Arkham Horror

From 1d4chan
Arkham Horror
Co-operative boardgame published by
Fantasy Flight Games
No. of Players 1 to 6
Session Time 2 to 4 hours aprox
Authors Richard Lanius and Kevin Wilson
First Publication 2005
Essential Books N/A

Arkham Horror is a co-operative board game based around the Cthulhu mythos created by H.P. Lovecraft. The game itself is made by Fantasy Flight Games.

The whole point of the game is to explore the various areas of the fictional city of Arkham and acquire enough resources to close gateways to other worlds to prevent monsters from spawning and (preferably) prevent the arrival of one of the greater entities, or (more likely) fight the entity and defeat it or (most likely) die a horrible screaming death.

Being an FFG game it comes with SHITTONS of tokens and cards and the board is huge. Seriously, this game needs several square feet of table space to set up. It does look good though and the game has a particularly strong theme of struggling against unknowable horrors. A savvy or experienced group of players will not have as much fun as new group learning the game the first time round though.

There are a number of expansions which add more uncertainty and increase the difficulty but again with experienced players this just draws out an already very long game. There are in fact so many expansions, there's also an EXPANSION FOR EXPANSIONS.

A third edition exists now. It tries to dampen the complexity by a long shot, and it succeeds (tiles are hex-based, streets are simplified, rounds flow much faster, etc.) However, the game now takes its own turn not via a complex Mythos card as in 2e but instead a bag with a bunch of tokens from which each player draws at the end of a round. The problem is that the tokens don’t get replaced until they’re all depleted, which means the absolute worst thing that could happen is guaranteed to happen on a regular basis, and the bad tokens (a majority) generally require more than one turn from a player to deal with. This means the game breaks the action economy from the word go unless the players have great rolls and loses a lot of the suspense that made its predecessor so fun. Yeah, Arkham Horror is supposed to be hard, but the new one takes away a lot of the agency and strategy of the old one. Finally, instead of just a Great Old One with a couple of twists on its sheet, you play through a scenario similar to a Haunt from Betrayal at House on the Hill. That works great in Betrayal and pretty poorly here.

Tl;dr stick to 2e. It’s a lot longer and more complicated but also way more fun.

Mansions of Madness[edit]

under construction...

Eldritch Horror[edit]

Some blessed person in FFG's otherwordly cult decided that the city of Arkham wasn't enough for their Lovecraftian adventure games, and as a result, they released Eldritch Horror in 2017. Instead of surveying the dank streets of Arkham, Eldritch Horror takes you to the entire world in an Indiana Jones-esque quest to stop those pesky unknowable entities from beyond space and time from using your reality as a fleshlight. Eldritch Horror uses a lot of the same mechanics of Arkham Horror, only the scope is much, much larger. Gates encompass entire cities, a productive turn of moving around can take you from Cape Town to Mexico City and, as always, the game will heap atrocious amounts of hate on you.

It's not quite as difficult as Arkham Horror but it is in many ways better than its cousin game - It plays faster, is less fiddly and has even more flavor than Arkham Horror. The mileage-may-vary issue is that the game is fucking stupid, like a Lovecraft-inspired B-film. Your characters may kill mobs of Zombies, two Deep Ones and a Baykhee with a single stick of Dynamite, the encounters are entirely random and makes it sound like the evil cults are on literally every street corner, and best of all, you characters gets so fucking mangled, indebted, tortured and generally ruined that losing them feels like a mercy. On the other hand, some lucky card draws can make the game much easier and make you feel like Sly Marbo outfitted with the Necronomicon, a .44 Winchester, several packages of Whiskey and a raging hard-on for the destruction of the abominations beyond space and time.

Arkham Horror: The Card Game[edit]


Unlike the two other versions of the Arkham property, the Arkham Horror Card Game is what Fantasy Flight Games calls a "Living Card Game"; the core set provides all the bits and pieces needed for playing the game, alongside a bunch of cards to play the game for a bit before you feel the itch to expand the game with small-but-frequent "Mythos Packs" - Sets of cards that plays a new story. Every new campaign will usually cost you about 20 dollars, and you'll need eight of those for a campaign, making it about as expensive a hobby to maintain as games like Star Wars: Armada or Star Wars: X-Wing. So why even bother?

Because it's fucking great.

The idea is that you play an investigator represented by a thirty-card-deck, filled with skills, items and actions the investigator can take. These cards come in six forms: Guardians (Serial Killers but it's okay because they kill cultists), Seekers (Investigative researcher-types; the kind of hero Lovecraft usually played in his 1920 games), Rogues (Shifty fuckheads with too many resources to know what to do with), Mystics (I put on my wizard robe and hat) and Survivors (Shouldn't be here and vastly outmatched but hey, that didn't stop Sigourney Weaver in Alien), alongside basic cards everyone can use. You can have two of every non-Unique card in the deck, plus a personal card, a Weakness for your specific investigator and a basic Weakness.

This is important, because, for once, the game doesn't end after a scenario - Every game is tied into a campaign, which may change your deck, the Scenarios that come later and much more. For some reason, this works really well; most choices you make have significant consequences, and not always in a bad way. Your choices, failures and more carry over until the end of the campaign, and often, your characters' horrible deaths.

Every Scenario has a developing plotline and its own "Encounter Deck" created with specific card sets that differentiate the horribly things that happen to you. Looking for cultists in town? You'll need the Locked Doors, Cultists and Winged Terrors decks. What about digging through an illegal gambling den? Let's find the Lucky Draws, Criminals and Rats cards!

All this compound to create an endlessly evolving, if pretty expensive game that always has something new for the players to learn. It's impossible to plan for a new Scenario, and permanent damage to your character and their decks means that you are much more careful than you would be in Arkham or Eldritch Horror, and that the Horror is more intimate and less detached.

Board Games
Classics: Backgammon - Chess - Go - Tafl - Tic-Tac-Toe
Ameritrash: Arkham Horror - Axis & Allies - Battleship - Betrayal at House on the Hill - Car Wars
Clue/Cluedo - Cosmic Encounter - Descent: Journeys in the Dark - Dungeon!
Firefly: The Game - HeroQuest - Monopoly - Mousetrap - Snakes and Ladders - Risk
Talisman - Trivial Pursuit
Eurogames: Agricola - Carcassonne - The Duke - Settlers of Catan - Small World - Stratego - Ticket to Ride
Pure Evil: Diplomacy - Dune (aka Rex: Final Days of an Empire) - Monopoly - The Duke
Others: Icehouse - Shadow Hunters - Twilight Imperium - Wingspan