Arkham Horror

Arkham Horror
Co-operative boardgame published by
Fantasy Flight Games
No. of Players 1 to 6
Session Time 2 to 4 hours aprox
Authors Richard Lanius and Kevin Wilson
First Publication 2005
Essential Books N/A

Arkham Horror is a co-operative board game based around the Cthulhu mythos created by H.P. Lovecraft. The game itself is made by Fantasy Flight Games.

The whole point of the game is to explore the various areas of the fictional city of Arkham and acquire enough resources to close gateways to other worlds to prevent monsters from spawning and (preferably) prevent the arrival of one of the greater entities, or (more likely) fight the entity and defeat it or (most likely) die a horrible screaming death.

Being an FFG game it comes with SHITTONS of tokens and cards and the board is huge. Seriously, this game needs several square feet of table space to set up. It does look good though and the game has a particularly strong theme of struggling against unknowable horrors. A savvy or experienced group of players will not have as much fun as new group learning the game the first time round though.

There are a number of expansions which add more uncertainty and increase the difficulty but again with experienced players this just draws out an already very long game. There are in fact so many expansions, there's also an EXPANSION FOR EXPANSIONS.

A third edition exists now. It tries to dampen the complexity by a long shot, and it succeeds (tiles are hex-based, streets are simplified, rounds flow much faster, etc.) However, the game now takes its own turn not via a complex Mythos card as in 2e but instead a bag with a bunch of tokens from which each player draws at the end of a round. The problem is that the tokens don’t get replaced until they’re all depleted, which means the absolute worst thing that could happen is guaranteed to happen on a regular basis, and the bad tokens (a majority) generally require more than one turn from a player to deal with. This means the game breaks the action economy from the word go unless the players have great rolls and loses a lot of the suspense that made its predecessor so fun. Yeah, Arkham Horror is supposed to be hard, but the new one takes away a lot of the agency and strategy of the old one. Finally, instead of just a Great Old One with a couple of twists on its sheet, you play through a scenario similar to a Haunt from Betrayal at House on the Hill. That works great in Betrayal and pretty poorly here.

Tl;dr stick to 2e. It’s a lot longer and more complicated but also way more fun.

Board Games
Classics: Backgammon - Chess - Go - Tafl - Tic-Tac-Toe
Ameritrash: Arkham Horror - Axis & Allies - Battleship - Betrayal at House on the Hill - Car Wars
Clue/Cluedo - Cosmic Encounter - Descent: Journeys in the Dark - Dungeon!
Firefly: The Game - HeroQuest - Monopoly - Snakes and Ladders - Risk - Talisman - Trivial Pursuit
Eurogames: Agricola - Carcassonne - Settlers of Catan - Small World - Stratego - Ticket to Ride
Pure Evil: Diplomacy - Dune (aka Rex: Final Days of an Empire) - Monopoly
Others: Icehouse - Shadow Hunters - Twilight Imperium