Do you know what will make me instantly want to buy a board game? An amazing atmosphere. Undoubtedly, Arkham Horror: The Card Game sits high on the list of games with an incredible, yet horrific, sense of atmosphere. Once this game gets its hooks into you, there is little you can do to curb the desire for more spooky Lovecraftian horror.
The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.H.P. Lovecraft
Luckily, there is a treasure trove of official (and unofficial) expansions to the game. The expansion system isn’t the most intuitive though, with certain card packs only working when you have certain expansions.
We’ll go over how the expansion system works, give a quick summary of each expansion, and go over some free fan-made expansions that are worth checking out.
What Order Should I Buy Them?
There is no order that you have to buy the expansion in. I would suggest looking into each expansion, finding the theme that seems the most fun, and going with that one. On top of that, any of these expansions work great played solo, so there’s no need to pick based on that.
Below we’ve ordered the expansions by popularity, but the least popular isn’t necessarily the worst. Expansions released earlier tend to have higher ratings and more people that own them because of the excitement around when a game comes out. Later expansions are typically owned by core fans of the game.
With that in mind, the current cycle will be lower on the list but could potentially be one of the best expansions to get. So check them all out before deciding which one would be best.
Arkham Horror: The Card Game Official Expansions
Arkham Horror: The Card Game has 6 deluxe expansions. Here is the order they came out in:
- Dunwich Legacy
- The Path to Carcosa
- The Forgotten Age
- The Circle Undone
- The Dream-Eaters
- The Innsmouth Conspiracy
If you buy any of these deluxe expansions you’ll get 2 scenarios (like the 3 that came with the base game) along with 5-6 new investigators, and around 60 new player cards. These expansions also add some mechanics which become a big part of the game.
Also, these deluxe expansions start their own campaigns (called cycles) with 6 additional scenarios, sold individually, that rely on the deluxe expansion mechanics to be playable. These 6 scenarios are sold in “mythos packs”, contain about 24 player cards, and are meant to be played in order of release.
Because of the way the campaigns work, buying just a deluxe expansion will leave you with a very open-ended conclusion to the game. You won’t actually have a feeling of finality in any of the official expansion cycles unless you buy all the mythos packs in a cycle as well.
Phew! So now we have a handle on how the deluxe expansions and cycles of the game work. Besides deluxe expansions Fantasy Flight sells standalone expansions and Upgrade Expansions which we will get into a little later.
We’ve already gone over what you get with the deluxe expansions overall. I’d like to dive in to each one a little so you can decide which one will provide the most value to you. Don’t worry, there won’t be any spoilers.
#1: The Dunwich Legacy
What do three university professors, a secluded village, and a horrific creature have in common? If you guessed “being set pieces for a classic H.P. Lovecraft story” you’d be correct.
If you’re reading this you probably already have the core set. And as you know, that set lays a solid foundation that the expansions are expected to build on. The Dunwich Legacy does an excellent job of injecting interesting and fun mechanics into the game.
I mean, these mechanics really add to the game in a way that makes it worth the purchase for that alone. That’s why I recommend this expansion being purchased first. Further, the replayability on this expansion is great. While this game doesn’t lend itself to one that you expect to replay often, it’s nice to have the option.
In spite of the brilliant mechanics, this expansion doesn’t step up in terms of storytelling. Don’t take my word for it, check out this Shut Up and Sit Down review. So go into this campaign with lowered standards for the narrative and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how awesome (and weird) this game can actually be.
#2: The Path to Carcosa
A very weird theater play that has some secrets is the puzzle you set out to solve in The Path to Carcosa. This deluxe expansion picks up where The Dunwich Legacy left off with an amazing set of scenarios. There are also some great mechanics introduced in this expansion, although it’s arguable that Dunwich mechanics have more of an impact to gameplay.
Overall, the whole campaign story is at least as good, if not a step up from The Dunwich Horror. However, there are still a few weak scenarios in the cycle. If you’re looking for a cycle to buy and are all in it for storytelling, maybe choose a different cycle. Since there isn’t a whole lot to rave about on this expansion, it’s probably best bought last.
#3: The Dream-Eaters
The Dream-Eaters is the fifth expansion to the card game released in 2019. There are some extremely creative scenarios which bring up some of the most enjoyable gameplay of any of these expansions. It has slightly shorter campaigns with some pretty quick progression due to the higher experience gain in them. This campaign is slightly easier on the player than some of the others and has an awesome theme (which I won’t spoil here).
As for the mechanics that this expansion brings to the table: it’s not incredibly innovative. Some of these expansions tend to get really weird with mechanics, but this one changes up gameplay without drastically changing up the deckbuilding or what actions you would take.
Buy this one for the great investigators it adds and the top-notch scenarios.
#4: The Circle Undone
Plotline. That is the main expectation to set for the Arkham history hunt that is The Circle Undone. And with arguably some of the best writing in the game thus far, it won’t let those expectations down.
This expansion also follows form with The Forgotten Age with a set of complex mechanics. At this point, if you play with both The Forgotten Age and The Circle Undone, you’re in for a massive amount of mechanics to balance and control.
Overall, this expansion showcases the developers ability to readjust and learn from mistakes of the past expansions. If you can handle the complexity this expansion adds, it is one of the best of the four that are currently available. Which is why I recommend it being bought second.
#5: The Forgotten Age
As you can see from the cover, The Forgotten Age is a jungle themed expansion focuses on exploration. After adding this expansion to your set, you’ll be diving into a much more complex game.
Because of that, this is a great one to get after you (and your team) are a bit more experienced. Of course, difficulty can be adjusted but that doesn’t stop most of the people that have played this expansion from viewing it as more punishing than the previous two.
With that said, the thematics of this expansion are spot on which is why this one deserves being grabbed third. The atmosphere of exploring perilous jungle is perfectly conveyed in this expansion. For a game that does so well setting a mood, this is a step up. So if you’re all about the theme, go for it. Although, maybe play this one on easy if its your first expansion.
#6: The Innsmouth Conspiracy
This, like The Dunwich Legacy, is based on a pretty major Lovecraft story: The Shadow over Innsmouth.
It is portrayed very well with a great new campaign and some very thematic mechanics. On top of that, there are few investigators here (Silas and Dexter) which were only promo expansions before this. So it’s nice to have access to those exclusive investigators.
The cycle is still being released, so some of the mechanics are still starting to develop. There is a bless/curse mechanic, in particular, which has a lot of potential to unfold over the course of the cycle.
This difficulty on this one is a good middle, it’s hard enough to make sure you’re playing well but not too hard as to feel punishing (like The Forgotten Age can feel).
This would be a good one to invest in to be on the cutting edge of the game and see how the story unfolds as more expansions are released.
Standalone Adventure Expansions
The expansion cycles can be a little pricey since you’ll want to buy all of a cycle to really get the full experience. Luckily, there are a few standalone expansions that we have can buy without the need for any other expansion (and that work with any expansions you may have). You can pretty much buy these in any order based on what you would like to play.
Arkham Horror: The Card Game has 7 standalone expansions. Here are their orders of release:
- Curse of the Rougarou
- Carnevale of Horrors
- The Labyrinths of Lunacy
- Guardians of the Abyss
- Murder at the Excelsior Hotel
- The Blob That Ate Everything
- War of the Outer Gods
A standalone expansion are self-contained (so they’ll have some finality at the end) and contain one or two scenarios with some enemies, locations, and treacheries thrown in.
These expansions are printed by Fantasy Flight which means they will look slightly different. So this means you’ll want to sleeve your cards if you don’t want to know which cards belong to the standalone expansion.
#1: Curse of the Rougarou
This is of my favorite themes of any expansion to this game. Curse of the Rougarou throws you into the bayous of southern Louisiana to find, and defeat, a terrifying werewolf-type creature.
Above all, the setting of this game screams atmosphere and the creators do an amazing job of making you feel like you are creeping through a swamp searching for a monster.
The Dice Tower did a great rundown of this expansion which you should definitely check out if you are looking at buying this one.
This scenario is on the more difficult side, it only comes with a “normal” and “difficult” setting but the “normal” setting is pretty hard. You’ll want to have some experience playing the game before diving into this expansion.
#2: Carnevale of Horrors
This expansion will have you going around the town of Venice saving some characters while destroying others. Carnevale of Horrors is an intense and difficult scenario (although, definitely less so than Curse of the Rougarou).
It has an interesting setting that is very different than pretty much any other setting available. The storytelling is high quality and broad. If you’re looking for a standalone with story, this is your choice.
Zee Garcia of The Dice Tower has also done a review of this expansions, which I highly recommend.
#3: The Labyrinths of Lunacy
In this expansion, you are a prisoner of a mysterious mastermind who is forcing you to take part in cruel experiments. This is another difficult standalone, which will require a good amount of XP before starting to be successful.
One of the highlight of The Labyrinths of Lunacy is the variability in the scenario. Essentially, this expansion is one scenario with three different variants. If your main goal is to grab a standalone that will give you the maximum amount of replayability, this would be the best choice.
This expansion was also designed for an “Epic Multiplayer Mode” which can support up to 12 players. Players separate into groups of 1-4 players each. So far, this is the only scenario that allows for more than 4 players.
So if you want to cram a whole room of people into an Arkham Horror game, this is your only option. However, you’ll need 3 copies of the scenario deck.
#4: Guardians of the Abyss
Welcome to Cairo, where you’ll be looking for the answers to a medical mystery. Guardians of the Abyss actually has two separate scenarios which makes it the best value of the standalone expansions in terms of the amount of story you get.
The difficulty is going to be up there, but not quite Curse of the Rougarou level. So you’ll want to have some characters with XP going into this one but you can make it work without as much prep.
Ultimately, the atmosphere isn’t outstanding. It’s not bad, it just won’t be the best option of even the standalone expansions. In addition, the mechanics are essentially the explore mechanic from The Forgotten Age so there isn’t much new there.
Overall, this expansion won’t blow your socks off but it is worth picking up if you want to get two scenarios without buying a deluxe expansions (although I would recommend going for the deluxe).
#5: Murder at the Excelsior Hotel
The title of this one doesn’t leave much up to the imagination. Murder at the Excelsior Hotel sees our investigator summoned to the most prestigious hotel in Arkham through a mysterious note. Upon waking after curiously losing consciousness, you find a man’s dead body in front of you with multiple stab wounds.
There is some fantastic artwork in this expansion and a who-dun-it vibe that is super fun to play through. On top of that this expansion has 10(!) possible endings so there is plenty of replay ability even though this is just a standalone expansion.
It’s on a good level with difficulty as well, being tough enough to make it fun without being as difficult as some of the really hard expansions that are out there for this game.
This one will definitely give you fantastic bang for your buck with all the replayability and the great theme.
#7: The Blob That Ate Everything
If you ever wanted a B-movie sci-fi lovecraftian experience, this is pretty much your only option. It’s also the centerpiece of this standalone adventure that premiered at Gen Con 2019.
You’re brought into the town of Blackwater where a meteor has crashed and the government is keeping everyone in the area.
This is a challenging standalone but well worth it for the unique theme.
#8: War of the Outer Gods
This standalone hasn’t been released yet but there’s some anticipation growing in the Arkham Horror LCG circles. The biggest difference between this standalone and the others on the list are the factions which are introduced.
The warring cults are trying to summon some sort of treachery. Of course, stopping them isn’t easy. There are going to be 3 agenda decks (one for each cult), which create some difficulty for the investigators.
We’ll add more once the expansion is released. Until then, it can be pre-ordered at Fantasy Flights website.
Upgrade expansions are another class of official expansion for this game. These expansions will increase the difficulty with a tweaked story line and missions. You can think of these as “directors cut” of the original deluxe expansion.
They will require the base game and the deluxe expansion that matches up with the upgrade expansion title, but you do not need the mythos packs for that cycle. (e.g. you’ll need The Dunwich Legacy to play Return to Dunwich Legacy).
You’ll want to buy these expansions if you have a deluxe expansion that you’ve played and loved. And that is pretty much the only reason you would want to get one of these expansions over any of the other options.
Once again, I’m going to plug The Dice Tower here. They really have covered a great deal of these expansions and have a review of a few of the upgrade expansions.
Arkham Horror: The Card Game Unofficial Expansions
If you’re looking for even more Arkham Horror: The Card Game story, or you’re just looking for a free option to keep the story going, some of the fan made expansions for this game are insanely well done.
These are going to be print-and-play expansions and it’s easy to guess they won’t be as well designed as the official content. With that in mind, there are some real gems in the fan made expansions category.
Check out this list on Board Game Geek and this page on Arkham Central for a pretty comprehensive list of fan made content for the game. Also, keep an eye out for the “Top Fan Made Scenarios for Arkham Horror: The Card Game” post on this blog.