5 Awesome Cards from the Arkham Horror Base Game
Arkham Horror: The Card Game is a superb game. Set within Fantasy Flight’s HP Lovecraft universe, Arkham Horror has players playing the parts of investigators, who are looking to solve the mysteries of the cosmos. What makes Arkham Horror though is that it is a deck-building story-focused game. You build a deck of cards for your investigator, and as you gain experience or story assets, your deck grows in size and complexity. You gain XP and level up. You gain abilities and lose them. It is thrilling and exciting.
Recently, due to being house bound, myself and my partner have been playing a lot of Arkham Horror and have been working our way through the base game and the Dunwich Legacy expansions. Being a living card game, expansions are regularly released with additional cards to be added to the game. Today we will be focusing, however, on the base game and a few of the cards that come with that.
The Arkham Horror base game comprises of three scenarios to be played back-to-back, and it introduces the five investigator types that can be played throughout the game. Those three scenarios comprise of The Gathering, The Midnight Masks, and The Devourer Below. They are great scenarios, and the Dunwich Legacy expansions/campaign is even better; however, today we will not be looking at those scenarios. Instead, today we are going to look at the five core investigator classes in the game – Mystic, Guardian, Rogue, Seeker, and Survivor – to take a closer look at five of our favourite cards within the base game that are super interesting to have in play.
These are cards that may not be the best cards, but how they can change the game makes them incredibly interesting. What is more, we’ve chosen one card from each class – because, you know, why not?
So, without further ado – here are five cards from the Arkham Horror: The Card Game base game that are really interesting.
5 Awesome Cards from the Arkham Horror Base Game
Okay, so let’s take a look at these five cards in detail and what makes them so interesting.
Will To Survive (Event, Survivor Class)
Let’s kick things off with a bit of a bang. Will to Survive is a card available to the Survivor class in the base game, meaning it can be played by Wendy Adams; however, it gets even more interesting when available to other investigators in other packs. Will to Survive is a Level 4 Event, meaning it cannot be in the opening deck of a campaign, but since it can be pretty difficult to finish The Gathering with fewer than 4xp then it can be in the deck from The Midnight Masks onwards – and wow, is it a good card.
Costing 4 resources, Will to Survive isn’t a cheap card, but it has a number of things going for it. Firstly, Will to Survive is a fast card that can only be played during your turn, meaning it doesn’t take an action to play. Once in play it has the following text –
Until the end of your turn, do not reveal chaos tokens for any skill tests you perform.
To understand why that is such a powerful card, you need to understand the odds of the game. When playing Arkham Horror you have to draw a chaos token for every skill test you want to do, and those chaos tokens modify your ability to perform the test. The odds on any test are stacked against you, as there are far more negatives in the chaos tokens than there are positive. To give you an idea, playing the game at standard difficulty, there is 1x +1 chaos token in the bag, and 2x 0. There are then 3x -1, 2x -2, a -3 and a -4. That is before we get into the details surrounding the different icons that can be pulled.
Now, being able to ignore those chaos token modifiers is phenomenally powerful – allowing you to control chaos for a turn and thus massively reducing the rick of failing a test. There is no way about it – Will to Survive is an incredible card.
Shortcut (Event, Seeker Class)
So, not all of these cards are going to be as exciting as the previous one; however, let’s continue with this anyway.
Shortcut is a Seeker class Event card, that is Level 0 and free to play, and I have included it in this list for a few reasons. Firstly, the Seeker class kind of suffers in the base game for not being hugely interesting. They get a few cool cards, but nothing hugely mind blowing. Secondly, Shortcut has saved my hide more times than I can count.
Fast. Play only during your turn.
Choose an investigator at your location. Move that investigator to a connecting location.
So, why is Shortcut so useful? Well, it’s helpful for a few of reasons. If an enemy is Aloof, or if it has disengaged/you’ve managed to evade it, then you can get out of Dodge for free. Shortcut will catapult you out of there to an adjacent location.
Secondly, when playing games with large maps, like The Midnight Masks or later campaigns like Extracurricular Activity (in the Dunwich Legacy) so many actions can be used just moving around the place. Shortcut gives you an extra movement on your turn.
Finally, if you are playing two player (or more with two base sets in play), you can catapult players whose turn hasn’t arrived yet away from you, effectively giving characters who stand a higher chance at defeating enemies or investigating away from you and closer to the location they need to get to. Super helpful.
Sure Gamble (Event, Rogue Class)
You know, I have a love/hate relationship with the Rogue class in Arkham Horror. When playing solo, I really don’t enjoy the class as they are a little too “operating from the shadows” when all you really want is to be super good at “passing this skill test”. They manipulate the field when sometimes all you really need is straight forward action. That being said, when playing a multiplayer game, they can be super fun.
Sure Gamble is a fantastic card in the same vein as Will to Survive as it plays with the chaos tokens and how they interact in the game.
So, what is Sure Gamble and how does it change the game?
Fast. Play after you reveal a chaos token with a negative modifier.
Switch that token’s “-” to a “+”.
Cards like Sure Gamble allow for Rogues to have a few reckless turns. It is not uncommon, when playing Arkham Horror, for players to stack the odds in their favour before taking a skill test due to how the chaos tokens are. This means modifying tests as much as possible, using skill cards, and trying to make the most out of a situation. You probably won’t pass a skill test with a value of 4 if you approach it with 4, but with 5 or 6 you may have a chance.
Sure Gamble allows for you to ignore that and go in with more confidence, even working with special (icon) tokens in reference to the scenario card. This makes it incredibly powerful, meaning you don’t need to stack the odds in your favour as the only way you can fail is an outright red token.
Dodge (Event, Guardian Class)
The Guardian Class in Arkham Horror are a brilliant and reliable class; however, I warn you that this card may seem a bit prosaic at first. This card is Dodge.
Okay, so Dodge does exactly what it says on the tin; however, it is worth highlighting a bit as it is such an incredibly useful card.
Fast. Play when an enemy attacks an investigator at your location.
Cancel that attack.
So, a few core things of note. Firstly, it is played out of sequence. Dodge is fast, not requiring an action; however, it is played when an enemy attacks. Note that this could be in the Enemy Phase, or it could be an attack of opportunity. Either way, that attack can be cancelled.
Cancelling an attack is useful at the best of times; however, when facing large enemies it can be super helpful. Rather than taking two physical and two mental damage, the amount of which is significant and can tip the balance of the game, the attack can just be ignored.
Secondly, it can be played whenever an enemy attacks an investigator at the Guardian’s location. This means it can be played to save weaker characters, and that is really nice. It can also be taken by both Roland Banks and “Skids” O’Toole as it is a Level 0 card, doubling how many investigators can have it in their hands.
Shrivelling (Asset, Mystic Class)
So we come to final card in this list, and it has actually been a card I have wanted to write about for quite a while as, when playing as Agnes Baker, it can actually change the game. It is a brilliant card, especially during the base game campaign, as it is so uniquely powerful. That card is Shrivelling.
As such, Shrivelling is a card that needs to be taken in every Agnes Baker deck. It can also be included in a Daisy Walker deck, and is worth considering doing so. Shrivelling is awesome.
So, what does Shrivelling do? Well, firstly it is a spell asset with four uses, costing three resources. Then, you can use an action to:
Spend 1 charge: Fight. This attack uses Willpower instead of Combat and deals +1 damage. Is a [special symbol] is revealed during this attack, take 1 horror.
Naturally, the card has the symbol icons, but I can’t type those, so I’m sure you get what I mean.
Shrivelling is so great because it acts as a support card from classes that traditionally don’t have much in regards to physical prowess. It allows instead for that class to use Willpower as a skill instead, and where this may not be so useful for Daisy Walker (as there is only one difference) it means that Agnes Baker can have an attack of 5 rather than 2. That is a huge jump, and it means that, with Shrivelling in play, Agnes is a character that is good with both her brain and her brawn. This gives her much better survival odds in the game.
That said, her Intellect is still kind of rubbish, so how long it keeps her alive, I don’t know if she can’t actually investigate and complete objectives.
Shrivelling is incredibly helpful though, and useful in other decks, especially as the campaigns draw on. I am currently using Shrivelling as one of five Mystic cards in a Jenny Barnes deck (again Dunwich Legacy) as we are playing through the base campaign with a Roland Banks/Jenny Barnes combo.
So, there we have it. Five cards that we really like within the base game of Arkham Horror. If you haven’t played Arkham Horror then I really recommend it if you are in the market for a fantastic 1-2 player game. If you have, what are your thoughts of our selections? Let me know in the comments below.