Arkham Horror Card Game

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Quick and Easy Online Guide on how to play Arkham Horror Card Game

I cover the essential instructions and gameplay to get Arkham Horror Card Game started quickly.

 

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The online guide allows you to navigate straight to the key sections you wish to understand.

I have tried my best to visualise and simplify complex, lengthy concepts to make it easier and faster to understand.

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1 -4  players

90 – 120 mins

Age: 14 +

What is the goal?

  • Each player takes the role of an investigator
  • Work together to solve mysteries and overcoming challenges
  • Each one  of you builds a card deck around your investigator’s abilities
  • Series of interrelated scenarios create a story uncovering a bigger mystery
  • Explore dangerous locations, find clues and progress through the story, and attempt to evade or defeat the Mythos’ treacherous forces
  • players progress, gain experience and add powerful new high-level cards 
  • The danger and challenges also increase as they advance, and they must protect themselves and solve the mystery

Game setup 

Key Game Concepts

The Golden Rule 

Here are some concepts to know when playing the game.

The Golden Rule

  • If the text on card contradicts the rule book, observe the instructions on the card

“In Player Order”

  • “In player order” determines the order which players execute a game step
  • When “in player order”, Lead Investigator executes game step first, followed by each other player, in clockwise order around the table

Per Investigator

  • Symbol next to a value indicates a value per investigator
  • Number of clues placed at a location and number of clues required to advance are usually denoted by this symbol
  • Cards enter play in Ready position
  • When using card abilities, the card becomes exhausted and is turned sideways
  • A card that is Exhausted cannot be used until it is Ready again

  • Locations represent various places players travel to and look for clues
  • Location cards have 2 sides:
    • UNREVEALED
    • REVEALED
  • Revealed side shows the clue details
  • Location enters play UNREVEALED. When an investigator enters location for 1st time, it is REVEALED
  • Number of clues equal to location’s clue value are placed on that location

Investigators have 4 skills

  • Willpower
  • Intellect
  • Combat
  • Agility
 
 
 

Skill Test 

During the game, investigators may need to perform a Skill Test. This involves the following:

  • the player reveals a random chaos token from the chaos bag
  • the chaos token modifies the player’s skill value
  • investigator passes the Skill Test if modified skill value exceeds test difficulty value

Modifying Skill Value for Skills Test 

Before drawing Chaos Token, the investigator may boost their skill value

  • Investigator can use eligible cards from hand to help with the skills test
  • Eligible card has one or more icons matching the skill type of the test being performed. Wild icon matches all skill types.
  • Each matching icon used for the test increases the investigator’s skill value by 1 for that test
  • Investigator may commit any  number of cards for their hand
  • Other Investigators at the same location can assist by committing 1 card from their hand to help
  • Do not pay card’s resource cost when using it for the skills test
  • The investigator may also activate free trigger abilities to modify their skill for the test

 

Chaos Token Effects

Each chaos token has a symbol or value that modifies the outcome of the skills test

  • Each chaos token has the following effect:
    • Refer to scenario reference card and resolve the corresponding effect
    • Refer to investigator card and resolve the investigator’s ability
    • Automatic failure of the skills test
  • If the token has a value, that value modifies the investigator’s skill value for this test

 

Conclusion of Skills Test

Modified Skill value is higher than difficulty value of Skill, Investigator passes.
Otherwise, it is a failure.

  • Ability or game step that initiated the skill will provide instructions for consequences of success and failure
  • Some skill cards have abilities that resolve upon completion of skill test
  • Upon completion of the skill test, discard all investigator cards used to that test, return chaos token to chaos bag
  • a card that has ill effect when drawn by the investigator
  • cards are identified by the labels:
    • WEAKNESS
    • BASIC WEAKNESS
  • when drawn, the investigator who drew card must resolve its “Revelation ” ability immediately

Keywords

Aloof: An aloof enemy does not engage investigators of its own accord. (An investigator may use an action or a card ability to engage it.) An investigator cannot attack an aloof enemy unless he or she is engaged with it. 

Fast: A player may play a fast card without spending an action. 

Hunter: Each hunter enemy moves one location toward the nearest investigator at the beginning of the enemy phase. Massive: A massive enemy is engaged with each investigator at its location. 

Peril: When an investigator draws a card with the peril keyword, that investigator cannot confer with or receive assistance from other players while resolving the card’s revelation ability and/or spawning it. 

Retaliate: If an investigator fails a skill test while attacking an enemy that has the retaliate keyword, the enemy (if it is ready) performs its attack (damage and horror) against the investigator. 

Surge: After an investigator draws and resolves an encounter card that has the surge keyword, that investigator must draw and resolve an additional card. 

Uses (X): The uses keyword creates and defines a particular token type to be placed on a card when that card enters play. The value following the keyword indicates a number of resource tokens to be placed on the card to represent the specified token type. These tokens are used in conjunction with the rest of the card’s ability 

Instructions

Spawn: Indicates where an enemy spawns when drawn.

Prey: Indicates which investigator an enemy will engage (or move toward if it has the hunter keyword) if there are multiple valid options.

Timing Triggers

Action Trigger: Costs an action to use this ability.

Free Trigger: Does not cost an action to use this ability. 

Reaction Trigger: May be used once each time the specified timing point occurs. Does not cost an action.

Symbols and Icons

Gameplay

  • Game is played over a series of rounds. During the round, Investigators go through the following:
    • Mythos Phase: encounter the forces of the Mythos
    • Investigation Phase: move and explore locations
    • Enemy Phase: defend against enemies
    • Upkeep Phase: re-group and plan for the next round
  • During 1st round of the game, skip the Mythos Phase. Once all phases are over, the round is over and the game proceeds to next round

Mythos Phase

In this phase, players encounter the forces of Mythos.

Skip this phase if it is the 1st round of the game.

1. Place 1 doom token on the current agenda

2. Compare the total number of doom tokens in play and doom threshold of current agenda

  • If the number of doom tokens in play is equal or greater than the threshold, advance agenda deck by:
    • removing current doom tokens in play
    • flipping current agenda card over and following instructions on the reverse side
    • remove agenda card from play
    • after following instructions, draw next card from agenda deck to become active agenda card

Investigators draw Encounter cards

In player order, each Investigator draws the top card of the encounter deck. There are two types of cards and ways to resolve them:

Treachery – when drawn, resolve ability and discard

Enemy – when drawn, an enemy is spawned and Investigator who drew card engages the enemy (unless instructed by card)

ENGAGING ENEMIES

  • An enemy can be engaged with an Investigator when drawn or engaged when the Investigator and Enemy are in the same location
  • Once engaged, it follows the Investigator
  • If multiple Investigators are at the same location, the Lead Investigator chooses which of the Investigators the enemy engages
  • Some Enemies have a “Prey” instruction that dictates who they engage
 

Investigation Phase

Each Investigator takes a separate turn. As a group, they choose who to go first. When an investigator’s turn ends, choose the next investigator and so on.

Each Investigator has 3 actions during the turn. There are various tasks that may be performed and they can be done in any order or as many times they like, as long as there are enough actions.

Draw 1 Card from top of your deck

Take 1 Resource from the token pool.

Investigator resolves action trigger ability on an encounter card at their location or on current act or agenda card

Investigator engages the enemy and places the enemy in their threat area.

Enemy Phase

Enemies go after the Investigators in this phase. 

Resolve the following steps (if there are no enemies, move to next phase)

Upkeep Phase

In preparation for next round, resolve the following steps:

  1. Each Investigator turns their mini card face up
  2. Ready all exhausted cards. Unengaged enemies that ready at the same location as an investigator engages at this time as well.
  3. Each Investigator draws 1 card and gains 1 resource
  4. Those with more than 8 cards on hand have to choose and discard until only 8 remain

How do you win?

ADVANCING THROUGH ACT DECK AND SCENARIOS

Players need to work together to advance through the scenario. 

  • Act deck represents the progress of the Investigators/players in a scenario
  • Advancement is achieved through spending clues
  • Spent clues are returned to general token pool
  • Advancing through the spending of clues DO NOT COST ANY ACTIONS and can be done during  any INVESTIGATOR’s turn
  • Number of clues required can be found at the bottom of the current Act Card
  • If Act Card has an “Objective”, flip card over to “b” side and follow instructions on the back and set aside. Next Act Card becomes the new current active Act Card

As the players advance through a scenario, they will eventually reach a resolution. 

Some of these resolutions are favourable (and can be considered “wins”); others are less favourable and leave the investigators in bad situations.

Players win by trying to advance through the different scenarios to a “FAVOURABLE” resolution.

If Agenda Deck reaches the end, a (usually darker) event will occur.

When any encounter card triggers a resolution—denoted by the text “(→R#)”—the players have completed the scenario and should refer to the resolution text that matches that number in the Campaign Guide to discover what happens next.

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