• James Clarke

The Arkham Horror Experience

Arkham Horror is a great themed experience disguised as a OK game. The game itself is a little bit awkward and inconsistent, but it provides enough variation (including a plethora of expansions) to make the game highly replayable. Although this type of game is not for every type of gamer, the experience that playing Arkham Horror provides can be awesome.

I like the theme. I like the impending doom. I like the escalating threats. I like the characters and their unique abilities. I like the encounter cards and the rolling of dice. I like the teamwork. I like the artwork.

That is about as deep as I get. Then it becomes about the players and the interaction. Is everyone having fun? Are we laughing? They don’t have Arkham Horror tournaments (and if someone does make one, they are doing it wrong).

Pro Tip: Don’t play Arkham Horror with all the expansions in one enormous game.

I know people try this, and you can google images of the board set up this way, but just don’t. Don’t do it. Let me illustrate the reasons with a story.

A few years ago, my cousin invited me over for some Arkham Horror. I was running a bit late, and by the time I arrived, the game was already set up and the game had just begun. The game was already set up with all three large expansions. The board for the game stretched across the entire kitchen table. Honestly, I wanted to bail, but I politely sat down and assumed a character.

As the game progressed, I noticed that none of us bothered to go to any of the extra locations provided in the expansions. The three extra threats weren’t being threatening. They cards that triggered those threats were simply not common enough to matter. The reason was that the deck those cards were shuffled into was just too full of other cards. Because the relevant cards didn’t show, the entire expansions simple didn’t impact the game in any positive way, and only made the game more complicated.

The game was awful. The experience, though, wasn’t so bad. Going through the motions with friends provided enough enjoyment to elevate the experience above the game itself. We had fun despite the terribleness of the particular setup. So yeah: Don’t play with all the expansions. Most of my friends suggest one large expansion and one small expansion only.

Because of the added game length (because of the number of expansions and the number of players) I had to leave before the game ended, and because of the nature of experience game, it didn’t affect the game at all. The experience went on without me.

Although I liked Arkham Horror, I feel the Eldritch Horror replaces the older game. The experience of Eldritch Horror is so similar to Arkham, and the game mechanics are much improved. Playing the game is less intrusive to the experience.

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