New Madness is upon us, as nightmares atop Sentinel Hill are about to be unleashed upon the world in Where Doom Awaits, 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
Where Doom Awaits is the 5th 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, and if you’re not familiar with the LCG model, check out the introduction we provided into this world last year.
Where Doom Awaits 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 Where Doom Awaits is the fifth.
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 2 missing Professors. 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. After a strange battle against invisible beasts in the New England Countryside, the story picks up now in Where Doom Awaits – will the new player-cards be enough for you to make it to the top of Sentinel Hill and stop whatever strange ritual is in progress?
Where Doom Awaits – what happens this time?
After a few scenarios which saw you wandering in a fairly unrestrained fashion, Where Doom Awaits is a much more linear affair, as you try to get your investigators from the bottom of Sentinel Hill to the top, before whatever is going on can be finished. It’s still not a direct or straightforward journey though – you’ll need to explore randomised “path” locations, unsure of your destination thanks to generic unrevealed sides, as you try to gather enough clues to make it to the top.
Investigators start at the Base of the Hill, and will need to investigate in order to find path locations. There are 4 “Diverging Paths” at the base of the hill, and 4 “Altered Paths” part-way up, with up to 3 of these (at random) used each game. Where Doom Awaits interacts quite heavily with the number of actions your investigator has remaining, and there are lots of interesting effects to keep you guessing as to what the best strategy might be.
Enemies of flesh and blood are not that common in Where Doom Awaits, but you also expect to be “Hexed” by the encounter deck, and for the landscape to constantly shift, as if trying to block your path.
Making the Climb
Warning: This section contains spoilers for Where Doom Awaits!
As already noted, investigators wanting to reach the top of Sentinel Hill will need to explore a number of Diverging and Altered paths. The paths need to be approached in completely different ways: leaving aside Destroyed Path, which is just plain nasty (it has Doom instead of clues), the Slaughtered Woods will give you 2 Horror if you have no actions remaining – meaning you want to go there early, but Eerie Glade will discard cards off your deck for each remaining action, and Frozen Spring will immediately end your turn, encouraging you to take other actions first.
Whilst this whole idea of a double-sided location with matching unrevealed sides and different revealed sides is something we’ve seen before several times in Arkham, I really liked it as a mechanic: obviously, you can take the approach I did and always move to a new Diverging Path as your second action, to avoid the worst punishment, but that’s not a low-efficiency strategy and many players will take a higher-risk/reward approach, something which you can probably use to play up the narrative aspect of the game.
Where Doom Awaits can be a nasty one to get started on, based on how you resolved Blood on the Altar – so far, all our groups had “put Silas Bishop out of his misery,” which leads to a Conglomeration of Spheres starting the game half-way up the hill: this is a fairly irritating enemy at the best of times, with 6 hit-points, and the ability to discard any melee weapon you use on it (no Machete or Switchblade). The way the locations are set up in Where Doom Awaits means it’s almost guaranteed to attack someone at the end of turn 1, without you having a chance to attack or evade it first.
The selection of Altered Paths and Diverging Paths gives this scenario a fair bit of replay-value, and the fact that you can be penalised for having too many actions as well as too few means that there is always an element of jeopardy when you uncover a new location.
There are 3 different versions of Act II in Where Doom Awaits, and you will reference your campaign log to see which one you use: whilst the front is different, the effect when you flip it will vary slightly, either putting the enemy Silas Bishop into play, putting him into play damaged, or discarding him altogether.
The end of Where Doom Awaits did feel slightly anticlimactic – Silas Bishop isn’t a particularly difficult enemy to take down, and the scenario then just becomes a foot-race to find the required clues. However, the narrative of Where Doom Awaits is clearly that of a penultimate episode, and if you treat it as setting up the finale, rather than looking at it in isolation, then I think it does a good job.
In a bit of a change from the normal format, I’m also going to talk about some of the player cards in the spoilers section today. Back in the Dunwich Legacy box, Seekers had the option to take a card called “Strange Solution” – it was an asset that they could put into play, then perform an intellect test against and, if they succeeded, mark down in the campaign log that they had “Identified the Solution” – nobody knew what this meant! Or why they might want to do it. Now, with the arrival of Where Doom Awaits, all is made clear.
Where Doom Awaits contains 3 new player cards, all called “Strange Solution” – they are all Level 4 Seeker cards, meaning that they will cost 4 XP to add to an investigator’s deck, and come with the added restriction that you have to upgrade from Strange Solution to buy it in the first place, and that you have to have “identified the solution” in the Campaign Log.
I was a bit torn over these cards – Fantasy Flight made a big fuss about the Strange Solution when it first appeared, and I think most people were expecting an in-scenario resolution, where players would get a specific benefit from having taken it: the fact that it has come as a player-card makes it a lot easier for players to build with it, and removes some of the hard choices. However, the effects themselves are really powerful, particularly the Acidic Ichor which allows Seekers (typically the class who struggle most with combat) to fight with a greatly increased skill and damage output. A slight disappointment on the theme then, but no complaints on the gameplay impact.
A Premature Conclusion? Only for the Resigned
A lot of the scenarios in The Dunwich Legacy have offered the Investigators the chance to cut their losses and resign from the scenario – sometimes this has come with a penalty, and other times it has been the natural conclusion to the events unfolding. Where Doom Awaits adds a sharp shock to the resign option, as we discovered when one pair of investigators decided to bring their particularly disastrous attempt to climb the hill to an early conclusion – both were driven insane and Yog-Sothoth destroyed the world!!
I was really surprised to see something that ended the campaign early, as we hadn’t had this type of effect before, but on reflection I really like the added weight it gives to the importance of succeeding when our next party reach Where Doom Awaits.
End of Spoilers!
How are the player-cards? I’ve Had Worse!
As I’ve noted before in my reviews of Arkham LCG projects, there’s often one or two cards in a pack that really stand out, and Where Doom Awaits is no exception.
4 XP is not an insignificant cost for your Guardians, but once paid, it gives them I’ve Had Worse, a zero-cost event which turns horror and/or damage into money! Whether you use this to bolster Roland’s fragile sanity, or simply use it to tank a big hit from a particularly nasty enemy, this wouldn’t be a bad card (although perhaps a bit expensive) if it just cancelled the damage, but the fact that you can turn this into resources makes it a real stand-out. Given the number of times you’ll see Beyond the Veil and its potential 10 damage in the Dunwich Legacy cycle, I’ve Had Worse would probably be worth it as protection against that card alone.
Of course, there are other player-cards in Where Doom Awaits: Guardian gets a new skill card which has a wild Icon (meaning it can be committed to any type of check), which gains a second Icon when played on someone else’s check, strengthening the options for building Guardians as support characters.
The Seekers have been covered in the Spoilers section above, leading us straight on to Rogues: Rogue keeps things simple, a new ally who allows you to play assets without using an action to do so, and Ace in the Hole which costs a mighty 6 XP thanks to the new “Exceptional” keyword (XP costs are doubled, limit 1 per deck), but can allow a rogue an extra 3 actions when played – essentially a free turn.
Survivors continue to get some big one-off effects in Where Doom Awaits – Stroke of Luck can be exiled (removed from the campaign) to automatically succeed at a test, which is a very tempting (if expensive) way to spend 2XP, whilst A Chance Encounter allows them to resurrect any Ally in a discard pile for a single round, which is not at all bad for 1 resource and no XP. Lastly the Mystics get 3 different cards, an upgraded version of Fearless (a skill card that heals Horror), a fairly expensive new relic that provides both cards and resource acceleration, and Moonlight Ritual, an event that allows you to remove all Doom from a card you control – this last one is particularly useful, being zero-cost, and it makes Blood Pact from the previous pack look a lot more viable.
If nothing else appeals to you, it’s likely that by this stage in the campaign, your investigators will be racking up a fair amount of horror. Where Doom Awaits offers a Moment of Respite – 3 resources, 3 XP isn’t cheap, but the chance to Heal 3 Horror in a single action is currently unparalleled.
Where Doom Awaits: Final Thoughts
Overall, I thought Where Doom Awaits was a good penultimate instalment for the Dunwich Legacy campaign – it ups the stakes a bit, provides a recognisable structure, but stretches the boundaries of the game in new ways. There are some brilliant player-cards as you gear up for the final scenario, which should be a fitting conclusion.
Overall I’d give this 7/10 – the player cards are worth 8 or even 9, but the lack of a dramatic finale for the scenario itself drags it down.
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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.