Delve Too Deep File XII: The Essex County Express Review Part II (Mystic/Survivor/Neutral)

Welcome back, fellow investigators, to the conclusion of the roundtable review for The Essex County Express. Apologies for the delay, but the forces of real life and a busy uni schedule the elder evils have been keeping me from my keyboard! Still, here we are, ready to finish off looking at the remainder of the player cards in the Essex County Express! Let’s get straight back into it!

Hypnotic Gaze (29/40)
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KP (6/10): A decent ability on a card that’s too expensive. I like that you don’t have to make any kind of check to get it to work, and it’s interesting that *spoiler alert* it actually gets better later in the campaign as more tokens are added to the bag. It’s got awful icons, however, making it pretty dead if you can’t afford or don’t need it. I expect this could some some niche in a supporting mystic like Jim, but it’s far weaker than many of the other options Mystic has.

JC (6/10): Three resources is a lot, but I hear Dodge is awesome. Also, props for being the first card that will make me say “c’mooooon, autofail!”

Unitled (9/10): My pick for card of the pack! A Mystic Dodge, that even has the potential to damage your enemy. It only loses a point from me for being three cost in a faction that typically runs relatively poor. The difficulty for me is fitting it in; currently, I’m tempted to grab two of these over Blinding Light and then move from Hypnotic Gaze to Blinding Light (Level 2) when I have the experience. I’m even considering this out of faction, my Rex deck typically runs wealthy and includes Dodge, so this could be a straight swap in!

Scott (8/10): Casting cost is steep, but a card that cancels an attack and has around a 30-40% (depending on the scenario and campaign) chance of a creature smacking itself is excellent.

Shrivelling (Level 3) (28/40)
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KP (5/10): It’s not that it’s bad. It’s just the three XP is a high cost for an upgrade to a card that was already very powerful. Generally, when I buy new upgrades, I want to cut the weakest cards from my deck, not upgrade the better ones. I’m glad this didn’t take the Blinding Light (Level 2) path and upgrade its downside as well. There are many other cards I’d purchase before this, and I expect that will only be more and more true as newer cards are released.

JC (8/10): Nice upgrade for a card every Mystic already runs two of. Not an insta-buy, since base Shrivelling is still quite good and three XP isn’t nothing, but it will be a welcome addition later in the campaign when the baddies start to get badder. Bummer that it’s out of range for Daisy, who would benefit most from the extra willpower.

Unitled (6/10): Shrivelling is a staple of Mystic as a way of converting Willpower into Combat, it’s all but essential in both Agnes and Jim decks. All this upgrade offers for three XP, though, is a +2 to your stat (plus an additional pip). I feel this is a little stingy for the cost, and it might be one I skip altogether as Agnes. Jim likes it more as he then fights 4 Combat monsters at 6 Willpower , and both Mystics like it if someone is packing Double or Nothing.

I think the fact that it’s level three is a real shame when it comes to Daisy; plenty of people like Spell Slinging Daisy decks and this would be perfect. Alas, one level too high for her!

Scott (9/10): Simply a no-brainer if you’re a Mystic.  It’s sad the three experience cost keeps us from having Ashcan Pete from firing these off.

Newspaper (24/40)

KP (5/10): Some day, this card will be amazing, when more cards like Burglary hit the scene. For now, I think it’s just a little too narrow in application to be super useful. On top of that, it’s taking up one of the two most coveted slots on the character. You’d really need to be getting a substantial benefit, and given this is worse than Flashlight in most cases, it’s a pass for now. Someday, there will be a thieving newspaper boy deck!

JC (7/10): Awesome in scenarios where you can spend clues at will, okay elsewhere. I like it a lot with Ashcan both for deckbuilding (I can ditch Magnifying Glass, which opens some more off-faction slots) and for flavour (“Fetch me the paper, boy!”) I also heard a rumor that the Arkham Post publishes a great column about burgling…

Unitled (8/10): I love the look and the theme of this card. As it stands, it feels like a great slot in a solo deck where clues are less numerous, especially in a scenario where clues can be spent for particular effects (Midnight Masks, Carnevale of Horrors).

More exciting to me, though, is the prospect of an investigation replacement deck. If you only investigate through Burglary for instance, you don’t gain any clues, giving you a permanent +2 stat boost for a single resource. Tie this into cards like Scavenging or Dr Milan too, and hopefully more similar cards we see in the future, we’ve got a new style of investigating!

Scott (4/10):  Sure, it’s great if you get it in your opening draw, but this card is one of those that can easily gum up the works after the first couple of rounds.  Pass.

Lure! (14/40)

KP (4/10): This is a pretty narrow card that really only works on missions with lots of space to run around. I like that it’s at least got the two Agility icons so that even when misdirecting monsters isn’t pertinent, you have a useful contributor to a crucial check. However, I seriously doubt that I’ll be rushing to spend my XP on this anytime soon.

JC (2/10): I’m having trouble thinking of a game I’ve played where this card would have been helpful enough to merit a deck slot. Still, it may just be that we haven’t yet seen the scenario yet that this card was destined for (perhaps in the inevitable Innsmouth campaign, we’ll have to escape swarms of hunting locals…)

Unitled (3/10): Try as I might, I can’t really think of a good use of this card at the moment. It can only be placed as your current location (so presumably you have to move away), it only lasts one turn, and it doesn’t trigger enemies that don’t already move to move towards it. It won’t even move Hunters away from someone they’re engaged with. It has a double pip, sure, but I just think there are far better picks just now. Maybe with some other movement manipulation cards this will come into its own!

Scott (5/10): I don’t feel entirely certain that Lure is a great card, but I can’t wait to try it out to see how it really works, you know?  You’d have to be in the right scenario and stationed at the right spot on the map- something with a bit of freedom to move in several directions.  If eeeeeeeverything lines up juuuuuust so, and you happen to have the right combo (uh, Dynamite?)- just maybe.  The other 99% of the time it’s in your deck you’ll either burn it on a skill test or silently lament spending a precious experience point.

Relic Hunter (28/40)
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KP (8/10): After playing with Zoey and wanting both Zoey’s Cross and Police Badge in play at the same time made me more aware of just how valuable extra slots can be. Cards like this that expand limited slots will only become better and better as more great options in those slots come available, and this opens the gateway to combos that otherwise wouldn’t be possible. It’s a little expensive, and it’s better for some characters than others, but overall, a great option.

JC (8/10): I like this a bit better than Charisma, since it will slide organically into more decks. Wendy already has her amulet and two Rabbit Feet, Agnes has her heirloom and two Rosaries, and (later on) Zoey could have her cross and two Police Badges and/or Elder Signs. Those characters would be perfectly happy to play any two of those accessories at once, especially with no in-game cost attached.

Unitled (6/10): I love the design of both Relic Hunter and Charisma. Making them permanent allows me to build a deck around the extra slots, rather than hoping to draw it during the game before I need to (and taking a tempo hit to play it). Note you can even grab two to really stack up on those extra slots!

Specifically with Relic Hunter, though, I’m not currently hurting for it in any of my decks. I can see it being useful in one of the Investigators that have an Accessory as a signature asset, like Agnes or Wendy, but otherwise I’m probably shelving this until some more juicy (and synergistic) targets come out.

Scott (6/10): Obviously, whether you want to spend three experience on these permanent upgrades is going to depend heavily on your class and build.  I see a lot more decks that could use the ally slot, thus the higher score for Charisma.  But I’m sure Relic Hunter is well worth it for characters like Agnes or Wendy who have accessories as their unique character cards.

Charisma (33/40)

KP (10/10): Allies are the best card type, flat out. If Leo de LucaDr Milan ChristopherArcane Initiate and Peter Sylvestre haven’t taught you that already, I don’t know what will. The fact that you can *spoiler alert* pick up more allies during your adventures only increases the value of this. I expect that many of my investigators for all my adventures going forth are going to be very, very charismatic.

JC (7/10): A nice pickup for anyone using a non-unique ally (read: Beat Cop), though I think there will usually be a better XP outlet. There’s also potential for some fun brews which run 6-8 strong ally cards, planning to grab both of these right away (I’m thinking Jenny for the cash, perhaps). The investigator who most wants this, though, is actually the upcoming Marie Lambeau, due to (1) her signature weakness eating her ally slot, and (2) the amount of mileage she can get off of double Arcane Initiate.

Unitled (8/10): This appeals to me much more than Relic Hunter as I find that Ally slot a far more tricky proposition than the Accessory. Lots of decks have a key Ally they want to get down early (Milan, Beat Cop or Leo) or potentially a story asset Ally, which the doesn’t leave space for the smaller, utility Allies (Stray Cat or Research Librarian, for example). Charisma immediately opens you up to these Allies, the difficulty is redrafting your deck mid campaign to slot them in!

Scott (8/10): See Relic Hunter above.

Top 3 Cards of Essex County Express:
1. Stand Together (37/40)
2. Deduction (Level 2) (33/40)
2. Charisma (33/40)

Bottom 3 Cards of Essex County Express
1. Lure! (14/40)
2. “I’m Outta Here!” (15/40)
3. Bandolier (23/40)

That about wraps up our second roundtable discussion. Apologies again for the long period in between the two articles. Hopefully next time the forces of the faculty at uni evil will not be able to impede me as much, and there will be more time to discuss this wonderful game! What are your favourite cards from the pack? Let me know, and until next time, may your skill checks remain untentacled!

*all images courtesy of arkhamdb.com and Fantasy Flight Games.

Check out the Drawn to the Flame podcast here!

 

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