Arkham Horror: The Card Game - Curse of the Rougarou
Teaching Time: 20 mins
Playing Time: 60-120 mins
Setup Time: 20 mins
Value For Money: Low
I had been resisting reviewing the Arkham Horror stand alone scenarios because I was worried that I wouldn’t have much to say about them that wasn’t just plot spoilers. I let this go to review Labyrinths of Lunacy because it was so unforgivably bad that I felt it needed pointing out. However, with solo gaming being so much of my current play I’ve decided to reverse this policy, besides which Curse of the Rougarou is really good so if I’m going to pick on Labyrinths it’s only fair that I praise Curse.
For those who are unaware, Arkham Horror the card game is a deck construction game where decks represent investigators who then work through a Lovecraftian scenario, generally by picking up and spending clues while being assailed by a range of unpleasant gribblies and nasty people. Mostly, they come in linking scenarios over a campaign telling an over-arching story, but a few of them come in relatively self-contained packs, like RPG one shots that can be slammed through in an evening. While the campaigns often have ups and downs of quality and direction, the shorter scenarios, especially the earlier ones, have more of an interesting and consistent quality.
Curse of the Rougarou is a fine example of the shorter stand-alone adventures. It sees the investigators sent down to steamy Louisiana to investigate the werewolf like Rougarou, immersing them in voodoo rites rather than the typically arcane summonings of Lovecraft’s other cultists. Personally, I absolutely loved this story, but it really is a long way from the Lovecraftian canon, so purists ought to beware. Lovecraft did write of bestial transformations, but they were almost always atavistic, a reversion to a previous more primitive evolutionary state or due to muddied genetic waters rather than the more invasive transformation of a werewolf type story. Furthermore, while he mentioned the existence of debased Louisiana cult rituals, he generally held them at arm’s length rather than investigating them directly, preferring to remain in possibly more genteel New England climbs.
Curse of the Rougarou is particularly fine as a scenario since it effectively defines both a place and an enemy, the two great tropes of horror, in a single story. Generally, horror either has a place of danger, the haunted house, or the figure of danger, the masked killer. When it has both, Dracula at castle Dracula, the horror can reach truly nightmarish levels. In Curse the Louisiana swamp has a strong and clear character, actively resisting the player’s efforts to investigate it, and it has secrets to give up during the searching. Clearly, it also has the Rougarou, for my money one of the best physical threat villains in the whole Arkham Horror the card game.
For those that enjoyed the alternative scenarios and solutions possible in the climax of Path to Carcosa, without wanting to give too much away, Curse manages to contain both versions in a single stand-alone adventure, allowing players to take extremely diverse routes to victory and dig into a surprisingly complex and touching storyline. I’ve spoken to players who picked up Arkham Horror the card game and were put off by variously the lack of value in the base set, the necessity to follow through on Mythos packs for the longer cycles and the sheer time commitment that involves. I’d imagine that many people coming to the stand-alone scenarios with Labyrinths or others of the more group or convention designed packs would also have been put off looking into the previous packs. I want to take this review to suggest that anyone who has invested in the Arkham Horror the card game base set pick up the Curse of the Rougarou stand-alone scenario. It is an excellent story and one of their best written and balanced scenarios on every possible level, in my opinion.
It should be said that the pack, as with the other stand-alone stories does lack direct deck construction cards, which might put the more competitive fans of the game. If this seriously concerns you then Curse of the Rougarou might not be for you, but if you’re looking for a great story rather than a powerfully built deck then I urge you to give it a chance.