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Winding Paths of Horror
Article written by FFG and reproduced here with permission - Feb. 17, 2023
Presenting the Arkham Horror: The Card Game Buyer’s Guide
So! You want to get into Arkham Horror: The Card Game. You went to your store, you bought a Revised Core Set, and you played through The Night of the Zealot campaign contained within it. Great! But now, you’re left wondering, “What comes next?” There’s so much content out there that it can be hard to know where to start.
Not to worry! That’s where we come in.
Welcome to the Arkham Horror: The Card Game Buyer’s Guide! Join us as we take you through a whirlwind tour of the different Arkham LCG products. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the different types of expansions for the game, and then give you a brief preview of each “cycle” of content in the order they were released. At the end, we’ll provide a few ways you can use this guide to help shape your Arkham journey.
So, without further ado, let’s dive right in!
A Note on the Different Types of Expansions
Back when Arkham Horror: The Card Game first came out, it fell under the old model of FFG Living Card Games. This means that, after the core set, the game consisted of two main types of expansions: deluxe expansions and Mythos packs.
Whenever a new Arkham wave of products (or “cycle”) released, it would begin with a deluxe expansion, which included new investigators, a bunch of player cards, and a couple scenarios to start that cycle’s campaign. Following that, six Mythos packs would release over the course of the next several months, each bringing a handful of additional player cards and a new scenario for the campaign. Once the sixth Mythos pack was released, the campaign was complete.
We no longer release waves of Arkham products in this way. Now, an entire cycle consists of just two products: an investigator expansion that contains all of the player content, and a campaign expansion that contains all the scenario content. This makes obtaining everything for a particular wave much easier, since you only need to buy two things instead of seven.
Why are we telling you all this? Because we are currently still in the process of repackaging older Arkham cycles into the new model. This means that some of the campaigns in this buyer’s guide will still be in the form of deluxe expansions and Mythos packs. We just want to be clear about which ones are which.
Now, with that out of the way, let’s dig into the buyer’s guide proper!
Note: For each of these entries, we give a general complexity rating for the cycle. This is not the same as a difficulty rating; some campaigns can be relatively simple but also difficult, while others can be complex but also less punishing. Keep that in mind when making your choice!
Also, if you get a campaign that ends up being easier or harder than you expected, you can always use the in-game difficulty settings to adjust the level of challenge to your liking.
The Dunwich Legacy – Mystery and Decay
Campaign Length: 8 scenarios / Complexity: Low
The first cycle to be released after the Core Set, The Dunwich Legacy is a classic starting point to kickoff your collection. The Investigator Expansion adds five new investigators who all share a common theme of being able to use certain cards from any of the five classes, as well as the “Exile” keyword that makes certain player cards leave your deck after a single use. Naturally, these cards are extremely powerful to compensate, creating an interesting dynamic while using them!
In The Dunwich Legacy campaign, professors from Miskatonic University have gone missing following their defeat of a monstrous creature in Dunwich. Your choice of which professor to search for first can have lasting effects on the campaign, a campaign that takes you from the halls of Miskatonic University to onboard a speeding train to eventually end up in the streets of Dunwich itself. It’s up to you and your fellow investigators to find the missing professors and save the world from an unseen threat!
The Path to Carcosa – A Deadly Play
Campaign Length: 8 scenarios / Complexity: Low
The second cycle brought us The Path to Carcosa, which, like its predecessor, is a great starting point for newcomers to the game line. The Investigator Expansion adds six investigators this time, with the sixth being the game’s very first Neutral investigator, Lola Hayes. Each investigator in this cycle comes with some new tricks that make them a little more complex, but also a lot of fun!
In The Path to Carcosa campaign, the mysterious play The King in Yellow has arrived in Arkham, and with it comes a wave of dark and unexplained events. Each scenario can raise your Doubt and/or Conviction, which can alter later scenarios depending on how much of either you’ve built up. Travel to Paris and beyond as you search for answers regarding The King in Yellow, and save the people of Arkham from a threat they aren’t even aware of.
The Forgotten Age – Enter the Jungle
Campaign Length: 8 scenarios / Complexity: Medium
Next we have our most recently-released repackage, The Forgotten Age! The Investigator Expansion brings an adventurous group of five investigators to the game, and equips players with shiny new abilities, such as the “seal” ability that traps chaos tokens on player cards to keep them out of the bag. With powerful relics at their disposal and new tricks up their sleeves, these investigators provide their own special brand of versatility to mix up your game!
In The Forgotten Age campaign, you and your fellow investigators journey to southern Mexico to explore the ruins of an ancient, forgotten Aztec city. At the start of the campaign, you choose what supplies to take with you on your expedition. Different supplies provide different benefits, and you can’t take them all, so you must choose wisely. As you explore the depths of the jungle, new locations will enter play mid-scenario, and all the while you must take care not to anger the malevolent being watching your every move. It will take all of your wits and your survival skills to make it out of this jungle alive!
The Circle Undone – Magic and Dread
Campaign Length: 9 scenarios / Complexity: Medium-Low
The next cycle is The Circle Undone, which is (as of this article) still currently in the old model of a deluxe expansion and Mythos packs. The player cards of The Circle Undone cycle include six investigators; one of each class as normal, plus a second Mystic investigator. The rest of the player cards provide all sorts of new and interesting tools, including “multiclass” cards and a new asset slot, the “tarot” slot, in which players can equip powerful tarot card assets that spring into play at zero cost.
Meanwhile, in The Circle Undone campaign, unexpected disappearances and a tarot reading spelling doom for all has you and your fellow investigators scrambling for answers. The campaign begins with a special prologue scenario, in which you take control of a temporary “prologue investigator” and experience the night of those aforementioned disappearances firsthand. After that, each scenario builds upon the ever-deepening plot. You’ll find yourselves creeping through haunted locations that punish you for failing skill tests, sneaking past enemies who are especially alert, and all the while fighting off a growing feeling of existential dread. Will you align yourself with the notorious Silver Twilight Lodge? Or perhaps you will work with Arkham’s local Coven of witches? Or perhaps you’ll work to take down both organizations. Only time will tell!
The Dream-Eaters – What is Real?
Campaign Length: 8 scenarios / Complexity: Medium-High
Next comes The Dream-Eaters, an extremely unique cycle even by Arkham standards. Like The Circle Undone, this cycle is still currently in the old model, and has not yet been repackaged into Investigator and Campaign expansions. The player cards in The Dream-Eaters introduce new keywords, such as “myriad,” which allows you to include a third copy of that card in your deck (instead of the usual two). Another new keyword is “bonded,” which can be used to summon connected cards from out of play. These new tools open up a wide range of deckbuilding possibilities!
The Dream-Eaters campaign, meanwhile, is particularly special for one simple fact: it’s actually two campaigns in one! One campaign takes place in the waking world, and one takes place in the mystical Dreamlands. Each campaign is four scenarios long, and you must use a different investigator and different deck for each one. The campaigns can be played separately or interwoven together, and this factor—combined with swarming enemies and hidden treacheries—is what contributes to this cycle’s high complexity rating. If you feel like you can take on the infinite wonders of the Dreamlands, give this dazzling campaign a try!
The Innsmouth Conspiracy – That Fishy Town
Campaign Length: 8 scenarios / Complexity: High
The final cycle released in the old model is The Innsmouth Conspiracy, which, like its two predecessors, has not yet been repackaged into Investigator and Campaign expansions. Perhaps the biggest new feature of the player cards in this cycle is the introduction of bless and curse tokens. These tokens are added to the chaos bag by player card effects and can open the door to some explosive moments during skill tests.
The Innsmouth Conspiracy campaign sees you and your fellow investigators travel to the coastal town of Innsmouth, where strange happenings are afoot. You must find crucial clues in the form of special key tokens and get to the bottom all the strangeness going on, all while watching out for when your location is flooded. Oh, and did we mention that there are some time-jumping shenanigans at play? As if things weren’t weird enough in this town!
Edge of the Earth – A Frigid Expedition
Campaign Length: 4 to 10 scenarios / Complexity: Medium
The next cycle is Edge of the Earth, which was the cycle that pioneered the new distribution method of Investigator and Campaign expansions. The Investigator Expansion adds five new investigators to the game, each of whom start as one class and then gradually grow to specialize in another. This expansion also adds more multiclass cards to the game, expanding the pool of cards that were first introduced in The Circle Undone cycle. Versatility is the name of the game in this batch of player cards!
In the Edge of the Earth campaign, you and your fellow investigators journey to the harsh and frigid landscapes of Antarctica, along with an expedition team of special story allies. You’ll have to take care to keep your expedition team alive, as each ally you lose will make your journey that much harder. With branching paths, variable campaign length, and a new type of chaos token—the “frost” token—Edge of the Earth is a truly thrilling (and chilling) campaign that will test your resolve and keep you coming back for more!
The Scarlet Keys – A Globe-Trotting Adventure
Campaign Length: up to 10 scenarios / Complexity: High
The newest cycle of Arkham Horror, The Scarlet Keys is the game’s biggest and most ambitious wave to date. In the Investigator Expansion, six new investigators join the roster, including the games second-ever Neutral investigator, the politician Charlie Kane. New customizable player cards allow you to craft certain special assets in any way you like over the course of the campaign, making this a must-own for passionate deck-builders who love to flex their creative muscles.
In The Scarlet Keys campaign, people and objects have been disappearing not just from town, but from the collective memories of the populace. Meanwhile, a dangerous organization is hunting for powerful artifacts known as “Keys,” and you and your fellow investigators are caught up in the thick of it. This campaign will take you around the world, and its non-linear structure means you can challenge whatever scenario you want in whatever order you want. That said, taking too long to get things done can lead to dire consequences, so you’ll have to plan out your route and try to get to the bottom of this international conspiracy!
Other Arkham Products
Now that we’ve given you a quick rundown of each cycle, let’s take a quick look at some of the standalone content for the game, beginning with the Investigator Starter Decks!
These five starter decks—featuring investigators Nathanial Cho, Harvey Walters, Winifred Habbamock, Jacqueline Fine, and Stella Clark—are perfect tools for new players looking to expand their player card collection. The tools provided in each deck give you lots of options for deckbuilding with its associated class. Not only that, if you’re new to deckbuilding itself, these packs provide pre-built decks that are straightforward and easy to play while still being able to take on any of the game’s content. Once you’ve played a few games with a pre-built deck, you can then use these investigators’ simple deckbuilding rules to help you try building your own deck. It’s a great way to ease yourself into the creative aspect of the game!
Once you’re feeling more comfortable with the game, you can seek out a copy of a standalone scenario pack! These packs—such as The Blob That Ate Everything, Machinations Through Time, and Fortune and Folly—provide some of the most unique experiences that Arkham Horror: The Card Game has to offer, including massive multiplayer scenarios, multi-part scenarios, murder mysteries, and more. That said, many of these scenario packs can be a little challenging for newer players, and they also do not provide any player cards for the purpose of deckbuilding, so we do recommend that you familiarize yourself with the game at least a little bit before taking one of these on.
Where to Start?
So, we’re here at the end of the buyer’s guide, and you may still be wondering: what order should I get everything in? Well, the nice thing about Arkham Horror: The Card Game is that you can get each cycle in whatever order you want! That said, we can definitely understand wanting a sense of direction (there is a lot of content for the game, after all), so here are three suggested ways you can use this guide:
Order of Release – The simplest (and arguably most common) approach is to get each cycle in the order they originally came out. This also happens to be the order we listed them for this buyer’s guide! This would mean starting with The Dunwich Legacy and working your way up to The Scarlet Keys (and whatever comes after it).
Order of Increasing Complexity – Another straightforward approach, this involves simply starting with the less complex cycles (The Dunwich Legacy, The Path to Carcosa, etc.) and working your way up to the most complex (The Innsmouth Conspiracy, The Scarlet Keys, etc.). With this approach, you can take your time getting familiar with the game and easing yourself into the more complicated content. That said, always remember: just because a cycle is more complex, doesn’t mean it's more difficult to beat!
Order of Interest – You may have noticed during the brief explanations of each campaign, but every story in this game follows different themes, different challenges, and different characters. If there are some that stand out to you more than others, than start with those! Maybe you’re interested in the classic, horror-filled mystery of The Dunwich Legacy, or perhaps the existential dread of The Circle Undone’s story is more compelling to you. Maybe you just want to explore Antarctica in Edge of the Earth; it’s up to you!
Remember that, ultimately, this is your Arkham Horror journey. We’re not going to tell you what the “correct” approach to the game is, because there is no “correct” approach! Whether you ultimately track down everything or just cherry-pick your favorite expansions, both FFG and the thousands of Arkham Horror fans around the world are happy to see you enjoying this game that we all love. So go forth, have fun, and challenge the machinations of the Mythos!