The tides of madness rise across the world. Poets and artists are driven mad by the light of the moon, and a mysterious play spreads insanity to its audiences. The Unspeakable One is stirring, and his cursed city tears through the dimensional walls. Lost Carcosa has come to Earth! The Signs of Carcosa is an expansion pack for Eldritch Horror based on the eldritch horror Hastur also known as The King in Yellow from the works of Robert W Chambers that has been assimilated into the larger Cthulu mythos. Based loosely around a fictional play that if read in its entirety brings madness and death.
The expansion thankfully however lacks any such effect even if read cover to cover. Rather more it expands and increases the amount of content found in the base game. It is one of the smaller expansions so can be mixed in without any issues and does not provide the full pre-game game such as in Mountains of Madness. It includes new investigators, items, encounters, artifacts, monsters and more of pretty much every card type found in the original box including the new Ancient One in the form of The King in Yellow himself.
There are many new components beneficial to the player in Signs of Carcosa. The new investigators include The Urchin, the Gangster, The Dilettante, and The Magician. They all come with powerful abilities such as the Magician teleporting enemies away or the gangster very thematically gaining a card for free from the reserve in exchange for gaining a wanted condition. They also bring with them new weapons and artefacts that can be bought from the reserve or found on alien planets.
New items such as the Tommy gun and flamethrower increasing your combat potential while new allies such as the esteemed author and chief inspector increase your investigating power. The new artefacts are also very thematic including the eponymous book The King in Yellow itself. Lastly there are new spells and unique assets added which you may gain through the new event cards which usually offer more powerful versions of existing items/allies. However, you will need all benefits you can get if you hope to face the new ancient one however.
Hastur himself is no pushover. Requiring two mysteries to be solved and themed around the Blight condition effect. He will summon Byakhee to ambush investigators and force mass sanity loss unless the lead investigator takes a blight condition. He can also awaken into a more powerful form if the players take too long and force the players to confront him with his own unique encounters to overcome him.
It is a narrow timeframe that the players have to defeat him once he is empowered but it does provide a climactic end to a game as every player scrambles to complete the second mystery and face down the King via the Unspeakable One special encounters. He also has the charming effect of instantly removing all sanity from any blighted player when he flips to his second form. It is definitely not the elder god you want to face in your first, second, or maybe even fifth game.
You receive a good amount of content that can be added ad hoc to the core game. These item, enemy, encounter and character cards are all thematic and of the same quality as found in the base game. The characters are all fitting for eldritch horror and it is nice that they gave nod to the theatrics elements of the King in Yellow.
The cards of Signs of Carcosa also span between some non-standard sizes which come with the Fantasy Flight sleeve key if you wish to buy the exact sleeve sizes needed for them. The only real criticism I have on the component side of things is that the player standees can get worn fairly easily as you have plastic rubbing against printed card stock which is a minor complaint but it is a little frustrating when you can feel the damage being done to the tokens as you assemble them.
The expansion Signs of Carcosa is a solid expansion. It expands on the core content while also providing a new elder one and some new mechanics to spice up the gameplay. It also has a good complement of characters, weapons and spells to collect. It is also heavily themed which seems to be a key element of Cthulu themed games and the expansion holds up in that regard.
In terms of eldritch horror expansions, it is definitely a worthy addition to the base game. It might have been nice to see an additional mechanic like in Cities In Ruin but the new elder one plays in its own unique way and there is definitely a good challenging component to the expansion. I am also potentially biased having been a fan of Robert W Chambers and there are some very nice references to his works hidden in the box so if you are a fan of Carcosa and his works then it is right expansion for you.