With Great Power. . . . Comes A World Of Hurt! – Lurker At The Threshold Review

LATT is the second to last expansion to be released for Arkham Horror and is one of the four “little box” expansions. The little box expansions introduce a few new rules and a variety of cards and tokens, but do not include a board unlike the “big box” expansions.



"You won't need to keep the box, but it makes a useful storage container"

Designer: Richard Launius (2010)
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
# of Players: 1-8
Ages: 12+
Play Time: 180-240 minutes
BGG Rank/Rating: 85/7.94
Dice Tower People’s Choice Rank: 11
Category: Expansion to Arkham Horror

Out With The Old. . . . .

The biggest change to the base game is the new Gate tokens that are intended to replace the base game versions entirely. I still keep the old ones just in case (I guess I’d be useless if I owned Risk Legacy!), but never use them - aesthetically they are almost the same aside from some "dual" gate tokens and symbols which dictate the ability of the gate.

Previously the gate tokens had no extra abilities or features other than differentiating which Other World the investigator visited, however now each gate is not only harder to seal or close, but also has a special ability including moving through Arkham’s streets and devouring investigators whole if you’re unlucky enough to be on its spawn point.

. . . . . . And In With The New

Additional cards are added to the basic decks from the base game such as encounters, mythos, spells, items, skills, etc. These can be simply shuffled into the decks without issue. Each card is clearly marked with an expansion symbol in case you wish to separate them, but I’ve not seen a need to do so – they do not adversely affect the theme by including them even if you don’t use any other part of this expansion.

There is also a new Herald, who acts as a kind of “second in command” I like to call it to the Ancient One, preparing the way for his arrival. This Herald variant is included in other expansions as well, but you do not need any in particular beforehand – they all work independently and are fully explained in each rule book.

"This could be one of the tougher Heralds in the system that I've encountered"

The Herald brings about several rules that affect the course of the game, usually imposing hindrances on the investigators – beside being very thematic these also do a good job of ranking up the difficulty and are a must for those who found the base game too easy. In this case, the Lurker himself is the Herald.

The Lurker is fundamental to this expansion as he is directly related to the Reckoning Cards and Dark Pacts included in the game. During the game the investigators may end up drawing Blood, Soul and Bound Ally Pact cards as a result of depleted attributes (sanity or stamina) or wishing to increase their effectiveness at spell casting. These convey very useful benefits, but at a cost. Every time a gate opens in Arkham a card is drawn from the Reckoning deck which confers a global effect on the game, sometimes good or bad, but they are usually dependant on how much power or how many pacts have been abused in the game.

"Nice abilities right? Tempted? I bet you are - that's the quality of the lure"

As you can see, this creates an intriguing sense of temptation among the players and could be described as a “push your luck” mechanic. How far do you abuse the benefits that the Lurker provides before you start suffering severe consequences as a result? Occasionally beneficial effects are bestowed, but a lot of cards can result in Other World teleportation, loss of stamina and sanity or even being devoured!

"I love the artwork on these cards and how the doom track plays more of a part with this expansion"

It’s a very thematic Herald and one of my favourites in that regard however it is more skewed in favour of spell casters than other investigators. Non-magical investigators can reap the benefits as well with restoration of attributes, but the theme and major benefits are more predominant with magic users. It’s a minor quibble though and I’ve yet to play a game of Arkham beyond two players where one player didn’t opt for a magic route. One little bugbear however is that you can’t use the Dark Pacts or Reckoning deck unless you use the Lurker Herald regardless of your Ancient One choice – it’s only a little one though as the idea of the Heralds is designed to support each expansion in their own regard.

If You Can’t Get Along, I’ll Have to Separate You

The other new addition from this expansion is the Relationship Card deck for use in games with two or more players – although technically you could use them in a solo game if you took notice of which of your investigators is positioned where, but its better with the interaction.

"Apparently the Ancient One destroys friendships. . . "

The cards convey a special benefit to yourself and the person to your left. You may be business associates for example or lovers or even family in some way. The cards usually require a condition to meet in order to trigger them which from experience is not always easy to stick to when you’re trying to spread out and cover more ground. It would be nice if they had a little back-story to go with them, but with cards this small you only have so much room.

That been said, they are thematic and add a new level of immersion to the game. Even though they aren’t game-changing in their mechanics, I always use them for the immersion alone. They’re easy to set up and as you only use one relationship per combination of two players, there’s a good deal of variety.

Verdict

The Lurker in the Threshold is a worthy addition to any game of Arkham Horror. The Herald coupled with the Dark Pacts makes for an entertaining new way to play the game, with players ever more tempted to borrow on the powers within, but having to deal with the consequences of getting too greedy.

The relationship cards, though not game-changing, add to the immersion in a good way and that is half the reason I like Arkham Horror so much. They don’t require much setup so you’re not complicating matters by including them.

Component quality remains of a high standard including the art-work on the cards themselves. It’s also refreshing to see some larger cards again (mythos sized) in respect of the Reckoning deck. Small cards are a necessity for space reasons, but it takes a while to get used to holding and organising them.

The expansion however is worth it simply for the gate tokens alone. Previously the gates were very bland. They opened up; you went in, came out and then sealed them without too much difficulty. Now however, they’ve got tougher and the penalties that can be afflicted are nice and varied, not to mention that your dice pool just got a lot smaller to seal them. The Devouring Gate is the best one in my opinion as it introduces an amusing level of tension to the players when they scout around Arkham locations and draw their own Mythos card to spawn a gate – and yes I have bared witness to a successful devouring!

The Lurker is my favourite of the small box expansions without any doubts and I would recommend it as the first expansion purchase if you can’t quite afford one of the big boxes. You should think of this expansion like a new novel in the short story collection and one which will see repeated reading - Unfortunately that means it’s all downhill from here for the small boxes. . . .



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