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The first large box expansion for A Touch of Evil: The Supernatural Game(but not I suspect the last) is A Touch of Evil: Something Wicked Expansion. Previously I've looked at both the original game (here) and the small expansion A Touch of Evil: Hero Pack 1 (here). I was pretty satisfied with both, but I did feel the original game lacked a little punch and that the expansion didn't have enough bang for the buck.

The question; does Something Wicked bring enough extra to your games of AToE to justify a space on your shelf and the relatively hefty price tag? Let's take a look at it:



What do you get in the box then?

Inside the box you'll find the usual glossy and super pretty components which have become a hallmark of Flying Frog's products. Something Wicked also has an entirely new inlay which holds all of it's components exceptionally well. Other publishers should take note, vacuum formed plastic inserts with well thought out layouts are always a bonus - so pay attention! The inlay isn't perfect mind you, once you've taken out the three sheets of chits it stops working correctly as there's nowhere for them to really go. You end up fitting them in the wells beneath each set of cards, which works somewhat but then there's nowhere really to fit the hero miniatures and the board plus minion charts slide about quite a bit on top. Additionally the rulebook doesn't really fit in properly once the sheets are gone, it's forced to slant downwards because one side of it is elevated by a lip.

Still these are minor quibbles and you still have to give credit to FFP for taking the time to customise the inlay, even if they haven't quite reached the levels of Queen's Games and Days of Wonder yet.

The components themselves are as follows:

‣ A fourteen page rulebook
‣ A game board which expands the surrounding area of Shadowbrook into Echo Lake (not Echo Beach thankfully)
‣ Four figures, one for each of the new heroes and their Character Sheets
‣ The Monastery deck (20 cards)
‣ The Forgotten Island deck (20 cards)
‣ The Inn Deck (20 cards)
‣ Twelve new Monastery items
‣ Sixteen cards for existing corner locations (4 of each)
‣ Nine new lair cards, all for the new locations
‣ Eight event cards
‣ Twelve Mystery cards
‣ One new town item card - The Old Map
‣ Four double sided Curse of stone cards
‣ Two double sided Posessed/Crimson Hand cards
‣ Four Villain Sheets and their minion sheets
‣ One reference card for terrain counters
‣ Various counters and monsters on three sheets

So that's quite a lot then. What's new in this game then, rulebook first please.

The Rules:

The rulebook is a pretty comprehensive beast, covering everything included in the game from the smallest counter all the way up to the clarifications, FAQ and optional rules. It's well laid out, opening by describing all the counters, cards and miniatures included so you're aware of what pieces are used where. Then it moves on to explain how the expansion board works and what the new locations are like and what happens in various situations on the board. Next up it deals with the rules for the mysterious 'Order of the Crimson Hand' a society which operates out of the Monastery and has nothing but malicious intent for our heroes. Then it explains about the new rules for cards and resolve before showing you how to optimally lay out the game with the expansion. The book also covers optional rules, solo rules and expands on the rules for the four new villains - along with the usual hero profiles.

Of particular note are the new rules for cooperative play, designed to try and make the game a decent challenge for those of us who prefer to play together instead of in competition, one of my main complaints about the core game was how easy it was cooperatively. The new rules helps somewhat, but the game still doesn't scale well with a large number of players working together - I'd still recommend competitive team play for any group larger than five (in pairs or trios).

The book also provides a set of solo rules and also gives us a sliding scale of difficulty. Frankly I'm not going to play it solo on anything less than Apocalypse, but then again I do like a challenge.

You mentioned a new board, how does that work?



The board features six new locations, three corner locations (where you draw cards) and three 'dangerous' locations which work the same as the ones in the original game. It's worth noting as well that you travel to the Forgotten Island via the two docks and movement is a little slower over the water. This board sits to the right of the original one and is entered either via the crossroads location or via a secret passage which joins The Manor to the Monastery. You can also see that it has an exit which indicates "To the Coast", so I think we can see where another expansion will take us. Sadly it does seem that the next board will also sit in line with the previous two, this is a bit of a pity for those of you with smaller tables. I would have prefered any more boards to form a square when placed next to the original one.

That's because you are one!

Right. Still, as it stands now there's only room to expand the boards to the left or right easily. I was hoping we'd get a large rickety old castle expansion board sitting below Shadowbrook itself, but I'm not sure that's possible now.

As you can see the new board emulates the style of the original one, keeping it looking like an old map. "Here be monsters", personally I would have preferred a coloured map for both boards as the cards continue to look out of place when put near the map. But others may prefer this artistic style.

They sit next to each other like this:


(Your version might not come with a hand of glory at the bottom of the Echo Lake board)


Very nice, let's have the heroes now!

The Heroes:

Four new heroes have arrived to try and defeat the horror(s) which seem to menace Shadowbrook with alarming regularity. They are Eliza the Witch Hunter, Brother Marcus, Captain Hawkins and Valeria the Eternal.




As you can see they're a pretty interesting bunch, Brother Marcus is somewhat reminiscent of Father Joseph and is also no slouch in combat as he's able to fight with his spirit instead of his rather pathetic combat score. He's also ideally placed to take advantage of the expansion board as he starts at the crossroads.

Eliza is a pretty tough character, (‣ or is that a pretty and tough character?) who's essentially a combat beatstick with a few other bents. Her Hunter ability is in particular great as there are a lot of enemies who are ghosts, demons or magik in nature. Her stats are middling to slightly below average but the extra wound makes up for this.

Captain Hawkins is just awesome, the ability to place militia and then move them around - both to assist himself/others and force direct removal of minions from the board - is nothing short of awesome. His stats are also average and as such he's a character who'll be good in any game.

Valeria is possibly the best of the four, but it's close between them all. She's a hispanic Vampire (take that you boring pale bloodsuckers) who's come to Shadowbrook to play what is essentially 'the most dangerous game'. While she has the drawback of being Undead - which means she can't use guns, holy items or anything which works against Vampires - it's pretty minor when you compare it to the fact that she's immune to being cursed and regenerates D3 health whenever she defeats an enemy. She just keeps on rocking without being overpowered.

The New Villains:



There are four new villains and each is a spin on a classic foe from the world of horror. We have The Bog Fiend, The Gargoyle, The Banshee and the Cthulhu (or should that be Hastur) inspired 'Unspeakable Horror'.

As always each of them brings a very different flavour to the game when used. Not only through their own personal abilities but through their minions.

The Gargoyle is the first villain who can actually kill a hero by turning them into stone. It's tougher than most villains with 7 wounds but doesn't have that many attack dice (4). Its minions are also pretty tough and the Gargoyle itself is prone to attacking heroes in an attempt to turn them into statues.

The Unspeakable Horror causes summoning portals and voids to break out across Shadowbrook. It's also a horrifyingly powerful entity at 8 combat and 8 wounds but it rarely attacks the heroes during the game. The voids act as (dangerous) shortcuts across the board and are utilised by it's demonic minions (and cultists).

The Bog Fiend seeks to sink the entire of Shadowbrook into the swamp, it regenerates after each round of combat and is more powerful in swampy locations. Its minions are few in number, just mosquitos and the fiend itself. But it's still an exceptionally dangerous foe, especially as it's possible that vital locations can become sunken - which means they're effectively useles for the heroes.

Finally we have the Banshee, portrayed by none other than Mary Beth Magallanes. The Banshee is the first villain to have a unique minion, in this case it's the Grounds Keeper (Willy) who wanders about the board and can be quite difficult to defeat. The Banshee also has Barrow Shades as minions alongside her own abilities. The banshee herself is a highly dangerous opponent and is quite challenging to play against.

All of these villains are quite different from the ones in the original game and the power level of them seems to be a little higher as well. Not overpoweringly so, but just enough to make it a little more challenging.

Less talk, more punch! What about the cards in the set?

The New Locations:

First up we'll look at the three new corner locations on the Echo Lake board, each of them has a twenty card deck:

The Inn:



The Inn is the quintessential 'mysterious inn' also known as "Don't stay at the Inn". It's cards feature a mixture of Allies, cunning based tests and mysterious rooms that you spend the night in. It's also a place where you can heal by spending investigation.

The Monastery:



The Monastery actually has two decks, one is the standard location deck which deals with the occurances in the Monastery - home of the mysterious Order of the Crisom Hand - and as such focuses on the Order along with Spiritual goings on and health.

The Monastery also has a second deck filled with items which functions like the town item deck. You can purchase them just as you would items from the Blacksmith and they count against your limit of Town items, there are also two Brother Janus's who are Allies instead. (Nice reference having two of him).

The Forgotten Island:



Now The Forgotten Island (which I keep wishing was called The Forgotten Isle) is an island on the middle of the lake filled with danger and power. It's harder to reach than any other location (though not overly so) and it's filled with dangerous cards, curses and very powerful items. In essence it's a high risk, high reward location and as such it's buckets and buckets of fun.

Just be warned, you get attacked there it's not easy to flee.

Flee? Who flees? Just little girls, cats and cowards, that's who! What about the other cards?

There are a few extra event, mystery, location and item cards which are mixed in with the existing cards. Naturally this means you're not going to see them too often but they do all add to the flavour and variety of the locations. I do appreciate that Flying Frog add cards which expand on the locations we will have already mined to death by the time their expansion is released. Bravo!

Edit: I also have to mention the Something Wicked mystery card here. It finally hit the table last night and it was every bit as disgusting as we thought it would be. Unfortunately the good reverand had burnt all our books so it was a desperate scramble to try and find a way of cancelling the card before the Headless Horseman gained too many wounds - unfortunately we ran out of extra wound tokens before we managed to cancel it. Needless to say, that game was a loss.

Each of the old locations gains a monster and a key in addition to two other cards. Some of the cards are exceptional, especially the Gibbering Evil and the Lycanthrope who can inflict curses on heroes who encounter them.

There is just the one new Town Item - it's an Old Map (not an Olde Mappe sadly), which adds 1 honour to your hero and can be discared to move anywhere. A decent and cheap item.

The new mystery cards mostly deal with the Order's corrupting influence on the town's elders and just about all of the new cards are exceptionally bad news if they hit play. Generally you need to deal with any one of these cards asap.

The event cards on the other hand perform a wide range of different things, they're all useful and include a few 'take that' cards (for use in the competitive game) with alternate effects.

Now get onto these optional rules you mentioned before, what are they?

We have a few different rules in the book. Some are pretty basic and simple, covering a few situations - others are there to allow you to ramp up the difficulty of the game if you desire. Of particular note is the Advanced Cooperative Mystery Phase Chart which is designed to make the coop game less of a cake walk - but most of these are mix and match rules. You select the ones you feel would be best suited for the group you've got. I do like the exchanging items in a competitive game and the Endurance of Evil rule which makes the villain far more dangerous, it's ideal for cooperative games.

Finally there is a set of rules for playing the game solo. They cover playing with a team of heroes or even playing alone and feature the afformentioned scaling difficulty. The game worked OK solo before, but it's much better with these new rules.

Fine, you've written about all the bits and bobs. But how do you feel about this expansion? Is it a must have for people who've got AToE or is it something they can survive without?

Well one could certainly survive without Something Wicked, but I do think that this is an expansion which adds an awful lot to the game and also gives you many options to make the game harder or easier depending on the skill level and nature of your group.

The production quality is as top notch as always, the figures are well sculplted and constructed of a decent plastic (not too floppy, not too hard - just right) and everything matches up well with the original game. So physically there's not a lot to complain about either.

It's just a good, solid expansion which is filled to the brim with good stuff. If you enjoy playing AToE on a regular or semi-regular basis or you've found the basic game too easy then this is something you just have to get. It's not exactly an evolution on the existing game, you're not suddenly going to be blown away by some new mechanic which forces you to think about the game in a different manner (Arkham Horror: Dunwich Horror Expansion manages this for Arkham Horror imo) but you are going to find things which improve greatly on the basic design of the game and make it feel more complete.
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Ken Henderson
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Thanks for posting - great review. cool
 
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Scott Anderson
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Thanks for the review. I like the looks of this but I shy away from extra boards. Seems like unless you have many players they tend make the games less player interactive. Anything here that would improve the base game without needing to use the extra board all the time?
 
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Cyscott1 wrote:
Thanks for the review. I like the looks of this but I shy away from extra boards. Seems like unless you have many players they tend make the games less player interactive. Anything here that would improve the base game without needing to use the extra board all the time?

The extra heroes, the villains and all of the new cards apart from the location specific ones can be used without utilising the extra board (though the Bog Fiend might be quite difficult on a smaller board as it'll sink locations a lot faster). Also a lot of the rules, like the Solo rules and so forth are not tied to a specific board and are usable.

The only things specifically tied to the Echo Lake board are the Lair cards which picture locations on it, the Monastery Item Deck and the Monastery, Inn and Forbidden Island decks. Everything else could be used.
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