Greetings and welcome to the inaugural article for Rite of Seeking! On this blog, we will be diving into some of the strategies, combos, and metagaming for Arkham Horror: The Card Game.
Today’s topic is Level 0 Encounter Hate.
What is Encounter Hate?
“Encounter hate” is the capacity of a card to neutralize the threat of an encounter card as it is being drawn, or otherwise minimizes the threat of the encounter deck in a direct fashion. It does not include cards such as weapons or healing effects which help you cope with the effects of encounter cards after the fact. The power of encounter hate can range from weak to strong. So, Ambush is a mild form of encounter hate as it does 2 damage to an enemy that is spawning from the deck, but Disc of Itzamna is much stronger encounter hate as it outright discards an enemy as it spawns from the deck instead. Hiding Spot is not encounter hate at all as it only modifies enemies who have already spawned.
Level 0 Encounter Hate refers to encounter hate cards that are level 0 and are therefore available from the outset of deckbuilding. If you are interested in designing a deck that has encounter hate as a mechanism, you should be familiar with these cards.
Who can run Encounter Hate?
Far and away, encounter hate is the domain of two classes: Mystic and Guardian. Mystic encounter hate typically involves outright canceling card draws or manipulating the order of the encounter deck to prevent the most harmful of draws. Guardian encounter hate typically involves management of the threat level of the deck for the team by being able to search for monsters on demand (which are easier for Guardians to deal with than most other team members) and taking on encounter card draws for others.
Should I run Encounter Hate?
Whether or not you should run encounter hate depends on the set-up of your team. If you have say, a Skids on your team, who has a willpower of 2, you don’t want him to be facing cards that test willpower. To put into perspective how much you don’t want that to happen, let’s say you are playing the intro scenario, The Gathering, and you draw the card Rotting Remains as Skids. You have a will of 2 and are testing against a will threshold of 3. From the chaos bag, you draw a -2, not an uncommon draw. You take 3 horror. Since there are 3 copies of this card in the deck, let’s imagine on the next draw, you draw another copy of Rotting Remains, and draw a -2 again.
In this case, you are already eliminated from the game.
From another perspective, let’s say you are Roland and you are on a location with a clue and a huge shroud value, and your best hope of claiming that clue is defeating an enemy. During the next Mythos phase, you could play an encounter hate card that allows an enemy to spawn on your location. Defeating that enemy can help you claim that clue easily. Encounter hate helped you turn the whims of the encounter deck in your favour!
Level 0 Encounter Hate Cards
Ward of Protection is the most commonly thought of encounter hate card, because it is, in fact, the strongest encounter card. At level 0, it outright cancels the revelation card of a non-weakness treachery card. For most of the cards, that effectively deletes the card entirely. It’s worth noting though that this will not cancel the keywords Surge, Peril, Hidden, and the like. It only cancels revelation effects, and it only works on cards you draw.
This can be huge against cards like Ancient Evils, buying your team an extra turn, or Grasping Hands, given that many Mystics have low health pools. However, you will want to be conscious of the 1 horror you are taking. It’s a small hit, but it’s not nothing. Mystics do have large sanity pools, so you can tank the 1 to 2 hits you take from your Wards. However, as scenarios go long, even a Mystic can fall to sanity loss, so stay aware of what you are doing and use your wards wisely.
Two final notes. First, Agnes can use this to huge effect, as she can use the horror to ping herself and deal a damage during the Mythos phase. As her ability triggers once per phase, that allows her to use her ability again during the Investigator phase.
The second note contains a spoiler for player cards for The Forgotten Age cycle, so pass over this paragraph if you don’t want to know about those. This card can be upgraded at less XP with the upcoming Arcane Research. This is also true of the following card, Scrying.
Scrying is a weaker encounter hate card, and it isn’t always used for that purpose, but it is worth mentioning. Scrying allows you to rearrange the order of the cards in the deck. Since you are rearranging three cards no matter, this is more powerful the fewer players they are, as the amount of turns you are seeing into the future effectively increases with fewer players. However, a good Scrying action can make all the difference. Rearrange things so that monsters go to your Guardians and off your Seekers, and will tests go to your Mystics and away from your Skids (sorry, Skids).
Note that the upgraded version of Scrying is significantly better than the level 0 version as it no longer requires an action to use.
Alyssa’s power as an encounter hate card fluctuates as the game goes on. While she can take a look at the top card for free, which is always useful, she can’t just rearrange things to meet your whims. She can only put things on the bottom, for a doom penalty no less. You also may be planning on using her ability to check player decks instead of the encounter deck, and there’s only 1 Alyssa to go around.
During the witching hour (that is the turn where the agenda will advance during the next Mythos phase no matter what), Alyssa can be used without any drawback. This is when Alyssa could really shine. But, for the most part, Alyssa is just a reliable fortune teller, giving you time to prepare for what is happening next and hopefully plan around it.
(And, finally, if you happen to be one of the few people who have Marie, you can use Alyssa to turn on Marie’s passive ability, effectively turning Alyssa into a mini Leo De Luca.)
At first glance, you might think the main appeal of this card is the +2 to skill tests when resolving an encounter card for a team member. And you wouldn’t be wrong per se, as that is very good, but that is really a distraction from the true power of this card. The true power of this card is being able to take a monster that would have spawned on someone else and spawning it on top of you. This is huge for any team composition which is a dedicated fighter and a dedicated clue getter. Guardians tend to have the ability to snowball in power once monsters start showing up in their location, while Seekers tend to do just the opposite, so being able to manipulate things is a boon for your team.
This is also a great card to run if you are playing with a Skids and you don’t want him to blow up to the encounter deck. Sorry, Skids. You know what you did.
I’m going to write a whole article on just this card at some point, so I won’t go too deep into the topic here, but On The Hunt is the strongest encounter hate card outside of Ward, and arguably it is BETTER than Ward. Why I believe that will be explained further in the On The Hunt article that is to come. In a nutshell, OTH will typically prevent something bad AND cause something synergistic to happen for you, as a Guardian. It will also thin out monsters from the encounter deck a little bit, which will help out your weaker team members. I would highly recommend this card as an auto-include in most but not all Guardian builds.
Finally, we come to the only encounter hate card that is not Mystic or Guardian, Dr. William T. Maleson. How good is this card? It’s debatable. Dr. Maleson is sturdy for how cheap he is, which is worthwhile in it of itself. His ability to protect you from the encounter deck is limited though. It requires you to drop a clue on your location (which isn’t always bad). You also will still be drawing an encounter card, and, potentially, could draw the very same one you just tried to avoid. Still it could be worth it all to protect you from one super bad draw, and Maleson can, unlike many other level 0 encounter hate cards, prevent a monster from spawning on you. However, it does take up your ally slot. The ally slot in Seeker is highly contested. That means that Dr. Maleson may not get an invite to the Seeker party even if he can protect you from the encounter deck a little bit, for that reason alone. Should you include him in your deck? I would say go ahead, but only if your deck is designed around him being there.
That’s all the level 0 encounter hate cards I could find. Let me know if I missed any by leaving a comment on the post. Thank you for reading and let me know if there are any topics you would like me to write about in the future!