That is a neat little enabler that has a couple of ways to use it. By itself it doesn’t do a whole lot since it doesn’t allow you to drop clues yourself, so you are going to need cards that do that for you. Forewarned, Dr. Maleson and Quick Study do this from the current card pool and we have already seen Captivating Discovery for Scarlet Keys. You’d usually have to pick up these dropped clues one by one again, Research Notes allows you to pick them up all at once and let’s you do so with a rather easy intellect test. This by itself could be an interesting anchor for a deck (Daisy could even use the bottom ability with her extra Tome action), but you can get even more out of it. You aren’t restricted to picking up clues from the same location you dropped them on. So nothing is stopping you from putting clues on a low shroud location, picking them up the conventional way and use the evidence later on some high shrough Victory location that would otherwise be a pain to clear. Considering that Darrell is in this expansion, he might have even further uses for the evidence created by this card. Note that the first ability only triggers on abilities from player cards. So you don’t get to put any evidence when resolving treacheries like False Lead or after pulling a cultist token in The Last King. So this is an interesting card, i like this sort of thing. It gives extra value to a bunch of existing cards and allows putting them together in a coherent fashion, possibly spawning a new deck archetype. If i’m not mistaken it’s only four cards right now that drop clues, so that would need some more support in the future (either more from Scarlet Keys or in future expansions) to really take off but it’s a good start.
Breaking and Entering(2)
Breaking and Entering joins the ranks of self-recurring Tricks and Tactics together with Backstab(3), Pilfer(3), Cheap Shot(2) and Slip Away(2). That’s very solid and yet another way for rogues to consistently leverage their agility to find clues. I am a big fan of the other four cards i mentioned and do play them often (yes, even Backstab(3)). Getting another card for that deck to consider is very welcome. These cards are best played in a deck with Chuck Fergus, so the amount of XP that these cards eat up does start to pile up. Despite that, I can see Breaking and Entering(2) replacing Slip Away(2) or Cheap Shot(2) in those decks. To make a long story short, Breaking and Entering is a good card and the upgraded one is as well. Nice one for the agility rogue toolbox. Not a head turner, but a super solid option to have. From what i gather, most people like the basic Breaking and Entering a good bit more than i do (i just think it’s okay, but nothing too special) so i suppose my opinion on this upgrade is also one that is a bit more restrained than that of most others.
Ceremonial Sickle(0) was one of the cards we got to see in week one, now here’s the 4XP upgrade for it. For 4XP we get an additional fight icon if we commit it and also an upgrade for both of the ability options. If you pick the first option, you now get +3 skill value instead of +1. And if you pick the second, you now get to remove all doom instead of only one on defeating the enemy. Also, you get to ready the Sickle on defeating the enemy. All other things, including the base bonus to the fight/will test and the resource cost stay unchanged. This seems a bit of a meager upgrade to me? It’s not really bad, but seems just very … safe. As far as a card that removes doom from play can be safe, at least. I am not terribly sold on the level 0 sickle already, so maybe i am not the right person to appreciate this upgrade, but i see very little here that would make me want to play this over one of the more conventional combat spells in anyone but Amina. That to me makes this look like a card that is tailored specifically for one investigator without much use outside of that one deck. I find that very unappealing in a card in general. I suspect this card is fine in Amina, though. The ability to play this through her ability for zero resources, then attack something first, then finish it off to remove both doom is powerful. But i’d actually worry about even being able to hit with that finishing attack. Amina attacks at skill 4 with this if she picks the latter option, so without something like a Promise of Power in the sleeve this is not a sure thing at all. Sort of risky to gamble on something like that with 2 doom on the line. We’ll see how this one plays out, but i’m quite skeptical of this one.
Anything that moves around item slots is going to be playable somewhere because it just fuels so many different strategies. What we have here is a Bandolier-like effect for Mystics and offclass Mystics, as long as they are willing to sacrifice both their body slot and their arcane slots for it. The body slot is often not a big ask for Mystics, mostly that requirement is there so that Astral Mirror can not be combined with Bandolier for a six-handed Mary or Diana. But actually, considering that you can gain additional arcane slots, you can go a lot deeper than just six hands with this if you really want to… Giving up arcane slots is a bigger ask for Mystics, so this is once more a card that is tailored more towards Amina who isn’t a traditional spell user, but more into using all those doomplay Charm items that go into her handslots. Aside from Amina, this is of huge interest to offclass Mystics, though. Since it’s level 2, Daisy can take it to carry even more tomes around. Mary can finally afford the hand slots for Book of Psalms, Ritual Candles(recently buffed to work with blesses!) and similar paraphernalia while still carrying a Holy Spear or Lightning Gun. Sefina and Patrice both can be built in a way that doesn’t use their arcane slots either, so they might be interested as well. This is quite powerful even just with the regular two arcane slots that you start out with. The flexibility of using this card to turn additional arcanes into additional hands is enticing, too. This card will see play, no doubt about it.
This is another pretty interesting enabler. It allows you to use healing cards on investigators even when they don’t have any horror or damage. That alone is already fairly powerful for Vincent and Carolyn specifically, as they can just use their ability to create skill cards or resources more freely. Of those two, Carolyn is particularly interested because resources just stack up better if you can create more of them. Vincent’s On The Mend is sadly limited to one per player, but he might still want to look at this card.. In addition to removing the brakes off of those two investigators, Soul Sanctification also collects offerings for each healing used that wasn’t spent to actually heal an existing point of damage/horror. These can be traded in for skill bonuses on any test the healing investigator takes. Having a couple skill bonuses in your back pocket can be tremendously useful and the +4 bonus you can get here is large. Some interesting cards to combo with this: Ancient Stone (Minds in Harmony) can be turned from a horror healing card into a skill bonus battery. The nice thing here is that you aren’t spending any extra actions anywhere. Spirit of Humanity can throw two curses in the bag for 2 offerings on this card. This seems like a fine trade. Logical Reasoning(4) can heal up to 6 horror in one action, potentially putting a bunch of charges on Soul Sanctification. In a similar vein, Meditative Trance can go fairly high if you really want it to. I’d also be inclined to put this card into Jim Culver, just to get more value out of the trumpet. I’m also pretty sure this finally makes Book of Psalms playable. It was always on the cusp but this could be the extra push needed. And then of course there are several assets that allow you to heal for 2 points at the cost of an action. Those can be used now to bank offerings if you don’t have anything pressing to do with your action. It’s a fairly open-ended card and unlike Research Notes, it doesn’t affect only 4 cards, it affects dozens. It looks pretty good to me, but i wonder how often i am going to want to spend 6XP on it. Since it’s permanent, it’s excellent to build around though. Note: There’s currently some discussion around how/if this card works as we think it does. Rules as written specify that you can only play a card if it changes the gamestate of the target. The uncertainty is if “this counts as healing” does cover this properly. If it doesn’t that would mean that you can not play healing cards on fully healed investigators after all with this and would only get tokens for overheals. Personally, i think the “counts as healing” clause covers this, but we will probably have to wait for a designer to chime in and clarify.
Arkham Horror: The Card Game is a pretty vast affair by now and constantly growing, too. While this means that it’s an amazing game to lose yourself in, it does provide a certain barrier of entry for people getting into it as the sheer number of available ArkhamLCG products can be overwhelming. The community has been posting Buying Guides to help new folks to settle in and get a good start for all of Fantasy Flight Games’ Living Card Games, including Arkham Horror of course. This is my version of this guide. Now i want to make clear that the basic info in this article is already available in other places, but since i do aim to make my site a complete resource, i do want to have a Buying Guide of my own. This is not going to be a short and quick overview type of thing, that already exists in other places. What i want to do here is go into more detail, for those that don’t shy away from reading a bit more. I am fully aware that this might be way too many words than reasonable for some people, but i am trying to fill a niche here. Ultimately it’s not meant to be read once, it’s a resource you can reference whenever you got some money burning in your pocket and feel like spending it on Arkham. If you want to get a second opinion (or a more concise one), i can recommend Mattastrophic’s Arkham FAQ on the r/arkhamhorrorlcg subreddit, which has a short buying guide as part of it. I aim to get a bit more into detail, but if all you are looking for is a general overview, his FAQ is excellent. It also covers a lot of other questions that you might have if you are new to the game, so give it a read in either case. For the purpose of this guide, i will go over all of the available content and give a short overview of what to expect in terms of difficulty and “feel”. No major spoilers are included in anywhere on this page. I will keep this page updated as more content is released. Alright, enough preambles, let’s get into it.
Tier One: The Core Set
This is how it begins. The Core Set includes your first five investigators, one for each class (Guardian, Seeker, Rogue, Mystic, Survivor) and a preconstructed deck for each of them. These decks aren’t particularly great, but they are sufficient to learn the game and get your first experience using the three scenarios that are included in the Core Set’s mini-campaign, “Night of the Zealot”. Out of the box, you can immediately start playing with up to four players. The three scenarios include: a well done tutorial to the game mechanics, an open-ended and very replayable investigation and a brutal, frankly overtuned final scenario. That last one is a major misstep, but the first two scenarios are excellent and give a good taste of what this game can do. Please don’t get turned off by that third scenario, it is in no way representative for how the rest of the game goes. The five investigators do a fine job of representing their respective classes and are suited as introductory characters. Note that these are in no way “weaker” or “simpler” than what comes later. They are fully fledged playable characters that have staying power well into the game. At least three of them actually do rank among the more powerful of their class. Only one of the investigators is generally considered to be somewhat underwhelming. However, all five get a lot out of the extra options that you will get with a deeper card pool. You are going to need only one of these Core boxes for your playgroup. You *do* need it though as it does come with the necessary tokens, rule books and of course the basic card pool. An important note: Up to mid 2021, the Core Set was smaller than the current one, with only enough cards to (barely) play with two players. If you get into this game today, make sure that you buy the so-called “Revised” Core Set (FFGAHC60). If you do get the old Core Set (maybe you can find cheap ones used or with sellers clearing out stock) you would need two of those in the long run and still not have everything that is in the Revised Core. Unless you get a really, really, REALLY good deal on an old core (or two), i wouldn’t go for it. Get a revised one. They are far superior.
Tier Two: The Investigator Starter Decks
So you played the Night of the Zealot a couple times, checked out the different investigators and decided that the game shows promise. However, you will likely have noticed that for what is supposedly a deck building game, there isn’t a whole lot of deckbuilding possible with the Core due to a lack of available player cards. To get more of those, you have two options and the best one for a new player is going to be getting an Investigator Starter Deck or two. Instead of buying a full box of new cards, you can cherry pick a class or two that you like and get the appropriate Starter: Nathaniel for Guardian, Harvey for Seeker, Winifred for Rogue, Jacqueline for Mystic or Stella for Survivor. All five of these are excellent packs and come with a new investigator, a preconstructed deck and a good amount of extra cards for basic deck building and upgrades. Combined with the cards from the core, this allows you to take either of two investigators for that class and follow different deck concepts. A quick overview over the available packs: Nathaniel Cho: The boxer. Maybe the most single-minded fighter in the game, he can do little else than fight… but he’s damn good at it. Introduces the archetype of fighting with events instead of using weapon assets. Harvey Walters: The professor. A somewhat generic Seeker that is frail and needs protection but is excellent at drawing cards and finding clues. Introduces the “Big Hand” archetype where you keep a full hand of cards (even increasing your hand size) and are getting bonuses for that. Winifred Habbamock: The aviatrix. Embodies the “High risk, high reward” playstyle like no other rogue. Based on committing multiple skill cards at the same time, she crushes tests. Fleshes out the “Oversuccess” archetype, where you get bonuses for passing tests with skill points to spare. Jacqueline Fine: The psychic. She is able to manipulate your chaos token pulls for tests, allowing you to draw extra tokens and choose between them. A very powerful, but somewhat generic Mystic with a neat gimmick. Instead of enabling a fully new archetype, this pack does provide many alternatives to spells and assets from the core, bringing the Mystic toolbox up to full in one strike. This is of particular value to new players who are probably missing staples that were introduced in Dunwich and Carcosa. Stella Clark: The letter carrier. Stella is possibly the best all-around investigator in the game. She has decent baseline skills for any job and is also highly resilient. Her ability allows her to recover actions from failed tests, a very potent safety net for new and experienced players alike. Her pack fleshes out the “Fail Forward” archetype, where you gain consolation prices for failing and the ability to turn failed tests into something positive. With Stella, you are even going to want to fail sometimes. Eventually you should get all five of these (they are great “bang for your buck”) but before you complete the set, you will likely feel the need for a different campaign to play. As mentioned, you can’t really go wrong here and you should probably go with whatever class you found the most intriguing so far. But to throw two recommendations your way: Stella Clark is the most generically powerful of the bunch. If you are looking for a good fallback option that will always bring their A-game, Stella is your girl. Winifred’s pack is attractive because the rogue card pool isn’t really in a great state in a typical starter cardpool of Core + Dunwich. Skids isn’t great and Jenny does not bring much in terms of raw power either. And the player cards are lacking a coherent thing to build around. By getting Winifred’s pack, you get a fantastic investigator in Wini herself and flesh out a very nice archetype that you can use as guidance. You can find a detailed analysis of the investigator starter decks here: Click.
Tier Three: A new campaign
Even an open-ended and well designed scenario like the Midnight Masks from the Core can only be replayed so often, so it’s time to get another campaign. This is the point where the game goes off the deep end and REALLY opens up. Instead of a short romp through 3 loosely connected scenarios you will now buy into a full campaign comprised of eight(ish) scenarios with one of the available campaign expansions. Time to get a quick overview over what’s available (in order of release): The Dunwich Legacy: Loosely a continuation of HP Lovecraft’s story The Dunwich Horror. Following the wish of a friend, the investigators are set on a trail that involves the Necronomicon, twisted mutations and Yog-Sothoth. A great first step up from the Core, since it is still relatively grounded in terms of mechanisms, but nonetheless an impressive demonstration of what the game can do. Since it’s the first campaign, it does have some mechanical rough edges but it’s worth experiencing in spite of those for sure. The Path to Carcosa: Based on Robert Chamber’s The King In Yellow. After experiencing the traumatic premiere of a theater play, the investigators soon aren’t able to discern what is real and what isn’t. A campaign that is extremely well written. It explores themes like insanity and possession, and in some regards even scratches the fourth wall as you are unsure on how much of what you experience is actually happening. A thing i like about the Carcosa campaign is that it doesn’t ask anything specific from the investigators. Where other campaigns are leaning into fighting, focus one of the skills or are built around a gimmick, Carcosa is relatively even in its challenges. This is of course great for new players who don’t necessarily have all the tools to answer more specific challenges. The Forgotten Age: After recovering a strange relic from a temple, time itself starts to dissolve and multiple factions start coming after the investigators. This campaign involves flexible alliances, time travel and parallel universes. It is for a large part set in a jungle and features lots of snakes. Lots and lots of snakes. And snakepeople. This campaign is infamous for its difficulty, which disqualifies it as a first buy. It does however have one of the best campaign structures of all campaigns so far with great replay value. It’s my personal favorite, but do get it at a later point. It’s not all that suitable as a first buy. The Circle Undone: Investigating the disappearance of some people, the players find themselves caught in the crossfire of a struggle between a witches coven and a mysterious lodge. This campaign deals with themes of fate, free will and dips into the spirit world for many of its threats. This campaign is also quite difficult and does disproportionally punish some investigators, both of which are good reasons to leave it for later. Dream-Eaters: Actually two mini-campaigns in a trench-coat masquerading as a full campaign. Taking inspiration from HP Lovecraft’s dreamworld stories (for example, one of the scenarios is closely modeled after “The Dreams in the Witch-House” while another loosely follows “The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath”), this box sets the investigators on two parallel campaigns with 4 scenarios each. One on the fantastical side of the dreamlands, the other in a more nightmarish version with lots and lots of spiders. The campaign structure is ambitious, but quite controversial in the community. Personally, i am not a fan and i would strongly suggest getting a “full” campaign instead of these two mini-campaigns so you can get a look at how well this game does character progression and evolving your deck. The Innsmouth Conspiracy: Based on Shadows over Innsmouth, one of Lovecraft’s most well-known stories. Something is fishy in the small coastal village of Innsmouth and as it turns out, it’s an eldritch influence turning people into fish people. The players awake in a grotto near Innsmouth without their memory of how they got there and during the campaign recover those memories (hopefully) and put an end to the threat coming from below Innsmouth (hopefully). This is a campaign known for being very heavy on fights (those fishpeople are everywhere) and for having huge maps that will require a big table. I think this campaign is a good candidate for a first buy although you might want to play it on Easy. Edge of the Earth: A continuation of HPL’s At the Mountains of Madness. An expedition is set into the Antarctica to confirm the stories told by the only two survivors of what happened in Mountains of Madness. This campaign focuses on exploration and on interacting with a large cast of non-player characters that make up the expedition crew. It also has some non-linear elements, but not to an extent that allow changing up the campaign all that much. This can work as a first buy, but i wouldn’t recommend it for that. The Scarlet Keys: Coming up soon, the Scarlet Keys promises to be a non-linear hunt around the globe for members of the “Coterie”, a FFG original cast of antagonists(?) all connected through having mystical abilities and dressing in some sort of red clothing. It’s of course tempting to go for the newest release, but I would suggest against this. At this point of the game the mechanisms and gimmicks in these scenarios get quite involved and i strongly suggest going with a more grounded campaign instead.
My suggestions for the first additional campaign are to get either of these three: – Dunwich if you want to get the most “basic” (not in a negative sense) campaign. It provides the next stepping stone in complexity and eases you into how deep the game can get. – Carcosa if you are looking for a demonstration of how this game combines gameplay and storytelling – Innsmouth if you are looking for a combat oriented experience and aren’t turned off by having to play on Easy. You can of course start with any of the available campaigns, but in my opinion Forgotten Age and Circle Undone are both too difficult and i would rule out Dream-Eaters due to its campaign structure.
Important Note: As with the Revised Core, there are two ways the campaigns are distributed, an old one and a new one. If you are new to the game, i advise you to stick to the new distribution model, especially for your first campaign as it allows you to just pick up the complete campaign in one convenient box. At time of writing, the full campaign expansion boxes are available for Dunwich, Carcosa, Edge and Scarlet Keys, with Forgotten Age expected to be up next. Any campaign not already rolled out in the new distribution model you’d have to acquire the old way. That means you’d need to get a main campaign box (the “Deluxe Expansion”) that has the first two scenarios and then acquire the other six scenarios one by one from “Mythos packs”. Each of those Mythos packs has one scenario. Both the Deluxe expansion and Mythos packs also have the player cards for this cycle in them and getting the full cycle is basically equivalent to buying the campaign expansion and the investigator expansion under the new model. Availability of the old Mythos packs is very spotty in some cases, so if you decide to buy a campaign with the old distribution model, i strongly suggest buying the full set (1 deluxe box + 6 mythos packs) all in one go. Your other option is to wait for FFG to release the campaign under the new model, which would be my preferred option. Of the three campaigns i recommended for a first buy above, Innsmouth is only available under the old model at the time of writing. Dunwich and Carcosa have been released in the new format.
Tier Four: More Player Cards
Now armed with a full campaign that can be replayed many, many times and a decent card pool for at least one or two classes you can already sink a surprising amount of time into the game. The next step is deepening your pool of player cards. The thing about player cards is how they increase your available options in an almost exponential way, with new cards often giving additional value to your old cards as well. At times whole new deck archetypes open up and allow you to see old cards that you might have written off in a new light. This is the point where you should consider getting the rest of the Investigator Starters as detailed earlier to flesh out what each class has available as a baseline. The other great option you have is getting one of the Investigator Expansions. These boxes are the companions to the Campaign Expansions. Each box comes with 5 (sometimes 6) new investigators and a host of new player cards spread across the classes. As before, here’s a quick rundown on what’s in the boxes: The Dunwich Legacy: The five investigators here all have relatively simple deckbuilding rules, but are nonetheless quite powerful. Only the Mystic is lagging slightly behind the rest, with an investigator ability that is hard to get singing, especially on a shallow card pool. As the first expansion the game received, the player cards here don’t really follow a theme, they are more like an extension of the core pool that defines the classes. This makes getting this box a high priority. Some of those staples were actually put into the Revised Core, but having a few extra copies of cards like Charisma is actually useful. A detailed review of Dunwich can be found here: <Click> The Path to Carcosa: There are six investigators in here, one for each class and also a neutral one. This neutral investigator is especially interesting for players that are looking to solve a deckbuilding puzzle (as opposed to those that just want strong decks). The other five investigators are all very strong. The player cards are mostly putting the finishing touches on the base card pool for the classes, with a small nod towards horror mitigation (since horror is a major thing in the Carcosa campaign). A detailed review of Carcosa can be found here: <Click> The Forgotten Age: Four out of five investigators here have deckbuilding requirements based on card traits. This means that they will gain a lot out of having a deeper card pool. This is especially true for Mateo, whose access to Blessed traited cards doesn’t really do a lot unless you also own the Innsmouth cards. Also of special note here is Calvin, the first “gimmick character” who starts with all skills at zero, but gains bonuses with damage and horror on him. The player cards don’t have a specific (mechanical) theme. A detailed review of Forgotten Age can be found here: <Click> The Circle Undone: Another box with 6 investigators, including an extra Mystic. One of them, Rita, is often considered to be a bit underwhelming. The other five are all weird in some way, either because they operate out of their classes usual archetypes (Diana, Joe, Carolyn), because they are bit gimmicky (Preston) or because they play around with doom, a very dangerous mechanic if you don’t know what your are doing (Marie). The list of player cards is very strong, with many widely played cards on it. Of special note are the cards for the “Big Money” rogue archetype, included to enable Preston but of course of huge value for rogues in general. A detailed review of Circle Undone can be found here: <Click> Dream-Eaters: On the one hand, the selection of investigators here includes rules nightmares Luke and Mandy, on the other hand the super solid Tony and Tommy are straight to the point. Patrice is very unique in her playstyle. All five of them are very, very powerful. The player cards introduce two new mechanics, Bonded (meaning a card has other cards associated with it) and Myriad (cards that can be played with three copies instead of two and often will have some payoff for this). A detailed review of Dream-Eaters can be found here: <Click> The Innsmouth Conspiracy: Compared to the three boxes before this one, the investigators in Innsmouth are relatively grounded. Amanda is the only one who is a bit weird, with a playstyle focused on using and re-using skills. She sort of only opens up with a deeper card pool and will struggle on just the Core and Innsmouth player cards. However Dexter, Trish and Mary even follow the main class/side class template from the core set and are all easy to build around. The final one, Silas, also deals in recurring skill cards, but in a less extreme fashion than Amanda. The player cards almost exclusively deal with the concept of bless and curse tokens. These tokens are added to the chaos bag as part of the card effects and modify the chances to pass or fail accordingly. This is a huge archetype in itself (and powerful, too) that also integrates well with other cards. A detailed review of Innsmouth can be found here: <Click> Edge of the Earth: The five investigators here all share the same deckbuilding concept, starting in one class and then only being able to take upgrades from another class, which leads to them basically changing classes over time. All of them are well worth playing. The player card pool focuses for a large part on multi-color cards, cards that belong to two or more classes at the same time. This makes this box excellent for new players, as any of those multi-class cards can go into more decks than usual. A detailed review of Edge of the Earth can be found here: <Click> The Scarlet Keys: There’s six investigators in here, including another neutral one, Charlie. He focuses on using lots of allies. Carson and Amina both serve a very specific niche, multiplayer support and doomplay respectively. Vincent is a healer, which defies expectations from a seeker character. Kymani and Darrell are more generic members of their class. The card pool includes the Customizables, a group of cards that have intricate upgrade sheets that allow tweaking them in various ways for XP. Another notable thing is the presence of multiple cards that mitigate doom on player cards, enabling Amina but being strong on their own as well. A provisional review of Scarlet Keys can be found here: <Click>
My suggestion would be to get the Dunwich and Carcosa Investigator Expansions first, they really do a good job of fleshing out the basics of the classes as opposed to focusing on some specific archetypes or spending a lot of card slots on enabling certain investigators. Other than those two, Innsmouth and Edge would be my picks as player card boxes that add the most options to a fledgling card pool. If you want to base your decision on which investigators to get, there isn’t really a right or wrong answer. There aren’t any bad investigators in this game, only some that are a bit narrower than others and some that might require a more fleshed out card pool to really make them do their thing in a satisfying way.
Important Note: This is where i have to mention the old and new release models again. If the cycle is available in the new release model, things are easy enough: Buy the Investigator Expansion and you have all the player cards. For any campaign not rolled out in the new model, you would need to acquire the player cards together with the campaign. This means buying the deluxe box and the six mythos packs as described previously. Under the old model, you can’t buy either campaign or player cards, you have to get both. Again, i strongly suggest sticking to what is available in the new release model at first and only buying into the old model if you can get a full cycle all at once.
Tier Five: More stuff!
Let’s take stock: You got the Core, you got one or more investigator starter decks. You got your first additional campaign and your first player card pool expansion. Looks to me like you are invested! You can keep playing what you have and whenever you feel like you want to change things up, adding another Campaign Expansion or an Investigator Expansion will make a great impact on the longevity of your game. Refer back to the short descriptions above and see what interests you. Once you got a bit of a card pool going, you will no longer have to shy away from my notes on difficulty, just pick whatever looks interesting to you thematically. Don’t overthink your choices in terms of player cards. As a non-competitive game, ArkhamLCG doesn’t really reward going for “strong cards” or “must have staples” and there isn’t something like a “meta” to follow. If anything, the investigators might tip your decision in one way or another as they are of course the key pieces that enable certain builds. My suggestion would actually be to buy whatever Investigator Expansion was released alongside a Campaign Expansion you have. There are often some thematic or mechanical ties between the two that can enhance your gameplay or the story telling. For example, Carcosa player cards have some ways in them to mitigate the incoming horror during the campaign. As another example, Innsmouth player cards have Silas and Amanda in them, both characters that are thematically tied closely to the town of Innsmouth. These connections are rather loose though so you are of course free to take advantage of the fact that the new release model decoupled the campaign from the player cards and get whatever sounds cool to you.
Tier Six: “Return To” Boxes
By now you will probably have a favorite campaign. And maybe you played it often enough that you are looking for a way to spruce it up a bit? There’s something for that, too… at least for some of the campaigns. The “Return To” boxes are sturdy storage boxes that include replacement cards for a specific campaign. This can go from new encounter sets over additional locations for variance to rule changes and additional mechanisms. The boxes also contain some few player cards and rules for achievements and the like, but those shouldn’t be the reason to get the box (with one notable exception). The following are available:
Return to Night of the Zealot: The biggest strike against this box is how little is in it. What is there is fine, though. Most notable for turning The Gathering from a tutorial into a fully fledged scenario that is quite good. Not worth the price in comparison to the other boxes, but the content itself is decent. Return to Dunwich: This box does make the Dunwich campaign a bit more difficult and expands a few select scenarios, but is mostly a set of bugfixes that aim to correct some inconsistencies in the early design of the Dunwich Legacy. If you want to replay Dunwich often, you want this box. Return to Carcosa: A rather weak box that doesn’t shake up the Carcosa campaign all that much aside from a few new encounter sets. Luckily Carcosa is already pretty great on its own. This box is easily skippable. Return to Forgotten Age: A fantastic box that smoothes out several difficulty spikes of the original TFA campaign and adds several bells and whistles to the scenario and campaign. My personal favorite, i adore RtTFA and consider it the best campaign right now. If you like Forgotten Age, this is a must have. Return to Circle Undone: While it does smooth out some rough difficulty patches, the box is mostly not very effective at changing the campaign significantly enough. What it is notable for however is its selection of excellent player cards that make the Tarot type of asset more valuable. It also comes with an actual High Arcana tarot deck that is gorgeous and can be used to modify campaigns in a semi-random manner. This box is skippable unless you want the Tarot deck or feel strongly attached to making tarot assets a more prominent thing in your decks.
Other “Return To” boxes don’t exist and it is currently unclear if this line of product is going to be continued under the new release model. My suggestion for these Return To products is to only go for them once you do own the other available base campaigns (at least the ones under the new release model). A completely new campaign is just going to be loads more value to you than some tweaks to a campaign you already have. I have extensive reviews of these Return To boxes available on my site. You can find them under the header “Resurgent Evils” in my article hub. Those reviews are built to increase in how spoiler-y they are over time, so you can just read the beginning without having anything given away. This will give you detailed info on what is in those boxes. There’s even a spoiler-free verdict that will give you much more info than the ultra-short summaries i have written above. Return to Dunwich and to Forgotten Age are the two boxes i recommend getting first out of the bunch, the others can wait. Note that depending on how and when these are reprinted, availability is a concern. At the time of writing, Return to Night of the Zealot is fetching upwards of 200$ on ebay which is an absolute moon price for what is basically two relevant player cards (Hot Streak(2) and Rabbit’s Foot(3)) and some minor tweaks to a campaign nobody plays anymore. Don’t fall prey to scalpers.
Tier Seven: Standalone scenarios
Standalone scenarios are sold individually, not as part of a wider campaign. They can be played either in standalone mode (with decks you specifically create for that) or inserted into a campaign. They are often difficult, but reward players with special cards that they can use for the rest of the campaign. Here’s what exists right now:
Carnivale of Horrors: A scenario built around a unique location layout that only allows movement in one direction. Players have to save bystanders and fight rather big enemies while struggling to not get separated. Pretty good! Curse of the Rougarou: A werewolf is on the lose and players have to either kill it or cure it. They can even end up becoming a werewolf themselves. The Rougarou hangs out in a swamp and the locations are appropriately in the way a lot of the time. Another good one! Labyrinths of Lunacy: This standalone was designed to be played in “Epic Multiplayer” with several groups of players coordinating. Unless you regularly play at conventions, you can skip this one. I haven’t played it myself, but supposedly it’s pretty good when actually played with many people. Guardians of the Abyss: There’s actually two scenarios in this pack, however they are incredibly difficult. Frustratingly so. The first scenario actually has a pretty cool feel to it, with a run around Kairo and a short exploration into the desert… but at least for me, the difficulty ruined it. Skippable. Murder At The Excelsior Hotel: A great scenario right from its unique premise: One of the players wakes up in a hotel room in which a murder happened… with a bloody knife in their hand. The players can either help investigate the clues or try to bury them. There’s a lot of clever mechanisms here simulating how police are on the player’s trail and the like. Of course there’s also a finale with whatever is actually to blame… actually there’s many different finales because that gets randomized too. Fantastic scenario, clever, off the beaten path and very replayable. The Blob That Ate Everything: If Murder is the best standalone for its unique approach and mechanisms, then Blob is the best for its setting and the sheer craziness of everything. This scenario is closely modeled after schlocky horror movies of yore, with plenty of references for fans of the genre. Mechanically, it’s a very combat intensive scenario with blobs appearing all over a large map that gets devoured over time. Amazing scenario, quite difficult though. Put this near the end of your campaign, you will need some upgrades in your deck for it. This scenario also comes with an Epic Multiplayer mode, but it is perfectly great even when just played with your regular 1-4 people. War of the Outer Gods: Another unique one. There’s three agenda decks, one for each faction of enemies. These three factions are in a war with each other that spans continents and players are trying to close the gate where the horrors are coming from while trying to prevent one of the factions getting ahead of the others. This one is also on the difficult side, about as difficult as Blob. Not as good as Blob, though. Like Blob, it comes with an Epic Multiplayer. Like Blob, it’s good without making use of that and just playing it with one group. Barkham Horror: the Meddling of Meowlathotep: I actually haven’t played this one myself. It’s notoriously hard to get and since it’s not getting reprinted, it’s only available for moon prices on eBay. This is a novelty scenario that has you play as dog versions of investigators and stop the evil machinations of cats. From what i read about it, it’s thematically fun of course, but in terms of the actual scenario behind it it’s nothing too special? In any case, this is nothing to concern yourself with if you don’t already own all the things. Machinations Through Time: This one is designed for Epic Multiplayer again and ideally is played with three distinct groups. The board is split into past, present and future with a couple locations each and things that happen in one era can influence what happens in the others. It’s a cool concept for sure. The scenario also can be played with only one group, but that will effectively remove a lot of the interactions between eras and make it a much plainer affair. It’s still plenty good, though. Quite difficult as well, which seems to be a theme with the Epic Multiplayer scenarios. Not a priority, but you wouldn’t regret the purchase.
We are firmly in the territory of fully optional content now. While getting a Return To box before having all the regular campaigns can in some cases be worth it, I would only start considering buying standalones once i have the actual campaigns. The reason for this is mostly that you will be getting a lot more replayability out of the campaign expansions. Excelsior Hotel, Blob and Carnivale are generally considered to be a tier above the rest of the standalones. I agree and will thus make those three (in that order) my suggestion to get first if you want some standalones.
Tier Eight: Novels
We finally reached the point where things are so optional that you probably should invest your money into upgraded components (better tokens, nice playmats, card holders, … it’s a bottomless pit) instead of seeking these out: A couple of Arkham Horror novels were released that came with investigator cards. These are investigators that are either already printed in another Investigator Box or are scheduled to be released that way down the road. Sometimes these have alternate art, all of them have alternate signature and weakness cards. Currently, this is the only way to acquire Gloria Goldberg, the writer. The others are available somewhere else. Here’s the books and what you get with them in terms of cards:
Hour of the Huntress: Alternate art Jenny Barnes The Dirge of Reason: Alternate art Roland Banks Ire of the Void: Alternate art Norman Withers The Deep Gate: Alternate art Silas Marsh To Fight The Black Wind: Alternate art Carolyn Fern Blood of Baalshandor: Regular art Dexter Drake Dark Revelations: Gloria Goldberg
All of those also have a new set of signature and weakness cards that can be used instead of (or in addition to) the regular ones. The alternate signature cards for Silas and Dexter are pretty great and worth having. And Gloria is only available this way for now. The others are just something for collectors and alternate art enjoyers (although i will say that the alternate art for Norman is just sooooo much better than the one from Edge of the Earth).
These books are hard to get at times and out of print in most cases. As far as i am aware there will also be no further novels with card tie-ins in the future, either. In my opinion these aren’t worth getting just for the cards.
Once you bought everything, you can always go ahead and print more content. The community has done some great stuff. And FFG themselves have actually also put out some. This is where i will draw my line, though. This is a buying guide after all, not a printing guide. I’ll leave you with two links to investigate further. The first is to the official site for Arkham Horror on fantasyflightgames.com. Scroll aaaaall the way down until you find the section labeled “Print-and-Play cards” and you will find some interesting things. The other link is for Mysterious Chantings, a blog by and for those tireless creators that have done new scenarios, investigators and in some cases even full campaigns. And hey, if you check out the “Custom” header on the top of this page, you will find some replacement encounter sets that i made. It’s not much, but it’s something!
And by reaching this point in the buying guide, you reached the ninth circle of hell investment. Remember that everything in here is not a strictly linear road you have to follow. It’s a game and supposed to be fun. Do what looks interesting to you. Most people skip a step or do several at once. And if you see something on sale or can get a cheap used copy of something, that’s great too. The nice thing about the ArkhamLCG is that so far, FFG didn’t put out something for it that is actually bad and not worth having. So if you do think you are going to stick with the game, you basically can’t buy “the wrong thing”. It’s just that some things are more optional than others. That split between old and new release model makes things a bit awkward right now, but hopefully this will simmer down as more and more campaigns get re-released in the new, much better format that is cheaper, more convenient and more consumer-friendly.
In any case, i hope this was helpful. Enjoy your gaming. Cheers o/
Parts of Vincent Lee have been leaked early on, but we were unclear how reliable that leak was and even if it was, it was lacking the bigger picture of Vincent’s associated cards. The parallels to Carolyn Fern are obvious, of course with the deck building and statline being similar and the stamina/sanity merely flipped. Where Carolyn always has been an outlier in her class, thanks to a statline that can’t make good use of many in-class cards and having to lean on her off-class access, this is much less true for Vincent. With 4 intellect he can still be a “proper” seeker, so he can decide more freely on how much of his deck and time he wants to devote towards being a doctor and how much towards being a seeker. It also means that he has much better capabilities of filling his time in a useful manner if nobody needs healing right now. Carolyn usually leans pretty hard into her seeker access for that anyways. But enough about Carolyn already, let’s check out the signatures and the weakness. Bonesaw allows him to attack at a respectable 5 base skill and to take damage to deal damage. This at the very least makes him a reasonable fighter as well, broadening his options even further. Sadly it’s not Weapon traited, so no Prepared for the Worst to get this more consistently. On the Mend is a card he hands to anyone he heals, as an extra payoff. Each one is basically Unexpected Courage that you’ll want to throw into a test rather soon, both so you can get a new one later (they are limited to 1 at a time) and so you don’t have to look at that gruesome artwork for a bit. This is a good payoff for healing that benefits everyone. Vincent’s weakness is the Wounded Bystander who will require some attention by healing effects because if he ends up being defeated, that will be a mental trauma. This is a cool weakness in terms of mechanisms and design, way off the beaten path. I do have a feeling that it’s going to be a bit of a pain, though. Healing three damage is going to take at least two actions plus some other resources in the forms of cards, tokens and the like. I suppose you could keep him around and (ab)use him for soak and only heal him up a little bit from time to time? Oh wow, that went dark real quick. To sum up my thoughts on Vincent Lee, i like him a lot better than Carolyn. He is very open-ended and can be built in a lot of different ways. He can be a pure seeker, he can even be built to be a fighter. Healing has constantly become more and more important over the last couple campaigns and i am excited to see an investigator that can do it in a more efficient way. That On the Mend skill card goes a long way towards making those healing cards that often require spending quite a few actions to get anywhere more appealing.
Well, i guess not all Mystic cards in this box can be flashy and immediately anchor new archetypes. This is some solid utility in a class that doesn’t get a whole lot of raw card draw. You could include this to dig for your mystic assets on turn 1. Paying a resource, an action and a card to draw two new cards isn’t fantastic but also not unplayable. It’s at least better than level zero Preposterous Sketches, but that’s a very low bar to clear. Sketches is kinda awful with its 2 resource cost which this card avoids at least. In the Mystic class, Initiation has competition from Scroll of Secrets mostly (at least if you are playing with taboo), and Arcane Initiate. At 1XP, there’s also Sacrifice if you need more draw than that. So i am not sure if Eldritch Initiation really has a place against those. For me to feel good about playing it, i would probably want to dig at least 3 cards deep and/or get value out of discarding the cards. Once you start digging 4 or even the full 5 cards deep, i might even be willing to accept some card disadvantage (like playing this, drawing 4, discarding 4 for a net -1 card in hand) because that sort of reach into the deck can be worth some sacrifices. Those are all rather narrow scenarios though and not exactly easy to set up. It’s certainly not worth setting them up just for Eldritch Initiation, but if you plan on doing something wild with a lot of arcane slots anyways, then Initiation could have a place. There has been some support for an “arcane slots matter” archetype in Edge of the Earth and if it continues to be fleshed out, this might be a card to revisit at a later point. Currently i don’t see a place for it. Maybe there’s more for this archetype in Scarlet Keys? You know, aside from a weakness that actually punishes you for empty arcane slots. As for the discard synergy, the two Survivors that can run this are Patrice and Pete… and both don’t really need help getting cards into their discard.
Let’s start the Survivor Dilemma Double Feature with Making Preparations, a card that is available right at deck creation and offers a flexible shifting around of skills when drawn. There are some investigators that could probably make good use of this, for example Patrice could use this to get to 5 will and 3 intellect while dropping her usually unused strength and agility to 1 for a turn. Silas could do it the other way around to prepare for a good fighting turn. Considering that it doesn’t cost an action to do, this is a worthwhile effect. It gets really awkward once you start considering that there might be other players in the game as well though. And those might very well not appreciate being subject to the same shifting of stats as the player who included this card. That makes me wary of the card even in two player, i would expect it to be even sketchier in bigger groups. This plus the usual timing restrictions of Dilemmas where you can’t play it when you actually need it make this card a bit of a crapshoot. Also, unless you draw this during the investigation phase you will likely get this in upkeep. So there will be a mythos phase between drawing this card and your next investigation phase, which makes planning out which skills to pick here potentially quite risky. While the effect taken by itself is fine, i don’t think i could justify making room for this card in my deck of 30. There’s just too many variables to it that i can’t plan around. And ultimately +1 skill isn’t that much of a bonus in the first place, i might as well just run another skill with a wild icon or two and be better off in the vast majority of times. Maybe in a solo game when you don’t have to consider the interaction with other players this card could fit better but for at least for me this is pretty much a hard pass.
Nature of the Beast
The other Dilemma for today is Nature of the Beast and i do like this one quite a bit. Considering this doesn’t cost an action and just gives you a clue, this plays in the same ballpark as Deduction and Sharp Vision, both fantastic cards. Nature of the Beast even allows you to pick up a clue from anywhere which can be useful for sure. Of course there is the issue of having to draw an additional encounter card, but i have to be honest, this doesn’t seem bad at all. You get to reveal from the top 3 and pick one and then also pick who draws it, so chances are that you can assign a treachery with a test to someone who is capable of passing that test. Or you could pass an enemy to a fighter. You could even use this to dig for enemies with Victory points… So sure, drawing an extra encounter card is a drawback, but there are two mitigating factors (card choice and investigator choice) here that will likely make this very tolerable. The Dilemma timing isn’t as impactful here as usual either. There are rarely any moments where you don’t want to pick up a clue. And having to draw an additional encounter card is sort of not tied to specific timing either. So it’s not much of a drawback that you can’t hold this card for a more opportune time. There is a risk of running into a worst case scenario here, though. If you draw this while there currently aren’t any clues at all on the board, you won’t get anything for it… but still have to assign an additional encounter card. I like this one. I have been playing Survivor clue seekers a lot recently and this card fits right into that toolbox with Sharp Vision, Keyring, Winging It, etc.