Saturday, May 4, 2013

Arkham Horror Review

This is the first review I have ever written. So, with that, please be patient as I get the hang of this.

Arkham Horror is a board game for 1-8 players and for ages 13 and up. I must say, I agree with the age range, but think having eight players would be a bit much and some people would get bored waiting on a turn. In my opinion 4-6 players would be much easier to play with and in the end kill the monster that is chosen in the beginning of the game.

The object of the game is to have all players work together and investigate the strange happenings that are going on in 1926 Arkham. The players hope to stop the stirring creature from destroying the city. Every character that you choose has a back story as to why and how they find themselves in Arkham. Take for instance, Jenny Barnes who is looking for her sister that wrote to her while she was visiting Paris. Another person is Darrell Simmons who grew up in Arkham and is a photographer for the Arkham Advertiser. Each character has a list of fixed and random possessions that they begin with:  it could be a spell, a revolver, money, clue tokens, or even a skill etc. The skills, weapons, common items and spells are all cards that you draw from.  I have to admit that the cards are a little overwhelming at first, but once you get use to them you will have no problem. The characters all have stamina and sanity. Different characters have different starting stamina and sanity points. Each character has a home/place that they start on the board. Jenny starts at the train station and Darrell is at the newspaper.  On the character cards are different attributes that are grouped in pairs, speed/sneak, fight/will and luck/lore. Each has 4 sets of number pairs after them; using a slider you set how your character is going to use those attributes (i.e.:  speed 3 sneak 2). You can change these in the Upkeep phase of every round if your settings do not work to your liking. Choose your monster and you are ready to get started.

Arkham Horror is played in 5 different phases per round. The first is "Upkeep," in this phase you decide on the attributes that your character will display in this round. The second is "Movement," in this phase depending on how you set your speed you can move that many spaces. The third phase is "Arkham Encounters" in this phase if you landed on a named location and not on a street you will have an encounter with someone or maybe even something. As you move through the game you may run into a monster that you need to fight in the streets of Arkham.  Phase four is "Other World Encounters" in this phase if you are sucked through a portal into an alternate dimension you will have an encounter here just like you would if you were back in Arkham. The last phase is five in this phase called "Mythos" you will read a card that tells you what is going on in Arkham. For example the card can read:

Heading: Egyptian Exhibit - Visits Miskatonic U.

Environment: Urban

Gate opens at: The Witch House monster appears

Clue appears at: Black Cave

If you have monsters that correspond to the symbols on the card they will move throughout the streets of Arkham. Read any special text on the card. In this example the card says "Any investigator who ends his movement in the Miskatonic U. streets may pass a Lore (-1) check to gain 1 clue token by reading the straange heiroglyphics on the artifacts in the exhibit."

After the card is read, the next round will begin. 

When you have a portal that opens a monster will spawn.  The object is to have one of the investigators go and fight the monster, enter the portal, have encounters in the other dimension come back through and close the gate. To close a gate you need to have a special symbol called the Elder Sign to seal the gate or at least five clue tokens to shut it. This is the part of the game that can either make or break the game. If you have a hard time closing gates and killing monsters you will have a hard time winning the game. The game has a terror track on it, the object of this is that when you have more monsters on the board than your team can handle, the terror in Arkham goes up, and you can also read a card in the Mythos phase that can make the terror track go up. Once you reach ten on the terror track, the monster that was chosen in the beginning of the game comes to Arkham.  Depending on the monster you choose/picked, will influence the difficulty in winning the game. In the games that I have played it is very hard to defeat the monster at the end. But I have to admit it is great to think you are going to kick this monster’s ass and win the game.

You will lose stamina and sanity throughout your play; you can always go to the hospital to get your stamina back and then move to the Arkham mental health facility to get your sanity back. Each place will cost you money. This is a good thing to have in the game. If you die you lose half of your belongings.  Random things will go on in Arkham. Shops will close, you will meet people and can use them to help you in the game, but if you die you will lose their abilities as well. You can take out a bank loan if you need money to buy items in the game. So many small details and pieces that it can make the game a little complicated to follow at times.

In the end the game is a lot of fun to play. I was addicted to it after just playing a couple of rounds and not even finishing up the game. This is a great game to play with others who like the Cthulhu Mythos. I hope that if you decide to play that you have as much fun as I do playing. If you want you can even let me know what you thought about it after you play.

Grading Scale for this game:

Fun Factor – 4/5. The game is great to play, but seems to have unnecessary phases that can make the game seem like it is going on and on.

Complexity – 5/5. This might seem harsh, but in the end all the little pieces that you have with this game along with all the cards takes time to set up and not to mention the interaction with all the pieces during play.

Length of game – The game can easily last 2-3 hours, even longer depending on the number of players.


  1. Sounds really detailed...wish I knew some folks who would have the patience for it--I can barely get a game of Clue going!

    1. The game is a lot of fun to play. Maybe this review might help you get some friends to play. If you try it out let me know what you think.

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  3. We enjoy playing Arkham Horror, but I agree that it can take awhile! Great review, Patti!