I must mention from the beginning: we had a complex relationship with Arkham Horror The Card Game.
Three years ago, when we just started board gaming as a hobby, I bought the game. I was blown away with the great reviews and love it had online. After all, it proudly holds #20 on Board Game Geek and #7 for thematic and is ranked as one of the best (or the best) 2 player games.
At that time, our own board game experience was very humble: Ticket to Ride, Carcassonne and 7 Wonders. Arkham was the most complex game for us compared with all the games we tried. And after the first playthrough, we didn’t get it. I sold our copy on the second-hand market to a person who was a real fan of AH and that made me happy.
Although I did sell it, by playing more and more different games, I started to look back at Arkham Horror. Now I got much more into gaming and was deliberately looking for a 2 player game that could give a real RPG-like experience that I enjoyed so much playing video games and some other board games (for example, Fallout board game).
We also got more skilled in understanding how games work and the complexity rank of 3.4 out of 5 didn’t seem to be scary anymore (compared to 1.9 of Carcassonne).
So here I was, happily holding a copy of Arkham Horror for the second time 3 years later. I wouldn’t keep it a secret any longer: We Love The Game.
What is the Arkham Horror Card Game about?
This is the very start of the first campaign.
You are an investigator. You arrive in the city of Arkham to investigate a few recent murders that seem to be out of this world. What happens next depends completely on you.
Don’t take me wrong, Arkham is no detective story. It’s a story of how you fight with evil dark magic standing behind all the horrors of Arkham. As in a good RPG game, you discover new locations, look for clues and fight with all kinds of monsters. And sometimes the monster is you.
Your investigator is no invisible James Bond, but a person who has been on the other side of life. You have your weaknesses and they will make sure to show up in the most uncomfortable moment.
A range of weaknesses will not let you relax.
However, you do get help. A variety of allies and useful items are at your disposal. Remember, you don’t have much time. With every minute spent on finding the right tools, the evil gets stronger.
What I enjoyed
- Campaign and story. Like playing a good RPG game, you get excited about what’s to come. You don’t know what turn the story will take. There are multiple endings to each game and only your actions determine where the road will take you.
- Playing with consequences. Each campaign consists of separate consequent scenarios and what happens in each scenario is transferred to the future of the campaign. It could be things like your investigator going insane or killed and not being to continue anymore, or simply some of the choices that you make throughout the story.
- Losing is part of the story. Bad news: in Arkham, you might die. You might miserably fail to achieve your mission. Good news: it’s alright. You don’t have to start the campaign or even a scenario from the beginning. Your story continues with the resolution you managed to accomplish.
- Strong theme. The story is so well thought with the evil constantly fighting the good, with the thorough amazing illustrations, with the background texts here and there, that you feel immersed in the atmosphere and horrors of Arkham.
- Replayable stories, new characters, and adjusted difficulty. Arkham Horror offers you 5 investigators to start with and a bunch of them in the expansions. Each investigator takes up on a challenge differently with a different set of tools and strategies. Also, each campaign offers 4 levels of difficulty for you to challenge yourself. After the initial play through the campaign, you can try the same setup with new investigators and new difficulty.
- New content is coming every month. Arkham Horror the Card Game is a Living Card Game (often shortened to LCG) which reflects the constant development and new campaigns. The game is being heavily developed and you can get new content on a regular basis. Also, there’s a ton of existing campaigns published if you’re looking for more adventures.
- Strong community. This game is loved by thousands around the world and it means at least one thing. If you ever need any rule explanation, chances are someone already asked it (on Reddit or Board Game Geek) and, more importantly, got an answer. For me, it’s also the feeling of a community I belong to and together, we discuss and wait for the new campaigns.
What got me cautious
- Quite a large investment. If you like the game and want to get all the campaigns and stories, you’re looking at a huge investment. It starts very humble - you buy the core game. Then you might get the second core game (to play with 3-4 players). Then you want to expand the world. Expansion set for one campaign (which consists of one expansion box and 6 mythos decks) would roughly cost you 140e altogether. Is it worth it? If you enjoy it, enjoy the world and mechanics, then absolutely. Otherwise, you might want to check out Gloomhaven which has more than 90 scenarios in one box.
- Beware of complexity. If you have been playing heavier games, this is no problem and you can skip this point. But if grasping new games and understanding complex rules is hard for you, take a look at Mansions of Madness first. This is a very similar game from the same universe with Arkham, but the difference is that the story and tests are done by an app helping you navigate through the world.
Is Arkham Horror LCG for you?
If fighting with ghouls, researching ancient rituals, running at night and looking for cultists sounds like your cup of tea, you should get the game today. If trying to solve an RPG story sounds like fun, then it is your game as well.
Arkham gave me an opportunity to share one exciting story with my friends, explore the new world and uncover the mysteries of Arkham Horror. I highly recommend checking it out!
I’ve been playing as long as I remember myself. When I was a kid I dreamt of building my own games, and now I’m trying to make it a reality. Board games carry me away into a different world where I can be a knight, a researcher, a kingdom builder or a zombie fighter. Love semi-coop and engine building games. Favorite game of all times: Dead of Winter.