How To Play: Arkham Horror – Setup, rule summary and strategy

Delving into 'How To Play Arkham Horror', we've uncovered the power of knowing your character, controlling the tides of the Mythos deck, and the vital nature of seamless teamwork. Our strategy guide traverses from essential setup and rules to masterful winning tactics for vanquishing eldritch evils.


Welcome to our definitive ‘How To Play Arkham Horror’ guide, where we’ll not only lay down the spooky game board’s rules but also disclose secret strategies for winning. This is a place where you’ll grasp the essentials of keeping your sanity intact while tackling eldritch horrors. Gear up, investigators! Whether you’re a rookie or a seasoned guardian of Arkham, this guide’s got something to help your team triumph against the creeping chaos.

What’s in the box

  • 1 Rulebook
  • 1 Game Board
  • 16 Investigator Sheets
  • 16 Investigator Markers
  • 16 Plastic Investigator Stands
  • 196 Investigator Status Tokens
  • 4 Ancient One Sheets
  • 20 Monster Markers
  • 10 Ancient One Tokens
  • 8 Dice
  • 1 Entrance Reference Sheet
  • 84 Location cards
  • 60 Gate cards
  • 76 Mythos cards
  • 80 Common Item cards
  • 68 Unique Item cards
  • 16 Spell cards
  • 12 Skill cards
  • 110 Investigator cards including Allies, Special items, and more
  • 40 Monster Tokens
  • 16 Gate markers
  • 14 Miscellaneous tokens, including Stamina, Sanity, Money, and more

How To Play Arkham Horror: Rules Summary

If you’re eager to combat eldritch forces and save the world from the brink of chaos, then learning How To Play Arkham Horror is your first step into the haunting town of Arkham. Remember, patience and strategy are your allies as you maneuver through this complex experience. Let me guide you through the essential rules so you’ll be ready to face the otherworldly horrors in no time!

Setting up the Stage for Terror

  1. Assemble the game board, displaying the terror-filled town of Arkham.
  2. Choose investigators. Each player selects a character, taking their unique abilities into account to form a balanced team.
  3. Each investigator receives their starting items, spells, and clues as indicated on their character sheet.
  4. Shuffle the mythos, item, and gate decks and place them in their respective locations on the board.
  5. Place clue tokens, monsters, and gate markers in the bank area, ready to be drawn into play.
  6. Determine the Ancient One you will collectively face; place it on the board, for it looms over your fate.

The Flow of Fate: Gameplay Essentials

  1. Investigators take their turns, performing actions such as moving across Arkham, fighting insidious monsters, acquiring items, and gathering clues.
  2. Next, the gate and monster surge. Gates may open, if so, draw a monster and deal with the lurking terror.
  3. Gather all your courage and cunning in the Encounter Phase, where each investigator deals with specific challenges in their location.
  4. The mythos phase concludes the round. Draw a mythos card causing various effects impacting the game state such as spawning new threats.

Crowning Victory

  1. Close gates by spending hard-earned clues and successfully passing tests—every sealed gate aids in halting the Ancient One’s awakening.
  2. If an investigator triumphantly claims success in closing securing six gates, the team is victorious, and Arkham is safe—for now.
  3. Alternatively, defeat the Ancient One in combat should it awaken, a daunting task requiring supreme cooperation and bravery.

When Darkness Creeps: Special Rules & Conditions

  1. Certain items and events allow investigators preternatural powers, like bending time or space: use these wisely.
  2. Should an investigator’s sanity or stamina deplete to zero, they may be devoured; another character joins the fray to continue the struggle.
  3. If the doom track is filled, the Ancient One awakens; prepare for a climactic battle or submit to the encroaching darkness.

Best Arkham Horror Strategies

Mastering the Eldritch: Know Your Investigators

Optimizing Individual Strengths

Firstly, it’s key to dig into each character’s angles. Having played as Ashcan Pete countless times, I learned the value of agility and versatility. His strengths lie in moving quickly and efficiently handling enemies or challenges. Characters like Daisy Walker, meanwhile, excel in knowledge-based challenges. Optimize your investigator’s roles by assigning tasks that best suit their attributes.

Complementary Skills Matter

Secondarily, observe your table. Match investigators based on how their abilities complement each other. If your friend’s playing a strength-heavy character like Mark Harrigan, pairing him with a heft of intellect like Rex Murphy can balance team abilities.

Strategic Selection of Assets

Lastly, leverage your character’s unique access to specific assets. Some investigators can wield magical spells or unique items more efficiently than others. Choose wisely.

  1. Understand each character’s unique strengths.
  2. Coordinate team roles for balance.
  3. Select assets to maximize abilities.

The Art of Mitigating Mythos Madness

Successful navigation through the terrors of Arkham Horror often hinges on managing the Mythos deck effectively. This unpredictable element can spell doom or offer a brief respite. So, initially, identify investigators who can handle or mitigate the worst Mythos effects. Go beyond the mere draw; plan ahead for potential outcomes is essential.

Scouting Ahead

  1. Anticipate the card effects to maintain your team’s sanity and health proactively.
  2. Maximize the use of abilities that scout or manipulate the Mythos deck.

Resource Allocation

  1. Conserving resources like clues to nullify or avoid devastating Mythos events is crucial.

Balancing Risk

  1. Determine when to risk triggering a Mythos card versus advancing your other objectives.

Mastering Arkham Through Cohesion: A Teamwork Manifesto

In ‘Arkham Horror’, synchronizing every team member’s actions significantly heightens your chances of success. Consider these strategies to keep the group’s efforts harmonious and effective.

Recognizing Diverse Strengths

  1. Assess characters’ unique abilities; align tasks to strengths.

Strategic Movement Coordination

  1. Move with purpose, cover more ground or focus on containment.

Fluid Resource Sharing

  1. Trade items or spells strategically, enhancing the group’s capability.

Unified Threat Response

  1. Respond collectively to evolving threats, adapting to circumstances.

Clear Communication

  1. Continuously share information and lay plans openly, avoiding miscues.

Conquering the Unknown

Embarking on a journey through Arkham’s eerie avenues tests both your strategy and cooperation. Mastering the fundamental play mechanics, wise utilization of character abilities, and responding adeptly to the unpredictable Mythos Deck challenges directly inform your likelihood of success. Cultivate effective team dynamics, for therein lies the heart of a victor: One does not simply beat Arkham Horror alone. Guide your decisions with foresight, strategize with your fellow investigators, and face the eldritch horrors with a resolute spirit. May your path through the cosmically twisted streets of Arkham lead to triumph.

Want to know what we think of Arkham Horror? Read our detailed review of Arkham Horror here

Jamie in his proper element: With all of his board games
Jamie Hopkins

With years of dice-rolling, card-flipping, and strategic planning under my belt, I've transformed my passion into expertise. I thrive on dissecting the mechanics and social dynamics of board games, sharing insights from countless game nights with friends. I dive deep into gameplay mechanics, while emphasizing the social joys of gaming. While I appreciate themes and visuals, it's the strategy and camaraderie that truly capture my heart.