Friday, October 1, 2021

Cardboard Corner: Review of Arkham Horror: The Card Game expansion "Carnevale of Horrors"

Note: As always, reviews of Arkham Horror expansions on this blog are spoiler-free and assume you are familiar with the base game.

In a (successful) attempt to keep content in the Arkham Horror: the Card Game universe fresh, Fantasy Flight have steadily released an ever-widening variety of products. On top of the deluxe campaigns and mythos packs, we have seen investigator packs, April Fool’s jokes come to life, as well as a series of stand-alone scenarios that can be played independently or as side-trips within the larger campaigns. A horrific trip to Venice, “Carnevale of Horrors” is second of these stand-alones to be released, and one of the most thematic.

Mimicking a Venetian parade, the layout of “Carnevale of Horrors” sees players moving in a clockwise circle, location to location, unmasking parade-goers in an attempt to find cultists who need questioning. Something dark and sinister hanging over the festive events, your only friend seems to be a friendly nun offering sanctuary for innocent bystanders. Evil ultimately unmasked, the colorful streamers and mysterious masks prove to be the least of your concerns.

As with many if not most Arkham Horror scenarios, “Carnevale of Horros” captures the setting wonderfully through card layout and mechanics. (Art is a given throughout the entire game.) Players initially experience the feeling of interrupting parade-goers from their merry-making, never knowing whether they will encounter a cultist or innocent bystander. Things ultimately getting out of control, again the scenario does a good job of shifting gears, adding to the suspense, but without eliminating the sense of setting that has been built to that point. No spoilers: the final moments of the scenario (should you survive that long; this one is tough) provide the player a certain feeling were they to be in a similar situation.

Again without spoilers, another thing to compliment this scenario for is the manner in which it plays with standard story arc. While there is a standard transition, Intro-Body-Climax-Conclusion, these points are not presented as with most such heroic story arcs. To say more would be unfair, but suffice it’s a change of pace from a lot AH scenarios in the way it works with players’ emotions differently yet still satisfyingly and thematically.

In the end, “Carnevale of Horrors” is another solid, well tested, story-rich addition to the Arkham Horror: The Card Game universe. A good challenge, players starting with a deck lacking experience points will be tested and tested well (no pun intended), while those with upgraded decks will still likely be pressed, and pressed throughout, all the way to its intriguing ending. What more can be said? If you don’t like the Arkham Horror base game, this scenario will not change your mind, whereas fans of the game will absolutely find engaging, enjoyable gameplay should their experiences in other campaigns and scenarios be getting a little worn.

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