Based on the Mythos of H.P. Lovecraft, Arkham Horror Files is the brand name for a series of products produced by Fantasy Flight Games. These games are more or less all set in 1920's New England, although world... well... Worlds-hopping occurs. While there is no overall narrative to tie all the games together, they do allow you to experience horror and pathos in a variety of ways. Also, a lot of the characters appear in all the games!
Here's the complete catalog:
Arkham Horror: The Board Game - 2005
The game that started it all, currently on its 2nd edition. A fully co-op game, you explore the streets of Arkham (and with the expansions, other nearby towns) to try and discover clues to stop the Ancient One from awakening.
This game features many hallmarks of Fantasy Flight's games: A ton of fiddly bits and cardboard tokens, massive decks, a confusing as hell rulebook, and insanely good production values. It also represents a ton, TON of bloat, with NINE
total expansions -- and one of those is a rerelease/remaster!
I love the game to bits, but it is hard to get to the table. I mean, the sucker has a 43 page large FAQ!
[Note to self: Insert picture of complete sleeved collection here.]
Eldritch Horror - 2013
There haven't been any new expansions for Arkham Horror since Miskatonic Horror.. and Eldritch Horror is the reason. It is essentially Arkham Horror 3.0. Taking nearly a decade of game making experience into account, FFG made a game that theoretically plays easier and faster and is more amicable to having expansions. This game should also be applauded for being the first of Fantasy flight's products to introduce a separate "Learn to Play" and "Rules reference" document, which really does help - although I wish they'd call out changes specifically made in the LTP document so you knew what was being made easier for your first time.
I wouldn't know - I have actually never played this one, because of the sunk cost fallacy in my collection of Arkham Horror. However, I can recommend a really good video on it!
Eldritch Horror is up to 6 expansions already, putting out at least one a year since it was released. I believe there are mechanics in there that limit the weird bloat and interaction problems that Arkham Horror faced, but again.. haven't played it.
Elder Sign - 2011
All the co-op fun of Arkham Horror in a dice game! A ton more portable than the standard Arkham Horror, this product has you challenging to meet specific dice rolls on an ever-dwindling set of dice. You can use spells and items to help you, and try to focus, but if you aren't careful the game will snatch victory from you very, VERY fast.
The game takes place entirely within the Miskatonic Museum, so you are exploring forgotten storage places and strange, twisting exhibits. It's fairly thematic, with a clock striking midnight to mark the impeding doom.
This game comes in Digital form too, called Elder Signs: Omens!
This is actually how I learned to play the game. It's not the most intuitive, but you start seeing tricks and cool interactions in it that aren't in the full game.
Elder Sign has 3 released boxed expansions, and one more on the way. It also has a "challenge deck" that adds flavor to the game as a print on demand situation. Then there's a bunch of promo cards which I'll personally never own because who wants to go to Minnesota in October?
What I find cool about the expansions is that the two newest ones, Omens of Ice and Omens of the Deep, actually started as DLC for Elder Signs Omens! They took the digital product and turned it back into a physical product, changing the whole feel of the game. Streets of Arkham also fundamentally changes the core gameplay, but I think it was co-developed on the app and the board game at the same time. The first expansion, Unseen Forces, was published well ahead of the others and adds the always-important Blessings and Curses. I'd say that is a must-get if you buy the base game.
Mansions of Madness: 2nd Edition - 2016
Oh hey everyone, we're releasing a new Mansions of Madness! Oh.. and it'll be out... Next week, for GenCon!
This was my jaw hitting the floor this last year. Mansions of Madness 1st edition (which I'll talk about below) was my favorite FFG Arkham game. The thematics of exploring a mansion and solving a mystery actually playing out in narrative form was excellent.
Then they had to add an app to it.
As FFG's second app-requiring game (the first being X-Com), the redesign of MoM took the antagonist player role and gave it to a computer. and by doing so, the entire game was made co-op.. and surprises abounded. Now, you didn't know what the mansion looked like when you first stepped in. Now, new scenarios and tweaks could be delivered digitally, at a reduced cost. Now, they could better adjust the difficulty based on players. And to be extra nice, all the 1st edition components could be used in the 2nd edition to add even more variety!
I've heard people knock this game because the app seems tacked on. You could EASILY play this game entirely within the app with a few small tweaks. But I think that misses the point. There's something damned awesome about having the miniatures on the table in front of you, and then seeing them DISAPPEAR.. and you don't know where they are or where they'll reappear. And yes, that happened to me in one of the scenarios.
The only downside is cost. Ooohhh mama. The core is $100, the 1st edition repacks are $50 each, and the first official expansion is $30. DLC is $5 per platform you buy it on. But man, is it fun, and it sets up incredibly fast!
Arkham Horror: The Card Game - 2016
What, dice weren't portable enough for you? Well.....
So all of the Arkham Horror Files games try to tell a narrative. You are this team of disparate investigators, in way over your head as you try to comprehend things no mortal should. But at the end of the day, your character is defined by the board and the cards you draw.
So how about we let YOU decide the cards you draw?
Arkham Horror: The Card Game is a fully co-op Living Card Game. The base set includes components to allow 2 players to play, but the idea is that it can be expanded in the future. Once you choose an investigator, you build a deck based on their specific construction rules and enter into a campaign to solve a mystery... A mystery told through Act and Agenda decks, encounters and locations. Shut Up and Sit Down did an excellent overview of the game.
The base game isn't a ton of value. You get 1 copy of all but the neutral cards, and buying a second core leads to you having a second set of encounter cards that you really can't do anything with. But as the game goes on, that will get better. Currently, we are in the Dunwich Legacy cycle - a deluxe box, followed by six mythos packs that provide the last 6 stories of the campaign. To FFG's credit, they have designed the Mythos packs to be playable as standalone adventures... But I suspect most people will play them in campaign mode. They also are using Print on Demand to put out standalone adventures. Already 2 have been released, which can be slotted into your existing campaign for a cost.
Retired Games: Call of Cthulhu the Card Game - 2008; Mansions of Madness 1st Edition - 2011
All things must come to an end. These two games represent the only products that, out of the box, pit player versus player in the Arkham Horror Files line.
I am going to be 100% honest: I have no exposure to the CoC card game whatsoever. It always looked interesting, but.. I got nothing. If anyone wants to add some text to this, please let me know and I'll give you accredidation.
As for MoM 1st?
Cards. Cards cards cards cards cards.
MoM was FFG's second attempt at making a highly narrative driven game. Their first, the original Android, was ALSO very heavy in piece count, but MoM got even more wild. And, like Arkham Horror before it, I loved it. I just love 2nd edition more.
So you had a Keeper who ran the mansion, and the players. The idea was that the players would construct the map using their investigator guide, then the keeper would make a series of decisions about the scenario and what exactly happened. They would then "seed" the mansion by placing cards all over it. The investigators would need to collect these cards to get clues, figure out the conspiracy, solve puzzles, and hopefully get out alive. There were some REALLY cool mechanics, like the keeper having threat to summon monsters, actual physical pieces that could be set up to make puzzles to solve, and the monsters being randomized based on their bases! Then there were the combat decks, which did different things based on the weapons you had and were also randomized.
Setup could easily take 30 minutes to an hour, though. And a lot of the enjoyment would be based on how aggressive the keeper was. If the keeper went for the throat, it would be nearly impossible for the investigators to win, just by the very nature of the scenarios. Still, at least you knew who your enemy was from the beginning, unlike Betrayal at House on the Hill - which many compared Mansions of Madness to.
Then there was the debacle with the first expansion. Forbidden Alchemy basically was everything at FFG going wrong. Misprinted cards, misprinted rulebooks, impossible scenarios... Somehow there was just no quality control on it, to the point where they essentially recalled the product to release a revised edition, and then gave everyone who had already bought the product a few "upgrade pack" to fix things. It was a mess, and hurt FFG's reputation quite a bit.
I still have all my 1st edition components, but I don't expect to get them to the table. 2nd edition basically eliminated the need for all those cards, including the "print on demand" ones that had to be duplicated to avoid having tells of what cards were what. With that said, I really, REALLY hope all the 1st edition scenarios come out for 2nd edition, in some form. There are some excellent stories in there that I never got to play.
This thread is for the discussion of all Arkham Horror Files products
, including ones not listed here. Please use spoilers as appropriate
- the most fun part of many of these games is discovering what new horror (hue hue) lies lurking around the corner!