Arkham Horror: The Card Game - The Dunwich Legacy Full Cycle
Teaching Time: 20 mins
Playing Time: 7-14 hours (full cycle)
Setup Time: 20 mins
Value For Money: Low
Price: £85 (full cycle)
Solo Play Review
The first Arkham Horror deluxe expansion Dunwich Legacy tells the story of a return to the events of the Dunwich Horror, it has a number of very successful elements throughout with a few minor issues. Before talking about the scenarios themselves one of the big deals here are the new set of characters. Since Dunwich, or at least Arkham where the cycle begins, is a fairly “generic” setting (or at least as generic as the world of the Arkham Files gets) they’re not as heavily themed as in later cycles but fans of the wider IP will be happy to see some favourites entering this branch of the world. The new five characters are all single colour with a splash of others so for guardian there’s Zoey Samaras, who is very oriented to engaging in what would otherwise be some needless combat, if your attitude to the game is that no cultist gets out alive she might play well for you. Jim Culver the jazz trumpet player from Dead Man’s Stomp fills the occult slot, his ability to force skull results hints to an interesting build but personally it never kicked for me and he (partly through misfortune) seemed to die before he got going so who knows. “Ashcan” Pete is the survivor and with his faithful hound Duke he makes an extremely solid all rounder choice, so long as his dog is around he essentially has the best base stats of any character in the game. The seeker is the reporter Rex Murphy who can pick up clues at an insane rate when he’s on a roll but his personal benefit card can be a bit situational. Jenny Barnes is the rogue on the roster and the fact that her special ability kicks in every turn makes her very solid as a choice.
Onto the main story it starts variously at Miskatonic University or the Clover Club depending on player choice before moving onto the iconic Miskatonic Museum before Dunwich itself via the Essex County Express. Sadly, the first four scenarios feel like a disjointed jumping around of locations, exacerbated by a primary enemy that makes no appearance in the rest of the series. Once arrived in Dunwich the series hits a roll. The players have to stop a sacrifice series in “Blood on the Altar”, hunt invisible enemies in “Undimensional and Unseen”, stop a ritual in “Where Doom Awaits” and close the resultant rift while fighting Yog Sothoth with “Lost in Time and Space”.
As strengths, Dunwich develops a real character thanks to its specific ability draining and failure compounding encounter set, building the sense of the village’s decayed, atavistic nature. The kidnapping and sacrifice of allies available as actual resources generates an effective sense of loss and drain. “Undimensional and Unseen” provides enemies only defeatable by using improvised means to reveal their location in a splendid Lovecraftian moment. Unfortunately, there is a sense with “Where Doom Awaits” of the series being on rails since it is in theory based on stopping a ritual which cannot actually be stopped no matter how successful the players are. Also unfortunate is that the ritual then places players in the path of Yog Sothoth who, in a move typical of the series, can be defeated by a savage beating with a baseball bat. As such player’s feelings about the entire arc will be defined by how they feel about being able to punch an elder god in the face parts while floating within a tear in reality itself and come out alive and sane. Personally I would suggest that if players take a more searching less violent approach the story it has a much more Lovecraftian feeling to it.
The Dunwich Legacy is a solid playing experience, finding its feet halfway through the series and slipping only marginally (by the standards of the series) at its climax, and not sufficiently to ruin the story.