A Shift in the Mythos
A New Arkham Horror: The Card Game FAQ is Now Available
Greetings, brave investigators of Arkham Horror: The Card Game!
After a number of supernatural trials and unearthly tribulations, the official FAQ and taboo list is ready for your consumption! With several repackaged campaigns hitting shelves and The Scarlet Keys expansions on the horizon, I’d like to take this time to explain some of the changes in this update. Before I get to the new ruling and the taboo list, there are a few errata I'd like to briefly go over. Most are self-explanatory, but there are a few I wanted to share some additional insight as to why the errata has been issued.
For the most part, we try to avoid issuing too many errata, since it’s best for cards to simply do what they say. However, we do issue errata when a card’s functionality is unclear or defunct, or when its effects have unintended, game-warping consequences. It has been a long time since the last FAQ update, so there are a few more errata in this update than there have been in past updates. We don’t foresee this being the norm, and it’s not something we prefer, but these errata are all important changes for a variety of reasons.
Most of the new errata are self-explanatory, however I did want to call attention to a few that might initially be confusing. First is Storm of Spirits (both versions) and MK1 Grenades, which both received a minor change to their damaging effect in order to allow them to combo with other cards as intended (for example, Marksmanship). This is a small enough fix that most players won’t even realize the difference, but it is more technically correct, which as we all know is the best kind of correct.
Next up is Hallowed Mirror, Occult Lexicon, and Miss Doyle, which all received a slight change to their forced effects so that their bonded cards are set aside instead of removed from the game when the Mirror/Lexicon leaves play. In addition to clarifying that these cards are meant to be re-usable if the Mirror or Lexicon leaves and re-enters play, this change puts these two cards in line with every other bonded card from The Dream-Eaters cycle.
Stick to the Plan received a one-word fix to ensure that the cards that attach to it do so facedown (meaning they are out of play). This mirrors the wording on other similar cards, such as Ancestral Knowledge and Backpack, and makes it clear that any Upgrade cards attached to Stick to the Plan are not actually active.
Finally, you may notice a more extensive series of changes to a number of cards and campaign guide entries from The Path to Carcosa campaign, which I want to briefly address. The new repackaged printing of The Path to Carcosa Campaign Expansion changes the "Lunatic" trait on many enemy cards, along with the card titles for several enemies, in order to better represent the story being told and to help pull the narrative away from harmful and incorrect stereotypes regarding mental illness. It is important to note that there are no mechanical changes to these cards whatsoever—if you already owned The Path to Carcosa, you can essentially play them as printed without issue. If you have the old copy of The Path to Carcosa, your cards will use the old language, and if you have the new copy, your cards will use the updated language. However, we wanted to make players aware of the changes as official errata so that there is no confusion as to why the changes were made. There are also a handful of small changes to the story text in a few instances to this effect, which are not listed in the FAQ. The only potential issue you might run into is if you have the new copy of The Path to Carcosa Campaign Expansion along with the old or current printing of Return to the Path to Carcosa, at which point there may be a few effects that still reference "Lunatic" enemies. I know that it's not ideal, but I hope that players will understand why this change is important to me and many others.
Rulings and Clarifications
This FAQ adds a few new rulings and even new terminology which should help guide players to understand certain niche interactions better. The first is the introduction of the “Limbo” state. Limbo is what we on the development team have internally dubbed the liminal state between in-play and out-of-play that a transient card (such as a Treachery or an Event) is in while its effects are being resolved. This is not a change in the rules per se—this is technically how Treacheries and Events have always worked—this entry simply solidifies its place in the rules so players have a way to refer to it in order to better understand certain interactions, such as: while I am resolving this event, is it in my hand? Or is it in my discard pile? (The answer is neither!) Limbo will also likely never be referenced in any future card effects, so if you already understood how these interactions worked, congratulations; this entry changes nothing!
Another ruling I wish to address is (1.24), “Shifting Slots.” In essence, this ruling makes it clear how and when players can move assets between their various slots, especially when they possess abilities that cause assets to no longer take up slots or allow their slots to hold assets of a different slot type. The basic gist of the ruling is that an investigator must decide which slot is holding the asset at the time it enters play, and that cannot change unless the contents or quantity of the investigator’s slots changes. In other words, investigators cannot swap the contents of their slots whenever they wish, but whenever they play a new asset that takes up slots or the number of slots they have changes, they can rearrange all of the assets in their slots.
The other important new rule introduced in this update is “The Silver Rule,” which is sort of an extension of the game’s Golden Rule. The Silver Rule simply states that if an encounter card and a player card directly contradict one another, the encounter card takes precedence; otherwise, if two cards of the same type contradict one another, the lead investigator may decide. Note that like the Golden Rule, this only applies in the narrow case where two cards directly contradict one another and the conflict cannot be resolved in any other way (for example, if one card read “you cannot have more than 5 cards in hand” and another card read “you cannot have fewer than 6 cards in hand”).
Most of the remainder of the rulings in this iteration of the FAQ serve to further define specific words, such as “look at,” “find,” “different,” “take/perform an action,” etc., in order to help players interpret specific card interactions.
The List of Taboos
The time has come to talk about the List of Taboos. With Edge of the Earth released and a brand-new set of investigators and player cards on the horizon, now is the best time to re-evaluate the card pool and make tweaks to ensure a healthy deckbuilding environment. Since it has been a while, this update to the Taboo List is a bit more extensive than previous updates, and we have a few tricks up our sleeve to make the full card pool as exciting and viable as ever. As always, the goals with this list 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 want to once again remind players about the theory behind some of these changes. First off, we always want to make changes that are intuitive and easy to remember. Ideally, a card can be chained or unchained, allowing it to function exactly the same as it used to, just with slight changes during deckbuilding. However, we have noticed that often a simple experience adjustment is not enough, and we must tackle the text of the card itself with a mutation. When we do so, we want to ensure that the basic design intent of the card remains the same, and the changes to the text still fit neatly within the card’s text box.
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.”
We noted that our last few “buff” mutations were a huge success, so in this update we have made some very interesting mutations to some older cards to better integrate them into the modern card pool. I think players will find these changes fresh and exciting, so let’s get into it!
First off, we’ve removed a few cards from the chained list. Go, Machete! You are free! Most cards that end up chained do so because they dominate their particular niche; now that the card pool has expanded a bit, we feel comfortable resetting these cards to their original exp cost. This is one of the neat things about the List of Taboos—because it is not a permanent change, we can go back and alter previous taboos!
Second, we have unchained Signum Crucis and Rite of Equilibrium (-2 experience each) and chained Jeremiah Kirby and Gené Beauregard (+2 experience each). These are cards whose abilities work just fine, but we perhaps over or underestimated what their experience cost should be. These changes should help to put them in line with other cards of similar exp cost. We’ve also taken the opportunity to chain everyone’s favorite Eschatologist, David Renfield (+3 experience); the reasoning behind this change is in anticipation of many of the new cards coming in The Scarlet Keys Investigator Expansion, which are likely to propel this already popular powerful card to new levels of power.
Next is a series of cards that previously interacted with a specific set of chaos token symbols: Ritual Candles, Jewel of Aureolus, Voice of Ra, Dark Prophecy, and Counterspell. These cards have all received simple mutations with the intent of allowing them to combo with bless and curse tokens. We found that the previous change to the .35 Winchester was received very well, so we wanted to open up the usefulness of these cards to some of the new deck archetypes from the Innsmouth Conspiracy cycle. For example, now you can throw a lot of bless tokens into the chaos bag and use Jewel of Aureolus and Voice of Ra as economy cards, or a curse-focused Mystic can use Ritual Candles or Counterspell to offset some of the harm of their curse tokens. These changes should hopefully open up these cards to a world of new combo potential, and I am really excited to see what kinds of new decks players build using them!
Lola Hayes and Crisis of Identity: Lola has been a somewhat underpowered, yet beloved investigator for some time now. With a much larger card pool to draw from, her power has certainly increased over time, but we still feel that there’s room for Lola to grow into the shoes we wanted her to fill. Nonetheless, we want to use a very light touch here, since we’re not looking to completely redesign her. So, we’ve added three minor mutations to her kit in order to gently nudge her in the direction we want her to go. First, we’ve moved her forced ability to the backside of her card as “additional setup,” which puts her in line with similar investigators, and allows us to fit an extra line of text on her front side—an action that allows her to switch roles without provoking attacks of opportunity, and without limit. She still possesses her original ability to switch roles as a free triggered ability, but now you have an emergency option that can allow you to switch roles again if you absolutely need to, at the cost of one of your precious actions. This keeps her power level at a roughly similar level as before, but lowers her skill ceiling somewhat in that you can no longer completely corner yourself. The larger change here is to her weakness, Crisis of Identity, which only discards 1 card of her current role from her hand or from her play area, instead of all cards she controls. Let’s face it, this weakness was crippling, and perhaps the primary reason why Lola players wake up terrified in the middle of the night. This version of Crisis of Identity is much more palatable, while still having two copies in her deck and retaining the ability to mess with you at a crucial moment. We hope that the minor change to Lola’s investigator card, coupled with the more refreshing version of her weakness, allows Lola to finally shine. “Perhaps this would be her big comeback,” indeed!
Mandy Thompson and Mr. “Rook”: Now for the opposite. Mandy has been a point of discussion for a long time, which we were hoping to address through the use of taboos to her staple cards. However, we believe the time is right to issue a change to Mandy herself. That said, we feel that her ability is in the right place, so we’ve opted to hit her deckbuilding requirements, instead. This taboo changes Mandy’s Deck Size options so that she must take a 50-card deck. As always, if you want to play Mandy with a 30 or 40 card deck, you may feel free to opt out of the taboo list; however, we feel that the 50-card Mandy deck will help to balance out her incredible combo potential, and perhaps even encourage players to use her in more of a support role. You’ll notice we’ve also changed Mr. “Rook” in this update, as well. Instead of being chained at a massive +4 experience cost, we’ve opted to mutate Mr. “Rook” so his ability now costs an action. Shifting him back to 0 exp cost allows Mandy and other investigators to make use of his powerful search ability immediately at the start of a campaign, and we feel that the action cost, while steep, is appropriate for the level of power and flexibility Mr. “Rook” provides, especially when combined with Mandy and various secret-replenishing effects.
Finally, we’ve made a few other self-explanatory mutations, which I’ll briefly go over below.
Strange Solution (Acidic Ichor): This card simply did too much damage. Now it deals less damage. It’s still a solid option for Seekers looking to expand their repertoire, without laughing in the face of Guardians and Rogues.
Flute of the Outer Gods: I’ll be honest here, the reason this card is so xp-hungry is because we had a few wild playtests with this card and I got nervous. Sometimes it can be difficult to tell where a card’s true power level lies until it releases! This new version simply cuts its cost in half by removing the Exceptional keyword, making it a lot more playable, while still being a higher level card, where it should be.
Prophesiae Profana: This card now only allows you to ignore the first attack of opportunity you take each turn, instead of all of them, forever, until the end of time immemorial.
Black Market: This card is largely fine, but the fact that it could play copies of itself, especially in 3-4 player games, got a bit silly. It is now max once per round.
Eon Chart: This card’s combo potential is wild. We still feel like it is appropriately costed (or at least close to appropriately costed), so instead of chaining it, we’ve opted to change its effect so it only grants a basic action, meaning you can no longer use its action to play Breaking and Entering, activate Fingerprint Kits, etc. That said, we may revisit this card in the future if this measure is not enough.
Cyclopean Hammer: Like Eon Chart, we could have simply chained this card at +2 or +3 experience in order to reign it in a bit, but instead we’ve opted to add an exhaustion clause to its parenthetical effect. In other words, its base skill value remains the same, and you can still use it to one-shot a 3 health enemy, but its damage-per-round cap has lowered quite a bit. This ensures that high level weapons with limited uses will still outshine it in an extended battle, but keeps its overall usefulness pretty close to its original form.
We’ll be paying close attention to both the cards on this list and the cards that didn’t make this list in order to ensure the play environment stays healthy and fun. Please keep in mind that the taboo list is not meant to be a comprehensive balance adjustment; ideally we want to keep it as close to a single page document as possible. As I said last year, if the metagame is like a seesaw, we would rather see it teeter back and forth than be perfectly level 100% of the time.
Well, that’s all I have for you today. We’re extremely excited for the new campaign, and we can’t wait for players to get their hands on the new customizable cards and create their own intricate combos. Stay tuned to our website for more news, and good luck hunting down those Keys!
Josiah “Duke” Harrist