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Arkham Horror: The Card Game» Forums » Reviews

Subject: RDTN - Arkham Horror: The Card Game Review rss

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Tony McRee
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Waxhaw
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Executive Summary:
In Episode 105, we review Arkham Horror: The Card Game designed by Nate French and Matthew Newman and produced by Fantasy Flight Games. This is another entry into their successful Living Card Game series. The game is a coop game where everyone is diving into the mysterious happenings in Arkham. This game has taken the goodness from the Lord of the Rings LCG and enhanced the game so that you also experience a role playing element. The game can be played in skirmishes or as a campaign. Either way, this game will find its way into our rotation of games and might even be more accessible than LOTR, which we thoroughly enjoy.

Gameplay:
The Phases
Instead of going over each parts of the gameplay, we will focus on the four distinct phases and discuss how they control the game.


Mythos Phase
The Mythos Phase is skipped in the first round but in subsequent rounds is active. This is where the timing of the game kicks in. Each time you go into the this phase, a doom token is added to the agenda. When the doom meets the threshold of the agenda, the card is flipped and the investigators follow the instructions on the back of the card. Once complete, the next agenda of the story is read and play progresses. It is probably safe to say that advancing through the agendas is not a good thing for the investigators. That is why it is important to realize that during the investigator phase you are getting as much done as possible. Also during this phase, once the agenda is resolved if it has been advanced, each investigator reveals an encounter card. These cards
place conditions on the investigator or brings an enemy into play. Once all is resolved, then proceed to the investigator phase.

Investigator Phase
Each Investigator may take three actions during their turn. These actions help the investigators deal with the circumstances that they face. They can play item cards if they have the resources.

They can investigate the location for clues, which is a key action since it is what will advance the story which is how the investigators "win". They can fight or evade monsters which if they are engaged with a monster they must do unless they want to be attacked. They can take a resource or draw a card. Than can play an event card or activate text on a card. Investigators can also move between rooms. Details on all these actions can be found in the reference guide that is available on the FFG site. In order to tackle some of these actions, investigators will have to pass skill tests and this is where this LCG may not make some happy. When you are performing a skill test, you will compare your appropriate stat to the test and if it is equal or higher you win. But it is not that easy. Before you compare values, you must due a blind pull from the chaos token pool. This will modify your value with either a positive or negative value or even cause a special action to occur. You can mitigate this by playing cards from your hand that have the necessary stats on them to boost your base stat and if other investigators are in the room with you, they can help, but it is a very simple method of seeing whether you passed the test or not. At first, we had our misgivings about this, but it works well.

Once all investigators have done their actions, then it is time for the Enemy Phase.

Enemy Phase
Now the enemies get their turn. If there are any hunters in the locations, they move toward the investigators and engage if they can. Then the enemies attack and can cause physical and mental damage, just like other Arkham games. There is no dice rolling, they hit, unless you have some special card that can help you. If the enemy was evaded during the investigator's turn, then they do not attack. Very simple. But we caution you to be sure and follow the rules on engagement and when enemies become engaged, that deserves a couple of re-reads before and during play.

Upkeep Phase
All exhausted cards are readied, investigators gain a resource and draw a card, hand size is checked to make sure it does not exceed eight and back to the Mythos phase to begin a new round.


Pros:
This is going to be another one of those games that we are going to be drawn into without any problem. We enjoy the individual investigators, the dynamics of the campaign mode and how it impacts your deck building via experience points and even the Chaos tokens. Yes, those tokens seem to add a suspense that seems to be even greater than dice or drawing cards like in LOTR:LCG. We enjoy the way you can tailor the difficulty of the story by adjusting which Chaos tokens go into the bag. The theme seems to be there and how the mechanics works with the enemies and how you must deal with their engagement and how you can evade them. All and all, this was an easy buy for us and are looking forward to this series.


Cons:
The typical cons are here as well for us. We need to learn the keywords and the timing of when we can play cards, but this can be expected. While the Learn to Play rules help, you have to have the reference rules out as well when you play. The Engagement can be tricky at first, but just takes some time to get used to. While there are surprises the first time you play like the effects of exploring a room or encountering an enemy for the first time may diminish the replayability, it is no more than you get when you play other LCGs.


RDTN Final Thoughts:
If you enjoy the Lord of the Rings LCG, then this is going to be a no brainer for you to pick up in our opinion. The theme is there, the deck building, and the challenge. If you are concerned that there will be less replay-ability, then you might want to wait for some of the expansions and see how the game will be supported in the long run by FFG.
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Rob Tarr
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Your review in episode 105 (with some help from The Secret Cabal's review in their latest episode) have plopped this one squarely at the top of my wishlist. It sounds like a fantastic game for my 13 y/o son and I to play through. I have a couple questions that you might be able to answer for me...

1. If my son and I are working through it campaign-style, but his cousin comes over to play a 3-player game, is it just a matter of breaking down the decks and doing a one-off game, then putting our decks back together the way we had them to continue the campaign? (And, yeah, I know a second core box would really be needed for a 3p game.)

2. Do we go with this game or The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game? In either case, we're starting from nothing. And the fact that there are 6 billion expansions for LotR and none for this is not a consideration - we don't play a whole ton, and we have plenty of different games to play, so I believe FFG would stay ahead of us just fine. Honestly, this seems like the one to go with. LotR wins for us in terms of theme (by just a little), but the campaign aspect of AH:tCG seems like it would be a home run for us. (I think I just answered my own question. )

Thanks!
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Marty Connell
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I know my co-host wrote this great review, but I'll chime in with my answers and Tony will do his later

1) I see no reason you can't leave your decks together to play a standalone game. If your one off is the beginning of the campaign you may have cards in your deck that are higher than level zero but I don't think that's an issue. You may just have an easier time, but you could make the scenario harder if you wanted to by adjusting the tokens in the bag to one of the more difficult levels.

2) I love Lord of the Rings. I love the lore, that universe and the characters. But I think mechanically AH:LCG is a better game. Having 3 actions on my turn is a big plus to me as opposed to having phases (resource phase, questing phase, enemy phase, etc). On my turn I do what I need to do whether it's travel, gain resources or fight. In addition since I'm playing as an investigator I feel more invested in the story. I feel I'm part of the game as opposed to just playing the game.

BUT, LotR:LCG is a solid game with years of cards available for deckbuilding. Thus if you are really into tweaking decks, it will be a while before enough cards come out for AH:LCG where you will have a lots of deck building options

That's just my 2/100ths of a dollars worth
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Tony McRee
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With the deck builder applications that will be available, yeah, I can see tearing down the decks because it will be easy to put them back together. I also love building decks, so I would be good either way.

Like Marty said, love LOTR, but if I was going to start with one, I would go with Arkham. I could really see the ownership of the character developing and it becoming more than just seeing if I could beat a mission like in LOTR.

But, we are warning you that once you get in, you may never get out.
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Rob Tarr
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damcree wrote:
But, we are warning you that once you get in, you may never get out.

I think I'm ok with that.

Thanks guys!

Edited to add - aaaaaaand I've got my preorder placed for one core set! whistle
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Scott Hill
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tarrkid wrote:
1. If my son and I are working through it campaign-style, but his cousin comes over to play a 3-player game, is it just a matter of breaking down the decks and doing a one-off game, then putting our decks back together the way we had them to continue the campaign? (And, yeah, I know a second core box would really be needed for a 3p game.)

One of the things they mentioned in the Arkham Nights presentation video is that players can easily drop in and out of campaigns.

So, assuming you have that second core set, you could keep your investigator's decks built, and just build another for your nephew when he comes over, or even keep an investigator deck built just for him, if you wanted to.
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ParisianDreams
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Scorpion0x17 wrote:
tarrkid wrote:
1. If my son and I are working through it campaign-style, but his cousin comes over to play a 3-player game, is it just a matter of breaking down the decks and doing a one-off game, then putting our decks back together the way we had them to continue the campaign? (And, yeah, I know a second core box would really be needed for a 3p game.)

One of the things they mentioned in the Arkham Nights presentation video is that players can easily drop in and out of campaigns.

So, assuming you have that second core set, you could keep your investigator's decks built, and just build another for your nephew when he comes over, or even keep an investigator deck built just for him, if you wanted to.


I was going to mention the same thing, that people can drop in and out of campaigns. I believe the campaign guide details how.
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Scott Sexton
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Once the player cards for the Dunwich Legacy expansion starts rolling out it will be easier to build a quick "drop in" player deck. I've tried building a third deck out of just the core box. My problem with it is that the third deck tends to be a watered down deck that isn't as much fun. The new set of investigators MAY (according to what I heard at AK) use investigators that only have a SINGLE card type (guardian, etc). Those investigators should be pretty easy to build fun drop in decks for.

If you want to do some fun deck building, you'll need 2 copies of the core set anyhow, so you might as well bite the bullet (Amazon has them in preorder now for 29 bucks).

I went nuts with 4 total sets because I want to run 3 player (with my kids) campaigns with highly tweaked decks. My daughter is still devastated about the choice she made at the end of the first scenario.

BTW, the 30 card limit is probably the biggest challenge to building a good deck.
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Emily Dickinson
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ParisPink wrote:


I was going to mention the same thing, that people can drop in and out of campaigns. I believe the campaign guide details how.


Rules Reference Page 6. It's extremely straightforward, although it assumes you have enough cards. Since each scenario is scaled according to the number of Investigators, it doesn't seem like there's an issue of running a campaign with variable size parties.

scottatlaw wrote:
The new set of investigators MAY (according to what I heard at AK) use investigators that only have a SINGLE card type (guardian, etc).


FFG Website: On the other hand, the investigators from The Dunwich Legacy don't have a secondary class. Instead, like Zoey Samaras (The Dunwich Legacy, 1), they have a single class, but can dabble in all the other classes, choosing as many as five level zero cards from classes other than their own.
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Mario Lanza
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Where can I find deckbuilder apps? And are they available on iphones/android?
 
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Tony McRee
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The big one is:
http://www.cardgamedb.com/index.php/arkhamhorror/arkham-horr...

As far as for android/ios, I don't know of any, but I am not well educated in that regards.
 
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Marty Connell
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kericstiq wrote:
Where can I find deckbuilder apps? And are they available on iphones/android?


I like this browser based one

http://arkhamdb.com/
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