II: THE DREAMLANDS
The Dreamlands is the second full AP cycle for the Call Of Cthulhu LCG. Where the first cycle focused on the more basic elements of the game and a simple but claustrophobic backstory, Dreamlands allow the players to wander through the endless vistas beyond the wall of sleep and focuses on more obscure and lesser used mechanics of the game. Numerous themes were touched upon during this cycle, such as Story Card manipulation, Day/Night effects, new Tribal synergies (Gugs, Ghouls, Dreamers and Zoogs) and Support card "tribes". Many of the themes used in this Cycle haven't been touched upon afterwards, making some of the cards very bizarre in context of the current metagame. The fact that themes introduced here haven't bled into other cycles, power creep that began after this cycle and extreme complexity and situational nature of the cards make most of the cards from this cycle hard to use, if not even unusable. On the other hand, this set also contains high number of ridiculously powerful cards and many "sleepers" that just wait for the right time to rise to glory.
Even though the chaotic nature of this set makes it hard to use extensive, it also has a distinct flavour which makes many of the cards really interesting and opens up plenty of space for very thematic decks. The theme of the set is a bit more loose than on the previous set, but the Dreamlands are on their own such a powerful and distinct image that it molds the whole set into a very personal package. The art, just like the card effects, is very complex and diverse, with little bit more emphasis on more computerized images than before. Many of the images have a dreamy quality, with less creepy and more bizarrely psychedelic and fantastic style. This set also has certain characters with more cute than horror feel to them, which surprisingly works great. A true testament to the artists skill.
This set is clearly not meant for beginner players, as many of the elements here are hard to use effectively, and some are even furiatingly annoying. But, if you plan on building tournament viable decks or want to experiment with something much more bizarre, this cycle is a must. Unfortunately Dreamlands was published during the 40 cards per pack era and hasn't gone through 60 card update yet, so unless you really want/need this cycle, it's better to wait for reprint.
Each of the packs contains very high number of Neutral cards and only two cards for each of the factions (if you count Prize Pistol as Agency card). As this set was published before Order Of The Silver Twilight, no cards for that faction can be found in the packs.
The new tribes and elements of Dreamlands:
-Ghouls: These characters are stronger as long as it's Night, while weaken during Day.
-Gugs: Big and expensive characters with plenty of Toughness that create various effects when wounded.
-Zoogs: When placed on a domain and the domain is drained these characters remove themselves from the domain and enter play with various effects.
-Dreamlands: These Support cards provide powerful effects, but only if you control more Dreamlands cards than opponent.
AP1: Twilight Horror
Info: The main focus of this AP is in introducing the setting and characters of the cycle, while also focusing on Day/Night events, with basic Neutral Support card and Character for both sides of the coin. The Ghoul and Gug tribes are also present, while the Dream Diary provides some support for the Dreamer subtype. Thematically this pack gives the simple first glance of the Dreamlands.
Twilight Gate (Yog-Sothoth): A great card for surprise strategies and messing with opponent.
Furtive Zoog (Neutral): Great versatile weenie character, or at least was when Night/Day effects were more plentiful.
The Setting Sun (Neutral): Buys more time against Investigation rush, thus helping slower deck strategies.
AP2: In Memory Of Day
Info: This AP has less emphasis on the Day/Night mechanic than the previous one. While the first pack in this cycle contained more simple and generic effects to introduce the mechanics, this pack adds more diversity to the mix with plenty of situational cards. Control themes are more present and the flavour moves more towards places and creatures of the dreams; and entering the dreamlands through the 70/700 steps.
Prize Pistol (Neutral): Extremely powerful weapon with versatile and repeatable killing power.
The Seventy Steps (Hastur): Widely used support card that slows the game down. Got almost banned due to combo with Magah Birds.
The Enchanted Wood (Neutral): Staple for decks that use Insanity to control the game.
AP3: In The Dread Of Night
Info: In The Dread Of Night continues to develop the main themes of the cycle, but this time with slightly more focus on tribal synergies and Night cards. By this time Hastur faction has clearly grown in power and can no longer be considered one of the weaker factions, while Shub-Niggurath and Yog Sothoth both focus on their own isolated tribal synergies. This pack has less focus on the main story and concentrates more on legendary places and people of the Dreamlands.
Dreamlands Fanatic (Cthulhu): Very effective surprise character, that has grown into a staple for cthulhu decks.
The Cavern Of Flame (Hastur): Another support card to stall the opponent and slow down the game effectively.
AP4: Search For The Silver Key
Info: This pack, unlike the ones before, takes a step away from the Night/Day mechanics of the previous packs. Tribal synergies are also less prevalent, as the main focus here are the places of the Dreamlands. Majority of the cards here either refer to Support cards with Dreamlands subtype, or are Dreamlands cards themselves. Only exception to this is the Agency faction which begins it's long love affair with Attachments in this pack. Themes still focus more on Dreamlands themselves rather than the backstory.
Victoria's Protege (Hastur): Has been used in Hastur rush decks to replay ComesIntoPlay effects. Also a decent character on it's own.
The Silver Key (Yog Sothoth): Provides plenty of powerful tricks and interactions, while messing up the Story Phase mathematics.
Guardian Pillar (Neutral): Support card that can be turned into a great character when needed. Versatile and powerful
AP5: Sleep Of The Dead
Info: Sleep of the Dead takes a break from the themes introduced in the Dreamlands cycle with only few cards referring to Dreamer and Dreamlands subtypes, while Night/Day effects are almost nonexistent. Because of this many of the cards are more focused on complex trickery and weird effects. Shub-Niggurath and Yog Sothoth are an exception to this, as Ghoul and Gug subtypes both are heavily represented in this pack. Thematically this pack seem to lack focus and just fills the gaps.
The Sleep Of The Dead (Neutral): Effective event card for stalling opponent.
Behind Bars (Agency): Another event card to harass opponent. This time also extremely cheap.
Horrid Dreams (Academy): Weak kill event, but in a faction that really lacks any real kill cards.
AP6: Journey To Unknown Kadath
Info: After two AP:s with only minimal focus on the backstory and main effects of the set, the last pack in the cycle again brings focus on these elements. The cards are also again moving towards more simple and straightforward mechanics. This AP finally set in the last piece of the Birds/Steps/Interrogation combo that ended up dominating the game for two seasons and ended up in wide nerfs, restrictions and bannings.
Magah Birds (Hastur): Extremely fast character that ended up being banned due to a combo with 70 Steps.
Nyarlathotep (Neutral): Very powerful character that has been often referred to as the most annoying card in the game.
The Dreamlands cycle backstory tells of a young gambler Gregory Gry and his girlfriend Twila Katherine Price. Twila was a painter and an art student in the Miskatonic University, and funded her studies by working at the Clover Club Casino where she and Gregory met. But, something was wrong with Katherine, as each day she would sleep more and more, but still be tired and depressed constantly. Finally, after waking up in the middle of the night, Gregory found out the cause for Katherine's tiredness. She was awake and painting her special painting that she did not allow anyone to see. After a short conversation Katherine told Gregory about the Dreamlands, and her obsession about it. Next night Twila took Gregory with her to the Dreamlands, but after wandering down the 70 steps of light slumber, Gregory was banished from the Dreams by the Guardian Pillar and the two wizards Kaman-Tohl and Nasht. Next morning when Gregory woke up, Katherine was gone. Days passed and she did not return back home, which sent Gregory down a spiral of depression until he could take no more. He decided to find Katherine, even if he would have to travel all the way to the land of dreams, and the mysterious secret painting was the only clue he had. The painting depicted an elderly man sitting on a porch in front of a mansion, which Gregory recognized as the Price Manor, Katherine's childhood home. Painting also included a silver key, which Gregory felt to be of utmost importance. Next step of the investigation was a trip to the Price Manor to have a meeting with Katherines (rather eccentric) father John Henry Prize. During the meeting Gregory told John Henry about Katherine's disappearance and asked about the silver key. John Henry had hidden the key into the Manor's old attic tower, and after retrieving the key Gregory was ready to venture into the Dreamlands to find his girlfriend again. But the Dreamlands was a vast place, and the only clue Gregory had was that he knew he would find Katherine in the lost city called Unknown Kadath. Now he wanders the Dreamlands hopelessly and with each passing day the waking world grows more and more distant to him.....
Personally i did not like this story as much as the on in the first cycle. Still, this one has some nice touches, like the fact that the story did not really take place in the Dreamlands but focused on the search to find an access to the land of dreams. The high fantasy themes would propably have felt too out of place in a horror game context. Also the atmosphere here is less horror, and more romantic, dreamy and desperate, which fits the theme nicely. Lovecraftian dreamlands are a hard topic to write about, because you cannot just use it as a generic fantasy world like the Middle Earth, but this story really succeeded in the feat!
Massive thanks to the Admins for stickying this! ^^ Hopefully the text here isn't too hard to read and messy, as i was pretty tired after work when i wrote all this stuff. Yuggoth Contract cycle coming soon!
And about the ratings for different decktypes, some other more experienced player can add something about that as i'm going to be busy with the basic introductions to the cycles for a while. But, if you want some serious Insanity effects, Yuggoth Contract cycle has a lot of those!