Arkham Horror - Game Guide - Chapter 4: The Game Outside the Game

Depending on how invested you become in Arkham Horror: The Card Game, you might want to explore what this game has to offer when you’re not playing the scenarios in a campaign.

Well, look no further.

As we touched upon earlier, the game comes with Starter Decks for each investigator. However, if you would rather build your own deck choosing which cards to bring to the table, this is absolutely an option. As it was mentioned in the two videos from Rodney Smith and Fantasy Flight Games, you can construct your own decks using the player cards available to you.



Deckbuilding is – for many players of this game – a huge an important part of the overall experience. Invested and dedicated players will spend literally hours reading cards attempting to find synergies, all in hopes of creating a deck that can beat anything the game might throw their way. Some will be successful early on and beat scenario after scenario, whereas others will discover their deck doesn’t work, stop playing, and go back to the drawing board fixing whatever needed fixing.

As mentioned earlier, there are literally thousands of cards in this game, so the options are pretty much endless.

To get started with deckbuilding, a player first needs to be aware of what their chosen investigator can bring and what they cannot bring. On the back of each investigator card is a short description of the type of cards each investigator has access to during a campaign. The description consists of a few restrictions such as number of cards, character classes, along with the card level (more on card levels later). Additionally, a general rule is that a player can never bring more than two copies of a card in a deck unless otherwise stated.

If we were to play a game with Roland as our chosen investigator, we can see on the back of his investigator card, that there has to be exactly thirty cards in the deck.

We’re then presented with some deckbuilding options; when playing as Roland, we can build our deck using cards from the guardian class spanning levels zero through five, as well guardian class cards from level zero to two, as well as neutral cards from level zero to five.

Additionally, we have to abide by certain requirements when building our deck. The deck has to include the cards with the titles “Roland’s .38 Special”, “Cover Up”, as well as one random weakness. Note however, that these cards do not count towards the total number of thirty, that we’re allowed to bring.

As described in the videos, a card’s level is indicated by the number of pips shown underneath the card’s cost in the upper-left corner. These cards are also known as upgraded cards.

However - and this is important - when starting a new campaign, we can only include cards that have zero pips. Cards with any number of pips underneath its cost has to be acquired throughout a campaign by spending experience points. These experience points are then spent in-between scenarios, so for your first scenario you’ll always have no upgraded cards, but in the second you might have one or several upgraded cards.

For each pip underneath the card cost, the player has to spend that amount of experience points to acquire the card. Once paid for, the new card can then be added to the deck replacing a different card, because – regardless of cards added – we still have to adhere to deck limit of thirty cards.

Upgraded cards are typically improved versions of a card with the same title with fewer pips.

To illustrate this, take a look at the .32 Colt. When first building a deck for Roland, we could choose to include the zero-pip version, which costs three resources to play and provides one combat icon if committed to skill test. However, if we during a campaign were to spend two experience points, we could include the upgraded version that has two pips on it. The upgraded .32 Colt is not only cheaper to play, it also adds another combat icon for skills tests. Additionally, we can now pay one resource from Roland’s supply to put the card back into our player hand (which doesn’t even cost us an action). We can then play the card again in which case it comes back fully loaded with six ammo.

Before we move on, here’s a quick tip for you: when you first build a deck before starting a campaign, it is a good idea to have think about how you wish to spend your experience between scenarios. Take a look at the cards available to you in your collection, and plan ahead for the future.

Right, let’s move on to the last bit of info regarding deckbuilding.


The Taboo List

Before explaining what the Taboo List is all about, I want you to know, that this list is absolutely and completely optional; the game designers themselves have said as much, and it’s even written on the actual list. However, I want you to know as much as possible about this game before diving in, so… here we are.

As mentioned before, this amount of cards in this game is immense, and the game has been continuously supported and expanded upon since its first release in 2016. With hundreds upon thousands of cards and exponentially growing card interactions, it is impossible to ensure that all cards remain balanced throughout the game’s life. As such, sometimes it’s necessary for the publisher to rebalance certain cards by either changing the cost of card to play, altering the effect on a card, etc.

Erratas are never fun, but they are necessary. The list of erratas for this game is known as the Taboo List. The list is separated into three sections.

  • Chained / Unchained. Cards in this section have had their cost either increased or decreased.
  • Mutated. Mutated cards have had their text altered.
  • Forbidden. Forbidden cards cannot be included in your deck. It is worth noting, that at the time of writing this, there is only one single forbidden card.

Once again, it is 100% up to you whether you want to use the Taboo List or not.

With that out of the way, it’s now time to explore all the various products outside the core set and take a look at how you can expand the game.

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