Written by Gladwin J. Singh
True Story: I only started playing this game because my significant other convinced me to give it a try. She had watched the tutorial videos and read reviews and told me how great she ‘THOUGHT’ the game was, and that she wanted to play it. I bought the game and we tried it a few times. She is a Quick Learner *wink*, so she picked up the rules easily, while I struggled at first. She basically taught me how to play the very basics of the game. However, she soon found that the game wasn’t really her cup of tea. She is fan of escape room and investigation sort of games, and she taught that Arkham Horror – The Card Game would be that game for her. To an extent, this is a game of investigation, but I think her expectations were that of escape room styles.
We only played the 1st scenario of The Night of the Zealot (NOTZ) campaign and that was it for her. From then on, I ended up just playing the game by myself, though once in a blue moon, I have a work colleague who comes over to play the game too. But for most of the time, I play Arkham Horror solo. And that’s what I want to address in this piece, solo play.
True Solo: Controlling only one investigator
Dual-handed Solo: Controlling two investigators
I started off with just one, the infamous Roland Banks. He is the definition of an all-rounded investigator, with an intellect of 3, willpower of 3 and strength value of 4, he is both a clue seeker and a fighter as well, which are crucial elements in playing this game. Also, his willpower of 3 allows him a slight chance of dealing with the treachery cards, most of which tests the investigators willpower. I think almost every Arkham Horrow player’s first starter BAE investigator has got to be Roland Banks…or Wendy Adams?
However, the question remains for most of us who play the game by ourselves. Do we go true solo or dual-handed? What are the pro’s and con’s? Is it even possible to true solo an entire campaign? Here are some of the pro’s and con’s of playing Arkham Horror true solo. Please understand that this is purely my own opinions based on the number of times that I have played.
Pros of Playing True Solo:
– Less clues needed to advance the act deck.
– More focus on controlling a single investigator.
– You draw less treachery cards from the encounter deck.
– The ‘big baddie” has a lesser health value to deal with.
One thing I noticed about playing true solo is that I find myself completing scenarios faster than I would, dual-handed. Probably for obvious reasons, but my tempo is faster in true solo. Rather than exploring various locations, I go straight to where I need to be. Most of the time, I end a scenario having only drawn less than 20 treachery cards, sometimes just 10. I find it easier to kill the big boss since the health is not multiplied. Generally, I was never any good at deck-building games, so controlling one investigator is ideal for me. It allows me to focus on combos or specific actions for that investigator. Even then, my mind is already a big mess of figuring out all the various possibilities of every single action taken. As of today, I mostly play true solo. While I enjoy it…I can’t help but notice its limitations.
Cons of Playing True Solo:
– You have to do EVERYTHING!
– You need to cover more grounds.
– Your investigator deck has to be all rounded in order to deal with the treacheries, investigations, fights and evade.
– Limited deck-building opportunities that centers on the investigator’s strengths/abilities.
– You need access to vast resource of cards to build an all-rounded investigator.
Regarding these limitations, playing true solo is accepting the fact that you need to do everything by yourself, that includes clue gathering, defeating enemies, being at specific locations, and activating specific actions needed to advance the act deck in a designated location.
Once you recognise this, you will see that you have limited time to complete scenarios. Any delay could result in disaster/failure/unwanted resolutions. As such, each action you take is precious to you. The limited time becomes more apparent in scenarios that have many locations to explore, such as ‘The Midnight Masks‘ from the NOTZ campaign. That scenario has 9 locations, with 5 cultists vastly spread out. On top of that, you need to discover clues in order to find the cultists. With only one investigator to do this, it makes it impossible to interrogate all 6 cultists in that scenario, with the highest doom threshold of 8 only.
What about the ‘Unspeakable Oath‘ scenario from The Path to Carcosa (TPTC) campaign? That scenario has 12 locations and it is so unforgiving because you need to actually move from one end to do something, and then moving to another end to actually complete the scenario. Playing true solo just means that you have a lot of grounds to cover, and in doing so, you may not be able to utilize or gain favours at certain locations, such as victory points/heal damage or horror. Pure bummer, especially if you need those victory points for deck-building.
Another limitation is the deck-building aspect. Each investigator has special abilities and strengths that we would like to harness when we build the decks. That means, if I’m building a Daisy Walker deck, my goal is to build the best clue seeking investigator to gather all clues and advance the act deck. However, this idealistic deck can only work well if I have another investigator to watch her back. Thus, probably getting a strong Guardian investigator like Mark Harrigan to deal with enemies and big baddies. In doing so, both investigators strengths and abilities will shine better if the game was played with two investigators.
Unfortunately, that does not work for true solo because you will have to build an all rounded deck that will help deal with the treacheries, clue gathering and enemy engagement. Thus, your ideal deck may not come into fruition for true solo.
Up until my complete collection of TPTC campaign, I was mostly playing dual-handed solo, mainly because I just didn’t have enough cards to build an all rounded investigator, and so I played dual handed to compensate for both investigators. That means, one investigator for getting clues and one investigator to deal with enemies. I mean, I wasn’t going to keep using Roland Banks all the time for true solo.
To sum up, true solo for Arkham Horror has its perks but that does not excuse it from its various limitations as well. If you are new to this game, and you only have the core set, Roland may well be your only true solo investigator, which brings me to my final point. Playing true solo can also be regarded as a ‘luxury,’ in that you need a wide pool of player cards to actually build your true solo deck. Now that I own the core set, the entire TPTC campaign and 3 investigator starter decks, I have that ‘luxury’ to build a true solo deck. Even then, I still feel its limitations…you know… those little ‘ahhh I wish I had this specific card from this specific campaign that I don’t have…damm.’
Stay tune to my next article, where I will address the pros and cons of dual-handed solo play. In the mean time, there are many sites that you can read and watch to gain more insight on true solo for Arkham HOrror – The Card Game, such as The Arkham Horror True Solo Facebook page and the Solo Play Throughs YouTube channel. Hopefully all this will give you an idea of your preferred solo play style.
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