Arkham Horror: The Card Game Review

It's the roaring '20s and the cultists are gettin freaky in our review of Arkham Horror: The Card Game (Revised Core Set)

Published: January 3, 2022 12:30 PM /

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Arkham Horror: The Card Game

People go missing all the time in Arkham, that's just part of daily life. But there's usually quite as many corpses and bloody remains strewn about. Whether you're a federal agent or a waitress with the uncanny ability to shape reality around yourself, you've been drawn into the mystery of this town and want to figure out just what the hell's going on. So you partner with other like-minded folks, steel your nerves, and get down to business beginning your investigation. The group's all gathered together in your study when suddenly... the door leading to the hallway vanishes! You can hardly believe your eyes when something terrible begins clawing its way through the floorboards. And so begins the very first scenario of Arkham Horror: The Card Game by Fantasy Flight Games, now re-released in a new revised core set. 

How To Play Arkham Horror: The Card Game

Arkham Horror: The Card Game is a cooperative campaign card game where each player takes on the role of an investigator trying to solve the mystery of said campaign. Players will read from a campaign log to set the scene, then reveal cards from a deck describing their next objective. The result is a game where you never truly know where you're heading next, and half the fun is trying to figure out what will be needed of you after you venture on to the next part of your quest.

Arkham Horror: The Card Game Character Card
Arkham Horror: The Card Game - Character Card for Roland Banks, "The Fed"

Each investigator has a set of core stats that they'll use in "tests" against challenges, whether that's attacking a creature, solving a mystery, or running from a terrible threat (to name a few). Each investigator also has their own unique deck of cards that they draw, containing everything from weapons to an encyclopedia to allies that will join them on their journey. Cards cost resources, and can either be played outright for their useful effects, or discarded to help boost their chances of succeeding in tests. To resolve these tests, players draw a "chaos token" from a bag and add that modifier to their number. Most of these tokens are negative numbers, with only a few being zeroes and even less positive numbers, so using cards to help boost your stats is the only way to attempt to get out alive.

What Is The Starter Campaign Like In Arkham Horror: The Card Game?

In the core set, a three-part campaign called "Night of the Zealot" eases players into the game. First, investigators are simply trying to figure out why the door to their study has disappeared. They'll then go on to explore the wider world of Arkham, finding clues in an attempt to figure out who's behind the killings that have been plaguing Arkham, and what terrible entity waits just on the other side of reality. The campaign is full of twists, turns, and unexpected revelations, and it truly feels like you're playing through a detective story set in H.P. Lovecraft's mythos.

Arkham Horror: The Card Game Box
The new box for Arkham Horror: The Card Game Box Revised Core Set

What Kind Of Game Is Arkham Horror: The Card Game?

Arkham Horror: The Card Game is a cooperative Living Card Game. What's a Living Card Game? It's a game where players build decks and shuffle, draw, and play cards like traditional Collectible Card Games (ala Magic: The Gathering or Pokemon), but there's no blind-purchasing of booster packs. Each set of a Living Card Game, whether it's a core set or expansions, contains the exact same cards as every other core set like it. This means you don't have to go hunting through packs to find the perfect card for your game, it's all there ready and in-hand, each time you purchase a product.

Originally released in 2016, Arkham Horror: The Card Game has since spawned seven different campaigns, each with new packs of cards, new investigators, new player decks, and more, and each is a part of this Living Card Game ecosystem.

What's New In The Arkham Horror: The Card Game Revised Core Set?

The Revised Core Set release of Arkham Horror: The Card Game contains all the same cards from the original core set, but there are two major differences worth noting. First, while the original core set was for two players, there are enough cards and investigators in here for up to four players. And secondly, the game now comes completely reorganized to help players jump right into the action. Instead of needing to build character decks from a thick stack of cards, or go hunting for the right enemies to add to a scenario's deck, everything is pre-wrapped and individualized. If you want to play as the tough (but in over his head) FBI agent Roland Banks, you simply choose his pre-wrapped deck of cards and you're ready to go. Obviously if you want to customize these decks you'll do some rearranging, but for beginners it's never been easier to get into the game.

A full game of Arkham Horror: The Card Game
Tokens pile high and cards are strewn about in a full game of Arkham Horror: The Card Game

What Are Our Final Thoughts On Arkham Horror: The Card Game?

Arkham Horror: The Card Game is a stellar example of a Living Card Game done right. It's exciting to play, there are huge surprises to uncover under almost every card, and the theme is intricately entwined in the game design. While understanding some of the mechanics (including engaging an enemy, and figuring out when an enemy chases an investigator and attacks) took us a few sessions to fully grasp, this is, overall, a more approachable game than many like it. Even though we failed our final scenario (apologies to the residents of Arkham), we're so excited to immediately begin diving into new campaigns and adventures. 

Also, the pre-packaged decks and scenario cards are a much-needed improvement over the original box, and got us into the game quickly and easily. If you're a fan of traditional CCG's, H.P. Lovecraft, or cooperative adventure games, Arkham Horror: The Card Game (especially the Revised Core Set) is an absolute must.

Should I Buy Arkham Horror: The Card Game?

If you're a fan of cooperative games that provide a serious challenge, like your horror on the cosmic side of things, and have always wanted to go toe-to-toe with unspeakable horrors, this is the game for you. If you already own the original Arkham Horror: The Card Game core set, are not a fan of Lovecraftian horror, and like your games a bit on the easier/more-forgiving side, you should skip this release.

The copy of Arkham Horror: The Card Game used in this review was provided by the publisher.

Review Summary

We play as investigators trying to survive as we delve into unspeakable weirdness in our review of Arkham Horror: The Card Game (Review Policy)

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Giaco Furino joined the TechRaptor team as a Staff Writer in 2019 after searching for a dedicated place to write and talk about Tabletop Games. In 2020, he… More about Giaco