The Soldier and the Secretary
A Preview of The Path to Carcosa for Arkham Horror: The Card Game
"Although it was acknowledged that the supreme note of art had been struck in The King in Yellow, all felt that human nature could not bear the strain, nor thrive on words in which the essence of purest poison lurked."
–Robert W. Chambers, The Repairer of Reputations
The mysteries of Arkham Horror: The Card Game are so deadly and taxing that few would ever dare to investigate them. Still, there are some brave—or unfortunate—souls who find themselves compelled to dig for the truth. They take action when no one else seems to care that people have suddenly gone missing, that monsters have gotten loose, or that the play coming to Arkham appears to be steeped in a history of madness, despair, and death.
Along with its new scenarios, The Path to Carcosa brings six more of these daring or foolhardy investigators to the game. And, as with all of the game's investigators, these characters are talented—and flawed—human beings who bring not only their strengths to your adventures, but their weaknesses as well.
Not only do these investigators come with unique talents and weaknesses, but as with Lola Hayes (The Path to Carcosa, 6), whom we met in the expansion's announcement, the investigators in The Path to Carcosa come with unique deckbuilding options and requirements. For Lola Hayes, she needs to include not just one, but two copies of her signature weakness. We also caught a glimpse of Akachi Onyele (The Path to Carcosa, 4), who gains additional uses of each asset she plays, and her deckbuilding options break the established mold by allowing her to draw from a combination of Mystic cards, neutral cards, and Occult-traited cards.
Today, we'll continue our previews of The Path to Carcosa with a closer look at two of the new investigators, a soldier and a secretary.
Since the Core Set, the investigators from the Guardian class have excelled at one thing—combat. While they are certainly capable of performing other tasks as well, there's no question what these characters will do when they're faced with a choice between traveling to unrevealed locations or gunning down the Monsters that threaten to devour their friends.
Mark Harrigan (The Path to Carcosa, 1) is no exception. In fact, his Combat score of five immediately makes him one of the game's most effective Monster killers, and he's equally effective against every other foe, as well. But where Mark Harrigan may differ from the game's existing Guardian investigators is in his willingness to take damage for other characters.
When you play as Mark Harrigan, you get to draw a card anytime that damage is placed on a card you control. Since card draw is generally good, this gives you extra incentive to step in front of the physical attacks you were already inclined to draw away from your companions. But there's a cost to the damage you absorb, and it's not only applied when you near your threshold of nine health.
As Mark Harrigan, you start with Sophie in play. This Spirit asset represents your memories of the woman you loved, and it starts play turned to its In Loving Memory side (The Path to Carcosa, 9a), at which time it serves as a welcome inspiration, helping you rise to the challenges before you. But as you find yourself more thoroughly beaten down, your memories of Sophie grow darker, and the card flips to its It Was All My Fault side (The Path to Carcosa, 9b), at which point you're burdened to the brink of Madness by the sense that your failures didn't just lead to your current wounds but to your beloved Sophie's death.
And while Sophie works in many ways like Mark Harrigan's signature strength and weakness, it is neither. It's just the character's single most defining card. His Expert skills are reflected by The Home Front (The Path to Carcosa, 7), which grants him—or an adjacent teammate–an astonishing four icons to a Combat check, and his most traumatic memories of the Great War are given shape by Shell Shock (The Path to Carcosa, 8), which makes it doubly risky for him to take the damage that would draw him cards in the first place.
Accordingly, Mark Harrigan is best served by making sure he has some assets and allies that can help absorb the damage he might take, and The Path to Carcosa gives him access to one of the best of these options in the form of True Grit (The Path to Carcosa, 21). Not only can it absorb three points of damage, which Mark Harrigan can easily convert into three cards drawn, but the card can absorb the damage that his allies would otherwise take.
In this way, equipped with True Grit, Mark Harrigan isn't just the Guardian who arrives in time to shoot down the enemy assailing his teammates; he's the investigator who arrives in time to take the inevitable hit and then gun down whatever just hit him. And this idea is only further supported by his ability to make use of "Let me handle this!" (The Path to Carcosa, 22), which allows him not only to absorb any treachery card that would deal physical damage to one of his allies, but could also allow him to pull an enemy away from the investigator it would have otherwise engaged—even if that investigator isn't at Harrigan's location.
Similarly, the Seeker-class investigator Minh Thi Phan (The Path to Carcosa, 2) comes with an ability that allows her to interact with investigators at other locations.
While Minh Thi Phan's unique investigator ability ensures you'll take a good look at every card she could possibly discard for positive effect during a skill test, her signature Talent, Analytical Mind (The Path to Carcosa, 10), allows her to apply these cards toward skill tests performed by investigators who aren't even at her location.
What's more, Analytical Mind further rewards your decision to support your teammates by granting you extra card draw, once per round, whenever you commit exactly one card to a skill test.
All of this, however, is complicated once you open the pages of The King in Yellow (The Path to Carcosa, 11). Although the book is only said to drive mad those who have finished the whole work, Minh's signature Weakness suggests that even reading through the first act is more than enough to invite ruin upon yourself. So long as this treacherous Tome remains in play, it counteracts much of Minh's effectiveness; she can no longer commit just one card to a skill test, so she can no longer commit cards to help the allies who have wandered away from her. Nor can she apply her Analytical Mind toward the card draw that might help her assemble the six matching skill icons she needs to apply to a check to discard The King in Yellow.
This means you need to draw those cards the old-fashioned way—one per action—or you need to play an event like Preposterous Sketches (Blood on the Altar, 186) or No Stone Unturned (The Path to Carcosa, 26) to scare up some matching icons fast.
Once you do, though, you can rejoice in the fact that Minh's signature weakness, unlike some others, isn't shuffled back into the deck after it's discarded. Under normal circumstances, you'll never have to deal with The King in Yellow more than once per adventure. And once she's overcome the temptation to read further, Minh Thi Phan can get back to the business of helping her fellow investigators scare up clues, whether by supporting them with her cards or by investigating locations near and far with In the Know (The Path to Carcosa, 27).
Enter Scenes of Madness, Despair, and Death
The stage is set. The curtain is due to rise. All the actors are moving into place. So which role will you play?
Will you try to tackle the whole of the investigation on your own? Or will you delve the mysteries of The Path to Carcosa alongside your fellow investigators? Will you assist them with your guns or your analytical mind?
No two investigators are the same. Each comes with his or her own strengths and weaknesses, and how well you fare will likely depend a great deal on how you play to your strengths while mastering your shortcomings.
Look to see what you can do with the new investigators from The Path to Carcosa (AHC11) when it arrives. Head to your local retailer to pre-order your copy today!