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Arkham Horror: The Card Game» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Arkham Horror:The Card Game Core Set: A Rambling Review rss

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Matt Jolly
United Kingdom
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This review is based on having played the Core Game Campaign all the way through with Roland, and with Roland and Wendy, and also starting the campaign with Wendy alone.I have tried hard to avoid spoilers...

Components

It is very easy to say "standard FFG Lovecraft/LCG fare" here, and indeed there is little new here. But this shouldn't detract from the fact that the cards are nicely illustrated clear to use. Unlike in Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game for example, card-backs are differentiated by use, making sorting easier, and not just because there are fewer of them.

The various counters are chunky and functional, and only the resource crates have different meanings based on where they are placed on the tabletop - being ammo on one card, torch batteries on another and so on.

For me the biggest disappointment is the box, which is hardly convenient for the components that come with the core game, let alone any others you may acquire. This is even more true if you want to pimp your game - I have a nice wooden box I use for the chaos bag, and use the painted FFG figures for the investigators (an expensive purchase years ago that has paid off big-time!).

On the other hand moaning that there are too many components to usefully sort in the supplied box seems a little churlish when you think about it - the reverse is far worse! Instead I have an excuse to scour some junk shops for a suitable box...

A regular FFG LCG question is whether there are actually enough components at all; do you need a second core box? As the proud owner of both The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game and Warhammer 40,000: Conquest, for both of which I acquired a second core very quickly, I have felt less compulsion to do so with this one.

I may in due course, but actually feel that the relatively low deck-building requirement makes it less important. In the first place, you can beat the game with the cards straight out of the box, and in the second this is absolutely not a competitive game. And of course, subsequent purchases may mean beefing up the investgators, but at the moment, no. Indeed, it works well without.

So whilst a second set is almost essential for other games, the case is weaker here; smaller and more focussed decks work well as provided.

Gameplay

The game asks you to create (or indeed use one or more of the provided suggestions) a deck to represent a character (investigator). this investigator also has a special card, a special weakness. and a special ability. In the longer time, the investigator also has limitations on how to build his/her deck. The size of the deck is limited to 30, plus special cards and weaknesses.

In addition, there are 5 'classes' of cards- Guardian, Seeker, Mystic, Rogue and Survivor - and characters are made up of one or more of these, each of which is distinctively different. It is this that might prompt purchase of a second core set as although any one character can be created from the enclosed cards, a second set would be required to create more combinations.

There is an enemy deck made up of unique combinations of smaller decks (players of LotR CG will be familiar with this), and two sets of cards representing in effect agendas (like agendas in Netrunner and the quest deck in LotR) one for the investigator, and one for the baddies. You want to advance one, and not the other....

The enemy deck includes monsters, events and other nasty perils, as well as (very rarely) more welcome fayre.

The meat of the game is the scenario, which typically has special rules and objectives for both player and AI. In the first for example the action is in a house, in the second scenario the streets of Arkham for example. The two feel very different. Progression is possible even with catastrophic failure, although this does make subsequent scenarios harder.

The turn is - evil card-play turn (and "clock" progression), player card-play turn, evil monster turn, tidy up. Although more happens in each phase, I'm sure you get the idea.

In the player turn, you take (usually) three actions, including fight, flight or find, as well as card play, and choosing which to do, and in which order is the most interesting part of the game. Players have three major resource types (actions, cards and resource boxes) as well as two minors (wounds and sanity) and managing these is how the game works.

What the game does though is to give you meaningful decisions in an unfolding narrative, and it does very well at it too!

Overall

Another great gaming experience.

I play this exclusively solo, and it has replaced Sentinels of the Multiverse as my go-to solo experience.

For me, the replayability is high, because even when you know the story outline, you have not necessarily explored all of the branches. And playing solo, simply trying to do better (or at all - I still haven't got young Wendy alive through the first scenario yet) is rewarding to me.

How does it compare with other offerings in the genre? It won't replace Arkham Horror or Eldritch Horror for multi-player tabletop play. It means that I won't be playing Elder Sign except on my tablet for a while. The only exception is that I might be happier playing Elder Sign in a pub...

I can't see me playing Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game any time soon, as I prefer this game, and it works solo. But I think that this game is not really like any of the above. The developing narrative means that it is the closest thing I have found to actually playing Call of Cthulhu the role-playing game, but on my own. And the cost of the extra adventures compares favourably with scenarios for the rpg.

I can feel my wallet creaking....

And it makes me want to keeper a CoC game again. Anyone out there in Lincolnshire interested?

Cheers,

Matt


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Judgement Dave
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Good review.
matt.jolly wrote:
I can feel my wallet creaking....

And it makes me want to keeper a CoC game again.

Practically the same experience here!

Except it was AH:LCG amongst other things that have been making me think of running a game again, and I'm in Greater Manchester.
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Jim Hill
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Magic the Gathering gift boxes are a good storage solution. And if you don't play Magic you can flog the five boosters inside and get the box for almost nothing.
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Jake Fernandez
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It's great that this can be played solo and with a single character. How much do you find yourself having to deckbuild?
 
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MC Shudde M'ell
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dyeyk2000 wrote:
It's great that this can be played solo and with a single character. How much do you find yourself having to deckbuild?


More than Sentinels of the Multiverse, less than almost anything else.

With just one Core set, there is almost no deckbuilding, since the number of cards available to any one Investigator isn't much more than the 30 card deck size. In a Campaign, you add a few cards each game from, again, a very small pool. For people that want to deckbuild creatively, this isn't the game for you - even with buying and/or proxying all the existing cards enough to create any possible deck, there's not a lot of meat there. Not saying it can't be done, just that other CCGs and LCGs are much better (or worse, depending on how you feel about deckbuilding).
 
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Scott Hill
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It's important to note that the relative lack of deckbuilding options is more a product of the age of the game, rather than a function of the game's design.

IIRC, by the end of the Dunwich cycle we will have more than double the number of player cards available to us, compared to the core set alone.
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Andy Leighton
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Scorpion0x17 wrote:
It's important to note that the relative lack of deckbuilding options is more a product of the age of the game, rather than a function of the game's design.

IIRC, by the end of the Dunwich cycle we will have more than double the number of player cards available to us, compared to the core set alone.


Although if you are playing a campaign the main deck building will be before the start of the campaign. Your deck can only change by so much from scenario to scenario depending on how many XP you earned. It isn't like some games such as the Lord of the Rings LCG where you can build a totally new deck for each 'adventure'. This makes it far more appealing to those people I know who are not heavy into deck building.
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Scott Hill
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andyl wrote:
Scorpion0x17 wrote:
It's important to note that the relative lack of deckbuilding options is more a product of the age of the game, rather than a function of the game's design.

IIRC, by the end of the Dunwich cycle we will have more than double the number of player cards available to us, compared to the core set alone.


Although if you are playing a campaign the main deck building will be before the start of the campaign. Your deck can only change by so much from scenario to scenario depending on how many XP you earned. It isn't like some games such as the Lord of the Rings LCG where you can build a totally new deck for each 'adventure'. This makes it far more appealing to those people I know who are not heavy into deck building.

Oh, for sure.

And it's why AH:TCG is the first LCG I've bought in to.

As an ex-Magic, and current Ashes, player, I'm familiar with and enjoy heavy deck construction.

But I, equally, don't necessarily want to have to do a huge amount of deck construction in a narrative driven cooperative game.

So stand very much with feet in both camps.
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