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December 27, 2020
Arkham Horror The Card Game is one of the best games out there (Also one of the longest titles - from here, we'll just use AH). It's become even more popular during 2020, for solo-ability, long-term campaign play, and it's theme of existential powerlessness.But there's an awful lot of it for new players. It's been going since May 2016, and every month has seen a new release, and sometimes several. We've been playing since it launched, and that has made it easy for us to buy, but it's much harder when you have just started.This article will explore what you should (and maybe shouldn't) buy.
FFG are notoriously inexact about precisely when products will be released, and in what quantity. A lot of this is due to the uncertainties of international logistics, and it is certainly true that publishers need to place orders with manufacturers many months in advance of finished games arriving at retailers. A game, or set, may have become much more popular between placing of order and arriving at retailer's shelves.
This can often lead to allocation - retailers not getting as much of a product as they initially ordered. While this seems to have largely settled down with AH (In December 2020), there are products that still sell out straightaway.It can be tempting to panic buy everything whenever you find it. We are going to advise against doing this several times in this article. We're particularly going to advise against paying over the odds for fear you will never have another opportunity to get a pack.
The most important thing you can know is that almost everything Arkham is on a continuous reprint schedule. FFG are a company who want to make profit, and they know they can sell Arkham. Pretty much nothing is out of print . Annoyingly, however, FFG will never let anyone know in advance of the reprint schedule. In theory, they have an ongoing list of all their new and reprint products. Sadly, they pretty much never update the reprints. Stores will only know (In the UK at any rate) that a reprint is coming in about two days before it hits our shelves. Customers will often ask "When is XYZZY coming back into stock"? - and the honest answer is "We have no clue".But it will come back. If you get stuck looking for a particular pack, develop a relationship with your local store, make sure they know that if they alert you that a pack is available again, they will get your custom (Our web-store has a button you can press to make sure you get auto-alerted when an out of stock products comes back in).
So you have a core pack, you have escaped your study, you want more. When the game first launched it was received wisdom that you should buy at least two core boxes to have enough cards to deck-build with. A lot of older articles will still recommend this, as you only get one of many important cards in the core box. As of August 2020, this is much less necessary, but should still be considered - having two of all the core cards is a great thing. Generally, though, we would not recommend it currently.
The core box comes with 5 investigators and about 80 player cards (1 of each).
Each deluxe box is the start of a new cycle. The deluxe comes with the first two scenarios in the cycle, 5 (Occasionally 6) investigators, and around 40 new player cards (2 each of 20 cards).
We highly recommend that a deluxe box should be your second purchase after the core box. You will have more stories to play, more cards to deck-build with (you will actually have choices), and 5 more investigators to explore.
We would always recommend that, if available, Dunwich is the first deluxe. It has some very useful player cards, a couple of outstanding scenarios, and is playable without learning new rules that appear in most of the deluxes.
We do not recommend purchasing and opening lots of deluxes to start with - you will likely get completely overwhelmed by the investigator choices. Open them and explore one at a time.
Each cycle consists of one Deluxe box, and 6 Mythos Packs. Each Mythos Pack contains all the cards for one scenario, and about 24 new player cards (duplicates of 12 new cards).You will want, if you can, to get the 6 Mythos Packs connected to a Deluxe that you can also get. This is the best way to explore the deep ongoing stories of AH. It *is* possible to play individual Mythos Pack scenarios out of order, or missing say one of 6, but it is a shame to miss the background stories.
There are some great player cards in the Mythos Packs, but we would not recommend getting any of the packs just for individual cards. Sure, a Lighting Gun is a cool weapon, but AH is full of different possibilities - no card is indispensable.
These tend to come out a year to 18 months after the cycle they are associated with. They consist of three things; a box (useful indeed for storing all the Mythos cards from the cycle), a few player cards (20-odd), and some scenario cards (81 in Return to the Dunwich Legacy). These are great if you really research each one. Return to Night of the Zealot expands the core campaign nicely, but with only 3 scenarios worth of cards. Return to the Forgotten Age is believed by some to 'fix' some flaws in the original campaign.
Broadly, though, I would put these towards the end of your list. They are good for reinvigorating campaigns that have become tired - and therefore may be good if you can't get the next campaign - but the cards they provide should be low on your list.
Now. We. Are. Talking. FFG clearly understand the problem of the size of the card pool, and have provided a solution! There are 5 Investigator Packs, one for each class. Each deck contains both the 30 cards to make the starter deck, and 24 cards to upgrade that starter deck. A few of these are duplicates of core deck cards (Which is great and reduces the need for a second core deck), but many of them are new.
A great problem for diving into AH at this stage is there are so many cards that it is easy to become bewildered. The Investigator Decks solve this by giving you an Investigator ready to roll and play through a campaign. By the time you have played 8 scenarios, you will have a good idea of how these new cards work, and have ideas how you might work them in to other decks.
54 new cards is more than we get in anything other than the core deck. Multiply that by 5 and we have a huge core of cards to build with, set up so they are easy to learn. Sadly, as of December 2020, these are more or less impossible to source in the UK.
There are 8 standalone adventures. They have the advantage that if you get hold of one, you can easily play it without worrying about any other scenarios of deluxe boxes.
However, do be aware that they are hard, and probably best played with a fully experienced investigator. Additionally, while they can all play with 1-4 investigators, there are a couple of Adventures that are best aimed at large groups (Blob and Labyrinths).
Also NB that there are no player cards in the standalones.
Also NB that Barkham Horror is the one AH piece that FFG have stated is a one and done, no reprints. This may change, of course.
These are unnecessary except for the completists or if you are interested in the fiction itself. Each comes with an Investigator and alternative cards - most of these investigators have now been published with their 'non-alternative' cards.
There is also the excellent Investigators of Arkham Horror, which has 50 short stories giving more background on each investigator.
There are various elements you can buy to bling out your game. None of these is necessary, but range between nice to have and just lovely;
We highly recommend that you purchase and then play before purchasing more. If you do feel the need to buy more than one deluxe box, and/or the associated Mythos packs, which is understandable, we recommend that you don't add the player cards to the card pool until you have played with your previous set; add one cycle of cards at a time.The exception we would add to this is to get the current Deluxe Box and Mythos Packs - it's great to get one a month.
From here, you can simply go on as you will probably have a better idea of what you like or want.
January 03, 2021
This is fantastic article – many thanks. I’ve just started to get into AH after thoroughly enjoying Marvel Champions (and getting their expansions/hero/scenario packs) so this is perfect for trying to work out what to buy!
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January 21, 2021
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