While your Operatives are out completing Adventures and recruiting Townsfolk to the cause, the Cult is not just sitting idly by. The Cult Leader will oppose your actions, gaining new Cultists and continually working to complete their plans. Mechanically, this is measured by two important values, Cult Activity and Cult Power.
Every Cult Leader has a meter that shows how their power develops. As Cultists operate out in the field, they generate Cult Activity. These points of Cult Activity fill the meter, and when it is completely full the Cult Power increases by one. Each new point of Cult Power unlocks powerful new cards for the Cult to use against you. More importantly, if they get enough Cult Power, the Cult Leader becomes too powerful to stop and the Heretics immediately lose the game.
Different Cults have a different speed and rhythm based on their unique cards, abilities, and meters. When fighting against the Beast Cult you must move fast, as they win after the meter fills up only two times. The Storm Cult, on the other hand, requires the meter to fill four times to win. However, they have many tools to delay and hinder Heretic operations. Playing the same Story deck against a different Cult can drastically change up how you have to approach your strategy.
By default, the Cult only generates one point of Cult Activity each turn. At that pace, the Heretics have plenty of time to respond and develop their position. But as Cultists move around the map, they build Cult Sites. When a Cultist is free to spend a turn uninterrupted at a Cult Site, they generate an additional point of Cult Activity. Left unchecked, this can lead to the Cult gaining 4 or 5 points each turn!
The most direct way to stay on top of Cult Activity is to defeat the Cultists directly and destroy their Cult Sites. In addition, if the Heretics can obtain means to stop Cultists through other avenues (such as a temporary alliance with more reasonable members of the Church), they can gain points of Cult Resistance. Cult Resistance is extremely valuable, as it neutralizes one source of Cult Activity out in the world each turn. That extra breathing room is vital in maintaining control of the game.
Next up on our mechanics blog – all the ways you can win and lose the game (and how to avoid the latter).