The Conspiracy Unfolds
The Premiere of Arkham Horror: The Card Game and More from Arkham Nights 2016
"As I turned up the stinking black earth in front of the fireplace, my spade causing a viscous yellow ichor to ooze from the white fungi which it severed, I trembled at the dubious thoughts of what I might uncover."
–H.P. Lovecraft, The Shunned House
Just last weekend it was that hundreds of daring investigators booked their tickets and made their way by train, automobile, and aeroplane to Roseville, Minnesota. There, while the trees were just starting to shed their red and golden leaves and the remaining foliage bloomed like a quiet sunset against the thin northern air, these brave and unwitting dreamers began their journeys into the unknown, unfathomable, and otherworldly realities of Arkham Nights 2016 and the Arkham Horror Files Universe.
The affair was secreted behind the doors of the Fantasy Flight Games Center, the unassuming exterior facade of which scarcely provided any indication that the investigators within were about to uncover the deepest and darkest secrets of the terrible, extra-dimensional beings known as the "Ancient Ones" and their many cultists. But once the investigators made their way inside, they were confronted by an electric atmosphere, charged with games of Arkham Horror, Eldritch Horror, Elder Sign, Mansions of Madness Second Edition, and the world premiere of Arkham Horror: The Card Game.
Indeed, there were many leads for the investigators to follow in their pursuit of the arcane, and there were numerous highlights from the weekend's adventures.
The Premiere of Arkham Horror: The Card Game
The world premiere of Arkham Horror: The Card Game was, for many investigators, the weekend's highlight. Every attendee received a special early copy of the Curse of the Rougarou scenario and was afforded the opportunity to purchase an early copy of the Core Set.
This meant that, by Saturday, we had investigators from all corners of Arkham digging their way to the bottom of the mysteries of the Core Set's Night of the Zealot campaign. And this meant that by Sunday, we had already seen dozens of investigators devoured or driven mad by the horrors they had unleashed.
We tracked the results of these investigations throughout our Arkham LCG® Invocation Event, and of the twenty-two teams that dared risk their lives and sanity, seventy-two percent saw Arkham succumb to otherworldly terrors while a mere twenty-one percent found some way to save the city—and humanity—from doom.
We also collected a number of attendees' responses to the game:
FFG: What did you think of your campaign?
- "It was nuts! Played through it twice and it was nerve-racking the whole time."
- "Incredibly thematic, fun, great storytelling. Felt I was my character."
- "Each scenario builds on each other to an interesting conclusion."
- "Enjoyed that even if you fail, you still get a resolution."
- "The replayability of the campaign is really impressive. Most fun I have had with an LCG core set."
- "It really felt like there was a lot of mystery between scenarios. We were very unsure what would happen next."
- "I found the campaign incredibly captivating. There were so many moments where someone's weakness was so perfectly appropriate for their character or what was happening. It also had that true Lovecraft feel of feeling like everything was spiraling rapidly out of control."
FFG: What was the coolest, most exciting, most terrifying, or most mind-melting thing you remember from your games?
- "When the urchin Wendy took it upon herself to grab a bat and single-handedly bashed in the brains of the Ghoul Priest."
- "Skids [O'Toole] becoming a werewolf."
- "In the first scenario, Skids threw some dynamite in the Hallway to help kill the Ghoul Priest, but to keep Daisy alive he had to heal her first with some First Aid."
- "The alternate methods of closing out the scenarios provided good co-op discussions and debates."
- "Constant fear of drawing cards and drawing a weakness that could ruin everything."
- "Pulling an auto-fail token and taking five damage and five sanity!"
FFG: What would you tell other gamers about this game?
- "Highly recommended!"
- "Very enjoyable, narrative card game that draws you in and creates tension."
- "Surprised at how much [I] enjoyed it. Not as complicated as it looks."
- "Your choices have lasting consequences."
- "Think of it as an unfinished novel; as new ideas come out, the player narrative will evolve to encompass new cards and characters."
- "Amazing! So much fun. It's tough, but some of the most fun I've had losing!"
- "BUY IT!!!"
- "If The Lord of the Rings LCG, or any other adventure game, interested you even in the slightest: buy this game. In fact, buy two copies."
The intrepid adventurers who attended Arkham Nights didn't just uncover this unique opportunity to play the game at its release—and with co-designer Matthew Newman—they also unlocked a hidden room in which designers Nate French and Matthew Newman were revealing the secrets of the game's design. Over the course of roughly forty-five minutes, they covered topics ranging from the game's original vision to its aesthetics and the ways in which its elements were developed with the player's point-of-view in mind.
You can now find these rantings and invocations online on our YouTube channel.
More Arkham Madness
While the premiere of Arkham Horror: The Card Game may have been the main draw among cultists and investigators, it certainly wasn't the weekend's only point of intrigue. We also hosted events for all of our other Arkham-themed games, as well as several tables of our The End of the World: Wrath of the Gods Roleplaying Game, which had plenty of Ancient Ones of its own.
Richard Launius, the designer of Arkham Horror, was once again able to join us, and he was kind enough to celebrate the game's longevity by playing several sessions at a giant-sized board. One of the teams won the game in three turns, and Richard commemorated their victory by bestowing them with gifts, including tokens and pieces from his original, thirty-year-old copy of the game!
We were reminded, once again, how fortunate and happy we are to have had the opportunity to work with Richard over the years.
The weekend also saw another of our massive To the Barricades sessions of Arkham Horror, with sixteen players joining forces against Azathoth, and designer Kevin Wilson stopped in to hang out, chat, and answer questions.
After the recent announcement of The Dreamlands expansion for Eldritch Horror, we were excited to give attendees the opportunity to pursue the mysteries of the Ancient One across the world… and other worlds. We had preview sessions of The Dreamlands running with beta materials all weekend, and these sessions remained full and enthusiastic (and doomed) the whole time.
Mansions of Madness Second Edition
Finally, we had plenty of action for one of the year's hottest games—Mansions of Madness Second Edition. Developers Kara Centell-Dunk and Grace Holdinghaus joined players for several sessions that used materials from the new expansions, and despite all the different directions our investigators' efforts could lead them, we had no fewer than six tables of Mansions running at any given time.
The Portal Has Closed… For Now
By Sunday, those investigators who had not yet been devoured or driven mad accounted themselves fortunate to have entered the mouth of madness and survived, intact, to tell their tales—whether or not those who heard them would make any sense of their strange and fragmented blatherings. Ancient Ones? Invisible horrors that stalk the night? Cultists working their way into the highest ranks of the university and government? Worlds beyond our own, arranged according to non-Euclidean geometries that assail the senses?
Likely, these investigators travel the world, changed by their investigations, and unable to share them fully with the unknowing masses. As the autumn air grows thin and chill in Roseville, Minnesota, the leaves rattle softly along the streets. A light goes out in the Fantasy Flight Games Center. Arkham Nights 2016 has come and gone. The portal to madness has closed…