WithFantasy Flight Games made an official announcement: they are publishing a cooperative Lovecraft-themed game called Arkham Horror: The Card Game.
There’s currently a handful of information wrapped up in marketing copy, but the nut of the game seems to be players choose one of five characters and build a deck around them, drawing from cards suited to a character’s classes. Roland Banks, for instance, can use Guardian cards of all levels, and Seeker cards up to level 2. Each character has some cards that are automatically included, both good things and bad things; to continue the example, Roland always has his .38 firearm and a strong dose of paranoia.
Characters work together to defeat a series of scenarios, it seems, much like in Lord of the Rings: The Card Game, but with a persistent, legacy-style campaign structure. The campaign log sheet shows characters track the traumas, assets and weaknesses earned in each scenario. Furthermore, as characters advance through scenarios, they level up and gain access to new cards. It’s an interesting concept that brings in the character advancement portion of a role-playing game with the deck evolution aspect of something like the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game.
When I first saw the news yesterday, I was immediately psyched, and not just because it was confirmation of rumors that started back in May. A cooperative card game with the Cthulhu mythos theme was exactly what I’ve been wanting. As much as I enjoyed playing Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game, my least favorite part of it was the head to head competition. I’ve enjoyed cooperative games since I first found them with the 2005 revision of Arkham Horror and later Pandemic, and I especially like the theme of investigators struggling against the unknown forces of a universe far vaster and more inexplicable than they could have imagined.
This game will attract a different crowd of players to some extent. It’s not head to head competition, so people who enjoy that play style will continue looking elsewhere. The emphasis here seems to be on developing a narrative over the course of a campaign. This feels like an “experience game,” as my friend Rod likes to say, where years later, you’re still chuckling over the time the deputy of Arkham and his buddy Earl pulled up outside the general store, realized how many monsters were prowling around and immediately roared off again in the patrol wagon. I really hope this new card game follows suit, letting stories like that emerge from game play.
It’s been a delight to see how quickly the discussion for Arkham Horror gets moving over the last day. There’s a Boardgamegeek listing — and I am tickled to see people already trying to surmise an expansion release schedule — a subreddit, a Facebook group, a section on the Living Card Games community on Google+, and so on. It was a matter of two hours and change before someone said, “Hey, let’s make a podcast!” And I, of course, have been trying to visualize how to capture a four player game on camera for Decked!
With the impending end of the Sentinels of the Multiverse line, I was already missing having an ongoing game line to follow and get excited about. With luck, the Arkham LCG will be exactly what I’m looking for.