Arkham Horror review

Arkham Horror

Arkham Horror was published by Fantasy Flight Games in 2005. Originally, the game was designed by Richard Launius in 1987. For this edition, Launius teamed up with Kevin Wilson, also known for Descent: Journeys in the Dark.

The illustrations were done by Anders Finér, Rafał Hrynkiewicz, Henning Ludvigsen, Kurt Miller, Scott Nicely, and Brian Schomburg.

Game Components

  • 1 Game Board
  • 1 Rule Book
  • 5 Dice
  • 1 First Player Marker
  • 16 Investigator Sheets
  • 16 Plastic Investigator Stands
  • 16 Investigator Markers
  • 198 Investigator Status Tokens:
    • 48 Clue Tokens
    • 35 Sanity Tokens
    • 56 Money Tokens
    • 24 Skill Tokens
    • 35 Stamina Tokens
  • 189 Investigator Cards:
    • 20 Skill Cards
    • 39 Unique Items
    • 44 Common Items
    • 40 Spells
    • 11 Allies
    • 35 Special Cards:
      • 8 Blessing/Curse Cards
      • 8 Silver Lodge Memberships
      • 8 Retainers
      • 8 Bank Loans
      • 3 Deputy Cards
  • 20 Doom Tokens
  • 8 Ancient One Sheets
  • 179 Ancient One Cards:
    • 67 Mythos Cards
    • 63 Location Cards
    • 49 Gate Cards
  • 16 Gate Markers
  • 60 Monster Markers
  • 3 Activity Markers
  • 1 Terror Track Marker
  • 3 Explored Markers
  • 6 Closed Markers

Fantasy Flight Games has issued a premium collection of painted miniatures of Investigators and Monsters. These figures can be used with Arkham Horror, Mansions of Madness, and Eldritch Horror.

Gameplay Overview

The number of players varies from one to eight people (three to five recommended) in this cooperative dice-rolling adventure fantasy strategy game based on the theme of Top 10 Lovecraft board games here.”>H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos and is set in the imaginary town of Arkham. The theme is excellently played out in the game. You will fight terrifying monsters and visit unbelievable locations like R’lyeh, a sunken city deep under the Pacific Ocean.

Arkham Horror - Gameplay

The roaring twenties are in swing, yet the well-being of unsuspecting flappers is endangered by the Ancient Ones – alien entities, lurking between worlds. Your job is to stop them from invading ours. Before the game, an Ancient One is chosen. You and your friends choose which Inspectors you will be playing for and take to the streets.

Now you are responsible for the peace and safety of innocent people. Portals leading to different dimensions will be opening around town. Your main job is to close them in time.

Investigators have weapons to help them. There are handless weapons, magical weapons, one-handed weapons, physical weapons, and two-handed weapons.

Each investigator has a goal that is important specifically to them. These goals are detailed in personal stories.

The game takes two to four hours.

Game Setup

  • Prepare playing area
  • Place initial clues
  • Choose first player
  • Determine investigators
  • Reveal Ancient One
  • Separate decks
  • Receive fixed possessions
  • Shuffle investigator decks
  • Receive random possessions
  • Finish investigator setup

Each player receives their Sanity and Stamina tokens, according to their sheets. If you want to regain Stamina later, you can do that in St. Mary’s Hospital.

  • Shuffle Ancient One decks and gate markers
  • Place investigator markers
  • Draw and resolve Mythos cards

Rules

In Arkham Horror, each turn is divided into five phases. Once all players have completed the current phase, move on to the next one. Each turn, the first player marker is passed on to the next player.

The phases are Upkeep, Movement, Arkham Encounters, Other World Encounters, and Mythos.

Upkeep

Refresh exhausted cards. Cards that lie face-down are exhausted. At the beginning of every turn, you refresh them by turning them face-up, which means you can use them again.

Review your investigator cards to see if any of them have upkeep actions. You have to perform all of them.

Adjust your skills using the skill sliders on your sheet.

Movement

You take one of the two movement actions: Arkham movement or Other worlds movement.

Find Gate can be used instead of regular movement.

Use the Map of Arkham card to get one extra movement point.

Arkham Horror - Map Closeup

Arkham Encounters

If you are in a location, you must take an action depending whether there is an open gate on your location.

How to close a gate

To close a gate, you must make either a Lore check or a Fight check with the number on the gate marker. If you succeed, you close the gate and take the gate marker as a trophy.

Other World Encounters

This is the time for investigators located in other worlds to have encounters.

Mythos

You draw a Mythos card and resolve it: open the gate and spawn a monster, place a clue token, move monsters, and activate mythos ability. Every monster has a doom track that shows the time left until its awakening.

Some Ancient Ones make you discard certain Environment cards.

When the Ancient One wakes up, if you are lost in time and space you are immediately devoured and eliminated from the game. Those who survive, face the monster in the final battle!

Arkham Horror - Items

Monster special abilities:

  • Ambush
  • Elusive
  • Endless
  • Magical Immunity
  • Magical Resistance
  • Nightmarish
  • Overwhelming
  • Physical Immunity
  • Physical Resistance
  • Weapon Immunity

How to win

There are two ways the game can end: either the investigators have defeated the elder gods or they were defeated by the monsters.

You win if the investigators have succeeded.

Arkham Horror - Defeated Yig

Find the full guide of rules in PDF here.

Monster List (Ancient Ones):

  • Abhoth
  • Atlach-Nacha
  • Azathoth
  • Bokrug
  • Chaugnar Faugn
  • Cthugha
  • Cthulhu
  • Daoloth
  • Eihort
  • Ghatanothoa
  • Glaaki
  • Hastur
  • Ithaqua
  • Nyarlathotep
  • Nyogtha
  • Quachil Uttaus
  • Rhan-Tegoth
  • Shub-Niggurath
  • Shudde M’ell
  • Tsathoggua
  • Y’Golonac
  • Yibb-Tstll
  • Yig
  • Yog Sothoth
  • Zhar

Arkham Horror - Cthulhu Awakes

When you are playing with Nyarlathotep, special monsters are added to the monster cup called the mask monsters.

Similar Games

Arkham Horror vs Elder Sign

Elder Sign

Also Cthulu-themed, Elder Sign is much easier and quicker than Arkham Horror.


Arkham Horror vs Eldritch Horror

Eldritch Horror

Eldritch Horror’s rules are easier to explain and revise than Arkham Horror’s. So, it is easier to get on the table. Another game for fans of Lovecraft.


Arkham Horror vs Descent: Journeys in the Dark

Descent Journeys in the Dark Second Edition

Descent: Journeys in the Dark has various scenarios with different difficulty levels. In its game length and complexity, it could be compared to Arkham Horror and even beat it.


Expansions

Promotional Ancient Ones Cards

Arkham Horror Promotional Ancient Ones Card 2010

Arkham Horror Promotional Ancient Ones Card 2011

Arkham Horror Promotional Ancient Ones Card 2012

In 2010, 2011, and 2012 promo cards (Ancient One cards) were given away to attendees of the Arkham Nights.

Arkham Horror: Dance of the Damned (Mythos)

Arkham Horror - Dance of the Damned

A new Mythos card is introduced – Dance of the Damned.

Arkham Horror: Oliver Grayson (Ally)

Arkham Horror - Oliver Grayson

Oliver Grayson is your new ally from the ‘Ghouls of the Miskatonic’ Novel.

Arkham Horror: Penny Arcade Characters

Arkham Horror - Penny Arcade

Penny Arcade brings you new investigators: Johnathan “Gabe” Gabriel, Tycho Erasmus Brahe, and Guardian Anne-Claire.

Arkham Horror: The Lurker at the Threshold Expansion

Arkham Horror - The Lurker at the Threshold

The Lurker at the Threshold Expansion comes in a box with over 100 new Location cards, Gate cards, Mythos cards, and Spells. The Lurker at the Threshold will definitely enhance your Arkham Horror experience.

Buy The Lurker at the Threshold on Amazon

Arkham Horror Series

The series of expansions for Arkham Horror contains The Black Goat of the Woods, Curse of the Dark Pharaoh, Innsmouth Horror, Kingsport Horror (bringing the Guardians who help you win the game), Miskatonic Horror, Dunwich Horror, The King in Yellow Expansion, and The Dark Pharaoh (Herald).

Black Goat of the Woods

Arkham Horror - Black Goat of the Woods

Buy Black Goat of the Woods on Amazon

The Curse Of The Dark Pharaoh

Arkham Horror - The Curse of The Dark Pharaoh

Buy The Curse Of The Dark Pharaoh on Amazon

Innsmouth Horror

Arkham Horror - Innsmouth Horror

Buy Innsmouth Horror on Amazon

Kingsport Horror

Arkham Horror - Kingsport Horror

Buy Kingsport Horror on Amazon

Miskatonic Horror

Arkham Horror - Miskatonic Horror

Buy Miskatonic Horror on Amazon

Dunwich Horror

Arkham Horror - Dunwich Horror

Buy Dunwich Horror on Amazon

The King in Yellow

Arkham Horror - The King in Yellow

Buy The King in Yellow on Amazon

Fan Expansions

Special love and devotion of Arkham Horror fans can be proved by lovely fan expansions: Cult of the Golden Scarab, The Door to Saturn, and Vermont Horror.

Arkham Horror - The Cult of Golden Scarab
Arkham Horror - The Door To Saturn
Arkham Horror - Vermont Horror

FAQ

Q: Is Arkham Horror good for 2 players or solo play?

A: Yes. The game is recommended to be played with three or more people, but it can be fun and challenging with just one or two. Actually, it might seem harder to win the game with fewer than three people. One player rules do not differ much from rules for multiple players.

Q: Is there an app for iOS and Android or an online game?

A: There is an iOS app called Arkham Horror Toolkit, but it does not let you play the game itself, it is an auxiliary application designed to help you do the bookkeeping. There are also some auxiliary applications for Android: Arkham Companion, Arkham Horror Droid, Arkham Investigator Tool. There is no online version.

Q: Can I sneak past an ambush monster?

A: Yes, when you meet it, you can try to evade it. But once the combat has started, you cannot escape it: fight or be devoured.

Q: Are some monsters harder to defeat than others?

A: Yes, you can choose the Ancient One depending on what kind of gameplay you want. Monster abilities differ: some monsters are easier to finish the game with quickly while others are truly challenging (Cthulu is known to be the meanest of the bosses). Also, as investigators have different abilities and weaknesses, they are also not equal in specific circumstances. Once you have played the game a few times and got used to it, you will know how to build the team of best investigators for certain monsters.

Q: What is the best expansion for Arkham Horror? In which order should one buy them?

A: You may want to start with Innsmouth, King in Yellow, and Dunwich Horror. These are the major expansions that bring a lot of new characters, challenge, and fun to the game.

Q: What can I do if I get negative skill check when I roll the dice?

A: Then you have failed the skill check and have to spend one clue for each additional die you need.

For official Errata and FAQ, see this.

YouTube

Conclusion

Arkham Horror is a tabletop beast. It is a vast, beautifully-themed board game with brilliant storytelling. It is not a quick game that you can try once for half an hour – you would not get anything out of it. For example, the board size is 2’x3′. Plus, it is surrounded by tokens. Prepare some space on your table and in your mind!

Unless you are a wargaming buff, don’t ask yourself: “Is Arkham Horror too easy for me?” Learning how to play isn’t a walk in the park. But do not worry: follow the instructions, and you’ll get there! To help you, there are lots of useful videos on YouTube containing playthroughs, tips, tutorials, and the unboxing process.

Like all Fantasy Flight Games products, Arkham Horror boasts most beautiful artwork and illustrations.

Fans of this game aren’t just players, they are true fans of the universe of Lovecraft’s heroes and monsters. Arkham Horror has lots of pieces that may be found difficult to store in order. Fans have come up with storage solutions of their own. See examples on BGG

Arkham Horror - Marie

To improve your game and enhance your gaming experience, you can acquaint tons of accessories for Arkham Horror: card holders, card trays, dice sets, card sleeves, bags, and all sorts of tokens.

If you aren’t acquainted with the world of Arkham, it does not mean that you won’t love the game. However, if you are convinced that you detest the idea of scary creatures, flying monsters, and elder gods, maybe this is not the right game for you.

Buy Arkham Horror on Amazon.