Learning Arkham is a series of tutorial videos and blogs that teach Arkham Horror: The Card Game. Prepare to investigate eerie, suspenseful, Lovecraftian mysteries with up to three other players (or solo!) in this cooperative living card game – all while enjoying one of the best “randomized challenge” rulesets in existence.
This guide is updated continuously to provide the most current information.
So you have decided to officially enter the incredible world of Arkham Horror: The Living Card Game – we can say without any hesitation that you are making a truly excellent choice. Welcome!
Unfortunately, one of the difficulties with the Arkham Horror LCG, and really all living card games, is that knowing exactly what you need to buy, and in what order, is not an obvious choice. It can be frustrating for new players to navigate the various products available and purchase them in a way that does not waste money or create incomplete experiences.
This Buyers Guide presents all of the information that you need to make the correct purchasing decisions, so you are in the right place!
For a condensed, easy-to-understand transmission of everything you should know, we encourage you to watch our video below. In it, we cover the key elements of buying the Arkham Horror LCG with helpful visuals and examples.
For those more inclined to reading, we have you covered too!
Your first purchase
To start playing Arkham Horror: The Card Game, you only need to buy one thing – the Core Set. We sell them at our store in Tulsa and on this very website, and you should also be able to find them at most other game stores. If you plan to buy through your local store, be sure to call them first and make sure that they are stocking the game. A lot of stores do not support living card games as fully as their collectible games, like Magic: the Gathering, Pokemon, etc. because they view them as less profitable.
There is a caveat here, and it is twofold.
First, you might also consider buying some sort of bag to house the chaos tokens that come in the Core Set. You will be randomly drawing these tokens during the game, and having a bag for them is preferred. You can, of course, randomly draw tokens in a number of ways, with or without a container – but an opaque bag of some kind is the nicest option.
Second, you should consider going ahead and buying two Core Sets upfront, especially if purchasing online (to save on shipping). The Core Set is designed to expose you to as many cards as possible upfront, but that also means that you will not have the multiple copies of cards necessary to fully realize your chosen investigator. You can have two of any player card in your deck, and the Core Set only includes a single copy of a lot of them.
While it seems immediately unfortunate that you will have redundant copies of the chaos tokens (and first scenarios), it can be quite nice to have easy replacements in case you lose one. Those chaos tokens have a way of getting left behind when packing up an Arkham session.
If you just want to give the game a quick try before moving forward, buy a single Core Set. If you are pretty convinced this is a game you want to fully explore, it is probably best to bite the bullet and buy two. You will be thankful for all of those key cards as you build your decks far into the future.
Your Second Purchase – Two Roads Diverge
When making a second purchase (or making a bigger first purchase), we strongly suggest one of the Box Expansions. Skip the Mythos Packs for now.
Before choosing which Box Expansion to buy, ask yourself the following question:
Which is more important to me – the investigator that I play, or the campaign setting I explore?
For many of us, the investigator that represents us throughout our adventures in Arkham Horror is the most critical element for our enjoyment of the game. For others, any investigator will do as long as we are playing through a campaign that steeps us in the themes we want to explore.
1) I must have my ideal investigator
If you enjoy games most when you are playing a certain style of deck and persona, you need to find out which investigator is your best fit! We suggest going to ArkhamDB (third party site, preferred) or CardGameDB (official site) and looking at every investigator currently available in the game.
Read their abilities, check out their art, read their backstories, and look at their signature cards. You should find at least one or two who really appeal to you, and the Box Expansion that you need to buy in order to get them. As you might expect, the next step is easy – buy that Box Expansion!
If you really love the idea of playing a mystical, soul-animating jazz musician, check out Jim Culver. Note that Jim Culver is available in the Dunwich Legacy Box Expansion, so that is the Box Expansion you need to buy.
2) I want to explore a specific setting
If you do not care too much about which investigator you play, but are instead more concerned with the theme of your game, go to our online store (or similar) and read the description of each Box Expansion. The descriptions of those products will let you know the atmosphere you can expect when playing through the scenarios in that Box Expansion.
Read through the various Box Expansions, check out the box art for a bit more context, and then purchase the one that most appeals to you.
If you want to explore ancient tombs and have an Indiana Jones style adventure, check out the Forgotten Age Box Expansion!
So either way, whether investigator-focused or setting-focused, your second purchase should be dictated by what is most appealing to you as a player.
Building Your Collection
At this point, you should have one or two Core Sets and a Box Expansion – and if you are like us, you have fallen in love with the game.
The way you proceed is actually quite straightforward. Whatever Box Expansion you have, collect the six Mythos Packs that are tied to it – so that you can experience a full campaign.
You will need to collect them in order, as each new pack adds a new scenario to the campaign – and those scenarios are sequential. So if you purchase the Path to Carcosa Box expansion, it contains a few scenarios that start the Path to Carcosa campaign. The first Mythos Pack in the Path to Carcosa cycle contains the next scenario in that campaign. The second Mythos Pack in the Path to Carcosa cycle contains the scenario that follows, and so on.
You cannot, for instance, play the scenario in the sixth Path to Carcosa Mythos Pack after playing the scenario in the third Path to Carcosa Mythos Pack. You must play the scenarios contained in the third, fourth, and fifth Mythos Packs in order before playing the sixth.
Mythos Packs in the same cycle have the same packaging and their order is actually laid out in the most easy-to-understand way over on the ArkhamDB search page. Check the navigation to see the sequential rundown, so you can easily see the proper sequence of packs within each Box Expansion.
If you bought the Path to Carcosa Box Expansion, your next purchase should be the Echoes of the Past Mythos Pack, then The Unspeakable Oath, then A Phantom of Truth, and so on. Some players buy all six Mythos Packs at once, and others buy them one at a time.
Once you have a Box Expansion and all six Mythos Packs tied to it, you have an entire Arkham cycle! Congratulations! You can now play a full campaign in that cycle as many times as you would like, with different investigators, different friends, at different difficulties, until the end of time.
After that, you basically do the same process as often as you would like. Start collecting a second Cycle by buying the next Box Expansion that appeals to you and the six Mythos Packs associated with it. Then another, then another – until eventually, if you really go for it, you own every Box Expansion and Mythos Pack. That gives you access to every investigator, every campaign, and every player card in the game!
Some players collect slowly, buying a new Mythos Pack or Box Expansion a few times a year. Some fall in love with the game and buy everything all at once. Some players are only interested in a few of the available cycles and wait until a new one is announced to determine if they want to buy into that campaign. It is totally up to you. That is the beauty of the living card game model.
Keeping Up With New Products
For a lot of Arkham Horror LCG players, there is no question about whether or not to buy the next Mythos Pack or Box Expansion. Getting a new scenario and new player cards every month is a resoundingly great idea no matter the theme or contents. Dedicated players receive that new content and immediately continue their current campaign (or start a new one!).
This is an incredibly fun way to collect and play a game like Arkham. You get a new “episode” to experience every month! Once it arrives, you get your group together, play through it, and then await the next episode. It is like watching a phenomenal TV series in which you not only experience the characters and events but actually help craft them. What could be better?
New releases can be purchased locally or online, and many players will pre-order them ahead of time to guarantee that they receive one. If this sounds like something you want to do (or if that becomes the case later, after you have played the game more), you should absolutely take a look at our various Arkham Horror: The Card Game subscriptions. We designed our Covenant Subscriptions service to be a perfect solution for players of living card games who want every new release without having to:
1) pay upfront to reserve their copy aka, pre-order
2) deal with the hassle of keeping track of when the next release is hitting shelves.
The subscription system is perfect for a cooperative, episodic game like Arkham Horror: The Card Game (and, consequently, Lord of the Rings: The Card Game) because the relevance of a release is not actually tied to the player cards that you receive, but to the scenarios included.
Every player wants the new chapter of the greater Arkham story, so there is no need to evaluate whether or not you need the player cards before deciding whether or not to purchase. Every pack furthers the narrative, so each one of them is absolutely worth buying!
We currently have four Arkham Horror: The Card Game subscriptions available online (and for in-store pickup), at a fantastic price per release. Every time a product releases for the subscription(s) you have, we charge you the listed price and ship it out to you, automatically. Many Arkham players have told us how invaluable they find the service (40+ 5-star reviews!) and we love providing it!
You will notice, though, that we have subscriptions for Supplements and Novellas – which might have you scratching your head. Yes, there is more!
Beyond The Main Products
There are two additional types of Arkham Horror products that you need to be aware of, as well as a number of accessories that will make your Arkham experience even better.
Standalone Scenarios – These are small packs of cards that contain special standalone scenarios that an be played by themselves or as part of a campaign. They are usually a LOT of fun, and often released at special events like Gen Con or Arkham Nights.
Upgrade Expansions – These are long, card storage boxes printed with beautiful, cycle-themed art. They are just big enough to hold an entire cycle’s worth of cards, and we expect that every cycle will have a corresponding Upgrade Expansion. They are a great storage solution for your cards, and each one also introduces new encounter cards and player cards that “refresh” that cycle’s pre-existing scenarios. Even more replayability!
Novellas are small books that tell the story of a specific Arkham investigator, and maybe more importantly, they also contain exclusive versions of those investigators for use in Arkham Horror: The Card Game! Be aware that these novellas have historically been short printed and hard to find, so do not be surprised if you cannot find older releases – and be sure to jump on the new ones!
Card sleeves – Most Arkham players sleeve their cards in order to make their decks easier to shuffle and to give their cards a nicer (and more protected) presence on the table. We strongly suggest Dragon Shield Matte sleeves, and have been using Dragon Shields for many, many collective decades.
Deck boxes – It is nice to have smaller boxes for your various Arkham decks. Nothing fancy needed here, which is why the basic Ultra Pro box is our go-to.
26mm coin capsules – Often considered one of the BEST accessories for Arkham Horror: The Card Game (in a dead heat with our Mythos Tokens below!), you can put your cardboard chaos tokens in plastic coin capsules and make your chaos bag 1000x better. Trust us, it is worth it. We use these, but anything similar should work. Just be sure to get 26mm!
Mythos Tokens – Our custom acrylic tokens designed specifically to be compatible with Arkham Horror: The Card Game. They are a phenomenal addition to every Arkham night, and we created them to solve the problems we encountered during our own campaigns. The perfect upgrade once you have decided you want every Arkham game to be as good as possible.
Mythos Boards – Another custom offering that we created in order to separate your investigator and his or her corresponding tokens from the rest of the action. They thematically frame an investigator card, with slots for Health, Sanity, Clue, and Resource Mythos Tokens. We cannot play without them at this point!
Into The Fray
You now know everything necessary to start buying and playing the Arkham Horror Living Card Game – and you are only a Core Set away from joining the greater Arkham Horror community. Whether you buy from us or your local store, just do it! We cannot suggest this game highly enough.
If you have any questions, leave them here on the blog and we will be happy to help. Otherwise, we look forward to hearing about your adventures in Dunwich and beyond.