No Spoilers for The Dunwich Legacy in this article!
After I received a wave of positive feedback regarding my Tips for Your First Playthrough of The Forgotten Age, I though I’d go back and write something similar for the previous campaigns. Although Night of the Zealot is technically a campaign, I figured I’d focus my efforts on Dunwich and Carcosa first. They’re each full 8-part adventures, and I think the length and level of commitment ups the stakes a bit.
Heed my words, rookie. Where you’re going ain’t pretty. Hell, it’s downright terrifying. What you’re gonna see will unravel your soul. Or at least make you a little queasy. You’re going into a den of villainy and darkness. A hive of wretched abominations, of men (but surprisingly not many women) who’ve lost their hearts and minds. This is a place of evil, of which few speak and even fewer survive.
You’re going to Massachusetts.
Keep Your Wits About You
As a whole, Dunwich taxes your Willpower a fair amount. This varies by scenario; some scenarios have virtually no meaningful willpower pressure. Overall, though, I would recommend having someone with at least a 4 Willpower on your first romp through. Everyone else should have at least a few cards they can commit to must-pass Willpower tests.
In terms of tactics, you should conserve your willpower icon cards for the tests that will hurt the most. If you are taking a willpower test on a treachery that will deal you two horror, and you have 8 sanity remaining, don’t commit your Guts to that test. Hold onto it until later — there may be a treachery coming up that will really mess up your day.
Be Prepared to Backtrack
While none of the Dunwich maps are particularly large, many of them have central areas, or “hubs” through which you will repeatedly travel. This makes cards like Pathfinder or Shortcut particularly valuable. Any form of free movement is appreciated, though, so Elusive, Shortcut, Think On Your Feet, Track Shoes, etc. all have a place.
Think Twice before Drawing
One of the common encounter sets you’ll see across the campaign punishes you for running out of cards in your deck. This means you should be particularly careful when drawing through your deck too quickly. A few extra draws a game should be fine, but if you plan on burning through your deck quickly (Preposterous Sketches and Cryptic Research come to mind) you should be aware of the side effects.
Bring More than Just a Machete
There are a handful of Dunwich enemies that punish the use of melee weapons. Machete comes to mind, but Switchblade is also an effective melee weapon. These monsters only show up in a few scenarios, but when they do, you’ll be glad to have a .45 Auto or Shriveling in play.
Don’t Get Frustrated
The Dunwich Legacy was designed before the core set was ever released. As such, there’s several design choices that are a little heavy-handed, or otherwise make the scenarios swingy.
Sometimes you’ll be baffled by how easy a scenario was. The next time, you will feel totally screwed over by the encounter deck, wondering how you were supposed to come close to winning that scenario. But most of the time you will still have a blast. The variety of scenario design and scenario identity is strong across the Dunwich Legacy and there is lots to enjoy.
If you catch yourself feeling negative about a scenario, I’d recommend replaying it. It’s great when the mythos sucks your character down into a devastating loss… but disappointing when you lose a scenario from a bad combination of cards. Acknowledge that this is just a game, and while it is meant to be challenging, that challenge is meant to facilitate the excitement of victory or the anguish of defeat. However, a bad luck loss just feels hollow and frustrating. It can leave your play group with a lackluster feeling of disappointment or burnout. So really, don’t be afraid to take another stab at a scenario to combat those negative feelings.
Lastly, know that you have a LOT to look forward to, as every cycle comes with new innovations while refining the game’s design.