Guardians of Humanity
An In-Depth Look at the Guardians of Arkham Horror: The Card Game
You steel your nerves and shout into the darkness, “Come and get me!”
The world of Arkham Horror: The Card Game is filled with maddening eldritch creatures. As a member of a team of investigators, you must work alongside your allies to defeat monsters, uncover clues, and learn to control the powers of the Mythos in order to survive and protect your home. From the Core Set to The Forgotten Age, the five factions of Arkham Horror: The Card Game have grown and changed with new investigators and implements to combat the forces of darkness.
To give us deeper insight into this evolution, we look to guest writers Frank Brinkley and Peter Hopkins. Frank and Peter are the hosts and cofounders of the Drawn to the Flame podcast, a series they started to share their passion for the world and challenges of Arkham Horror: The Card Game with the larger gaming community. Today, they will be examining the Guardian faction, the stalwart defenders of humanity who will protect their allies, no matter the cost.
Frank and Peter on the Guardian Faction
You may need to pack more muscle…
In our first article, we talked about the Seekers who lead the team deeper into the darkness, spotting clues and throwing out snippets of knowledge to support their colleagues. Sooner or later, though, you and your companions will find yourselves face to face with ghouls, thralls, or byakhees, and may be forced to run for your lives… Unless, that is, one of the party is prepared for the worst, ready to stand toe-to-toe with these beasts and meet tooth and claw with blade and bullet. Enter the Guardian faction!
Where Seekers boast incredible intellects, the statistic that stands out like a bulging bicep for Guardians is their combat. Roland Banks (Core Set, 1), Zoey Samaras (The Dunwich Legacy, 1) and Leo Anderson (The Forgotten Age, 1) all sport a respectable four combat. Mark Harrigan (The Path to Carcosa, 1), on the other hand, kicks down the door with a whopping five. These are investigators who like to tackle problems—or rather, enemies—head on. That’s incredibly useful, as the denizens of the Mythos form some of your biggest obstacles to success. Guardians believe there’s no point going around an obstacle when you could charge straight through it.
With above-average combat skills and health pools, this directness is a hallmark of the Guardian class. If you want to play as a two-fisted fighter, facing down enemies and shrugging off injuries, the Guardian faction is perfect for dishing out the punches—and maybe taking one or two in return. Weapons and damage cards, such as Machete (Core Set, 20) and Vicious Blow (Core Set, 25), are plentiful in this class. They give you a huge and immediate advantage at fighting when compared to, say, a clue-focused Seeker. In but a few short moments you’ll be able to dispatch an eldritch horror that had your friend cornered. Do you feel like a hero yet?
If the simplicity of finding weapons and introducing them to your enemies appeals to you, you’ve come to the right place. As the campaign pushes on, Guardians can spend their experience on even bigger weapons. The Shotgun (Core Set, 29) can do lethal damage up close (with a decent token pull), while the Lightning gun (Lost in Time and Space, 301) will make short work of all but the toughest of enemies. When other factions might spend experience on tricks and skills, Guardians like to invest in pure power.
To ensure you have these incredibly direct, potent weapons, you need to put in the time to set up your board. To help, some Guardians will be Prepared for the Worst (Blood on the Altar, 184) and reap the rewards when they Stick to the Plan (Black Stars Rise, 264). Other investigators can worry about advancing the Act and delaying the Agenda. Not so the Guardian: you’re concerned with making sure you’re well enough armed that no monster stands a chance.
Sometimes it’s not enough to prepare for combat. This is where, as a Guardian, it can feel like you’re playing a different game, one of cat-and-mouse with the encounter deck. Enemies will emerge—it’s only a matter of time—but a fearless Guardian starts to seek them out of their own volition. You can set out On the Hunt (Black Stars Rise, 261) or lie in wait and set an Ambush (The Unspeakable Oath, 261) while your comrades are sniffing out clues or developing their own strategies for advancing the scenario. All that matters is that when an enemy does emerge, you’re ready for it and you can deal with it efficiently.
Many of a Guardian’s allies are geared towards this end, too. The Guard Dog (Core Set, 21) and Beat Cop (Core Set, 18) both increase the damage you can deal. Or, when you start to feel swamped, you can light a fuse and toss a Dynamite Blast (Core Set, 24) at the approaching horde. If you’ve spent the scenario building up for an almighty fight, it’s deeply rewarding when the time for action arrives and you’re all set. Doubly so if you can finish off your enemies without risking failure by needing to reach into the chaos bag!
Dealing with Damage
With this abundance of damage, it’s easy to think of Guardians as the ‘fighting’ class, but it’s doing the faction a disservice to stop there. Even the name, "Guardian," gives us a clue as to its real purpose: protection and defense. As well as simply chopping up enemies, your duty is protect your compatriots, whether that’s through defeating enemies, healing wounds, or even blocking damage and horror entirely.
You always have to remember that your job isn’t just to have fun showing off how good you are at killing monsters, as great as that feels! When you’re able to heal and protect your fellow investigators, they’re able to push themselves further; Roland’s nine health means he can take far more hits than Daisy or Sefina with their health of five! You will be the Inspiring Presence (The Pallid Mask, 228) around which your comrades rally. After all, a Guardian who's only ready to fight enemies when none are present is more of a hindrance than a help; you still have to draw an encounter card each turn!
It’s how you help your team deal with all the manifold challenges of the encounter deck that’s paramount, particularly those treacheries and enemies that deal damage and horror. As wounds rack up, Guardians can deploy a dash of Emergency Aid (The Miskatonic Museum, 105) to keep their fellow investigators on their feet. For a more creative solution, you may also take a look at "If it bleeds..." (Undimensioned and Unseen, 225). Guardians are incredible at killing enemies. What better suits a Guardian who wants to heal their colleagues than the option to remove horror while you slaughter a monster? Little epitomizes the Guardian class better than fortifying your team as you stand amid the remains of an unspeakable monstrosity…
Deal with It
Beyond healing and preventing damage, there is a third option. Guardians are notable for their extreme physical resistance, and taking a hit square on your iron jaw can give a colleague the buffer they need to dash out of a difficult situation, grab a final clue, or even just crawl their way to the door. True Grit (The Path to Carcosa, 21) is the perfect example of this self-sacrificing stoicism, and don’t forget the indomitable Brother Xavier (The Miskatonic Museum, 106). Xavier encapsulates so much of what it means to play as a Guardian: not only does he soak up damage and horror for you and your colleagues; when he’s done his job, he leaves with a parting kiss for some unfortunate enemy—yet more damage! With Brother Xavier and True Grit, you can feel like an indefatigable bulwark against the Mythos. When enemies attack, you soak up their heavy blows without flinching.
At the faction’s core rests this dichotomy: you’re a master of offense and a master of defense. You need to balance these two opposing forces and keep in mind that you need to help your team, even when there’s no immediate danger. When trouble arrives, though, there’s no one better to have around: with a Guardian on the team, your companions leave worrying about danger to you, the consummate professional.
Sworn to Protect
Uncovering the secrets of the Mythos will serve little purpose if your team does not survive long enough to put the newfound knowledge to use. Embrace the role of the Guardian and protect your team from any threats that arise from beyond the veil. You are the last defender. You are their only hope.
To step into the role of a hard-hitting Guardian, you can order your own copy of Arkham Horror: The Card Game (AHC01) at your local retailer today or on the Fantasy Flight Games website here!