Top 10: My favorite encounter artwork

Introduction: Okay, one more Top 10 list to go before i go back to the usual encounter review shenanigans that this site is actually meant for 😉 To close out the triplet of lists where i just want to share some of my favorite cards, here’s the one for encounter artworks. Obviously this is as subjective as it gets. I know nothing about “art” or how “well done” something is. These are pieces on cards that stuck out to me for some reason or another and that i like looking at whenever i return to that particular campaign. As before, i am sure i missed a lot of contenders as well. There’s like 700 cards, and picking 10 out of them isn’t trivial.

#10: Malformed Skeleton. As far as i am aware this is the only skeleton enemy in the game right now. But they went all out on this one, an enormous thing with many heads, a snakelike body made of rib cages and limbs of all sorts sticking in all directions. This piece really has a whole lot going on and makes the enemy appear a whole lot more dangerous than it ends up being in the end.

#9: Grasping Hands. Probably my favorite from the Core Set, it’s just a very iconic scene. I grew up on lots and lots of horror movies and this is just so utterly familiar. Of course you can’t have a horde of zombies/ghouls break into your house without them clawing at you through the walls and floor boards.

#8: Daemonic Piping. The Circle Undone has a couple artworks that deviate from the usual fantastical, slightly comic-y style that Arkham monster art usually goes for and that instead dive head-first into more grotesque stuff. Daemonic Piping is the best of them, which makes sense considering how much more often we see it than the Piper itself or say, a Mindless Dancer.

#7: Somniphobia. Confession time: I should’ve put this one on the list for most unsettling treacheries. But i forgot about it because i don’t play Dream-Eaters that often. However, it does belong on this list as well. Something about the colors in this one just appeals to me. Dream-Eaters has another card, Night Terrors, that is themed and framed very similarly, but in my opinion that one doesn’t hold a candle to Somniphobia. Creepy, great colors, sticks in your mind.

#6: Beast of Aldebaran. Turns out that not every creature artwork needs to be dark greys and browns. I don’t have anything too substantial to say about the art on this one, except that it sticks out from most of the other art by how bright it is. It shows us the monster in all its snakey glory and while doing so it also shows us some of the spires of Carcosa, with the twin suns in the back ground. For a recurring enemy this sets some of the themes of the campaign whenever it appears, but of course especially during the final scenarios where we can easily imagine this thing sitting around the Abbey Tower or on top of the King’s Palace.

#5: Vengeful Serpent. Well, turns out that my favorite snakepeople artwork is also on my favorite snakepeople card. To be honest, it might very well be that my fondness for the card in general makes me appreciate this artwork more than it would’ve otherwise. But i do really like this one, shown in an action pose with swords drawn. It’s also that most of the other serpentfolk in TFA are just looking goofy. Pit Warden and Serpent of Tenochtitlan are pretty much the only ones i like from the base campaign, so getting a proper one here is good. I especially like the head and neck, which look much more snakelike here than the pretty much human ones seen on Harbinger of Brood of Yig.

#4: Constance Dumaine (monster version). The Last King is a scenario that is blessed with tons of great art, and of course the six main guests stick out among them because they actually get two pieces of art showing off their transformation from innocent bystander to monster. Constance Dumaine is the one of them i like the most by a long shot, something about the style she’s drawn in, the color and the lighting does it for me here. Her monster art is quite horrifying, with her bloody mess of an open rib cage she’s a lot more than we usually see in this game. Hands you your first real welcome to the sort of stuff that Carcosa pulls on the player: Things aren’t always what they appear at first, also this can get a bit ghastly at times. Her flavor text is very, very appropriate.

#3: Eager for Death. The use of the Whippoorwills as harbingers of death was probably the most eerie thing that H.P. Lovecraft did in the Dunwich Horror. It’s great then that FFG absolutely nailed that part when they made the Dunwich Legacy. I’ve talked at other parts of this site before about how much i appreciate that the flavor and gameplay of the Whippoorwill set works so well together, but of course the art plays a huge part as well. This scene with the woods being full of these birds is quite spooky and just well done with the different layers (foreground, middle, back) to the image. And the ones in the front seem to be particularly interested in us, the viewer. I hear that’s bad luck…

#2: The Rougarou. Werewolves in media have it rough. They look goofy on film and even in images, most depictions of them are laughable. And if we’re being fair there are also some questionable ones in the Curse of the Rougarou pack. Not so with this artwork, which rightly is used for the card of the monster itself. It doesn’t look goofy in the slightest, this is a vicious wolf creature that is about to tear you apart. It’s wild, it’s primal and a complete force of nature. No #TeamJacob nonsense here. One of the best werewolves i’ve seen.

#1: Crazed Guest. If you thought Last King wouldn’t be able to shock you anymore, check out Return to Last King. Crazed Guest has much of the same things going for her that Constance Dumain has, but with one addition: Just look at her. Look at the pure FUN this girl is having.
The art on Crazed Guest manages to walk that fine line between horror and camp that Arkham Horror thrives on when it’s at its best. On the one hand, we have a very graphic scene here of a dead body, the killer with his heart still in her hands, blood is everywhere.
But then, this is at the same time so over the top that it makes me laugh. The facial expression of the girl. The dutch angle. That one foot we see of the person fleeing off-panel. Never has someone worn the trait “Lunatic.” with such pride and joy. This girl cracks me up.

Final words: There’s something that surprised me here and that is the high number of enemy cards in this list. Compared to treacheries, enemy cards are just at a disadvantage when it comes to artwork because there is so little room for it and it’s in a very awkward and squished format. That being said, there are certainly cards where the treachery frame with its over intrusive “wings” on the side has stood in the way of the artwork. This is really apparent if you ever made some custom cards yourself and try to fit existing art into frames, but you can also see it on cards like Maddening Delusions, which takes a well-known and liked piece of art and completely butchers it.

That The Last King made the list twice isn’t really a surprise, that scenario is just a banger in all regards. What is surprising though is that both Constance Dumaine and Crazed Guest are from the same artist. Here’s Andreia Ugrai’s ArtStation, where you can also find a full artwork of monster Constance. None of the Crazed Guest sadly.

Aaaaand that’s it for my little Top 10 detour. Hope you liked it. I had fun doing these and reading the responses and discussions it spawned. Even learned some stuff. I had some more ideas for lists, but for now i am going to back to my usual stuff. Edge of the Earth arrived on my doorstep last week and i finished the first playthrough already. Instead of doing lists, which was just meant as a filler, i’ll be looking to use my Arkham time to get another play in. It’s a fun campaign and i want to head back in 😉 There’ll surely be more filler time later this year when i run out of official stuff again.

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