A New Arkham Horror: The Card Game FAQ is Now Available
Hello, intrepid investigators of Arkham Horror: The Card Game!
I’m your friendly neighborhood Duke, and I’m here with Nick to present the latest Arkham Horror: The Card Game FAQ. It’s been a minute since the last FAQ, hasn’t it? The Scarlet Keys Investigator and Campaign Expansions are out along with several repackages, and we’re over halfway through 2023! As you’re probably aware, new releases mean new errata, clarifications, and taboos. If you’re a returning FAQ reader, you’ll see all changes highlighted in red. Let’s get to it.
By and large, we’d prefer to avoid issuing errata at all. However, some card effects might not function as intended or even break the game: this is why the errata list exists. With The Scarlet Keys out in the world, there are several significant errata we’ve identified. The “Dogs of War,” “Sanguine Shadows,” “Dealings in the Dark,” and “Congress of the Keys” scenarios have each received a few key tweaks to cards and setup text. Several of these errata have emerged from community discussion and interface with the player base, so I’d like to give a huge thanks to our players for both their patience and passion! In particular, some errata for “Sanguine Shadows” and “Dealings in the Dark” should clear up how these scenarios are intended to be played.
Beyond that, you’ll see a few sundry changes to cards from Edge of the Earth and Return to the Circle Undone. The majority of this update, however, concerns rules clarifications and the taboo list.
Rulings and Clarifications
We’ve seen a slew of new questions since the release of The Scarlet Keys, which introduced several new mechanics via the customizable and concealed keywords. We’ve included a number of the most frequent questions in the document as well as some necessary rulings that have emerged through the different questions submitted online. Some of these rulings and clarifications are broader in their reach, while others concern a few niche but funny combos (No, you can’t attach your Sin Eater to Elle Rubash, but what a fun idea!).
You’ll also find that in (1.27), we addressed some concerns about the new weakness Quantum Paradox and other weaknesses like it. Playing weakness cards such as these technically do not “change the game state” except to get the card out of your hand, which is these cards’ original intent! Players may play weakness cards that have passive negative effects such as this one, which would otherwise continue to harm the player simply by remaining in their hand.
The (2.23) entry on “For Each” versus “For Every” has not changed, but additional explanation has been added along with some examples to help players understand the difference between the two. We’ve received many questions about what constitutes a single cumulative effect versus separate effects. This is, again, less a mechanical ruling or change and more a clarification in the interest of making the concept easier to understand.
It is worth noting the changes to the ruling on (2.24) “Ignoring all costs.” This wording appears on cards such as Knowledge is Power to enable some powerful plays, circumventing all the costs associated with using an ability. The ruling on this wording has been revised to ignore all costs associated with initiating the ability: namely, “everything before the colon” on an ability. It does not allow investigators to ignore additional costs when resolving those abilities. For example, you can no longer use Knowledge is Power to trigger Earthly Serenity’s ability to heal each investigator almost infinitely, or to trigger Research Notes’ ability to discover all the clues at your location without spending evidence. This ruling curbed some of the power and combo potential inherent in these cards, and freed up future design space associated with additional costs.
If you were ever wondering what would happen if you drew both a Dilemma player card and a weakness card at the same time, you can stop wondering! The weakness takes precedence every time (2.25).
Additionally, we’ve included some “key” questions and answers regarding The Scarlet Keys in this document, particularly for the concealed keyword and the new key card type. Since keys work differently than other player cards or story assets, their Shift abilities work differently as well. For example, the Unstable side of The Last Blossom from “Dead Heat” instructs investigators to heal 1 damage from each enemy in play. The remainder of its effect is contingent upon the very significant and infamous “Then” wording, which requires the preceding effect to have resolved in full. As long as at least 1 enemy has healed a damage from The Last Blossom’s Shift ability, the “Then” requirement is met and the Last Blossom can flip to its Stable side.
The concealed mechanic has also gotten some further clarification in the FAQ section. The Arkham design team has seen a number of questions roll in about when a concealed mini-card can be exposed, and how many effects of an ability can be replaced to expose a concealed mini-card. An easy rule of thumb to think about is that only 1 concealed mini-card may ever be exposed per ability, even if that ability has multiple effects. For example, Breaking and Entering has two effects (discovering a clue and automatically evading an enemy), but only one of those effects can be replaced with an exposure. I recommend checking out page 21 of the FAQ for further explanation.
The Taboo List
The dreaded day has arrived: The Taboo List has grown in size and devoured a second page of the FAQ!
When we make changes to the taboo list, we ask which cards are dominating the “meta” and which corners we can push players to explore new playstyles. The goal, as always, is to help the players have fun. The taboo is not intended to perfectly balance the “numbers” of the game; instead, we use the taboo to limit possible abuse or push the meta in a new direction. Generally, we want to stick to small but significant macro-level changes that impact deckbuilding rather than gameplay, if able. It’s a lot to ask players to remember specific taboos while they’re playing!
The Chained/Unchained list allows us to re-value the power level of a card simply by increasing or decreasing its experience cost. This, in turn, has a marked effect on how that card is included and played in player decks. For this reason, the Dunwich talents (Higher Education, Streetwise, and Scrapper) along with Pathfinder (+1 experience) and Switchblade (level 2) have either had their experience cost adjusted or are off the Taboo List altogether: the cardpool has grown to a point that these cards just don’t dominate the meta in quite the same way as they did when they were originally chained. Conversely, we found that the newly-chained Shed a Light (+2 experience) has overperformed for a level 0 card. Likewise, Runic Axe’s Inscription of the Hunt (+1 experience) has become a staple part of many fighting strategies, but is undercosted for its efficiency. We hope the new Taboo List encourages players to revisit old playstyles with new cards or find new ways these cards can slot into new playstyles and investigator decks!
Other cards, such as David Renfield and Jeremiah Kirby, have moved to the mutated list. To try and keep mutations as simple as possible, we prefer to add limits and maximums when we can. David Renfield now limits the number of resources he can generate via his ability to 3. He’s still quite powerful (especially in Duke–I mean, Ashcan Pete decks). The limit mostly means that David Renfield can no longer produce near-infinite resources with little risk in a scenario such as “Dogs of War,” which subvert traditional doom mechanics.
Likewise, Jeremiah Kirby becomes a powerhouse draw engine for the right deck with enough recursion and a copy of Hit and Run. Adding “(Max twice per game.)” keeps this card at level 0 while allowing players to still have fun with Jeremiah’s unique combo and deckbuilding potential.
Research Notes is another card that we felt warranted a limit. With the new (2.24) ruling on paying additional costs, it is no longer possible to use a card like Knowledge is Power to discover all clues at a location without spending evidence from Research Notes. However, even apart from this specific combo, the second ability on Research Notes still vastly outperforms other level 0 alternatives. The new limit to spending evidence on the card’s second ability was not made to suppress clue drop builds; rather, it’s only to limit the card’s incredible efficiency.
Some other cards weren’t necessarily above the power curve, but unlocked new (and sometimes bonkers) plays, such as Geared Up. Playing a bunch of discounted Item assets turn one with this card feels great, but it was never the intent to enable an investigator to, say, play half their deck on their first turn. (Yes, someone did it with Backpacks. You know who you are.) The new limit keeps the spirit of the card while curbing plays that might trivialize the game.
Additionally, Burn After Reading has incredible potential when played in standalone mode. Previously, a 4-player group on standalone could theoretically play 8 copies of this event and remove 8 doom without a marked drawback (who cares about exiling a card in standalone mode?). The card’s doom-removal ability is still incredibly powerful, but can now only be used twice per game.
I would be remiss if I didn’t spend some time chatting about Power Word. What a fun and powerful card! It provides control over the board state at an unprecedented level and turns enemies into willing lackeys for the investigators. My greatest concern with this card has been the lack of tension it creates for the players once it is fully set up. Almost every interaction with an enemy in Arkham Horror: The Card Game requires some level of risk, be it a skill test to fight or evade or the threat of an attack of opportunity while you scramble to get your weapon or spell out. Power Word allows investigators to control enemies (sometimes multiple enemies at once!) and manipulate them with no inherent risk.
To that end, Power Word’s mutation is intended to add tension commensurate with its power level. Now, when you activate its ability, you must succeed at a Willpower (3) test. This change is intended to encourage decks that want to use Power Word to build more intentionally for it with skill boosts and assets to support its play. The card becomes less easy to pilot at lower levels, but isn’t that the price of such incredible power? To accommodate for this change to the card’s front side, the “Cower” command has replaced the “Mercy” command on Power Word’s upgrade sheet (sorry, Vincent Lee). These changes require players to make more meaningful decisions regarding their resources, their skill boosts, and when to use Power Word most effectively.
There are a few other changes I’ll explain below.
Sharpshooter: The taboo is also a place to buff cards, too! We’ve unchained this card in hopes it will see a bit more play.
Hypnotic Gaze and Banish: These cards have joined Ritual Candles and several other mutated cards to support bless and curse play.
Persuasion and Interrogate: These cards no longer require their targets to have the Humanoid trait. While this creates a slight loss for the cards’ theme (you may now grill a Whippoorwill for clues as easily as you would a Mobster), it drastically increases their utility.
Daredevil (level 0): This card now introduces some risk when milling for another skill, which is core to both Winifred and the Rogue class’s theme of high risk/high reward.
Trish Scarborough: In general, we try to keep players from being able to automatically evade Elite enemies, which are a central source of tension in the game. Trish’s mutation prevents her from doing just this (although she can still net an extra clue from an Elite enemy’s location).
Ancient Covenant: This card has overperformed compared to the other covenants and has been slightly narrowed in its application.
As always, the purpose of the FAQ is to help you enjoy and understand Arkham Horror: The Card Game more. The taboo list is entirely optional, but is intended to shape the current “meta” and rebalance cards that we see under- or overperforming. Please keep in mind that this list isn’t a comprehensive or even permanent document; we’re always listening and are constantly adjusting and refining to make this game the best it can be. Hopefully these changes get you excited as we lay the groundwork for what’s next, and we’re excited to see what new and amazing decks you can build!
F’taghn, dear friends,
Josiah “Duke” Harrist