Arkham Horror: The Card Game - Carnevale of Horrors
Teaching Time: 20 mins
Playing Time: 60-120 mins
Setup Time: 20 mins
Value For Money: Low
I’d been putting off reviewing Carnevale of Horrors since I suspected for a while that all I’d have to say about it is that its very good indeed. But, as I said previously, I’ve reviewed the stand-alone Arkham Horrors that I really dislike and the main cycles so its really only fair that I should also get to the stand-alones that I really like, so here we are.
Carnevale of Horrors sees the investigators in Venice during, unsurprisingly, carnevale time. They’re pitched against one of the more minor Lovecraft mythos deities and a mysterious set of mask clad cultists, and, as with Curse of the Rougarou, it’s a really clever little set. It works so well thanks to two neat little mechanics, the round location layout and the masked and varied villains.
The locations are laid out in a circle, representing locations spotted around the edges of the canals of Venice. Many of the cards connect to the nature of a location’s position on the clockface style circle. While its arguably not really any more representative of the Venetian canals than any other city with uncrossable roadways, it creates a sense of uniqueness to the location and operates genuinely differently to the more standard Arkham locations. In general, this is a game design trick that Fantasy Flight have used to great effect, they’ve been quite careful to avoid messing about with how locations connect together in more mundane locales so that when they tweak the mechanics in more exotic places it really works. I’m not sure Venice is exotic as such, usually these effects are saved for the outer dark of great old ones, but it works really well here.
The masked cultists will probably put players a bit in mind of the best scenario from the base set, Midnight Masks. I won’t go into too much detail on them, since it has the potential to cross the line into spoiler for the story, suffice to say that if you had wished there was a little more of Midnight Masks (and I very much did) this is an excellent scenario.
As an aside, I’ve recently played one of the newer stand-alone Arkham Horror adventures, The Blob That Ate Everything and while its not as bad as Labyrinths of Lunacy, it’s not as effective as Carnevale of Horror or Curse of the Rougarou. Honestly, it feels a little like what should be left as live event packs are being put on general release rather than a series of excellent one shots being put out that wouldn’t sit into a larger cycle. I would like to see more in the way of these earlier stand-alone sets being put on offer.
Which is about all I have in the way of a review. Much as I suspected I’ve not got a massive amount to say on this one, but I thought I should make a nod to it as a matter of completion. If you have played Arkham Horror I highly suggest you make the effort to give Carnevale of Horror a try. I know many players have been put off by some of the cycles not being for them, and I can understand that, some of them have real-misfires. I would suggest giving the game another go, it has some real quality to it, and if you’re not sure about plunging right back in with a full cycle commitment then Carnevale is the perfect way to give the game a second try on a more casual basis. If you enjoy Arkham but have avoided the side missions, possibly because you’ve picked up one of the more recent weaker efforts or possibly because you only want connected campaigns, give Carnevale a try, you won’t regret it. If nothing else, earning the right to whip out your Bauta mask to get the jump on the rural thugs of other scenarios is a little something that never gets old.