Arkham Horror is a cooperative adventure game based on H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos. At the start of the game, one of the eight Ancient Ones is chosen as the main enemy and the goal is to prevent it from entering our world. Players choose from among 16 different investigators and clear the streets of Arkham from monsters and close portals to other dimensions. During the game players can upgrade their characters with skills, allies, weapons, spells, and various items.
The gameplay consists of using the attributes of their investigator as well as item cards that represent spells, items or other helpful tools. By utilizing these things the player can progress to open gates to other worlds. These gates contain monsters that will then roam around the board. The player avoids these monsters in order to try and go through the gate, and once they return they can close the gate. It is through one of these gates that an end game monster will finally appear, it is up to the players to defeat that monster to win.
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Pro Lots of expansion boards available
Currently there are 8 licensed expansions on the manufacturer's site. There are also many fan made expansions available online as well thanks to the games large and friendly community. Both the manufacturer's and community expansions add plenty of new content to the game including cards, investigators, board addons, Heralds (mini-bosses), Ancient Ones, spells, and items.
Pro Scales well from solo to large groups
The game supports up to 8 players, which is something of a feat for a game of its size and components. Makes for a great party game due to the size of players it allows. However, at the lower end it can also be enjoyed with one or two players, making it great for intimate gaming session. No matter how few players you have available, you'll be able to enjoy the game.
Pro Great challenge for those that enjoy difficult games
The win conditions of the game are quite slim and require one to know the rules ins and outs, so while not a game for casual players it is a game for the hardcore who enjoy a challenge.
Big map, lots of items and heroes with their own graphics, player figures on plastic stands; lots of tokens and monster cards made of firm cardboard.
Pro Lots of choices
Each location offers you different opportunities to trade for and to explore. The imaginary hero class (like tank, mage, support, stealth) is up to you and usually not well-tied to hero abilities.
Even when apocalypse comes, you still (might) have a chance to defeat the planetary evil.
Pro Great atmosphere of Lovecraft tales
Your weak heroes have to dive into parallel realities, use magic, defeat unknown guests and apply unique artifacts. Each game's location has its own secrets and 'contacts' with various outcomes — good and bad.
You either choose by yourself or get a random hero, and play with them the whole party (if you were not killed, of course). You and your hero have skills, items, unique qualities and effects, and their story.
The game itself encourages role-playing elements to dive into the Lovecraftian environment.
Pro Highly cooperative
Though the rules do highlight "best players of the game" via basic calculations, the game itself is aimed towards collaboration. To win, everyone must commit to the victory, and you often forget about the existence of a "best player".
The game allows players to exchange items or help other players via skills, special abilities and magic. In practice, players often compete their tasks in pairs and more, e.g. they close gates in pairs, where one has to clean the entrance from monsters, and the other seals the gates.
Pro Each game is unique
The game starts by choosing a random boss and/or heroes. Each turn begins with the myth phase, whose effects apply from a random card in the deck. These effects include monster movement, game-wide buffs and de-buffs, quests, monster gate breaches, etc. You will never know if you will be able to win the game.
Items and skills are usually taken randomly too.
The game is very long (several hours).
Con Long preparation time
Laying out all the things may eat up to 30 minutes (without extensions).
Con Hard to find
It was actually released in 2005 and currently out of stock at official page.
Con Huge rules
24+ pages of rules. Though they are well-written, highly illustrated, enriched with small data tables, it is easy to forget small details, especially when some critical rule is applied, e.g., for just one type of bosses.
Con Playing alone or in small team (2-3) is usually easy and boring
Arkham is best enjoyed when played by teams of 4 and more.
Con Very unaproachable
Arkham Horror has a lot of moving parts, its rules are difficult to follow, and the gameplay itself is pretty difficult. This all adds up to a game that is very unapproachable and will take the most dedicated of players to really understand the whole concept put forth.