And then, just as we were settling in to explore The Thousand Young‘s offerings, a new Call of Cthulhu FAQ dropped and the second Mark of Madness preview appeared. This one shows some of the ways Hastur’s faction will be changing the rules of the game when it comes to terror, such as substituting icons at different struggles as with Straitjacket and getting extra bennies for winning the terror struggle with Hastur, He Who Is Not To Be Named.
Maybe most unsettling is the Sorcerer Mad Maudlin: “Opponents must drive a character insane to resource a card, if able.” Hastur’s the control faction and some of their key cards tax players at the start of the game, like the Seventy Steps. Taxing a player to resource a card is fairly new to the game — I think the Blackwood Initiative was the first to date — but the idea fits right in with Hastur controlling the early game, and it seems so doggone evil. “If able” is probably the saving grace, allowing a player to resource even if all the characters they control have terror icons or willpower.
Speaking of early game control, check out the Dikes of Ys: “The first character that enters play each turn enters play insane.” As the article points out, the protection of willpower and terror icons don’t kick into effect until the character’s fully in play, so everyone is susceptible to this effect. Stack it on top of the Seventy Steps and the first turns of the game are going to be slow and lonely.
I’ve dabbled a bit in Hastur’s faction, but making good use of the control effects are still largely a mystery to me, especially since they are often self-debilitating, as in the case of Lunatics, for instance. Fortunately, my friend Ray is dedicated to cracking the Hastur riddle, as you can see in Decked! — here and here, for instance. Having his examples to learn from has been really helpful, both in developing methods to play around obstacles like Cavern of Flame and noting the ways in which they are played most effectively.