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Tromdial

Which expansions should I buy?

57 posts in this topic

Hi again. So I am sold on the idea that Arkham Horror is right for me. I am interested in buying the base game and two expansions. I know I want at least one to be a board expansion (Dunwich, Kingsport, or Innsmouth) and am also considering any of the others except Miskatonic University (for now). Some things that I have noticed that I have skimmed and liked from some of the game expansions:

Dunwich Horror has missions and tasks, and also the Dunwich Horror itself as a sub-boss. Cool investigators, like the ex-cultist and handyman.

Kingsport has an epic battle mode. Do any of the other ones do that or is this the only one? Does it make it more challenging or more interesting?

Innsmouth has personal stories; it appears Kingsport is important to have to use full expansion though...

I heard the King in Yellow is a favorite to a lot of people online: is it because of challenge or is it a lot of fun and replayable?

The Black Goat of the Woods appears to have some difficulty setting card mechanic.

The Lurker at the Threshold has relationship cards.

I don't know anything that interests me from the revised Curse of the Dark Pharoah.

Some of my goals in selecting expansions are theme and side-stories; sealing other worlds and end-game Ancient fights don't mean so much as an engaging journey on the way does. I like challenge but not impossible; The Black Goat seems neat because it seems I can change difficulty when I want the more I become experienced with the game. Replayability is a must, and so is utilizing what I buy (i.e. don't want to buy an expansion that says I need to go out and buy another to play).

Most importantly, what are your opinions? What is the best and must-have expansions?

I appreciate the help. Thanks.

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I looked on the Arkham wikia, and I see the difficulty cards from Black Goat do nothing mechanically with the Goat expansion itself. Is there anything else satisfying about the Goat expansion?

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Let me put it all out there and say that if you're buying only one large expansion, get Dunwich. If you're getting more than one at once, any combination will do.

Dunwich's Tasks and Missions don't come into play too often and the Missions in particular are very rarely followed through. But the sub-boss is super cool and the investigators and monsters and ancient ones are all some of the best, in my opinion. Don't forget injury/madness cards!

Kingsport's Epic Battle is phenomenal. The board is great if you're into encounters or if you don't want the board to provide a giant jump in difficulty (the kingsport AOs are nasty though).

Innsmouth's personal stories are all right, but it's the hardest expansion and you should own either Kingsport or Dunwich before owning it.

Dark Pharaoh and King in Yellow both have awesome theme. King in Yellow is definitely harder though, and has a better herald.

Black Goat's difficulty cards can be completely ignored. The best part of the expansion are the corruptions, but they don't come into play all that often, so get this expansion last, or right before Miskatonic.

Lurker has cool components like the gates and the relationship cards. The herald is cool, but it's not a challenge unless you also have Miskatonic's Reckoning cards.

Lasty—Miskatonic is a great expansion, but it is best when saved for when you have a few expansions. It adds the most to big expansions: particularly Dunwich. It adds less to the small-boxes (to King in Yellow it adds practically nothing).

There aren't any expansions that require any others, but Miskatonic adds things to expansions, so you should wait on that one.

Based on what you said you prefer and what you don't care so much about, I think you should get Curse of the Dark Pharaoh and/or King in Yellow for your small box(es). For a large box I'd recommend Dunwich or Kingsport. Dunwich is considered the best and a must-have.

 

 

Here's a ruberic I designed for helping to choose when to get Miskatonic:

Start with a value of 5, which represents the Institutions and the Mythos cards, since that's all you can technically use out of the box with only the base game.

If you own Dark Pharaoh (original/revised): +1/+2
If you own King in Yellow: +0
If you own Black Goat of the Woods: +1
If you own Lurker at the Threshold: +2
If you own Dunwich Horror: +6, then +1 for each other expansion you own (besides Miskatonic).
If you own Kingsport Horror: +4, then +1 for each other expansion you own (besides Miskatonic).
If you own Innsmouth Horror: +2, then +1 for each other expansion you own (besides Miskatonic).

You'll note that owning multiple expansions sums to more than the individual expansion on their own. That said, the total score, for owning every expansion and the revised Dark Pharaoh (not original) is

5+2+0+1+2+6+(6)+4+(6)+2+(6)= 40

So you can use this rubric to give an estimate to what "percentage" of the expansion's value you're getting.

If you own only Dunwich Horror and Lurker at the Threshold, you'll get:

5+2+6+(1)= 14, which is less than half of the set's value. If you add Kingsport, the total jumps to 21: more than half the set's value and a 50% increase in value.

On the other hand, owning all four small expansions but no board expansions will give a total of 5+2+0+1+2= 10, only a quarter of Miskatonic's full potential.

Personally, I think that individual board expansions are always better to buy than Miskatonic, but if for whatever reason you're getting Miskatonic without first owning all the board expansions, try to shoot for some value above 20.

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 So you're starting out with two expansions out of the gate?  All right, here's a quick guide.

If you're getting a big-box, GET DUNWICH HORROR.  The board's lousy, the Horror itself doesn't activate that often but it's got some great Investigators, Monsters, and Ancient Ones - And Madness and Injuries.  After you play with Madness and Injuries once, you will never want to play without them again.  Period.  Of all the Expansions, big and small box alike, Madness and Injuries are by far the best single addition to the game.  You will use them every game, and the thought of abandoning them will never once enter your head.  They are THAT CRITICAL.

If you want a Small Box, you have four to choose from, and all have their strengths and weaknesses.

The King in Yellow:  This one is generally held to be the favorite, and it's my personal favorite as well.  It doesn't add a lot to every game (if you don't use the Herald or Acts in every game) but it is by far the most Thematic and Intense, and it's Herald is easily one of the two best.  If you want a distinct flavor to your game, this one is the one to get.

Curse of the Dark Pharaoh: This expansion is solidly thematic, and the recent revised edition makes its Exhibit mechanic interesting.  However, it also includes the single worst Herald they put out, and the Patrolled mechanic isn't that fun.

Lurker at the THreshold:  Lurker would be my number-two choice behind King in Yellow.  There are many complaints about the exploitability of the Herald, but it's also the most interesting Herald (not the hardest are most fun, but most interesting).  Relationships add a little flavor, but we rarely use them.  But another good bump are the Lurker gates (which have abilities) and it also features some Gate Bursts to make your games a bit more threatining.  However, it's the least thematic expansion - just mix the whole thing to every game and you won't notice it.

Black Goat of the Woods:  Get this expansion if you hate your gaming group.  The Herald is the hardest (YIPES) and the mythos deck is darn mean too.  It comes with a lot of monsters, most of which are Dark Young which just suck to fight.  But it's mechanic is useless - it's incredibly difficult to find the Cult, much less join it, and the other cards will get virtually no use.

As for the other big boxes:
Innsmouth - Innsmouth has some fantastic Investigators, and Personal Stories, which are not as critical as Madness and Injuries, but we use them every game as well.  It's got some terrifying Ancient Ones (Quachill Uttaus is by far my favorite, even though we've never beaten the dusty bastard), and Innsmouth itself is fairly interesting and very hostile.

Kingsport:  Except for (maybe) Miskatonic, I'd get this expansion last.  The Epic Battles are cool in theory, but you get to that point very rarely, and the Sinister Plot cards are practically a waste of space.  The Kingsport board has an interesting mechanic, but so little goes on in Kingsport itself that whoever is stuck with Kingsport duty will be hating life by the end of it.   Two of the three guardians can be fun, but they aren't necessary.  And honestly, the best thing to come out of that expansion is the Tulszcha Herald, who is up there with the Lurker and the King in Yellow for most interesting and fun Herald.  The Ancient Ones and Investigators are ok as well.

Miskatonic:  Don't get Miskatonic until you have most the expansions.  You don't necessarily have to get it last, but you should at least have 2 of the Big Boxes and 3 of the Small Boxes before it becomes worth it.

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Well, I don't know about Miskatonic adding nothing to King in Yellow.  The new Act cards are a rather massive game-changer, although I guess they don't really need KiY.

Anyway: not to be overly materialistic, but part of it depends on which you can find and at what price.  I would begin by determing where you're going to buy them, then seeing which expansions that site/store has for a price you're willing to pay.  With that done, start considering which you want to buy.  Assuming you can find all of the expansions and money is no object, I would agree with Tibs that Dunwich should be your first.  Afterwards...I'm not sure.  It should be Kingsport, King in Yellow, or the new Dark Pharaoh in my opinion.  If you're looking for just a whole bunch of stuff, that would be Kingsport.  I've heard lots of complaints about how boring the Kingsport board is; honestly, I don't find it to be that big a deal.  What is indisputable is that Kingsport doesn't add anything really new and exciting to the game, with the exception of Epic Battle (it adds new things, and it adds exciting things, but only Epic Battle is both).  Both small boxes have some interesting encounters and items.  In terms of new mechanics, all that the King really has going for it is, well, the King, who is an awesome Herald.  The Acts, while sort of interesting, aren't really "present" enough to be exciting, at least in my opinion (the Miskatonic Acts, on the other hand...).  Dark Pharaoh has Ancient Whispers, plus a bunch of cool minor mechanics.  The only blemish is the Herald, which, although not horrendous, is by no means one of the better Heralds, is a terrible fit for the expansion, and is not great as your first Herald. 

In summary: get Dunwich.  For the other, it depends.  If you really like general new...stuff (cards, investigators, AOs), get Kingsport.  If you really like Heralds, get King in Yellow.  Otherwise, get Dark Pharaoh.

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A response to Master Fwiffo (who posted his response while I was writing mine): I agree that the Lurker gates are awesome, but to get full mileage out of them, you need both Dunwich and Kingsport, which is partly why I didn't suggest Lurker.

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avec said:

I recommend linoleum, but only if you have plenty of caulk.  Which forum is this?

Linoleum contains asbestos.  Just get some sheet vinyl.

Um... and yeah Dunwich and Lurker get my vote to be the first to pop yer cherry.

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I would also add that I'd get any of the three main big box expansions (Dunwich, Kingsport, and Innsmouth) over any of the small expansions if you have the money for it, if not, just get Dunwich and Innsmouth.

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Wow.  I kinda agree with everything already written, even the contradictions between them.  Surely a sign that I've been playing too damn long and it's all entwined in my BRAIN.  So here's my two cents.

I rarely play with all my expansions at the same time; I prefer to swap in and out for varying games.  I'm not saying that you shouldn't pile on everything (perish the thought); I'm just saying that I have a lot more experience (than most around here) with "smaller" AH games, and I can tell you that AH works exceedingly well when combined with one big box expansion and one small box expansion together.  Both expansions tend to let themselves be known thematically during gameplay...without too much smothering from the five other themes you could shuffle in.

So my recommendation is to grab EVERYTHI...>ahem<...grab one Big and one Small, swish them all together and go.

For the Big Box: Dunwich Dunwich Dunwich.  Can't stress that enough.  Eventually, you'll probably decide it's not your favorite...Innsmouth...Heralds...blah blah blah...but at the beginning of expanding your world, Dunwich is CRITICAL for filling out the base game to "completion".  By that I mean, the original box of Arkham Horror isn't actually "finished" until you add everything from Dunwich.  I don't even mean the board: I mean all the extra monsters, some weapons and Spells, Gate Bursts, Injury/Madness, Mark, Glaaki...this is all stuff that should have been in the base game from the start, but FFG was afraid of scaring us off too soon.

Now to add a Small Box to supplement.  Having hated the original Dark Pharaoh since a few months after it was released, I find myself completely reformed with the reformatted Dark Pharaoh.  Now easily my new favorite small box, it is loaded with Egyptian theme, the Exhibit Deck is adorable, and y'all don't know how awesome the Patrol mechanic is if you haven't SUFFERED through the wretched "Barred from Neighborhood" mechanic.  (Frankly, Patrols are a light-hearted preparatory course for Innsmouth's Martial Law, so enjoy the early training I never got!)  Plus, Dark Pharaoh's seven Allies merge with Dunwich's five to simply double your Ally Deck (all the easier to deal with any Ally Deck House Rules).

On the other hand, The King in Yellow matches Dark Pharaoh for awesome theme, and has a bit more variety in extra cards.  Its Act mechanic is fantastic and threatening, but a little too easily smothered, even with just one other expansion.  (I would recommend printing out Miskatonic's altered Act rules, and proxy them until you own Miskatonic to replace them entirely.)  But the big win in this box is the first (and STILL best) Herald.  Always fun and dangerous without being overly cruel, the Herald's Blight cards will force you to reassess how truly "prepared" you are as a player.

I would not recommend Black Goat or Lurker for anyone who hasn't played all of the above.  There are things to like in both sets, but there are other things as well that have totally polarized this entire community since their release.  Putting a new-ish player in the middle of those controversies without them having learned how they really like to play AH on their own would be a severe disservice to both the player and the game.  Seriously, Tromdial, AVOID THEM until you have played a lot more games.

That's enough outta me.  Welcome to the Carnival, Tromdial!

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Overwhelmingly, and my personal opinion anyways was as such, that Dunwich and King in Yellow would be the way to start. I appreciate all your input so far. After those two, where should I go from here? Which big box next: Kingsport or Innsmouth? What should be my final purchase down the long road of completing the collection?

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Innsmouth is the best board, hands down.  Dunwich seems like a sleepy village after playing with Innsmouth.  Innsmouth also has the most investigators and Ancient Ones.  Kingsport is still the only expansion I don't own.  The only thing about Kingsport that I miss not owning are the Ancient Ones, and maybe Lola. 

jgt:  I agree with everything you said.  I know; I'm scared too. 

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As people have said, Miskatonic is better the more expansions you have, so I would get that last.  Innsmouth is the best but, well, it will murder you.  Once you feel ready for that, buy it.  Other than that, I would suggest you go Dark Pharaoh, Kingsport, Lurker, Black Goat, Miskatonic.

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Tromdial said:

Overwhelmingly, and my personal opinion anyways was as such, that Dunwich and King in Yellow would be the way to start. I appreciate all your input so far. After those two, where should I go from here? Which big box next: Kingsport or Innsmouth? What should be my final purchase down the long road of completing the collection?


For big boxes, Innsmouth first, then Kingsport.  Insmouth's Personal Stories are (in my opinion) the second best addition to the game behind Madness and Injuries.  Secondly, there are a LOT of Ancient Ones and Investigators for you to add to every game.  There's also a good amount of Monsters.  The Innsmouth board is hard, but the most interesting of the three boards, with the martial law and Innsmouth look mechanics making it hard enough - though you might consider playing without the Deep One's Rising track as that is even more terrifying.

I got Kingsport very last of all expansions (including Miskatonic) and I don't regret that at all.  It's got some some decent Investigators, Monsters, Ancient Ones and Heralds, but despite the interesting board mechanic, the town itself is boring as hell.  The Epic Battles are kinda nifty but rarely used.  And overall, it's just the weakest big-box.

Little Boxes:  Grab either Pharaoh or Lurker, than the other one, then Black Goat last of all.  You'll be happy with either Pharaoh or Lurker, as they both have very solid strengths and few weaknesses.  Lurker isn't very thematic, but the Herald is darn fun (if a little easy for Arkham purists), Relationships are great, and the Gates are a lot of fun.  Pharaoh is much more thematic, and has the Ancient Whispers mechanic is fun, but you will never want to use the Herald.

Black Goat has a mechanic that in practice, is so rarely used that it's not worth the space, a Herald you will only want to fight if you hate yourself and your friends, and monsters that will leave you wishing for death.  If those last two things sound fun to you, then go for it.  :p

Grab Miskatonic when you have most of the Expansions.  It doesn't have to be last, but without at least 3/4 of the expansions, it's not worth the cash.  :)

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My friend owns Dark Pharaoh and I am hopefully going to get to see that next week. After rereading the posts, I go back and forth between that and King in Yellow. Besides those two being heavily debated, I also see Kingsport and Innsmouth are very contested too among Arkham fans. Lurker seems next in line after those and then Miskatonic to bring new life to all the expansions. Black Goat seems very unliked or unsympathized with and merely a collector's piece.

Small diversions to the main quest sounds fun to me. I like the idea of getting to do more footwork on the map and reading flavor text. It seems like King in Yellow and Dark Pharaoh will achieve that, but does Kingsport or Innsmouth do that too? I'd imagine the personal stories from Innsmouth sounds like exactly the kind of thing I would be interested in...

 

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Tromdial said:

Small diversions to the main quest sounds fun to me. I like the idea of getting to do more footwork on the map and reading flavor text. It seems like King in Yellow and Dark Pharaoh will achieve that, but does Kingsport or Innsmouth do that too? I'd imagine the personal stories from Innsmouth sounds like exactly the kind of thing I would be interested in...

Dark Pharaoh is absolutely the best small box for small diversions - the Ancient Whispers mechanic is a lot of fun and very tempting, but still dangerous.  The marker moves all over the map, and will lead you to street areas you might no necessarily visit.  King in Yellow isn't quite so much, as it is an overarching theme and a wonderful sense of dread - but you won't be going out of your way to investigate anything you wouldn't normally.

But for Big Box, Innsmouth's personal stories are the king of small diversions - to the point where some Arkhamites view it as a detriment!  Each Investigator has his own goal (gathering trophies, visiting certain areas, getting money, ect.) that will send him on a mission, but a lot of people (including me until recently >>) don't realize that the cost of achieving the personal story might not be worth the time and effort lost.  Also, because of the danger of the Innsmouth mechanic, some Investigators will have to spend a lot of time there, cleaning up the Innsmouth mess, while still fending off monsters and sealing gates.

In Kingsport, the mechanic also forces you to visit virtually every location there - but the problem is, there is nothing else to DO there.  Innsmouth has the threat of monsters and gates alongside the Innsmouth Look and other dangers, but in Kingsport, no monsters or gates ever appear, so you're essentially wandering around having encounters for no real purpose other than to keep the board from screwing you over.  The mechanic itself is interesting, but the fact that Kingsport is so empty severely hurts it.

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avec said:

Innsmouth is the best board, hands down.  Dunwich seems like a sleepy village after playing with Innsmouth.  Innsmouth also has the most investigators and Ancient Ones.  Kingsport is still the only expansion I don't own.

Avec, you and Dam are in the same trench, arent'you? ::laughter::

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Tromdial,

the second big box is *not* an easy question to answer to. In my POV, Kingsport is a *must* as second expansion, while Innsmouth can wait a little more. For several reasons:

a) first of all, Kingsport vs Innsmouth in terms of game strategy. Playing DH+IH brings you in the so called realm of "speed Arkham": you have 20 unstable locations on the board, which means that it's not that unlikely to have ever Mythos Phase a gate opening in a different locations. Thus, 12 Mythos and the game is over, unless you are very quick. If you enjoy exploring the boards, working on Tasks and Missions, playing the game outside the scheme "hectic collecting of clues, then jump into the gates, then seal, oh crap, there is a monster blocking my way, I lost a round, I lost the game", the combo DH+IH is not the one you're searching for. Even now, with 130 games under my belt, I still don't like this combo. When I play Arkham, I love not to be in a hurry like in normal life. So, Kingsport offers you the chance to experience a multi-expansion board experience without worrying of rushing the whole game

b) many people say that Kingsport forces you to have an investigator staying there for the whole game. This strategically is worthless, and it's completely wrong. The rift mechanic in Kingsport is very clever (at the moment, it's the best mechanic of the whole game, apart from the modified Act mechanic introduced in the Miskatonic Horror set, which is absolutely brilliant, and deadly), and it never dilutes, regardless of the number of expansions you play. But it's not forcing you to have an investigator there. It requires some attention: every rift has TWO progress tracks. When the first one is filled, then you should keep the other one clean. So, sometimes you need someone there to work with rifts. But maybe for 3 or 4 turns in a whole game

c) on the other hand, the benefits of Kingsport are incredible. The board offers you the chance of acquiring the White Ship. And some other interesting things. The Mythos deck is awesome: nasty Rumors, good cards with a good theme, and more stuff it's interesting to discover (so, no spoilers). Plus: the box adds tons of new items, very good characters (Daisy, Wendy, Lola, Lily, Rex and many others are just amazing), amazing AOs and the Epic Battle cards enhancing all AOs from all the previous sets (plus those in Kingsport, clearly)

d) the monsters introduced with KH are awesome. The best after DH

e) just to be clear, I'm not saying Innsmouth is not great. It's a wonderful box, the board is magnificent and so are most of the investigators and some of the AOs, but... the Epic Battle cards in IH cannot be used without the "base set of green and red cards introduced in KH", so you cannot use them. The Personal Story cards are brilliant, but are the only add-on to investigators (and they include even investigators from KH...), so it's certainly better having bigger UI, CI and Spell decks rather than Personal Stories. The board is amazing, but it works better as IH+KH rather than IH+DH, unless you want a hurry-up game. The Mythos deck of IH is focused *only* on Innsmouth locations, thus the odds of having something nasty (gate bursts) in Arkham is very low, depending only on the DH deck, which will suffer quickly of dilution

f) as for MH, yeah, it's the last one to be added. Not only because it expands all other boxes, so it's more enjoyable if you have more (all) expansions, but also because after you play 100 games, adding MH grants you to discover *again* everything, offering de facto a huge chance of enjoying Arkham even when you think you know everything about it.

So, Kingsport :-)

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Julia: That's an interesting point about the combination of Dunwich and Innsmouth (which I would not have known, seeing as I always play all-in games).  Based on that, I will second Julia's opinion that you should get Kingsport before Innsmouth (unless you're aching for a massive difficulty spike).

As to the small boxes: I'm still torn about whether to give a recommendation for either the King or the Pharaoh.  Like I said, they both have theme and cool encounters.  Otherwise, the only thing KiY has going for it is the Herald.  CotDP has a whole bunch of other stuff, but a lackluster Herald.  So, I suppose I'll just reiterate my initial statement: if you're really interested in Heralds, get King in Yellow.  Otherwise, get Curse of the Dark Pharaoh.

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Yeah, the speed Arkham point is a good one.  Personally, I've never actually had much interest in playing more than one board expansion (aside from the giddy first experience of having all the expansions and being all "Let's play with EVERYTHING"), though it occurs to me that if I had played more DH+KH or IH+KH games, it might seem like a more plausible option.  Perhaps not, though, because I still find Kingsport pretty boring.  I mean, you're also right to point out that it's incorrect to say that one investigator has to spend the whole game in Kingsport, but to my mind, however much time one has to spend in Kingsport is time spent doing boring things.  Also the KH Items, skills and AOs seem like the most unnecessary, though I do like its heralds (okay, Tulzscha) and investigators more than those in IH.  And the special locations are also pretty good; the Strange High House and Neil's are two of my favorite locations.

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Excellent job, Julia!  You've said most of what I would say concerning the reasons to get Kingsport before Innsmouth.  I would only add that several of the Innsmouth Ancient Ones have worshipper abilities that modify Kingsport monsters, and that Innsmouth arguably presents arguably the single greatest jump in difficulty of ANY expansion; for that reason you'll want to save it for the last board addition, when your Arkham skill have sharpened sufficiently to handle the challenge.   

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Love the base game.

Would any of your suggestions for the 'first big box expansion' change for a group of casual gamers? Is Dunwich still the preferred choice?

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