Toy Corner

Arkham Horror 3rd Edition Review

Mar 28, 2024

Arkham Horror 3rd Edition Review

Arkham Horror brings a third edition to the series, this cooperative game has me hooked with its unique blend of action and strategy, what I like about it is that you do not need a large amount of players to play this as it works well for just one player too. There are 4 different scenarios to play and it consists of you and your team of investigators resolving the encounters you face while fighting the monsters that you will uncover in this world. So let’s take a deep dive into the features, gameplay and what I think of the game.

What’s in the box?

The main features of Arkham Horror 3rd Edition are the board game and character sheets. The board game stands out as it is laid out in hexagonal tiles, a change from the typical rectangles or squares that you tend to find in a board game. 

Instead of a singular board depicting the entire game environment, the third edition swiftly solves this conundrum with its scenario-based setup. You'll find yourself piecing together these hexagonal tiles to form a distinctive unique board for each game.

This innovative game board design heightens the game's relevance and interest. Not a single tile goes unused. Every location is integral to the plot, fully immersing you in the ominously captivating narrative of Arkham's mysteries. No longer does the board sprawl uncontrollably across your table. Arkham Horror 3rd Edition comfortably finds its home within your game space without compromising on the gameplay experience.

On turning our attention to character sheets, what I find exceptionally enthralling is their presentation. As players, we take on the role of investigators with unique skills and abilities. Each character sheet is vivid, and detailed and perfectly resonates with the holder's designated role in the narrative, right down to the styling of text and images.

While monster engagement restricts your actions, it's still a thrill. Desire to attack, evade, or take focus actions sets the pace and adrenaline. However, the restriction on repeating actions can be frustrating. It differs from Mansions of Madness and The Living Card Game, where you can repeat actions as you please.

Arkham Horror 3rd Edition presents a well-crafted blend of thrilling narrative, neat game board, and intricate character interaction, despite certain limitations. From design to mechanics, Fantasy Flight's commendable efforts create an environment where imagination meets strategy. Even if I've raised an eyebrow at the odd rule, the overall experience makes the game a fascinating exploration. There's a hunger to solve the riddles that Arkham presents, and that is the game's biggest victory.

Gameplay Mechanics of Arkham Horror 3rd Edition

Let’s start by saying that setting up the game will take around 2 to 3 hours to finish. The game consists of you and your team of investigators are in Arkham Massachusetts roaming the streets trying to uncover mysteries where you will be fighting monsters and travelling through dimensions to save the world. Arkham Horror 3rd edition starts with you following the codex cards, which are the objectives of the game, and depending on your actions throughout the gameplay you will be drawing more of these cards and this will change the objectives as you are playing along. Each player gets two actions which are used to either move on the board, fight monsters, uncover mysteries or use their special skills. 

When all players have played their cards, it's straight onto the Mythos Phase. This is where things can get chaotic. During this time, each player takes two tokens from a container. These tokens aren't always friendly, sometimes they're blank or could spawn a new clue token. But watch out, more often than not, they trigger unwelcome events. Doom tokens may appear, monsters can spawn, headlines may call for positive or negative interactions, and any reckoning effects have to be dealt with. Pulled tokens stay out of the Mythos Bag until it's empty and a token needs to be drawn again. All the discarded tokens are then ushered back into the bag. What I particularly relish about this phase is the mixture of chance and inevitability. Even if you're meticulous with the token draw order, you're still guaranteed something ominous!

Once the Mythos phase is over, a new round begins. There is that constant pressure to find clues and complete objectives, all while having to stop the monsters from taking over the population. To win the game all players have to work together to collect clue tokens to resolve the mysteries, but be careful with the doom tokens if there are too many on the board then you and your team will suffer defeat.

Narrative and Theme

As we dive deeper into the Arkham Horror experience, it's key to understand that this board game takes narrative and theme right down to its core. Crafted with immaculate attention to detail, this game seeks to immerse you in the eerie atmosphere of Arkham, presenting a tale laden with suspense, horror, and the unknown.

The game translates the essence of Lovecraftian horror into an interactive form. Every inch of the gameplay, from the doom tokens to monster spawns, is permeated by a sense of impending dread; an essential feature of a well-conceived horror narrative.

One of the distinct elements of the game is the Headline Cards. They do more than just hampering your survival chances. They act as a timer for the game, putting pressure on the players by accelerating the game's progression towards an inevitable doom. Every drawn Headline Mythos token consequently exhausts the headline deck, triggering the placement of doom tokens actuating the narrative's climax.

During the Investigation or Action Phase, as it's often referred to, strategic actions pave the way for the narrative to unfold. Limited by your choices, it teases your problem-solving skills, forcing you to weigh your options carefully. Why can't you attack twice? Such restrictions provide an additional layer of strategy, presenting a truly immersive gameplay experience laced with suspense as you teeter on the edge of survival.

Pros and Cons of Arkham Horror 3rd Edition

Forming a candid opinion on Arkham Horror 3rd Edition doesn't come easy. We're delving deep into an immersive world designed with meticulous care. However, a fair judgement means uncovering both the pearls and the pitfalls. Let's dissect the Pros and Cons to provide you with a comprehensive viewpoint.

From my perspective, those initial games had me riveted. The four varied and fascinating scenarios created an adequate challenge, especially when going solo. The game offers a tremendous storytelling experience, where each narrative is detailed, layered and engrossing.

It's worth mentioning that the game packaging is impressive too. Crack open the box to discover an assortment of materials that would titillate any board game enthusiast. You'll find 2 Scenario sheets, 4 Investigator sheets and an incredible variety of cards - 7 Headline cards, 20 Archive cards, 12 Anomaly cards, 48 Event cards, 4 Ally cards and more. These game elements add a vivid depth to each gaming session.

However, Arkham Horror 3rd edition does not come without its cons. You see, the game scenarios don't readily lend themselves to repetition. After a few rounds, you're apt to remember, and the element of unpredictability suffers a hit, making the game rather predictable.

Additionally, the restriction of actions at critical points seems a bit inconsistent, especially when compared with other productions like Mansions of Madness and The Living Card Game. At moments when my adrenaline got the better of me, I found the focus-attack-or-evade limitation a frustrating hurdle, stripping away what could have been additional strategic layers.

Perhaps my biggest gripe is with the amount of moves you can do, if there is a large amount of players, say around 6, I find myself losing interest as there is a lot of downtime and I feel like I cannot react to most things that are happening in the game as it is too late once it is my turn again.

Having presented both upsides and downsides, I must reiterate: Arkham Horror 3rd Edition is an experience that goes beyond basic victories or defeats. The suspense and thrill lie in the journey through Lovecraft's world.

Final Thoughts on Arkham Horror 3rd Edition

Overall Arkham Horror 3rd Edition is a great strategy game that I found to keep me entertained and challenged throughout. The replay value might not be the best but there are different scenarios to play until you start seeing this and there are expansions to help keep the game fresh and make you come back for more. I would recommend playing this with a smaller amount of players so you don’t find yourself having too much downtime and this will keep the game more engaging.