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„… doch sind dies wenige verglichen mit denen, die in Sprachen geschrieben sind, deren ich nicht mächtig bin.” - H. P. Lovecraft, „Die Aussage des Randolph Carter”
Anna Christenson
Harvey Walters #15.
Kryptische Schriften


(from the official FAQ or responses to the official rules question form)
  • Q: I have a question about some card interactions for cards that trigger 'at the end of your turn' and 'during your turn'. To draw a specific example, if Monterey Jack's ability draws Cryptic Writings, is he allowed to trigger Cryptic Writing's ability and play it? More generally, when an ability triggers 'at the end of my turn', is that 'during my turn'? And similarly, if an ability triggers 'at the start of my turn' is that 'during my turn'? A: Short answer, yes, “at the end of your turn” is still “during your turn”, so you would be able to play Cryptic Writings if you drew it with Monterey Jack’s triggered ability. (By extension, “at the start of your turn” should also count as being “during your turn.”)

  • Q: Can I trigger Cryptic Writings' ability from the discard pile if Cryptic Writings is not in my hand "After [I] draw" it because it was discarded by Scroll of Prophecies? A: This one was tricker to determine [cf two rulings on Easy Mark], because of how “then” and “After” in abilities interact. What we determined is, Scroll of Prophecies’ final sentence would be treated as a single triggering condition, given priority because it has a “then” clause in its ability whereas Cryptic Writings has an “After” in its ability. To put it simply, Scroll of Prophecies needs to resolve in full before Cryptic Writings resolves. If Cryptic Writings was discarded as a consequence of resolving Scroll of Prophecies, Cryptic Writings could not trigger from the discard pile, as it cannot be “played” from this out-of-play area. Hopefully that makes sense! Further discussion: There's one thing I don't understand about your explanation, and I was wondering if you could indulge me with a clarification. You mentioned that Cryptic Writings can't be "played" from the discard pile. Is that because of "Card abilities only interact with other cards that are in play, unless the ability specifically references an interaction with cards in an out-of-play area." under Ability in the RR? If so, why can Cryptic Writings be "played" from hand (also an out-of-play area)? To be clear, obviously it must be playable from hand, otherwise the ability doesn't function... but how does that fit into the rules framework? I noticed that most of the other cards that work like this (particularly Easy Mark, but also e.g. Archaic Glyphs, Dexter Drake, Ever Vigilant, Farsight) specify "from your hand" - i.e. specifically referencing the out-of-play area. Should Cryptic Writings have this text? Or is there some implicit reason that Cryptic Writings can be played from only the zone we expect it to be in after its triggering condition? A: Unless something states it can be played from the discard pile (like Winging It), you can’t play it from there. Easy Mark’s ability can be activated while in the discard pile, but that’s not the same as playing Easy Mark from the discard pile. It’s the same for Cryptic Writings; it cannot be played from the discard pile.

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Cryptic Writing, Crack the Case, and Burning the Midnight Oil all fulfill very similar roles: actionlessly turning cards into resources.

Of the three, Crack the Case has the highest resource potential and the ability to support your allies, at the cost of not being always available when you need it. Burning the Midnight Oil is more reliable and only asks that you be able to make a basic investigate action, which any Seeker should be able to do. Where does that leave Cryptic Writings?

Cryptic Writings will far less reliably give resources actionlessly (especially at lower XP), but it does have icons. This means if you don't need the resources, you can simply treat it as a skill card , and it makes for good Crystallizer of Dreams fodder for Ursula and Trish. With a bit of XP, seekers will draw far more cards on their turns than during Upkeep so its reliability in coughing up resources will improve. It also has a slight edge in speed over Crack the Case or Burning the Midnight Oil it'll due to not having to wait for the right timing, again assuming you can reliably draw it on your turn.

If you're running Higher Education, you'll most likely be looking at one or both of the other cards. If you're running a heavy card draw or cycle engine, Cryptic Writings could merit a second glance, although most likely Astounding Revelation would be all the resource you need unless you're hoarding cash for some reason or have really good resource sinks not named Higher Education.

suika · 9310
I've tried to like and enjoy Cryptic Writings, but every time I've put it in a deck, it's been disappointing. I find Crack the Case to be far the best of the three because there's always one location that has a good shroud, and if not, a free action to get 3 resources (or even just 2) is pretty good. — acotgreave · 819
Cryptic Writing's only advantage is if you cycle your deck faster than you investigate, it generates cash a lot faster than Crack the Case, which becomes dead cards in your hand. — suika · 9310
It also has better icons, which is especially relevant for Amanda. You could also run both- CTC to share resources, Writing to inject cash into your own engine. — StyxTBeuford · 12943
The L2 has felt pretty wildly efficient the few times I've taken it, but I think Crack the Case is more than efficient enough, and probably has fewer feel-bad moments. — Zinjanthropus · 225

You're just never going to draw it during your turn.

Finding it is nice, but most of the time you will just feel bad and annoyed. It's not important enough to try and search for it with search effects. And the rest of the time it's just a bad Emergency Cache and you'll be cursing it in anger!

The card is quite decent in Norman Withers decks, and I could imagine it in a deck with Scroll of Secrets.

Tsuruki23 · 2486
Heavy disagree. If you build your deck to cycle quickly, you will frequently draw this during your turn. Even Crack the Case require you actually clear a location to get the burst. This is just gas in a draw heavy deck. — StyxTBeuford · 12943
Yeah, a typical draw-heavy deck will draw 2x, 3x, or even 6+x as many cards during their turn as during the upkeep. — Death by Chocolate · 1394
And at worst, you've got 2 int symbols, the best non wild symbols to have in the game. It hurts less than accidentally drawing Astounding Rev, which you should still run despite that risk in a search deck. — StyxTBeuford · 12943
I agree with Styx. Harvey with his Vault of Knowledge out has got great odds of drawing this during his turn. If it's early in the game, you'll be glad to have the resources. If it's mid to late game, those icons are beautiful. A great card either way. — Pinchers · 125
@Death by Chocolate, can you link me a deck that draws 6 cards every turn? Curious. — flamebreak · 19
@flamebreak simple example: any Seeker investigates commiting PMP, drawing Perception (2), exhausting Gristly Totem, passing, gaining +4 cards in a single skill test; investigating again commiting the Perception, gaining +2 cards. Exhausts a Taboo'd Scroll for +1 draw. Exhausts Rook for +1 draw. Exhausts Dream-Enhancing Serum for +1 draw. Plays Cryptic Writings for +3 more. Spend 6 secrets from the Necronomican for 6 more cards. Of course, this will be spread out in a few turns to avoid running into the hand size limit...or you might not care becuase you have the Dream Enhancing Sereum in play. — suika · 9310
@flamebreak uh oh you're actually talking to the maker of such a deck. Death by Chocolate made the legendary Trish goes brr deck and it does just that actually. — kellyhoang92 · 1
Question....Is Cryptic Writings a dead card (aside from it's 2 book icons) in your opening hand? My reading of it says YES because drawing your opening hand is not "on your turn" — BillyB · 21
@BillyB You are correct. "Your turn" refers to a specific time within the investigator phase, however your opening hand is drawn before that. — snacc · 975

It's a nice adjunct to/replacement for Burning the Midnight Oil. Rather than being 2 Resources for something you would probably be doing anyway, this is fast in a different way. I guess it would not fire if Minh Thi Phan recurred it from her discard pile with Scrounge for Supplies, but why would she do that? NOt flashy, but a nice utility card, especially since Seekers often need to spend resources on Assets to really get going. This might also help Roland Banks with his perennial resource problems.

Does Roland draw cards during his turn? Maybe with the new "Draw 2 cards after you defeat an enemy" card — Yenreb · 15
Yeah I dont see how Roland justifies this. Astounding Rev works much better thanks to the Stick to the Plan interaction, though it also works great with Practice Makes Perfect and Calling in Favors. — StyxTBeuford · 12943

Disclaimer: Weird and probably insignificant meta ramblings ahead.

I used the card in Norman Withers for the obvious implication: You see it on the top of your deck and draw it, instead of, say, doing something else and and cursing RNGsus for drawing it in the upkeep phase. Great. Best case scenario. Maximum outcome. Here comes the first "weird" part: For Norman, depending on what else he does in his turn, it might make no difference if he draws it or plays it using his ability - in both cases he gains 2 resources. Like I said, he might need the use of his ability for another card on top of his deck in the same turn, but it is likely enough that the player can choose which action to use for the effect. Why could this be important? I don't know, maybe for Stupor or Panic? Otherwise not so much probably.

But what even more puzzled me is that seemingly for Norman Withers, Burning the Midnight Oil performs better than this card in their best (i.e. playing it from the top of your deck using Norman's ability) and "worst" cases (i.e. playing it from your hand) and as well in its "worst" case as Cryptic Writings in its best case.

Best case vs. best case: So what the hell am I talking about? Playing (or drawing, see rambling above, hehe) Cryptic Writings from the top of your deck costs you an action to gain 2 resources. Neat. Playing Burning the Midnight Oil from the top of your deck costs you an action to gain 2 resources AND take an investigate action. That's one for the midnight oil!

Worst case vs. worst case: On the other hand, playing Cryptic Writings from your hand costs you two actions to gain 2 resources (unlucky you). Playing Burning the Midnight Oil from your hand also costs you two actions, but nets you 2 resources AND an investigate action. Better again.

As you can see above, since Burning the Midnight Oil is always one action ahead of Cryptic Writings, playing it from your hand is just as good as playing Cryptic Writings from your deck. That's a huge burn from the midnight oil, poor crippling writing!

Conclusion/TLDR: If you are playing Norman Withers and have enough space to take both, just do so, but in the case of lacking card slots I would almost always pick Burning the Midnight Oil over Cryptic Writings as it saves you one action in most cases.

Side note: Yes, I did not include the eventualities of not needing or wanting to investigate, in which case that benefit of the card would be rendered meaningless.

Since this review is a comparison between two cards, I postet it on both pages (yes, of course I want to maximize my steet cred).

AlderSign · 225
I think your best case for Cryptic Writings is flawed. Ideally, you never spend an action to gain it's resources/play it. You'd just happen to draw it with something like Jeremiah or Perception. Another advantage CW has over Burning the Midnight Oil is that if you don't need the resources, it still has 2 Intellect symbols, which is especially useful for scenario specific tests like The Man in the Pallid Mask. — Nenananas · 250
Far from being the best case, I don't think Norman would ever play cryptic writings from the top of his deck. I don't think he has access to any way to make insights fast, so even if you were in the situation where you had cryptic writings on top, and you really needed the 2 resources, just spend the action on a basic draw action. Then you would have drawn cryptic writings during your turn so you would play it for free, so you end up in exactly the same situation except you haven't used Norman's 1/round play from the top of his deck. — NarkasisBroon · 10