Malone was a man of sense despite his mysticism. He had the Celt’s far vision of weird and hidden things, but the logician’s quick eye for the outwardly unconvincing; an amalgam which had led him far afield in the forty-two years of his life.
–H.P. Lovecraft, The Horror at Red Hook
Agents in Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game need a blend of Malone’s far vision and logician’s eye in order to survive the weird and wondrous “accidents” that they routinely face during their investigations. Strange individuals and even monsters may appear, seemingly out of nowhere, to confront them. Occult orders may try to safeguard their secrets by means of subterfuge, sorcery, and blunt violence. To navigate these hazards and protect humanity from ancient, otherworldly terrors, all your agents have are some skill, some bullets, and some guns to fire them. The trick, then, is devising a plan both visionary and logical enough that such skill and weaponry can prove sufficient at just the right moments.
It is a trick at which the Agency faction has excelled since the earliest days of Call of Cthulhu, but with recent releases, the Ancient Ones have gained strength, and humanity finds itself in a perilous position, perhaps making a desperate last bid for continued existence.
Stick to the Plan
In Lost Rites, the Agency gains a new Tome, the Daemonolatreia (Lost Rites, 62), a comprehensive volume on witches, their practices, and the sources of their occult powers. Utilizing the insights the work provides into the nature of their rivals, agents and Independent heroes like Brother James Xavier (Lost Rites, 63) can better plan for success.
Every card game forces you to make decisions during play that weigh open information against the possibility and likelihood that your opponents can surprise you with the cards they have hidden in their hands. In Call of Cthulhu, open information can include the characters and support cards in play, as well as the story cards, the number of success tokens on each, the number of undrained domains, the number of resources on each domain, and the number of cards in your opponent’s hand. Unless revealed by a game mechanic, your opponent’s cards, however, remain maddeningly hidden.
Although the Daemonolatreia and Brother James Xavier don’t provide you insights into your opponent’s hand, they do give you better understanding of the actions your opponent might take. While the Daemonolatreia is attached to a character committed to a story, your opponent cannot play events, and while Brother James Xavier is committed to a story, no player may trigger character abilities. Thus, if they’re both committed to a story, you can safely surmise your opponent will neither play events nor trigger character abilities.
This means you gain freedom from unexpected turns from out of your opponent’s hand, as those surprises all take the shape of events and characters, and it also means you can better anticipate the response your opponent can muster from the cards he has on the table. No longer will all those Cthulhu-faction Serpents bedevil you with their spontaneous shedding of the skin, trading Terror icons for Combat and Arcane icons. Tricky abilities aren’t purely the domain of Serpents and Monsters, of course, and Brother James Xavier can also shut down the likes of Nathan Wick (Written and Bound, 13) and his friend, the Initiate of Huang Hun (Curse of the Jade Emperor, 40). Furthermore, the Brother can shut down a number of other powerful Forced Responses, including those on the Ravager from the Deep (Core Set, 46) and The Large Man (The Shifting Sands, 27).
While it’s true that the combination of the Daemonolatreia and Brother James Xavier also shuts down your triggered character abilities, it doesn’t shut down your events, nor does it turn off your attachments. Few factions gain power from attachments like the Agency, and when you limit down your opponent’s ability to respond, you can gain even more benefit from such staples as Shotgun (Core Set, 14) and the Military Bike (The Path to Y’ha-nthlei, 102).
Those who seek to uncover the deeper mysteries of the world of Call of Cthulhu walk a dark and deadly path, but the Daemonolatreia, Brother James Xavier, and the other cards from Lost Rites provide humanity’s finest agents a glimmer of hope in the darkness before them.