IntroDuketion and InNicktiation
Get to Know the New Designers for Arkham Horror: The Card Game!
Six years ago, Arkham Horror: The Card Game first hit store shelves, and it brought countless adventures, thrills, and memories for tabletop gamers around the world. Throughout it all, our beloved MJ Newman worked tirelessly to bring the world of Arkham Horror to life in new and exciting ways, constantly one-upping herself with a seemingly boundless supply of ideas. Now, MJ is ready to move onto other projects within FFG, and so it is time for her to pass the torch onto others.
Today, we’d like to take a moment to introduce to everyone the new faces of Arkham Horror: The Card Game! As MJ prepares to switch gears, FFG has brought in Duke Harrist and Nick Kory as our new designers dedicated to the Arkham LCG line. These two were handpicked to carry on Arkham’s legacy, with Duke taking charge as the new lead designer.
Read on for a little Q&A with Duke and Nick! Don’t worry, Arkham fans—the game is in good hands.
Tell us about yourself! Where are you from? What are your hobbies? Etc.
Duke: Hi! I’m originally from Colorado but grew up in Southeast Asia and all over the place since then. I’m happy to call Minnesota home now! I love playing survival horror games and games that show me the wonder (or terror!) of other worlds. Some of my favorite films are Alien, The Wicker Man, Annihilation, Perfect Blue, and Spirited Away. I also love writing weird magical realist fiction in my free time or drawing my friends as JRPG characters. When I’m out and about, I love finding weird nooks with strange history and taking hikes with my dog Samwise.
Nick: I'm Minnesota born and raised, and while I have traveled a lot around the United States, I've lived in this state my whole life. I am an experienced stage actor, having performed in 17 shows since 2013 (my personal favorite was as John Merrick in The Elephant Man). I'm also an avid game master for tabletop roleplaying games, and often have two or even three different RPG campaigns active at any one time. Away from the game table and the stage, my favorite pastime is watching horror movies and pretending I'm not scared.
When did you first encounter the Arkham Horror Files? What made you interested in the IP?
Duke: My friend Ben talked up the Arkham Horror Second Edition board game to me soon after we were out of college, maybe 10 years ago. It was my first experience playing a board game with an immersive narrative that made me feel like an actual character in a story. The game unlocked a whole new world of emerging narratives across all the other Arkham Files games and in homebrew RPGs I cooked up in my free time. I love how playing any given Arkham Horror Files game suddenly brings a table together as they look at almost-certain doom and ask, “How do we stop this?”
Nick: Way back in the year 2012, I was listening to podcasts pretty regularly, and one of them mentioned the board game Arkham Horror 2nd Edition. I'd always been interested in Cthulhu and the greater works of H.P. Lovecraft, and Arkham Horror 2nd Edition proved the perfect gateway to the larger world of those stories, as it offered a pulpy and engaging experience while still retaining much of the cosmic horror elements for which the source material is known.
How did you get into tabletop gaming? What was your first experience with Arkham Horror: The Card Game?
Duke: It didn’t take long for me to dig into a ton of other tabletop games across different genres after I fell for Arkham Horror. I wound up writing reviews for Kill Screen magazine and took on a brief tenure as their board game columnist for a bit. In the midst of that, I fell pretty hard for Android: Netrunner (I wasn’t a maestro at it, to be sure). I loved the intricacy and imagination in that game but missed the cooperative aspect of the original Arkham Horror board game. When I saw the Arkham Horror: The Card Game core box on my local game store’s shelf, I didn’t even think twice. I took it home and invited my best friend as we subjected an unsuspecting Wendy and Skids to the horrors of the Mythos!
Nick: My first foray into tabletop gaming (beyond Monopoly and Scrabble) was a customizable card game by Decipher, Inc. Its depth and variability blew my mind, and I couldn't get enough of it. From there, I explored dozens of other card games across many properties and licenses. When I wasn’t at school or hanging out with friends, I was often sorting hundreds of cards from many different games, almost all of which are out of print today.
Arkham Horror: The Card Game has been my primary gaming experience since its release. I was one of the founding hosts of the Mythos Busters podcast, which recorded and aired our first episode when the game was announced. I have distinct memories of reading release articles and building expectations for the game in my mind (expectations which were, for the most part, exceeded by the game itself). Anybody who is interested can even go back and listen to my original opinions—but please don't, they're bad.
Who is your favorite investigator in Arkham LCG? Why are they your favorite?
Duke: This is a hard one, because I kind of love them all. But Diana Stanley and Silas Marsh were the first characters I remember bonding with, back when I was playing Eldritch Horror! Diana is torn between her past temptations in the Twilight Lodge and doing the right thing, even at great cost. I love Diana’s focus on denying the encounter deck as she slowly grows in power. Silas resonates with me in his reckoning with his family’s dark history and “the Innsmouth look” even as he fights against the Mythos. In the card game, I love playing fast and light with skills and events, so Silas’ ability and deckbuilding fit me like a glove.
Nick: I'm a true blue Guardian for the most part, and since he was our first Guardian in the card game, Roland Banks is my favorite investigator. He's strong in both solo and multiplayer, he's consistent, and he's easy to pick up and fun to learn.
As much as I like Roland for his simplicity, I do also love the investigators that encourage a lot of fiddly card combos, and who invite a lot of rules questions. Thus, Luke Robinson is a close second for me.
What is your favorite campaign in Arkham LCG? How about your favorite individual scenario? Why are they your favorites?
Duke: Again, tough question. I have so many memorable moments playing this game with my best friends–from dancing to organ music during A Phantom of Truth to modding The Devourer Below as a nerdy way to ask a guy out. If push came to shove, I’d have to list The Innsmouth Conspiracy as my favorite (honestly, maybe because I got to work on it as an intern!). The Last King, The Depths of Yoth, and Where the Gods Dwell are some of my favorite scenarios in the game.
Nick: My favorite campaign is probably The Path to Carcosa. It adapts some of my favorite stories from the greater mythos, it introduces the idea of an unreliable narrator into a card game, and it has some of my favorite scenarios from across the entire card game, specifically The Last King, The Unspeakable Oath, and The Pallid Mask.
As for my favorite individual scenario, it may be a faux-pas but I'd have to say it is Murder at the Excelsior Hotel. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to design a scenario as a freelancer years ago, and Murder at the Excelsior Hotel is exactly the type of game I wanted from Arkham Horror at that time. It is impossible for me to separate the experience of creating that scenario from the scenario itself. Plus, replayability is one of the most important elements of a scenario for me, and Excelsior has that in spades.
What is your fondest memory of playing Arkham Horror: The Card Game?
Duke: It’s not a single memory, because it’s happened to me many times over many different campaigns. My favorite moment is the point in any scenario I’ve played with my friend John where he gets a mischievous grin and asks me and the other players, “Do you trust me?” The answer is usually yes. Whatever happens after that is usually a rollercoaster, and always ends in our ruin or our victory. (That autofail hurts, y’all).
Nick: Arkham Horror has been such a big part of my life for the last six years that there are a lot of times that stand out to me. Rather than picking a singular experience, I'd have to say that the Ironman event, as organized by the Mythos Busters podcast, has been the shining pinnacle of Arkham Horror for me. It was the one time of the year I got to play Arkham Horror with the other podcast hosts, and we powered through a full campaign in a single day, alongside numerous other groups. Now that I have moved on to the designer side of the game, I am excited to watch the Mythos Busters—and other Arkham Horror play groups—play scenarios and player cards I've worked on as part of that Ironman experience.
Our Arkham LCG community is full of passionate fans. If you wanted to give them a challenge, what would that look like? (I.e. what investigator(s), which campaign/scenario, what deckbuilding restrictions, etc.)
Duke: Play a scenario as Carson Sinclair where you don’t take a single skill test. See how much doom you can pile on Amina Zidane’s assets in any given game. Or play Dim Carcosa in the Conviction route with Carolyn Fern, say the King in Yellow’s name 50 times, and see if you can end the scenario with no horror on you.
Nick: Anybody who wants a real challenge will play Preston Fairmont through Return to the Night of the Zealot on expert difficulty. To this day I have not had a more challenging experience as a player of Arkham Horror.
A New Chapter
There is still plenty of Arkham Horror: The Card Game goodness to look forward to in the years to come. Duke and Nick already have tons of ideas for new thrills and terrors, and we can’t wait to share them with you!
If you want to see more of Duke and Nick, check out yesterday’s The Scarlet Keys livestream, which you can find here.