Guided by the Unseen
New Arkham Horror: The Card Game FAQ Now Available
The next edition of the official Arkham: Horror the Card Game FAQ v1.9 is now available! Read on for more information on the erratas, List of Taboos, and updates to the FAQ release schedule from Game Designers MJ Newman and Jeremy Zwirn.
Greetings, Arkham Horror: The Card Game players!
With The Innsmouth Conspiracy coming to a close and a new and exciting story on the horizon, it is time once again to revisit the official FAQ and Taboo Cards with some revisions and alterations. Today, we’d like to explain each of the changes and reveal some of the logic behind which cards we’ve chosen to alter and why.
We’d also like to explain the FAQ schedule so that players know what to expect. In general, starting now, we plan on updating the FAQ about twice a year, before and after each campaign release. This gives players a nice launching point for a new campaign as they build investigator decks, and gives cards their chance to shine for a short while before we even consider an errata or taboo. That said, we can still make emergency FAQ updates if something is particularly problematic. So, with this being the period between The Innsmouth Conspiracy and The Edge of the Earth, let’s take a look at the changes.
Before we go into the List of Taboos, I wanted to address a few erratas.
Generally speaking, we try to avoid issuing too many erratas, since we prefer cards to do what they say, and not require players to look up what a card really does when told it actually operates differently. However, when a card’s functionality is unclear, or when it has unintended consequences that may warp the game environment in a negative way, we want to tackle those issues, preferably in the most intuitive and easy-to-understand way possible.
The first of these erratas is to Wendy's Amulet (Core 14). This is a core set card that has seen some unintended consequences given that not every event is discarded after it is played, as its ability would suggest. The infamous “infinite Premonition Wendy” deck is a prime example of why this is a problem, but there are other potential infinite combos we want to quash before they get out of hand. The new errata essentially treats events that enter play and are then discarded the same way as events that are played for the purposes of Wendy’s Amulet, which prevents such infinite loops.
Next is The Hungering Blade (Dream-Eaters 18) and Crystallizer of Dreams (Dream-Eaters 24). Because these cards were worded slightly differently from similar cards (like Summoned Hound), they had different gameplay ramifications. This change puts all of these cards in line with one another, so that they all work similarly, and helps to clarify the difference between “play” and “put into play.” We’ve also made a similar change to Dexter’s alternate signature weakness, Yaztaroth (Novella 18).
Next, Seeking Answers (level 2) (Harvey Starter 27). This card is currently unclear as to how many clues it discovers—while it does specify “2 total clues,” it also does not explicitly replace the standard effects from an investigation, so some players (rightfully) interpreted it to discover 3 clues in total. While some may consider this a balance errata, we’re making this change here instead of the taboo list because the sheer volume of questions regarding how many clues this card discovers reveals that this more of a functionality error than a balance problem. So we’re issuing an errata to bring the card in line with its original intent, which also clarifies its usage.
Finally, we are issuing an errata to Guided by the Unseen (Innsmouth Conspiracy 223) to prevent players from using its ability an infinite number of times simply to trigger all of their Research effects. This is an obviously unintended consequence of how the card is worded, so we’re adding a simple “Limit once per test” to the end of its ability to prevent this kind of abuse while still retaining the card’s core functionality.
Taboo List Explained
Now for the List of Taboos. Again, since we are in between campaign releases, now is the best time to re-evaluate the cardpool and make tweaks to ensure a healthy deckbuilding environment. We’re making a handful of very precise updates to the Taboo List this time around. The goals are (1) to prevent certain cards from dominating players’ decks while still allowing those who wish to use them without limit to do so by breaking taboo, and (2) to give those players who do follow the taboo list some exciting new options they may have never considered before.
Before we get into the changes, I’d like to once again explain a bit of the thought process behind the List of Taboos. Generally speaking, we want to make changes that are intuitive and easy to remember. Changes to deckbuilding restrictions (such as experience adjustments, or adding the exceptional keyword) are favorable, since you only ever need to think about them outside of gameplay. Once the card is in your deck, it functions as printed. In some ways, the Chained/Unchained list operates similarly to a “restricted list” in many of our other games. It doesn’t change the way the card functions or disallow you from using the card—it simply limits the extent to which you can include lots of similarly powerful cards in your deck.
However, sometimes a simple experience adjustment is not enough, and we must tackle the text of the card itself with a Mutation. Again, our goal is to keep these changes as intuitive and easy to remember as possible. Changing the card’s resource cost or its number of uses is generally a non-option since it is cumbersome and hard to remember. Adding a limit or a “remove from game” effect is much more favorable. Some mutations are a bit more complex, but if they feel thematically appropriate, that can make the new text easier to remember. We also want to ensure that any changes to the text still fit within the card’s text box without making the card too cluttered or impossible to read, since we offer these updated tabooed cards as a downloadable PDF.
We also want to avoid a situation where a card is on more than one list within the Taboo List (for example, Mutated and also Chained), because we feel that may be too cumbersome and difficult to remember. So, when we make a change, it is either (1) to preserve its game text by chaining/unchaining it, or (2) to preserve its level by mutating it.
Finally, as a reminder, the taboo list is not designed to strike the perfect balance in terms of raw numbers. We know that there may be some weak cards we’re not bolstering or powerful cards we’re not nerfing. To make all of those changes would make the List of Taboos enormous and unwieldy, and it would consume dozens upon dozens of hours of development time. Instead, our goals with these changes are to limit potential abuse with precise scalpel changes, and enforce some big shifts in the game’s meta using huge “whoa!” chains or mutations that force players to reconsider cards that were previously “auto-includes” or “binder-fodder.”
This time around, we’re experimenting with something a little different, and shifting our attention almost exclusively over to the mutated list. This shouldn’t be construed as a change in the team’s way of thinking; more of a temporary reaction to the response regarding specific cards, and as a thought experiment to see how players react to certain problem cards undergoing a change in text rather than experience level. This includes us moving some cards from chained/unchained over to the mutated list with updated text. Let us know what you think!
Taboo List Additions
So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the changes to the List of Taboos in the new edition of the FAQ.
Elusive (Core Set 50) (Mutated): This card has been on the chained list for quite some time, but we want to try a slight alteration to its card text in order to allow player to still include it at level 0. We want the primary use of this card to be a panic button when engaged with an enemy you don’t want to fight—not simply as a hyper-efficient means of teleporting across the map. This change also has the beneficial side effect of making other “teleport” cards a lot more viable by removing the objectively best teleport option from the game. We’re hoping to see more cards like Astral Travel as a result. There may also be more teleport cards in the future, so consider this a bit of future-proofing.
Springfield M1903 (Dunwich Legacy 226) and Telescopic Sight (Circle Undone 230) (Mutated): These two cards were previously a bit overpriced in terms of experience. We thought that unchaining the Springfield would help it see play, but as it turns out, other firearms still push it out of the meta. We could unchain it further, but we’re very wary of having it be any lower than 3 experience. This new change is what I would call “strapping the card to a rocketship and sending it into space.” By altering their game text to give them a significant boost in power while keeping their xp levels high, we hope to see these cards form the cornerstone of a new strategy as originally intended, rather than never see play. It is worth noting that the wording on the Springfield was specifically written differently from Telescopic Sight and Marksmanship in order to allow it to combo with those two cards. (In other words, if you use Marksmanship with the Springfield, you can now hit an enemy from two locations away!)
Eucatastrophe (Circle Undone 324), Three Aces (Dream-Eaters 199), A Watchful Peace (Innsmouth Conspiracy 269), and Hallow (Innsmouth Conspiracy 301) (Mutated): These four cards are powerful, but only a problem when spammed repeatedly using recursion effects. These simple mutations are intuitive and easy to remember. They keep the cards’ functionality and skill ceiling the same for the vast majority of players, while preventing the cards from being abusable, which is precisely what we want.
Pendant of the Queen (Dream-Eaters 22): Like the four cards above, this is another fun card that is particularly problematic when combined with search effects that allow a player to get its 3 segments out immediately after the pendant “breaks” and separates. We previously tackled this card by simply chaining its 3 segments, but we want to instead try a mutation that brings it back to its previous power level while limiting the potential for abuse. The nice thing about this change is that (1) Mandy should still like the card, since she can still get the pendant out quickly using search effects, and (2) it makes cards like Recharge and Eldritch Sophist a little more viable, since now adding charges is the only way to give the Pendant more than 3 uses.
That’s it for this update, but there are other cards on our radar as well. This doesn’t mean they are guaranteed to see a change in the future; it just means that we’re keeping an eye on them for one reason or another. So if you’re surprised a card hasn’t made this list, there are several potential reasons for this. (1) The card may be already receiving a change in power level in the future, in the form of other as-of-yet-unseen cards that combo with it or provide alternative “sidegrades.” (2) We may already have a taboo in mind, but require some more time to playtest it to make sure it accomplishes our goals and doesn’t have any unintended consequences. (3) We are aware a card is too weak or too powerful, but have intentionally left it off the list so as to avoid overbloating the taboo list. Keep in mind that the taboo list is not meant to be a comprehensive balance list. If the metagame is like a seesaw, we would rather see it teeter back and forth than be perfectly level 100% of the time.
That’s all for now. The team is very excited for what is in store in the future. For now, stay tuned and good luck!
Download the complete FAQ here. To learn more about The Edge of the Earth, the newest pair of expansions for Arkham Horror: The Card Game, click here. For more information on all Arkham Horror: The Card Game products, visit the game’s page here.