How to Play the Arkham Horror Board Game
ARKHAM HORROR PAGES
Arkham Horror Instructions, Rules, and Strategy
Gamers who enjoy saving the planet from unspeakable monsters should learn how to play Arkham Horror as soon as possible. Thatís because this board game from Fantasy Flight Games pits the players against none other than the Old Ones, the mind-blasting monstrosities created in the works of H.P. Lovecraft.
Iíve been a fan of the Call of Cthulhu role-playing game for years, so learning how to play Arkham Horror was a natural progression. My decision was made even easier when I saw the game in the background of a multi-part South Park episode dedicated to the rise of the horrible Cthulhu (and his subsequent team-up with Eric Cartman).
Players take on the roles of a diverse cast of characters, from vagrants and gangsters to librarians and private eyes. But no matter what their profession, each character has the same goal: close the gates to distant, alien worlds and save the Earth from unspeakable evil.
Some Arkham Horror strategy is included at the end of this article, while weíll also look at an overview of the Arkham Horror rules. While fans of Pictionary might find the game too bizarre for their tastes, those who love horror or grew up marveling at the works of Lovecraft will be hooked.
Arkham Horror Instructions
Youíll find the Arkham Horror instructions to be thorough and well-written, which is important considering all the elements included in the game. The most impressive feature is the lavish game board and the seemingly endless supply of counters. New players should allot a decent amount of time for set-up, as there are lots of items to be punched and sorted.
The game board depicts the city of Arkham in the year 1926, with plenty of supernatural locations, insane asylums, and shops brimming with magic items. There are also a wide range of character cards, allowing players to choose from unique occupations. Each character has strengths and weaknesses, and it will be up to the player to discover these during gameplay.
As the game gets underway, gates begin to open in Arkham. These gates serve as portals to other worlds, and monsters will often come out to terrorize the streets of the city. To close these portals, our heroes must journey inside and return with their health and sanity intact. Meanwhile, a panic grips the city of Arkham and the terror level rises. As more monsters flood into our world, the way is paved for an Old One (drawn at random or selected by the players during the set-up phase) to cross over. If this happens, the heroes will have to engage in a desperate struggle of survival.
Arkham Horror Rules
According to the Arkham Horror rules, the players begin by selecting an investigator and placing them at the location on the board dictated by their card. Notice that each character has different sets of abilities and skills, but these can be raised or lowered each turn to better suit your strategy for the round. If a characterís sanity is reduced to zero, they will be moved to the Arkham asylum, while characterís with zero health will be transported to the hospital. Characters will also begin the game with varying amounts of cash and certain items.
On their turn, a character can move around the board and choose to fight monsters or have encounters. A number of stores exist in Arkham where characters can purchase equipment and weapons. Having encounters results in the player drawing a card and following the instructions, while fighting monsters is more complicated. Most monsters require a sanity check to begin with, and they may also employ special abilities in combat. If a player successfully defeats a monster, the creature is removed from the board and the player receives a monster trophy that can later be redeemed for cash or goods. Characters with a high sneak skill can also choose to bypass monsters on a successful roll.
To succeed on rolls, a player must get a 5 or 6 on a D6. If the roll involves a statistic check, then the player gets to roll a number of D6s equal to the value of their statistic. Winning combat often requires multiple successes, while normal statistic checks only need a single success.
No matter what actions were performed, the designated player always draws a card from the Mythos deck at the end of the turn. This responsibility, as well as others, rotates clockwise throughout the game. When a Mythos card is drawn, a gate to another world appears in Arkham on the space indicated by the card. Monsters will also come spilling from the portal, and some may take to the air or otherwise terrorize the citizens of Arkham.
If Arkham begins to fill up with monsters, the terror level rises in the city. If the terror level gets high enough, locations will close down as their owners flee for a safer environment. As more gates open and the terror level rises, the chance of the Old One appearing on Earth increases. Sealing a gate with an Elder Sign will lower the chance of these abominations entering our world.
If the worst occurs, players will still have a chance to battle with the Old One. If they can remove all of the tokens that the foul creature has acquired during the game, it will be driven from this plane of existence. If not, the investigators and the entire planet are doomed.
Arkham Horror Strategy
If youíve been searching for some Arkham Horror strategy, try following these steps to drive the foul Old Ones back to the cold depths of the cosmos.
Get Cheap Clues - If a clue is unguarded on the board, donít hesitate to pick it up. These can be used to help close portals or spent to add extra successes to rolls of the dice.
Blessings - When a character is blessed, they only need to roll a 4 or better on a D6 to succeed instead of a 5 or better. This will come in handy time after time, so look into getting a blessing as soon as possible. The cost is five monster tokens or a gate trophy (your choice). If you get cursed (you can only succeed on a roll of a 6), which is a major bummer, a blessing will also help ward off the negative effects.
Get Healed, Get Sane - If youíve been reduced to a single point of health or sanity, get treated as soon as possible. Moving around the board in this condition is asking for trouble.
Weapons - Your investigator should have at least one weapon at all times, and two if itís possible.
Know the Bad Spots - The Unvisited Isle and the Black Cave will usually prove to be unpleasant locations filled with peril, so skip these areas unless you feel you can handle the challenge.
Overkill - If youíre going to take on a monster, make sure that youíll be rolling more than enough dice needed to kill it. Getting your health whittled down costs you extra time, so donít charge into combat until youíre armed with a magical weapon and some handy spells.
Consolidate Clues - Instead of each player having a couple of clues, try to make sure that 5 or more clues get into the hands of a few players. This will help them to seal the gates, which has a major impact on the game.
Unstable Locations - Be aware of the unstable locations on the board such as Black Isle or Independence Square. If you can seal up portals in these areas with an Elder Sign, your job just got a whole lot easier.
Teamwork - If you have an item that a fellow player needs, give it to them. If you need advice, donít be afraid to ask the other players. Teamwork is important in Arkham Horror, and thereís a strong chance the world will be doomed without it.
Donít Be a Tightwad - Thereís no point of earning money if you donít spend it. Visit the shops in Arkham early and often. Common items can be helpful, and thereís a chance you might get your hands on a magical weapon or Elder Sign.
Retainers - In the early stages of the game, itís a good idea to get a retainer. For every two investigators playing the game, I suggest having one retainer. The money they provide will allow you to buy membership into the Silver Twilight Lodge, as well as spells, common items, and skills. To hedge your bets, try taking on encounters at the University Administration or Newspaper Office.
Divide Responsibilities - When possible, itís a good idea to have one well-armed player tasked with monster hunting, while another player journeys into gates and does exploration. If extra players are present, one might also spend most of their time gathering clues or buying items.
I have a group of pals who are all fans of the works of H.P. Lovecraft, and we learned how to play Arkham Horror about a year ago. We lost on our first game, of course, but we did have a lot of fun in the process. The design quality is high, the selection of Old Ones keeps the game fresh, and the multiple characters allow players to experiment with different playing styles. If youíre taking a break from a Call of Cthulhu role-playing campaign, this is a great way to stay in the spirit of Lovecraft. You can find more information about the game here: Arkham Horror fan site.
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