Analysing Orphic Theory

Introduction

The Scarlet Keys Investigator Expansion has arrived, and with it dozens of fascinating player cards, many of which could form the centrepiece of a deck. Legendary community member Veronica has created her Ambassador project, wherein community members play with and talk about specific cards in the expansion so that each can have a moment in the spotlight – and as luck would have it, I pulled Orphic Theory. It turns out that Orphic Theory offers great potential depth for analysis, so let’s dive in.

I’ll start out by looking at the flavour of the card, followed by its underlying mechanics and quirks, and then deckbuilding. After that, I’ll give an overview of how the card interacts with every single eligible treachery card in the game, and then a breakdown of where those treacheries appear by scenario and campaign so that you can judge how valuable it would be to add Orphic Theory to your deck in a given campaign, and how early it’s worth including – as such, this article will to an extent provide analysis of the campaigns in general, and this analysis would be particularly helpful for evaluating the effectiveness of cards that fill a similar niche, such as Alter Fate. The table of contents below will let you skip to the parts you need – the ‘Breakdown by treachery card’ section and ‘Breakdown by campaign/scenario’ section might be useful to revisit any time you’re starting a new campaign. They’ve been positioned at the end of the article so that you can read the rest of the article without campaign spoilers.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Table of Contents
  3. Flavour and background
  4. Basic Principles of Orphic Theory
  5. Orphic Theory and Hidden cards
  6. Interactions and Deckbuilding
  7. Deck example: It’s all Greek to Daisy
  8. When to include Orphic Theory
  9. Final thoughts
  10. Breakdown by treachery card
  11. Breakdown by campaign/scenario

Flavour and background

“Orphic” refers to Orpheus and, by extension, Orphism. Orphism is an ancient religious movement supposedly founded by Orpheus, the legendary bard, animal-charmer and Argonaut of Greek myth who descended to the underworld to rescue his wife Eurydice. This article will be long enough without reproducing several Wikipedia articles’ worth of analysis, but suffice it to say that the Orphics were an ascetic mystery cult who believed that humanity had a dual nature much like later Dualists, and they expressed complex religious and ritual beliefs through poetry and other art. Orphic beliefs have been referenced by many later scholars and occultists from the Renaissance period and later. Another meaning of Orphism is an offshoot of the Cubist artistic movement in the early 20th Century. By extension, the term “Orphic” can also mean ‘mystic’ or refer to significance not readily percieved by the senses, or even ‘entrancing’. The myth of Orpheus has inspired countless works of art through to the present day, all of which could be considered “Orphic”.

It’s not clear which of the many meanings of “Orphic” is most emphasised in the card Orphic Theory, but what is clear is that the artwork for the card is completely awesome. The black-on-gold colour scheme is evocative and appealing, and it depicts a bizarre scene with a cosmological diagram with what might be Azathoth in gold at the centre. I love it. You could be forgiven for thinking it’s cover art for an utterly incredible death metal album. It was created by Ethan Patrick Harris, who has created plenty of other excellent pieces of card art, such as Essence of the Dream and Worlds Merge. I want it as a poster on my wall, as a playmat (which it actually is, for those lucky enough to have attended an Arkham Nights event in 2022) and as a card in my deck. That latter option, at least, is very achievable.

Basic Principles of Orphic Theory

Orphic Theory, level 1 Seeker asset. 2 cost, 1 intellect icon. Arcane slot.

Spell.

Uses (4 secrets).

Spend 1 secret: Choose any non-weakness treachery not attached to an Elite enemy. Until the end of the round, treat that card’s printed text box as if it were blank (except for Traits).

Orphic theory is a relatively cheap asset, using the Arcane slot, which is not typically heavily contested in Seeker. Secrets are a commonly available type of uses in Seeker, and can be replenished with several cards such as Truth From Fiction, Ariadne’s Twine, Enraptured and, of course, Eldritch Sophist.

As a level 1 asset, it is inexpensive and can reliably be acquired after the first scenario in any campaign. It is also possible to use In The Thick of It to purchase it at the start of a campaign.

The actual ability has many nuances and caveats. When you use it, you select a non-weakness treachery card in play, and its text box is considered blank for the rest of the round. This only affects treachery cards that actually enter play – such as those that instruct you to put the card into play in your threat area, such as Frozen in Fear, those that attach to another card in play, such as Locked Door, and those that are put into play next to the agenda deck, such as Tough Crowd. By blanking the card text, you temporarily remove any abilities on the card, including Forced effects, constant effects, and so on. This might also mean that you remove the ability to more permanently get rid of the card. If you target Locked Door, you will temporarily enable the location to be investigated, but during that same period, nobody will be able to use the Action ability on the card to permanently discard it. If you target Frozen in Fear, you will prevent that investigator needing to spend an additional action that round, but you will also skip the discard trigger that would happen at the end of their turn.

It cannot affect any card that doesn’t enter play at all. Cards whose abilities resolve immediately as part of their revelation ability cannot be countered with Orphic Theory, for three reasons:

  • Firstly, and most importantly, they are in Limbo, as defined in the latest iteration of the FAQ, point 1.23: “While the effects of an event or treachery card are being resolved […] it is neither in play, in the discard pile, nor is it in an investigator’s hand. For the purposes of rules clarification, this liminal state is called “limbo.” […] A treachery card enters limbo after it is drawn, while its revelation ability is being resolved. […] While in limbo, the card is typically placed on the table to show that its effects are being resolved. […] It is technically not in play, and does not count as being in play for the purposes of other card effects, however its effects may still alter the game state. After resolving the card’s effects in full, it is placed in its relevant discard pile and is no longer in limbo. If its effects cause it to enter play (such as attaching to another game element or placing it in an investigator’s threat or play area), it leaves limbo and enters play at that point in time.” This means that treachery cards aren’t in play while their revelation effect is resolving, and as such they cannot be targeted by card effects unless those effects specify otherwise.
  • Secondly, once the revelation ability begins resolving, it doesn’t matter if the text on the card that caused the ability subsequently gets blanked. The ability continues to resolve even if the originating card leaves play or ceases to have its game text active. This is similar to how we can continue to use the second ability on Knife even though we’ve discarded it from play at the start of using it.
  • Thirdly, there’s no player window during resolution of a treachery card, unless it creates a skill test.

This means that Orphic Theory is not a catch-all counter to every treachery card out there. It won’t save you from Rotting Remains or Grasping Hands, and it’s not about to make Ward of Protection obsolete. For general-purpose 1 exp treachery card protection in Seeker, you’ll have to look to Forewarned. Even Treachery cards that create lasting effects, such as The King’s Edict, cannot be targeted by Orphic Theory unless the card itself enters play – and blanking such a card won’t cause the lasting effect to disappear if the lasting effect has already been created by the Revelation effect.

Orphic Theory’s ability is a free triggered ability, which presents a few tricky timing issues. Once the round begins, there are no player windows until all investigators have finished drawing and resolving encounter cards – the first player window is just prior to the end of the Mythos phase. This means that you typically cannot blank a treachery before or during drawing encounter cards. For example, if Investigator 1 draws Psychopomp’s Song and puts it into Investigator 2’s threat area, there’s no opportunity to use Orphic Theory to blank the text of Psychopomp’s Song before Investigator 2 resolves their own treachery card. However, every skill test includes two player windows, immediately before and immediately after committing cards to the skill test, and you can use Orphic Theory during those player windows, so if an investigator draws a card like Rotting Remains that creates a skill test, that creates an opportunity to use Orphic Theory during resolution of encounter cards (bearing in mind, as explained above, that you couldn’t use Orphic Theory against Rotting Remains itself).

Orphic Theory’s ability lasts “Until the end of the round”. This means that it is a “Lasting Effect”. The rules reference indicates that:

  • A lasting effect expires as soon as the timing point specified by its duration is reached. This means that an “until the end of the phase” lasting effect expires before an “at the end of the phase” ability or delayed effect may initiate.

As such, Orphic Theory will wear off before any part of the targeted card that happens “At the end of the round”. Sometimes this is a really good thing; if you target Dissonant Voices, you will completely negate the downside of the card and the card text will return just in time for the card to be discarded, effectively counteracting the card entirely. Sometimes this makes Orphic Theory useless or worse; if you target Sordid and Silent, the card text will return before the bad part of the card (dealing horror to each investigator at the location) triggers.

Orphic Theory and Hidden cards

Update: I have received an official rules response from FFG stating that Orphic Theory is unable to target Hidden cards in your hand. I’ll keep the analysis below for the curious, but to be clear: Orphic Theory cannot target Hidden cards at all.

This is a special interaction that works rather strangely. The rules for Hidden, as specified in The Path to Carcosa and The Dream-Eaters, include the following:

  • While a hidden treachery is in your hand, treat it as if it were in your threat area. Its constant abilities are active, and abilities on it can be triggered, but only by you.
  • A hidden card counts toward your hand size, but it cannot leave your hand by any means except those described on the card.

Since it is treated as though it is a treachery card in your threat area, you should be able to target it with Orphic Theory and temporarily suppress its effects. Can you use Orphic Theory on cards hidden in other players’ hands? A hidden card is secretly added to your hand and you aren’t supposed to reveal its text to other players, but the rules don’t require you to keep its existence a complete secret – simply looking at the card backs of a player’s hand should make it clear that there’s an encounter card among them, not to mention situations such as having to keep a card in your hand even if you’re hit with an effect that discards your entire hand – however, without knowing the text of the card, another player probably shouldn’t be able to know that it would be an eligible target for Orphic Theory, and the rules quoted above are all use the word “you”, which leads to the interpretation that only you, the person holding the hidden card, should be treating it as though it’s in your threat area – absent any other ruling, this interpretation creates the least confusion and keeps to the spirit of Hidden. Additionally, Hidden is a keyword and not a trait, which means that targeting a hidden card with Orphic Theory should blank the Hidden keyword itself. What happens then? The rules aren’t completely clear – without that keyword, it’s no longer treated as though it’s in your threat area. Additionally, the rules stating that you cannot discard it by any means other than those on the card are no longer active. I’d propose the following interpretation: The card text is no longer active. The card remains in your hand, and as such still counts towards your hand size. However, it can now be discarded like any other card, for example if you go above your hand size in the Upkeep phase.


Interactions and Deckbuilding

Orphic Theory takes up limited resources – one action, one card and two resources to play, one slot in your deck and one experience point per copy, and an arcane slot. It allows you to circumvent certain obstacles that could impede your progress, but it also has its own costs to consider – and many of the cards it can tackle have alternative means of dealing with them, even if that means is simply toughing them out until they disappear. It’s a way of hedging your bets against certain threats, and can allow you to compensate for your vulnerabilities.

For example, take Locked Door. It prevents you investigating the location – the primary task of most Seekers. If you have a good Combat or Agility, you can simply use the action to break down the door – or ask another investigator to do it if you’re not playing solo. You can use temporary boosts, whether in the form of talents like Hyperawareness or committing cards with plenty of icons to the test, to compensate for a low Agility or Combat. You can use means of collecting clues that don’t involve Investigating, such as Working a Hunch. Orphic Theory offers another way of countering Locked Door – if used properly, it might be a better way to deal with the problem than simply handling it on its own terms. That said, there are other ways to directly counter encounter cards, including Ward of Protection, Forewarned, A Test of Will, and Alter Fate, among many others.

If you decide that Orphic Theory is a good option for your deck, it doesn’t really need any additional support. Four uses per copy, used judiciously, can counteract several threats, and it’s essentially a complete package. That said, it can be used as part of a larger deckbuilding strategy. As mentioned earlier, it’s possible to replenish its secrets with various cards. Truth from Fiction and Enraptured give it additional uses, while Eldritch Sophist and Ariadne’s Twine can be used to replenish it indefinitely, or to repurpose its uses if not needed.

Orphic Theory can target any treachery in play – which means that it can be used for other investigators as well. This means that it can be a support tool. For instance, a Seeker might use Orphic Theory to circumvent a Locked Door preventing them from investigating themselves, but Roland Banks might use it to help another player against the same Locked Door.

Certain investigators are particularly well-suited to Orphic Theory. As mentioned, Roland Banks can supplement the defensive and support aspect of Guardian with Orphic Theory, and Carolyn Fern and Vincent Lee can use it to fill a support role as well. If Charlie Kane chooses Seeker as one of his classes, Orphic Theory can help him to make up for his low base stats and support the team. Marie Lambeau, Agnes Baker (with her Parallel deckbuilding) and Daisy Walker have access to Enraptured and Daisy and Marie can make good use of Eldritch Sophist, though the arcane slot pressure is an important concern, and both have access to other options such as Ward of Protection (2) and, in the case of Marie and Agnes, Alter Fate. However, to reiterate, it’s not necessarily important to build around it – any investigator with access to level 1 Seeker or Spell assets and a spare Arcane slot can include Orphic Theory and use it effectively, without needing to include additional support for it.

Player count is an interesting aspect of the card. For larger groups, the effect could be more beneficial insofar as it’s more likely for useful targets to be drawn when there are more players drawing encounter cards, plus with more investigators it’s more likely for someone to be particularly vulnerable to a given effects, and Orphic Theory doesn’t have a range limitation so you can use it to support investigators at any location. However, while it will have fewer targets on small player counts, it can be relatively more impactful. If you are playing solo and you use Orphic Theory to cancel out Dissonant Voices, you’ve essentially countered the entire round’s worth of encounter cards. If you use Orphic Theory to blank the aforementioned Locked Door for a round, it’s much easier to grab all of the clues from that location – and thus effectively counter Locked Door entirely – if there’s only one or two clues on that location in the first place. There’s definitely benefits and drawbacks regardless of player count, so there’s no simple answer as to whether it’s useful at a given number of investigators, but it will be worthwhile to check whether there are enough treacheries that you actually need to counter if playing solo or two player.

Deck example: It’s all Greek to Daisy

This is a Daisy Walker deck intended to make the best use of Orphic Theory, mechanically and thematically. It has tons of card draw and search effects to find Orphic Theory, and multiple ways to replenish it. It is of course also able to do the normal Seeker job of grabbing plenty of clues. The decklist contains a full writeup of upgrade priorities and playstyle, so check it out if you want to see an example of how Orphic Theory can play a key role in a deck.

When to include Orphic Theory

Orphic Theory is very easy to fit into a deck as you upgrade. It is generally not onerous to spare the 1 exp per copy even early in a campaign, particularly if you are hoping to use it to cover for a vulnerability of your investigator or as a key part of your deck. However, its effectiveness is entirely governed by the treachery cards you’ll encounter – you want to take it before you encounter the cards you’re hoping to use it against, and conversely you might not need it right away if the next scenario doesn’t have many good targets for it. If it will sit around contributing little in the next scenario, including it will probably just make your deck function less smoothly, so timing the upgrade can be crucial.

The final two sections of this article will break down which treachery cards can be targeted by Orphic Theory, and how impactful it is. The ‘Breakdown by campaign/scenario’ section, in particular, should help you decide on the best time to take Orphic Theory.

There’s also the question of In the Thick of It. This level 0 permanent from the Edge of the Earth Investigator Expansion can be taken when you first create your deck, taking 2 trauma in exchange for 3 experience points. This can provide a number of unique benefits – letting you start with a key upgrade such as a copy of Charisma in an ally-focused deck, say, or getting a headstart on identifying Ancient Stone, or for decks that actively benefit from the trauma such as Carolyn Fern or Vincent Lee starting with horror/damage to heal, Calvin Wright wanting to start with some boost to his skills, a deck emphasising Desperate cards, and so on. Since Orphic Theory costs 1 exp per copy, you can use In the Thick of It to take it right at the start of a campaign. Unless you really want to build around Orphic Theory, this might not be a particularly good deal – many decks have key upgrades they want to prioritise first, and the added resilience to encounter cards from Orphic Theory could be a false economy if you’re taking trauma and thus reducing your survivability in order to get there. That said, the ‘Breakdown by campaign/scenario’ at the end of this article will include the first scenarios of each campaign to help you make that decision, and in some cases it could be worth the investment, particularly if you’re hoping to cover for weak points in your deck. I’d certainly say you should think long and hard before going down this route, but it might well end up paying off in the right situation.

Finally, there’s the question of replacing Orphic Theory as you upgrade. Typically, you don’t want to get rid of an exp card later in a campaign, unless you’re upgrading it into a different card or Exiling it or something – investing experience points into your deck should ideally make it stronger, so removing those upgrades might feel like the experience points were wasted. However, the effectiveness of Orphic Theory is governed directly by the eligible treachery cards found in each scenario – and in some cases, such treacheries are thin on the ground in later scenarios in a campaign. There’s multiple campaigns with later scenarios that have zero useful targets for Orphic Theory, which would render it nearly worthless – a single Intellect icon if committed to a test, and a relatively cheap source of four Secrets if you have other means of manipulating them like Eldritch Sophist. Additionally, Orphic Theory is very cheap in terms of exp, so it’s not so onerous to have to replace it before it becomes obsolete. If you have access to Burn After Reading, you can exile Orphic Theory and replace it with a level 0 card for free. Hopefully, by the time you no longer benefit from Orphic Theory, it’s helped you accrue enough experience points that your deck is already working at full power and you can spare a few exp to replace it.


Final thoughts

This section is here, rather than at the very end, because the next two sections contain heavy spoilers. Specifically, spoilers for treachery cards from every campaign, and the encounter deck makeup of every scenario.

I really like Orphic Theory. Part of that is that it’s one of those cards that you can get really deep into the weeds when analysing, which is definitely the kind of player I am, so I feel quite fortunate to have been randomly assigned it to talk about. It carries with it lots of interesting moment-to-moment decisions, and the cost feels pretty ideally balanced for it. It provides a solution to lots of potential problems, some of which are cards that otherwise can disproportionately affect certain investigators, without being a simple hard counter to things. In other words, it fits very neatly into its niche.

I also like the concept of an exp card that’s a situational option. As you can see below, depending on the campaign, you might not benefit from buying Orphic Theory right away, and you might get rid of it before the end of a campaign. 0 exp cards that are good for the early parts of a campaign and are designed to be replaceable later on is a fine design niche already, and Orphic Theory presents an interesting choice where you spend a small amount of experience on a card that might not be part of your deck for the whole campaign – is that worth it if you’ll eventually remove it again? In that way, it poses an intriguing question about how much experience points are worth and what constitutes an upgrade.

That said, it does have a lot of complicated and in many cases counterintuitive rules interactions. Whether it’s the timing points or the eligibility of certain cards, a strong understanding of the minutiae of the rules is needed to resolve all of the interactions Orphic Theory can create. This is in spite of its effect seeming relatively simple at first glance. That’s not necessarily a huge problem but I do think it could be a little inaccessible to newer players. I expect there will be plenty of questions about niche interactions, and it would be an excellent topic for an end-of-year rules quiz or something.

With its effect playing a support role and helping to counteract certain vulnerabilities and some very frustrating effects, Orphic Theory is appealing for lots of investigators. I do wonder how often it will actually make the cut, though – between the increasingly competitive arcane slot and the requirement of access to level 1+ Seeker assets, I can see it often being “cards 31 and 32” in a decklist – an intriguing option that doesn’t quite fit into the build. However, I will definitely be making the effort to squeeze it in, not just because I am its “ambassador” but also because of how incredible that art is – much as how I have tried to fit Stargazing into as many decks as I can because it’s so pleasing to see the art in my hand.

I hope that you have found this guide informative and interesting, and that I have encouraged you to try out Orphic Theory. It’s easy for a card to get lost in the mix of new cards, particularly with the new release format, and it’s definitely worth a look. The breakdown of targets for Orphic Theory below is intended to provide guidance for every campaign so it should be well worth revisiting whenever you’re considering taking the card, and to let you know what targets you should keep an eye out for once you have taken it.

Thank you for reading.


Breakdown by treachery card

This section lists every treachery card that is a valid target for Orphic Theory – meaning that it actually enters and remains in play. This includes some cards that are technically valid targets – in that they are in play and thus can be blanked by Orphic Theory – but which will provide no benefits of any kind, or even be actively detrimental, if targeted. It also includes certain cards that look like they should be valid targets but actually aren’t. Each treachery is placed into one or more general categories to give an overview of how effective Orphic Theory is at counteracting them, with certain special cases receiving additional explanation about the interaction. The categories of treacheries are as follows:

“Temporary suppression” means that the salient effects of the card will be suspended for the round, but it will remain in play and reactivate once the suppression ends. With an asterisk (“Temporary suppression*”), this indicates that an optional ability allowing you to do something to permanently remove the card is also temporarily unavailable – for example, Locked Door is suppressed and you can investigate the location this round, but you also can’t take the action to test to discard Locked Door. If you weren’t planning on activating that ability this round, there’s no downside. Sometimes, this is as good as countering the card entirely – if you can clear all the clues off a location with Locked Door attached within the duration of Orphic Theory, it no longer has a downside unless some other effect drops a clue back on that location later on – but that’s quite situational.

“Suppresses the effect but skips discard trigger” means that the salient effects of the card will be suspended for the round, but a triggered effect that could get rid of the card has also been suspended so the card may stay in play longer than otherwise. This is different from “Temporary suppression*” in that you aren’t simply losing access to an optional ability for discarding the card, but instead skipping a trigger that would – or could – discard it automatically. For example, blanking Frozen in Fear will suppress its effects but will cause it to stick around for next round when previously it was going to be discarded this round.

“Hard counter” means that blanking the card is as good as discarding it entirely, typically because it will be discarded harmlessly at the end of the round just after Orphic Theory elapses. Note that there’s some timing nuances – you can only use Orphic Theory in a player window, so a card could do something bad in between drawing it and reaching the next player window; naturally, the card is effectively “countered” only once you’ve been able to target it with Orphic Theory. With an asterisk (“Hard counter*”), this indicates that the card only discards a single copy of itself at the end of the round, so while you are essentially completely countering one copy of it, multiple copies in play at once may require additional uses of Orphic Theory over multiple turns to neutralise all of them harmlessly.

“Soft counter” means that the effects can be largely mitigated by blanking it at the right moment, but the card isn’t completely dealt with and could cause problems over a longer timescale than a single round. Effects that trigger once your deck or the encounter deck runs out can be avoided if you blank the card just before that condition is reached, but the effect will linger and could trigger later if that condition is reached a second time. The timing could be tricky with effects that trigger when the encounter deck is emptied – you’ll need a player window after the round begins but before the deck runs out to counter them with Orphic Theory, or you’ll need to empty the deck at some point other than in the Mythos phase – but if you can, it will go a long way to entirely defusing the card.

“Technically eligible but does nothing/purely disadvantageous” means that the card is a valid target for Orphic Theory under the rules, but blanking it won’t benefit you in any way – often because the bad part of the effect will go off “at the end of the round” and thus will be ready to trigger once Orphic Theory wears off, but this is also used in places where the bad part of the card has already happened when the card first came into play, and all you’re losing is a side benefit or the means of discarding it.

“Ineligible” means that the treachery is never going to be a valid target for Orphic Theory in the first place, for instance because its revelation effect causes it to become a different card type and therefore no longer be a treachery, or because it will always be attached to an Elite enemy. 

Cards affected:

Core Set:

Dissonant Voices from Striking Fear (hard counter)

Frozen in Fear from Striking Fear (suppresses the effect but skips discard trigger)

Locked Door from Locked Doors (temporary suppression*)

Obscuring Fog from Chilling Cold (suppresses the effect but skips discard trigger)

Dreams of R’lyeh from Agents of Cthulhu (temporary suppression*)

Return to the Night of the Zealot:

Mask of Umordhoth from The Devourer’s Cult (temporary suppression): The doom will be placed when the card enters play, but the other effects are suppressed.

The Dunwich Legacy:

Beyond the Veil from Sorcery (soft counter)

Light of Aforgomon from Bishop’s Thralls (temporary suppression)

Unhallowed Country from Dunwich (suppresses the effect but skips discard trigger)

Sordid and Silent from Dunwich (technically eligible but does nothing)

Cursed Luck from Bad Luck (suppresses the effect but skips discard trigger)

Altered Beast from Beast Thralls (temporary suppression)

Arcane Barrier from The Beyond (suppresses the effect but skips discard trigger)

Kidnapped from Blood on the Altar (temporary suppression): Very tricky, you need to blank it before the agenda advances. Won’t undo the ally being kidnapped but could prevent their permanent death.

Psychopomp’s Song from Blood on the Altar (suppresses the effect but skips discard trigger)

Towering Beasts from Undimensioned and Unseen (temporary suppression)

Note: Shadow-Spawned from The Miskatonic Museum is ineligible because it is only capable of attaching to an Elite enemy

Return to the Dunwich Legacy:

Raise the Stakes from Return to the House Always Wins (temporary suppression)

Infinite Doorway from Beyond the Threshold (temporary suppression)

Secret Door from Secret Doors (temporary suppression*)

Oppressive Mists from Creeping Cold (temporary suppression*)

Violent Commands from Erratic Fear (temporary suppression*)

Idle Hands from Erratic Fear (temporary suppression*)

Note: Dark Bidding from Return to the Miskatonic Museum and Imperceptible Creature from Return to Undimensioned and Unseen are ineligible because they are only capable of attaching to Elite enemies.

Path to Carcosa:

Frozen in Fear from A Phantom of Truth (see core set)

Torturous Chords from A Phantom of Truth (temporary suppression*)

Tough Crowd from The Last King (hard counter)

Spires of Carcosa from Evil Portents (technically eligible but purely disadvantageous)

Spirit’s Torment from Hauntings (temporary suppression*)

Ooze and Filth from Decay and Filth (hard counter)

The Shadow Behind You from The Pallid Mask (suppresses the effect but skips discard trigger)

The Pit Below from The Pallid Mask (temporary suppression): This only suppresses the shroud increase – the discard and damage trigger is at the end of the round, by which point Orphic Theory has worn off.

Note: Straitjacket from The Unspeakable Oath is ineligible because once it enters play it has become an asset so isn’t a treachery anymore.

Return to the Path to Carcosa:

Radical Treatment from Return to the Unspeakable Oath (technically eligible but purely disadvantageous)

The Sign of Hastur from Hastur’s Envoys (temporary suppression)

Melancholy from Neurotic Fear (suppresses the effect but skips discard trigger)

Painful Reflection from Neurotic Fear (suppresses the effect but skips discard trigger)

The Forgotten Age:

Overgrowth from Rainforest (temporary suppression*)

Voice of the Jungle from Rainforest (temporary suppression*)

Lost in the Wilds from Expedition (suppresses the effect but skips discard trigger)

Curse of Yig from Agents of Yig (temporary suppression*)

Entombed from Deadly Traps (temporary suppression*)

Deep Dark from Forgotten Ruins (hard counter)

Words of Power from Pnakotic Brotherhood (temporary suppression*)

Snakescourge from Yig’s Venom (hard counter)

Nobody’s Home from Threads of Fate (temporary suppression)

Conspiracy of Blood from Threads of Fate (temporary suppression*): The timing for this is extremely tricky, since it only matters if the agenda is about to advance – and typically that happens at the start of the round. Much like with Kidnapped! in Dunwich, it’s not a completely useless target because there are circumstances where the agenda could advance mid-round – like Ancient Evils, Agnes’ Dark Memory and Amina’s Deafening Silence – but I wouldn’t factor Conspiracy of Blood into whether you want Orphic Theory.

Poisonous Spores from Heart of the Elders (technically eligible but does nothing)

No Turning Back from K’n-yan (temporary suppression*)

Yithian Presence from The City of Archives (temporary suppression*)

Cruel Interrogations from The City of Archives (temporary suppression*)

Children of Valusia from The Depths of Yoth (hard counter)

Creeping Darkness from Shattered Aeons (temporary suppression*): The doom will still be placed, but used judiciously blanking this card is as good as dealing damage to the Formless Spawn.

Note: Poisoned from Poison is ineligible because it is a weakness. Between Worlds from Shattered Aeons is ineligible because once it enters play it has become a location and is no longer a treachery.

Return to the Forgotten Age:

Resentful Wilds from Doomed Expedition (temporary suppression)

The Circle Undone:

Daemonic Piping from Agents of Azathoth (technically eligible but does nothing): This is a complicated interaction – the constant effect that triggers when all three copies are in play only checks for whether the cards are in play, and will trigger immediately once the third copy enters play, before you’ll reach a player window that would enable you to blank it, so blanking the other copies that are already in play is irrelevant.

Wracked from Witchcraft (temporary suppression*)

Bedeviled from Witchcraft (temporary suppression*)

Evil Past from City of Sins (soft counter): Tricky timing, you need to blank it before the encounter deck runs out

Whispers in the Dark from Spectral Predators (hard counter)

Realm of Torment from Realm of Death (suppresses the effect but skips discard trigger)

Terror in the Night from Inexorable Fate (technically eligible but does nothing): See Daemonic Piping

Fate of All Fools from Inexorable Fate (technically eligible but does nothing – the effect that matters is on the second copy being resolved, not the first copy already in play)

Pulled by the Stars from The Secret Name (temporary suppression*)

Disquieting Dreams from The Secret Name (temporary suppression of first Forced effect, soft counter for second Forced effect): The second Forced effect triggers when the encounter deck runs out so timing is tricky.

Punishment from The Wages of Sin (temporary suppression*)

Death Approaches from Union and Disillusion (suppresses the effect but skips discard trigger)

Psychopomp’s Song from Union and Disillusion (suppresses the effect but skips discard trigger)

Primordial Gateway from In the Clutches of Chaos (temporary suppression*)

Note: Ultimate Chaos from Before the Black Throne is ineligible because it can only attach to an Elite enemy – even if that weren’t true, it would do nothing, see Daemonic Piping.

Return to The Circle Undone:

Brazier Enchantment from Return to Union and Disillusion (temporary suppression*)

Despoiled from Hexcraft (temporary suppression*)

Maligned from Hexcraft (temporary suppression*)

Impending Evils from Impending Evils (technically eligible but does nothing, see Daemonic Piping)

Unavoidable Demise from Unspeakable Fate (temporary suppression)

Fate of All Fools from Unspeakable Fate (technically eligible but does nothing, see Fate of All Fools above)

Mists from Beyond from Chilling Mists (temporary suppression, but doesn’t affect the Forced trigger)

Unstable Energies from Unstable Realm (temporary suppression, almost a hard counter)

Vice and Villainy from City of the Damned (soft counter to the first effect, hard counter to the second effect)

Bloodthirsty Spirits from Bloodthirsty Spirits (suppresses the effect but skips discard trigger)

The Dream-Eaters

Deeper Slumber from Dreamer’s Curse (temporary suppression*)

Dreamlands Eclipse from Dreamlands (hard counter)

Prismatic Phenomenon from Dreamlands (suppresses the effect but skips discard trigger)

Night Terrors from Merging Realities (temporary suppression*): Note that you can use Orphic Theory in the player window during the skill test to get rid of Night Terrors. This will blank the effect of Night Terrors and thus mean that its Forced effect can’t trigger as a result of the skill test, but the skill test itself will still continue and discard Night Terrors regardless of whether you succeed or fail.

Glimpse of the Underworld from Merging Realities (temporary suppression*)

Threads of Reality from Merging Realities (temporary suppression*)

Sickening Webs from Spiders (temporary suppression*)

Hunted by Corsairs from Corsairs (technically eligible but does nothing / hard counter): This card triggers when the act advances, and is then discarded because the attached act leaves play. In Search for Kadath, you can only advance the act “at the end of the round”, so Orphic Theory will wear off before it can trigger or be discarded. In Dark Side of the Moon, however, advancing the Act generally happens during the investigation phase and due to investigator decisions, so in that scenario it can be completely countered by blanking it before advancing.

Song of the Magah Bird from The Search for Kadath (temporary suppression*).

Wondrous Lands from The Search for Kadath (temporary suppression, including positive effect)

Indescribable Apparition from A Thousand Shapes of Horror (temporary suppression*)

Glowing Eyes from A Thousand Shapes of Horror (technically eligible but does nothing)

Deceptive Memories from A Thousand Shapes of Horror (temporary suppression, tricky timing)

Secrets in the Attic from A Thousand Shapes of Horror (hard counter*)

Lunar Patrol from Dark Side of the Moon (temporary suppression)

Dhole Tunnel from Terror of the Vale (technically eligible but does nothing)

Caught in a Web from Weaver of the Cosmos (temporary suppression*)

Note: The Spinner in Darkness is ineligible because it can only attach to an Elite enemy.

The Innsmouth Conspiracy

Undertow from Rising Tide (temporary suppression*)

Fog over Innsmouth from Fog over Innsmouth (hard counter*)

Malfunction from Malfunction (temporary suppression*)

Innsmouth Look from The Locals (temporary suppression*)

Furtive Locals from The Locals (hard counter*)

Aquatic Ambush from Devil Reef (hard counter*)

Dragged Under from Devil Reef (temporary suppression*)

Kiss of Brine from A Light in the Fog (suppresses the effect but skips discard trigger)

Totality from A Light in the Fog (suppresses the effect but skips discard trigger)

Stone Barrier from The Lair of Dagon (temporary suppression*)

Note: Worth His Salt is ineligible because it can only attach to an Elite enemy.

Edge of the Earth

Zero Visibility from Ice and Death (suppresses the effect but skips discard trigger)

Evanescent Mist from Fatal Mirage (hard counter)

Kindred Mist from Creatures in the Ice (temporary suppression)

Antarctic Wind from Deadly Weather (hard counter)

Whiteout from Deadly Weather (hard counter)

Polar Vortex from Deadly Weather (hard counter)

Through the Ice from Hazards of Antarctica (temporary suppression)

Abandoned to Madness from Left Behind (temporary suppression)

Blasphemous Visions from Nameless Horrors (temporary suppression*)

Miasmatic Torment from Miasma (temporary suppression*)

Nebulous Miasma from Miasma (hard counter)

Polar Mirage from Silence and Mystery (temporary suppression)

The Scarlet Keys

(Will update once I have access to the campaign – it’s not currently available in the UK)

Side scenarios:

Curse of the Rougarou:

Spectral Mist (temporary suppression*)

Dragged Under (suppresses the effect but skips discard trigger)

Note: Insatiable Bloodlust is ineligible because it is only capable of attaching to an Elite enemy.

Carnevale of Horrors:

Acrid Miasma (temporary suppression)

Labyrinths of Lunacy:

Dreadful Mechanism (temporary suppression*)

Paradox Effect, epic multiplayer version (technically eligible but purely disadvantageous)

Note: Harvested Pain is ineligible because it is placed in the victory display, even though its effect is still active while there.

Guardians of the Abyss:

Note: All Treachery cards in Guardians of the Abyss are part of the Sands of Egypt set, so they are all found in both Eternal Slumber and Night’s Usurper.

Slumber (suppresses the effect but skips discard trigger)

Dark Sacrifice (suppresses the effect but skips discard trigger)

Murder at the Excelsior Hotel:

Driven to Madness (suppresses the effect but skips discard trigger)

Incriminating Evidence (suppresses the effect but skips discard trigger)

Harvested Brain (temporary suppression)

The Blob that Ate Everything:

Caustic Dissemination (technically eligible but does nothing)

Sticky Feet (temporary suppression*)

“It’s got me!” (technically eligible but purely disadvantageous)

Alien Food Chain (temporary suppression)

War of the Outer Gods:

Predator’s Call (temporary suppression)

Machinations Through Time:

Temporal Distortion (temporary suppression*)

Dimensional Breach (temporary suppression*): Orphic Theory won’t do anything about the doom placed on the card.

Barkham Horror

Hunted by Byakats (suppresses the effect but skips discard trigger)

Stubborn Cat (temporary suppression*)

Note: None of the Parallel Investigator scenarios add new non-weakness Treachery cards.


Breakdown by campaign/scenario

Night of the Zealot:

The scenario in the Night of the Zealot with the most targets for Orphic Theory is The Gathering, and with the low overall exp rewards because of the short length of the campaign, I don’t recommend taking In the Thick of It for Orphic Theory. That said, if your strategy for Midnight Masks is to race through the scenario with a strong focus on clue gathering via investigation, Orphic Theory might prevent Locked Door and Obscuring Fog slowing you down, so if you have one or two experience points going spare after The Gathering and you have an intellect-heavy group, it might be worth considering.

The Gathering: Dissonant Voices, Chilling Fog, Frozen in Fear

Midnight Masks: Obscuring Fog, Locked Door

Devourer Below: Dissonant Voices, Frozen in Fear, Dreams of R’lyeh (¼ chance)

Return to the Night of the Zealot:

A slightly better choice for Return to the Night of the Zealot compared to the original version. Mask of Umordhoth is a real pain, putting doom on an enemy and then making them much harder to kill, so while the lack of available experience points is still a concern, it could be a decent pick after Return to the Gathering.

Return to the Gathering: Dissonant Voices, Chilling Fog, Frozen in Fear

Return to Midnight Masks: Obscuring Fog, Locked Door, Mask of Umordhoth

Return to the Devourer Below: Dissonant Voices, Frozen in Fear, Dreams of R’lyeh (¼ chance), Mask of Umordhoth

The Dunwich Legacy:

If you can get the timing right, Orphic Theory is an excellent counter to the dreaded Beyond the Veil. Seekers are particularly vulnerable to Beyond the Veil between their excellent card draw and typically low health, a problem which has become more pronounced as the game has gone on and more card draw options are available. There are plenty of other nasty cards in Dunwich that Orphic Theory can help with, particularly with Undimensioned and Unseen and Where Doom Awaits. Dunwich is rather infamous for the low experience point rewards, so the low cost of Orphic Theory might make it a more attractive option, though it could also be tough to prioritise. If you’re starting with The House Always Wins, I’d consider taking Orphic Theory before Extracurricular Activities; if you’re instead starting with Extracurricular Activities and you’re particularly worried about Beyond the Veil, I’d consider taking In the Thick of It to start with Orphic Theory.

Extracurricular Activities: Locked Door, Beyond the Veil, Light of Aforgomon, Arcane Barrier

The House Always Wins: Dissonant Voices, Frozen in Fear, Cursed Luck

The Miskatonic Museum: Cursed Luck, Beyond the Veil, Arcane Barrier, Obscuring Fog, Locked Door

The Essex County Express: Arcane Barrier, Frozen in Fear, Dissonant Voices

Blood on the Altar: Kidnapped, Psychopomp’s Song, Unhallowed Country

Undimensioned and Unseen: Unhallowed Country, Towering Beasts, Altered Beasts, Frozen in Fear, Dissonant Voices

Where Doom Awaits: Altered Beasts, Frozen in Fear, Dissonant Voices, Obscuring Fog, Beyond the Veil, Light of Aforgomon

Lost in Time and Space: Arcane Barrier, Beyond the Veil

Return to the Dunwich Legacy

Not much has changed in the Return to Dunwich – eligible targets have been replaced with different eligible targets, so the same recommendations apply from the base campaign. The addition of Imperceptible Creature in Return to Undimensioned and Unseen could throw a spanner in the works, making a Brood of Yog-Sothoth into an Elite enemy and thus protecting it against Orphic Theory. You can choose targets for the various treacheries that attach to the Broods, so if there’s more than one in play it might be worth stacking Altered Beasts and Towering Beasts onto one of them and attaching Imperceptible Creature to the other.

Return to Extracurricular Activities: Secret Door, Beyond the Veil, Light of Aforgomon, Infinite Doorway

Return to the House Always Wins: Violent Commands, Idle Hands, Cursed Luck

Return to the Miskatonic Museum: Cursed Luck, Beyond the Veil, Arcane Barrier, Oppressive Mists, Secret Door

Return to the Essex County Express: Infinite Doorway, Violent Commands, Idle Hands

Return to Blood on the Altar: Kidnapped, Psychopomp’s Song, Unhallowed Country

Return to Undimensioned and Unseen: Unhallowed Country, Towering Beasts, Altered Beasts, Violent Commands, Idle Hands

Return to Where Doom Awaits: Altered Beasts, Violent Commands, Idle Hands, Oppressive Mists, Beyond the Veil, Light of Aforgomon

Return to Lost in Time and Space: Infinite Doorway, Beyond the Veil

Path to Carcosa

There are fewer targets for Orphic Theory in Carcosa, and none that are as obviously impactful as Beyond the Veil was in Dunwich. Torturous Chords can be a real nightmare of a card and Orphic Theory can give you a round to play everything without worrying about it. Since there are zero valid targets for this card in Black Stars Rise, I’d consider getting rid of it after Pallid Mask, or only purchasing it for Dim Carcosa. With the ruling that you cannot target Hidden cards with Orphic Theory, it has become an extremely poor choice for Carcosa, and I would not recommend taking it. I can imagine taking it after Black Stars Rise in multiplayer if multiple investigators will struggle with Frozen in Fear and Dissonant Voices for Dim Carcosa, but that’s a niche use at best.

Curtain Call: Frozen in Fear, Dissonant Voices, Spirit’s Torment

The Last King: Tough Crowd, Ooze and Filth

Echoes of the Past: Locked Door

The Unspeakable Oath: Ooze and Filth

A Phantom of Truth: Frozen in Fear, Torturous Chords

The Pallid Mask: The Shadow Behind You, Obscuring Fog, Spirit’s Torment, The Pit Below

Black Stars Rise: (none)

Dim Carcosa: Frozen in Fear, Dissonant Voices

Return to the Path to Carcosa

Back when I was working under the assumption that you could target Hidden cards with Orphic Theory, I nevertheless felt that Orphic Theory was a little bit less useful in Return to the Path to Carcosa compared to the base campaign since Ooze and Filth has gone and the multiple new Hidden cards added were awkward to target. With the Hidden cards off the table, Orphic Theory is simply not worth using in Return to the Path to Carcosa, though as with the base campaign I can see using it for Dim Carcosa alone.

Return to Curtain Call: Melancholy, Painful Reflection, Spirit’s Torment

Return to the Last King: Tough Crowd

Return to Echoes of the Past: Locked Door

Return to the Unspeakable Oath: The Sign of Hastur

Return to a Phantom of Truth: Frozen in Fear, Torturous Chords, The Sign of Hastur

Return to the Pallid Mask: The Shadow Behind You, Obscuring Fog, Spirit’s Torment, The Pit Below

Return to Black Stars Rise:

Return to Dim Carcosa: Melancholy, Painful Reflection, The Sign of Hastur

The Forgotten Age

There are several really strong targets for Orphic Theory in The Forgotten Age. Suppressing Entombed for a round can save you from enemies or let you sprint to the exit, Words of Power is an excellent target since it will only occasionally be an issue but it’s a big issue when it comes up, and it has plenty of impactful targets in The City of Archives where cards like Locked Door and Obscuring Fog are much worse when you’re in the Body of a Yithian. It falls off in effectiveness a little by Shattered Aeons, but ultimately I think Orphic Theory is a strong option for The Forgotten Age. It’s quite useful for effects like Overgrowth and Lost in the Wilds, but I would think long and hard before using In the Thick of It for The Forgotten Age, since the campaign can pile on the trauma without your help. That said, the Forgotten Age can be very generous with experience points and a smoother ride through The Untamed Wilds can result in lots of extra victory points being earned. This also means that getting rid of Orphic Theory prior to Shattered Aeons doesn’t feel so bad since you might be swimming in experience points by then.

The Untamed Wilds: Overgrowth, Voice of the Jungle, Lost in the Wilds, Curse of Yig

The Doom of Eztli: Curse of Yig, Snakescourge, Entombed, Deep Dark, Obscuring Fog

Threads of Fate: Nobody’s Home, Conspiracy of Blood, Words of Power, Locked Door

The Boundary Beyond: Words of Power (in ⅔ setup configurations), Snakescourge (in the remaining configuration)

Heart of the Elders, pt 1: Overgrowth, Voice of the Jungle, Lost in the Wilds

Heart of the Elders, pt 2: Curse of Yig, Snakescourge, Entombed, Deep Dark, No Turning Back

The City of Archives: Yithian Presence, Cruel Interrogations, Locked Door, Obscuring Fog, Frozen in Fear, Dissonant Voices

The Depths of Yoth: Children of Valusia, Curse of Yig, Snakescourge, Lost in the Wilds, Deep Dark

Shattered Aeons: Creeping Darkness, Words of Power, Curse of Yig (in ⅔ setup configurations)

Turn Back Time: Curse of Yig, Snakescourge, Entombed, Deep Dark, Obscuring Fog

Return to the Forgotten Age

There’s very little change in Orphic Theory’s effectiveness between the original The Forgotten Age campaign and the Return to the Forgotten Age, so the same advice as above mainly applies. If you’re going for a zero Vengeance run, it might be a bit more worthwhile to take In the Thick of It for Orphic Theory in Return to the Untamed Wilds, to bypass Resentful Wilds, particularly since it’s a bit easier to heal trauma after Return to Threads of Fate.

Return to the Untamed Wilds: Overgrowth, Voice of the Jungle, Resentful Wilds, Curse of Yig

Return to the Doom of Eztli: Curse of Yig, Entombed, Deep Dark, Obscuring Fog

Return to Threads of Fate: Nobody’s Home, Conspiracy of Blood, Words of Power, Locked Door

Return to the Boundary Beyond: Words of Power (in ⅔ setup configurations)

Return to Heart of the Elders, pt 1: Overgrowth, Voice of the Jungle, Resentful Wilds

Return to Heart of the Elders, pt 2: Curse of Yig, Entombed, Deep Dark, No Turning Back

Return to the City of Archives: Yithian Presence, Cruel Interrogations, Locked Door, Obscuring Fog, Frozen in Fear, Dissonant Voices

Return to the Depths of Yoth: Children of Valusia, Curse of Yig, Resentful Wilds, Deep Dark

Return to shattered Aeons: Creeping Darkness, Words of Power, Curse of Yig (in ⅔ setup configurations)

Return to Turn Back Time: Curse of Yig, Entombed, Deep Dark, Obscuring Fog

The Circle Undone

When Orphic Theory was first shown, a lot of discussion immediately began about how it could help with The Circle Undone. It’s certainly true that there are a lot of lingering treachery cards that Orphic Theory can target, but it doesn’t have as many good targets as you might think – Fate of All Fools, Daemonic Piping and Terror in the Night aren’t actually affected by Orphic Theory, as much as you might think otherwise at first glance. Realm of Torment is a tricky one since you also lose the opportunity to get rid of it – if your current location has a horrible Haunted effect, you can use Orphic Theory to buy yourself a round to get somewhere safer and get rid of it next round. Evil Past and Disqueting Dreams trigger when the encounter deck runs out, and you might not have the opportunity to use Orphic Theory before that happens in a round. It can be nice particularly if you have low willpower to buy time with Wracked, Bedeviled, Punishment and Pulled by the Stars until you can find and evade a Witch enemy to get rid of them without testing. Using Orphic Theory to blank Primordial Gateway in The Clutches of Chaos is a nice moment of turning the tables on the encounter deck and preventing the attached location being blanked. Since there are zero valid targets in Before the Black Throne, you want to replace Orphic Theory after The Clutches of Chaos. In a multiplayer game, I would consider using In the Thick of It to start with Orphic Theory, since there’s lots of good targets in The Witching Hour and the investigators start out separated, so being able to support investigators you can’t otherwise reach is particularly useful there.

The Witching Hour: Frozen in Fear, Dissonant Voices, Wracked, Bedeviled, Evil Past

On Death’s Doorstep: Obscuring Fog, Whispers in the Dark, Realm of Torment

The Secret Name: Wracked, Bedeviled, Evil Past, Realm of Torment, Pulled by the Stars, Disquieting Dreams

The Wages of Sin: Wracked, Bedeviled, Evil Past, Realm of Torment, Punishment

For the Greater Good: Evil Past, Locked Door

Union and Disillusion: Obscuring Fog, Whispers in the Dark, Realm of Torment, Psychopomp’s Song, Death Approaches

The Clutches of Chaos: Primordial Gateway; “Anette Mason is possessed by evil” setup: Wracked, Bedeviled, Evil Past; “Carl Sanford possesses the secrets of the universe” setup: Frozen in Fear, Dissonant Voices

Before the Black Throne: (none)

Return to the Circle Undone

Orphic Theory is more or less as good in Return to the Circle Undone as it is in the original The Circle Undone, with valid targets being replaced with different valid targets, so mostly the same advice as before applies. While Return to the Black Throne does actually contain a valid target, I would still recommend getting rid of Orphic Theory for something more useful after Return to the Clutches of Chaos.

Return to the Witching Hour: Frozen in Fear, Dissonant Voices, Despoiled, Maligned, Vice and Villainy

Return to On Death’s Doorstep: Mists from Beyond, Whispers in the Dark, Unstable Energies, Bloodthirsty Spirits

Return to the Secret Name: Despoiled, Maligned, Vice and Villainy, Unstable Energies, Pulled by the Stars, Disquieting Dreams, Unavoidable Demise

Return to the Wages of Sin: Despoiled, Maligned, Vice and Villainy, Unstable Energies, Punishment, Bloodthirsty Spirits, Unavoidable Demise

Return to For the Greater Good: Vice and Villainy, Locked Door

Return to Union and Disillusion: Mists from Beyond, Whispers in the Dark, Unstable Energies, Psychopomp’s Song, Death Approaches, Brazier Enchantment, Unavoidable Demise

Return to the Clutches of Chaos: Primordial Gateway; “Anette Mason is possessed by evil” setup: Despoiled, Maligned, Vice and Villainy; “Carl Sanford possesses the secrets of the universe” setup: Frozen in Fear, Dissonant Voices

Return to Before the Black Throne: Unavoidable Demise

The Dream-Eaters

Dreaming side

Much like Carcosa, Orphic Theory was not a particularly impressive choice even when I thought you could target Hidden cards with it, and the ruling makes it even less appealing. Nevertheless, the campaign has some tempting targets, with Dreamlands Eclipse being hard countered by Orphic Theory and Song of the Magah Bird and Wondrous Lands potentially being counteracted if you can clear off and leave the location in time. Orphic Theory is very effective in Beyond the Gates of Sleep so if you are interested in using it, I’d consider using In the Thick of It to take it, particularly since a shorter campaign means fewer instances in which you can suffer trauma otherwise. It falls off in effectiveness massively for Where the Gods Dwell, so if you do take Orphic Theory for this campaign you should replace it after Dark Side of the Moon – this means you’ll have it for at most two scenarios, or three with In the Thick of It, so I think it’s overall a pretty niche option for this campaign. Note that there’s no benefit to blanking Hunted by Corsairs in The Search for Kadath, since its effect can only trigger at the end of the round once Orphic Theory wears off, but it’s more or less a hard counter in Dark Side of the Moon.

Beyond the Gates of Sleep: Obscuring Fog, Deeper Slumber, Dreamlands Eclipse, Prismatic Phenomenon

The Search for Kadath: Dreamlands Eclipse, Prismatic Phenomenon, Song of the Magah Bird, Wondrous Lands

Blanking Hunted by Corsairs is pointless in this scenario, because the effect can only trigger at the end of the round once Orphic Theory wears off.

Dark Side of the Moon: Deeper Slumber, Hunted by Corsairs, Lunar Patrol

Where the Gods Dwell: Deeper Slumber

Waking side

The Waking side of The Dream-Eaters, on the other hand, is full of targets for Orphic Theory. It’s an excellent counter to Night Terrors and can help you out of some very sticky situations caused by Sickening Webs, Threads of Reality and Glimpse of the Underworld (unless Threads of Reality attaches to Orphic Theory Itself). Look at that list for A Thousand Shapes of Horror: Eight targets, and most of them good ones (only Deceptive Memories is a marginal choice). I think In the Thick of It to take Orphic Theory is a very solid choice for this campaign, and while it does fall off after A Thousand Shapes of Horror, it has enough useful targets to remain effective throughout the campaign.

Waking Nightmare: Locked Door, Dissonant Voices, Frozen in Fear, Night Terrors, Glimpse of the Underworld, Threads of Reality, Sickening Webs

A Thousand Shapes of Horror: Locked Door, Obscuring Fog, Night Terrors, Glimpse of the Underworld, Threads of Reality, Indescribable Apparition, Deceptive Memories, Secrets in the Attic

Point of No Return: Dissonant Voices, Frozen in Fear

Weaver of the Cosmos: Obscuring Fog, Sickening Webs, Caught in a Web

The Innsmouth Conspiracy

There’s not many targets for Orphic Theory in The Innsmouth Conspiracy, and some of the ones that do exist don’t offer much benefit – for example, if you blank Undertow you’re just buying time, which might be valuable if you need to dig for cards to use on its ability or play for soak or healing, or get to another investigator who can help you out, but might just end up being treading water unless you’re near the end of the campaign. Blanking Malfunction isn’t that useful in Devil Reef, where you probably want to get rid of it permanently so you can use the boat again, but is much more useful in Horror in High Gear where you only need to use the action abilities on the cars every so often. I definitely wouldn’t use In the Thick of It to take Orphic Theory in Pit of Despair but it has enough targets to be useful after then, particularly in The Vanishing of Elina Harper. However, much like with The Circle Undone, there are no viable targets in Into the Maelstrom so if you do take it, you want to replace it by the end of The Lair of Dagon.

Pit of Despair: Undertow, Dreams of R’lyeh

The Vanishing of Elina Harper: Fog Over Innsmouth, Innsmouth Look, Furtive Locals, Locked Door, Obscuring Fog

In Too Deep: Undertow, Innsmouth Look, Furtive Locals, Dreams of R’lyeh

Devil Reef: Aquatic Ambush, Dragged Under, Undertow, Malfunction

Horror in High Gear: Fog Over Innsmouth, Malfunction

A Light in the Fog: Kiss of Brine, Totality, Undertow, Dissonant Voices, Frozen in Fear

The Lair of Dagon: Stone Barrier, Locked Door

Into the Maelstrom: (none)

Edge of the Earth

Edge of the Earth is an excellent campaign for Orphic Theory. Every scenario has a decent number of targets, many of which are strong choices. The Deadly Weather set in particular is hard countered by Orphic Theory, as are Nebulous Miasma and Evanescent Mist, meaning that the only scenario without any cards that can be hard countered by Orphic Theory is City of the Elder Things (v. II). The results of Ice and Death Part 1 have a strong knock-on effect for the rest of the campaign so I would strongly consider taking In the Thick of It to start with Orphic Theory if you’re planning on using it.

Ice and Death, Part 1: Zero Visibility, Kindred Mist, Antarctic Wind, Whiteout, Polar Vortex, Through the Ice, Polar Mirage

Ice and Death, Part 2: Zero Visibility, Abandoned to Madness, Antarctic Wind, Whiteout, Polar Vortex, Through the Ice, Polar Mirage

Ice and Death, Part 3: Zero Visibility, Kindred Mist, Antarctic Wind, Whiteout, Polar Vortex, Through the Ice, Polar Mirage

Fatal Mirage (this is playable up to three times): Evanescent Mist, Abandoned to Madness, Miasmatic Torment, Nebulous Miasma, Blasphemous Visions, Polar Mirage, Obscuring Fog

To the Forbidden Peaks: Antarctic Wind, Whiteout, Polar Vortex, Through the Ice, Blasphemous Visions

City of the Elder Things (v. I): Miasmatic Torment, Nebulous Miasma, Blasphemous Visions, Locked Door

City of the Elder Things (v. II): Kindred Mist, Blasphemous Visions, Polar Mirage, Obscuring Fog

City of the Elder Things (v. III): Kindred Mist, Miasmatic Torment, Nebulous Miasma, Obscuring Fog, Locked Door

The Heart of Madness, Part 1: Miasmatic Torment, Nebulous Miasma, Blasphemous Visions, Locked Door

The Heart of Madness, Part 2: Miasmatic Torment, Nebulous Miasma, Blasphemous Visions, Obscuring Fog, Dissonant Voices, Frozen in Fear

The Scarlet Keys

(Will update once I have played the expansion)

Standalone/side scenarios

Since these scenarios use self-contained encounter sets, the full list of treacheries for each scenario is already listed in the “Breakdown by treachery card” section above. In general, I don’t recommend Orphic Theory for the side scenarios, since they have few viable targets. I’d consider it for Guardians of the Abyss, since Slumber and Dark Sacrifice can both be very painful and you can often work out when you’re going to lower the Strength of the Abyss so you’re less likely to skip a discard trigger. It’s also not bad for Murder at the Excelsior Hotel, since it’s an excellent counter to Driven to Madness and blunts Harvested Brain, though there’s not really any way of predicting if you’ll face Harvested Brain. Machinations Through Time contains a couple of targets, Temporal Distortion being an excellent one, so I’d say it’s not a bad choice for that scenario either. Barkham Horror effectively has an equivalent to Locked Door and a slightly less onerous Frozen in Fear, so I’d say it’s not terrible, but hardly a priority, very similar to Midnight Masks.

Parallel investigator scenarios

Orphic Theory is a solid choice for any of the parallel investigator scenarios other than All or Nothing (where it’s not worth using). It’s particularly strong for Read or Die and Red Tide Rising, which have several good targets, much like the scenarios they’re based on. Bad Blood, Read or Die and By the Book are particularly noteworthy because the associated investigators – Agnes Baker, Roland Banks and Daisy Walker – can take Orphic Theory themselves (only parallel Agnes and standard Roland deckbuilding); the associated investigator needs to be present in the scenario, so if you’re playing true solo, you cannot use Orphic Theory in All or Nothing or Red Tide Rising in the first place.

All or Nothing: Cursed Luck

Bad Blood: Nobody’s Home, Conspiracy of Blood, Locked Door

By the Book: Dissonant Voices, Frozen in Fear, Obscuring Fog

Read or Die: Beyond the Veil, Arcane Barrier, Light of Aforgomon, Locked Door

Red Tide Rising: Fog Over Innsmouth, Innsmouth Look, Furtive Locals, Locked Door, Obscuring Fog


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s