This is a bit of a rant, but it isn't intended to be negative for the sake of it. I think these are valid points and represent my experience trying to play this game. In many respects it is a great game, but unfortunately, for me, my experience is repeatedly just an exercise in frustration. I don't profess to be a genius deckbuilder and I play more for the experience of picking investigators I like the sound of rather than trying to 'game' the system. Unfortunately it appears that's not really how you're meant to play.
First I'd like to mention a personal complaint: I wear glasses and my sight ain't what it used to be. I'm begging you FFG (i doubt you're listening, but hey) PLEASE PLEASE use better and bigger text. Learn to employ brevity in your descriptions and rules texts on cards. I can barely read the act/agenda numbers. I know some of the cards can have quite involved effects, but I would ask you to employ better technical writers. Everything should be as clear (it isn't, but that's another issue) and concise and brief as possible. Tiny text is getting to be unreadable for me and I don't see why it need be this way. Same goes for the location markers. Some of the icons are just too similar in shape and/or colour.
Ok, moving on.
First off I think the game is fundamentally too difficult. This isn't even a function of the chaos bag. It's because the doom token system as a timer is just too short in so many cases. I'm sure it's not an easy thing to design, but nonetheless it is real. It is not helped by 'tricking' the player: for example, Unspeakable Oath requires you find the Containment Cells. To do this you have to get to the right location in time, but unless you've played it before and can remember, you don't know. This is not info you can learn without visiting the right location. All the while the timer is running down. What's worse is that if you fail this scenario the campaign ends. This is terible design IMO (most people will simply restart the mission, why not design with that in mind?)
My feeling is that they have the wrong people playtesting this. Not everyone is a professional gamer. Some people can see good card combos and understand how the game works intuitively and can 'game' the system. What I mean by that is, they understand how to solve the puzzle. The problem with a game like this is that it doesn't work if you 'game' the system, then it becomes too easy. That's a problem of all solo/coop style games; you vs the ai. Instead the conceit is that for the game to shine you need to fail every so often, either through a bad draw, bad token pull, or bad encounter draw, etc. That's why the random elements exist. It's just, unlike LotR, AH has too many of them: deck, encounter, location, AND chaos tokens.
They need to incorporate more casual players into their playtest sessions, not just the professional 'gamebreakers' because I feel that's what's happening and so when I come to play I get hosed almost every time - and not in an enjoyable way. I don't want to beat the scenario instantly, but, crucially, I want to enjoy the experience. Here I find it just isn't enjoyable. You get screwed. Monsters that are just too hard can come out at absolutely the wrong time. Or you can find a whole ton of stuff gets dumped when an agenda turns that you simply cannot deal with. That's the crux: I reach a point where I simply feel no point continuing with the mission because I nknow I can't win. It isn't that I tried my best valiantly and lost in a fun way. It's the nature of it. Unfun.
The previous mission, Echoes of the Past, is a bit like this: if you aren't built to fight the cultists acquiring doom tokens just end the scenario. This means you have to have built an investigator/team that can fight, only you won't know this ahead of time. So if youre relying on evasion, that won't cut it. Frustrating.
Which brings up another issue: the game scales for single investigators very very badly. Unfortunately for me that is the experience I wanted. Playing multiple investigators is diminishing returns for me. While the interactions are more sophisticated, it's fiddly as ****. I want a true solo experience. This game doesn't give that - unless of course you're the master deckbuilder, I guess.
I don't like the chaos bag. I just don't think this works. Is the game about resource management (like LOTR?) or is it a random dice roll ameritrash style? I think you should have picked one and not both. Resource management doesn't work alongside a dice roll, which is, fundamentally, what the chaos bag is. Sure it's customisable, and sure the iconic tokens allow for custom elements (which is cool, even if they are largely the same: big penalty/take horror/damage/doom/card loss). The problem here is that if you commit resources in a timed game and fail, which is out of your control, then...? You lose those resources and you get nowhere and that can decide the game leading to the 'the game's already lost before it's over' experience I just mentioned. That, for me, isn't fun.
The autofail token is the worst example of this. Take it out. Just be done with it. If you want to have a tough experience, include higher penalties or tougher effects from the icon tokens. A simple 'fail' is just awful. It doesn't make the experience a tense wager of resources becuase autofail is a bad outcome in terms of gameplay.
Finally, the Forgotten Age. This is the worst distillation of all of these experiences. I am desperately disappointed by this. It is simply very badly designed. It is far too difficult. The supply system doesn't work at all. It is transparently a 'screw you' mechanic because you are effectively choosing which negative outcomes (all of which are severe in AH) do you want to experience? That feels horribly contrived to me. Right from the first mission youare handed a ton of trauma - and for what? To shut down the game experience. Trauma is a terrible mechanic because it promotes a death spiral. Why do you want to put me off playing the game that way? If I fail the mission surely that is enough? I've failed. Maybe I start the next adventure with 1 less card and 1 less resource for example? This cycle has some great ideas but I gave up on my last attempt after Heart of the Elders. Boundary Beyond is just terrible.
For that matter Path to Carcosa could do with some errata. There are too many instances where the text isn't clear as to what you're meant to do (the Hidden Passageway in Echoes; could there not have been a simple sentence in the rulesheet anticipating the obvious questions about how this works?). The campaign wants to revolve around psychological horror and the madness of the King in Yellow. That's cool, and again the ideas are great, but it feels like it's too clever for its own good. Unspeakable Oath should have been a great mission, but instead it screws the player around: did you solve all the tests in each of the containment cells? Uh oh you didn't know you HAD to? Oh well, you lose! Did you go to the wrong locatoin to find the entrance to the cells? Yes? Oh dear you've run out of time. Now the campaign ends. Come on that is just awful game design.
Hire better playtesters.
Hire better writers (the flavour text is just overwrought and over long for a card game).
Sort out the difficulty
Address the obvious flaws of the Chaos Bag
TLDR: I want to like this game, but each time I sit down to play it I feel like the game just sucker punches me. That and enjoyable experience does not make