Spotlight is where we at Best Play like to share our thoughts on a game we like or think is interesting but can’t stick the big rubber stamp of ‘Best Play Recommends’ on – yet!

What is Arkham Horror: The Card Game?

Those Lovecraft-tentacled Cthulhu monsters get everywhere these days. They’re all over this card game re-imagining of a classic. In Arkham Horror LCG you’re uncovering clues, fighting off strange creatures and exploring Arkham: all in the name of trying to figure out what’s behind all the weird goings on.

The game is set over a series of campaigns and missions that have an actual story, complete with a number of ‘choose your own adventure’ style moments. That means each mission you play is taking you deeper than before. Those decisions you made last week? Well, it turns out they mattered.

It’s also a “Living Card Game”, meaning you can buy more and more cards to add to the experience. Don’t worry though, this isn’t Pokemon. You don’t need to do trading. You know exactly what is in each box before you buy it.

Why do we think it’s interesting?

This new trend of narrative-driven games adds a different dimension to board games, especially when playing something co-op. That includes our favourites like Pandemic Legacy, Mechs vs Minions or the mini stories of Unlock. It means a game can surprise you each time and play with your expectations, often at the cost of replayability (which we’ll get to).

As it’s also a card game, naturally it has an element of deck building. In practice, this means that  the things your investigator can do are up to you. You can shape your deck to how you like to play and as you go through missions and level up, you can add more powerful and interesting cards.

Whilst it’s also quite a complicated game to play at first, that depth offers a lot to the experience and with each mission changing up how the rules work, your strategies are always changing and adapting.

The Rub

So on paper this has everything I love: narrative decisions, co-op, deck-building and surprises. Sadly I have to share that it’s let down by a few big things.

Firstly, it’s quite complex. More complicated than the usual games we recommend on Best Play and that isn’t just because of the mechanics, but just the sheer amount of keywords and references you have to keep looking up in the books. If I’m honest it feels flabby. Like a few things could have been simplified or cut back without major impact to the game itself, or at least stagger the introduction of more elements. For example, your characters can have traits, skills, assets, items, weapons etc and at first it isn’t very obvious what the difference between some of those are. Is a trait really that different from a skill?

Secondly it’s expensive. For your initial £30/$40 you get enough cards for two players (the game can support up to four) over three missions which take an hour or so each. Each additional mission will set you back a further £12 ($15) and, whilst you certainly can replay them, they lose all of their powerful surprise. This makes it hard for me to strongly recommend the game, as for many those prices will put you off – especially when compared to the amount of game you get in a box like Pandemic Legacy.

Wrap-up

Arkham Horror LCG is a good game. Maybe even a very good game. To enjoy it though, you’re going to have to invest a bit of time and be prepared for your return on investment to yield not that many hours for your money. If you are flush with cash however, or find some friends to club together with, you will certainly find something to enjoy here. If not, we wholeheartedly recommend Pandemic Legacy or splashing out on Mechs vs Minions.

If you feel ready to take the plunge into this box of otherworldly horrors you can support Best Play and pick up your own copy here from Amazon.