Arkham Horror

The very air thickens with a sense of foreboding that roils like an acrid mist through the streets. The Ancient Ones are stirring …

Without a doubt, the most well-known and most-played of boardgames based in the worlds of H. P. Lovecraft is Arkham Horror and its many expansions. The original game, by Richard Launius, was published in 1987 by Chaosium, but in 2005 Fantasy Flight Games released this completely revamped version that took the gaming world by storm and continues to be one of their most popular games. Set in Lovecraft’s fictional city of Arkham, players control 1920s characters who co-operate to roam the city gathering items, skills and spells in an attempt to close a series of otherworldy Gates that are releasing a tide of horrific creatures. Eventually, if they fail to stop the inexorable progress of the Doom Track, a Great Old One (GOO) itself may be released, which the players have a (very small) chance of defeating.

Arkham Horror has been criticised for not really capturing the unique atmosphere of Lovecraft,due to its emphasis on combat, and the fact that, unlike in the stories, it is even vaguely possible to defeat a GOO in combat. But the fact remains it is a vastly entertaining game that is bursting with theme. Sure, it’s incredibly random and sometimes ridiculously difficult, but it really is one of the closest experiences to a role-playing game session that a boardgame can provide. The huge amount of supplemental material makes it endlessly different and engaging, and it can also be played solo.

FFG has continued to support Arkham Horror with a steady stream of expansion sets—so many in fact, that it would be difficult to find a table big enough to play them all at once! The ‘big box’ expansions—Kingsport Horror, Dunwich Horror, and Innsmouth Horror—bring extra boards for those cities so the players can travel to these unique locations, lots of new components, and quite a few extra rules as well. ‘Small box’ card-based expansions—Curse of the Dark Pharoah, The King In Yellow, Black Goat of the Woods, and Lurker at the Threshold—have brought more cards, characters and special rules into the game. The last expansion was Miskatonic Horror, which probably holds the award for being the only expansion to the expansions I know of!

Arkham Horror is certainly a beautiful, atmospheric game, though the rules can be a bit fiddly and it is very, very dependent on luck. Here’s a whole lot of stuff to make the experience smoother. The most popular and most perfected file (it’s up to version 7.1) I’ve ever uploaded to BoardgameGeek, this rules summary and reference pack includes all the reference material I have made for the game, and includes rules for all the currently available expansions. It’s also both an ‘all-in summary’ and in modular form, depending on how you like to mix and match your expansions.

Update Log

Jul 20106Added a basic ‘core game only’ summary, with additional modular small summaries for each expansion; small changes and fixes throughout

Date Version Changelog
Apr 2015 7.2 Fixed reference to discarding Rumor cards in final battle; small clarification of when a gate and a monster appears
Sep 2013 7.1 Small clarifications from the latest FAQ throughout, typos fixed, added designer’s house rules page
Feb 2012 7 Revamp of the ‘multi-coloured all-in-one’ sheets, and some expansion rules moved into their proper positions in the turn order
Feb 2012 6.9 Added Miskatonic Horror and movement clarification, reformatted Curse of the Dark Pharaoh rules
Jul 2011 6.8 Included Curse of the Dark Pharoah (revised)
Mar 2011 6.7 Retirement clarifications
Feb 2011 6.6 Numerous changes and clarifications
Feb 2011 6.5 Slight text changes; removal of Gate Bursts rule from core rules page
Dec 2010 6.4 Error with headers for ‘Personal Story Variant’ and ‘Herald Variant’ fixed
Nov 2010 6.3 Black Goat of the Woods typo fixed
Aug 2010 6.2 Innsmouth typo fixed
Feb 2010 5.1 Minor errors in movement and setup fixed
Dec 2009 5 Errors fixed, Innsmouth Horror expansion added
? 1 Original release

13 Comments

  • Clinton Coddington says:

    First up a HUGE thank you. This Arkham Horror aid is a masterpiece and one that had been included (and updated when needed) in my game for many years now, though since I just had to re-buy the game, I do need to reprint the sheets.. I do have a question, since FFG released the updated errata and FAQ in December, do you have plans of updating the player aids soon. I ask because I don’t want to print this all up and laminate it only to have a revamped one come out a month from now.
    Thanks for everything!

  • Universal Head says:

    Thanks for drawing my attention to that, I’ll check it out and see if anything needs fixing. Visitors to Boardgamegeek usually let me know pretty quickly if there’s an anomaly with this sheet though, as it’s my most popular one. I tend to only add things from an FAQ if there are actual rules changes; there are often many pages of specific cases and clarifications that don’t need repeating in a summary. Unfortunately I can’t ever guarantee that a sheet will stay set in stone—witness how this one has gone all the way to version 7, it being a game of so many fiddly rules and expansions. Cheers!

  • Joe says:

    I got into AH a couple of weeks ago and the reference sheets are a huge help. Outstanding job! I also use the mat for Mythos cards, printed and laminated. Thanks for this.

  • Jeroen says:

    Eldritch Horror ref sheets in the works? :-)

  • Glyph says:

    It appears that the phrase “You must evade or fight each monster there when leaving an area, ending movement in an area, or remaining in an
    area without moving.” is incorrect. According to the Official FAQ p4 ( http://new.fantasyflightgames.com/ffg_content/Arkham_Horror/FAQs/Arkham_Horror_FAQ.pdf ) You only have to fight / evade monster when you leave or end movement in an area. Not when remaining there.

  • alpasy says:

    Hi! A small error on your summary. Page 3 (+ other pages as well):

    Final Battle
    First fill the Doom track with Doom tokens.All players Lost in Time and Space are devoured and eliminated. Discard any active Environment or Mythos cards.

    The last sentence should be: “Discard any active Environment or _Rumor_ cards.”

    Also, same page:
    If just a monster appears, it returns to the cup if not defeated and taken as a trophy.

    I believe it’s better to put it this way:
    If just a monster appears, it returns to the cup if not defeated and taken as a trophy _otherwise_.

    Also, i’m not sure if it’s intended or not, but in B/W version page 18 (of colored edition) is missing.

    • And here was I thinking that at v7.1 there were no more things to fix! :) Thanks for the suggestions. You’re correct that it should be Rumor cards, I’ll fix that. I don’t understand your second recommendation though, putting ‘otherwise’ at the end of the sentence doesn’t seem to make sense – but the sentence is ambiguously worded and I’ll fix it.

      The numbering in the B&W version is different as there’s no board overlay in the B&W version.

      • alpasy says:

        Sorry, English is not my native language, and as i was elaborating on my suggestion i figured it out.
        I thought the logical construction was “If just a monster appears, (it returns to the cup if not defeated) and taken as a trophy [in other case]”, while it obviously (now :) supposed to mean “If just a monster appears, it returns to the cup (if not defeated and taken as a trophy [as the consequence of defeat]).”
        Anyways, i see you rephrased that perfectly in v7.2, thanks for your work!

  • Arin says:

    Just wanted to thank you for the Arkham rules summary. I use it extensively.

What do you think?