Arkham Horror: Miskatonic Horror

Note: This review pertains to an expansion for Arkham Horror and requires the base game to play. We are also assuming that you are familiar with the base game, or at least have read its review.

 

You sit here now, thinking back to the beginning of your journey. As the things – whatever they are – come bounding into the building, you recall the first time you met Jacob Werthern. It was at a shindig downtown – you think – but that could have been years ago.

Wait, was it years ago? Or days? You recall something wasn’t right about Jacob even back then, but even he didn’t deserve the fate he got. The shaking, the pleading, the …shedding. You didn’t even know that was physically possible. 

It wasn’t supposed to be. That’s sort of the point. That’s why you made for the lab. Armitage said something about Room 408 being the key to it all. Or was it 418…

A loud crash restores your focus. Those flimsy barricades of yours failed. They are coming. You check your revolver. One bullet. Not enough to hold them all off. Instead you’ll have to…

What were you here to do again? Room. Armitage. Right.

You find the door to his lab ajar. A pale light and smells you can’t place pour out of it. You can’t see what’s on the other side, can’t be sure it’s safe.

Shadows shift in the hallway beyond. 

No choice left. No time left. Maybe you can avenge Jacob. And Maggie. Or maybe you’ll meet a similar fate. There’s only one way to find out.

You dive into the pale yellow light…

 

The Premise

It would appear that a recent lucky find at Miskatonic University has unearthed all sorts of new materials regarding the strange happenings in town. This has attracted some new attention, not all it them friendly. It would appear that this new find is raising more questions than it is answering. Alas, things in Arkham are never easy.

 

Rules Creep Factor

Miskatonic Horror’s components are primarily 450 additional cards that expand on almost every single card type across the entire Arkham Horror line, from Location and Gate Cards to alternate Encounter decks to new Skills. For most of these, there isn’t any additional creep factor; they are simply providing additional resources and story tidbits for whatever expansions you may have.

The only new notable rule that come with this expansion are those of the Institutions, and even then they are minor. These are organizations that have the potential to assist the investigators throughout the course of the game through one method or another, and their use is very similar to that of Heralds and Guardians found in various expansions. There are three possible Institutions, but only up to one is chosen for use at the beginning of the game. Miskatonic has next to no new rules alterations.

 

The Rundown

Miskatonic Horror is, quite literally, an expansion set for expansions. The vast majority of components are cards that will take you all of two minutes to shuffle into their respective decks – assuming you already have them. They do incorporate some slight twists on Injury & Madness Cards (Dunwich Horror Expansion) and Epic Battle Cards (Kingsport Horror Expansion), but they don’t come with any rules baggage. They also provide you with a nice printed copy of the Dunwich Horror Herald card, which until now, had only been available as a free PDF on the Fantasy Flight website.

Don’t have the right set? Off to the Lodge you go.

Miskatonic also includes new Mythos Cards that have split locations: the top location is used if you are using the associated expansion location, and the bottom is for Arkham proper. A portion of these also include split Gate Burst Cards (which are not applicable if just you’re just using the base game). These cards are a pleasantly nuanced addition, and they really help tie the various different expansions together thematically. That said, if you don’t have the expansion locations they’re referencing, then the split cards are just like any other Mythos Card. This makes them still useful but not nearly as exciting to use.

The same can be said about Miskatonic as a whole. This is mainly the feather in the cap of the Arkham series, and its intention is not to seriously alter how the game already runs – you have all of the other expansions to do that. As such, the archetypes’ preferences for or against the game will not change with Miskatonic Horror. Rather, the only categories of folks you’ll find here are those weighing whether the game is worth the cost.

If you have a few expansions and can make use of at least half of the materials that come with it, it solidly becomes a must-have for your Arkham Horror collection. The Institutions alone call to the completionists amongst us, since they are the only truly “unique” part of the expansion. Nevertheless, they are a welcomed gameplay option as they are both flavorful and useful at the right moments. More experienced players will likely want to balance using Institutions with a Herald or extra board, much like you would do with a Guardian, but that’s hardly a requirement. In this sense, the Institutions fit seamlessly into the grander Arkham Horror compendium, along with the rest of the box.

 

The Takeaway

Miskatonic Horror is the expansion you get to round out your Arkham Horror collection. It, for the most part, simply fills out all of your other sets with more cards. This provides even more depth to the in-game world that has been built up. From this storytelling perspective, it doesn’t disappoint. That said, how worthwhile the expansion is to you is largely dependent on how many other expansions you own.

The Institutions, nice as they are, are the only original content aside from some new card variances of existing mechanics, and they hardly can justify the cost of the game by themselves. If you only have the base game, or maybe a single expansion, it would be best to hold off for awhile. Yes, you still would get material you can use, but it would be like buying a car and then never getting to go out of second gear. On the other hand, if you have multiple expansions (or all seven), Miskatonic Horror is a fantastic addition with loads of new cards to play with,  serving as a nice bookend set to close out the Arkham Horror series.

 

Cardboard Republic Snapshot Scoring (Based on scale of 5):
Artwork: 5
Rules Clarity: 4.5
Replay Value: 5
Physical Quality 5
Overall Score: 4

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