Through the Looking Glasser
One of the main features I admire from the design of this card game is the concept of Story Cards. Every block would have this gentle push towards rewarding different types of decks. Sure, it is hard to depend on Story Cards to see a particular strategy work but seeing that Story pop up and the ravenous scramble towards it to solidify your victory does add some random excitement to a methodical, strategic game. I can't count the times where I rushed in towards Abysses of Night to reset the domains, so my deck of cheap Criminals had this edge over the generally more expensive Monster crowd.
But then, a huge paradigm shift came to us. In the transition from a Collectible Card Game to a series of smaller bite-size chunks called "Asylum Packs"in the format since them dubbed "Living Card Game," all hope to ever see a new set of Story cards seemed lost forever. The idea to bring new player-neutral game cards just didn't seem viable.
Then, one day I received an email about playtesting something new. I have done some testing on a number of Asylum Packs. "This time, we're going to do something a little more ambitious", the email promised. Ambition sounded good, so I agreed on the vow of secrecy again, strangely excited but unaware what this "ambition" really meant.
Opening the folder of files that held the future of this game, I came across a most curious thing — a file named "Core Set," which indeed defied my expectations of where the Call of Cthulhu Card Game seemed to be going. With it, a text file explaining the meaning of it all.
The Core Set is a new product that marries various purposes. One of them being a stand-alone game that can be played out of the box. It's also a stepping stone for new players to help them get up to speed with the fully customizable game most of us have been playing for years. Plus, it's a nice anthology for older players to round out their collection with old staples and game pieces to help lure new players into the cult of Cthulhu. The part that really blew me away was the inclusion of 10 never-seen-before cards I had already given up on ever seeing again: A new Story Deck.
Have you seen the Yellow Sign?
As you are probably well aware, most characters, support cards and events (barring those fickle neutral cards) belong in one of seven Factions. One of those factions is named after He Who Shall Not Be Named. His friends call him Hastur, though, at least for as long as they remain capable of actual speech instead of being reduced to drooling, babbling shadows of their former selves.
Hastur feeds on insanity, which, in the world of the Cthulhu Mythos makes him one of the most powerful Ancient Ones to vie over control of the Earth. But that which is his greatest strength is also his greatest weakness. Eons of culling the weak of mind has strengthened the human spirit well enough to withstand the spreading disease. Well, at least to the point that a lot of the pesky human characters have been blessed with a keyword called "Willpower" which is very hard for The Team In Yellow to overcome. Sure, getting some help of Shub-Niggurath (Temple of Haon-Dor) or Cthulhu (Forgotten Isle), Hastur is able to wither away those mental defenses but on his own, he has a lot of trouble getting the best out of say, the game-winning ability of Chaugnar-Faugn.
Still, besides canceling all kinds of triggered effects, Hastur is good at withering away opponents' hands and decks. All those lovely Willpower keywords go to the discard pile. All that abundance of Insanity preventing Terror Icons are lost forever.
Or are they?
One of the new story cards really helps in this case. Because Opening Night brings those characters back — with a twist! An upside-down twist to be precise. Because Willpower and Terror Icons may prevent characters from going insane, but Insanity prevents characters from having keywords and icons in the first place. So, suddenly all discarded characters come back into play… Insane! Chaugnar rejoices, and will probably finish things off right there. Altar of Madness allows you to play almost anything without even having to match a resource or drain a domain. Poor Victoria Glasser. She would have loved an opening night like this the chaos and madness and lunacy! But she is lost to the evil machinations of Vaughn, never to be seen again… Or is she?