Permanent Assets from Blood on the Altar, and these latest cards in Echoes of the past, almost everyone had a way to boost every stat – the exception, as always, is the Mystics, whose newest card only works on tests attached to spells.
The Composure talents cost 1XP, and 1 resource, making them very affordable, although not nearly as reliable as the ‘permanent’ talents. They can each soak a single point of horror and, in fact, must take any non-direct horror before it gets added to your investigator, making them rather vulnerable to being discarded. If you have other things to deal your horror to (Allies, Elder Sign Amulets etc) then these can be quite powerful, but unless you have ways to recur them from your discard pile, they’re hard to just throw into a deck.
Desperate Times, Desperate Measures
The other “set” of cards in Echoes of the past are the 4 new “Desperate” skills. In each case, these double the effect of the core stat-boosters (with 4 icons instead of 2), and have the same “Limit 1 per test” restriction. Although they don’t draw you a card upon success, the sheer fact that you can get +4 from a single card makes them well worth a look.
The big drawback with the “Desperate” skills is that you can only play them if you have 3 or fewer sanity remaining. For a high-sanity survivor like Daisy, this is likely to be a dead card in your hand much of the time, but for someone like Rex who only starts with 5, or anyone who has taken mental trauma, these look like a good bet. Also very powerful for a character like Agnes who actively wants to take Horror in order to bounce damage back on to enemies.
The remaining player-cards are a bit of a mixed bag. Anatomical Diagrams is another Seeker card which seeks to reduce the difficulty of checks against enemies and, being fast, could easily allow you to get 3 hits in at minus 2 difficulty on a nasty enemy (or on a 1 or 2 fight enemy, bring the difficulty down to zero, meaning that even a 1-fight investigator succeeds on anything but a Tentacle. Mystics get a new unique ally who allows them to stack up doom in order to boost Willpower and gain resources. This will be very scenario-dependant, as you can only add one per round and want to rack up a decent number for it to be valuable, but could be powerful on scenarios with a few long acts – it’s also a useful way to add Doom to a card you control when playing with Marie Lambeau. Lastly Guardians get another Take-One-For-The-Team card, allowing them to redirect an attack to themselves, and Rogues expand their collection of largely useless weapons.
Echoes of the Past: Final Thoughts
Path to Carcosa is already a very different cycle to the Dunwich Legacy – so far there seem to be fewer monsters, but it’s very clear that your Investigators cannot always trust what their eyes see, and there is already a building concoction of Conviction and Doubt, which look sure to make for an ever-more-varied experience as we go along. Even within this one scenario, there are already multiple interesting directions in which the narrative is ready to go.
Echoes of the Past has a lot of really solid player cards, even the ones which don’t feature flavour text about a teddy bear, and the desperation cards in particular offer a good option for Investigators who have low sanity / have already taken a bit of mental trauma.
A fun scenario, interesting mechanics, and whole new avenues for deck-building – 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.