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Subject: The Soul Collector!!! and other frivolities rss

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Mark Griffiths
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Hero Pack Two is about a year old, so after my month with A Touch of Evil I thought I'd share some of my musings on this little box with you all

Firstly, I really like this idea of Hero Packs. Well, I like the idea of expansions for A Touch of Evil in general, but Hero Packs are a nice way of freshening up the game without too much clutter. If, like me, you like to break out just the base game every once in a while, you can slip in some newness without too much fuss, I suppose.

The pack contains four new heroes, one new villain (with minion chart), and cards to expand the base game decks. There are only ten of these, but more on that later. The production quality is awesome as always, including top-notch miniatures.

The heroes include two of my all-time favourites released for the game to date. First off, we have Jack Fellows, Privateer - a military hero with the ability to re-roll all all of his missed-to-hit dice once per fight round. How useful is that?! With 3 combat to start with, that is already pretty decent. Frederic Leon, Foreign Diplomat has been of great use to me in the past - he travels around the board with his own escort of Militia (though you have to pay for them first), but can also pay to draw events whenever he likes. A useful little effect is also the fact he never needs to reveal Town Elder Secrets, so he can be handy to have around if he can keep cycling through the Event deck until he gets a combination of "I say..." and Gossip and Rumors going with Victor Danforth in the co-op game, making sure all those Town Elders are only acting for good. Maybe...

My favourites, however, are the women of the group. We start with Sara, the Bright Witch, who gains 2 investigation at the beginning of each turn or Showdown Fight Round. Handy, as she can also pay to cancel wounds on the roll of 3+, though only once per wound. It has been a very handy combo for me in the past! Being a Witch, however, she cannot use Guns, but given the theme (and her high starting Spirit), you'll possibly want to outfit her with a Runic Amulet. She also gains 2 fight dice against Magik, Demon or Construct enemies. A lot of the effects that target specific 'breeds' of enemy are limited to those seen in the base set - think of the special effects of Reverend Harding or Magistrate Croft - so it's nice to see stuff that helps the newer 'breed', particularly anything that can help against the Delion Dryad!

Abigail Sturn, Student of the Occult, was originally seen as an ally in Something Wicked, where she could be found at The Inn. Her appearance here continues the theme of the first Hero Pack, then, in taking one of the allies of the core game - Lucy Hanbrook - and making her into a hero. (Not to mention, the Scarlet Shadow from Hero Pack 1 who originally appeared in The Allies supplement. Perhaps Hero Pack Three will give us a hero Charlotte Dubois? Please, FFP?!) As her ally version gave the Hero +1 Cunning, Abigail's own abilities bolster her Cunning, allowing her to use it instead of Combat during a fight without the need for Tools of Science to aid her. Interestingly, she also gains +1 Cunning for each Book she has (a nice throwback to the days of Anne Marie), and +1 health box for each Occult Item she has. So with a fairly respectable 3 of each to begin with, she has the potential to, theoretically, get as much as 25 extra cunning through books and their abilities, and 2 extra health boxes (there are only two Occult Items in the game). I've unfortunately never gotten quite this close, as it would involve playing with every single expansion and going around like a beast. But 25 cunning, to say nothing of training at the Magistrate's Office, seems a bit spectacular!

(For those of you interested, the base game gives two Book Town Items, one of which gives +1 Cunning; there is a Book of the Occult at the Abandoned Keep which gives +2 Cunning (and is an Occult Item); the Book of Town History at the Windmill gives +1 Cunning; the Book of Witchcraft at the Olde Woods gives +1 Cunning, and with a Party Invitation she can carry both the Family Bible and Book of Medicine from The Manor, for a core set total of 12 Cunning. Something Wicked has the Explorer's Journal for +2 Cunning on the Forgotten Island; either the Keeper's Registry or the Book of Death from The Inn; the Book of Lies from the Monastery, and you'll definitely want to add the Scroll of Knowledge Monastery Item to the list, which is a book and allows you to re-roll any Cunning dice, including using Cunning instead of Combat! Something Wicked includes a Book of Riddles for the Manor deck, giving +1 Cunning, so you could swap that out for the Bible or the Medicine book - Something Wicked adds 8 Cunning, or 7 to the running total if you make the switch. The Coast gives us the Captain's Log at the Shipwreck, a Book with +2 Cunning; Smuggler's Cove gives us the Ship's Manifest Book, and the Lighthouse gives us our second Occult Item, the Serpent's Tooth, for +2 Cunning. There are two books available from Tidewater, but they don't add anything that the Town Item books haven't already provided; The Coast therefore adds 6 Cunning and another health box. 12+7+6=25!)

I really like how they have dealt with the possibility of drawing the ally version of the hero, too. Rather than remove said ally card, it remains in the deck - if another hero draws "you", the card is then removed, "you" move to that space, then both heroes each gain 2D6 investigation. If "you" drew "yourself", you gain 2D6 investigation. The rules go on to explain that you use the extra resources and knowledge of the location to gain information, as it is assumed that said location is your home. Nice!

The cards that come with the box are split between 3 Mystery, 3 Event, and one each for the base game's four corner locations. I like this distribution over the first Hero Pack's, which featured the four locations and all Events. The cards are pretty standard fare, and apart from the chest that now appears at the Windmill (which allows you to carry three extra location or town items), nothing to particularly write home about. The artwork serves to anchor the new heroes into the game, so Sara appears on a Manor card, Frederic on the Olde Woods card, etc. This touch I really like, I must say. It's probably worth noting here as well that the pack was released almost in tandem with The Coast, and as such the four heroes here feature on a lot of cards in that expansion.

But enough of all this talk of heroes - you want to know about the villain of the piece! (Go on, admit it!) The new villain here presented is The Reaper, and a really nice addition he is, too. He starts the game with 3 combat dice and 6 wounds, which is actually enough to make you look twice - just 3 combat dice? However, his Basic effect is already chilling: each hit he does to you does two wounds. Ouch. Well, he is the Reaper! His Basic Minion Chart is fairly standard, using the Spectre minion markers from the base game. His event, Chilling Shriek, forces every hero on the board to pass a Spirit or Cunning 5+ test (Abigail should hopefully have no problems with that!), or lose D6 investigation. Chilling, though I've seen worse.

Let's turn over, though, to the Advanced Game...

To start with, that Chilling Shriek now focuses on heroes at the location where the event was rolled, and spaces next to said location, and limits the attribute test to Cunning, causing wounds on a failure. With an event like Chilling Shriek, it makes sense to me that heroes should test their Spirit to withstand it, but there we are. The Grim Spectre minion remains unchanged, though similar to The Shadow Witch's Spectre minions, she forces you to draw an extra Mystery card on the roll of a 5+, which is nice.

The Reaper himself has some pretty awesome Advanced abilities, as well.

The Soul Collector is perhaps my favourite of them, for the atmosphere it evokes. Whenever he kills off a Town Elder, he gains +2 wound marker. However, he doesn't attract Evil Elders, instead they "flee town" and are removed from the game. Awesome!

The Dark Mark is another evocative effect. A Random Town Elder gains this Mark at the beginning of the game (I used the "A" counter that was included in the base game, though there are lots of things that could stand in for it - the rules suggest a 5-wound counter) and, whenever any of the Elders would be killed, the marked Elder is killed instead. The Mark then moves to a new Random Elder. It's just like the cold hand of death hovers above them! Oh, get those Resolve Tokens at the ready!

His Wither effect is simply amazing. Lots of bookkeeping involved, but oh, so worth while! As each Mystery Phase begins, a Random Location is drawn and 'decay tokens' (wound markers) are placed at the location equal to the cost of the lair card drawn. Whenever a hero enters that space on a subsequent turn, they must roll dice for each Wither marker, and on the roll of 1 or 2, the marker moves onto the hero as a wound token. It makes the game board suddenly a lot more dangerous! I played against the Reaper using just the Shadowbrook board, so the locations were clogging up fairly quickly - add to this the advanced Chilling Shriek, which also shuffles the Lair card discard pile back into the deck, and you might be faced with some pretty daunting locations to investigate. As you might expect, the Reaper also has an ability that triggers when the "Murder!" card is drawn, which places decay markers at the same Random Location.

The Reaper is definitely in my top five Villains. His Wither ability cursing the countryside makes for some really tense play experiences, and while he may not be throwing many fight dice to begin, his ability to cause two wounds on each success should alone give you pause during early-game Deadly Encounters. Once the Town Elders start dying off, as well, he becomes pretty damn daunting to beat - unless you're Abigail with a whole library in tow, of course!

Hero Pack 2 is probably my favourite of the two packs released thus far. The Reaper is much better than the Necromancer, and I find myself drawn to Sara and Abigail more than any of those in the first pack. Not to say that Pack 1 isn't worth getting - just that, in a generally excellent product, Pack 2 ranks higher for me.

Dare you take on the Soul Collector? Or will you Wither in fear?

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Mike Em
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So the real question then is will they release more cards for the new locations featured in the two expansions at some point?

great review, btw!
 
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Mark Griffiths
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Cumber wrote:
So the real question then is will they release more cards for the new locations featured in the two expansions at some point?

great review, btw!


Oh yeah, I meant to mention that! It would be awesome to get more for the expansion locations. Of course I realise they do it to make the packs appeal to everyone and not exclude folks who only have the base set. It's my secret hope they release more content as time goes on that would address this, though. Hell, it's my hope they release more content, anyway!!
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Mike
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Always nice when an expansion gets a quality review! thumbsup
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Mark Griffiths
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BonesJackson wrote:
Always nice when an expansion gets a quality review! thumbsup


Thanks!
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Bob T
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Great review!


Had Abigail up to 15 Fight Dice one time- it was like dropping a bomb on the Villain each time she rolled. But my fav is Frederick Leon (tied with Liliana the "Lost Soul" for all-time fav Heroes) Jack Fellows is a little too powerful, and I've had no luck with Sara...


The Reaper has become one of my fav Villains, partly cause he looks like he stepped right out of "The Frighteners", partly cause he adds variety when playing the base game by itself.

I hope "Hero Pack 3" comes with new cards for SW and TC corner locations!
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MoonSylver
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Thoth Amon wrote:
Great review!


Had Abigail up to 15 Fight Dice one time- it was like dropping a bomb on the Villain each time she rolled. But my fav is Frederick Leon (tied with Liliana the "Lost Soul" for all-time fav Heroes) Jack Fellows is a little too powerful, and I've had no luck with Sara...


Funny how experiences can vary. I think a lot of it has to do with which Hero vs which Villain, & which boosts you can acquire.

I've had by hat handed to me with Fredrick Leon & with Jack Fellows, & totally dominated with Sara. laugh
 
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