This article will look at an individual scenario of Arkham Horror: The Card Game. These will be my impressions after playing through the scenario and will be focusing on the mechanics and how those reinforce the story elements of a given scenario. These articles will contain extensive spoilers and assume a familiarity with the terms and mechanics of the game. Please do not read on if you have not played the scenario in the title yet.
You have returned to Arkham after your adventures in the Jungle. Exhausted, bruised and battered from your encounters in Eztli you ponder your next move. Ichtaca has accompanied you back to the town and the choices you made on your expedition will impact what happens next.
Weave the tale
Whoever you gave the relic to at the end of Doom of Eztli is going to find it mysteriously missing from their possession, on top of finding themselves kidnapped!. Ichtaca is furious that this has happened and you will either decide to seek her assistance in retrieving the relic or forge your own path. The choice you make changes the makeup of the Chaos Bag for the rest of the campaign: adding a cultist token or removing all cultist and tablet tokens to replace them with an elder thing token. The later choice also means that neither Aljeandro or Ichtaca can be put in any investigator’s deck, locking you into a particular path. I hope you chose wisely!
Home Sweet Home
Threads of Fate returns us to the streets of Arkham and specifically the locations from The Midnight Masks from the Core set. We revisit some these haunts but also add in some new locations like the Town Hall, Police Station and the local diner all of which may end up being important. The main thing in the setup of this scenario though is that we have 3 Act decks, 3 Threads to follow if we can.
The Agenda deck is relatively straight forward, giving us a Resign condition to bug out when we want to, with the reverse of each card hurrying the next Agenda along depending on how well we are already doing, something that is a bit gameable on subsequent playthroughs.
Ah the acts. We have 3, each one being a different thread of the story. Act a/b concentrates on the relic sending us after its last known location either to the University if we gave it to Alejandro or hunting down Harlan who has gone missing with it. Act c/d is concerned only with Alejandro who has gone missing no matter the choices we make at the start. We can go to the police for help, or set out on our own. Act e/f sees us either joining forces with Ichtaca or pursuing her across Arkham to find out what she knows.
Each of these act decks is relatively fiddly to setup so be sure to get this correct during setup, might be worth having someone else take a look before beginning play. As we spend clues to advance acts we can choose which act to pursue. This makes this breakdown a little tricky so we are going to handle each act one at a time.
Act a/b: Where is the Relic?
Harlan is in Danger
If we gave the relic to Harlan our trail takes us to the Miskatonic University. Discovering that he is in Eastown, we track him to his home and try to get through to the babbling fool. There are now two possibilities. Either Harlan has left the Relic with some associates in the Curiosity shop and we have to go and tangle with cultists, or Harlan has it and attacks! The Relic bolsters his health turning him into a formidable foe, but we can always take him down through evasion. By the end of this act the Relic is back in our hands.
You’ve changed Harlan
The Relic is Missing
The other path in this deck occurs if we gave the Relic to Alejandro who has not only disappeared but the Relic with him! As you search the Miskatonic University for clues you make your way to the Eztli exhibit. Much like with Harlan you get one of two outcomes to that investigation which sees you heading to the Town Hall or chasing a cultist across town to get the Relic back.
Act c/d: Can you hear the drums Alejandro?
This act is structured pretty much like the one above, giving you two different options for the second act and the third one being determined by that choice. If you head to the police we get a new location from the back of Act 1c in the Police Station, which has a handy action to gear up on it.
Going out and about to gather evidence you eventually have enough to get the police to listen to your situation. When they do, you find that he has either been taken by cultists to the train station or carried away in the talons of a Nightgaunt! If you successfully rescue him he goes in an investigator’s deck, or you get 2 experience if you have rejected any help at the start of this scenario.
Search for Alejandro
Going alone, you come across one of Alejandro’s friends Henry Deveau. He will either give you information or turn out to be intimately involved in the kidnapping of the explorer. Following his clues, or beating him up leads you to Alejandro and the result above.
I really would like slightly different art when they become enemies
Act e/f: Ichtaca
Ichtaca is either with you in this act because you “listened to her tale” or you are pursuing her across town to find out what she knows, whilst keeping a safe and respectful distance.
Ichtaca heads to Northside where she believes she saw some Eztli artifacts on sale. There you encounter Maria DeSilva who either can point you in the direction of the money trail or attacks you when you investigate. In the case of the former you head to Downtown or Rivertown and search around, eventually emptying both locations of clues to get to the final act and get Ichtaca back onside once more. If Maria attacks then you must take her down, eventually getting Ichtaca onside as you defeat her.
Trial of the Huntress
Although you let Ichtaca go her own way, you are curious about what she is up to and follow her closely. You find her in the Black Cave on the edge of town where you will track her from to the Town Hall or you will all pursue cultists across Arkham to find out what they know. It’s worth noting that in both versions of this Act that Ichtaca’s Destination causes all encounter cards to gain surge: an excellent way to make those locations more dangerous and encourage the players to think about hitting them hard and fast.
No wrong answers
Although the setup of this scenario is a bit on the fiddly side, I really love the way it revisits Arkham with a new layout, new locations and allows you to see a different side of the town. The Black Cave, Town Hall and Velma’s Diner have all featured in other Arkham games so there is a good bit of nostalgia in this scenario as well.
Once you choose to resign or get through all three acts you will find only 1 resolution, replete with bits to fill out depending on exactly what you did. I do like that it rewards you for completing the first Act of each deck, encouraging you to engage with the whole story, not just part of it.
We messed with the Chaos Bag at the start of this scenario so let’s see what that does to the effect of tokens.
If we have listened to Ichtaca’s advice then we have an extra cultist token in the bag, meaning that those pesky forces are going to be nipping us with damage along the way.
If we have rejected her help then we are at risk of becoming lost along the way, as an elder thing token has joined the bag and we can lose clues through its effect. Nice flavour on both of these!
Much like the rest of this scenario the encounter deck is a mix of the strange and familiar. We have the return of the Nightgaunts from Midnight Masks, Locked Doors, some of the treachery cards from the Midnight Masks set and our old favourites the Dark Cult.
On the strange side of things we have two new encounter sets from the Forgotten Age Core, neither of which made an appearance in the first two scenarios as well as the encounters for the scenario.
The Threads of Fate set includes three cards. The Secret Must be Kept gets harder depending on how many acts we have fully completed, and also hits us harder for failing. A lovely bit of flavour showing the cult tightening it’s grip as we investigate. Conspiracy of Blood increases the pace of the Agenda forcing us to engage with the cultists if we want to get rid of it. Finally Nobody’s Home forces us to take more time investigating a location, one of my favourite pieces of theme from this encounter deck. You can’t get clues if there is no one to ask!
The cult we are investigating seems to be part of the Pnakotic Brotherhood bringing 3 new cards to the deck including another cultist. Brotherhood Cultist isn’t too hard to take down, but each attack makes him stronger and puts doom on him so you really need to focus these guys down. Shadowed sees the cultists tracking you through town causing you mental distress as shadowy figures watch you every move. Words of Power is a particularly nasty card given the amount of doom on enemies in this scenario and is one you will need to handle quickly before it brings your investigation to a swift end.
Life is a Tapestry
I have enjoyed this scenario every time I have played it, though it is a bit more gameable on subsequent attemtps. There are multiple paths through it and I really like that it can reward a more investigative or combative team in equal measure depending on the route you take.
I loved the design team returning to one of the first scenarios and looking at the town from a different angle. It felt like coming home but allowed them to expand on Arkham and what it looks like in the LCG version of the universe. I hope that they will come back to this idea in future scenarios.
After the events in Arkham you find yourself with time to refuel and recover. It isn’t long till you need to get back on the road as Ichtaca claims the Brotherhood are seeking a place called the Nexus of N’kai. Gather your supplies and hit the trail to Mexico City in Scenario 4: The Boundary Beyond.