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.
It was nice to take a break in Arkham in Threads of Fate but now we are back on the trail of the Nexus of N’kai. Resupplied and ready to go you drive to Mexico City, talking to your companions along the way. Your decisions thus far will determine how you start off in this scenario: do you have the relic, is Ichtaca on your side and did you rescue Alejandro? Supplies also come to the fore once more as if you haven’t got any fuel with you no one can take a mulligan in their opening hand, a penalty that will affect some decks more than others.
If you have the Relic it morphs into something actually useful, allowing you to hold back the doom threshold just a little bit. On arrival in Mexico City, you meet with one of Alejandro’s colleagues, Padma Amrita, who tells you your search is in vain, a myth conjured up by the local populace. Retiring for the night you ponder your next move, whilst Ichtaca can be heard in her room, reciting some cryptic incantation.
Back to the Future
Ichtaca’s chanting was some form of ritual. On waking she says that she ‘only meant to peer through the boundary’ and that we will now witness ‘the fate that will befall humanity if we fail’. Leaving the hotel you hear the sky crack, the earth rumble, and see strange entities floating above the cloud cover. Confused and frightened you find out from Ichtaca that this is a glimpse of the future!
The setup involves us putting an exploration deck together along with some of the encounter cards as has become traditional. However, this scenario does not see us scrambling around in the dark as much as the first two scenarios did. We start in Mexico City, with various locations in place already. As we wander the city looking for answers we realise that each location has its own explore action with a particular cost and that these locations can be replaced. Time is splitting and the past is melding with the present and possible future!
We are in the present day, for now. Dun, dun, dun.
The first time we replace a location the Act advances throwing the investigator who explored through time, potentially giving them a weaknessas it happens. The second act sends us into the past gathering clues from Tenochtitlan locations.
Whose timeline is it anyway?
If we have all 6 in play with no clues we get to advance, removing them to the victory display and replacing each one with new versions with a bunch more clues on them. At this point the act and agenda deck are both replaced by the last Agenda and Act card. Atop the Templo Mayor we see Padma Amrita engaged in a ritual. She must be stopped!
Time is running out and choices need made!
It is a race to either defeat Padma Amrita, who Ichtaca accuses of being behind this tearing of time, or spend the clues required to bring this to an end. Defeating her means that Ichtaca fires the final shot to end her life just as Padma was about to say something to her. Getting the clues means you see more of this exchange and there is a hint that not only do they know each other, but that maybe Ichtaca has not been entirely truthful with you.
Whilst the Act ticks along the Agenda marches onwards as your rush round town, summoning our old friend The Harbringer of Valusia, pushing out the past before we are ready and hastening the tears in reality.
The resolutions for this scenarios shake out reasonably similar. You get an amount of experience from the victory display plus an additional experience for each Tenochtitlan location in the victory display. Ichtaca may have confidence in you now but there is a nagging doubt here that all is not as it seems.
Heading into an interlude between this scenario and Heart of the Elders, you consume various supplies in order to avoid some jungle nastiness but also find that Ichtaca is an apologetic mood depending on how things went. We make a note in our journal to this effect and add yet another cultist token to the chaos bag.
The skulls are pretty straight forward here, becoming harder as time splits. If we have been putting our faith in Ichtaca then cultists are going to prove to be more of a problem than ususal, building doom quicker if we fail on the subsequent pull. The tablet only appears if we have side with Alejandro in interlude 2, causing Serpent enemies to lay into us harder. They do seem to want their relic back!
On the other hand if we have had our suspicions all along and have not listened to her at all we will have an elder sign in the bag, adding another -4 that also sucks clues away from us. That’s a pretty big penalty we will have to play around, but doom will advance less quickly. Win some, lose some.
The encounter set for this scenario brings us a whole slew of problems to deal with from bigger badder snakes to the splitting of reality!
Faces only a mother could love
Hand of the Brotherhood is a tricky little devil, gaining doom as we investigate ancient locations but more significantly stopping us using those explore actions till dealt with. Thankfully he isn’t too tough putting him in the category of an annoying distraction. The Serpent of Tenoctitian is a victory point but also a vengeance. It wants to hunt you to the past becoming a hunter when not at an Ancient location and gaining both Retailiate and Alert when at one. A formidable foe but thankfully one who doesn’t have crazy high stats. Its high health will probably mean its going to take at least 2 shots to kill and whilst it remains alive it can poison you!
Time is tearing apart
The two treacheries of the set are really harsh. Timeline Destabilizationgets harder and harder as we reach our goal and hits us for both 1 damage and 1 horror. Not only that but it goes back in the deck if we fail meaning that we will see it more and more frequently as the scenario advances. I love this bit of flavour as it perfectly mimics the idea that time is tearing itself apart and we are less able to cope with it as we reach the conclusion of the scenario. Window to Another Time is a particularly nasty peril and if it hits at just the wrong time can really throw a spanner in the works. Returning one of the ancient locations is rarely a good idea so most of the time this peril is going to tick up the doom.
The Poison set makes an unwelcome return alongside the Temporal Flux encounter set. However, the rest of the encounter deck can vary widely depending on how your story has gone so far. During setup we have the Brotherhood and Dark Cult if we have leaned into Ichtaca’s tales (two or more cultist tokens in the chaos bag), Yig’s Venom and Guardians of Time if we have fought against Ichtaca and handed the relic to Alejandro or a combination of these if we have walked a middle path, believing neither fully.
If I could turn back time
I really enjoyed this scenario, it manages to give a real feeling of being ripped through time to strange places and locations. It is however very difficult and I don’t think I have ever managed to win by getting act 2 to flip over, clearing all 6 Ancient locations before Agenda 2 triggers the endgame of the scenario. It is likely that the designers never intended that to happen though I could see it being achieved by a heavily clue focused group.
We head back to the Jungle as we pass the half way point, seeking the location of the Nexus, hoping to to find out what on earth is going on and why this artifact seems to be glowing in Scenario 5: Heart of the Elders.