With the 2020’s upon us, there is lots to look forward to in the horrifying town of Arkham. A new cycle, new standalones, new investigators, new novellas are all sure to be coming soon. Basically, if you thought the last few years were great, the next few years are going to be even better, because if Matt Newman has indicated anything so far, it’s that there is a lot of gas left in the tank for this game.
With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to take a brief look back at the past few years of Arkham Horror: The Card Game to see where we’ve been. While a lot of Arkham veterans will be familiar with most of the content in this article, this will be especially great for newcomers to the series to see what’s all gone down around here the past few years and why so many of call Arkham home.
1. The Arkham Files games line
Technically, this point actually predates Arkham Horror: The Card Game, but I wanted to share anyway for the newer players. While the earliest Arkham Horror games came out prior to the 2010’s, almost all games in the Arkham Files canon released in the past decade. These games helped give shape and form to FFG’s Arkham universe. Elder Sign, Eldritch Horror, Arkham Horror 3rd Edition, Mansions of Madness 1st and 2nd editions, and most recently, Final Hour all released in the 2010’s. Arkham Horror: The Card game is, of course, another game that belongs on that list, launching in October 2016.
Because of the earlier releases, the community and world were starting to shape long before the card game even came out. A lot of the “Day 1” crowd were people who were excited about the LCG because of a different Arkham Horror game (or they were LCG fans who came from Android: Netrunner or Lord of the Rings or the like, which to be fair, also very cool.)
2. Over half of the canon investigators made their appearance.
A whopping 34 investigators were released for the game between 2016 and 2019. Most of us are familiar with the concept of “the 55”, aka, the 55 canon investigators, based on the final investigator list of Eldritch Horror. With 34 already released, that means only 21 are supposedly left to be released before the roster is fully accounted for. However, did you know that FFG has already shown that they are open to creating new investigators for the universe and launching them in the LCG? That’s what happened with Sefina Rousseau in The Path to Carcosa in 2017. When we first started hearing about Sefina, the community was shocked, because nobody knew who she was. Furthermore, FFG had just released a bunch of new investigators for Mansions of Madness 2E. Not only that, but FFG had already put out a hardcover book which supposedly had everyone’s story in it, including the brand new Mansions investigators. When that was published, some thought that book marked the end for new investigators. With Sefina, FFG proved that was not the case and the universe is still open for growth.
Whether or not more brand new investigators will come to the universe remains to be seen, but I honestly feel pretty confident that FFG does in fact plan to release more new investigators. I doubt they’re content to just say it’s 21 more investigators and the cast is done. While 21 more investigators is still plenty of content, I think they surely are looking to go further than that. Matt seems like the type of designer who still has tricks up his sleeve.
Now, here’s something I really wanted to show. If you take the currently released 34 investigators, and consider how many teams of investigators are possible at each size of group from solo to 4 players, there are a mindboggling 52,955 possible teams you can make, after just 3 years of releases. If you played a different set of investigators every day, it would take you over 145 years to get through them all, and that number is only going to go up with the future releases. Basically, you’re going to want to get to playing because there are a lot of investigators for you to get familiar with!
3. Five cycles began, joining the Core Set
Core, Dunwich, Carcosa, TFA, TCU, Dream Eaters. We know them, we love them, we hate them, we’ve all died in them and some of us have “returned” to them. The Dunwich cycle was fairly basic to start out, but each cycle has added new mechanics and new ideas to push the space of the game. For example, Carcosa added Hidden cards, TFA added Vengeance, TCU added Haunted, and Dream Eaters added Swarm. Each cycle also brought with it new player cards with new keywords and ideas as well, such as Exile, Seal, Myriad, and Bonded.
As players got to know and understand the campaigns, it became increasingly clear that a deck that worked well in one cycle might be a little less great in a different campaign and this is where deckbuilding got really interesting. Not only do you have to design to the investigator, but you also will want to tailor to the campaign. There are so many variables to consider, and that’s what makes approaching this game continually exciting.
In addition to all this, if you ask 5 players what their favourite scenario is, you are bound to get 5 different answers! There’s a lot of diversity among how the scenarios play out, not just in theme and story, but in mechanics as well.
4. Additional product lines: Standalones, Returns, and Novellas
A lot of other product lines for the game were released that were outside the regular cycles. The standalones add more scenarios, which sometimes can be slotted in to a regular campaign for an XP cost, Return boxes, which add player cards and modify existing campaigns, and novellas, which contain special copies of investigators (some of us which are still not fully released in any other format.) For the completionist, these added even more content to the game. However, if you are a new player to the game, don’t stress too much about these product lines, unless you really want that content.
In my opinion, the standout release of this section was The Blob That Ate Everything. This scenario allows for up to 100 investigators to play together. While you likely will only ever be able to experience something of this size at a convention setting, a huge Blob fight is still something any Arkham diehard fan should try to experience.
5. The Incredible Community
I’ve played a lot of games, and I have to say, the Arkham community is one of the most special communities I’ve been part of. First, the size of the community is growing! Our main Facebook group has over 7,600 members while the Reddit page has over 11,400 members at the time of this writing. That’s nothing compared to games like Magic: The Gathering, but still – that’s a lot of investigators for a game like this! The reach of this game grows every year, and it’s exciting to see a constant influx of new players finding the game.
Second, the creativity of the group is unrivaled. There are so many podcasters, writers, artists, and reviewers who are putting out high quality content about this game. I’m nervous to even make a list because I know I’ll miss a ton, so I’m committing to listing three so I’m not here all day long:
- Drawn to the Flame – Frank and Peter have such an incredible, long-standing podcast and have done a lot for the community in the UK, hosting their own special event, Arkham In Flames.
- Mythos Busters – These guys are honestly so cool I don’t even know what to do with myself. One of the members of the Mythos Busters is also a designer for the Murder at the Excelsior Hotel scenario, which is a really fun time!
- Arkham Central – If you’re interested in keeping your adventure going with fan-created custom scenarios, Arkham Central is the place to go!
And again, that’s just a very, very small list! There are so many content creators and the more you explore the community, the more amazing content you’ll find.
And finally, everyone has been really great! The Internet can be a really unfriendly place, but I’ve found the Arkham community in general to be super welcoming. I’ve made friendships through Arkham that go beyond talking about the game. There are multiple people I’ve met through Arkham who know my address and have sent me really nice things in the mail. For a game that’s all about unimaginable horrors, the community is so much the opposite of that that it’s actually funny how it all works out. I dearly care for my Arkham fam, and I know lots of other Arkham residents who feel the same way.
So that’s the end of the retrospective and I hope you enjoyed it! Again, whether you are fresh blood or a grizzled investigator, there is still so much to look forward to, but I hope you enjoyed this quick look back over how far we’ve come. I wish you the best of luck on 2020’s investigations and as always, stay away from the tentacles.