A frequently asked question is whether cards from King Ironheart’s Madness can be used with those from The Wyld Hunt–are the two sets compatible, or are they essentially two separate games?
White Wolf clearly considered the two sets to be complementary, but not in the sense that you would freely mix cards from both sets. King Ironheart’s Madness was meant as the sequel to The Wyld Hunt. King Ironheart’s Madness can be played on its own (it includes all the different card types, and comes with its own rule cards), even if it was meant to be the continuation of The Wyld Hunt’s story.
Mixing both sets is particularly attractive when you do not have enough cards of one set to have an enjoyable game using only those. The developers of Arcadia may not have intended the two sets to be mixed, but you can do so, if you are aware of the following things.
First of all, the rules of King Ironheart’s Madness are slightly different from those of The Wyld Hunt in regards to the development of your Character with Merits, and in regards to the way you encounter Waylays. The first of these I will discuss below. In regards to the second, the differences are simple: in The Wyld Hunt you roll a single die when you encounter a Waylay, in King Ironheart’s Madness you roll two. I don’t know why that change was made, though I do not think it has anything to do with the cards of King Ironheart’s Madness themselves. I suspect the developers just realised that the game was fairer and more fun with two dice than one, and that the rules were adjusted for King Ironheart’s Madness as a result. Rolling a single die can make encountering Waylays too unfair: if you encounter a Waylay with either a greatly higher or lower attribute–say, you have 1 Might and the Waylay has 5, or the other way round–the chances that you of either victory or defeat are very small indeed. Rolling two dice gives you a better chance, while not eliminating surprise defeats or victories, as both rolls are more likely to be somewhere in the middle of the range, without excluding an unexpected outcome–you can end up with a double 6 vs. a double 1, after all!
For these reasons, whenever we play The Wyld Hunt, we also roll 2 dice. It makes for better game play, and maintains greater consistency. Rule wise, then, there is no real reason why the two sets can not be mixed.
The cards themselves, however, can complicate this. Let’s look at each card type.
If you play King Ironheart’s Madness as the continuation of The Wyld Hunt, you could keep your Character from The Wyld Hunt. You continue playing the adventures of your Character, but when moving to King Ironheart’s Madness, you would seek adventure in different lands (Middlemarch and the city Mechopolis, instead of the world of Ardenmore, which you explore in The Wyld Hunt). You face different Waylays (often minions of King Ironheart), pursue different Quests, and perhaps seek different Treasures.
This means that you could carry over your Character and his or her Merits and Flaws from The Wyld Hunt, but all other cards used would be those from King Ironheart’s Madness. At least, that is what seemed to be intended.
However, King Ironheart’s Madness has its own Character cards, and these can be used instead of those from The Wyld Hunt. I generally play with Characters from the former, even when playing The Wyld Hunt (i.e playing with Leagues, Waylays, Quests, etc. of that set). Characters from both sets are equally powerful, so it would also not be unfair to play with a Character that comes from a different set than your opponent’s. You also do not need to play The Wyld Hunt before you play King Ironheart’s Madness, though. The latter contains a full set of cards (including Characters, Merits, and Flaws), and can be played on its own.
Characters, therefore, can easily be mixed. Pick whatever Character you like.
Merits and Flaws
You develop your Character with Merits and Flaws, and here you do have to be careful with mixing the two sets. Merits and Flaws have smaller values in The Wyld Hunt than in King Ironheart’s Madness. Both Merits and Flaws are about twice as costly in the latter–the equivalent of a 2 point Merit in The Wyld Hunt is generally a 4 point Merit in the King Ironheart’s Madness set. The same applies to Flaws.
As a result, in The Wyld Hunt you start with 5 points of Merits; in King Ironheart’s Madness with 10. Since Merits cost more in the latter, this does not mean your Character will be more powerful in King Ironheart’s Madness. However, this is only true if you use only Merits from King Ironheart’s Madness. Our house rule is that, if you use 10 starting points for Merits, you have to use King Ironheart’s Madness Merits (since the rules apply to that set). Otherwise, if you use the low cost The Wyld Hunt Merits, you can easily create a Character who has 6-10 Merits instead of the intended 2-3, which makes the game unfair. (The same applies the other way round as well, of course;if you use King Ironheart’s Madness Merits with The Wyld Hunt rules, you may only end up with a single Merit!) If you and your opponent create a new Character, you should both do so with the same rules, and the same set of cards.
Waylays too have a different rating in both sets. The Wyld Hunt contains more low rating Waylays of 1 and 2 points, whereas the weakest ones in King Ironheart’s Madness are mostly 3 points. The Waylay rating often corresponds to the value of the Waylay’s Test score–for example, Boggan Gang Bangers (from King Ironheart’s Madness) has a Waylay rating of 3; it is a Combat Waylay, and its Combat score is 3. This means that if you mix the Waylays of both sets, they Waylays are not evenly matched; mixing them would be particularly unfair if both players are playing with different sets.
It is also difficult to play Waylays from one set on Leagues from the other. Each Waylay has a Terrain requirement, and some Terrain types only occur in a single set. There are no Leagues with any City or Wastelands Terrain in The Wyld Hunt, for example, nor any Cave Leagues in King Ironheart’s Madness and very few Forest ones, which means you might not be able to play a particular Waylay or at least not have much opportunity to do so.
Mixing Waylays from both sets is not impossible, though it is complicated by the different design of each set: The back of the Waylay cards look very differently in both sets, and so they will give away some valuable information about the Waylays you have in your hand to your opponent (particularly given the different rating of Waylays, mentioned above).
You can easily mix Leagues from both sets, though be aware that the above mentioned difficulties will arise: there are some Terrain types that do not incur in both sets, which could make it difficult to match some Leagues when you are setting up (which is not necessarily a bad thing–some Terrain types are rare in both sets, so the same issue would apply there). Visually the result could be a little odd, though, as the colours of the Leagues of King Ironheart’s Madness are duller, befitting the theme (I like to think of it as being the result of smog). Some of the Leagues of King Ironheart’s Madness also benefit certain Waylays–many benefit Cogs, for example–so make sure that you select appropriate Waylays for each League during setup, if you can, as mentioned above. But apart from that, there would not be any real difficulty in mixing League cards from both sets.
Some Quests are strongly tied to specific Leagues, and therefore are best used in combination with those Leagues, though you can always use substitute cards, which the Quests themselves allow. If you do not care for Arcadia’s story, you could easily play some Quests of one set with Leagues from the other, though you’ll have to judge each Quest individually. It does not make much sense to play a Quest that brings you to the City of Mechopolis, in the forest and fields Leagues of Ardenmore!
Because the Waylays and Treasures have different values in both sets, as noted above, the Waylay and Treasure Rating for each quest is also different: The Wyld Hunt Quests require much less Waylay and Treasure points. Be aware of this when you mix Quests from one set with Waylays and Treasures of the other set. You could increase or decrease the Quest Waylay and Treasure Rating to suit the other cards you will be using (in the few cases that we have done this, we tripled the Treasure Rating, in most cases, and doubled the Waylay Rating for The Wyld Hunt Quests used in a King Ironheart’s Madness setting). It is probably a good idea not to use The Wyld Hunt Treasures in King Ironheart’s Madness Quests, as that would allow you do collect about double the amount of Treasure.
Completed Quests in King Ironheart’s Madness also give you 2 experience points, while those in The Wyld Hunt give you only 1. If you and your opponent are playing Quests from different sets, and you are playing a Chronicle game, decide what the basic Quest experience is for both, so that one Character does not advance at double the speed of the other.
You can mix cards from both sets–and I have indeed done so at times–but be aware that some complications may arise, as outlined above. If you plan to mix both sets, take some time to sort out these issues, to make the game fair for both players, and have fun!