Game review: Arkham Horror Card Game is a story-driven solo or cooperative campaign adventure
Posted October 27, 2016
The Arkham Horror card game by Fantasy Flight Games is a story-driven campaign adventure for one or two players (expandable up to three and four with an extra core game set). Participants are investigators in the horror-filled world of H.P. Lovecraft trying to solve a mystery step-by-step until reaching a final conclusion.
In the troubled town of Arkham Massachusetts, strange things are occurring. A dead body is found in an old barn and people are on edge. Investigators with knowledge of the creatures and happenings of secret worlds are busy uncovering the growing darkness. Can it be stopped in time?
For those with experience playing the Lord of the Rings living card game from Fantasy Flight Games, the Arkham Horror card game will feel familiar. But so much more has been added.
To begin, players choose a person to be in the game. For example, there is Wendy Adams the street urchin, Daisy Walker the librarian or "Skids" O'Toole the ex-con. The rules even suggest ways to roleplay these characters to create an immersive experience.
Each character in the game is multi-faceted, and this is represented by building a deck of cards that represent the characters strengths, weaknesses, equipment, skills, assets and life events. Players draw and use a hand of cards to manipulate the game and progress the storyline using these aspects of their character.
For example, in the first adventure, the players start in the study of their own home trapped by a mystical force. They must figure out how to escape and then discover clues around the house about what is going on. The adventure ends by convincing a powerful ally to join forces with the players and attempting to destroy a devastating enemy.
But the cool part is, no matter if the characters win or lose, the campaign continues. Depending on how the adventure concludes, different paths open up and the game continues with an extra adventure. Rewards are given for good play. This opens up the campaign aspect of the game by allowing players to keep playing an evolving story as well as build a unique character.
Another cool part of the game is that there are no dice. The game uses something called the "chaos bag." At the start of the game, the "chaos bag" is seeded with a variety of cardboard discs containing numbers and symbols. During a fight with a monster or when trying to perform a skill test, players will draw from the bag and add the result to their unique character skill values. The value of the opposition must be matched or exceeded by a character to overcome it.
Players will enjoy building character decks that are customized to their own style of play. Will a player create an investigator skilled at fighting monsters, gathering clues or dealing with the arcane? There are lots of exciting options.
Arkham Horor is a solid game and a lot of fun to play. It is heavy on theme, character development and campaign story progression. There are multiple campaign adventures in the box with more to come. It feels like playing a character in a mystery horror novel. For those who like the Cthulhu-mythos of H.P. Lovecraft, this game will provide hours of good fun.
It appears that Fantasy Flight Games has created another hit game. Arkham Horror: The Card Game replaces a similar game by Fantasy Flight titled Call of Cthulhu that is now out of print. But this new game is much better. Definitely check out this new game to see if it sounds interesting and watch out for things that go bump in the night.