Teaching Time: 20 mins
Playing Time: 60-120 mins
Setup Time: 20 mins
Value For Money: Low
Solo Play Review
Fantasy Flight now offer a growing range of big empty box “Return to…” expansions for their various Arkham Horror: The Card Game campaigns. Return to the Night of the Zealot is the first of these and extends the original box set’s campaign. As such it consists of two general elements, the box and its dividers and the extended scenarios.
The box and dividers work as a sort of metaphor for why this is such an annoying and ultimately poor expansion. The box is solidly made, and goes some way to explain why the various deluxe expansion boxes have been so flimsy. But Night of the Zealot didn’t come in one of those boxes so there’s nothing for this box to replace (never mind why the deluxe expansions weren’t in these boxes in the first place. This seems a decision hard to justify for a tiny independent, for one of the biggest producers out there its almost bizarre. Not to mention how much wastage the average Arkham Horror series arc now provides with everything being double packaged). Then there’s the question of what, exactly, you’re intended to put in that box. Dividers are supplied for the base set encounter cards and Night of the Zealot encounter sets, taking up roughly a quarter of the box provided. Other cycles won’t fit in, nor will all the non-cycle cards such as stand alone adventures or player cards, the stand alones and Night of the Zealot alone still leave tons of space and all the player cards and Night of the Zealot don’t quite fit. This might seem pretty OCD, but half of the cost of this expansion is the box and the expansion has 19 people credited as working on it (not including playtesters). This is not an under resourced independent designer taking a best guess at box size for future expansions.
Then there is the scenario expansion itself and a lot of the same slightly lazy attention to detail goes on in this section. The instructions have a list of achievements including “Line in the Sand” which is winning with three ultimatums active. Nothing explains what ultimatums are, they’re laid out in the Return to Dunwich Legacy box and presumably online but again this is a clear oversight in an expansion with almost as many people working on it as there are components in the box (and that’s counting each card as a separate component) and it just feels like being undervalued as a customer. Big empty box expansions always make me feel a bit of a sucker so when the few components within are treat with such a poor level of attention it really stings.
So, the main reason to pick up the Return to… boxes are the scenario expansion, since £20 is pricy for the box, but if they let me replay £30 of base set (or £70 of expansion) they look like good value. Again, Return to the Night of the Zealot has a weakness here, only extending as it does three scenarios but still being priced equal to the other Return to… sets. The Gathering scenario gets the biggest and most effective extension with locations and weirdness both being turned up a good few effective notches. Midnight Masks was already a top notch scenario and its expansion adds and changes very little. The Devourer Below was not a top notch scenario and the expansion doesn’t do much to improve it, it makes it a little trickier if you choose to employ violence, but if not you’ll not even notice the changes.
Return to Night of the Zealot is a largely disappointing expansion and, worse, most of that disappointment comes from elements which could easily have been avoided and seem almost bizarre given the resources employed.