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I own both Curse of the Dark Pharaoh (CotDP) and The King in Yellow (KiY). I have been unsatisfied with the results whenever I have tried to play with both expansions at the same time. This is an article with suggestions on one way (among many) to tweak the decks when both expansions are in play so that the game does not lose its enjoyment value.

I have already written about how to optimize the decks with either expansion used singly. I also explain at length the reasoning behind the process and how to easily obtain a tweaked deck in both articles. I recommend reading at least one before proceeding with this article since I won't bother repeating the rationale or a detailed methodology here.

For the CotDP method, see http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/357023
For the KiY method, see http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/357030

These two articles are very similar. All you really have to do is read one of them.

The increased complexity of the problem

When using both expansions, the problem is more complex than trying to optimize using either one singly. We have to worry not just about dilution of each expansion by the main deck AND by the other expansion, but also the main deck being diluted by the inclusion of too many expansion cards. Since we can't fix every dilution problem, the eventual (compromise) solution will have to be somewhat different for each deck. This is because each deck presents an opportunity to focus on the most troublesome dilution problem, which changes from deck to deck.

Anyway, on to the optimization!

Mythos deck

Recommended action: Make a new, somewhat balanced 70 card deck by removing certain AH and KiY cards.

The Mythos deck is a great example that illustrates the problems that occur when both expansions are in use at the same time.

If we choose the visiting method for BOTH expansions, the game becomes well nigh unplayable. We have all the KiY cards on top of the Mythos deck, as well as all the CotDP cards in a separate deck, available for draw every other phase. We would need at least 34 turns of play before we see a single stock Mythos card. I defy anyone to last that long with this set-up.

The other option is to try a permanent setup for both expansions. This leads to significant dilution problems. The chance to draw a CotDP card in the resulting 111 card deck is a mere 15%. That means only 3, maybe 4 CotDP cards being drawn in a typical 20-25 turn game. The picture is not much rosier for KiY cards either, with a 24% chance to draw one, we are likely to see 5 or 6 of them during a game. The upshot is that neither expansion will have a significant effect on the adventure.

I suppose one could also try a permanent exhibit with one and a visiting with the other. I will not go into great detail about why this does not work so well either. I think you can work that out.

The solution

Here's one version of a balanced deck, which gives increased chances of drawing an expansion card while also keeping the frequency of the different types of Mythos cards about the same as in the stock deck.

ENV: 11 AH + 7 CotDP + 9 KiY
HDL: 17 AH + 8 CotDP + 11 KiY
RMR: 2 AH + 2 CotDP + 2 KiY
Other: 1 AH

Total cards: 70

Here are the new chances to draw a Mythos card from each set:

AH : 44%; CotDP : 24%; KiY: 31%

And just for comparison, the chances if one just mixed all the cards together would be:

AH : 60%; CotDP : 15%; KiY: 24%

One potential problem with this deck is that it does give a better than even chance to draw an expansion card instead of a base card. If playing with only one expansion, there would only be about a 1 in 3 chance to draw an expansion card (after optimization).
If you think this deck makes the expansions have too strong an influence, then you could rationalize by realizing that this is what you get when you have BOTH the King in Yellow play and the Egyptian exhibit permanently in town at the same time.

Finally, here are the cards you would remove to make this deck.

- The following AH cards: Egyptian Exhibit Visits Miskatonic U., plus twelve random Environment cards, plus nineteen random Headline cards, plus four random Rumor cards (Optional: Do not remove No One Can Help you Now or Good Work Undone), plus

- The following random KiY cards: Two Environment cards and three Headline cards.

Other World Encounters deck:

Recommended action: Add all the expansion cards in with all the AH cards.
Optional action: Balance in favor of expansion cards by removing six cards of each color from the AH set.

The expansions both add six of each color to the AH set which has twelve of each color. There are also three dual color cards from CotDP and The Stars Are Right, which results in about a 25% chance to draw a card from either expansion. This distribution is not as skewed as the combined Mythos deck and is certainly playable. If these odds are acceptable for you, you could stop here.

Optional: If you wanted to see more of each expansion, you could remove six cards of each color from the AH set to give a roughly 33% chance to draw a card from either expansion. As an added bonus, this corrects for the dilution of the dual-color cards, whose chances are decreased significantly in a two-expansion deck compared to a single one. Make sure not to remove The Stars Are Right.

Arkham Encounters decks:

Recommended action: Add all the expansion cards in with all the AH cards.

Adding all the cards together gives a roughly 29% chance to draw a card from either expansion. The chance to draw a base AH card decreases quite a bit, down to 41%, but I do not have a problem with this. If you were so inclined, you could remove one or maybe two cards randomly from each expansion and each location before adding them in, but in the end this would not be worth the bother.

Spells deck:

Recommended action: Create a new, balanced deck of spell cards by removing some AH and some CotDP spells.

Adding all the spell cards together dilutes out both expansions quite seriously. The chance to draw a KiY spell, for example, is only about 20% in a combined deck. The problem is more serious when one considers that few spell cards will be drawn in a typical game.

Here are the cards you would remove to obtain a balanced spell deck:

- Twenty-five random AH spell cards, plus six random CotDP spell cards.

Unique items deck:

Recommended action: Remove some AH and some KiY cards to keep the chance to draw an Elder Sign roughly the same as in stock AH.

This is another important deck to get right because of the Elder signs. Shuffling in all the KiY cards to AH cards results in a 34% chance to draw an expansion card. At the same time, the chance to draw an Elder Sign also reduces from 10% to about 6.5%, making the game somewhat more challenging. Since playing with both expansions raises the challenge level quite a bit, I like to fix the Elder sign dilution.

Here are the cards you would remove to get a balanced unique items deck:

- Randomly remove seven KiY cards and fourteen AH cards (other than Elder signs and The King in Yellow tomes).

Common items deck:

Recommended action: Keep weapon drawing chances the same by removing some AH and some KiY cards.

Adding the KiY common item cards to the AH deck results in about 30% chance to draw an expansion card. This result is certainly acceptable, but it also dilutes the chance to draw a weapon since KiY only has two weapons compared to the twenty-four in stock AH. The weapon draw chance drops from about 55% to about 41%. Since playing with both expansions raises the challenge level quite a bit, I like to fix the weapon dilution.

Here are the cards you would remove to get a balanced common items deck:

- Randomly remove two non-weapon KiY cards, ten non-weapon AH cards and two AH weapon cards.

Note: Make sure to keep the cards you removed from this deck handy. Many encounters instruct you to find a specific card from the Common Item deck. This way, you won't have to go looking for them in the box.

Allies deck:

Recommended action: Add all the CotDP cards in with all the AH cards.

Mixing the two allies decks together does not effect game play at all. Make sure you follow the rules and discard two allies every time the terror level goes up.

Conclusion:

Playing with both expansions requires some balancing choices. It is not as easy to create non-diluted, balanced decks especially when both expansions add to the same deck (such as the Mythos and spell decks). The solution given here is only one way to achieve a balanced distribution of cards. Depending on which dilution problem you think is more important to fix, there could be other ways to create balanced decks.
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Russell InGA
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I find that this can be overcome by just alternating between the Base deck and the Expansion (CoDP & KiY) deck. (I only initially add 2 Next Act cards to the XDeck - adding more when a reshuffle occurs or one is drawn - this is to keep this possible without completely short circuiting a game by drawing clumped Act cards.)
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Tibs
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I just randomly choose which expansion(s) are being used. Sometimes this causes a spike in things like the Three Acts, Dunwich Horror, or opportunities to nab Exhibit Items. Sometimes these things undergo no activity.
 
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rules_heretic wrote:
I find that this can be overcome by just alternating between the Base deck and the Expansion (CoDP & KiY) deck. (I only initially add 2 Next Act cards to the XDeck - adding more when a reshuffle occurs or one is drawn - this is to keep this possible without completely short circuiting a game by drawing clumped Act cards.)


I assume you mix all the expansion cards together and form an alternative draw deck, thus using the CotDP visiting exhibit method. This is certainly one way to fix the Mythos deck. As you point out, it also raises the chances of drawing possibly game breaking cards expansion cards as well (such as the Next Act KiY cards). Your solution to this (shuffle some of the Next Act into the base deck to dilute them, I assume, otherwise I do not know what XDeck means) is also certainly a reasonable work-around.

Like I said, there is more than one way to skin this cat.
 
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Russell InGA
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camustafa wrote:
...Your solution to this (shuffle some of the Next Act into the base deck to dilute them, I assume, otherwise I do not know what XDeck means) is also certainly a reasonable work-around.
...


XDeck = Expansion Deck of Mythos cards.

I start with only two Next Act cards for the whole Expansion Deck so that they are not that likely to be drawn.
 
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rules_heretic wrote:
XDeck = Expansion Deck of Mythos cards.

I start with only two Next Act cards for the whole Expansion Deck so that they are not that likely to be drawn.


OK, I understand what you mean now. This is certainly a reasonable way to address the issue.

Note that your set-up gives only about a 5% chance to draw a Next Act card from the "X deck." I am assuming that you draw from this deck every other turn. If that is so, you can expect to draw about 0.5 of them during a 20 turn game. Which in turn means that their effect is now much less than their intended effect. Of course, that may be your intent if you consider them too challenging.

Even if you play with the KiY method and place the X deck on top of the Mythos deck, you still expect to draw about one Next Act card during a 20 turn game.

You probably should increase the number of Next Act cards if you want to retain the same chances of drawing one as you would have with a permanent exhibit. I would recommend four (or even five).
Four should give you a 9% chance to draw a Next Act card, or a net 4.5% chance. Five Next Act cards give you an 11% chance, or about a net of 6%. For comparison, the chance to draw one while using an unmodified permanent exhibit method is also about 6%.

If you play with the KiY visiting exhibit method, I would still add three Next Act cards to the X Deck, since this gives you a 7% chance to draw one when you draw exclusively from the X deck (and not every other turn).



 
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Keith M. Sandler
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Great thread! Do you have similar methods for the big-box expansions and/or bgotw? Thanks! Keep up the good work!

-kMs
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Dark Son wrote:
Great thread! Do you have similar methods for the big-box expansions and/or bgotw? Thanks! Keep up the good work!

-kMs


I'm very glad to see that you found this useful.

Unfortunately, I do not own any other expansion, so I have not been able to conduct the same analysis on those. If someone were to send me the deck contents (breaking down the Mythos cards further as HDL, ENV, and RMR), I should be able to do it.
 
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