“I say to you againe, doe not call up Any that you can not put downe; by the Which I meane, Any that can in Turne call up somewhat against you, whereby your Powerfullest Devices may not be of use. Ask of the Lesser, lest the Greater shall not wish to Answer, and shall commande more than you.”
–H.P. Lovecraft, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward
Words have real power. They have the power to enrapture and incite, to turn enemies to allies, or to alienate friends and lovers. In the world of H.P. Lovecraft’s fiction, they have another darker power as well. Words of eldritch origin can be pieced together to form powerful rituals; they can call up beasts from other realms, or wake the dead. Those who dabble in such dark magic would be wise to heed the words from Jedediah Orne’s letter quoted above, but too often, the taste of power causes these individuals to cast aside their cautions. The consequences can be terrifying.
Summoned into play
In Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game, much of the game centers around the Story phase, when players commit characters to stories, engage in a series of struggles, and work to win success tokens and, eventually, win the stories themselves. The decisions that players make during the Story phase most frequently derive from consideration of a lot of “open” information, primarily the numbers and types of icons visible on the characters in play.
Because players must play characters during the Operations phase, by the time you get to the Story phase, you can most often work out the possible outcomes of your icon struggles based upon the icons visible on the characters in play. “If I commit this character and this character here, I’ll lose the Terror struggle, and that character will go insane. But then I’ll win Combat and Investigation…”
However, there are ways for your opponents to foul up your best-laid plans. Events can add icons, remove icons, or simply remove characters. Additionally, the game includes a limited number of characters that can be summoned into play outside of the Operations phase. These characters add the element of surprise to your deck, giving you a slight edge in the icon struggles, and Words of Power introduces one of these characters to the ranks of Shub-Niggurath, the All-Mother.
The black dog runs at night
The Black Dog (Words of Power, 29) joins the small handful of cards in Call of Cthulhu with actions that allow characters to enter play outside of the Operations phase. The Order of the Silver Twilight seem to be establishing themselves as specialists at this shadowy type of effect, counting Nathan Wick (Written and Bound, 13), Dirk Sharpe (The Breathing Jungle, 61), and the Master of the Myths (Into Tartarus, 101) among their number. And the versatility that the Descendant of Eibon (The Terror of the Tides, 75) gains from his ability to enter play at the cost of a success token has made him one of the game’s most powerful cards.
Naturally, as with the Descendant of Eibon, there’s a cost to bring any of these characters into play. Still, Black Dog costs only one resource to come into play through its action. The facts that the Black Dog can only enter play committed to a story where your opponent has committed a single character and, then, must leave play at the end of the phase if it survives don’t necessarily count against it. First of all, the Black Dog is most effective where it can kill a character and block your opponent’s progress at a story. If it could commit against multiple characters, though it might slow your opponent’s overall game to kill one of them, it wouldn’t prevent him from making progress toward the story. The Black Dog has no Investigation icons to oppose that struggle and has no skill to oppose characters who survive its assault.
Also, there’s a good deal to be gained by returning the Black Dog to your hand after all the stories resolve. It can’t be targeted by your opponent’s most destructive effects during his next Operations phase, and when your opponent knows you have a Black Dog in your hand, he’ll be forced to commit to his stories differently. Many times, this means that a player who might be able to rush two or more stories simultaneously will refuse to do so because it would mean sacrificing one of his characters to make progress at a second story. In the end, this is the psychological advantage gained by the threat of a large, dark dog silently stalking the hills at night.
Finally, if returning the Black Dog to your hand at the end of the phase is the price to pay for bringing it into play through its action, it’s worth noting that (as with the Master of the Myths) the action doesn’t require you to drain a domain with a Shub resource. Any resource will do.
The baying of hounds
Look for the Black Dog and the other new cards from Words of Power to add twists and surprises to your deck next week when this second startling Asylum Pack from the Revelations cycle arrives at retailers everywhere!