The Case Log

Welcome to the Atlas Agency’s Case Log, a scenario and expansion guide for Arkham Horror: The Card Game. On this page you’ll find a complete listing of the game’s official expansions, along with short “buyer’s guide” write-ups for each product. These write-ups contain the following information:

  • Scenario Ratings: I have assigned ratings to each scenario on a 1 to 10 scale in a few different categories. Gameplay considers gameplay elements such as how fun the scenario is to play, the uniqueness and novelty of the mechanics, and balance issues. Immersion covers elements like the setting, theme, flavor text, artwork, and story (I’m especially fond of story elements that are communicated through game mechanics). Campaign Dynamics rates how well a scenario makes use of campaign mode – things like its use of previous campaign events. For standalone scenarios the Campaign Dynamics rating is replaced by Campaign Utility which rates the expansion’s value as a campaign side quest (considering things like the experience cost, rewards, and potential penalties). Lastly there’s an Overall Rating (which is not necessarily an average of the individual categories’ ratings).
  • Atlas Agency Video Links: For those expansions where I’ve done video reviews.
  • Spoiler-Free Mini-Review: I try to review the scenario content in a spoiler-light manner while still giving a sense of what makes that scenario unique.
  • Player Card Overview: I’ll list a few of the expansion’s noteworthy player cards. If there’s a set of related cards or a theme running through the pack, I try to point those out.

I owe credit to Tales from the Cards’ excellent New Player Buying Guide for The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game, which was an inspiration for this project.

For information on promotional cards and items released for the game, see the separate Promo List page.

Page last updated on August 18, 2018 (just to add some release dates).


The Case Log

Arkham Horror: The Card Game Expansion Index

Night of the Zealot Campaign

General Information

  1. Arkham Horror: The Card Game Core Set – First officially announced August 2, 2016 [link] and released November 10, 2016 (with an earlier limited release on October 14, 2016 to attendees of FFG’s annual Arkham Nights event).

The Dunwich Legacy Campaign

General Information

  1. The Dunwich Legacy – Announced September 9, 2016 [link] and released January 12, 2017.
  2. The Miskatonic Museum – Announced October 4, 2016 [link] and released February 16, 2017.
  3. The Essex County Express – Announced November 4, 2016 [link] and released March 16, 2017.
  4. Blood on the AltarAnnounced December 21, 2016 [link] and released April 13, 2017.
  5. Undimensioned and UnseenAnnounced January 25, 2017 [link] and released May 11, 2017.
  6. Where Doom Awaits – Announced February 27, 2017 [link] and released June 8, 2017.
  7. Lost in Time and Space – Announced March 29, 2017 [link] and released July 6, 2017.

The Path to Carcosa Campaign

General Information

  1. The Path to Carcosa – Announced April 17, 2017 [link] and released September 14, 2017.
  2. Echoes of the PastAnnounced June 6, 2017 [link] and released October 26, 2017.
  3. The Unspeakable OathAnnounced June 30, 2017 [link] and released November 24, 2017.
  4. A Phantom of TruthAnnounced September 19, 2017 [link] and released December 21, 2017.
  5. The Pallid MaskAnnounced October 10, 2017 [link] and released January 25, 2018.
  6. Black Stars RiseAnnounced November 7, 2017 [link] and released February 22, 2018.
  7. Dim Carcosa – Announced December 12, 2017 [link] and released March 22, 2018.

The Forgotten Age Campaign

  1. The Forgotten Age – Announced January 31, 2018 [link] and released May 10, 2018.
    • The Untamed Wilds
    • The Doom of Eztli
  2. Threads of Fate – Announced February 28, 2018 [link] and released June 14, 2018.
  3. The Boundary Beyond – Announced March 27, 2018 [link] and released July 19, 2018.
  4. Heart of the Elders – Announced April 24, 2018 [link] and released August 16, 2018.
  5. The City of Archives – Not yet released; announced May 29, 2018 [link].
  6. The Depths of Yoth – Not yet released; announced July 3, 2018 [link].
  7. Shattered Aeons – Not yet released; announced July 27, 2018 [link].

Upgrade Expansions

  1. Return to the Night of the Zealot – Announced January 9, 2018 [link] and released June 28, 2018.

Scenario Packs

General Information

  1. Curse of the Rougarou – Announced August 30, 2016 [link] and released November 17, 2016 [link] (with an earlier limited release on October 14, 2016 to attendees of FFG’s annual Arkham Nights event).
  2. Carnevale of Horrors – Announced and released December 8, 2016 [link].
  3. The Labyrinths of Lunacy – Limited release on August 17, 2017 at Gen Con [link]. General release on June 7, 2018.
  4. Guardians of the Abyss – Not yet released; announced May 4, 2018 [link]. This product includes 2 connected scenarios. The individual scenarios are each getting limited early releases at events in 2018 (Gen Con and Arkham Nights). The retail Guardians of the Abyss scenario pack will contain both scenarios.
    • The Eternal Slumber – Limited release on August 2, 2018 at Gen Con 2018.
    • The Night’s Usurper – Limited release planned for Arkham Nights on October 19 and 20, 2018.

Overall Thoughts on the Standalone Scenarios

See Also

Promo List (separate page)


Arkham Horror: The Card Game Core Set

Night of the Zealot Campaign

The Core Set for Arkham Horror: The Card Game contains a short, 3-scenario introductory campaign titled Night of the Zealot. This campaign works well as an introduction to the game and, despite the fact that it’s only 3 scenarios (compared with the 8 that’s standard for a full campaign), it still manages to do an okay job of showing off the game’s campaign system.

1. The Gathering

Gameplay: 4 of 10.
Immersion: 5 of 10.
Campaign Dynamics: 5 of 10.
Overall Rating: 4.5 of 10.

The Gathering is essentially the game’s “tutorial level,” and looked at in that light I think it’s really successful. It gently ramps up in complexity as it puts you through the basic paces of discovering clues and fighting monsters, and it gives you a few decisions to make along the way. Its structure is similar to that of the first quest in Fantasy Flight’s other cooperative LCG, The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game, but I think the execution is much more polished in The Gathering. While it does its job well, it does have a lower replay value than most other scenarios due to its simplicity; you probably won’t be too excited to replay this one once you’ve beaten it a few times.

2. The Midnight Masks

Gameplay: 8.5 of 10.
Immersion: 6.5 of 10.
Campaign Dynamics: 6.5 of 10.
Overall Rating: 7.5 of 10. The highlight of the Core Set.

The Midnight Masks is where the Core Set really delivers. It’s an excellent second step into the game, expanding from The Gathering‘s small scale and linear structure into a large and open map. The best part of the scenario is its non-binary resolution – you don’t simply win or lose Midnight Masks, but instead your result is a question of how much you were able to get done. This leads to some great tension during gameplay, as you continually push to lock down the next goal before your time runs out. Even with the game’s first cycle of expansions now complete, The Midnight Masks still remains one of my overall favorite scenarios for the game.

3. The Devourer Below

Gameplay: 4 of 10.
Immersion: 5 of 10.
Campaign Dynamics: 4.5 of 10. I wish it used your results from The Midnight Masks in a more interesting way.
Overall Rating: 4 of 10. Your mileage may vary but I found it disappointing.

Unfortunately the finale to Night of the Zealot is its weakest link. You would expect this scenario to be difficult given its place in the campaign, but even in easy mode it often feels frustrating rather than challenging (especially in solo play). For a game that’s at least partly story-based, I was also disappointed that the campaign’s story elements ended up being pretty thin here. That includes the final resolutions. I’m not a fan of the way an out-of-place set of random “guest star” monsters from the Cthulhu mythos gets mixed in for no thematic reason (it feels like they shoehorned these in just so they could use those encounter sets in later expansions). I wish more care had been taken to give the intro campaign a polished, satisfying finale.

 


The Dunwich Legacy Deluxe Expansion

The Dunwich Legacy Campaign

The Dunwich Legacy is Arkham Horror: The Card Game’s first full expansion cycle. It consists of a 161-card deluxe expansion (titled The Dunwich Legacy) and 6 smaller 60-card expansions (called Mythos packs). Dunwich’s 8-scenario campaign begins in the deluxe expansion and then each of the six Mythos packs furthers the story with a new scenario. Each expansion in the cycle also contains new player cards for you to use in building or upgrading your decks. Since the releases tie together as a single large campaign, ideally you should play the deluxe expansion and the Mythos packs in order. The individual scenarios can also be played as a one-off standalones, but be aware that you do need the deluxe expansion to play any of the scenarios from the Dunwich Mythos packs (since all of them require you to use encounter sets from the deluxe box).

The deluxe expansion box kicks the Dunwich campaign off with its first two scenarios, Extracurricular Activity and The House Always Wins. These are both high-quality scenarios that do a great job of using game mechanics to immerse you in the story. The two scenarios can be played in either order to start off the campaign, and each scenario plays a little differently depending on the order you’ve chosen.

In addition to the scenarios and encounter sets, the deluxe expansion also comes with 5 new investigators (and their signature cards), 21 new player cards (4 cards per class and 1 Neutral card) and 3 new basic weaknesses. Highlights of the player cards in the deluxe include: the fantastic Survivor ally Peter Sylvestre (especially his level 2 upgrade); the popular Survivor weapon Fire Axe; the high-risk, high-reward Rogue skill Double or Nothing; and the Mystic spell Rite of Seeking, which allows an investigator to investigate using their willpower. More exciting than the player cards, though, are the box’s 5 new investigators – they’re all interesting and generally a lot of fun to play.

1. Extracurricular Activity

Gameplay: 6.5 of 10.
Immersion: 8 of 10.
Campaign Dynamics: 6.5 of 10.
Overall Rating: 7 of 10. Very good.

Extracurricular Activity sends the investigators off to explore the campus of Miskatonic University in search of a missing professor. Although this scenario has a gameplay theme (involving depleting players’ decks), to me Extracurricular Activity feels like the most “standard” scenario released for the game so far. That’s not a complaint, though, because even without a big twist the scenario is entertaining to play. Extracurricular Activity does a great job with the storytelling side of the game, with a couple of flavorful game mechanics that really help reinforce the narrative. On the negative side, there is one part of the scenario where players can potentially be significantly delayed from making progress by an unlucky encounter deck shuffle. That’s a fairly minor complaint. I like this scenario quite a bit.

2. The House Always Wins

Gameplay: 7 of 10.
Immersion: 8 of 10. This one goes “all in” with its gambling theme.
Campaign Dynamics: 6.5 of 10.
Overall Rating: 7 of 10. Lots of cool ideas on display.

The House Always Wins is another missing persons case, this time set in a secret downtown speakeasy and gambling hall. This scenario really runs with that gambling hall theme and uses several fun tricks to reinforce it. The difficulty hits a nice sweet spot – I find it challenging, but not frustrating. It’s especially fun on your first play when you don’t know the consequences of the temptations it dangles in front of you and you have to weigh your fear of the unknown against your desire to make progress. And just like in Extracurricular Activity, the gameplay does a good job of adding immersion to the story.

The Dunwich Legacy

3. The Miskatonic Museum

Gameplay: 6.5 of 10.
Immersion: 7.5 of 10. It’s fun to visit the setting of another Arkham Files game.
Campaign Dynamics: 6.5 of 10.
Overall Scenario Rating: 7 of 10. Not the toughest scenario, but enjoyable.
[Video Spotlight]

The game’s very first Mythos pack continues the Dunwich Legacy campaign with an investigation-heavy quest set in the halls of the Miskatonic Museum. Fans of FFG’s other Arkham Files games may recognize Miskatonic Museum as the setting for the Elder Sign dice game, and this scenario has a couple small nods to that game (for example, some of the scenario’s locations carry penalties for failed investigation attempts which is a callback to the way adventures work in Elder Sign). The scenario runs on the easier side, especially after you’ve played it a few times. However, it does give players the option to push their luck and work towards earning additional victory points. That helps restore a little tension to the proceedings.

This pack has 13 new player cards (2 per class, plus 1 extra for Survivors, and 2 Neutral cards). Although Survivors get that extra card, it’s really Seekers who gain the most here. The new Seeker asset Pathfinder probably belongs in any deck that’s allowed to buy it, and in “I’ve got a plan!” Seekers gain a valuable new combat tool. Other notable cards in this pack include: Flare, a fun multi-purpose Survivor event that’s especially nice in standalone mode where its exile cost does not matter; the Mystic event Delve Too Deep, which is just too fun not to use; the Rogue permanent Adaptable, for anyone who likes to swap their level 0 cards between games; and the useful Neutral assets Painkillers and Smoking Pipe.

4. The Essex County Express

Gameplay: 5 of 10.
Immersion: 6.5 of 10.
Campaign Dynamics: 4.5 of 10.
Overall Scenario Rating: 5 of 10.
[Video Spotlight]

Although a besieged train ride seemed like a pretty promising setting for an Arkham adventure, unfortunately I think The Essex County Express is the weakest scenario to come out of The Dunwich Legacy so far. The main issue is the very linear scenario design; relative to other scenarios, players just don’t get to make as many choices about how to proceed through this one. It’s very – sorry for this – on the rails. Another knock against it is that its finale that can end up being pretty anticlimactic.

The player card side of The Essex County Express is stronger. This pack has 12 player cards, including a pair of Neutral cards – Charisma and Relic Hunter – that are very likely to be important long-term staples for the game. These are permanent cards that let you spend experience to gain extra slots for either allies (Charisma) or accessories (Relic Hunter). These enable new deckbuilding approaches by letting you combine cards you wouldn’t otherwise be able to have in play simultaneously. This pack also has useful upgrades to 3 Core Set cards: Shrivelling (3)Switchblade; and Deduction. If you’re running off a single Core Set, having the new level 3 Shriveling is especially nice because Agnes greatly benefits from the consistency of having 2 copies of Shriveling available (you will have to earn 3 experience to buy a Shriveling (3), but you should be able to get that in the first scenario most of the time).

5. Blood on the Altar

Gameplay: 7 of 10.
Immersion: 8.5 of 10.
Campaign Dynamics: 8.5 of 10.
Overall Scenario Rating: 8 of 10. Highly recommended.
[Video Spotlight]

In my opinion Blood on the Altar is the best scenario to have come out of the Dunwich Legacy cycle so far. What really elevates it to greatness is the way it fully embraces the game’s campaign system, more so than any scenario before it. Not only does Blood on the Altar use your recorded campaign events, it also breaks interesting new design ground in the way it can affect your campaign going forward. I was really pleased to see this, especially since campaign elements did not make too strong of a showing in the previous Mythos packs.

Blood on the Altar features 11 new player cards, the most exciting of which are its 5 new permanent stat-pumping talents: Keen Eye for Guardians; Higher Education for Seekers; Blood Pact for Mystics; Scrapper for Survivors; and Streetwise for Rogues. Each of these costs 3 experience and gives you a reliable way to pump 2 different stats. These range from useful to awesome, and I expect all of them to see common use. Some other good cards in this pack include Lone Wolf (a great Rogue economy asset, especially in one-handed solo play) and Prepared for the Worst (a Guardian event that lets you search the top 9 cards of your deck for a weapon). The one-two punch of great scenario and valuable player cards really makes Blood on the Altar a must-buy.

Undimensioned & Unseen

6. Undimensioned and Unseen

Gameplay: 5.5 of 10.
Immersion: 7 of 10.
Campaign Dynamics: 6 of 10.
Overall Scenario Rating: 6 of 10.
[Video Spotlight]

Like The Midnight MasksUndimensioned and Unseen opts for a “how many did you get?” style of objective rather than binary passing and failing resolutions. It’s a good scenario with elements that I found interesting, but there are also aspects of it I found annoying and the granular type of victory condition is not handled quite as well here as it was in Midnight Masks. Overall I rank Undimensioned near the middle of the pack among the Dunwich campaign’s scenarios.

Undimensioned and Unseen has 11 new player cards, including 3 for the Rogue class. It features a higher than normal concentration of new skill cards; there are 4, which is as many as we got in the 4 previous Dunwich Legacy expansions combined. Seekers get the icon-rich Inquiring Mind, Rogues get the very interesting Quick Thinking, and there are upgraded versions of the Rogue and Survivor skills from the Core Set. The asset Dark Horse is the first truly interesting level 0 Survivor card to have come along since the deluxe expansion, and Lucky Dice has a suitably interesting effect for the game’s first card with the Exceptional keyword.

6. Where Doom Awaits

Gameplay: 6 of 10.
Immersion: 7 of 10.
Campaign Dynamics: 8 of 10.
Overall Scenario Rating: 7 of 10. I enjoyed it, but I can see why others might dislike it.
[Video Spotlight]

This scenario seems somewhat polarizing, I think because of the way it pairs some stiff consequences with a potentially high variance in its difficulty. A few different factors play into the difficulty but a big one is that the scenario neuters some methods of handling a certain type of challenge and pushes you to rely on a base stat. Characters with numbers in the wrong places will struggle while others may breeze through. This same thing was also an issue in Undimensioned and Unseen, but the problem is worse here due to the high stakes. Personally, I really enjoyed this scenario – I thought it felt like a better-executed reworking of The Devourer Below. However, I recognize that if some things had gone differently in my early plays I could’ve easily gone the other way. We’ll see how this one ages.

Where Doom Awaits has 14 player cards, slightly more than any previous Mythos pack. Although there are some appealing cards in the mix, overall the pack feels a little less essential than some of the preceding packs in terms of its player cards. There’s a mini-theme of healing and damage prevention which appears in the cards Moment of Respite, Fearless, “I’ve had worse…” and Strange Solution: Restorative Concoction. Agnes decks will appreciate the 2 new options for healing horror, and for Guardians “I’ve had worse…” is quite useful too.

Lost in Time and Space

6. Lost in Time and Space

Gameplay: 8.5 of 10.
Immersion: 8.5 of 10. Nice fit between theme and mechanics.
Campaign Dynamics: 7.5 of 10.
Overall Scenario Rating: 8 of 10. Overall, it’s a solid ending to the campaign.
[Video Spotlight]

In a nice callback to a core aspect of the Arkham Horror board game, The Dunwich Legacy concludes with a journey through an alien, extradimensional landscape in Lost in Time and Space. The scenario depicts its irrational, otherworldly terrain by putting a major spin on the way its locations work. It’s an excellent match with the theme, although I did find managing everything to be a little confusing at first (it gets easier). This scenario definitely grew on me as I played through it a few times. I think it’s a pretty good experience, as well as a satisfying ending to the overall Dunwich campaign.

There’s only 1 level 0 card player card in Lost in Time and Space – the rest of the player cards in the pack are leveled-up, including several at levels 4 and 5. Those higher-level cards make Lost in Time and Space feel something like a war chest full of big guns, both literally and figuratively. You’ll find powerful new 3-damage weapons like Lightning Gun, Chicago Typewriter and Shrivelling (5), plus impressive new tricks like The Golden Pocket Watch and Deciphered Reality that let you bend the rules of time and space. It makes for a fun and fitting cap to the cycle.

 


The Path to Carcosa Deluxe Expansion

The Path to Carcosa Campaign

Arkham’s second expansion cycle begins with The Path to Carcosa, a 162-card deluxe expansion featuring 6 new investigators, 20 new player cards (4 per class), 3 new basic weaknesses, 2 new scenarios, and several encounter sets to support the cycle’s scenarios. The plot of the new campaign centers around The King in Yellow, a sinister theatrical performance with the power to drive both its patrons and performers to madness (inspired by Robert W. Chambers’ 1895 short story collection, The King in Yellow).

If you enjoy the deckbuilding side of the game, I think you’ll find this expansion especially satisfying. Several of the new investigators feel a touch more advanced than the ones in the Core Set and The Dunwich Legacy, and crafting decks for them is an interesting challenge (especially Lola Hayes, the game’s first Neutral investigator). Several of the player cards in this pack feel like they’re meant to pair well with the new investigators in this box (for example, True Grit for Mark Harrigan or Lantern and Gravedigger’s Shovel for William Yorick), but investigators of all walks will find useful cards here. A few standouts include Lockpicks for the Rogue class, “Let me handle this!” and Ever Vigilant for Guardians, and Uncage the Soul for Mystics. Guardian players running off a single Core Set will also appreciate getting 2 copies of .32 Colt to up the density of basic weapons in their decks.

1. Curtain Call

Gameplay: 8 of 10.
Immersion: 7.5 of 10.
Overall Rating: 8 of 10. A great scenario and a great start to the new campaign.

The Path to Carcosa campaign begins with Curtain Call, a scenario set inside Arkham’s Ward Theatre. It’s a great introduction to the new cycle’s tone and mechanical themes, as well as a satisfying scenario on its own merits. It’s somewhat challenging – you can feel the difficulty level of the game stepping up somewhat from the previous campaign – but it’s a scenario that I have really enjoyed replaying. More than once, as I’ve replayed it, I’ve figured out new ways of handling its challenges (little tricks that will more than likely carry over to the campaign as a whole). I think Curtain Call is actually going to be my go-to scenario for now for “deck testing” standalone plays, thanks to its level of challenge and ease of setup.

2. The Last King

Gameplay: 8 of 10.
Immersion: 8.5 of 10. I love the weirdness and the demented sense of humor.
Overall Rating: 8.5 of 10. The game continues to show off its ability to innovative with its scenario designs.

Like The House Always Wins from the previous deluxe box, The Last King drops the investigators into a more socially-oriented situation – this time, a fancy party in honor of the cast and crew of The King in Yellow. That might sound a little ordinary, but what unfolds is actually the weirdest situation to be depicted in an Arkham scenario so far. The scenario pairs its bizarre events with a nicely demented sense of humor (be sure to take a close look at its encounter set symbol). In terms of its mechanics, The Last King takes a fresh approach to showing a social style of investigation but I think it’s very effective (even more so than House‘s approach). There’s even a new card type utilized, the story card. Overall I think The Last King is actually among the game’s very best scenarios, and I’m excited to see where the new campaign goes from here.

3. Echoes of the Past

Gameplay: 5 of 10. It tries something different but the twist sometimes results in plays where there’s not enough tension or challenge.
Immersion: 5 of 10.
Overall Rating: 5 of 10.
[Scenario First Impressions Video] [Player Card Rundown Video]

The Carcosa cycle continues with its first Mythos pack, Echoes of the Past. The hook for this scenario is that it shakes up the normal flow of the agenda deck by changing the way doom is accumulated. While this does give the scenario a unique feel it also sometimes ends up deflating a lot of the tension. I’ve had plays where I’ve reached the end with very little challenge. I think this wouldn’t be so bad if Echoes had more opportunities for players to press harder to earn extra campaign benefits or just more experience (this was done well in The Miskatonic Museum, another “easy” scenario). I also thought Echoes was missing a little bit of the unique narrative voice established in the cycle’s deluxe box.

Echoes has 14 new player cards, including 2 new suites: the “desperate” skills and the “composure” assets. The desperate skills (Say Your Prayers, Desperate Search, Reckless Assault, and Run For Your Life) each have 4 matching skill icons but can only be committed to tests when your investigator has 3 or fewer remaining sanity. The composure assets (Combat Training, Scientific Theory, Grounded, Plucky, and Moxie) allow you to spend resources for skill boosts, similar to the talent assets for each class from the Core Set. The composures are fast, so you don’t have to spend an action to play one. They also have a single point of sanity and a restriction that prevents you from assigning horror to your investigator before it’s assigned to the composure – so if you take horror and don’t have another asset to soak it up, you’ll have to break your composure. It’s a cool theme and a useful set of cards.

The Unspeakable Oath

4. The Unspeakable Oath

Gameplay: 7.5 of 10.
Immersion: 8.5 of 10.
Overall Rating: 8.5 of 10. Among the game’s very best offerings.
[Scenario First Impressions Video] [Player Card Rundown Video]

In The Unspeakable Oath the investigators’ search for answers brings them to none other than Arkham Asylum, the last known residence of their next lead. This is a setting that was almost certain to be used by the game at some point, but it’s executed very well here and the Carcosa campaign is the perfect home for it. This is a standout scenario, quite possibly my favorite Mythos pack scenario yet. That’s largely due to the theme and the story elements, though the gameplay is quite good as well.

There’s a little something for everyone in The Unspeakable Oath‘s 12 new player cards. Seekers and Survivors gain new options for cancelling treacheries in Forewarned and A Test of Will, Rogues and Guardians get some new test-free damage options in Ambush and Sneak Attack (2), and Mystics pick up the area damage spell Storm of Spirits. My favorite card from the pack, though, is the Neutral event Calling in Favors, which lets you return an ally in play back to your hand to tutor for a new ally from the top 9 cards of your deck. Among other uses, it’s great in combination with Seeker “comes into play” allies like Art Student who can be bounced and then replayed later to trigger their effects again.

5. A Phantom of Truth

Gameplay: 7 of 10.
Immersion: 7.5 of 10. A great tribute to The King in Yellow.
Overall Rating: 7 of 10.
[Scenario First Impressions Video] [Player Card Rundown Video]

As the investigators’ stateside trail goes cold the Carcosa campaign shifts its setting to Europe in A Phantom of Truth, a Paris-based scenario heavily inspired by the short story “In the Court of the Dragon” from The King in Yellow. Phantom features a large “city-sized” map to explore, along with a well-crafted and thematically cohesive encounter deck. This is where the campaign mechanics of the Carcosa campaign really start to bloom; based on your previous decisions you’ll find yourself in one of two different versions of Phantom, and these versions really do feel quite distinct. It’s a good scenario and if you’re a fan of the Carcosa source material it may resonate especially well with you (and if you’re not familiar with “In the Court of the Dragon,” consider giving it a read or a listen before you play).

Among this pack’s 11 new player cards you’ll find Archaic Glyphs: Guiding Stones and Archaic Glyphs: Prophecy Foretold, the first non-Mystic cards in the game to use the arcane slot. Mystics get Quantum Flux (a useful tool for the Dunwich campaign) plus a somewhat unreliable way to Recharge spell assets. The cycle’s suite of patrons continues with Madame Labranche, a Survivor ally who works well in the Dark Horse archetype. Rogues pick up an upgraded version of Pickpocketing, and Guardians get an upgraded .45 Automatic (which may be especially useful if you’re playing with a single Core Set, since it’s another way to up your deck’s count of weapons).

6. The Pallid Mask

Gameplay: 8.5 of 10.
Immersion: 7.5 of 10. Great use of a real-world setting.
Overall Rating: 8 of 10. Another strong entry in the Carcosa campaign.
[Scenario First Impressions Video] [Player Card Rundown Video]

The Pallid Mask drops the investigators into the dark, sprawling catacombs beneath the city of Paris. This one features a unique exploration mechanic where the map starts small and grows as the players make progress. Unlike most scenarios the location connections in The Pallid Mask are defined by physical adjacency, and since new locations come out randomly you’ll encounter a different map configuration each time you play. I really enjoy this one. The exploration mechanic works very well and creates some interesting strategic considerations, plus the setting perfectly complements the gameplay.

Most of the player cards in The Pallid Mask fall into one of two categories: new skill cards and upgrades on older cards. The 4 new skill cards – Inspiring Presence, Eureka!, Torrent of Power, and “Watch this!” – cover all but one of the game’s classes (in place of a new skill card Survivors get the event Waylay, a useful tool for Wendy decks). The 6 upgrades in the pack cover cards from the Core Set (First Aid (3), Scrying (3).41 Derringer (2), and Emergency Cache (3)) and the Dunwich cycle (Shortcut (2) and A Chance Encounter (2)).

7. Black Stars Rise

Gameplay: 7 of 10.
Immersion: 8 of 10. Repeating myself here, but it’s another fantastic use of a real-world setting.
Overall Rating: 7 of 10.
[Scenario First Impressions Video] [Player Card Rundown Video]

The penultimate scenario in the Carcosa campaign sends the investigators to the island of Mont Saint-Michel, for the opening of the titular path to Carcosa. It’s a truly inspired setting choice that leads to some great imagery. The hook for Black Stars Rise is that the scenario strips away the familiar “act and agenda” setup and instead presents you with two different agenda decks – and no act deck. Each time you would add doom to an agenda you choose one of the two agenda decks to apply it to, and different threats are tied to each deck’s advancement. For me this is a lower-ranked Carcosa scenario but I think this is mostly a matter of personal preference; I don’t really have any significant issues with the scenario, and I know other people really like it.

Black Stars Rise’s most prominent player card theme is spells. There are 2 new non-Mystic spells – Arcane Insight for Seekers and Suggestion for Rogues – while Mystics themselves pick up upgraded versions of both the Ward of Protection spell and the spell-tutoring Arcane Inititate. Some of the pack’s other highlights include the Mystic accessory St. Hubert’s Key and the Guardian event On the Hunt. Guardians also pick up a great new permanent, Stick to the Plan, which lets them reserve a small toolbox of tactic and supply cards at the beginning of each game.

 


Scenario Packs

The info below is accurate for the 2 products in this category that are currently available (Curse of the Rougarou and Carnevale of Horrors). However, be aware that the model has shifted a little for the upcoming Labyrinths of Lunacy and Guardians of the Abyss scenario packs and the details below don’t apply to those products.

In addition to Arkham LCG’s normal campaign-based expansions, FFG has also released a few standalone scenario expansions for the game. These expansions aren’t tied to specific campaigns and can be played either as side quests during a campaign (at the cost of some experience points) or played as individual one-off games (“standalone mode”). Some things to know about these expansions:

  • Each of these expansions contains a single new scenario with a total of 62 cards, including a few that are rewards or penalties given by the scenario. These expansions don’t contain any player cards for use in normal deckbuilding.
  • You only need to own the Core Set to play one of these (unlike Mythos packs, they don’t depend on content from any other expansions).
  • Unlike the other expansions, these standalones are produced through FFG’s in-house “print on demand” facilities. This means the cards look and feel a little different from the cards in the regular releases. This doesn’t matter for the encounter cards (since they don’t get mixed with encounter cards from other expansions) but it can be an issue for the cards that can end up in players’ decks. If you’re using transparent sleeves (or no sleeves) you may be able to look closely at the top card of your deck and tell if it’s from one of these expansions. If this bothers you, you can use opaque sleeves.
  • These are available through regular retail channels. Like the regular expansions, there may be periods where some scenarios are temporarily out of stock but everything eventually gets reprinted.

The standalone scenarios that have been released so far are Curse of the Rougarou and Carnevale of Horrors. A third standalone, The Labyrinths of Lunacy, received a limited release as part of a special event at Gen Con (and again in October at Arkham Nights). It will be released to the general public in the near future. (I didn’t attend Gen Con or Arkham Nights, so I won’t have anything to say about Labyrinths until its general release.)

Curse of the Rougarou

1. Curse of the Rougarou

Gameplay: 6.5 of 10. Decent replay value.
Immersion: 5.5 of 10. The werewolf theme is cool but the New Orleans setting feels wasted.
Campaign Utility: 7 of 10. Reasonably priced at 1 experience but some investigators will find it risky.
Overall Rating: 6 of 10.
[Video Review]

This scenario, which debuted alongside the Core Set at FFG’s Arkham Nights event in 2016, sends the investigators down south to New Orleans to track down and neutralize a dangerous creature called the “rougarou” (pronounced “werewolf”). This is a big scenario that boasts a decent replay value, with 2 endings to achieve and what’s thus far the game’s most variable setup scheme for locations. Since it costs just 1 experience to play Curse of the Rougarou as a side story, it can be a nice way to extend a campaign. However, the experience can vary a lot based on your investigators. Certain player cards allow you to at least partly bypass one of the scenario’s main challenges, so the scenario can be very easy for investigators with access to the right abilities (especially in solo play, where it’s almost trivial for some investigators). The scenario also loses some points for theme because although it’s set in New Orleans, I don’t feel like it does much to really utilize that setting (I think Carnevale of Horrors does a much better job using its setting). I also found some of the location and treachery artwork to be bland.

2. Carnevale of Horrors

Gameplay: 8.5 of 10. Quite unique mechanically.
Immersion: 8 of 10. The art and mechanics do a great job of selling the setting.
Campaign Utility: 6 of 10. Comes with cool campaign rewards, but it may work better for standalone play.
Overall Rating: 8 of 10.
[Video Review]

Carnevale of Horrors is set in Venice, Italy against the backdrop of a city-wide festival that’s masking a dark secret. This scenario plays very uniquely and really shows off the flexibility of Arkham’s underlying structure. During setup the scenario’s locations are arranged randomly in a large circle, which investigators can only travel in a clockwise direction. Along this path 7 double-sided masked reveler cards are placed – some with innocent revelers on their reverse sides and others with enemies lurking instead. The players must work to figure out who is who and then lead the innocent revelers to safety. The encounter deck is full of tricks that play off of this setup. It’s a very good scenario, but I think it may work best in standalone mode. Although there are some cool campaign rewards you can earn, it feels like a risky proposition as a campaign side quest. First, it costs 3 experience (compared to only 1 for Curse of the Rougarou). Second, it’s a tougher scenario and in some cases it can penalize your whole party for failure. If you like the idea of playing a challenging scenario in standalone mode – or if you’re okay with undertaking a campaign side quest that might do you more harm than good – then Carnevale of Horrors is a great buy.

Overall Thoughts on the Standalone Scenarios

Campaign play is one of the best things about the Arkham LCG and for that reason I recommend focusing on getting a complete campaign of deluxe expansions and Mythos packs before getting into the standalone scenarios. Once you have the full Dunwich Legacy cycle, definitely consider getting one or both of the standalones. If you’re trying to choose between them I would pick Curse of the Rougarou if you’re more interested in having a campaign side story or Carnevale of Horrors if you’re more interested in playing standalone mode. Carnevale of Horrors is the more interesting and unique scenario, but the 3 experience it costs to play it as a side story is steep and its outcome may be more likely to hurt your campaign than to help it. At 1 experience, Curse of the Rougarou is a little easier to work into a campaign.