The Dunwich Legacy Files: File the First: The House Always Wins

Follow along with my Rex Murphy and D’s Zoey Samaras at ArkhamDB.  Do be aware that these deck have been through The Essex County Express and both print-on-demand scenarios and contain spoilers as a result.

“Where could Warren be?”  Dr. Henry Armitage looked over his shoulder to the door as though expecting his friend to be summoned at the mention of his name.  “He’s late, and the food is growing cold.”

“A mystery!” Rex Murphy exclaimed, hopping to his feet.  “I most graciously offer my services to resolve this case.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a mystery,” Dr. Armitage tried to restrain his friend’s enthusiasm.  “He is only a little late after all.”

“Are there any clues as to where he may be?”  Rex pressed.  “Perhaps someone who may know something about his whereabouts?”

“Warren could be at the university still.  I seem to recall him having a late Latin class sometime during the week.  Francis would know better than me.”

“A witness!  Who’s Francis?”

“Dr. Francis Morgan.  He has been spending his time at some gambling den or another in the city.”

“Gambling, eh?” Rex asked.

“Vice?” Rex jumped at the voice.  It was Dr. Armitage’s chef, Zoey Something Exotic.  It was the first time that Rex had heard her speak and only the second time he had seen her since she had served the soup.  Her voice was as cold and hard as the hull of an icebreaker circling Canada.  She held a cleaver at her side in a way that made Rex want to sit down and cross his legs.

“I guess.  But Warren ought to be at the university.  If you are going to insist on looking for him, you should start your investigation there.”

“You may know libraries, Dr. Armitage, but I know investigating, and my nose is telling me we’ll find clues at this den of iniquity with Dr. Morgan.  To the gambling parlor!”

“Yes.  The holy will descend amongst the wicked and set aright their wrongs through blood and sinew and bone.”  Zoey began to make her way toward the door, knife still in hand, apron still across her chest.

“No doubt, I would appreciate your company,” Rex reached out a hand to slow the chef but pulled it back at Zoey’s steel glance, “but maybe, perhaps you might consider changing your clothes.”

“What is wrong with my clothes?”  Her voice did not lose its edge.

“It could arouse less suspicion,” Rex said weakly.  “The blood, for example.”

Zoey looked down.

“Hmm.”

She turned and walked away.  Rex collapsed back into a chair and stroked his mustache, trying to push it back up.  Some minutes later she returned in a long, velvet, burgundy dress.

“Delightful.  Such a lovely color.”

“It hides the blood.”

Rex laughed until he realized Zoey was not laughing with him.  Then he noticed the discolored spots near the hems.

“Well then.  Let’s get going.  We’ll be back with Dr. Rice before you can learn to use chopsticks,” Rex promised Dr. Armitage.

“Have fun.”

Several times during their walk into the city’s center Rex attempted to draw out Zoey in conversation, but no topic, not the adventures of Ernest Keen, not the works of G.W.M. Reynolds not anything, held any interest for her.

They arrived at La Bella Luna, and Rex felt himself underwhelmed.  It looked like any other restaurant on the block.  He thought there might be men standing outside with hats pulled low over their eyes and rifles bulging under their coats or at least more lights.

“Go ahead,” Rex said.  “I’m going to look for some clues out here.”

Zoey had already walked in.  It was decadent but cheap.  Every surface was covered in velvet, but it was only a thin layer nailed down over unfinished wood.  The exposed wood of the chair  was unevenly stained with black shoe polish.  It smelled like sin.  Yes, there was gluttony at the bar and avarice at the tables and lust for the women showing too much skin.  There was wickedness here.  Zoey’s hand itched for its blade, but she restrained herself.  She must fit in, not arouse suspicion until necessary, as Rex had said earlier.

She went to the bar.  The bartender poured her a glass of wine.  There was only the one vintage.  Zoey sipped and spat it out.

“Cheap,” she growled.  “Better sold to a surgeon for sanitizing wounds than drunk by any human.”

She felt a heavy, unmanicured hand on her shoulder.

“That’s not how a lady should act,” a voice like graveled threatened.  “And if you’re not a lady, then I don’t need to feel bad about this.”

Zoey felt his second hand jab deep into her kidneys.  The bartender pointedly was looking away.  The blood was rising, but she continued to restrain herself.  It wasn’t yet time.

“Look over there!” she shouted and pointed wildly past the bar.  She was not very good at running away.

“Where?”

Fortunately, the thick man was not very smart.

Zoey hurried away while he looked and almost ran into Rex in the lounge.

“I have found so many clues!” he enthused.  “First, I found this business card that says Dr. Francis Morgan, Professor of Archaeology, Miskatonic University.  Then someone said they knew Dr. Morgan.  Then someone else said they saw him go in back.  Then I won at blackjack, and I didn’t even have to cheat.  You might say it’s my lucky day.  How did your investigation go?”

“Fine.  Let’s go in back.”

“Great.”

The club looked more full, more violent as the pair made their way to the back door, but no one stopped them.  They found themselves in a dark hallway with three other doors.

“What about this one?”  Rex asked.  He looked.  “Nope, it’s an alley.”

“This one,” Zoey said pointing.

“Why?”

“It smells like blood.”

Rex shivered.  “You would know best.”  In a quieter voice he said to himself, “Buck up, Rex.  What would Ernest Keen, the Boy Detective, do?  No time for fear now.”

He opened the door.  Even Rex could smell the blood now.  Paintings were slashed, books and glass were scattered across the floor, but sitting oblivious to the ruin around him, laughing listlessly at two unconscious bodies, was a man whom Rex could only hope was Dr. Morgan.

“Dr. Morgan?” Rex asked.  “I have some questions about the whereabouts of Dr. Warren Rice.”

The man just laughed.

“Let me try,” Zoey said, pushing Rex aside.  “Dr. Morgan, it’s time to go.”  The man gave no response.

Somewhere outside Rex heard someone shout “They went in back!” and too many pairs of feet running in the outside hallway.

“Do please hurry,” he whimpered.

“Dr. Morgan,” Zoey shouted.  “It’s time to go.”

He blinked.  “What?”  He looked around.  “Oh dear.”

The door collapsed in, and the thick man from the bar and another four not so different in shape from him burst in.  Zoey pulled the professor up with her left hand and finally allowed her right to find its blade.  Now it was time.  Now was the time for the reaping.  A vicious blow felled the first thug.  A second soon joined him.

“Help me!” cried Rex across the room.  Zoey could not see him past the swarm of men and their punching fists and kicking boots.  Gladly.

Zoey pulled the thick man from the bar back by his shoulder and threw a fire ax to Rex.  “Now we will see what a lady truly does.”

“What am I supposed to do with this?” Rex cried again for her attention.

“Defend yourself, man!”

Rex wound up like Babe Ruth at the plate and took a wild swing at the first of his opponents.  “Ahhh.”  The man laughed joylessly as it went harmlessly past.  The second did not laugh as it connected with his skull.

“Oh dear.”  His standing enemy still with shock, Rex bolted for the door.

“There’s no time!  More are coming!” Rex shouted back to Zoey.  “Run!”

Rex was back in the hallway.  The way was clear.  He was so close to the alley and escape.  Just one more move.

But then one of those odd little twists of fate happened, those little things upon which so much depend.  There was a wet spot in the hall.  Some drink had been spilled on delivery, and there had been no time to clean it and no one to demand proper sanitation.  Most of the drink had absorbed into the wood, just another stain, but some remained.  It was into this paltry puddle that Rex stepped.  His foot slipped, and before he could catch himself, Rex fell and hit his head on the floor.  It was too much, and he felt himself disappear into unconsciousness.

Zoey heard the thump outside and sighed.  There was no more time for reaping.  She, too, ran, pulling the still-dazed professor behind her and picking up Rex as she passed him.  The thick man, the only one of the thugs remaining, gave chase, throwing punches when he could, but it was not enough to slow Zoey.  She escaped into the alley and the night.

“And stay out, bird,” the thick man cried from the door.

Weekend of Futility: Game of Thrones

So I went one and two at the Imperial Assault tournament.  That’s fine.  It’s not my main game.  It’s a dice game.  Whatever.

Sunday, though, is Thrones at the newly christened Grey Duck Games & Toys, and it’s the only store championship I can make this season.  It is my only chance to win that handsome Ser Robar Royce mat.  I get my game face.  I pack “I Want A Do-Over” with location hate for Night’s Watch and Baratheon nonsense.  I leave the boy.  I am ready.

Against M, World Champion Lannister, Wolf

And I open against this jerk literally running the World Champion deck with no updates from the intervening three chapter packs or deluxe box.  I set up The Arbor.  Nothing else matters.  Right?  He sets up less well with The Hound, Arya Stark, Red Cloaks and some economy.  I feel good.  Then he dupes Tywin Lannister off A Noble Cause and finds the dupe for Arya.  My hand’s expensive, even with Arbor and summer gold off Calm Over Westeros, and I opt not to drop any of my hitters since it’s obvious that I’ll be digging for Varys to clear the dupes for Valar.  House Florent Knight clears out the Red Cloaks.

The rest of the game is me playing defense to slow it down while I dig for and fail to find Varys.  Two Time of Plenty and two “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” and one A Gift of Arbor Red only find me Varys on plot seven when it was far too late.  While I dick around, M gains renown on Tywin and pokes power challenges with Arya while grinding my board with Tears of Lys (claiming King Renly’s Host and Brienne of Tarth’s dupe) and Put to the Sword (claiming Renly Baratheon).  It could have ended earlier, but I managed to pull the good Eddard Stark for intrigue from twelve cards in the second round.

The only other small win I managed came in the fourth round when I dropped a Knight of Summer and Rattleshirt’s Raiders to try and remove some of the Bodyguards that M had found to further protect his hitters.  Of course he had Ward for the Knight.  I toss the Raiders alone into a military challenge anyway.  M debates for a while, thinking that I’m trying to trick him into putting power on the Knight before I take him back with Confiscation, but ultimately blocks it.  No.  I’m taking him back now.  The Knight has Nightmares, loses his strength buff, and the Raiders remove Ward.  Cute.  It gains me a second knelt character who quickly goes to claim.

Losing to a four-month old deck is not how I wanted to open the tournament, but you don’t get to choose how you open the tournament, do you?

Against J, Expensive Night’s Watch, Fealty

Qhorin Halfhand arrives in setup with a Practice Blade.  I have something less good.  Then Benjen Stark drops with some Haunted Forests, but that’s okay because I Arbor Red draws Varys out of hiding, and a Margaery Tyrell with a Lady-in-Waiting gives me a body post-wipe.

He drops his Valar on the second plot to clear Margaery, and that’s pretty well game there.  I get too many bodies on the table, and even though J is playing plenty of economy, he can never drop more than two characters at a time.  Military keeps the pressure on, and the game’s over on the fourth plot.

Against C, Lannister, Banner of the Watch

I set up The Arbor and Paxter Redwyne.  That was possibly the one thing I did right all game.  He sets up The Wall and stuff, which is pretty great, but I have a chance to blow this game wide open in the first round because I hold Put to the Torch.  He opens Time of Plenty to my Calm Over Westeros.  He drops Jaime Lannister and a Ranging Party, his only two military icons, and I drop Syrio Forel.  He makes his challenges, and I coyly wait to pass military and stealth to Paxter, my only other character on the board.  Then C plays Nightmares on Syrio, and I can’t push the military anymore.  There goes that plan.  It was going to be so good, too, because Paxter was going to reduce the cost and everything.

Oh well, I’ll do it in the next round.  No.  Now Syrio’s Craven.  And Varys drank the Milk of the Poppy.

Fine, I’ll Torch the Wall in the third round after my Valar clears out his defenders.  No. Now the Wall has a dupe.

Well, maybe I’ll Torch the dupe, and he’ll do something dumb when I play Political Disaster.  No.  He does not discard The Wall.

So The Wall is only knelt once in five rounds, and Winter Festival gains him another two power.  Tywin in the third round really wasn’t necessary.

Against T, Lannister, “The Rains of Castamere”

You know what feels good?  Setting up The Arbor and playing Marched to the Wall as your first plot to get rid of a duped Tywin.  You know what feels terrible?  Still managing to lose the game.

He only trips Harrenhal and uses it to bounce in The Hound, killing my Lady-in-Waiting, but leaving an empty board against my House Florent Knight.

Big Cersei Lannister comes out alone on the next plot against my duped Renly Baratheon.  You may think that’s the most important play of the round, but you’d be wrong.  The important play was his Isle of Ravens.  The first Tywin is recycled.  The Hound bounces in again but is only claim to protect Big Cersei.  I prefer to let Harrenhal kill him.

Little of note happens in the third round except for the second Tywin recycling.

The game starts to open up in the fourth round for him.  Hear Me Roar! brings in Tywin and Relentless Assault, allowing Cersei two intrigue challenges and two power.  The third Tywin is recyled.

I find Varys in the fifth, but it’s too late.  Another Relentless Assault gets Cersei her two power, and Harrenhal drops Tywin whose renown with Jaime’s finishes the game.  He drew Tywin four times.  Granted, he had an early Casterly Rock and Time of Plenty was played twice, but he drew Tywin four times.

Seriously now.  I set up The Arbor in three of four matches and managed to lose every single one of them.  My only win was the game I never saw The Arbor (perhaps coincidentally, also the only game Varys successfully cleared the board).  I need to do something different.

Thanks

Thanks to my opponents.  Thanks to J for opening Grey Duck Games and continuing to support Thrones.  Thanks to M for the alt Roseroads.  Thanks to my wife for watching the boy the second day in a row.

No thanks

No thanks to my inability to win a single game I set up The Arbor.