‘Something evil stirs in Arkham, and only you can stop it’. This is the new Fantasy Flight Games living card game which incorporates a roleplaying campaign element in solo or co-operative format. Set in the Arkham world, the artwork is sinister and Lovecraftian in its nature and up to two investigators (if you use one core set) will search for clues in a series of themed locations. Each character will have strengths and weaknesses which will appear from your supporting deck of cards, and affect the way your game unfolds, and these carry over between a campaign adventure.
After playing the core set and Dunwich Legacy expansions i decided this was not going to be the game that i would collect and expand this year. The obvious comparison i had to make was with one of my favourite games, Lord of the Rings LCG, and the issue i found with Arkham Horror is that it is quite a complex beast and is not overly solo friendly. When i play LOTR there is a smooth relationship between drawing cards, trigger effects and resources. In Arkham there is a more set up in building the locations map, and during the game you end up having multiple triggers around the whole map as enemies appear in different places, and investigating locations reveal new storyline. I found it quite a task to keep track of everything, particularly reactive triggers and where enemies and investigators should be moving to. Solo play with one investigator in particular can quickly become bogged down with multiple enemies and additional weaknesses to overcome. Whilst I do love FFG games, and i had high hopes for this one, ultimately this doesn’t fit with the way i like to play. The doom counters drive you to conclude scenarios quickly, often without actually completing it properly, and then you must track what has happened in the past as this will effect future quests, and this often feels like it is to your disadvantage. Deck building is indeed lighter at the moment as the card pool is small, and the game does have a more of an individual character driven emphasis, with a storyline which carries over between adventures, however quests are not self contained and so you cant dip in and out so easily. Finally you have to continually pull tokens out of a bag, as almost every action requires a test and this just became onerous for me when compared to the smoother LOTR style of play.
I feel Arkham Horror is a much better multiplayer game than solo, and so this will suit many players just fine, and it is a deep and clever game. However personally i am happier to continue to collect and play Lord of the Rings in preference to Arkham, and therefore in 2017 i will continue to develop these review pages as i move into Sands of Harad to play some new adventures. For those wanting more on Arkham i regret it just isn’t a game i want to spend more money on as a solo player.