Written by Gladwin J. Singh
Spoiler Alert: This article will feature contents from Night of the Zealot, The Dunwich Legacy, The Path to Carcosa and possibly The Innsmouth Conspiracy expansions of Arkham Horror: The Card Game.
We don’t really get or hear much of those ‘glorious’ moments when playing Arkham Horror…and even if we do, half of the time, we realize that we must have played the game wrong, misread and interpreted the rules, or we get way too excited that we forget to perform certain set up’s in the game.
And just when you are about to savour that ‘oh…so sweet’ moment, your mind goes ‘hold up…I forgot to do this,’ or ‘wait a minute, what did I miss,’ or ‘Oops, read the card text wrongly.’ I cannot recall the many times I have to reset a game just because I misread a rule or forgot to add an extra token into the chaos bag. Ughhhh.
However, these are just clumsy moments that we all make (probably a lot more from me). The ugly side of Arkham Horror really, is just how hard the game already is on its own. The harsh treachery cards, investigator weaknesses, the uncertainty of chaos tokens… the effects of the Agenda deck, etc. As much as we try our best to mitigate the results of the game to our favor, the randomness of the chaos bag will forever be an obstacle. Yea… if you were thinking about those moments you pulled the red tentacle token AFTER committing tons of cards to a skill test, I share this familiar trauma with ya.
Nonetheless, in the midst of all the chaos and uncertainty, there lies greater moments from the game. Those ‘oh…so sweet’ and ‘glorious’ moments of the game. Some of which, we can relate to. I wish to share a few of these moments here. Please note that my current expansions include Dunwich, Carcosa, Innsmoth campaigns and the Murder at the Excelsior Hotel standalone scenario. Therefore, I can only speak for those expansions.
Tanking up with the right cards for the big baddie battle against Umordhoth in The Devourer Below and actually defeating it
You often know it’s going to be a lost cause to stop that damm ritual. Time was never on your side. Let alone, luck. No matter what you do, Umordhoth will spawn and you will have no choice but to take it down. This is especially relatable in True Solo, because you need to do all the work and cover more grounds. In my recent article, using Daisy Walker for True Solo, I had more success in defeating Umordhoth than stopping the ritual. Not the most favourable outcome, but when faced with a greater adversity and being able to defeat it, that hit the sweet spot.
I prepped Daisy in a location, with a level 3 Barricade to hold off any enemy, had both Abyssal Tome on standby with David Renfield as an ally for resources supply. Moonlight ritual was also present in case I needed to manage the doom to my favor. On top of that, I had Hypnotic Gaze as well to fend off the first initial attack by Umordhoth. As well thought out as it seemed, I lost a few times too. Long story short, the sweet spot came in when both Abyssal Tome dealt 4 damage each and then I was able finish Umordhoth off with one round of Shrivelling, spending most of my resources on Arcane Studies to boost my willpower stats. Now that’s a victory that doesn’t come often.
Discarding your weakness due to game play
Depending on the investigator, some of them have signature weaknesses that involved being attached to a location or enemy card. This would require the investigator to move to that specific location just to resolve the effect. Though seemingly harmless, failure to do so will result in taking trauma.
So what happens if you are instructed by the game text to remove said location and/or enemy card from the game…
The weakness card gets discarded as well and you no longer need to resolve its effect because it is no longer in the game. Granted, not many scenarios will have locations being removed, but when they do, that’s the sweet spot. In The Essex County Express scenario of Dunwich, I played Jenny and I drew Searching For Izzie signature weakness. This was midway through the game when I was already at the right-most train car and the weakness was attached to the left-most train car. When the agenda advance, I was instructed to remove all enemy cards and other cards that were on that location. Seemed too good to be true, but it was. :’) Another sweet spot.
When you need to make the great escape and you have THAT right card in hand
Countless times when I played The Unspeakable Oath scenario from Carcosa, movement action is extremely important, especially in the final act of the game which requires investigators to make their way from the basement to the Garden (approximately 6 locations apart). Failure to ‘resign’ at the garden will result in investigator defeat and a swap to a new investigator. Usually, time always runs out. 6 location is a lot of grounds to cover and it is also in the final act and agenda, where all the enemy cards are shuffled into the encounter deck and its very likely for me to encounter an enemy, which will slow down my progress. Many times I have played this scenario and many times, I have lost. However, out of all those times, it is nice to have a win with the right card in hand. I have won a few times with the Astral Travel card and Elusive to make my way to the nearest location adjacent to the Garden. When that happens, it really is a glorious moment.
Can you imagine these oh so sweet moments in other scenarios with either Elusive or Astral Travel, such as:
> Moving to the specific location to advance the act in The Pallid Mask scenario from Carcosa.
>In the final act of Lost in Time and Space scenario from Dunwich, you use one of these cards to move to a connecting location to the final location.
When calling out ‘HASTUR’s’ name out loud in your campaign play benefits Agnes Baker
After completing The Unspeakable Oath scenario, you will need to make some choices and one of it will warn you not to speak the name as doing that will force you take one horror.
Now, say that you want to deal damage to Hastur and it’s already the final act and agenda. By this time, Hastur would have gained additional damage and evade modifier. Hence, the risk of failing an attack is greater. Who could possibly benefit from yelling out Hastur out loud. Easy. Agnes Baker. Imagine Hastur having one more HP left, and you’ve maxed out all efforts to attack Hastur and you use Agnes’s signature ability to your advantage to defeat The King in Yellow. Glorious indeed.
Defeating tough non-elite enemies with Waylay instead
Ever encountered those Screeching Byakhee’s, Deep One Bull, Lloigor, Winged One and the Brood of Yog-Sothoth… and you were thiking, evade or spent multiple actions to try and kill it? These enemies are tough to bring down and more importantly, they slow us down. But if you have ever defeated these enemies with just the Waylay card, I mean… I don’t know about you but that hits the sweet spot for me in this game. With more focus on the brood which requires specific assets (Esoteric Formula/ Powder of Ibn Ghazi) to defeat it, Waylay is another option for investigators who can use that card to evade and defeat the brood without having to use the Esoteric Formula asset card. When playing the ‘Undimensioned and Unseen’ scenario in TDL, Waylay became a very important event card to use in order to easily defeat the Brood.
And there you have it. We all know Arkham Horror is a hard game to play, even on easy mode. The amount of frustration and anxiety it causes makes us question ‘why play something that doesn’t give me a peace of mind?’ “Why must there be an ‘auto-fail’ token in the chaos bag?” Yet, despite all these circumstances, this is where the game truly shines in creating these ‘oh-so-sweet’ moments! They come by very rarely, but when they do, it’s so significant to us, we still remember it. I’m sure there are tons of other glorious moments in the game that I haven’t touched on yet. For instance, players who love deck-building will take comfort in seeing their card combos working out perfectly in the game. Not to forget those Hail Mary moments when all hope is lost: you maxed out your resources, and cards… you have nothing to commit, and you really need to pass this test because it’s do or die… and you ACTUALLY pass. :’)
If you read this post and you have one of those moments in the game, please share them with me in the comments 🙂 Bear in mind that I have not played Forgotten Age, Circle Undone, and Dream-Eaters, but I don’t mind the spoiler. Till the next time.