Arkham horror the card game: Return to the Path to Carcosa
Teaching Time: N/A
Playing Time: 45-60 mins per session
Setup Time: 15 mins
Value For Money: High
The third Return To… set for Arkham Horror brings us back to Carcosa, which I’m happy to return to, having rather enjoyed my time there first time around. It consists mostly of a big empty box and a handful of cards and dividers, as do most of the Return To… sets. If you’re anything like me you’ll actually be happy that it looks like there is a good chance that at the end of all this the boxes won’t be either overstuffed or half empty. I will raise a point about the card dividers, each set continues to come with the dividers to include the base set encounter cards that a cycle needs to be played through which I find an increasingly odd choice. I imagine a high percentage of the people buying these sets are 100% Arkham Horror completionists and as such have their base set encounter cards stowed in their Return to Night of the Zealot box. I can imagine it being a nice option to have everything you need to play through the Path to Carcosa in a single shoe box for when you binge the scenarios over a week or so, but that would mean having to plan out your investigator experience advances further ahead of time than I think I’m capable of. Personally, I’d rather have dividers to organize my investigator cards so I can see where the experience cards sit or split the basic weaknesses from the rest. Its not a huge issue and certainly not at this point, but as I pick up more and more copies of encounter set dividers, I imagine it’s going to get more and more annoying. Possibly for people who originally bought multiple base sets this is a wonderful boon as they can now spread their multiple encounter card sets across their shoe boxes and have a range of self-contained cycles.
As far as the re-boot goes, I’d say that this one mostly results in a slight easing off in difficulty. Nothing massive, and not all the time, but a little. That’s not a complaint, I like the cycle and having the pressure taken of a little letting me hang out in Carcosa a bit more is not something I have a problem with. For example, in the excellent “The Last King” scenario some extra expendable guests are added to the game, meaning that players have considerably longer to chat up their targets than in the original. In similar fashion “Echoes of the Past” brings extra locations that ease off the pressure a little. “The Unspeakable Oath” remains a bit of a beast, arguably its replacement cards are a little tougher than the original actually. The changes in “A Phantom of Truth”, “The Pallid Mask” and “Black Stars Rise” are on the more subtle end, some of them you have a significant chance of never actually encountering so are more for those who intend to play through those scenarios multiple times, if you hit them they’re mostly a little bit of extra interest rather than something super chewy, but that’s no bad thing. The final scenario “Dim Carcosa” includes a set of extensions to the final confrontation which at least ease off from the complaint that the cycle can be won by whomping Hastur with a baseball bat (if that is a complaint that you had before), without totally removing the option to bat whomp the yellow king, if that’s something you really wanted to do in life.
On balance, I’d say that this set actually makes fewer significant changes to its original scenarios than Return To Dunwich did, but then I personally much preferred the Path To Carcosa scenarios over the Dunwich ones anyway. I’d say that if you liked the Path To Carcosa, pick this box up, it offers just enough to encourage a further set of play throughs and hasn’t taken out anything you enjoyed first time around. If you didn’t like Path To Carcosa though, this set also likely hasn’t changed enough to redeem it for you.