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

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Suitable for 1 – 2 players | 60 – 120 mins duration | Recommended age 14+ | Game complexity: HIGH Genre: Adventure,Card Games,Collectible Components,Fantasy,Horror,Novel-based Solo game mode: Yes Co-op: Yes Online Version: Yes

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  #

Player Setup #

Players choose their investigators

  1. Choose an investigator card and place in your play area
  2. Select one player to be Lead Investigator and give the player the Campaign Guide. Lead Investigator break ties and makes the decision for the group when there is a conflict
Learn Arkham Horror Card Game Rules - Investigator Card
Investigator Card

Build and Shuffle Starting Player Decks

The cards used in each of the recommended investigators’ starter decks are detailed in the “Investigator Starter Decks” sidebar.

Arkham Horror Card Game 1
Arkham Horror Card Game Rules

Assemble token pool
Place damage, horror, clue/doom, and resource tokens within easy reach 

Assemble chaos bag Place 16 chaos tokens into opaque container/bag (during the game, players will be asked to randomly reveal tokens form bag)

Take starting resources – each player takes 5 resources from the token pool (resources are spent to play cards during the game)

Draw opening hands – Each player draws 5 cards from their deck.

  1. If weakness card is drawn, set aside instead of adding to hand, draw an additional card and shuffle weakness card back into the deck
  2. Each player re-draw the cards once by setting the 5 drawn cards aside, re-drawing another 5 and re-shuffling the set-aside cards back into the deck

1. Read scenario introduction ‘The Gathering’ 

Scenario Setup #

Introduction narrates the story, players listen as details may inform them how to decide their moves 

2. Find  the encounter card sets that will be used for the scenario

  • The Gathering card set
  • Striking Fear card set
  • Ancient Evil card set
  • Chilling Cold card set

Set Agenda deck

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  • Assemble agenda deck in sequential order, using agenda cards from the above card sets.
  • Agenda cards represent the progress of Mythos (the enemy).  
  • Players will try to limit the advancement of this deck. 

3. Set Act deck 

Arkham Horror Card Game Instructions - Agenda Card
  • Assemble Act cards in sequential order. 
  • Read story text on Act 1a. 
  • Act deck represents the team’s progress towards solving the mystery

4. Place scenario reference card for “The Gathering” (card 104a) next to agenda deck

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Card is referenced each time a Chaos token is taken from the chaos bag/container. It will determine how the token affects the game.

5. Put the Study into play (card 111) 

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When a location is in play, the card always enters play with its UNREVEALED side face up.  

The keyhole symbol under the title represents the UNREVEALED side. 

Set every other location cards aside, out of play (cards 112-115). The Hallway, Attic, Cellar and Parlor cards are set aside for now.

6. Each player begins play in the Study.

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Players place their mini card next to the Study to represent being in there.

When a player enters a location, the card flips to REVEALED side.

When revealed, place clues on it equal to its clue value. The study has 2 clues per investigator as shown below.

7. Set the Ghoul Priest (card 116) and Lita Chantler (card 117) aside 

8. Assemble the encounter deck. 

Shuffle remaining encounter set cards (see step 2) and create the encounter deck. The cards will be drawn during the game and will represent dangers, monsters that the players face. 

Arkham Horror Card Game - Example Setup
Arkham Horror Card Game Example 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

Ready and Exhausted Cards

  • 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
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Location Cards

  • Locations represent various places players travel to and look for clues
  • Location cards have 2 sides:
  • 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
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Skills and Skills Test

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
Arkham Horror Card Game 8

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
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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

Weakness Card

  • a card that has ill effect when drawn by the investigator
  • cards are identified by the labels:
  • when drawn, the investigator who drew card must resolve its “Revelation ” ability immediately
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Keywords/ Instructions/Symbols and Icons


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 


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

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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

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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
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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:

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Treachery – when drawn, resolve ability and discard

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

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  • 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.

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Draw a Card #

Draw 1 Card from top of your deck

Gain a Resource #

Take 1 Resource from the token pool.

Activate an action trigger ability #

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

Engage Enemy #

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

Investigate Current Location #

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Move to new connnecting location #

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Play Asset/Event Card #

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Evade Enemy #

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

Fight Enemy #

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Enemy Phase #

Enemies go after the Investigators in this phase. 

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

1. Hunter enemies move
2. Enemy attacks

1. Hunter enemies move #

Enemies with hunter keyword move once to a connecting location in direction of nearest Investigator.

  • Exhausted hunter enemies and hunter enemies at a location with one or more Investigators do not move
  • If hunter enemy moves into location with Investigator, it immediately engages that Investigator
2. Enemy attacks #

Each ready engaged enemy attacks their corresponding Investigators. Investigators resolve attacks in player order.

  • During Enemy attacks, deal both damage and its horror value to the engaged Investigator
    • Damage reduces Investigator’s health value
    • Place damage tokens on Investigator’s card or asset cards that have health
    • Horror reduces Investigators sanity value
    • Place horror tokens on Investigator’s card or asset cards that have sanity
    • If damage or horror exceeds the asset card’s health value, it is defeated and discarded
    • If damage exceeds Investigator’s health or horror exceed’s Investigator’s sanity, Investigator is eliminated from the game
  • Value can be found at the bottom of the Enemy card
  • After the attack, exhaust the enemy. Enemies are not exhausted during attacks of opportunity.
Arkham Horror Card Game 22

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? #


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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