Game: Arkham Horror: The Card Game
The works of H.P. Lovecraft envisioned a world much like our own but where mysterious, sinister, and incomprehensible forces are closing in around us. His stories evoked suspense and thrills as protagonists struggled against insurmountable odds to preserve the world as they know it, very rarely succeeding entirely, instead merely delaying the inevitable destruction of the fabric of reality. Arkham Horror: The Card Game captures those moods in a very riveting way.
In Arkham Horror: The Card Game, each player plays an investigator working to discover and stop the sinister plans of forces beyond mortal reckoning. Drawing upon the works of H.P. Lovecraft, this game presents players with near-insurmountable forces of evil and chaos to fight against.
In Arkham Horror, each investigator has a deck full of skills, equipment, allies, spells, and more, built either before play or based on the introductory lists in the instruction manual. As you play, you try to collect clue tokens to advance the act deck, which advances the plot in your favor. However, as enemies move nearer to success, the agenda deck also advances, which advances the plot in ways that make the jobs of your investigators more difficult. Your investigators move around different areas defeating monsters and attempting to complete objectives based on the story.
As your investigators attempt to accomplish things, players draw from a bag of tokens to measure their success. The number on the token is added to the relevant stat and compared to a target. Where many games would use dice for this random mechanic, this token system is a bold and innovative move. This allows number distribution to change based on desired difficulty – something that cooperative games such as this often struggle with.
The art in Arkham Horror is amazing. Each card’s artwork is beautiful but also manages to effectively communicate what the card does or its role in the game. As usual, Fantasy Flight knocks it out of the park in terms of component quality, as well – though sleeving the cards is possible, it’s definitely not required for casual play, as the cards seem durable and well-made.
Who Will Enjoy This?
If you enjoy building decks with synergy
There’s plenty of opportunities to build and refine decks in Arkham Horror. Your choice of different cards to include greatly influences how the game plays out and your chances of survival. If you’re not a fan of this, though, never fear – the base game also comes with lists of introductory decks you can use.
If you enjoy Lovecraftian horror
Arkham Horror: The Card Game is the game that I’ve played that most effectively utilizes Lovecraft’s source material to capture the essence of what makes it so captivating. The characters seem real, the events feel suspenseful, and the enemies are just powerful enough for you to feel very proud if you manage to win.
If you enjoy Living Card Games
Living Card Games are similar to collectible card games in that there are regular new additions to the game in packs and box sets – however, they differ in that each pack has a preset selection of cards. Arkham Horror uses this to allow you to pursue different campaigns and adventures by purchasing their additional packs after completing the adventures in the core set. The world is constantly expanding, and your investigators have more and more to do.
My Reasons to Buy Arkham Horror
- Constantly Expanding– Arkham Horror has regular new packs and expansions coming out, allowing you to run through various campaigns as you go. If you’re looking for a time- and money-sink, this isn’t a bad idea.
- Narratively Gripping – Arkham Horror has a very compelling storyline in the core set – I was on the edge of my seat during my first playthrough, unsure what was happening next or whether my investigator would succeed. It utilizes suspense better than most other cooperative games I’ve tried in a way that makes for an excellent experience.
- Cooperative– When it comes down to it, I play games to spend time with people. Sometimes the best way to accomplish that is through cooperative games like this. Cooperative games are very approachable for non-hobbyists as well, since you can guide them through their first playthrough instead of winning by a landslide each time you play a game that’s new to them.
And One Reason to Not
- Not Replayable – A lot of the fun of Arkham Horror is in the surprises of the story – you’re kept in suspense, worrying about what the next card might be. Unfortunately, after you’ve finished the storyline, going back and playing it again isn’t nearly as fun. Thankfully, the Living Card Game mechanic makes it easy to continue, but it’s definitely not cheap to pursue. If you want a game you can play over and over without spending more money, this isn’t the game for you.
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If you’re looking for another cooperative Living Card Game, the Lord of the Rings Card Game may be for you.
If you want to try other Lovecraftian games, Eldritch Horror provides a mysterious adventure on a global scale.