An In-Depth Look at the Rogues of Arkham Horror: The Card Game
I don’t mind being on my own. That’s when I do my best work.
In Arkham Horror: The Card Game, you become part of a team of investigators attempting to solve eldritch mysteries and stand against the terrible monsters that threaten your beloved city. As the game has moved from the Core Set to The Forgotten Age, new investigators have joined the battle for our world, gaining new implements and insights.
For a closer look at how each faction contributes to the team of investigators and how they have evolved, we turn to our guest writers, Peter Hopkins and Frank Brinkley. Peter and Frank have been playing games since they knew games existed. Fans of fantasy, sci-fi, and weird fiction, they found a natural fit for their enthusiasms with the works of H.P. Lovecraft and Arkham Horror: The Card Game. Peter and Frank are the hosts of the Drawn to the Flame podcast, which they started in early 2017. Today, they'll examine the Rogue faction, the untouchable escape artists who use their cunning to navigate Arkham’s twisted underbelly!
Peter and Frank on the Rogue Faction
The world of Arkham Horror Files is more than elder gods and unspeakable things: this is the 1920s and in Arkham, Massachusetts, bootleggers and mobsters wouldn’t think twice about making a quick buck or fleecing an honest fellow. But what if these disreputable types found themselves exposed to the world of the Mythos? Arkham Horror: The Card Game allows you to do just that—this week we’re looking at the high-rolling Rogues.
This faction is filled with people from all walks of life, who wind up washed between the cracks of Arkham. "Skids" O'Toole (Core Set, 3) is an ex-con with rounded stats and a strong agility of four. Sefina Rousseau (The Path to Carcosa, 3) is a painter—well, forger—who also boasts four agility, but trades combat and intellect potential for a decent four willpower. Finn Edwards (The Forgotten Age, 3) joins the crew with hearty intellect and agility, while Jenny Barnes (The Dunwich Legacy, 3) is the most evenly organized of all the investigators, with skill values of three across the board. Despite an emphasis on agility, the Rogues are perhaps notable for their un-noteworthiness. Maybe keeping to the shadows suits this faction...
Fast and Furious
So, what does keeping to the shadows in a game of Arkham Horror: The Card Game look like? Cards such as Think on your Feet (The Dunwich Legacy, 25) and Elusive (Core Set, 50) mean Rogues are slippery customers, hard to pin down. That’s especially useful as many enemies sport lower evade values than fight values, so a quick evasion leaves you with actions free to dedicate to advancing the act. Even better, when you evade as a Rogue, you have a suite of tools to exploit that evasion for added bonuses. You can target an exhausted enemy with a Sneak Attack (Core Set, 52), hitting it when it’s down, or do a little Pickpocketing (A Phantom of Truth, 195) as you slide away from trouble in the blink of an eye.
Despite the power and flexibility of evasion, there are times when gambling your problems won’t catch up with you simply won’t cut it. If you’re looking to pack a punch, there’s a host of Illicit weaponry you can get your hands on like the .41 Derringer (The Pallid Mask, 234) which offers a hefty combat boost, albeit with extra damage not guaranteed. In fact, comparing Rogue weapons with those of their Guardian counterparts shows you how the factions differ. A Guardian has a trusty, reliable weapon, while a Rogue will go for a bigger risk with the potential for a greater payoff. Check out Lupara (Dim Carcosa, 309): this old shotgun raises your combat and damage. But if you manage to slide it into play during the turn you want to use it, it gains an even meatier bonus! For extra style points—and what’s the point of doing anything if not with style—play it with Sleight of Hand (The Path to Carcosa, 29) to spring it into action when an enemy’s least expecting it before giving them both barrels, leaving yourself an action to spare.
Going All In
If you’re planning on surprise plays and bursts of excitement, you’ll need to be patient and prepare so you’re ready when occasion knocks: with your cards in hand and your cash on the table. Nowhere is this seen more than in cards like Quick Thinking (Undimensioned and Unseen, 229) that reward you for succeeding by two or more. Individually, these cards offer a small benefit, but when you commit these cards en masse, you’re betting that with a successful skill test you’ll reap a huge payoff and a host of benefits. Perhaps you’ve had a Narrow Escape (Black Stars Rise, 267), then committed Double or Nothing (The Dunwich Legacy, 26) and "Watch This!" (The Pallid Mask, 233) with three resources, as well as a Quick Thinking. That’s a five-point boost, and if you succeed by two or more, it’ll garner you two extra actions and net nine resources! But you’re still at the whims of the chaos bag—one unlucky pull and you’ll realize why people say the house always wins.
Rogues also like big gambles when it comes to experience, as they have the lion’s share of cards with the exceptional keyword. These truly powerful cards cost double their printed XP, so in investing in one of them, you’re banking on even drawing it. For instance, The Gold Pocket Watch (Lost in Time and Space, 305), at the cost of eight XP, lets you skip or repeat an entire phase, astounding your teammates, but only if you’ve saved the requisite experience to purchase the card and then found it during a scenario! Charon's Obol (Dim Carcosa, 308) can help with the former: at the risk of not just defeat but death—which is quite a gamble—a Rogue earns two extra experience from every single scenario. As befits characters who have spent their share of time out of sight, not every turn will be a flashy one as you set up and stockpile resources. But the quiet times of preparation will pay off. You may act rarely, but when you do, everyone pays attention.
Winner Takes It All
These bursts of activity don’t come without a cost. Fortunately, Rogues are excellent at generating—and subsequently spending—resources. Your connections to gambling dens and unsavory watering holes mean that you know when to play the odds in hopes of hitting a Hot Streak (Core Set, 57). You may find you’re happy to go it alone or wait for your teammates to move on before you take your turn, because you’re a Lone Wolf (Blood on the Altar, 188). As long as you start your turn by yourself, you'll generate an extra resource every single turn. You’ll feel like you’re ready to deal with any situation when sitting on a large pile of resources, and it’s not unheard of to look around the table and see you have more resources than the rest of your team combined!
Remember, though, there’s no reward for having the most cash at the end of a scenario—it needs to be leveraged into battling the Mythos or progressing the act. As well as flurries of actions, you can also afford to play expensive individual cards. For example, Leo de Luca (Core Set, 48), the Louisiana Lion, costs a whopping six resources, but he's worth every penny since he provides an extra action every turn. That sheer power cannot be overstated, as while Leo’s around you’re able to spend more time on the task at hand than your fellow investigators. You might also aim to pass skill tests by throwing resources at them, with Streetwise (Blood on the Altar, 189) granting generous stat boosts, if you can afford them, and Lucky Dice (Undimensioned and Unseen, 230) letting you spend resources to redraw chaos tokens. A rich Rogue can get anything done.
Balancing skullduggery and conflict is at the core of the Rogue faction. You can spend time inconspicuously, weighing up your odds and dodging enemies, or you can cover more ground than your accomplices with more actions and resources to spend. At crunch time, you’ll be the one who’s willing to go all in and roll the dice. The risks may be high, but the rewards are higher!
The Usual Suspects
The threats of the Mythos may draw others into the limelight, but as a Rogue, you know you're no good to anybody dead. By keeping to the shadows, you will move your investigations forward in grand sweeps that no other faction can accomplish. While some may underestimate you as an underhanded schemer, when the moment arrives, you will prove that you are worth more than anyone bargained for!
To become a shadow-seeking Rogue, you can pick up your own copy of Arkham Horror: The Card Game (AHC01) at your local retailer today or online through the Fantasy Flight website here!