Arkham Noir: Case #1 – The Witch Cult Murders
When I first discovered the small box in the toy shop I trusted, the presentation and theme naturally appealed to me directly. However, I am not really a fan of solo games. A glance at the back of the box made me buy it anyway - after all, mysterious murders in Arkham wanted to be solved.
After unpacking, I first noticed the really well designed and very high quality cards (b/w). Exactly the style I would like to see for a lovcraft realisation of a card game. The instructions are easy to understand and the four reference cards facilitate the initial setup and briefly describe the function of each card deck. On the three game help cards the most important rules are briefly summarized.
In the introduction of the manual there is a short explanation of what it is all about: Some students of the Miskatonic University, who were engaged in occult studies, are found dead on Walpurgis Night. We as detective Howard Lovecraft are asked by the police in Arkham to help with the investigation. To win the game you have to collect five clues cards with different clue types and puzzle characteristics - no problem at all, right?
How to play?
First of all, the cards are used to lay the starting structure. The four reference cards show the player exactly where which cards must be placed and what actions are to be carried out there. Then you start directly into the first round. A round always consists of two phases:
- Action phase
- Clean-up phase
In the action phase you pick up the first of the reference cards. With this card one of the following actions can be performed:
- Create card in an open case and perform action if necessary (card effect black = mandatory)
- The card is discarded and another card is placed by hand on the open case
- The card is dropped and an open case is closed
- The card is simply dropped
Whenever a card is discarded, check that it shows an hourglass symbol in the bottom right corner. If it does, it will go to the Time Loss pile instead of the discard pile.
A reference card can only be created for an open case if the investigation methods match (symbol on the card on the left). Some notecards have additional conditions that must be met before the card can be created.
To close an open case, five different types of clue must be in the row (cards with puzzle features are not included). As soon as there are more than seven cards in the row of an open case, an additional stability test must be taken.
In the cleanup phase, the following actions are performed in sequence:
- Check victory condition
- Check loss of stability
- Check time loss
- Fill in the row of hints
The game is won when the player has collected five clue cards with the puzzle feature. The game is lost when there are no more victim cards (loss of time) or five or more cards are in the stability area (loss of stability).
Arkham Noir - Case 1: The witch cult murders leaves a solid impression. The design of the high-quality playing cards is very harmonious. Unfortunately, the story behind the mysterious murders around Walpurgis Night is a little short. The level of difficulty can be adjusted by the number of victim cards, the victory condition (number of clue cards with puzzle feature) and the limits of stability and time loss. Apart from design and history, Arkham Noir collects symbols that can be combined in sequence with a little luck to win. In the beginning it is still difficult, but after two or three rounds you get the hang of it and the level of difficulty can be increased. The game is fun to play, but even this game will not make me a solo player in board games - there is simply no interaction.