I Will Survive
An In-Depth Look at the Survivors of Arkham Horror: The Card Game
"Is… is it over?" Her hands shook, and she fell to her knees. "Is it finally over?"
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In Arkham Horror: The Card Game, you take on the role of a hardened investigator standing among your allies against the maddening forces of the Mythos as you attempt to solve eldritch mysteries and protect our world from the gods and monsters that exist beyond our plane. Together, you must discover clues, battle creatures, and perhaps even bend the darkness to your will in order to defeat the powers arrayed against you.
From the Core Set to The Forgotten Age, the five factions that make up Arkham Horror: The Card Game have evolved, adding new investigators to their ranks and gaining new implements to arm them. For a closer look at how these changes have affected each faction, we turn one last time to our guest writers Frank Brinkley and Peter Hopkins. Frank and Peter are the founders and hosts of the Drawn to the Flame podcast, where they share their love of H.P. Lovecraft and Arkham Horror: The Card Game with the larger gaming community. This entry marks the finale of their five-part article series, and they will be closing with the Survivor class: the brave men and women who stand against the Mythos with little more than their guts, spirit, and will to live.
Frank and Peter on the Survivor Faction
The world of the Arkham Horror Files is a cruel place, filled with challenges that threaten both mind and body. Not everyone who faces its horrors can claim to be a soldier, scholar, scoundrel or keeper of arcane secrets. Our fifth and final article looks at the Survivor faction of Arkham Horror: The Card Game, peopled with orphans, gravediggers, drifters, and haunted men. These investigators are ordinary men and women placed in extraordinary situations; they do not have much to tie them together beyond the fact that they are the epitome of reluctant heroes. And yet, each of them encapsulates some quality of being a Survivor. Today, we look at each Survivor in turn to see how they bring the faction’s strengths to life.
One of the hallmarks of being a Survivor is making the most of whatever's near at hand. Look at the weapons available to the faction: they aren’t firearms or arcane artifacts—they're whatever you can grab that looks dangerous. One benefit to repurposing Items as weapons is that you can still use them for their original purpose: Gravedigger's Shovel (The Path to Carcosa, 37) can be discarded to dig for clues when you’ve finished clubbing enemies, and a Flare (The Miskatonic Museum, 115) can signal to your friends as well as setting your foes on fire. Other investigators quail at such an improvised approach, but a Survivor is used to making do.
The gravedigger William Yorick (The Path to Carcosa, 5) loves employing this style. William always wants to be the one taking on enemies, even if he’s only half-prepared: a lucky kill means he’ll be able to dig through his discard pile and truffle something up. When playing as the gravedigger, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got assets in your discard pile to play, whether by committing these cards to tests or discarding them for effects. As a Survivor, you aren’t precious about cards ending up in your discard pile. Quite the contrary—you care about what’s in there. After a successful investigation, you may trigger Scavenging (Core Set, 73) to grab an Item card from your discard pile. Or perhaps you’re feeling Resourceful (The Path to Carcosa, 39), ready to snatch back any single Survivor card. As you pull back and replay your favorite cards, you will prove that you are a master of improvisation.
Fortune Favors Failure
All characters have to deal with failure at some point. This is another place where Survivors have the edge on other investigators: failure can be turned to their advantage. If you only fail by one or two points, "Look what I found!" (Core Set, 79) and Dumb Luck (The Forgotten Age, 34) each allow you to succeed in your own fashion—whether that’s stumbling upon clues, redirecting damage, or momentarily removing an enemy. You end up committing less to tests, knowing that failure can be its own type of success.
There’s one investigator in particular who can lean into under-committing in a huge way: Wendy Adams (Core Set, 5). The urchin may have been unlucky in life, but her innate tricksiness means you’ll rarely find yourself short of luck in times of need. Her ability allows you to discard a card to redraw a chaos token. Wendy can easily under-commit to a test, knowing that she can turn a narrow failure into success, and even a total failure is a chance for a second attempt. You end up taking the test first and then deciding how you to want to pass it, with Fortune cards like Lucky! (Core Set, 80) and Oops! (The Miskatonic Museum, 113). Survivors are the experts in making what they have go further.
Still, Survivors don’t simply rely on luck. There’s a plethora of impressive allies to ensure you’re not facing the terrors of the Mythos alone. Your access to characters such as Peter Sylvestre (The Dunwich Legacy, 35) and Aquinnah (Lost in Time and Space, 308) offers you a remarkable amount of endurance. Peter shrugs off horror while Aquinnah is able to redirect damage from an attack, turning your enemies against each other! With these friends by your side, you can push yourself more than you ever thought possible.
The faction’s most powerful ally, though, comes in the form of man’s best friend. "Ashcan" Pete (The Dunwich Legacy, 5) enters every scenario backed up by his trusty companion, Duke (The Dunwich Legacy, 14). With Duke at his side, Pete transforms from a mild-mannered drifter to a mobile and dependable clue-finder and brawler. When you play as Pete, you’ve already got an Ally to take a hit or help you tackle a scenario; you’re ready from the get go to investigate and fight, which makes you incredibly versatile. You end up feeling both resilient and flexible as you keep your team progress and mop up trouble rather than succumbing to despair.
Desperation manifests in several ways in Arkham Horror: The Card Game. Having no cards in hand can mean you have no tricks left to play. Or perhaps you have no resources—your pockets are empty, and your connections are tapped out. Don’t worry, though: as a Survivor, you’re accustomed to being the Dark Horse (Undimensioned and Unseen, 234) of your team, and just when it looks like you’re out of luck and out of time, you come into your own. With a Fire Axe (The Dunwich Legacy, 32) in hand, you have a second reward for running out of resources: extra damage. You become deadlier the more desperate you are!
No investigator exemplifies the idea of fighting out of desperation better than the newest Survivor: Calvin Wright (The Forgotten Age, 5), who begins his campaigns with all his stats at zero! With damage, his physical stats increase; with horror, his mental ones do the same… which just means you need to invite damage and horror upon you. While living on the edge is dangerous, it’s also exciting. You can respond to the challenges of a scenario and the more you push yourself, the stronger you become. There are plenty of Survivor cards that make you more effective as you are put under increasing pressure, such as Fight or Flight (The Unspeakable Oath, 155), which transforms your horror into physical prowess for a turn. Or you can use "Not without a Fight!" (Black Stars Rise, 272) to muscle your way out of danger just as you’re about to be overwhelmed. As a Survivor, you’re able to rise to the occasion and see off any dangers!
Resourcefulness. Resilience. Flexibility. Desperation. These are the hallmarks of the Survivors. Whether you’re a lonely orphan or a haunted man on the run, you may think you’re ill prepared for the challenges ahead—but you are stronger than you know, whether that’s a knack for improvisation, drawing strength from adversity, or natural luck. Walking the line between success and failure is right at the heart of being a Survivor: when you come out bruised but victorious it's immensely satisfying. You shall endure, no matter the cost. You have to.
As we reach the end of the faction overviews, we'd like to say thank you to Frank and Peter for their time, dedication, and insight over the course of this article series. Now that you have learned the secrets of the investigators, we turn the story to you. Which faction will you align with to confront the forces of the Mythos? Do you have the grit to become a true Survivor? Join the investigation and discover the strength within yourself!
To test your skills and see if you can survive the Mythos, order your copy of Arkham Horror: The Card Game (AHC01) at your local retailer today or on the Fantasy Flight Games website here!