The Azathoth “Faction” expansion has a truly unique feature – neutral spellbooks, that can replace any normal faction spellbook. But this obviously involves giving up a faction spellbook! When is this worthwhile?
Well, this is overall too complicated an answer to give in a simple design corner, because the truth is that you need to craft a strategy to take advantage of the neutral spellbook(s) you pick, and that strategy will be different with every faction!
Most people can easily see the advantages of The Stars are Right, Undimensioned, and Shrivelling. So let’s talk about the less-understood spellbooks and see how they can be handy.
This spellbook lets you “throw away” an existing spellbook (including itself) and replace it with another. There are two basic uses for this ability:
1) THE EARLY GAME – you may not yet have settled on a firm strategy, or you might want to conceal your strategy from your foes. In this case, you can take Recriminations, then at an opportune moment, swap it out and embark on your real plan. This gives you flexibility.
2) THE LATE GAME – some spellbooks become less useful over time. For example, in many games, once Nyarlathotep is in play, Nightgaunts become more valuable as shields, and the Crawling Chaos rarely uses their Abduction ability. He may want to swap out Abduction for something else.
This spellbook lets you build gates for only 2 Power. This may not seem like much. Many players only build 3 gates in an entire game – so is it really useful to take Umr at’Tawil to save maybe 3 power? Plus you probably will later on use Recriminations to unload it later on, which means it is worth even less Power (since Recriminations costs 1 Power).
The advantage of Umr at Tawil is not so much the power savings in itself, but that it lets you get an extra action or two in during an early turn, and sometimes a late one. THIS is advantageous.
Here is an example:
It’s Action Phase 1, and you’re Sleeper. You spend 3 Power to get Umr at Tawil. You move a cultist, build a Gate, and summon two wizards. You now have two gates, a spellbook slot filled, and two wizards. Normally you can’t do all this in the first turn. In the Doom phase you get a serpent man.
Action Phase 2: start with 10 power. Sack 3 power on a spellbook requirement, get Cursed Slumber. Spend 1 Power to fire off a gate into space. Build a second gate. Summon two serpent men with your remaining 4 Power. Again, thanks to Umr at Tawil, you had just that tiny extra edge to get your last serpent man, so you can get a free Formless spawn at the start of the next turn, and probably awaken big T. You simply got just that little bit more done in the first two turns, and have a toe up on your enemies.
Here is another example:
A really common Action Phase 1 plan for Yellow Sign is his signature “Move a Cultist, awaken the King, build a Gate. End action phase.” But if your King awakening gives you Umr At Tawil, you’ll have 1 more Power left at the end of this sequence. You could, for example, summon an undead, starting your zombie horde a turn earlier. Or you could use that Power to move the King back to the start area, which means that you can start your next turn with 10 Power, and kick it off with a successful Desecrate, doing anything else.
THE MAO CEREMONY
This has two functions:
1) Ensure you go first, when it really matters, for example when you need to Ritual before anyone else. In some games this is literally the difference between victory and defeat.
Example: it’s the fifth Action Phase. You expect the game to end in the next Doom phase following this one. Sack ALL your cultists, get up to +6 Power, and seize the day.
Example Two: Yellow Sign use the extra Power to Third Eye his way to victory, and replacing his cultists with his Desecrates.
Example Three: Cthulhu uses the extra Power to awaken an independent GOO, not only scoring him an Elder Sign in the process, but having a Power left over to take advantage of his assets.
Example Four: you can sacrifice ANY cultist. This means you can (finally) get some Power out of that damn Dark Demon!
Here are some examples for use with expansions we are not currently offering on Onslaught 3, some of which may be available soon on our webstore:
Example Five: Glaaki doesn’t care if his cultists are dead. Suck up that Power.
Example Six: use Mother Hydra to restore all those dead cultists immediately for 1 Power. This approach may risk defenestration at the hands of your outraged opponents, though.
Example Seven: if you control Yuggoth’s Laboratory, transform your cultists into Brain Cylinders, then double-dip by sacrificing the Cylinders using Mao Ceremony in the Gather Power phase.