Welcome to Arkham...
by Richard Launius
First time to Arkham? – then you are in for a real adventure. Whether you played the first edition of Arkham Horror, or are returning as an experienced player, I think you will like the new city layout, graphics, and location decisions that you can now make. While I will always cherish what I consider to be the classic Arkham board, the new edition has been enhanced in a number of ways that add to both the play of the game while better reflecting the dark mood of an H.P. Lovecraft story visually.
One of the issues players always vocalized to me about the original Arkham Horror game was that there was no guide provided about where to go to achieve certain encounters. This was especially important for new players. While wandering around the town and learning the adventures was part of the fun and charm of the game, it was also frustrating to spend several turns to get to a location only to find that what you needed could not be obtained there. Sure, it was clear that if you went into Black Cave the encounters would most likely be more dangerous than visiting Velma’s Diner, but the players did not know the most prevalent encounters at each location without reading through the Encounter Folder. This was one of the issues that we wanted to improve in the new board design. Therefore, we added encounter icons to each location identifying the two most prevalent encounters experienced there. In game mechanics terms, this means that there will be more cards with these encounters at the locations than any other type of encounters. The addition of these icons make it easier for new as well as experienced players to easily determine the best places for them to visit to obtain the item, skill, or specific encounter type while still providing a broad range of events that keeps the game interesting play after play.
Another major change from the original game board is the diversity of the locations. For example, the simplicity of a single building representing all of the Miskatonic University Campus in the original game was something that I felt needed to be expanded to better reflect the various aspects of a college campus. Therefore Miskatonic University grew into three locations – the Administration Building, the Library, and the Science Building. Each location offers very different encounters that are more specific to their location than the generic six encounters that made up all aspects of academic and campus life in the first edition game. Additionally, there are special encounters at many locations that appear on the board, which players can choose rather than drawing a random encounter. While there were a few locations in the original game that had standard activities that could be chosen by the player, the activities were mostly limited to retainers and the improvement of health or sanity. The new Arkham City board offers much more variety and many more choices. For example, at the Miskatonic University Administration Building, the player can choose to take a class and pay $8 to draw 2 Skill Cards and keep one of their choice, or draw a card for a random encounter. At the Science Building the player may choose to Dissect one of the monsters they killed to gain 2 Clue Tokens or they can draw a random Science Building encounter, which they can see by the icons associated that the encounter will most likely net them a Magic Item or a Clue Tokens - but at the same time could result in anything from gaining an ally to having your character’s soul ripped from his body, to be switched with another character simply because they held a strange statue. That's one of my favorite encounters.
There are many other locations throughout the city that have been changed, also granting the players a standard choice, like shopping in the General Store or entering the Inner Sanctum of the Silver Twilight Lodge if your character has become a member. That’s right – your character can now become a member of the Silver Twilight Lodge! If that occurs, the secrets of the lodge become open to your character as never before – granting both the rewards and the horror that come to those who learn that which should not be known. On the other end of the spectrum, characters may prove themselves strong protectors of the city and chose to become Deputies on the Arkham Police Force when they visit the Police Station.
The message you should get from reading this article is that we have done significant work to make locations more versatile, and encounters – well, MORE – more in every sense of the word. More interesting, more balanced in skill usage, more strategic in planning moves, more detailed based upon the character’s status and more choices for the player to make. Since we moved to cards rather than encounter charts, the game is also more expandable, since additional encounter cards could easily be added to the location decks. (Please note that at present there are not plans to expand the game.) In the end we hope this makes the game more fun for you to play while assuring that each game will be different and exciting.