who longs for oolong
You are excrement. You can change yourself into gold.
Welcome! This game generates a lot of questions! Many of these have been answered in the forums before (often multiple times!), so I thought I would compile this information in an FAQ.
This game sits in a weird middle ground. It is a highly ranked game (top 20 as of typing this) with a very popular and recognizable IP, but it’s in a comparatively niche genre (LCGs). From my observations, many people who encounter it don’t really know exactly what it is before they buy into it. They think it’s an Arkham Horror-lite or something of that ilk (it's not!). This thread exists in part to help people understand what this game is and if it is a fit for them.
If you have any lingering questions after reading please post a comment below. We’d happily address it here instead of cluttering up the forums further.
Intro and General Information
Arkham Horror: The Card Game is a Living Card Game (LCG) from Fantasy Flight Games. LCGs have their roots in Collectible Card Games (CCGs) but differ dramatically in the fact that all releases are non-random, and there is no chasing of rare cards. You know exactly what you are getting, and it is entirely possible to own a complete set of all that is released (maybe excluding some convention only alt-art promos). The sheer amount of expansion content can be daunting. This is not a cheap game to follow and stay up to date with. There are $15 MSRP releases most months with deluxe boxes (~2x/year) clocking in at $30 MSRP. There are other sporadic releases of standalone scenarios, campaign upgrade boxes, and novellas containing promos- all ranging from $15-30 MSRP.
Lots can be found at Fantasy Flight's website.
You can find a handy Learn to play guide and a more abstruse Rules Reference Guide. There's also a periodically updated FAQ answering some questions officially as well as errata for certain cards.
A great searchable web version of the rules can be found on this page of the ArkhamDB deck building website.
FFG even made a how to play video:
Other great instructional videos can be found here. Topics include rule nuances and deck building considerations.
Structure of Play:
The main style of play is campaign play. A campaign is a full, continuous story line that lasts several play sessions. Most campaigns are 8 scenarios (2 in the Deluxe box + 1 in each of 6 mythos packs) to be played in a specific order. You build an investigator deck before starting the campaign and upgrade your deck after each scenario by swapping or adding cards from your deck depending upon how many experience points you earn.
Each scenario is a play session. Scenarios are sequential- you start at one, move on to two, etc. Some campaigns may have some variability in this. Dunwich Legacy, for example, allows you to choose whether you start in a casino or college campus. You’ll play both, but you get to choose where you begin.
You can play any campaign you want to in any order. Dunwich Legacy is the best starting choice so far. It has the least frills and extra rules leading it to be least complicated campaign thus far and therefore it is most beginner friendly. Not only that, it has some pretty great player cards which have become gold standards for many players and deck archetypes.
Each scenario can also be played as a standalone. There are standalone rules in the rules reference guide.
How much replayability is there?
It depends on you and what you’re expecting from the game. Many of us find near-endless replayability. Others may only want to play each scenario once. If you are playing exclusively for the story, you only may want to play through it once or thrice to see the various scenario possibilities and resolutions. In this case, this game would have pretty limited replayability, and the game may ultimately not be for you. Others like trying things with new investigators each time and don’t necessarily care about the fact that they’ve seen most or all of the story points. This game is mechanically solid and can hold its own, even if there are no more story surprises left. The game is not meant to be a once and done experience like some other games like Pandemic Legacy, the Unlock, or Exit games.
I still haven’t played each investigator, but it’s an ever expanding goal of mine to do so. To play each campaign with each investigator would take a very long time to complete. Even playing every investigator once through a single campaign would take a while. All the while trying to reach these goals, the player card pool and campaign options are ever expanding, making new options to try with old investigators and forming exponentially more possibilities.
There are even fan made scenarios to extend your replayability.
Is this game similar to The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game?
They definitely share some DNA, and Arkham is a spiritual successor to LotR. That said, all the pieces put together make each game unique. LotR is very puzzly- each scenario is a nut to crack. Arkham is more narrative driven. LotR is the heavier game (IMO, even though the BGG 'weights' suggest otherwise), and quality deck-building skills are much more crucial. It is entirely possible that you'll like one and not the other, or one much more than the other. You may even love both and find them different enough to explore both. Which one being the better one is entirely subjective. If you ask in this forum, you'd likely get a bias towards AH, if you asked in the LotR forums, I presume you'd get a bias for that one. There are many threads on this topic.
Arkham Horror TCG vs. Aeons End vs. LOTR TCG
This or LotR LCG?
Question for LotR LCG vets
Arkham horror vs LOTR randomness
Similar to LotR LCG?
How does the game model compare to LoTR Card Game?
Has this replaced LOTR?
How does this compare to the Lord of the Rings LCG?
Face Planting - Arkham Horror vs. Lord of the Rings
Arkham Horror vs Lord of the Rings (and my decision)
Arkham Horror LCG is much better than this.
Update 3/23/19- looks like several of these OPs have deleted their accounts, and thus the top post (and any of their responses) have been deleted. I've kept the threads up since there's still some useful discussion in them.
Public service announcement: Please don't delete your accounts! Abandon them if you must, but deleting them can create huge gaps of content for people, especially if you were an active user.
Products and What to Buy
*The average player will never need to buy more than 2x core, 1x anything else*
Flow of Releases:
Outside of the core set, a cycle of releases defines a campaign. A cycle is a deluxe expansion and its 6 Mythos packs. Generally, once a deluxe is released, Mythos packs are intended to be released monthly until completion. The pattern so far has been a cycle of releases, followed by a month pause, then a new cycle. The various other releases are sprinkled in and don’t have any real reliable rhythm of release.
For more information about specific releases and cycles, please look at the community wiki and/or this fan made checklist of releases.
Types of releases:
Scenario packs/ Standalone scenarios
The core set provides a introductory 3 scenario campaign. This is designed to get you on your feet and introduced to the main game concepts. While it is quite fun, think of it as a “test drive.” The campaigns that follow are widely considered much better. That said, you can easily get 15+ plays from it before feeling the need to move on. The core box comes with 1 copy of each class card and multiples of all neutrals. It is designed to accommodate up to two players (of specific non-overlapping investigator pairs). A second core will allow you free access to all investigator pairs and also opens the possibility to play with up for 4 players. Please look a few sections below for a summary of the great debate on whether or not a second core is needed.
These are the starting sets for each campaign. They come with a large number of player cards (2 copies of each player card), the first two scenarios of a campaign, and many other encounter sets that will be needed over the course of the campaign. Each deluxe is paired with 6 Mythos packs, which are intended to be played in sequence.
These campaign specific releases each have a single scenario that continues the story line that began in their associated deluxe expansion. They also contain 2-3 player cards for each class and a few neutrals (2 copies of each card).
Scenario Packs/Standalone scenarios:
As the name suggests, these are scenarios that can be played by themselves, or inserted as a side-quest in a longer campaign. These tend to be very difficult challenges with high replayability. To this date, they are scenario/encounter cards only and do not come with any player cards. Many players consider these entirely optional and only to be purchased by people who have played through all the other material.
These releases contains a long box with dividers, new player cards, and additional/alternate scenario cards. It is intended to revamp the campaign to provide new challenges and variety. These are approximately analogous to the “Nightmare Decks” of Lord of the Rings: LCG, but with more content (box, dividers, player cards). It seems that such releases will be done for each campaign. One of small sides of the box looks like a drawer in a filing cabinet, which may eventually turn into an entire chest of drawers!
A primary source of these are the Novellas, which contain an alternate art investigator card and replacement unique investigator player cards. These investigators are sometimes “pre-releases” of investigators that we may not see for a couple expansion cycles. Other promos are available at various events or through Organized Play boxes. To this date, all non-novella promo cards are alternate art or “pre-release” only; i.e. no cards are truly exclusive.
Should I buy two core sets?
This is the million dollar question. With most games, you buy one copy and you’re good to go. With this game, many players opt to buy two. When it comes down to it, THIS IS ENTIRELY OPTIONAL. ONE OR TWO PLAYERS CAN ABSOLUTELY ENJOY THIS GAME WITH ONE CORE. Also note: BUYING DELUXE BOXES DOES NOT CIRCUMVENT THE "NEED" FOR A SECOND CORE. You'll still be missing specific cards only available in the core box.
Here are some reasons people buy two:
-It gives you access to 2 of every player card. Each deck has a maximum of 2 cards of a given name. There are some fundamental cards like Machete, Shrivelling, etc that really help a character shine. Having two in your deck rather than one will increase the likelihood that you’ll see it by a significant degree.
-It allows for playing with 3-4 players. The token supply becomes slim with 3 players and nearly impossible with 4 (without proxies). There are also not enough player cards to craft GOOD decks with a single core for 3-4 players, EVEN if you have all the other releases. Before you whine, keep in mind- THE BOX IS LABELED AS A 1-2 PLAYER GAME.
-A lot of players don’t like to be limited in their choices. Two sets allow for any single investigator to be built without restriction.
Here are some reasons why people refuse to buy two:
-Some are flat out against giving into a model that encourages buying the same product twice.
-With more releases, the advantage you gain by owning two sets is diminished. All other products contain 2 of each card, so you can craft a pretty great deck with a single core and a cycle or two of expansions.
-Some people like the challenge of accommodating for one core. I’ve seen some people describe this as the “flawed hero” approach. These investigators are not superheroes.
-Some people think that buying a second core is wasteful (extra unused cards and cardboard).
-Some people will make proxies (printing their own copies and sleeving them in front of another player card or card with an opaque sleeve).
Will this debate ever change? Probably not. There will likely never be another way to get second copies of the core class-specific player cards. Some players will always want the full set, others won’t care or be adamantly opposed to getting a second.
Does each player need to buy a complete set?
Short answer: Probably not.
Like CCGs, most LCGs kind of expect each player to have an entire set to themselves. Casual players can easily get around this (two-four players building from one set). This game can skirt around that need even easier by nature of being a co-op and providing all the scenario material needed for multiple people to play the game. Personally, my friends and I each have our own sets. We play this together, but we also play it with our spouses/significant others, so it makes sense for us. It’s really nice to be able to build freely on our own time without having any limitations of card pools (we do have to discuss the use of unique assets though-to make sure we aren’t building decks that both rely on a unique ally). If you’re only playing it with one group, one set is really all that’s needed.
What should I buy after playing the core campaign?
Most here would likely say, buy a new campaign! Or possibly the Return to the Night of the Zealot box. If you're buying a new campaign, which one? Dunwich Legacy is a natural first step. It was the first full-sized campaign released and it has the least amount of "overhead" (read: complicated set up, strange rules, factors to keep track of, etc). That said, if you're not intimidated by such things, pick based on theme.
Strange beasts roaming the country-side? Dunwich
A nefarious play and a romp through Paris? Carcosa
A trek through the jungles? Forgotten Age
Also consider buying whatever is available at the time, budget depending. Cycles go in and out of print, but sometimes there might be long gaps between reprints. They're still reprinting LotR:LCG stuff after 8 years, but it has definitely become feast-or-famine with their reprint schedule. Arkham, at this point has remained steadily in print, but with more time, it will probably become more sporadic, like LotR.
Playing them in order is not necessary, but it's seeming, at least at this point, that difficulty increases with release order.
People's enjoyment of various scenarios, based on a now unavailable and defunct poll:
Preparing for your first plays: Box contents, storage, deck building
Am I missing card 117?
Probably not. It is Lita Chandler, and she is packaged with the player cards and has a player card back.
How do I organize this mess?
Everyone comes up with a method that works for them. There is a significant percentage of people who use the Hobby Lobby Artist’s Case. I personally use a binder for the player cards and BCW single rows for my scenario cards (1 box for campaigns and a box for stand alones… I’m hoping that each campaign will get a box like Return to the Night of the Zealot, and will thus store my encounter cards in those).
Here are some threads of people discussing this or showing off their solutions:
Storage Solution For Mythos Packs and their books
My Arkham Horror lcg storage
A question of storage
Pimped out my hobby lobby storage box
Here are some dividers in the files section (there are others):
Arkhamesque Vertical Dividers
Arkhamesque Horizontal Dividers
Deck Building Intro for Core Set
Official starter decks for most investigators can be found here. All of these decks assume ownership of one core.
These starting decks are not particularly good, but they are sufficient enough to get you going. When you build for yourself, you can include up to two copies of practically any card that meets the deck building requirements listed on the back of the investigator cards. Most of the time it will be all level 0 cards, but we're seeing our first investigator so far (Father Mateo- The Forgotten Age) who can start with cards other than level 0.
With one core box and no expansions, there is practically no deck building to be done at the start. You basically use all the player cards of two classes and a near-full complement of neutral cards. As the scenarios progress, you will be able to spend points to add higher level cards that are included in the core set. Some classes really benefit from doubling up on cards that only have a single copy in the core set (such as Shriveling, a key Mystic attack card). You also can't use all investigators together without expansions. For example, Roland and Daisy can't be played together because they both demand all of the included Seeker cards. Thus, a second core is preferred by many players, though a significant portion of players remain opposed to getting a second box. See arguments in the above section.
Here are some numbers and advice from another user:
Since I don't see many people offering numbers on deckbuilding...Investigators and player cards from expansions (but not story assets!) can be freely mixed in advance before playing ANY scenarios. Deluxe boxes expand the options significantly, and each Mythos pack will trickle in more options. Deluxe boxes are gold mines for player cards. Some players may choose to buy them even when not immediately working on that campaign just to gain access to more deck building options. Keep in mind- expansions will never truly replace a second core (i.e. you won't have second copies of specific cards), though they will diminish the need of it to an extent by providing other great options for your deck.
First off, all the investigators have a hard limit on what cards they can put in their deck. In the core set, each investigator has two classes they can pull from - for instance, Roland can use Guardian and Seeker, Wendy can use Rogue and Survivor. All investigators need a 30 card deck (before including weaknesses and investigator-specific cards).
The core set has 10 cards for each class, one copy of each (not counting cards that cost exp). There's also 22 neutral cards (again, not counting ones that cost exp), but 3 cards have 4 copies of each (knife, emergency cache, and flashlight). So, once you include the maximum number of duplicates you can include in a deck, you have a total card pool of 36 cards to make a 30 card deck. 10 of those cards (2 copies each of Guts, Perception, Overpower, Manual Dexterity, and Unexpected Courage) are essentially the same cards, just affecting different attributes.
There are deckbuilding options available to use for the first campaign, and it's honestly quick enough that you won't really have much option for that, but I would definitely say that after you play through the starter campaign once, you'll probably want to either get a second core set so you can build better decks before going in again, or move on to another campaign and start getting cards from there.
Link to Deck-building rules from the Rules Reference.
Great online deck-builders can be found at:
Deckbuilding Excel sheet:
Deckbuilding Options for Investigators
Instructional videos, including several on deck building considerations.
Official FFG articles on pertinent topics:
Arkhamtypes: What type of player are you?
Articles on the different classes:
Should I mix in all player cards from all releases when playing?
Most players here say, “Yes! Mix it all in!” Any player card (non-story specific asset) from any release can be played in any scenario. If you aren’t shy about deck building you can mix anything into your decks for any scenario (following deck restrictions for the investigator, of course). All player cards in all releases are compatible with one another. There may be a subset of players who want to play the game “as released” and only mix in the cards that were available at the time of release (i.e. mixing in one Mythos pack at the time you are ready to play the scenario).
Playing the Game
There are a lot of details to stay on top of. Here are some resources to help soften the curve.
Arkham Horror Common Mistakes
Rules you still get wrong after 50+ plays
Common Mistakes Compilation
Should I invoke the "Grim Rule" during a rules dispute in the forums?
No! The Grim Rule is a fantastic way to keep the game flowing while you're playing. There are tons of interactions in this game, and it takes a while to get them all internalized. This is what the Grim Rule is for. It states that if you are unable to come up with a solution to a rule dispute while playing the game, you choose the worst possible interpretation of the rule in question. It's a clean way to make sure you don't break up your game session for 15 minutes trying to figure out rules minutiae.
The forums are where people go solve these disputes and uncertainties. Outside of the game session the Grim Rule doesn't have a place. There should be a definitive answer to every rules question.
Arkham Horror LCG - Fanmade Scenarios
List of Podcasts
Outside of BGG/Fan sites:
Arkham Chronicle: a trove of videos about everything Arkham and some other games. Lots of videos to help get you on your feet. I recommend scrolling to their oldest videos and starting there.
Strange Solution: A great blog analyzing the game in detail.
Drawn to the Flame
The Whisperer in the Darkness
AH: LCG Reddit
Lots of people like to upgrade this game with custom pieces, or to protect the tokens.
I thought the idea of "token sleeves" aka coin capsules was completely silly at first. Then my chaos modifier tokens started to show some significant wear after about 50-60 plays. I decided to encapsulate the tokens from my second core to promote longevity. Little did I know that this would have the added benefit of making them heftier, easier to shuffle, and more physically satisfying to handle. The only minor debate is between 25mm or 26mm coin capsules. 25 work for many people, but my friend bought some that were a hair too snug and he had to use a dab of glue to keep it shut (extended pressure would have likely worked too). Many of us buy 26mm capsules and they work very well. There's a fraction of a mm space left, but it doesn't effect the tokens in any detrimental manner.
Token upgrades (health/sanity, resource, doom)
Lego figurines, or other minis
Official FFG investigator minis (mostly oop)
Location connectors- tracking location connectivity can be a challenge in some scenarios. Most are two way, some are one way, and some even though appearing physically adjacent are not connected at all!
Sources for upgrades
Game Crafter Location tokens
Seasoned vets: Did I miss any major points? Anything you'd change or add to?
New players/curious players: Is there anything else you'd like to know or would have liked to know before diving in?
I plan on keeping this up to date. Please post if you have any other questions, comments, observations, etc.