It’s been a long time since I have played through a campaign for the Arkham Horror LCG but, here I am! After a recent look through the stuff that I have for the game, and that quick game with the Curse of the Rougarou standalone scenario, I’d decided to build some decks and go for a proper campaign once again. I had already sleeved up the Stella Clark starter deck, but I’ve swapped out a few of those cards now for a little more bespoke play, and after a quick search online, I thought I’d pair her with Zoey Samaras, as that seemed like an interesting combo. My previous games with a Survivor deck were in the Carcosa campaign, and I don’t think the pair of Survivor/Seeker worked particularly well (despite coming through that campaign really well, I admit!) so I’ve gone for Survivor/Guardian this time. New for me, both decks are made up of pairs of cards as well, rather than the more random mish-mash of card types I like to build! So there ought to be a certain degree of consistency as I play my way through this campaign – but we shall see!
As ever with these types of blogs, I’ll be discussing spoilers for the story, so please beware!
1. The Pit of Despair
This is a very interesting set up for the campaign. The investigator(s) wake up in a tidal tunnel, with some pretty severe memory loss, and realise they need to get out of there before they drown – especially having called out for help and heard fishy growls in the darkness. The game makes use of key tokens, colour-coded, which have no inherent meaning but are placed on locations and claimed when said location is fully explored. When you go to another location, if you’re in possession of a certain key, you’ll be instructed to read a certain flashback from the campaign guide, and note down a recovered memory. Now, it’s very tempting to just try and escape from this tidal hell, but recovery of these memories is actually key (pun somewhat intended), as they will allow you to remove certain tokens from the chaos bag for the rest of the campaign, making things that little bit easier!
I was a big fan, anyway, and I think I can safely say that I made the right choice of campaign with Innsmouth! Stella and Zoey are both pretty terrible at investigating locations though, and it’s only through Stella’s mechanic of gaining extra turns, and buffs following failed skill tests, that we made it through! But blimey – Zoey with a survival knife is brutal…
I successfully recovered all four memories – the meeting with Thomas Dawson, the battle with a horrifying devil, the decision to stick together, and the encounter with a secret cult. After a short interlude, where Agent Harper helps me to piece all of these things together, 5 VPs are mine, but I can’t spend it yet.
2. The Vanishing of Elina Harper
Five weeks prior, the investigators are recruited by Thomas Dawson to help find Agent Harper, who has gone radio-silent on a job in Innsmouth. We get to the blighted town, and split up to try to find her. What follows is almost Innsmouth Horror but in card form, and it’s a lot of fun! Much like previous times where we’ve gotten to explore Arkham or Dunwich in the card game, I’ve enjoyed seeing sites that I’ve known from the board game. This scenario is very reminiscent of The Midnight Masks from the core set, and even uses some of those encounter cards. We’re trying to find the kidnapper and the hideout where Agent Harper is being held, so go round the town gaining clues, which we use to draw cards from a Leads deck, one of which can go into play (but we can see up to three). So in true detective style, we need to keep track of what we’ve seen to narrow down where she can be – advancing the act deck is done by making an accusation, but if we’re wrong, bad things might happen! We then need to fully investigate the real hideout, and defeat the kidnapper (who gains a health bonus), before we are victorious.
This was a very nice twist on the core set scenario, and one that I enjoyed a great deal. Something that I think worth mentioning about this game is how each subsequent campaign has built on the core set so beautifully, it still feels like the same game, but my goodness, it’s come a long way since the Night of the Zealot!
So we rescued Elina Harper, and Zoey has taken her into her deck. There is also a Thomas Dawson ally card that could have been claimed, though I don’t know how – I probably did something wrong at an earlier point! I’ve gained three more VPs, and the mission was successful, so I can finally spend that experience! I’ve upgraded Survival Knife and Vicious Blow for Zoey, and Granny Orne for Stella, as well as swapping out her A Test of Will for Sharp Vision. Stella has fast become my go-to clue gatherer, so I think it makes sense to try to bolster that where I can. I’ll also try to help Zoey the same, because I think it would be more effective to have the ability for both of my investigators to be flexible.
So far, then, I think this has been a very strong opening to the campaign. I don’t know where I’m headed, truth be told, but I would imagine there is going to be some sort of confrontation with Dagon (given what I know of the lore) and I would expect the final pack of the campaign to take me to the underwater otherworld of Y’ha-nthlei, but that’s probably getting a bit too meta about it. I don’t know what to expect, though interestingly I didn’t have the same feeling of utter doubt as I did during the Path to Carcosa cycle, where I was wondering just what the right / best choice might have been. It’s not that this is a more prescriptive campaign, or anything, but I think it’s going to be interesting to see how this one plays out as time goes on.
One other point before I sign off – The Innsmouth Conspiracy introduces bless/curse tokens to the game. Finally! It’s a classic mechanic from other Arkham games, and I can only assume they have been at a loss as to how to introduce it in this one because of the lack of dice. Basically, we’re limited to 10 of either token in play at any one time, and various card effects will allow us to add in blessed tokens to the bag, which are worth +2 to the skill test, but do require you to draw again. They aren’t returned to the bag when drawn, so you’ll need to keep playing cards to replenish them. So far, I’ve only encountered player cards that interact with the blessed side of things, but I’ve heard that subsequent scenarios do have more to do with both types of tokens, so it’ll be an interesting ride to see how that all works out.