Arkham Horror’s Deepening Shadows Hide More Expansions

After Innsmouth Horror appeared, received wisdom among the Arkham Horror set was there were no more expansions to be had. Fantasy Flight had hit the major centers of mythos action — Dunwich, Kingsport and Innsmouth — and while there might be one or two more small boxes emphasizing a particular Ancient One, as The King in Yellow did for Hastur, the game line was essentially done.

Not so, the last couple weeks have revealed. Fantasy Flight had a one-two punch for intrepid investigators: first they announced Miskatonic Horror, a big box expansion, and then a week or two later came the revelation of a revised edition of Curse of the Dark Pharaoh. The latter was Arkham Horror‘s first expansion and as such, it’s become somewhat notorious for being plagued with badly written encounters and wonky mechanics.

I’m having a mixed reaction to this news so far. I more than kinda burned out on the seemingly limitless yet repetitive realms of Arkham Horror after playing with Lurker at the Threshold a bit and being disappointed by the same sorts of problems cropping up again, like new mechanics that hardly make an impact on the game.

Miskatonic Horror caught my interest at first, because it seemed like it could be the patch kit expansion for which completionists yearn; something that prevents the dampening of activity in expansion towns as their limited stack of mythos cards are slowly overwhelmed by cards from the more numerous Arkham-only expansions. What it seems to be, however, is mostly more. More encounters for locations, more madnesses and injuries and all the other fiddly little cards. And that’s pretty cool. But in a way it exacerbates the problem. If you throw all those new Arkham-only mythos cards in the stack, interesting things happen in Dunwich or Kingsport or Innsmouth even less frequently.

Now, Curse of the Dark Pharaoh almost interests me more, for some reason. The original expansion is probably my least favorite, mainly because the supposedly super special exhibit items are crap, sometimes you get barred from a neighborhood, which makes no in-world sense and the encounters that require you dig a specific creature out of the monster cup are irritating. But if the revision fixes those things and includes the Dark Pharaoh herald, which we already know it does, plus throws in some new stuff — or at least not encountering Cthulhu in an Other World, say — then I could become interested.

I’m not going to rush out and buy either of these. I would like to do so with Miskatonic Horror, because I would love to have more encounters for the expansion towns, and I want to show Fantasy Flight there is a market for expansions that expect a higher buy-in than the core set, which is their usual expansion philosophy. But I’m just not getting the plays out of Arkham Horror right now that would justify snapping it right now. And the same goes for the revised Curse of the Dark Pharaoh, which is more of a completionist’s purchase for me.

Honestly, what interests me more about Arkham Horror right now is Fantasy Flight’s recent foray into using print on demand for small product runs. They debuted a Death Angels expansion at PAX East that was a small pack of cards in a transparent wrapper, not unlike what Looney Labs did for their small Chrononauts expansions. If that same production model were applied to Arkham Horror, I think those “patch kit” expansions, designed to even out the frequency of gate and mythos activity in towns other than Arkham itself, would become feasible. And that would get me more excited about playing Arkham Horror again, if I knew there’d be a real hot time in Dunwich or Innsmouth.

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