In the spirit of musing on board games I seem to be in right now, I thought that I’d muse a little on what has very nearly become my favourite living card game in the last twelve months, Arkham Horror LCG! It hasn’t yet tipped Lord of the Rings from the top spot, only because I have such affection for the earlier game, but I’ve had such fun playing this one across three campaigns so far, it’s certainly getting there!
I haven’t played it as often as I would have liked in the last few months, unfortunately, but now that the nights are drawing in (and there’s a reasonable chance that I can get an hour or two, with the kids being more settled!) I am finding myself gaming a bit more once again, so I think it’d be good to get back into this one! I have The Forgotten Age, The Dream-Eaters, and The Innsmouth Conspiracy campaigns all still to play through, with of course The Edge of the Earth campaign coming out sometime soon – I’m getting that last for my birthday/Christmas though, so it’ll be a while before that hits the table.
I had embarked on a campaign idea for playing some of the standalone scenarios, using Trish Scarborough and Agnes Baker after playing through Return to Night of the Zealot, though Agnes’ untimely death kinda put a downer on that one! But I think I’ll try to give it a go soon, maybe bringing her back from the dead to try out the print on demand scenarios if nothing else. However, I’ve got so much stuff for this game now that I haven’t yet played, I really need to get a move on.
The five Investigator decks for Arkham Horror LCG have been a bit like gold dust since they were released last year- I guess supply issues are to blame. They’re a mix of new faces and old favourites here, with some very interesting ideas incorporated within each one. Harvey Walters and Jacqueline Fine are of course staples from the Arkham stable, but Stella, Winifred and Nathaniel are all new to the mythos.
Each deck is mono-class, and comes with a full play set of two copies of each card. Several cards are core set staples, so it’s nice to see these included for those players who don’t want to buy a second set. They also have class-specific upgrades for the neutral skill cards from the core set such as Overpower and Manual Dexterity. That was an interesting idea, as these have always felt pretty much at home in some classes, though of course I’m not the only person to use them to shore up weaknesses in other classes, too.
Jacqueline Fine is a very interesting deck, to me, as it seems to have one thing that it just leans into: chaos token manipulation. There are the usual spells to use willpower in place of fight, evade and investigate attributes, with the odd bits and bobs to improve the willpower to boot, and then a whole load of different things that will allow her to manipulate the chaos bag. It’s not something that I’ve really thought of a great deal, when playing Mystics in the past I think I’ve always been attracted to other ways of building them, with only a couple of these sorts of cards involved. Mystic is one of my favourite classes though, so I can totally see myself taking this one out for a spin soon!
Winifred Habbamock is a Native American with a reckless attitude to the rules. The deck principally seems to be all about passing skill tests with flying colours, and the more cards committed to each test, the more you get to draw. Another interesting thing, I find, as it really seems to drill down into just one of the core principles of the class. There’s a big theme around succeeding by at least 2, which gives the deck some unity, and the usual Rogue tricks to get there. I’m not hugely experienced with the Rogue class, though some of their cards are quite fun and I do feel like it would be interesting to build up a deck around the idea of multiple cards committed to each test.
The only other deck that I’ve really looked at is Stella Clark, the postal carrier. Once per round, you can take an extra turn when you fail a skill test, and the deck is all about interacting with failure at skill tests. Stella is of course of huge import to the mythos for being the first trans character, which has been a huge thing for the game. Survivors are a complicated class to my mind, though, so it’s definitely going to take some time to get into this deck. While playing through the Carcosa cycle last year, I thought I was finally getting to understand the Survivor class a bit, but after effectively a year off, I suppose it’d be like starting again now! Building a deck around losing tests seems like such a risky strategy, though, I’m not sure I’m brave enough for that just yet!
Nathaniel’s deck, god love him, really didn’t inspire me, as it seems to be principally concerned with just combat, so I’ve already sorted those cards into my main supply. I haven’t really looked at Harvey’s deck at all, either, so again I think there’s some homework for me there as I try to make sense of what I have!
The Investigator starter decks are very impressive products though, for coming with a whole deck plan for how to upgrade it over the course of a campaign. Of course, it’s prescriptive, but it does mean you could get one of these decks and shuffle up and play, without the need for deckbuilding – something I know that a lot of people don’t really enjoy. For those of us with huge collections, they offer a nice influx of new cards with which to build different decks. Part of me wants to keep the decks built for now, and give them a try to see how they work, but then part of me thinks why constrain myself like that? I did try Winifred and Stella at the Excelsior Hotel a while back, but whether it was the luck of the draw, or maybe just the pairing, they really didn’t work well like that. I wonder if they’ve been designed to work together to some extent, as part of a 4-player game?
As I said at the top, Arkham Horror LCG has really quickly become one of my all-time favourite games, and I think a large part of that was to do with the fact I was able to play so much of it twelve months ago, working my way through three excellent campaigns. I have such affection for this universe, though, I suppose really it’s no surprise that it would be up there in the top three. Playing these Arkham games can be such an incredibly immersive experience, it’s really rewarding to have a game that has a real campaign attached to it, and that sense of not knowing what to do that I recall from the Path to Carcosa campaign really feeds into that – you feel that you’re really living this game, somehow!
My plan, then, such as it is, will be to play through a couple of those stand-alone scenarios to get myself back into the swing of things, before then getting to another campaign! I’m really drawn to the Innsmouth campaign, now that I’ve finally picked up In Too Deep, though I’m also thinking it would perhaps make some sense to go for The Forgotten Age, as I missed that one out last year. It’s not essential to play them in order, of course, but I think it might be good to do so regardless. I find it difficult to choose because I like all of these settings! Innsmouth, Mesoamerica, Antarctica, they’re all just delightful!