The third big box expansion for Arkham horror is truly terrifying…. The new board depicts the town of Innsmouth, home to the dreaded Deep Ones and their half-human kin. Conspiring against mankind, their depraved rites can quickly bring about the awakening of the Ancient One. At the edge of the new Innsmouth board lies the Deep One rising track, this has spaces for six Rising tokens. When it is filled, you better be ready to face the final battle
The Deep One Rising track can be filled in two ways. The first is akin to the Dunwich Horror vortex spaces. As gates open in Innsmouth and monsters are spawned, their movement can lead then into a vortex space, when this happens the monster token is removed and a counter added to the Deep One Rising track. So you have got to get the gates in Innsmouth closed quickly, as a couple of monsters surges can wipe you out. Secondly and even more harshly, a token is added to the track when a gate is prevented from opening due to an Elder sign token. Ouch! So while you are busy sealing gates to win the game, you are really just giving the Deep Ones a reason to party on Devil Reef!
To remove all the tokens from the Deep One Rising Track you have to spend Clue Tokens in various locations around Innsmouth. This is no mean feat as Innsmouth is about as far from cakes and sandwiches Kingsport as you can get. Gone is the village fete, in is the Deep One city of Y’ha-nthlei . Trust me it’s as hard to survive there as it is to pronounce.
Even wandering through the town itself can draw the attention of the Local Hybrid lawman. He doesn’t take kindly to strangers and picking up the soap in the shower is not the only danger of a night in jail, especially when you have a Shuggoth as a cell mate! If you manage to stay alive long enough to spend six Clue Tokens a Federal Raid is triggered, wiping out the Deep One Rising track, though it can be filled again. One further hazard of stalking the streets of Innsmouth, comes in the form of the Innsmouth Look cards. On occasion you will be required to draw from a deck of ten. Nine cards are merely a trick of the light, the tenth, however shows that your mother was carnal with the fishes, revealing your Deep One ancestry and devouring your character, to be replaced by a Deep One from the monster cup!
Just when you’ve finished reeling from these terrifying revelations, come the eight new Ancient Ones. These can only be described as Master Level. Do not bank on tooling your characters up, with the hope of winning the final battle with these beauties. Take Cthugha for instance. A minus 5 combat check, No problem. Roll a die and loose that many Sanity, Stamina or Clue Tokens. Fine. Any weapon you used against him is destroyed. Ermm…
Chaugnar Faugn, loose three Clue Tokens and an ally a round or be devoured and you cannot remove more than three doom tokens a round from his track.
Qualchil Uttas touches the the First Player who ages into dust and blows away in the wind and is devoured.
Zhar is by far the best, not only do your have to defeat him twice, he turns the First Player into a human milkshake every two rounds with his crushing tendrils.
There are also two new Heralds, Father Dagon and Mother Hydra, which can only be used with the Innsmouth board in play and may be used at the same time if you really have masochistic tendencies.
The 16 new characters are more than up to the task. “Skids”( Don’t ask!) O’Toole is an ex-convict, he gets to roll two bonus dice, for every one he rolls in skill checks. Zoey Samaras the Chef has a great Killer Instincts ability which allows her to ignore either Physical or Magical Resistance or Reduce a Physical or Magical Immunity to resistance only! Ursula Downs the Explorer gets to Encounter a location even if she uses its special ability, she also gets to spend a clue token to cancel the encounter if she doesn’t like it.
There are no new Items Cards for this expansion. Instead they are replaced by a brand new feature-Personal Story Cards. There are two cards for every character currently available in the game and all the expansions. Borrowed from the Superb Androids game, the Personal Story cards are like the Mission cards from the previous expansion, but they have both win and lose conditions. Achieving the task on the story naturally helps your character out, loosing does very bad things. While a nice addition, the Story Cards can side-track players from the overall objective of the game, though they do add a lot of flavour to the characters.
Innsmouth Horror is by far the best expansion to date, be warned though, it is definitely not for beginners. The box comes stacked with high quality, well printed cards and counters, with the usual high standard of art. The only quibble is that you have to have the other big box expansions to get the full value of the contents, otherwise the excess Personal Story Cards and Final Battle plot Cards won’t be much use.