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The Great Race

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Posted 26 November 2008 - 09:07 AM

Cultists, Servitors! Let us welcome some Initiates into our world of gibbering madness! Today marks the fifth revelation of our future, being almost half-way through the new Story Deck. The card on display tells us about the Great Race -- yes, few species would name themselves the Mediocre Ones, I suppose. Their planet, Yith, was dying, but the Yithians had one trick up their sleeves: The ability to swap their minds with the minds of other beings across time and space. The Great Race escaped their fate by inhabiting cone-shaped bodies of an earth species almost 65 million years ago. Their most well-known base of operations is the The Lost City of Pnakotus, beneath what would become Australia's Great Sandy Desert. From there they still temporarily swap their minds with other beings; Humans from our time and place: Arkham, 1928.


"It may be that centuries of dark brooding had given to crumbling, whisper-haunted Arkham a peculiar vulnerability as regards such shadows - though even this seems doubtful in the light of those other cases which I later came to study"

- H.P. Lovecraft – The Shadow Out of Time


Great is their power, that they appeared in a special event before, as the dread Yithian Deck ignoring all deck-building rules and offering a challenge to the best of players in special tournaments. Then, things went quiet around the mind-swapping monstrosities. Maybe a little too quiet. Let us go back in time a little more.


Evoking the Ancient Ones


Eric Lang designed this card game. Besides being designed to offer a myriad of heart-breaking choices to players, making the Call of Cthulhu a game where skill is the most important part of gameplay, there were other philosophies distilled into it. An important example of such a philosophy is that of Evocation.


Evocation is the train of thought that brings the Cthulhu Mythos and pulp setting atmosphere into the game. In the rules there is something like "Flip a card over" when a Terror struggle is lost. Calling it "Going Insane" brings the strategy in line with the evocation of cosmic horror Call of Cthulhu is going for. When Nate French took over as lead designer, these philosophies were not forgotten. Because when there is a Story Card to reference the temporal tricks of The Great Race, it works exactly as advertised: Swapping the mind and knowledge with that which is long lost and buried:


The Shadow Out of Time story card is where tactics and evocation meet. It allows for a few simple one-two tricks with some of the other story cards. The first revealed card "The Call of Cthulhu" allows you to make your hand bigger, potentially digging more lost gems out of the discard pile. "Opening Night" works a lot better if your whole discard pile is characters and you'll be able to cure their insanity quickly. And- Oh, we are still in linear time. Once we transcend the boundary of tomorrow, we’ll know more about the Ancient Apocrypha, but until then, more on that later. The long and short of it is that there are a couple of threats among the story cards, and The Shadow Out of Time will help you to juggle cards and some great effects by finding these links. Know your deck, and know your Story Cards.


Quality over Quantity


It’s fairly obvious that The Shadow Out of Time will help you boost your hand quality quite a bit in the correct situation. When playing by the 3-card rule it helps you get another use out of your key card that ended up in the discard pile.  It’s not strictly speaking card advantage, but there are numerous ways to finesse the effect and come out ahead. 


The Shadow Out of Time certainly gives you lots of options, and choices on what to get and what to keep. It's not that hard to keep your opponent from making these choices. Getting rid of their discard piles is as easy as playing a Snow Graves on it – exchanges always go both ways, or they won't go at all. You never know when you might suddenly end up in the past.


For now, linear time will proceed again until next week, when we unlock the secrets of the Ancient Apocrypha.

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