What is Arkham Horror?
The Arkham Horror LCG is a card game set in Fantasy Flight Games’ Arkham Horror Universe, which is probably best described as “65% Indiana Jones, 35% Lovecraft”. The players control investigators, seeking to understand and eventually overcome the otherworldly monstrosities of Lovecraft’s fiction over the course of a series of adventures. It is therefore a largely cooperative game where players work together against the game itself.
In giving us a world in which the monstrous other that is the endless horror of the Mythos can be overcome by careful planning, quick thinking, and two fisted heroism, FFG is literally turning the central thesis of Lovecraft’s work on its head. And you know what? Who cares? It works!
What do you mean, LCG?
While it is indeed a card game, purchases are not randomized. Whenever you purchase a set for a campaign or individual adventure, you are guaranteed to get the same stuff as everyone else.
What makes this so great, then?
I have a 100% original saying that I completely invented that I use to summarize when a game does theme well: The Snozzberries taste like Snozzberries. Arkham Horror does theme well in all of the typical ways- cards that feel like what they’re describing, a coherent and interesting world, etc. Good stuff. But it also does theme well in another, critical way: The game creators make use of the inherent flexibility of the card game medium to play with the rules in original and interesting ways that fit the stories they are trying to tell. Want to explore a haunted museum at midnight while being stalked by a shadowy monstrosity? Arkham Horror can do that. A desperate race through a train while the rear cars are one by one being pulled into the void? Check. Have a dalliance in a mob run speakeasy? Why not? Track down and interrogate a host of unique suspects while yourself being hunted by a masked killer? Sure. Every scenario is unique not merely because the cards have different numbers and have different artwork, but because the designers have constructed a flexible, resilient system that allows for the creation of new and interesting rules and bespoke scenarios. You’re excited to see what the developers have cooked up in each new scenario, and you absolutely do not want anything spoiled.
The five “classes” in the game feel mechanically distinct from each other, and each provides a different way of playing the game as well as a different thematic experience. The way a Seeker looks at the game state is very, very different from a player with primarily Guardian cards.
The distinction between the classes is further deepened by the unique advantages and limitations of the investigators themselves. Each identity is essentially a sub class within a class, and some of the wilder identities diverge significantly from what their class is “supposed” to do.
The random nature of the adventure decks and scenarios allow for significant replayability. Even after multiple playthroughs, you are going to have different, emergent experiences depending on your investigators, the card draws… even the layouts of the board can change significantly!
Weaknesses. This is a small thing, but every investigator has to seed their deck with weaknesses when they are created, one unique to the investigator and one random “lesser” weakness. This is fantastic because it means that even when you are drawing from your own deck- your source of power- you are NEVER fully safe. It also fits the theme brilliantly.
Over the course of a campaign, two kinds of evolution will happen: The first is one of the main hooks of the game- your deck changes and evolves based on experience gained in the scenarios. You gain the ability to slot in new, more powerful cards to suit the playstyle you’re going for. Awesome! But the second kind is arguably just as great… as the campaign progresses, you make choices. Things happen. And sometimes these are things you manually decide on, but often they are represented by mechanics within the adventures themselves. After the adventure, your adventure book will tell you to record them. I identified the strange solution. I let the mobster die. I turned my back on the burning building. What are the consequences of these choices? Sometimes you find out in the end, but sometimes you don’t know! You get to find out later! Tune in next time!
Okay, okay, what’s bad about it. There’s got to be something bad about it.
There are two things that are bad about it!
You’ve got to buy two core sets. Listen, you just have to. This is clearly FFG policy by now and I absolutely hate it and will make no excuses for it.
Have fun storing and sorting your cards, jerk! Good lord. Cards, particularly adventure based cards, are separated into dozens of mix and match sets and you need to find someplace to put them and arrrrgh where did I put my Rats cards I had no idea I’d need those again so soon were they in that one cultist barbecue mission or are they in the core set box or did I leave them in the god I hate this. FFG 100% punts on this issue. The deluxe boxes, for example, are almost impossible to even consider storing cards in for various logistical reasons that will be obvious when you pick one up and look at it with that in mind. UGH. I might have to…to…consider a third party storage solution. WHAT HAVE I BECOME?
This thread is meant to be an all purpose Arkham Horror discussion thread. Please have courtesy for your fellow forum goers and spoiler everything that might need it, mentioning of course the general nature of what you have spoiled besides it.