Central Theme: You are constrained by strange rules, and seem to be playing your own separate game. However, in doing so, you do plunge the other players into a living nightmare. You leave a trail of scattered Units across the map, forcing foes to spend an inordinate amount of time and energy to expunge your traces. You have no real home base, but are nomadic, leaving ruin in your wake. You get actions more quickly than other players, and can often do two things in the same round, which gives you a flexibility no one else has. Your Units are weak, but usually free, and numerous, which makes you resistant to loss. In effect, you can’t dish it out, but you sure can take it.
Early Game: In the early game, be aware that you earn Spell Books more slowly than other players, but concentrate on them. Awaken the King in Yellow soon (in the first turn, usually). It’s easy to send the King in Yellow to North America after Desecrating Europe or Asia, but occasionally it’s wiser to get into Africa early and even harsh on enemies by Capturing Cultists with the King, or spreading Zingaya. Many players prefer to migrate straight to Africa or America after Awakening the King, and save the Desecration of Europe or Asia for last.
The King in Yellow, despite his lack of Combat, is a terror. He moves quickly around the board with his undead bodyguard, and his ability to take a second action (with Screaming Dead) means you can move into an enemy area and immediately use Zingaya, Capture a Cultist, or Shriek additional Byakhee there in preparation for devastating effect. You don’t spend much Power on Summoning Monsters (most are generated via Desecration attempts), so focus on other priorities. Remember to leave a trail of Monster “breadcrumbs” behind you, so they can suckle Power on your Desecrations. Even if an enemy moves into the area to attack you, this will cost them two Power (one to move, one to Battle), so even a rearguard’s elimination is no tragedy. Plus it puts your Monster back into your Pool to be recalled upon the next Desecration or Zingaya.
Late Game: In the late game, you need to finish remaining Spell Books. Usually you have few Gates, so you rely on Third Eye or your two Great Old Ones for Elder Signs. Thanks to Vengeance, when Hastur rolls into action, you can ensure an enemy Great Old One will die. By this time you should be getting significant Power from Feast, to be used for Rituals or other purposes. With Hastur, you now have two choices for your double-actions -– either the King or Hastur can move, and then you can do something else useful. In the late game, Hastur’s signature move is to use He Who Is Not To Be Named to enter an enemy’s space, then Shriek of the Byakhee to give him a bodyguard, and then declare Battle (unlimited with six Spell Books) to assassinate any other Great Old One.
- Passion: Can actually “resurrect” you when out of Power. It also hinders the foe (i.e., they may choose to attack someone else, rather than give you Power).
- Zingaya: The biggest problem with Desecration is mustering the troops. With Zingaya, you not only get a Unit, but your enemy is down a Cultist.
- Shriek of the Byakhee: Flexible, and gives both defense and offense. Shriek when an enemy invades, or after Screaming Dead or He Who is Not to be Named to give your Great Old Ones oomph.
- Screaming Dead: You’ll use this a LOT, so don’t put it off. It needn’t be the first Spell Book you acquire, but it shouldn’t be the last either.
- He Who is Not to be Named: The basic function is to assassinate an opposing Great Old One, but it has other uses which become obvious with experience. Remember the extra action does not have to involve Hastur.
- Third Eye: Once you finish earning Spell Books, Third Eye keeps you interested in Desecrating. In effect, you get an Elder Sign for two Power (one to move and one to Desecrate), plus at the same time you earn a potential power source and a new Monster. It’s the best bargain in the game!
Thwarting the Yellow Sign: If you are playing against Yellow Sign, remember his Monsters are puny. Because they are also numerous, you need to attack him more than once to knock out an area, but at least you don’t have to fear serious losses. Third Eye is terrifying, but he needs both his Great Old Ones out, plus enough Monsters to succeed at Desecrating. This gives you many tools to stop him.
One of Yellow Sign’s oddities is that he tends to have too many Cultists sitting around in Europe–he is benefited by losing a few of them early game, so he can use the King to bring them forth around the world. So if you want to cause the most damage, don’t hit Europe–strike at the King himself. You are unlikely to Kill the King, but just scattering his zombie army really hurts.
Yellow Sign has plenty of weak pseudo-bases (in the form of Desecration Tokens) scattered around the map. You can’t spend all your time attacking these, but do it when convenient. Yellow Sign is constrained by his need to Desecrate certain areas. If you can keep him out of, say, Africa or the Americas, you stop his progress. This is easier said than done, but each turn you delay his advance, the more desperate he gets.