|Clandestine Cultists and Secret Orders
A Preview of The Sleeper Below Expansion for Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game
|Call of Cthulhu LCG | Published 02 September 2014|
“My uncle blamed his old age, Wilcox afterward said, for his slowness in recognising both hieroglyphics and pictorial design. Many of his questions seemed highly out-of-place to his visitor, especially those which tried to connect the latter with strange cults or societies.”
–H.P. Lovecraft, The Call of Cthulhu
In Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game, immense and terrifying creatures lie dormant in deathless slumber hundreds of fathoms beneath the surface of the ocean. Other unfathomable creatures, the inhabitants of extra-dimensional worlds just beyond the edges of our own, can reach across time and space to influence the dreams of artists, lunatics, and other visionaries.
While the vast majority of humanity remains blissfully ignorant of these strange creatures, there are a handful who recognize their existence, and the ways in which they respond to this knowledge are as varied as the nature of humanity itself. Many of them go mad, unable to process the ramifications of such terrifying realities. Some recognize the existence of these creatures as threats to humanity and its continued existence, and they work to ensure that these creatures will never fully enter the human realm. Some try to exploit their knowledge for power, offering themselves as servants or seeking the means to control these alien powers that they can’t even fully understand.
Finally, a good number of these individuals elect to congregate with others who share their knowledge and interests. They seek greater strength in numbers and form secret societies or cults. And with the upcoming release of The Sleeper Below deluxe expansion, these Societies will begin to more fully impact the struggles of Call of Cthulhu.
In our previous previews of The Sleeper Below, we’ve looked at the expansion’s new Dormant mechanic and the ways in which its many new characters lend strength and flavor to the Cult of Cthulhu. However, while the majority of The Sleeper Below is dedicated to the slumbering Cthulhu and his cult, the expansion also bolsters each of the game’s other factions. One of the chief ways in which it does so is through the introduction of new Society characters, each of which costs six resources but plays for less if your opponent has won any stories.
Societies in The Sleeper Below
Each of the eight Society characters in The Sleeper Below represents a group of similarly minded individuals who are bent upon secretly advancing their own agenda, whether that agenda be to defend humanity’s interests, seize control of humanity, or summon forth the Great Old Ones.
It makes sense, then, that these Societies are more skillful and capable than nearly every individual character within the game. Each Society comes with six skill and a mix of five struggle icons. They’re all unique, and at six cost, they’re all quite expensive. Of course, high-cost characters come with some inherent benefits, such as the ability to bypass Negotium Perambulans in Tenebris (Dunwich Denizens, 80) and a higher degree of protection from such cost-based events as from Pushed into the Beyond (Touched by the Abyss, 109) and Deep One Assault (Core Set, 56).
Still, games of Call of Cthulhu are often won or lost before players are able to build a single domain up to six resources, so there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to pay any Society character’s full six cost.
However, each Society also comes with a shared effect; the cost to play any Society is reduced by two for each story card in an opponent’s won pile, and they each come with powerful game effects, many of which can quickly turn a game on its head.
In the end, then, each of these Society characters appears to offer a potential late-game swing. The further you find yourself behind, or the closer you get to the end of a close game, the more impactful they become. This is true, but there’s more to these complicated Societies than just a late-game push. Their abilities and subtypes can engender a good variety of mid-game combination plays.
To Preserve Order
While the Ancient Ones and their worshippers seek to sow chaos throughout the world, some Societies, like the US Archaeological Society (The Sleeper Below, 44) seek to thwart the Ancient Ones and preserve order. Or at least a form of order.
Each Society character in The Sleeper Below has two subtypes, the first of which is Society, and the second subtype can tell you a lot about how you might be able to put the character’s talents to good use. For example, the US Archaeological Society’s Explorer subtype allows it to benefit from a wide range of synergies with other Explorers like Roald Ellsworth (Seekers of Knowledge, 4) and Brette Wulffsen (Seekers of Knowledge, 5).
Moreover, even as the US Archaeological Society allows you to search for Lost Civilizations each time you place a success token at a story where it is committed, the Lost Civilization Ultima Thule (Seekers of Knowledge, 26) allows you to commit the US Archaeological Society to stories as early as your first Story phase.
The US Archaeological Society isn’t the only group looking to maintain order in The Sleeper Below. The Criminals of the Hip Sing Tong (The Sleeper Below, 53) intend to make sure no unexpected evils interfere with their profits, The Peel Association (The Sleeper Below, 40) protects mankind by stripping its foes of the ability to use some of its most valuable resources, and H.O.S.T. (The Sleeper Below, 49) continues to promote its own order.
Notably, H.O.S.T. doesn’t gain as much as some of the other Societies from its secondary subtype, Independent, but it certainly doesn’t lack for interactions with other cards. In fact, once it comes into play, H.O.S.T. is one of the Societies most likely to change the nature of a game. Its action reads:
“Action: Return a Lodge character to your hand. Then, draw 1 card. Limit 3 times per turn.”
In combination with other Lodge characters like Nathan Wick (Written and Bound, 13) and Lord Jeffrey Farrington (The Order of the Silver Twilight, 18), H.O.S.T. can even help you recover and snatch victory from the brink of defeat. And it’s Independent subtype? That offers you a bit of protection in the form of 607 Walter Street (Kingsport Dreams, 39), which ensures that even The Plague Stone (Terror in Venice, 32) won’t be able to permanently disrupt the Order’s secret ambitions.
To Sow Chaos
Of course, if the forces of humanity can have their Societies, then so can the Ancient Ones and their followers. All four of the mythos factions gain Society characters whose second subtype is Cultist, and that means that they give each of the mythos factions new tools they can use to extract benefits from all of the other Cultist-themed effects in The Sleeper Below, not to mention the rest of the Call of Cthulhu card pool.
This likely means that players looking to make full use of these new mythos Society characters may explore decks that partner cards from two or more factions. If they do, a maddening array of possible combinations awaits them. For example, aligning the Cult of Cthulhu with the Sons of Carcosa (The Sleeper Below, 42) and other Cultists dedicated to Hastur would dramatically increase the impact of a Harbinger of Insanity (Murmurs of Evil, 27).
Alternatively, were Cthulhu’s Cultists to join forces with those of Shub-Niggurath, the event Even Here She Dwells (Never Night, 80) could provide you a massive burst of early card draw, and The Shepherds (The Sleeper Below, 46) would allow you to resource some of your most powerful characters early on but still retain access to them later in the game.
Finally, the Guardians of the Gate (The Sleeper Below, 55), a Society dedicated to Yog-Sothoth, may posses the most game-changing of all the new Societies’ abilities, but their lack of Combat icons makes them vulnerable in the story phase. Even a lowly Black Dog (Words of Power, 29) could destroy them… That is until the Society coordinates its efforts with the Cult of Cthulhu and gains access to such powerful items as the Horrific Statuette (The Sleeper Below, 20).
And in a well-crafted Cultist deck, the draw limitations imposed upon both players by the Guardians of the Gate might begin to appear truly one-sided once you make use of Unaussprelichen Kulten (The Sleeper Below, 25), Servant to the Elder Things (Lost Rites, 77), and Speak to the Dead (Whispers in the Dark, 20).
Choose Your Cause
While it is primarily dedicated to Cthulhu and his followers, The Sleeper Below lends considerable strength to each of the game’s factions, and the expansion’s eight new Society characters are certain to find their way into a wide array of new decks.
Will you join with other individuals dedicated to the promotion of order? Or will you help call the earth to ruin? The time to decide draws near. The Sleeper Below is coming. Head to your local retailer to pre-order your copy today!
Based on the fiction of H.P. Lovecraft and his literary circle, Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game takes two players deep into the Cthulhu Mythos where investigators clash with the Ancient Ones and Elder Gods for the fate of the world. The Living Card Game format allows players to customize their gaming experience with monthly Asylum Pack expansions to the core game.