What to buy next for Arkham Horror: The Card Game

You’ve tackled the core set multiple times and finally want to look deeper into the abyss that is Arkham Horror. What do you pick up next? Unfortunately the product line for the Arkham Horror LCG has exploded over the years. While it’s great to see the game have tons of support from FFG, wading into the LCG as a new player can have your head spinning on how to expand your card collection. So here are some suggestions.

Do you need a second core? This is a resounding no, a second core is not needed. Maybe four years ago there would be a lot of conventional wisdom behind doing this. But the game is at a different point now. So no, you don’t need a second core set.

I could see years ago why folks felt this way. Sadly, my original criticism of the game still holds true. The core set gives you a taste of the game for up to 2 players. You really cannot do much deckbuilding with just a single core set. Even worse, you can’t explore all the investigator combinations as they rely on dipping deep into a common pool of cards for others.

There is also a dogmatic view it is required to have two copies of certain cards to make any deck viable (notably Machete and for mystic investigators, Shrivelling). Additionally there were neutral skill cards in the core set considered staples for deck building.

The card pool has greatly expanded since then giving you lots of other options. While some weapons might not be on the same efficiency scale of Machete, there are decent variants, and also other tools to help a player dig through their deck to find that lone copy if needed (Prepared for the Worst). Lastly I’d argue that neutral skill cards are too limiting. You now have lots of other cards which can help bolster lagging skill icons and these have other abilities to boot.

Campaign Cycle Expansions – If wanting to get more bang for your gaming budget, this is a good way to expand your card pool. The campaigns are structured around a big box product that has 2-3 scenarios, new investigators, and encounter cards which are specific to the entire expansion cycle. It’s then followed by 6 additional scenario packs which also have more investigator cards. You can jump into this following a typical release schedule, playing the expansion box scenarios first, and then using cards from each scenario pack sequentially. However, I think it best to get the entire expansion cycle in one go, adding all the investigator cards to your pool from the start. 

I would utilize resources to find out what cards would synergize well with investigators you’d want to play. Keep in mind not all campaigns are created equal. I feel some of the more recent ones (particularly the Forgotten Age) were designed for players that have a complete investigator card pool from previous expansions, and the overall cycle difficulty is increased to reflect that.

On the flip side, the Dunwich Legacy and Path to Carcosa don’t really stray much from the gameplay mechanics of the core set. Both have great investigator cards, but you might say Dunwich Legacy feels like a longer campaign akin to the core set. I enjoyed both, and the Path to Carcosa is a community darling. However if you wanted to play an expansion that utilized different game mechanisms, you might want to try out a more recent cycle.

Return to Expansions – To add some longevity to expansion cycles and the core set, FFG released small products titled ‘Return to: (campaign cycle)’ which are decent for adding some replay. However for expanding your card pool they are a poor choice. There will be some additional investigator cards which are commonly higher XP versions of cards in that cycle and/or core set. Another reason to hold off on the Return To expansions are the difficulty level.

If you’ve played a cycle to death and beaten it soundly at the expert level, the Return To expansions might be something you’d be interested in. They add more difficult locations and encounter cards to ramp up the challenge offered by the original versions. If you particularly enjoy a campaign, the Return To expansions add variety and small tweaks to offer more replay. But for expanding your card pool as a primary focus, they aren’t a solid buy.

Stand Alone Scenarios – This is another low priority buy if wanting to expand your investigator card pool. These are 1-2 scenarios intended for a one shot game. While they can be added to a longer campaign, they are really designed for a lone jaunt seeking answers to the mythos. The contents in these packs are geared towards scenario cards, where investigator cards (if any) are intended to be given as rewards for its successful completion.

Investigator decks – These are a wonderful, especially if looking to bolster the card pool for a particular type of investigator. All of them are designed to provide a complete investigator deck, along with additional cards to be purchased with experience as you wind through a campaign. I think that’s the primary strength of the decks. Want to add a 3rd or 4th player to your core set? You can buy these and each additional player will have a complete deck. More importantly, the decks themselves are pretty solid.

These have some good cards which can supplement the lack of duplicate cards in a core set. As an example Azure Flame is a great option to brace up that lone copy of Shrivelling. Sadly the guardian deck, while a good one, doesn’t quite have a replacement for Machete. You could argue that a fair amount of the cards really work best with the investigator they come with. However there’s a good number that’ll work with just about any other investigator. These decks are something to look into if you like a particular investigator class. As they are solely composed of investigator cards they are an ideal product to broaden your player card pool.

Saturday Gaming Spark: Airbarge Tugs

Nearly every port city utilizes air tugships to deftly navigate cargo tankers through crowded docks and neighboring industrial districts. Most are honest workers but a few have links to the underworld, either passing on information about choice targets for theft or stealing cargo themselves. But those well versed in the workings of airships know tugship crews are a key resource for information, and also adept at loading and unloading passengers who want to keep off official travel logs. Link.

11 years is a long time.

Blogging was all the rage and jumping into 4E DnD certainly got me excited enough to share my experience. I had stopped playing RPGs for a long while. I drifted to board games and miniature wargames over the years in college (something I still play pretty regularly today). So a new edition of the RPG that got me into the hobby in the early 80s was certainly something to spark that interest again.

It seems that the gaming social media environment has moved on though. I’ve particularly noticed that podcasts and videos are what really captures folks. Gaming blogs of the written word are sort of old fashioned. I’m certainly one following the trend, as I just don’t seem to scroll through my blog feeds as much.

Where does that leave me? Likely not blogging much at all. For the past year it’s been pretty much on autopilot. I’ve enjoyed throwing together Saturday Gaming Spark, an inspirational image with some accompanying text to offer ideas of an adventure or fluff to fill out a GM’s world. That’s pretty much what’s been the content I’ve been regularly putting out.

The blog will still be around. I will once in a blue moon post something. But I expect that this blog will go silent for long spurts. It’s been fun. Time to think about other stuff to throw my creative efforts into.

Packing Miniatures for Shipping

A while back I’ve moved and ended up relocating on the other side of the globe. I had quite a bit of trepidation moving all my miniatures. I use a fast and loose way of storing my figures in plastic boxes, layered on bubble wrap sheets. Good enough to keep the paint job protected but only if the box is kept upright. If I dump it on its side, the figures are going to shift around. Throw in a bunch of jostling of the box and you can expect figures to be clanking against each other (and on the inner sides of the container). I totally expected that my shipped stuff would be tossed around like a beach ball, and stacked sideways or upside down in a shipping container that would make any Tetris player proud.

So I had to try to work out a solution and stuck with bubble wrap. Cutting small sheets, I rolled each figure in wrap with a bit of tape to keep it in place. The key is to make sure it’s lightly snug and not wrapped too tightly. For plastic figures especially, you can inadvertently bend or snap off fragile parts like rifle barrels so don’t wrap too tight. Some figures can even be wrapped two to a sheet, particularly prone figures by having the bottom of their bases facing each other. I dumped them in hard plastic containers, sealed the tops in packaging tape, and was good to go.

It did take some time. Don’t expect to do this in a night. Set time aside to do it. At a leisurely pace, I was able to get about 300 figures completed in a week. I cranked out a lot of figures just watching TV an hour or so a night. You certainly want to get this on your to do list for early packing though. Vehicles and tanks were done similarly, but I made sure to remove turrets and wrap them separately.

How did they ship? Just fine. Granted you have to be prepared to snip tape and unwrap a ton of models (more things to do while watching movies). But I can say my figures, both metal and plastic, made it across the world in one piece.

So if you have the time, consider this a solution for packing your miniatures. While you can buy expensive cases that can keep your figures snugly packed individually in foam it can be costly. For a budget (and a ton of models), wrapping minis in bubble wrap is a cheaper workaround.

Game Nite – Board games in Saint Louis

I’ve gotten some more opportunities to check out the options of board game stores in Saint Louis. Another popular haunt, especially for wargamers, is Game Nite. They carry quite a large selection of board games and miniatures. GW is pretty popular as well as Infinity. But other games like those from Privateer Press are carried also, in addition to paints and modelling supplies.

They have an expansive collection of board games and card games. Interestingly they also offer shelf space for used games. I imagine it’s more of a consignment system, but they allow for folks to unload older games. It seems worth giving them a gander too, as most of the offerings are near mint or lightly played. A great way to pick up on stuff that wanes in light of the ever-changing BGG hotness of the month.

There are also a fair number of tables for in store gaming. Not only are tables set up for miniature wargaming, but there are several tables for card and board games too. Both the weekends and weeknights look to be popular times to visit. I do believe that priority is given to people wanting to run organized events, so plan ahead accordingly if wanting to run a game for just your friends.

They also have a decent sized game library. Combined with ample table space, you’ve got plenty of opportunities to try new games out. Or potentially consider trying a game out before buying it. Pretty nice aspect of the store.

Game Nite is a good place to visit for board and card games (even for the miniature wargamer too), and certainly worth checking out their calendar of events to see if anything tickles your fancy.

Saturday Gaming Spark: Lakeside castle

The fortified castle serves as a hub for river traffic. Its thick walls a refuge for the marauding goblins that sweep down from a nearby mountain. The pittance of dwarves in the river community pine for the days where their clans called the mountain home. But most common folk know the mines are only warrens now, lost to the kobolds and goblins forever. Link.

Return to Night of the Zealot: Go7 Box Insert

Mentioned a while back, FFG has released Return to Night of the Zealot which is a mini-expansion of sorts for the campaign in the original core set. I still haven’t had a chance to play through it. So no impressions yet on how the campaign is. However I do appreciate FFG looking at ways to stretch the first campaign out some.

It appears that this might be a popular direction for expansions as they’ve announced a similar product for some of the earlier campaigns. You get a decent size box and one thing I immediately thought was to whip up an insert for it. Fortunately Go7 Gaming has you covered as they offer a MDF insert of their own design.

It assembles pretty easily. The divider sleeves have a clever design with a higher edge tab being off center. This way you can alternate the dividers giving support to cards in the box and eek a little more organization into the layout (as you could write on the dividers if you wanted). I’ll admit I now have a little buyers remorse as the new design sports more dividers and tabs (now 14 compared to my box which has an early design of 7). Looks like they realized the variety of encounter cards required more slots and spacers.

The cards are well supported and you have enough dividers to break up cards so that you can take a few out and still support others upright in the box. The insert and dividers also work with the card dividers provided in the expansion. Overall a nice little product worth picking up to squeeze some more functionality out of the expansion packaging.