The Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game scene has been picking up in Vermont in the past couple months. First Black Moon Games started hosting events, and now Brap’s Magic here in Burlington, as the last few Decked! videos have noted.
My process for developing this deck started with a comment by Carthoris on CardGameDB.com: “A ‘School Bells’ deck could use 0-cost Miskatonic weenies to power the Sound of the Dark, and Untimely Burial to make sure you have some desirable powerhouse to awaken.” If you check out the very first draft of School Bells, you’ll see all those cards, plus a motley assortment of Dark Young who key off entering or leaving play.
The first time out with that iteration of School Bells was miserable, success-wise. Going across a Syndicate deck of Criminal buffing and skill manipulation and a traditional Yog-Sothoth mill deck, I think I came close to winning one match, and the remaining two or three were handy defeats without a single story won on my side. And while that evening was one of failure, I did my best to use it as a rich learning experience. “Fail fast,” as some people hold, and fail forward. Intentionally playing a lot of quick games let me see which cards worked, which didn’t and what elements were missing.
Also, I was fortunate to have Carlo on my side, who recently returned to the game. He’s the tinkering sort of deckbuilder, whereas I want to slap some cards together and see what sticks during field testing. Between playing against him and bouncing emails back and forth, his feedback and suggestions guided much of where this deck went.
Immediately from the first revision, the deck took a hard left, dropping all the Miskatonic cards. My intent with them, beyond sacrificial fodder for the Three Bells, was to draw extra cards and float useful things to the top of the deck fast. Instead, the next version gave up draw and manipulating struggles for resource building and slowing down rush tactics with the Festival and Negotium Perambulans in Tenebris, which enables the powerhouse Savio Corvi.
The Three Bells went after that. While it can be handy, in the deck’s configuration at the time, it was just too slow and costly for a “sacrifice your worst character” effect on the other player. Instead, Plague Stone is the go-to weapon of mass character destruction, with the Mage Known as Magnus providing targeted character removal.
At one point, the deck’s only additional draw was Thunder in the East. Book of Iod came in to fill that gap, and fill the discard with candidates for Dark Rebirth. It still feels slow, but while Shub-Niggurath has effects that skim character subtypes off the top of the deck into your hand, none of them really work for this particular character line-up.
I felt I did pretty well at the Brap’s Magic event with this deck. We had a round robin of four players, and I won two of my three games. There are still some changes I would make, like dropping Ia! Ia! Shudde M’ell, though I haven’t decided what would take its place. And the deck is really lacking in event and support recovery. Once those three Thunders in the Easts are gone, they’re gone. I’d love an in-faction card recycling mechanic that isn’t as costly, random or slow as The Stone on the Peak.
With The Thousand Young out now, I could try revising this deck, but I feel like I’d wind up building it up from the ground all over again, just to avoid choosing the same 48 cards as before, and then only having two slots for new stuff. That said, French Quarter seems like an easy thing to try out here, and it would provide some additional information on how to use Book of Iod most effectively.