Review – Arkham Horror: The Card Game – The War of the Outer Gods

Arkham Horror: The Card Game – The War of the Outer Gods. Fantasy Flight Games, 2020. Jeremy Zwirn and Matthew Newman, Expansion design. Jeff Lee Johnson, Art Direction.

Yes, I know…ANOTHER Arkham Horror review. What can I say? We review what we play, and we play AH more than any other game.

The War of the Outer Gods is a stand-alone scenario for Arkham Horror: The Card Game. To play, you’ll need a core set of the base game (for the rules and character cards) and this pack (for all of the scenario cards; this scenario uses no scenario cards from the base game). Like many of the other stand alone expansions, this one can be played as its own scenario, or included within a campaign. It also features an epic-multiplayer mode, where multiple groups play with their own copies of this scenario, working towards a multi-group goal. It’s not as complicated as it sounds.

What’s going on here?

People are being ritually murdered in New York, Providence, Montreal, and Arkham. In each city, the killings follow different patterns, suggesting that multiple serial killers are at work…or perhaps multiple cults. You and your fellow investigators assume the latter and between these cities, trying to stop three cults from summoning their dark gods.

Three cults? Better get to work.

The good news: The cults want to eliminate one another, and left to their own devices, two of the three cults will be destroyed. The bad news: each time a cult kills an opposing cultist, they advance their own agenda,

Together, the investigators must stall the cults while simultaneously closing the gates between the cult compounds and another dimension, THEN rebuild the fabric of reality itself around the void.

What’s good?

Like the other stand-alone scenarios, The War of the Outer Gods adds a new mechanic: warring. Warring enemies act kind of like hunters, except that they only hunt each other. If you’ve played The Dunwich Legacy, you’ve seen something similar to this( enemies killing other enemies), but this is the first time that your enemies intentionally seek each other out. This can create chaos as more and more enemies spawn and ignore the players to kill each other.

Another unique feature of this scenario is that it has three agenda decks, representing the hex-casting, void-worshipping Cult of Selenus; the mutating, plant-abomination Cult of Magh’an Ark’at; and the swarming, insect-like Cult of Ezel-zen-rezl. These agendas each get doom during the Mythos phase, as well as collecting doom from killing other cultists. This means that players have to manage how they let cultists meet so that one cult doesn’t get too far along it’s path to victory over the others. That seems easy at first, but as more and more enemies emerge from their lairs, it can get out of hand quickly.

Three agendas. Three ways to lose.

Fighting the three cults while occasionally letting one get the upper hand over another is a fun balance to try to maintain. Em and I played on the easiest difficulty, and while this never got too far out of control, it definitely was a large part of how we played.

Additionally, each cult felt unique. The Cult of Ezel-zen-rezl summoned swarming enemies, while the Cult of Magh’an Ark’at mutates, adding doom faster and making themselves stronger. This obviously made them more difficult to deal with, but it also made the decision of which cultists to ignore a little harder. Do you ignore the swarm, letting them overwhelm the other cultists? Do you ignore the mutants, and allow their doom to multiply? There are some good decisions to make.

What’s not so good?

Well, those enemies can be frustrating. I hate swarming enemies. Seriously, I hate them. And sure, a well-timed Storm of Spirits can wipe them out, but I was playing as Wendy. Running from the was easy enough, but most of her good cards that damage enemies only damage one of them.

Also, there’s a sort of flowchart-move/attack that the cultists follow. It keeps the game moving in an orderly, logical manner, but it is also yet another thing to keep track of in a game where you’re already keeping track of three agendas. That’s a little complaint, and one that will probably be remedied by multiple plays, but for our first game, I know we messed it up once or twice.

Did we win yet?

The most frustrating thing, however, is that our playthrough felt anticlimactic. Don’t get me wrong; we really thought we were going to lose towards the end. We managed to advance our act deck, expecting another act card, and…nope. We won. Just like that. We didn’t get to experience that final round where we think, “We might do it! I think we’re going to win!” We went right from, “I wonder how this is going to go,” to “I guess we won?” This again, since we know what to expect, will feel like less of a problem in a second playthough.

What do I think?

Overall, this is a good expansion that had a lot of promise, but didn’t completely deliver on it. I have a feeling that this scenario is better played as an epic-multiplayer, where the game would not have ended where ours did. Still, thematically, it’s very Lovecraftian, if a little pulp-actiony. The War of the Outer Gods is definitely worth its price, but it’s a little disappointing.

It gets 7/10 victory points.

Do you agree? Disagree? Side with the cultists? Let us know in the comments, or find us elsewhere on the internet!

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