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Arkham Horror 2nd Edition

4.3 (4)
4.7 (12)
15246 8
Arkham Horror 2nd Edition

Game Information

Game Name
Year Published
Fantasy Flight Games

The town of Arkham, Massachusetts, is in a panic. Horrific and bizarre events have begun to occur with increasing frequency all seeming to point towards some cataclysmic event in the near future that may spell disaster for everyone. Only one small band of investigators can save Arkham from the Great Old Ones and destruction! 

Arkham Horror was originally published by Chaosium, Inc., almost two decades ago. This new, updated edition features stunning new artwork and graphical design as well as revised and expanded rules from the games original creator, Richard Launius! No fan of the Cthulhu Mythos will want to miss this opportunity to acquire this classic Call of Cthulhu boardgame!

Editor reviews

4 reviews

Still the adventure game king in my house and a landmark game. In fact, I played it recently again and, despite its absolute monster of a setup, it caused me to finally trade away its supposed replacement, Eldritch Horror. The way the random events and cards come together *always* produces at least 3-4 absolute killer narrative moments amongst the silly duds. I find that this game goes down very smooth mechanically once someone knows what they're doing to run the game system's gears.

Other people tell me that their games come out like completely random agglomerations of actions and I suppose if I felt that happened to me, I would feel the same way about it. But that is simply not my experience.
Hokey horror fun for everyone! Clever design which limits (but doesn't eliminate) the impact of the co-op baggage (playing by rote, dictatorial players etc) at the cost of considerable complexity and administration overheads. Also has a big dose of game-plays-you rather than you-play-game but there's plenty of interesting risk management decisions to be made nevertheless. Generates fantastic tension and narrative but the theme feels more Buffy than Lovecraft with monsters swarming everywhere for our intrepid heroes to gun down. Challenging and fun played solo.
#1 Reviewer 286 reviews

User reviews

12 reviews

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My desert island game
I would rate this game a 7 on the AT six-star scale if I could. It has a great theme, attractive components, interesting gameplay, and strong replay value. Add in the expansions, and the replay value becomes massive. The game is playable solitaire or with a group of up to eight players, and is the exact same fun game either way. The base game on its own will eventually become too easy for experienced players, but the addition of at least one expansion makes the game tough again. If you are only going to buy one expansion, the Dunwich Horror expansion is the one to get.
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Necronomicon as Choose Your Own Adventure
2005: An RPG in a box, playable in a single evening. It's a lot of "pull a card and read the encounter" followed by lots of dice rolling. If either of those mechanics bother you, stay away. If you don't mind (and I certainly don't) then this is the best of the genre.


- A rich and detailed experience.

- High replay value.

- Cooperative play.

- Solo play!

- Art and production values to die for.


- A sprawling rulebook with almost no summary.*

*Later editions & big box expansions added a much-needed index.

- Little rules that are easy to miss, and change the game when you get them wrong. (For example, we overlooked the fact that closing a gate banishes all monsters with like symbols. This made a lot of really awful monsters hang around much longer than they would have otherwise.) Expect to play the game incorrectly several times.

- The final battle is nothing but dice. (Who knew Nyarlathotep could be defeated by the world's longest Yahtzee game?)**

**Final battle cards from Kingsport Horror fix this nicely.

- It's long. Really, really long.†

†This is mitigated by repeat plays in close proximity; knowing how and when to push on the game to angle it toward conclusion is key. We're at the point where we can knock it out in just a couple hours. (For shockingly shorter games, use Yig or Rhan-Tegoth.)


Arkham Horror is thick, meaty and completely immersive. This also means it takes a while, but that's not always a bad thing. It fills an evening to brimming with blood, terror and good clean fun. Recommended for players who enjoy the Call of Cthulhu RPG.

UPDATE: After several plays, the game is becoming easy—almost too easy. With a crack team of selfless, team-playing RPGers it's a pretty simple thing to win by sealing six gates or closing all gates while having the requisite gate trophies for victory. This drops the game to a 7, but it still gets the extra point for the whole Mythos thing (and the fact that it's easily handicapped).

UP-UPDATE: I have realized, with much dismay, that there really is no "horror" in Arkham Horror. It is extremely rare for anyone to get devoured, so much so that no one really ever worries about it at all. Also, the characters don't "wear out" like they do in the RPG—they are not eroded by repeated contact with the mentally-corrosive Mythos. Again, house rules will fix this (by having max sanity reduced by 1 every time you fail a Will check), but still, I shouldn't have to put the horror in Arkham... It shoulda been there in the first place.

My rating holds at 4 stars for all the kicks in the knickers we get out of the experience, but just barely.

UP-UP-UPDATE 2006: Forget all the whining. The expansions fix everything and take the experience to a well-deserved 5 stars. So, 4 stars for the base game, 5 stars with any expansion (especially Dunwich—goddamn Dunwich).

ALSO: Have the First Player act as the "Interim Keeper" by drawing and reading encounter cards for all players. Makes it way more fun when you don't know what your choice (or failure) will bring when you have to make a decision. Allows for more storytelling, too.

FINAL ANALYSIS 2011: I will always use the Injury & Madness cards from Dunwich and the Epic Battle cards from Kingsport in every play. And the Relationships & Personal Stories are a pip!

PS. Played once with 8p—NEVER AGAIN. The sweet spot is most definitely 4p.

2018: Bummed that we never got to play this enough, we put it back into heavy rotation, getting the rules down to the point where it's just smooth—it really does shine as an RPG experience, telling great little stories with nail-biting finishes. Playing it frequently also forced me to work out the optimal method for packing the box so setup and breakdown are a breeze—gone is the "archaeology of baggies", replaced with a layered "grab 'n go" stacking. With everybody pitching in we can have it ready to go inside 15 minutes from lid-off to first Mythos card; breakdown is just as quick.
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What's the name of this nation Cthulu!
An adventure game without all the fantasy, instead it has a much more awesome H.P. Lovecraft theme with gangsters, drifters, nuns and psychologists (and more!) squaring off against occultists, cultists, witches, ghosts and tons of monters you can't pronounce trying to find off insanity and being devoured by big, dark, ancient gods for outer space/other dimensions.

Arkham Horror does a great job emulating an RPG (despite the lack of a DM) with its co-op gameplay, lots of stats for each character, and tons of narrative. Combat is quick and brutal but totally awesome when you get geared up with an enchanted blade and .45 pistol. The spell system feels much more arcane and dark than in your typical fantasy setting and can be tricky to pull off.

I don't have any of the expansions yet, for now the base game has lots of replayability still in it for me. Unfortunately Arkham Horror doesn't hit the table as often as I'd like.
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Bizarre, bloated, brilliant.
It took a long while, but this is finally living up to its potential in my eyes. Firstly, I've picked up a few expansions which have added much needed difficulty to a game that was far too easy without them.

Secondly, I've come to accept the admittedly repetitive draw-a-card and roll-some-dice mechanics. As soon as I switched my focus to diving into the bizarre and often memorable stories created through our actions rather than the method of gameplay, my enjoyment level sky-rocketed. Arkham Horror is a complete success in providing the tools for some great active storytelling. The flavour and presentation are almost without peer.

I still don't think this is all that great of a "game" in that there aren't really any tough strategic decisions to make and the players are required to do too much work for the payoff, but it is a really fun way to spend an evening and I would choose it over most options with tighter gameplay. It's like nothing else I've ever played.
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Good For Both HPL Fans and Non-Fans
Great game solo or with others. The rule book is a little quirky but after a couple of plays it's not a problem. I would recommend it for Lovecraft fans (that would be me) or non-Lovecraft fans looking for a character-based game. A LOT can go on in Arkham Horror, don't ever expect the exact same game twice. Once I was past 10 or so games the expansions became necessary to keep it interesting for me. Overall I've gotten a lot of enjoyment out of Arkham Horror.
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