Oooh, a meaty post, just the way I like them! Let's see if we can shed some light on your questions.
First off, sorry if this is in the wrong subforum, this is my first post here - and sorry about the wall of text that's about to hit you.
While I've been a TCG player for years now, CoC is my first LCG venture. I really like the system for allowing me to remain competitive without being forced to buy individual cards only, or boxes upon boxes of boosters. Not that there's a CoC scene here, but I should have enough to make a few decks for myself and a few other friends soon.
Well then, before I actually get into real play, I want to resolve some of the rule/deckbuilding issues I have as a complete newcomer to the game.
1. Regarding Steadfast cards - the cost next to the name doesn't have to be paid, only matched, right? Also, the same resource can't be used to match the card cost and the steadfast cost? For example, if I have a Hastur card that costs 2 and has (H)(H) as its steadfast cost, I would have to drain a domain with 2 resources, one of them being H, and I would have to match two other H resources, right?
You've got that almost right. The Steadfast cost has to be matched, but it's independent from the resources you are paying. In your example, you need to have 2 Hastur resources in total attached to your domains, and you only need to pay for the card with a domain that has two resources, one of them has to be Hastur.
So, say you have in your first domain 1 Hastur and 1 Cthulhu resource, in your second 1 Hastur resource and in your third 1 Cthulhu resource. First you have to see if you have 2 Hastur resources in total in your domains. You do? Perfect! Now the only thing left is paying for the card. As it's a Hastur card, you have to pay for it doing a match resource, that is, exhausting a domain that has at least 2 resources, one of which must be Hastur - that would be the first one!
Note that Loyal is a different keyword that forces you to pay the whole cost of the card with resources from the same faction. For instance, if you wanted to play a Hastur card with cost 3 and loyal, you would have to exhaust a domain with at least 3 Hastur resources.
2. When playing a card with cost 0, am I required to drain a domain? In either case, do I have to do a resource match as usual?
Nope, you don't have to drain a domain. If the card doesn't have any Steadfast icons, you could actually play it in any deck, but chances are it has at least one. See Snow Graves (http://www.cardgamed...ow-Graves-AtMoM) vs. Initiation (http://www.cardgamed...itiation-tootst).
3. Speaking of costs, are expensive cards such as Ancient Ones viable at all? While the domain system excludes the possibility of a "mana screw", one would have to commit to a single domain for 5 turns to pay for a 6 cost card - and to me, committing to a single domain doesn't seem like it's worth it. Not that I'll be playing in a very competitive environment, but I like to tweak my decks to peak performance, and using 5+ cards seem like a step in the opposite direction.
You seem to have a very good grasp of the importance on resourcing properly and tempo. As you can imagine, an Ancient One with cost 8 won't probably see much play unless it can be brought into play using some trick or combo. As ssjevot pointed out very wisely, some Ancient Ones are indeed pretty cheap and usually extremely cost efficient. See Y'Golonac (http://www.cardgamed...t/YGolonac-Core) or Nodens (http://www.cardgamed...reams/nodens-kd).
Also, I find that a card of cost 5 or 6 is not necessarily prohibitive if you have the right amount of defense and acceleration, at least in casual play. More often than not, Cthulhu (http://www.cardgamed...low/Cthulhu-TWB) or Glaaki (http://www.cardgamed...sion/glaaki-aoa) can pretty much win you the game as soon as they hit the table.
4. Are Events and activated abilities the only things that can be played during an opponent's turn?
Yes, but don't forget that the active player always has priority. Therefore, if you wanted to play an event in the player's operation phase, you would have to wait for him to play something first or pass on the opportunity to do so.
5. If I understand Lightning Gun correctly, a character with LG attached adds two extra C struggles to any story it's committed to?
He definitely will, so make sure to slap it on a beefy, violent dude!
6. When are new Asylum Packs released? I'm particularly interested in Lost Rites - I want that King in Yellow Folio.
Not often enough!
In all seriousness, I think they're keeping a steady flow if one per month. I agree that the next pack looks promising!
7. Which cycles contain Silver Twilight cards, so that I can avoid them for now? I've just about finished Forgotten Lore and am looking at the Yuggoth contract, because I've seen it recommended to many beginners. Any ideas what I should go for after that? I know that there's no need to actually complete a cycle, but I like to buy things in order for whichever reason.
As a Silver Twilight fan, that makes me a sad panda, although I understand why you want to avoid them. The Yuggoth cycle is awesome because it doesn't have many unique mechanics and keywords (as opposed to the Dreamlands cycle with all the dreamers and the day/night stuff), and most cards just feel useful. Of course, the big expansions are well worth your money. I always recommend taking the plunge into the Silver Twilight expansion, but it seems I'm a minority here. The most common advice I've seen is more copies of the core set and perhaps one or 2 copies of Secrets of Arkham.
8. Have there been any news regarding the reprinting of the Dreamlands cycle? I'm a big fan of the Dreamlands stories, but I don't feel like buying 3 copies of each pack.
You are not alone, battle brother. Let us hope the day will come sooner rather than later.
9. I've heard the Silver Twilight isn't a faction for beginners because of their combo nature. When I eventually do get their expansion, will it be sufficient to make a somewhat decent deck? Or will I need to get some packs for them as well? If so, any recommendations?
Surprisingly, you can get a pretty decent deck out of the box. Not only that, but it will also be quite consistent and fun. Let me know if you want me to provide you with an example decklist!
There are a couple staples that you will probably want to have in your deck if you want to play in tournaments, though. Namely, Master of the Myths (http://www.cardgamed...of-the-myths-it) and Initiate of Huang Hun (http://www.cardgamed...huang-hun-cotje).
I'm pretty sure I forgot a few things, but this should be enough for now. Any additional tips for a beginners are more than welcome.
CoC may look a bit daunting at the beginning because the mechanics are quite unique, but I hope you stick with it and get to enjoy the game. All the CoC players I've met, without exception, have been very mature, kind and helpful, and the community is small but dedicated. Don't forget to ask in the rules subforum here or on boardgamegeek if you have any other questions!