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Introduction to A Game of Thrones – The Card Game

Posted by Denny Koch on August 4, 2010

A Game of Thrones – The Card Game is a Living Card Game (LCG) by Fantasy Flight Games. It is the successor of A Game of Thrones – the Collectible Card Game (CCG) which started in 2002 and was discontinued in 2007 when the distribution format was changed into a Living Card Game format.

The game is based on George R. R. Martin‘s “A Song of Ice and Fire” story circle, an epic story taking place on the fictitious continent of Westeros where several nobel houses struggle for the Iron Throne. The story is rich with intrigues, battles, espionage, treachery, and of course war. Many hundreds of characters, groups, organizations, sword brotherhoods, and secret societies shape the fate of the medieval world, combined with some low-fantasy aspects, for example dragons and other mysterious creatures.

Author George R. R. Martin is very protective of his universe and therefore the Card Game is true to the story. You can find your favorite houses, characters, and groups and all of them are represented in a very distinctive manner. As a side note, HBO currently produces a mini series based on the books which will be aired in 2011.

A Game of Thrones (“the only game that matters”) is the first book of a series of 7 books. Four are already published (A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows), the release of the fifth (A Dance with Dragons) is scheduled for September 2010.

You can play the game without knowing the books and any of the characters, but you will miss a lot of fun and many important aspects of the game if you don’t know who’s who. You should at least read book No. 1, “A Game of Thrones” before starting, this will highly enhance the experience. You should keep in mind that you have to decide on ONE house, and only knowing the houses and their characteristics, their enemies and their affiliations from the books will reveal the true depth of the game to you. By the way, you should also read the books if you don’t intend to play the game… they are highly addictive 😉

What’s the difference between a Living Card Game and a Collectible Card Game?

(Please forgive me if I “steal” some information in this paragraph from my Introduction to Call of Cthulhu – The Card Game. ;))

A Magic Booster, containing 15 random cards

The main game concept is identical: players choose factions and then try to build a powerful deck to “beat” other players’ decks. This genre is known as “Dueling Card Games“. Depending on the game, you have to follow a basic rule set for constructing your deck (a minimum or maximum number of cards, a point or cost system, allowed number of copies in one deck etc.), but apart from this, you are free to build and explore the “ultimate deck“.

In contrast to a traditional Collectible Card Game or Trading Card Game (Magic: The Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh, Marvel Vs, The Lord of the Rings TCG, Pokemon), the Living Card Game breaks away from the Collectible model.

In a Collectible Card Game, you have to buy booster packs if you want to improve your deck and if you want to find rare and powerful cards. You don’t know the specific contents of a booster pack, though, so it can happen that you have to spend $100 for a very rare card while finding 85 copies of a cheap card. Since most game systems regularly publish new booster packs, you have to spend a huge amount of money if you want to stay up-to-date and if you want to improve your deck and counter other players’ new cards.

This “blind buy” purchase model is the most problematic aspect of Collectible Card Games. The collecting and the thrill of buying new booster packs without knowing what’s inside can be somewhat addictive, so often players are forced to quit the hobby because they cannot keep up the pace and spend too much money in buying useless boosters with multiple copies of cheap cards they already possess. If you want to play competitive, you are forced to invest your money in booster packs or to pay tremendous prices for specific cards sold on eBay.

The Chapter Pack "Ancient Enemies", part of the "A Clash of Arms" sub-collection

A Living Card Game (LCG) offers a new card distribution model. Instead of selling randomized booster packs, cards are sold in fixed add-on packs. The content of such a pack is public knowledge and fixed. In A Game of Thrones – the Card Game, these add-ons are called “Chapter Packs“. They are published monthly and belong to certain “sub-collections” which focus on different aspects of the game. They bring  in more characters and other aspects of the books (locations, groups, weapons, creatures, events). You don’t have to buy all Chapter Packs, if you don’t want to, but you can choose which packs would really improve your favorite faction, your deck focus or your strategy – and which packs are not really helpful for your individual style.

Most players buy all Chapter Packs nevertheless, just to “have them all”, but this doesn’t hurt as much as buying booster packs in the CCG format.

Chapter Packs are very thematic and deal with a major storyline from the books (Nights Watch vs. Wildlings, the events from King’s Landing when Eddard Stark became the King’s Hand up to the Battle of Blackwater, the Brotherhood without Banners…). They also allow for building very thematic decks, for example decks centered around the Night’s Watch, Kingsguard, minor houses, certain traits or characters.

Chapter Packs cost about 7-11 $, depending on the shop where you buy them, and that’s it. You don’t have to hunt a rare card anymore, you simply order the Pack with your favorite cards on amazon or buy it in your local game store. Even if you are a hardcore competitive player who duels on tournaments, you don’t have to buy more than three copies of each Chapter Pack because you aren’t allowed to have more than 3 copies of each card in a single deck anyway. Publisher FFG even listened to their fans – the newer Chapter Packs contain three copies of each card, so there’s absolutely no need to buy more than one copy of each Chapter Pack any more.

Besides from the different distribution model, a LCG still offers the same dynamic customizable game play as a CCG. You can customize and build your perfect deck, but without the blind purchase model. In the end, the LCG model gives you the best of both worlds.

What’s A Game of Thrones – The Card Game?

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Warhammer Invasion LCG: Battle Packs

Posted by Denny Koch on July 27, 2010

Jump to “List of Battle Packs”

Warhammer Invasion is a “Living Card Game” (LCG) by Fantasy Flight Games. This means, it’s a collectible, customizable dueling card game where players build their individual card decks and battle other opponents’ decks.

The Best of Two Worlds

The only difference to a “Collectible Card Game” (CCG) – for example Magic: The Gathering or Yu-Gi-Oh-, is the distribution model for additional cards. In contrast to the classic Collectible Card Games, you don’t blind-buy randomized booster packs with unknown contents. Instead of that, you buy  monthly expansions called “Battle Packs” with fixed contents which are public knowledge. You don’t have to “hunt” for very rare cards anymore, probably spending hundreds of $ on blind-buying random booster packs.

Each Battle Pack adds some cards to each faction and some neutral cards and most of them deal with a specific aspect of the game (for example new sub-themes like Skaven, combat effects, keywords, locations, spells..). If you want more cards for your deck, you  can check out which Battle Pack offers the best contents for you and your specific playing style and strategy. If you want to counter a specific weakness of your deck, or if you need tools against a certain opponent, or if you want to create a theme deck with a certain focal point or strategy, you can check out which Battle Pack includes cards that will provide the desired effects to optimize your personal deck.

Ultimately, you will buy all expansion packs nevertheless, just to be more flexible and to “own them all” because also in a LCG the collectible aspect is quite addictive, but at least you don’t have to spend $100 in search for one rare card while getting 85 copies of the same cheap card in return. There’s simply more bang for your buck in the LCG format.

In a LCG, you always know what you get for your money, but you can still profit from the basic concept of deck building by choosing “your” favorite cards. The only difference to a CCG is that no cards are “rare” cards anymore, all players have access to the same cards and expansion packs and all cards have fixed prices. So it all comes down to your deckbuilding strategies, your gameplay and your choices of which characters, items, or events you take into the battle.

Core Set and Battle Packs

A Dark Elf from the Assault on Ulthuan de Luxe expansion

In 2009, Fantasy Flight Games released a “Core Set” which contained 4 pre-built decks (220 cards) and all components you need for the game (4 Capitals / strongholds, resource markers, burn tokens, damage tokens, a full-colored rulebook). The Core Pack includes 4 of the 6 factions; the last two factions (High Elves and Dark Elves) can be added to the game with a large De Luxe expansion, containing Capital boards and starter decks for the last two factions.

Players can get a first impression of the game by playing the Core Pack, by choosing one of the 4 balanced pre-built faction decks and by learning about their strengths and weaknesses. If they like the game and decide that they want to delve deeper into the hobby, they decide which factions or strategies they want to utilize in the future and start deck building by supplementing the core game with Battle Packs.

New Battle Packs are released regularly (roughly one per month). They belong to “Story cycles” which add more flavor to the game, add races, creatures, buildings, and weapons from the Warhammer Fantasy universe and allow for deep customization. Since their contents are fixed, players know what they get in advance and can decide whether a specific Battle Pack would be a good addition for their decks.

The first 6 Battle Packs (Corruption Cycle) consist of 20 different cards, 2 copies each (for a total of 40 cards). Since players tend to build decks containing multiple copies of a single card (the game allows for a maximum of three copies per card), they often bought each Battle Pack two times. This is somewhat contra productive to the “lower costs compared to a CCG” concept of a Living Card Game, so with the second story cycle, Fantasy Flight Games changed the contents of Battle Packs to 20 unique cards in triplicate copy (for a total of 60 cards), starting with the Enemy Cycle.

Battle Packs are not too expensive ($6-10 Dollars, depending on the shop) and can be bought in various game shops and from amazon.com, amazon.co.uk, or amazon.de.

List of Battle Packs (BP) and Deluxe Expansions

  • Core Set

De Luxe Expansions:

  • Assault on Ulthua (Dark Elves & High Elves)
  • March of the Damned (neutral forces, Lizardmen, Vampire Counts, new keywords “Savage” and “Necromancy”)

The Corruption Cycle:

  • BP1: The Skavenblight Thread, introduces the Skaven
  • BP2: Path of the Zealot, adds zealots of Order
  • BP3: Tooth and Claw, adds Rat Ogres of Moulder clan
  • BP4: The Deathmaster’s Dance, adds Deathmaster Sniktch
  • BP5: The Warpstone Chronicles, focus on ancient relics of the Old World
  • BP6: Arcane Fire, focus on spells and arcane magic

The Enemy Cycle:

  • BP7: The Burning of Derricksburg, Battle for the town of Derricksburg
  • BP8: The Fall of Karak Grimaz, Orcs attacking the Dwarven hold
  • BP9: The Silent Forge, High Elves discover the Dark Elves’ secret forge
  • BP10: Redemption of A Mage, adds powerful Dwarves runes, “Mage” and “Knight” keywords for the Empire
  • BP11: The Fourth Waystone
  • BP12: Bleeding Sun

The Morrslieb Cycle:

  • BP13: Omens of Ruin
  • BP14: The Chaos Moon
  • BP15: The Twin Tailed Comet
  • BP16: Signs in the Stars

Excel Sheets, called “Spoiler Lists” are available for all Battle Packs. Check out the Warhammer Invasion File Section on Boardgamegeek!

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Introduction to Warhammer: Invasion (LCG)

Posted by Denny Koch on July 26, 2010

Warhammer: Invasion – The Card Game is a Living Card Game (LCG) by Fantasy Flight Games (FFG). In contrast to the other LCGs by FFG (Call of Cthulhu – The Card Game and A Game of Thrones), Warhammer Invasion isn’t the re-launch of a former Collectible Card Game but an entirely new series.

The game is based on the Warhammer Universe by Games Workshop and was designed by Eric M. Lang.

What’s a Living Card Game?

A Living Card Game is a fully customizable dueling card game, where players create their own custom decks which support their favorite tactics, and deck theme. They choose one or more factions and create a deck of a given number of cards. Depending on the game, you have to follow a basic rule set for constructing your deck (a minimum or maximum number of cards, a point or cost system, allowed number of copies of each cord in one deck etc.), but apart from this, you are free to build and explore the “ultimate deck“ which utilizes or exploits the different strengths and weaknesses of game factions. This deck is then pitted in battles against the opponent’s custom deck.

 

Battle Packs add additional cards to the Core game and allow for deck customization

In contrast to a Collectible Card Game (CCG) or Trading Card Game (TCG) (for example Magic: The Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh, Marvel Vs, The Lord of the Rings TCG, Pokemon) where new cards are added by buying so-called randomized “Booster Packs”, Living Card Games start with a fixed set of cards in a Starter Pack and fixed expansions. While you don’t know the contents of a CCG booster pack (thus probably spending hundreds of Dollars in search for a very rare card), you always know the contents of the LCG starter pack and all expansion packs. New booster packs are constantly added to a CCG card system, so you have to spend a huge amount of money if you are a competitive player who wants to be “up-to-date” with all-powerful and rare cards. This “blind buy” model of CCGs is somewhat problematic because it burns a lot of money while you find copies and copies of the same cheap cards over and over again while you are searching for the “one” powerful new rare card. Nevertheless, CCGs are quite popular, mostly because the thrill of “not knowing what’s inside” is somewhat addictive to many players.

The Living Card Game has a different distribution model – the expansions (=new cards) are not sold in booster packs with random contents but in fixed add-ons (called Battle Pack, Asylum Pack, Chapter Pack or Adventure Pack, depending on the game). These are published regularly (usually once a month) and the contents are public knowledge. You don’t buy the pig in the poke, but you know exactly which cards you will get when you buy a certain expansion pack. If you don’t want to buy all packs but are only looking for some specific effects in order to make your deck stronger or to counter an unbeatable opponent, you can do some research of which cards are available for your favorite faction(s) and then buy specific expansions which will support your deck and individual playing style. Since the costs for such an expansion are moderate (about 10 $ for 60 cards), most LCG players will buy all expansions anyway, but it’s still much cheaper than buying tons of booster packs without knowing if you will ever get the card you are looking for.

Besides from the distribution model, there is no difference in gameplay and deck-building and customization between a CCG and a LCG. You still buy more cards, you customize your individual deck and you want to find the “ultimate weapon” against your opponent’s decks. So LCGs give you the best of both worlds.

For more information on the Difference between CCGs and LCGs, you should also have a look at our  introductory article to Call of Cthulhu – The Card Game (LCG) by Fantasy Flight Games.

I own Call of Cthulhu / A Game of Thrones. Do I really need another LCG, aren’t they alike?

If you are afraid that Warhammer: Invasion is just a Call of Cthulhu or A Game of Thrones clone simply in a different setting, you can rest assured that this ain’t the case. All three LCGs are actually very different from each other and they are entirely new games. Of course they share certain similarities (which all CCGs / LCGs / TCGs do), but their game mechanics, factions, objectives, and rules are absolutely different and not interchangeable.

Many players who like dueling card games play two or all three  of the LCGs – because they are all great and very special. All three LCGs are good  representations of their portrayed universe and you won’t ever confuse the games or the rules.

What’s Warhammer: Invasion – The Card Game?

 

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Posted in Fantasy Games A-Z, Living Card Games, Warhammer, Warhammer Inv., Warhammer Invasion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Review: Call of Cthulhu – The Card Game (LCG) Core Set

Posted by Denny Koch on May 31, 2010

Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
Published in: 2008
Designers: Eric M. Lang, Nate French
Topic: Fantasy / H.P. Lovecraft Universe
Game Type: Living Card Game (LCG)
Contents: 1 rulebook, 140 faction cards, 15 neutral cards, 6 Cthulhu miniatures, 1 mounted mapboard, 24 Story markers

HFC Game-O-Meter: D


Our Rating (1-10):

Graphic Presentation: 10
Rules: 6
Playability:
7
Replay Value:
6

Overall Rating: 7

Important! This review deals with the Core Set exclusively – and the question of how suitable it is as a standalone game played “out of the box”. It doesn’t rate the entire CoC LCG game system (Core Sets+expansions) or the general gameplay of the CoC LCG, only the contents of the Core Set “as is”!

PRO Introductory game for a LCG system that can be played “out of the box” without purchasing further cards, components are of a high quality, great artwork, Lovecraftian atmosphere, short playing time, 7 very different factions…
CONTRA …which cannot be exploited with the 20 cards per faction contained in the core set, no custom deck building, balancing issues with some combinations, official FAQ required (card errata, clarifications)

Introduction

Call of Cthulhu – The Card Game is an offspring of the Call of Cthulhu franchise. Initially, it was a Collectible Card Game where players had to buy random booster packs in order to build and improve their decks. In 2008, publisher Fantasy Flight Games decided to change the game concept into a “Living Card Game” where players still build and improve their individual card decks, but they don’t have to spend large amounts of money in buying randomized card packs with unknown contents in search for the rarest and most powerful cards.

Instead, the game is supplemented by the monthly release of “Asylum Packs” which contain cards for all seven factions as well as neutral cards. Their contents are fixed and public knowledge, so all players have access to all cards all the time. This provides for fair chances in deck building because there are no more “rare” cards as secret weapons and whether your deck is a success or an epic failure depends on your deck building skills and on how many Asylum Packs you buy.

If you want to start with Call of Cthulhu – The Card Game, you only have to buy the “Core Set” first, which serves as a starter pack. You can play it “out of the box” without buying further cards, if you want to get an impression of the game and if you want to decide whether you like the game concept. If you are a casual player and only want to play the game from time to time with friends or family members, you could probably be content with the Core Set alone, without ever buying any add-ons. It contains 20 cards for each of the 7 factions in the game, and 15 additional neutral cards which are divided between the two players. You simply choose two factions of your choice, combine their cards to a deck, add 7 neutral cards and you are ready to fight your opponent, who does the same. Combining 2 factions and fighting 2 other factions allows for 21 different decks with 105 different combat constellations.

This review deals with the Core Pack and how deep the gaming experience with the basic starter set – without any additional cards! – really is. It doesn’t deal with the “Call of Cthulhu – The Card Game” system in general!

If you are interested in more details about the Call of Cthulhu LCG, the game mechanics, Asylum Packs, and basic gameplay, please check out our introductory article: An Introduction to Call of Cthulhu – The Card Game (LCG). I won’t repeat the basics here, but concentrate on reviewing the Core Set and its value as a standalone game.

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Introduction to Call of Cthulhu – The Card Game (LCG)

Posted by Denny Koch on May 13, 2010

Call of Cthulhu – The Card Game is a Living Card Game (LCG) by Fantasy Flight Games. It is the successor of Call of Cthulhu – the Collectible Card Game (CCG) which was discontinued when the new format was introduced in 2008.

What’s the difference between a Living Card Game and a Collectible Card Game?

The main game concept is identical: players choose factions and then try to build a powerful deck which will “beat” other players’ decks. This genre is known as “Dueling Card Games“. Depending on the game, you have to follow a basic ruleset for constructing your deck (a minimum or maximum number of cards, a point or cost system, allowed number of copies in one deck), but apart from this, you are free to build and explore the “ultimate deck“.

In contrast to a traditional Collectible Card Game or Trading Card Game (Magic: The Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh, Marvel Vs, The Lord of the Rings TCG, Pokemon), the Living Card Game breaks away from the Collectible Card Game model.

A Magic Booster, containing 15 random cards

In a Collectible Card Game, you have to buy booster packs if you want to improve your deck and if you want to find rare and powerful cards. You don’t know the specific contents of a booster pack, though, so it can happen that you have to spend $100 for a very rare card while finding 85 copies of a cheap card. Since most game systems regularly publish new booster packs, you have to spend a huge amount of money if you want to stay up-to-date and if you want to improve your deck and counter other players’ new cards.

This “blind buy” purchase model is the most problematic aspect of Collectible Card Games. The collecting and the thrill of buying new booster packs without knowing what’s inside can be somewhat addictive, so often players are forced to quit the hobby because they cannot keep up the pace and spend too much money in buying useless boosters with multiple copies of cheap cards they already possess. If you want to play competitive, you are forced to invest your money in booster packs or to pay tremendous prices for specific cards sold on eBay.

A Living Card Game (LCG) offers a new card distribution model. Instead of selling randomized booster packs, cards are sold in fixed add-on packs. The contents of such a pack are public knowledge and fixed. In Call of Cthulhu, these add-ons are called “Asylum Packs”. They are published monthly and belong to certain “story cycles” with focus on different aspects of the game: focus on certain battle types (terror, combat, arcane, investigation), characters, locations, or skills. You don’t have to buy all Asylum Packs, if you don’t want to. Instead, you can choose which packs would really improve your factions or your deck or your strategy – and which are worthloss for your individual style.

Most players buy all Asylum Packs nevertheless, just to “have them all”, but this doesn’t hurt as much as buying booster packs. One Asylum Pack costs about 7-11 $, depending on the shop where you buy them, and that’s it. You don’t have to hunt a rare card anymore, you simply order the Asylum Pack with your favorite card on amazon or buy it in your local game store. Even if you are a hardcore competetive player who duels on tournaments, you don’t have to buy more than three copies of each Asylum Pack because you aren’t allowed more than 3 copies of each card in a single deck. If you play Highlander format (“there can be only one”, no more than one copy of each card per game), one of each Asylum Packs is more than enough. Publisher FFG even listened to their fans – the newer Asylum Packs contain three copies of each card, so there’s absolutely no need to buy more than one copy of each Asylum Pack any more.

Besides from the different distribution model, a LCG still offers the same dynamic customizable game play as a CCG. You can customize and build your perfect deck, but without the blind purchase model. In the end, the LCG model gives you the best of both worlds.

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Posted in Call of Cthulhu LCG, Fantasy Games A-Z, Games A-Z, Living Card Games | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Review: Marvel Heroes (FFG)

Posted by Denny Koch on May 11, 2010

Game: Marvel Heroes

Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
Published in: 2006
Designers: Francesco Nepitello, Marco Maggi, Roberto Di Meglio, Salvatore Pierucci
Era: Alternative Reality (Marvel Universe)
Contents:1 Game Board, 16 Super Hero Figures, 4 Mastermind Villain Figures, 8 Dice, 12 Master Plan Cards, 24 Story Cards, 36 Headline Cards,12 Team Power-Up Cards, 50 Resource Cards, 10 Scenario Cards, 50 Villain Cards, 4 Team Reference Cards, 16 Super Hero Reference Cards, 4 Mastermind Villain Reference Cards, 1 First Player Token, 1 Archnemesis Token, 12 Combat Power Tokens, 1 Game Round Marker, 1 Action Round Marker, 4 Team Victory Point Markers, 13 Super Hero Wound/KO Tokens, 36 Threat Tokens, 52 Plot Point Tokens, 1 Trouble Level Track Marker, Game Rules

HFC Game-O-Meter: E


Our Rating (1-10):

Graphic Presentation: 9 (9*)
Rules: 6 (6*)
Playability:
8 (5*)
Replay Value:
8 (5*)
Overall Rating:
8 (6*)

*Note: Rating (1-10) game with fixed Fantastic Four and clarified rules; Rating in brackets: game “out of the box” with unfixed F4 and rulebook

PRO Great presentation, very close to the comic books with authentic Marvel flair. Detailed and hand-painted miniatures, clever mechanics. The most important super heroes and factions are included in the game; good overall balance between X-Men, Marvel Knights and Avengers with tricky characters; strategic/tactical depth and variety
CONTRA The Fantastic 4 are out of balance and definitely overpowered; the rules contain many “black holes” and use imprecise wording; game is in fact a 2-3 players game because the F4 override the mechanics, playing these “Über-heroes” isn’t funny and interesting at all, rules clarifying and fixing required in order to play the game

Introduction: What is the game about?

One of the 4 "Mastermind Villains": Dr Doom

“Marvel Heroes” is a strategy board game based on the classic 616-Marvel Universe. Two to four superhero teams (X-Men, Marvel Knights, Avengers and the Fantastic Four) compete against each other in solving “headlines” while simultaneously fighting their respective Nemesis (Magneto, Kingpin, Red Skull and Dr. Doom) and other major and minor villains.

The main task is to deal with threats appearing all over New York City; these threats are of different types and difficulty levels. Each team consists of four members with certain strengths, weaknesses, super powers and special areas of expertise. In addition, each team member can be used either as an active fighter or as a supporter, which has a strong impact on their special abilities and roles in combat.

If you decide to fight a threat, you first try to lower the “Trouble Level” by using your different talents and abilities in the respective NYC district. Based on the final Trouble Level, a prominent lead villain from the Marvel Universe appears at the scene, often supported by other villains. Your task is to fight these villains by using your special powers against the villains’ special powers and to beat them in the fields “attack”, “defense”, and “outwit”.

Some hero miniatures: Spiderman, Dr Strange, Captain America, Wolverine, Jean Grey, Storm, Cyclops

Sometimes, a “Mastermind” is behind a threat – i.e. the super villain and Nemesis of the respective team. He can boost his subordinates and give them more advantages. After finishing off his infantry, the superhero team has to face the Mastermind himself. Over the course of the game, these Masterminds try to achieve a “Master Plan” consisting of three parts, while the superhero teams try to amass victory points by solving threats. Each player controls a superhero team as well as the Archenemy of another team. Due to this mechanic, all players are permanently involved in the game and have many ways of influencing the events and developments on the map. The final victory condition depends on the current scenario. In most cases, the game ends when a team collects a certain number of victory points or after a fixed number of game rounds.

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Call of Cthulhu LCG: Asylum Packs

Posted by Denny Koch on May 3, 2010

Jump to “List of Asylum Packs”

Once upon a time, Call of Cthulhu – The Card Game was a Collectible Card Game (CCG). This means, people had to buy “booster packs” and collect cards in order to build the “ultimate deck” which would defeat other players’ decks. Since CCGs are a quite expensive hobby (you have to buy the booster packs “blindly” without knowing what’s inside in search for the rarest and most powerful cards), we were never interested in dipping into this world. We are ASL players, after all, so one expensive game is more than enough ;).

A Living Card Game: The best of two worlds

Asylum Pack "Murmurs of Evil"

In 2008, Fantasy Flight Games changed their politics regarding the Call of Cthulhu Collectible Card game and it became a “Living Card Game” instead. A Living Card game still allows for deck building and challenging other players’ decks, but you don’t buy booster packs “blindly” any more. Instead of that, you buy regular expansions called “Asylum Packs” with fixed contents which are public knowledge.

Each Asylum Pack adds some cards to each faction and neutral cards and most of them deal with a specific aspect of the game (for example terror struggle, investigation, characters, skills, arcane…). If you want more cards for your deck, you check out which Asylum Pack offers the best contents for you and your specific playing style and strategy.

Ultimately, you will buy all expansion packs nevertheless, just to be more flexible and to “own them all” because the collectible system is quite addictive, but at least you don’t have to spend $100 in search for one rare card while getting 85x the same cheap card in return.

In a Living Card Game, you always know what you get for your money, but you can still profit from the basic concept of deck building by choosing “your” favorite cards. The only difference to a Collectible Card Game is that no cards are “rare” cards anymore, all players have access to the same cards and expansion packs and all cards have fixed prices. So it all comes down to your deckbuilding strategies, your gameplay, your choices of which characters, items, or events you take into the battle.

If you collected the old Call of Cthulhu CCG, you don’t have to start all over again, though. All old CCG cards, boosters, and the first 4 Asylum Packs which are from the CCG era are fully combatible with the new LCG. Unfortunately, they have a different backside print and can be easily recognized by the opponent if you don’t use card sleeves. In addition, they aren’t used in tournament decks anymore. If you don’t mind, you can integrate them into your new collection.

Core Set and Asylum Packs

Fantasy Flight Games released a “Core Set” in 2008 which contained a fixed set of 165 cards – 20 cards for each of the 7 factions plus 15 neutral cards, plus a playing board, a full-colored rulebook and six very cool Cthulhu Miniatures which are used for resource management purposes. Players can get a first impression of the game by playing the Core Set, by combining the factions and by learning about their strengths and weaknesses. If they like the game and decide that they want to delve deeper into the hobby, they decide which factions or strategies they want to utilize in the future and start deck building by supplementing the core game with Asylum Packs.

Cthulhu is watching you!

New Asylum Packs are released regularly (roughly one per month). They belong to “Story cycles” which add more flavor to the game, add prominent characters and events from the Lovecraft universe and allow for deep customization. Since their contents are fixed, players know what they get in advance and can decide whether a specific Asylum Pack would be a good addition for their decks.

The first 14 Asylum Packs consists of 10 unique cards in single copy and 10 unique cards in triplicate copies (for a total of 40 cards). Since players tend to build decks containing multiple copies of a single card (the game allows for a maximum of three copies per card), they bought each AP three times. This is  somewhat contraproductive to the “lower costs compared to a CCG” concept of a Living Card Game, so Fantasy Flight Games changed the contents of  Asylum Packs to 20 unique cards in triplicate copy (for a total of 60 cards), starting with the Yuggoth Contract circle (AP19).

Some Asylum Packs are out of print by now and very hard to find. Chances are good that they will be reprinted some day, but until then, you have to keep your eyes open if you want to add them to your collection. The other Asylum Packs are not too expensive (6-10 Dollars, depending on the shop) and can be bought in various game shops and from amazon.com, amazon.co.uk, or amazon.de.

List of Asylum Packs (AP) and Deluxe Expansions

  • Core Set
  • AP5: Mountains of Madness (currently out of print, extremely hard to find), focus on the keyword “Polar”
  • AP6: Ancient Horrors (currently out of print, extremley hard to find), focus on characters

Subcollection: Summons of the Deep:

  • AP7: Spawn of the Sleeper (currently out of print, extremely hard to find), focus on Terror struggle
  • AP8: The Horror beneath the surface (currently out of print, hard to find), focus on Investigation struggle
  • AP9: The Antediluvian Dream, focus on Combat struggle
  • AP10: The Terror of the Tides, focus on Arcane struggle
  • AP11: The Thing from the Shore, focus on character skill
  • AP12: The Path to Y’ha-nthlei, focus on strange transformations

Subcollection: Dreamlands:

  • AP13: Twilight Horror, introduces dynamic day/night mechanicm, clan mechanics (Zoog, Gug), Dreamer subtype
  • AP14: In Memory of Day
  • AP15: In the Dread of Night, focus on darkness / night
  • AP:16 The Search for the Silver Key, focus on Dreamlands Environment
  • AP17: Sleep of the Dead
  • AP18: Journey to Unknown Kadath

Subcollection: The Yuggoth Contract:

  • AP19: Whispers in the Dark
  • AP20: Murmurs of Evil
  • AP21: The Spoken Covenant
  • AP22: The Wailer below Asylum
  • AP23: Screams from Within
  • AP24: The Cacophony

Subcollection: Rituals of the Order Cycle

  • AP25: The Twilight Beckons
  • AP26: Perilous Trials
  • AP27: Initiations of the Favored
  • AP28: Aspirations of Ascension
  • AP29: The Gleaming Spiral

De Luxe Expansions:

  • Secrets of Arkham, new tribal synergy deck options, day and night mechanics, utility neutral cards, additional story cards
  • The Order of the Silver Twilight, adds a new human faction: the Order of the Silver Twilight

Excel Sheets, called “Spoiler Lists” are available for all Asylum Packs. Check out the CoC File Section on Boardgamegeek!

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