While it’s important to note the things that make characters in Arkham Horror different from one another, like many other games in recent years (exception-based rules), the things that make characters different are in the ways each character can break the rules. This can make for interesting, compelling gameplay, not to mention meaningful decision points during character creation.

One of the main problems with exception-based rules is the developers don’t actually know how to play their games, and therefore don’t know what rules to break without breaking the game itself. When you have such prevalent problems as “the god stat,” in traditional strategy games, serious problems arise from breaking the rules on purpose.

Setting aside the clunky combat mechanics, the questionable usefulness of spellcasting, and some of the more annoying and difficult-to-remember “patches” masquerading as mechanics (Gate Bursts, the Deep Ones Rising track), there are a few things you can expect from Investigators, which could be called their “currency.”

Every character gets an upkeep. While this isn’t necessarily the most useful phase, and there aren’t a whole lot of mechanical interactions with it, everyone still gets their upkeep. This allows Items and Skills to refresh, and characters can refocus their stats. This is also where they roll to keep Blessings or discard Curses.

Normally, you can expect Investigators to be able to move. The main exception is when the character has been delayed — this is one of those conditions with at least a few interactions, primarily John Constantine’s Mark Harrigan’s ability to ignore it. You get “movement points” in Arkham, but only move one space in the Other Worlds. Some Items boost your character’s movement, and you can spend points to read tomes.

Investigators can trigger encounters. That is to say, when they travel to a non-street location, they are forced to draw an encounter unless they have some ability to prevent the encounter from occurring. This is an ability, even if it seems (and primarily functions as) a detriment. Some locations have special encounters that can be triggered in lieu of a card, and the Handy Man can skip encounters to earn cash.

Everyone has the six stats (Sneak, Speed, Lore, Luck, Fight, and Will), and they all have Stamina and Sanity. They also have a Focus, which has been used as a secondary/tertiary resource in some more recent expansion. Investigators can also make “skill checks,” but only when called upon to do so.

…Those are the powers available to all Investigators. Upkeep, movement, and encounters. They have Stamina, Sanity, Focus, and stats. (Or are those Skills? But then you have Skill cards… never mind.) There aren’t any “win-the-game” powers.

I’ve analyzed some of the game’s mechanics before, but what we’re going to do now is tear the game apart, put in a better foundation, and build on top of that. We’ll keep the best stuff and throw out the garbage that doesn’t do the game justice.