Arkham Horror Characters – Base Set Exploration
Arkham Horror: The Card Game is a fantastic game.
Set in the HP Lovecraft universe, and currently ranking as the 20th highest ranked game of all time, Arkham Horror puts players in the dark world of Cthulhu as they solve mysteries and uncover the hidden monsters of the world. As they explore the stories, players play the part of a character, who determines the kind of deck a player can use. Those characters are one of five classes – Guardians, Seekers, Mystics, Survivors, or Rogues. Usually those characters are everyday people, and each comes with their own unique abilities.
Arkham Horror is an LCG (Living Card Game) meaning that, throughout the course of the story, additional characters are unlocked at the start of each cycle. Today we’re going to look at the characters available within the base set of the game. They are:
- Agnes Baker – The Waitress
- Roland Banks – The Fed
- Daisy Walker – The Librarian
- “Skids” O’Toole – The Ex-Con
- Wendy Adams – The Urchin
Today we are going to look at their stats and their abilities, as well as comparing the five characters against one another. Please note that this is only looking at the characters in accordance with the Base Set that they came in, and not all the expansions in Arkham Horror.
Who are the Characters in Arkham Horror: The Base Set?
Okay, so we’ve kind of explored this, but let’s go into a bit more details. We’ve already looked at the names and the “jobs”, but what about their classes? Well, as mentioned before, there are five classes in the game:
- Agnes Baker – The Mystic
- Roland Banks – The Guardian
- Daisy Walker – The Seeker
- “Skids” O’Toole – The Rogue
- Wendy Adams – The Survivor
Now, each character has four stats. Those stats help them pass certain tests as they explore the Lovecraftian universe, and comprise of Willpower, Intellect, Combat, and Agility. These can probably easiest be summarised as resisting things, finding things out, hitting things, and running away. Each stat goes from 1-5, and they play a large part in how each character plays. They also help influence how the player’s deck is built.
Throughout this article there are going to be a fair number of graphs.
The above graph shows the distribution of stats across the characters. These are really interesting statistical distributions. Two characters – Skids and Roland – follow the 2, 3, 3, 4 distribution when it comes to their stats. In other words, two stats are at level 3, one is at level 2, and one is at level 4.
Likewise, there are two characters – Daisy and Agnes – who follow the 5, 3, 2, 2 model. It’s interesting that the more physical characters follow one model, whilst the more mentally aligned characters follow another.
Then there is Wendy Adams – the Survivor – who has a more extreme set of stats. She has 4, 4, 3, and 1. That 1 is really hard to get around.
Interestingly, we can also see the total stats across all the characters and the average. Now, I have to admit, I was expecting these to be balanced, but they really aren’t.
It turns out that there is a lot more Willpower in Arkham Horror: The LCG than there is Combat prowess. We can get an average for these, with the below –
Yep, that helps put things in perspective. Combat really isn’t a priority when it comes to the stats.
Health and Sanity
So what about the health and sanity of the core characters? Health and Sanity are the two meters that keep a character alive during a game. Sanity damage comes from mental shocks and horror. Health damage comes from being hit. Again, this can be put into a handy graph –
Now, these are all pretty well distributed. Wendy Adams, the Survivor, has perfectly balanced stats – however, all the characters’ stats add up to 14.
Again, this shows the divide between the intellectual characters and the physical characters. Daisy Walker is the exact reverse of Roland Banks. Agnes Baker is the exact opposite to “Skids” O’ Toole.
Deck Building Options
Each character in Arkham Horror can build their characters out of three different styles of cards. The first one includes levels 0-5 of their base class. Agnes Baker, for instance, can use levels 0-5 of the Mystic class, which is what you would expect. Likewise, there are Neutral cards in the game. Again, each character can use levels 0-5 of the Neutral cards.
Finally, each character gets cards from a secondary set. Those can be levels 0-3 from that secondary class.
Okay, so sometimes bar charts aren’t the best way of displaying data; however, in this case it is still interesting. “Skids” gets Rogue cards and Guardian cards, Wendy gets Survivor and Rogue, Daisy gets Seeker and Mystic, whereas Agnes gets Mystic and Survivor. Roland gets Guardian and Seeker. Not only are these thematic, but they are also necessary for the survival of some of the characters. Agnes Baker, for instance, really needs the help from the Survivor class in order to…well…survive.
The mix in classes allows for certain character shortfalls to be made up.
What is more, there are certain aspects that make every character unique. Each character has an ability, and something that happens when the Eldritch Sign gets drawn out of the Chaos Tokens. On top of that, each character gets a unique item/event for their deck, and two weaknesses. One is random, the other is specific to them.
Character Special Abilities
Aside from deck building, special abilities are some of the core ways that play styles can vary throughout the game. Some of these are more helpful than others; however, they are all interesting in their own way. Let’s take a look:
Reaction Trigger: After 1 or more horror is placed on Agnes Baker: Deal 1 damage to an enemy at your location (Limit once per phase)Arkham Horror: The Card Game Base Set, Card #4
Agnes Baker has an interesting ability in Arkham Horror because it is a reflex action based on combat. Agnes Baker hasn’t got a huge amount of health in the game, and so to have an ability like this helps reduce the length of combat encounters by dealing additional damage to enemies when they deal horror to her. Granted, it’s not to all enemies, but since most seem to deal both physical and horror damage the majority of the time, it is pretty useful.
Reaction Trigger: After you defeat an enemy: Discover 1 clue at your location (Limit once per round)Arkham Horror: The Card Game Base Set, Card #1
With investigating usually being an action, having the auto-discover capability by defeating an enemy at a specific location is fantastic…assuming there are clues at the location. A clue cannot be discovered if there are no clues there, but the ability Roland Banks has is incredibly useful – especially in solo play. With fewer actions in between enemy phases, being able to investigate as well as attack is really helpful.
You may take an additional action during your turn, which can only be used on Tome action abilities.Arkham Horror: The Card Game Base Set, Card #2
Daisy Walker’s ability is highly situational; however, it can be helpful with a specific type of deck. As Daisy you can build a Tome heavy deck, giving additional abilities each turn; however, it does require the Tomes being out.
So, let’s delve into the Tomes a little more. What Tomes are there? In the base set there are:
- The Necronomicon – Okay, so this is actually Daisy Walker’s bespoke Weakness. The Necronomicon turns the Eldritch Symbol Chaos Token to a failure. Daisy must take three horror, using three actions, from the Necronomicon to herself to remove it from the game. Daisy’s ability can help with that.
- Old Book of Lore – Has an action to let you search the top three cards of your deck for a card. If you find it you can draw it, an shuffle the rest of the cards into your deck.
- Medical Texts – Choose an investigator. As an action take an intellect test. If you pass, heal 1 damage. If you fail, deal 1 damage.
- Encyclopedia – Now, if you ask me, this is where Daisy Walker’s ability really comes in to its own. Encyclopedia allows for Daisy to choose an investigator at her location and give them +2 for the round on a skill check of her choice. This is a fantastic ability, and can essentially be used to give Daisy a +2 on something each round.
- Book of Shadows – A Level 3 Mystic Tome, allowing for additional Spell charge. Not hugely helpful.
So, yes, it is a good ability with the right deck.
“Skids” O’ Toole
Fast Reaction: During your turn, spend 2 resources: You may take an additional action this turn (Limit once per turn)Arkham Horror: The Card Game Base Set, Card #3
Who doesn’t want an additional turn?
Unlike Daisy’s ability, this can be used for any purpose; however, it does cost.
Reaction Trigger: When you reveal a chaos token, choose and discard 1 card from your hand: Cancel that chaos token and return it to the bag. Reveal a new chaos token (Limit once per turn)Arkham Horror: The Card Game Base Set, Card #5
Wendy Adams is terrible in combat, and this gives her a slight fighting chance. If you fail any test with Wendy you can switch the chaos token out. It probably won’t help if you’re no where near passing the test, but it can help tip the balance in your favour.
It’s important to note that you put the chaos token you initially pulled from the bag…back into the bag – meaning that there is a chance you can pull it again.
Eldritch Symbol Abilities
We’re not going to go into the specific items in this article. That being said, we are going to look at the Eldritch Symbol abilities since, although unlikely to come out in the Chaos Tokens all that regularly, they are interesting.
+1 for each horror on Agnes Baker.Arkham Horror: The Card Game Base Set, Card #4
This ability gets better the more Agnes Baker is damaged.
+1 for each clue at your location.Arkham Horror: The Card Game Base Set, Card #1
This ability gets worse the more an area is investigated.
+0. If you succeed, draw 1 card for each Tome you controlArkham Horror: The Card Game Base Set, Card #2
Again, this is really interesting. It is possible for Daisy Walker to, with the help of her special item (Daisy’s Tote Bag) to have four Tomes in play. That means potentially drawing four cards on each Eldritch symbol.
“Skids” O’ Toole
+2. If you succeed, gain 2 resources.Arkham Horror: The Card Game Base Set, Card #3
This is just helpful.
+0. If Wendy’s Amulet is in play, you automatically succeed instead.Arkham Horror: The Card Game Base Set, Card #5
Again, this is highly situational. +0 is not a great ability. If you have Wendy’s Amulet (which also has the ability of allowing you to play events from the discard pile) then it is amazing; however, it is highly situational on two conditions. Firstly, having that card out. Secondly, drawing the token.
The Arkham Horror Characters
Okay, so over the past 1,800 words or so, we’ve explored a few core aspects of the characters in Arkham Horror: The Card Game (or the base set at least). They are radically different, and they are all interesting characters.
Now, out of all the characters, I have not built successful decks with all of them. Despite being fond of the Mystic cards, I have always found an Agnes Baker deck difficult to play due to how fragile she can be. In a solo game it is easy to become overwhelmed by enemies pretty quickly, resulting in more scenarios where you die than anything else. Instead, I have found that the Seeker/Mystic combo of Daisy Walker or a Survivor/Mystic deck with “Ashcan” Pete (of the Dunwich Legacy expansion) work better.
That being said, Roland Banks is a fantastic character. Likewise, Daisy Walker, if you can get those Tomes out early, can be a fantastic character.
All in all though, whether I can build a successful deck with them or not, it doesn’t stop these characters from being fantastic and brilliant and unique. Each one has their own quirks. Each one has their own special abilities – and in this article we barely even talked about the items or weaknesses. More on that in the future I think.
So, there we have it. Five unique characters. Five unique ways of playing. Each one awesome.
Now, over to you. Have you played Arkham Horror: The Card Game?Who are your favourite characters to play as? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.