You have returned from the Jungle alive – just about – but the mystery of the Eztli is not over. Dark deeds are afoot in Arkham, and once more your investigators must venture forth. However, there are more strands to the plot than you might expect, and it seems unlikely that you will have the chance to pursue them all. The clock is ticking, and many fates lie in your hands: Decide which thread to follow, and learn what you can before time runs out!
Threads of Fate is the first Mythos pack in the Forgotten Age cycle for Arkham Horror the Living Card Game, following the deluxe expansion of the same name. The pack contains a new quest, (#3 of 8 in the cycle), and plenty of new player cards, but is it any good? Let’s find out.
Threads of Fate: The Quest
The first thing you will notice about Threads of Fate is that instead of having 1 act deck like most quests, it has 3! Beyond that, the contents of each of the 3 act decks will change from game-to-game, based both on the choices you have made in the campaign up to now, and on random draw. Despite all these acts, there is still just the one agenda deck and, taking the standard assumption that you don’t want to reach the end of the Agenda, it’s very unlikely that you’ll be able to complete all 3 acts in a single game. Already it looks like Threads of Fate will be one of the most replayable scenarios we have seen so far.
Untangling the Threads
Warning! This section contains spoilers for the Threads of Fate Quest!
Broadly speaking, there will be 3 activities represented by the various act decks – looking for Alejandro, who has gone missing, finding the missing Relic of the Ages, and following Ichtaca. However, the contents of these 3 decks will vary a lot!
You will start with either 1 or 2, based on decisions made in the campaign so far. Each of these cards has 2 Act 2s, from which you select at random. Depending on how a or b play out, you could get to x or y for the finale!
You can report Alejandro missing at the police station, or search for him yourself. Finding the relic will depend on a few things, including whether you gave it to Alejandro or to Harlan Earnstone. Lastly, Ichtaca’s destination, and the manner of your pursuit will depend on how your last conversation ended.
The sheer variety of the scenario is huge and, inevitably, this can make the difficulty quite swingy – the first time I completed all 3 act decks, I managed it because 2 different decks both wanted me to get all the clues off the same location, allowing me to kill 2 birds with 1 stone.
I really liked the amount of flexibility Threads of Fate gives you – generally speaking, things aren’t too weird or whacky – you need to find clues and beat baddies, but if you find yourself at a dead-end in one investigation, you can easily divert to another. I think we managed to complete 2 of the 3 act-decks on each of our early play-throughs and it always felt like getting all 3 would be possible with good luck and/or enough skill. Of course, the really great thing about Threads of Fate is that, like most Arkham scenarios, it still offers you a way through into the next stage of the campaign, even if you can only resolve 1 (or even none!).
At the end of the scenario, it’s back to the jungle – you get a chance to top up your supplies, and the lead investigator will probably gain the unique Expedition Journal which, for 2 resources and no slot occupied, gives you an extra action per turn for exploring. Something tells me that might come in handy soon.
Much flashier than a dusty book, is the long-awaited Ichtaca ally – at 4 cost she isn’t cheap, but she offers boosts to Combat, and Agility with additional benefits when fighting/evading an enemy with the Victory or Vengeance keywords respectively. As a final bonus, when you add an enemy to the victory display, you and she can each heal a horror, which only adds to her utility as a horror-soak.
End of Spoilers!
What about us? New Player cards!
With the card-pool in Arkham Horror now quite large, the usual sprinkling of new cards is mostly about tweaking existing decks and styles, rather than creating anything truly new. However, if there is a card that can single-handedly create a new deck-type, it’s the first one from Threads of Fate: Arcane Research.
Arcane Research is a permanent, non-unique Mystic card, meaning that you can have 2 copies in your starting deck if you want to. Taking 2 is quite a commitment though, as for each copy you acquire, your investigator suffers 1 mental trauma – i.e. they start every scenario from now on already having taken a horror (or 2 if you buy 2). In exchange for this horror, the first spell you upgrade after each scenario costs minus 1 XP. Most mystics I have played have started the campaign with 2x level zero shrivelling, and finished the campaign with 2 copies of the level 5 version. With 2 copies of Arcane research, you could get to 2x level 5 at the end of scenario 4, having spent a grand total of only 2XP instead of 10! 8XP is a massive saving, and it isn’t even the end of the card’s power. I’ve not yet run it through a whole campaign, but I was really excited about the new direction this seemed to offer.
Aside from Arcane Research, Mystics also get a new event to cancel (not just re-draw) “bad stuff” tokens from the bag – pricy at 2 cost, 2xp, but definitely powerful.
Rogues get a reliable source of repeatable card-draw for their “succeed by 2” deck in the form of the Lucky Cigarette case, and a shady new ally, the Fence. Fence looks like another targeted Finn card, as it specifically works with illicit cards, saving you actions by making them fast, or offering a cost-reduction if that card was fast already. You need to pack plenty of Illicit cards to make sure this pulls its weight (it costs 3 and an XP), but offers some fun action compression after you get set-up.
Guardians get 2 new events in Threads of Fate. Marksmanship is an interesting one, as it allows you to shoot at enemies at a connecting location. It also turns off not only retaliate but also – crucially – aloof. Is 2 resources and 1 XP too much to pay to get rid of a Whippoorwill in a single action? Possibly, but the all-round flexibility, plus the fact that it’s a “Tactic” and can therefore go on Stick to the Plan definitely makes this worth a look. Scene of the Crime is another “bold” event, designed to be played as your first action of the turn – it has a very Roland feel to it, getting clues in Guardian, with a bonus if there’s an enemy present.
Where the Guardian uses tactics and the Seeker uses their mind, the Survivor is still just trying to survive by sheer force of will. Perseverance is a great example of this, allowing them to cancel up to 4 damage and/or horror that would otherwise defeat them. I really like the flexibility of this card, the fact that it works on both damage and horror. There aren’t many effects that will deal you more than 4 horror at once, so the limit isn’t that big of a problem, and the only real drawback I see with this, is that it costs 2, so is hard to run in a Dark Horse deck. Definitely one that Calvin wants. Survivors also get Stunning Blow, a combat skill card which evades the enemy after you hit it –feels like doing things the wrong way round to me, and I probably won’t be using it.
Why shoot your way out of a situation when you could just talk your way out instead? Persuasion lets Seekers use intellect to get rid of enemies, shuffling standard ones into the encounter deck, or evading elites. In a spot of thematic good sense, it only works on “Humanoid” enemies, which does limit it (disappointingly, it only works on 1 of the new “Vengeance” enemies), and the tests aren’t easy (anywhere between 3 and 5), but it’s good for the Daisies of this world to have an alternative when Shrivelling doesn’t appear.
Each of the 3 deluxe expansions released so far have featured an “Unidentified” card which can be upgraded later, multiple paths on offer. Shrewd Analysis gives you a 2-for-the-price-of-1 deal on upgrading these, but at the cost of having to choose which to upgrade to at random! I have to confess to being a bit baffled by this – getting a Freezing Variant when you needed Acidic Ichor could be fatal for some Seekers, and the way the deck-building works, there’s no option to pay to later switch it around. A definite pass for me.
Threads of Fate – Final Thoughts
After the brutal slog through the Jungle that was Forgotten Age, Threads of Fate feels like a momentary respite back in Arkham. The way old and new locations are blended together feels familiar yet refreshing, and this scenario clearly has bucketloads of re-play value.
Arcane Research is a real game-changer for Mystics, and could pave the way for some really high-XP builds. There are plenty of other solid cards here too.
Overall I’d give this 8/10 – a strong opening and I look forward to seeing where the cycle takes us.
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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.