In October 2016, I reviewed the thematic mystery card game Arkham Horror. It was intense, exciting and fun. The creator, Fantasy Flight Games, promised to publish more content. This review covers two new deluxe expansions: The Dunwich Legacy and The Path to Carcosa.
Because of the thematic nature of the Arkham Horror card game, the structure is different than a typical game. The base game (reviewed last year) gives a gamer all of the basic tools to play. Additional deluxe expansions are like new novels in the series that lead the game down additional exciting paths. Deluxe expansions have six additional chapter packs (purchased separately) that expand that particular theme even further to an exciting conclusion. It's like playing characters in a mystery novel.
Arkham Horror is set in 1920s America with the players taking on the role of investigators. Police, private eyes, speakeasy performers, gangsters and more inhabit the world. However there is a twist. Ancient and dark forces are trying to open gates from their worlds to take over Earth, and some people on Earth are trying to help them. It's up to the investigators to stop it all without dying or going insane.
In the deluxe expansion Dunwich Legacy, the players learn about three university professors who traveled to a town called Dunwich armed with secret knowledge to defeat a horrible creature. Their efforts brought peace to Dunwich but the men were permanently scarred. Play begins when the investigators are contacted by one of the professors, a Dr. Armitage, who explains his two companions have gone missing.
The Dunwich Legacy adds five new playable investigators to the game: Zoey Samaras the chef, Rex Murphy the reporter, Jenny Barnes the dilettante, Jim Culver the musician and Ashcan Pete the drifter. This time the rules for character deck development are more loose and players can build investigators drawing from multiple class specialities. Thank you, Fantasy Flight Games.
The two scenarios contained in the box, "Extracurricular Activities" and "The House Always Wins," can be played in any order. The locations include Miskatnoic University and the shady gangster land called the Clover Club. The additional six chapter packs ($15 each retail) continue the adventure with the goal of finding the two lost university professors over eight different acts of the story.
As the first released deluxe expansion, Dunwich Legacy is an excellent start. Both scenarios in the box are of high quality. I particularly enjoyed "The House Always Wins" because it was more of a social adventure and extremely difficult to beat. The flexibility in both character creation and choice of starting scenario were both nice touches. This is an excellent expansion and a great way to expand the base game.
The second deluxe expansion for the Arkham Horror card game is The Path to Carcosa. In this storyline, a new theatrical play has come to the city of Arkham, Massachusetts, and it is all the rage. However by investigating further into its popularity, the players discover that a series of deaths, disappearances and outright insanity surrounds the play's presence.
Two scenarios are played one after the other in a specific order. Play begins with a trip to the theater in "Curtain Call" to actually see the production in question. What secrets will be revealed? The second scenario, "The Last King," is a social gathering of the cast and crew of the production and the investigators are invited. It's an opportunity to get some questions answered. And so the story unfolds.
This expansion introduces six new investigators: William Yorick the gravedigger, Min Thi Phan the secretary, Mark Harrigan the soldier, Safina Rousseau the painter, Akachi Onyele the shaman and Lola Hayes the actress. My favorite new character is Lola Hayes, the actress. She is a neutral investigator who can choose cards from all the different classes, providing a huge amount of choice. There are some incredible combinations and effects that can be created, so choose wisely. My thought about why she can use all these different cards is the fact that Lola is so good at acting, she can play a variety of roles.
I found the Path of Carcosa deluxe expansion to be dripping with theme. The scenarios tie nicely into an excellent storyline filled with chills and thrills. It was more immersive than Dunwich Legacy in part because of the addition of story cards (new to this set) that do an excellent job of propelling the story forward with rich narrative.
Similar to the Dunwich Legacy, the Path to Carcosa deluxe expansion has six additional chapter packs (purchased separately) that continue the campaign to an exciting conclusion. Fantasy Flight Games does an excellent job of whetting the appetite with this deluxe expansion. I want to get all the expansions so I can finish the story.
Of note in this expansion is a new key word on the playing cards called "hidden" that affects gameplay. At certain times, an investigator will draw a card with this keyword. He or she must keep the card in hand and not tell the other player what it specifically says but only explain at times throughout the game what is happening. It adds an exciting and immersive element of suspense to the game that works quite well.
All in all both of these scenarios deliver more stories and thoughtful new content to the Arkham Horror card game. What's nice is that each deluxe expansion and its chapter packs are self-contained. They can be played separately without the need to purchase the other. If the Arkham Horror theme sounds interesting, if you wonder what it be like to "play" a character in a mystery novel, if you like immersive games dripping with theme, you've got to check this game out. Find out more at Fantasy Flight Game's website.