29 April 2021
Things get high octane fast
The latest mammoth expansion for Arkham Horror promises all the same cosmic horror co-op hi-jinx as the base game: yielding additional locations, monsters, characters, scenarios and a few new mechanics angled at amping up tension even further.
As per usual, you play an investigator tasked with averting some unknowable horror. You’ll work together through four different phases. The first lets you move about, the second spawns horrors, the third triggers encounters between the players and whatever might be lurking on the board, and the final ‘Mythos’ stage creates events which creep you ever closer to ultimate doom and annihilation.
Of the new mechanics, the two new Mystery card sets – which sit as locations on the map – provide the most novelty as they trigger divergent paths in the vein of a choose-your-own-adventure game. Will you call out to the crew of the definitely not cursed vessel, or will you try and sneak abroad instead? As the bulk of the game is based on dice-rolls and co-op wrangling, having an element that introduces multiple choice was refreshing.
Things get high octane fast. Similar to other Fantasy Flight Lovecraftian entries Mansions of Madness and Arkham Horror: The Living Card game, you barely get a breather before terrifying encounters and spooky enemies are spread in their masses on board. Odds are, you’ll be desperately dashing toward the weapons display or fending off doom before solemnly piecing together your clues.
Under Dark Waves is a very satisfactory entry to the series, giving out much of the same Lovecraftian spooks and struggle, but on a grander scale than the base game alone. The writing and artwork remain excellent and very fleshed out.
And while the game can lag as you move through seemingly endless events, some of which can feel rather distant, it ultimately makes up for this with its grinding tension and grim surprises. It’s one of those rare board games that’s still fun even when you all die horribly beneath unknowable waters.
Designer: Daniel Clark, Philip D. Henry, Tim Uren
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
Time: 150 minutes
This feature originally appeared in Issue 49 of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.
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