Arkham Horror LCG interview and stream resources

Game preservation/history is a very important topic that isn’t talked about enough. This is a running log of interviews from FFG representatives about Arkham Horror LCG.

If you have an interview to add to this page, contact us at hallofheroescontact(at)

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Key Arkham Horror LCG staff:

MJ Newman – Lead Designer

Jeremy Zwirn – Designer

Daniel Schaefer – Designer

Nate French – Executive Game Designer

Evan Johnson – Marketing Manager

Mercedes Opheim – Card Game Manager

Brooke Robison – Former Marketing Coordinator

Brad Andres – Former Designer

Andrew Navaro – Former Head of Studio

2016 | 2017 | 2018 | 2019| 2020 | 2021

August 2016:

First FFG news post for Arkham Horror LCG

“Arkham Horror: The Card Game, more than any card game before it, is a blend of the traditional customizable card game and roleplaying experiences.”

Arkham Knights including Arkham LCG introductory post

“In this spirit of this haunting season, Fantasy Flight Games is proud to announce Arkham Nights 2016, held this October 14th-15th at the Fantasy Flight Games Center in Roseville, Minnesota.”

Learning Arkham with Team Covenant with an FFG rep

October 2016:

Arkham Horror LCG Arkham Knights presentation with MJ and Nate

November 2016:

Board Games Reddit AMA with MJ

“In all honesty, I owe pretty much everything to my parents. My Dad single-handedly introduced me to the boardgame industry (he’s an accomplished game designer by the way, everybody!) and is also smart as all get out. My Mom is the smartest person I’ve ever met and helped drive me to do well academically, and think critically. I don’t think I’d be where I am were it not for them.” – MJ

“Our Arkham IP is inspired by the Lovecraft mythos, but there are a few tonal differences that take it in more of a pulp-horror direction. For example, in cosmic-horror stories there is an overwhelming sense of futility and hopelessness. But in the Arkham IP, there is hope, even if the odds are stacked menacingly against you. You can die, and you can go mad, and now that you know things you were never meant to know, you cannot live in blissful ignorance… But you can pick up a shotgun and go hunting Mi-Go. It’s warmer than Lovecraft, but still cold enough to get that Lovecraftian feel.” – MJ

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February 2017:

Mythos Busters interviews MJNewman and Nate French

March 2017:

Designing Cooperative Games Team Covenant interview with MJ

April 2017:

Bad Publicity interview with MJ and Brad

May 2017:

Path to Carcosa Team Covenant stream with MJ

Mythos Busters interview Team Covenant (not developer related)

June 2017:

Arkham Horror LCG Tutorial Video

ArkhamPi interviews MJ on the Core Set

July 2017:

Drawn to the Flame interview with MJ after Dunwich

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March 2018:

Calvin Wright introduction from MJ

“Our first iteration of Calvin dealt with weaknesses. His ability gave him a benefit whenever he drew a weakness, and his signature cards included several copies of a rather tame weakness. The idea was that Calvin was cursed to continually draw lots of weaknesses, but his ability made up for that drawback. While intriguing, this version was scrapped pretty early in the design process.” – MJ

April 2018:

Mythos Busters interviews MJ

Drawn to the Flame interview with MJ after Carcosa

June 2018:

The Return of the Designer Journal with Nate

So You Want to be a Game Designer… Designer Journal with Nate

State of the LCG with Nate, Mercedes, Andrew and MJ

Return to the Night of the Zealot Team Covenant playthrough with MJ

July 2018:

Arkhamtypes Designer Journal with MJ

“In today’s designer journal, I’ll be exploring the concept of player archetypes: a type of gaming personality, consisting of that player’s desires, goals, and motivations. These archetypes are useful to designers, presenting us with questions like, “Which type of player is going to enjoy this card/scenario the most?” or, “Do we have enough in this cycle to satisfy each player type?” Archetypes can also be useful to you as a player, helping you identify the spark that excites you, and how to best take advantage of that feeling.” – MJ

Then it Multiplied Designer Journal with MJ

“My hope is that the Arkham Horror: The Card Game community can use these challenges as a rallying point of sorts. You can use these challenges as discussion topics online, or you might use them as the basis for regular gaming sessions with your friends at your local game store.” – MJ

August 2018:

What’s in a Name, the art of naming cards with Brad Andres

“What a card represents in the game’s setting is an essential part of its identity, and the name is integral to establishing that representation within a player’s mind. A good card title can create a story of what happens when the card is played. A card from Arkham Horror: The Card Game, “Look what I found!” is a great example of this, as it takes the effect of turning failure into opportunity and turns it into a memorable game moment.” – Andres

September 2018:

Death Itself Designer Challenge from MJ

“This designer challenge will test your speed and your evasiveness. You have been trapped in the vast and labyrinthine catacombs of Paris, and an invulnerable specter of Death itself is hot on your heels. In order to play this challenge, you will need one copy of the Core Set, The Path to Carcosa deluxe expansion, The Pallid Mask Mythos Pack, and one investigator deck per player (note that there are some additional deckbuilding restrictions due to the ultimatums below). Good luck!” – MJ

November 2018:

Arkham Chronicle interview with Alex Watkins of Organized Play (OP)

December 2018:

Drawn to the Flame interview with MJ after The Forgotten Age

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January 2019:

Gaming Resolutions with MJ and Nate

“When I first joined the card game team in 2012, I had no idea how much fiction writing would become an integral part of my workflow. While creative writing has always been one of my core interests, I never thought I would have the chance to flex those muscles in a professional capacity. I’ve spent the last couple years trying to improve my writing skills as much as possible, not just for the sake of future Arkham products, but also for my own personal satisfaction.” – MJ

Marie Lambeau introduction from MJ

“When the new deluxe expansion releases, those of you who missed Marie the first time around will finally get to bring her along in their investigations. This means that The Circle Undone contains not one, but two Mystics, and six investigators in total!” – MJ

MJ Newman storytelling Designer Journal

“I’m a writer and a roleplayer at heart. I like to forge worlds, create characters, and then weave a narrative wherein those characters are placed in that world and tested. So, as you might imagine, my favorite kinds of games are those which tell a story through gameplay. Roleplaying games are an obvious type of game for crafting your own narrative, since they give players near-unmitigated control over the story. But what if you’re playing a card game?” – MJ

February 2019:

MJ and Brooke talk Joe Diamond with Arkham Chronicle

April 2019:

Arkham Horror Circle Undone stream with MJ, Evan and Brooke Part 1 (Part 2)

July 2019:

Arkham Horror Ghost Hunt with MJ and Nicholas

Deck Building stream with Evan and MJ

August 2019:

FFG Employee Art/Cameos Kotaku piece

September 2019:

Arkham Horror Dream Eaters stream with MJ, Evan and Brooke Part 1 (Part 2)

Lessons of Amateur Game Design from MJ, Jeremy and Nate

“I created a lot of games as a child. I mean a lot of games. Most of them were trashed in less than a week as I grew bored of them or became fixated on a new idea. I very rarely crafted something to a form that was actually playable, and even then, I usually just left it on my desk at home, never to be seen or played. However, there was one game I created in middle school that stuck with my friends and me for many months.” – MJ

Arkham Horror LCG Reddit AMA with MJ

“We don’t design or plan out replacement cards for investigators as we are designing them, since we don’t know which investigators might get novellas in the future and which won’t. That said, there’s definitely a lot of design space open for all of our investigators in terms of replacement cards!” – MJ

“After I graduated from law school in 2012, I was making my own homebrew content for Lord of the Rings: The Card Game when the job posting for an Associate Card Game Developer at FFG went live. By pure happenstance, they were looking for a Lord of the Rings developer, so I applied and thankfully got the job! But I’ve been a part of the tabletop industry pretty much since childhood. My father made board games for a long time as a hobby and my basement was always filled with various widgets and game components. I started making my own games when I was a child and never really stopped.” – MJ

“We playtest at all player counts! We have several groups that test exclusively at solo or 2 player and many that play 3-4 players, so we have a wide range of feedback.” – MJ

Drawn to the Flame interview with MJ after The Circle Undone

November 2019:

Arkham Horror Murder at the Excelsior Hotel stream with MJ

Mythos Busters interview with artist Andreia Ugrai

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January 2020:

The Great Old Ones Gaming interview with MJ

February 2020:

Arkham Horror AMA with MJ and Jeremy

“I try not to play too many of them [custom scenarios] so I don’t inadvertently steal any ideas that fans may have had, I have played a handful of them. I think one of the things that’s really cool about Arkham is that it’s very easy for players to make their own scenarios, even if they’re not making their own encounter cards, even an act and agenda can sell the flavor.” – MJ

“We definitely are always keeping apprised of the community, and I try to be on Reddit and the forums, and read what people say all the time. As far as decks…I don’t know…we typically see what people are using in playtesting. Occasionally we are surprised, yeah.” – MJ

“If any investigator in the IP [could work at FFG], and don’t take this as tacit confirmation that she is coming, I would pick Gloria Goldberg. She is a writer. She’s an author. And she has dreams and foresees horrible stuff.” – MJ

“It’s worth noting that this [MJ and Zwirn] isn’t like a brand new arrangement. He’s been [Zwirn] on the Arkham team for…eight months, now? So it’s kind of like the amount of responsibilities Jeremy has had has grown over time? It’s split…pretty evenly? I’m still writing the story, and what we’re doing to do, but as far as the card count, we’re…splitting it.” – MJ

“I can’t give you an estimation [for the end of Arkham Horror LCG] because…we didn’t plan an end. We’re just gonna keep going, until, you know…keep supporting the game and hopefully we’ll keep doing it. The cycle after Dream-eaters is 100% done. Yeah [we’re like two cycles ahead]…the game is doing…really really well. We even have some other surprises.” – MJ

March 2020:

Investigator Starter Decks announcement stream

Team Covenant interview with FFG’s Steve Horvath that touches on LCGs

April 2020:

Innsmouth Horror announcement stream

May 2020:

Play Together While Apart blog

June 2020:

Innsmouth Lore stream with MJ, Katrina and Phil

July 2020:

Drawn to the Flame interview with MJ after The Dream-Eaters

July 2020 InFlight Report

Whisperer in the Darkness interview with Richard Lee Byers (novella author)

August 2020:

GenCon Online 2020: Arkham Horror LCG Design a Card stream

September 2020:

Barkham Horror Scenario Gameplay (Starts at 9:00)

October 2020:

Innsmouth Conspiracy stream with MJ, Evan and Jeremy

November 2020:

Behind the Curtain: Enemies, from MJ Newman

“When Nate and I first started working on Arkham, we built its foundation on The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game, and while enemies in that game can most certainly be quite lethal, one of the pillars of that game is its epic and grandiose tone. You aren’t just one character; you control a fellowship, with each of your characters likely to be able to handle different elements of gameplay, including defending against and dispatching enemies.” – MJ

December 2020:

Mythos Busters “meme stream” with MJ Newman

Behind the Curtain: Scenarios, from MJ Newman

“In the early days of Arkham LCG, Nate and I were pretty much flying blind when it came to scenario design. We had LOTR to build upon, of course, but after 80+ LOTR quests, we knew Arkham had to be versatile enough to support a wide variety of different objectives. So, it was designed from the ground up with this purpose in mind.” – MJ

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January 2021:

My Formative Gaming Moments (part I) with MJ Newman

“If you’re a fan of Arkham LCG, you’ve likely seen this same sequence before, because I just love it that much. I can’t resist it. I just keep coming back to it. And if you’ve read The Key and the Crescent, you will recognize my love of Super Metroid there as well.” – MJ

February 2021:

My Formative Gaming Moments (part II) with MJ Newman

“You can see this influence [breaking the fourth wall], of course, in The Path to Carcosa campaign in Arkham LCG—Hastur’s influence is the perfect excuse to break the fourth wall, allowing me to have some fun toying with the player’s minds without breaking their sense of immersion. In fact, a good fourth wall break only adds to the immersive experience!” – MJ

March 2021:

MJ Newman lightly muses on a few Arkham topics in a Mythos Busters 100 Episode Special

Los Archivos de Arkham interviews MJ Newman

“We’re getting a lot more solo testing…” – MJ

“Lord of the rings came out in 2010, and immediately I saw the potential for custom scenarios. Thankfully someone, Tom Howard, actually, created templates for Lord of the Rings cards. So I grabbed those and started tinkering around, and making my own cards…so it’s large because of Tom Howard, one of the early Mythos Busters, that I actually have a job with FFG at all, which is pretty funny.” – MJ

“They just said they were going to do a co-operative Arkham LCG…they decided that. It was Nate because he was our senior most designer, as opposed to developer. He makes games from scratch, that’s like his whole thing. And me, because I was basically…really into the setting, and really experienced with co-operative games at that point, and Caleb was already continuing with Lord of the Rings, so he couldn’t do it…I kind of made it my baby. I kind of took a little ownership of that.” – MJ

“It’s important to note that he’s [Jeremy Zwirn] been an important part of Arkham since the very beginning. He was a playtester all the way back in the core set. He’s been instrumental to shaping how the game flows, all the way back in 2016. It was kind of a natural fit him joining the game, because he already knew it inside and out.” – MJ

“Usually we’re at least a full year ahead…whatever is being released. The stuff I’m working on now, won’t see the light of day, or won’t even be announced, for a full year. If not longer. Production takes six to nine months. The product that got announced today [Return to The Circle Undone] for example, I’ve been done with, for over a year.” – MJ

“We use InDesign [to design cards].” – MJ

“We have a pool of art, called ‘pick up art’ that is taken from previous games in the Arkham universe. And we have a giant folder…which I’ve just labeled MJ’s pickup folder, and we’ll go through and find pieces that work for each cycle. That can be our repository of art we can use… we don’t have to though. We don’t use around half of it. Everything else we do, we commission. Every time we commission a piece, I write a description of what that piece is going to be. ” – MJ

“I’m really into tarot cards. So I was like, how can we take these cards that are traditionally depicted, and how can we Arkham-ify them?” – MJ

“So there’s actually four different kinds of readings, that you can do. I won’t describe precisely what they are. Because I want to wait for players to see for themselves. But there’s four different readings with differing complexity. It’s just like real life, there’s a really simple one where you draw one or two or three cards or something, or there’s really complex ones like the Celtic cross-spread. So I kind of wanted to recreate that same thing with the tarot cards…what’s cool is that they’re all optional, you can choose to use it or not. And you can even recreate your own readings, and share them online. They’re very flexible, you can kind of use them in every way you want to.” – MJ

“So this is really tough, I’m not sure if this is my favorite favorite [art]. Jacqueline’s signature card…Arbiter of Fates. The close up of her eye and you see the strings of fate and one of them is snapping. I adore that art. Any art where I get to write a person’s mind is figuratively and literally exploding.” – MJ

“Typically, and this is something we learned from Lord of the Rings…the encounter deck, you know, the person you’re playing against and you’re sitting across from, then they need a win condition. The same way in a competitive game your deck would have its win condition. So we think about how the scenario is trying to win…usually the answer to that question is right there in the narrative. We’ll make a decision based on what’s happening. So In Too Deep for example…you’re trying to get from Point A to Point B…so it makes sense that the way the encounter deck beats you is to block you…and then surround you with enemies and then murder you.” – MJ

“The idea for the vehicles came from…a long time ago, all the way back in Dunwich, we had scenarios where it would make sense for there to be a vehicle. And I say no, we can’t do vehicles as player cards, because then it would narratively break certain scenarios. So I made the decision early on…if we ever did vehicles, it would be in a scenario designed around the fact that you’re in a vehicle. So when we got to Innsmouth I knew I wanted to do a boat scenario. So we had this longstanding deal where we definitely wanted to do vehicle scenarios. And in my scenario outline, I had the investigators travel in a car to the lighthouse. And I said this could be a car scenario. And I said that out loud, and our intern, Duke, who ended up doing a lot of our foundation work on Light in the Fog, said ‘Horror in High Gear’ and I said that’s it, that’s the scenario.” – MJ

“So we could do vehicles again, in the future. That being said we’re always very wary of compounding too many new mechanics on top of one another. “I believe very strongly that a new campaign should have a few new things, but not pulling from every cycle we’ve ever done. So we might go back to it. Just like we’ve come back to alert for example. It might not be immediately, it might not be ever. I’ll only use it if it makes sense.” – MJ

“Nowadays the design team in general has a lot of creative freedom. I generally pitch every new product that we make. The starter decks were a little bit of a collaboration. There was a desire to have another entry point into the game. It was more of a task that was given to the game. [We] decide what that is. The exact implementation of how the starter decks work, was entirely me and Jeremy. With approval, from management. Originally there was a lot more ‘this is what you’re doing next,’ and now we have a lot of freedom. But there was always collaboration since the beginning. We’re all on the same page.” – MJ

“It’s not as simple as saying this card is too good, so it’s going on the Taboo list. We need to both have an idea of which cards to put on and what to do with them. There’s a couple of cards I want to put on the Taboo list, but I haven’t thought of a solution for them. So they’re not on there. It’s not just a matter of…there’s a lot of steps, we also have to playtest the new versions. And explain why they don’t like them or why they’re not working. So it’s a much longer process than I think people might assume. And there’s also a consideration that we don’t ever want it to get too bloated, or impossible to have memorized or print out. If this were a digital game that would be one thing…we could snap our fingers and they could change. With Taboo lists and errata it has got to be laser focused. We have to decide that here are the cards we want to do.” – MJ

“All the Barkham cats and pups were all employee pets. We had a big folder where everyone sent their pets in. Bark Harrigan is also our producer’s [pet]. Evan Johnson, his dog in real life is Vito.” – MJ

[Which cycle have you enjoyed designing and playing the most. And what would be the most difficult to design?] “The one I had the most fun designing was the Dream-Eaters. It’s just so wacky and cool. And the flavor is so whimsical. I was really able to break free of that [basic fear writing], with…schemey and manipulative [tones]. Playing, I think…that’s tough because I don’t get to play often. I think Innsmouth…I had someone else designing multiple scenarios, Jeremy designed two, Duke did the foundational design for one [Light in the Fog]. So I said ‘I actually get to play Arkham’! The same is true for the Dream-Eaters. Daniel Schaefer did two of the scenarios in the Dream-Eaters. Most difficult? I would say the content that is after Innsmouth, that I can’t tell you about. That was the hardest to design, so far.” – MJ

“Sometimes we try to achieve replayability in different ways. So the map is one. Also the location of the keys. For Innsmouth in particular, I suspect most groups aren’t going to get every flashback. I suspect most groups won’t even get half of the flashbacks…hopefully, if I’ve done my job right.” – MJ

“Typically no, as a policy [to not play custom content]. Not because I don’t want to. I’d love to sit down and play all of them…not knowing what to expect. I try not to. I don’t want to accidentally take someone’s design and do something similar to what they’ve done. So they know everything I’ve come up with is original. So if we do come up with the same idea, it’s great minds think alike.” – MJ

“All of our game lines are very collaborative. There’s not a single product we work on that doesn’t get attention in some way. When we did L5R, I actually worked on the Phoenix clan. When we worked on Conquest, people were helping each other with different factions. The same is true for Arkham. We’ve had different developers touching different investigators. Brad Andres was instrumental in the Blob that Ate Everything. The concept was almost entirely his. That’s kind of how it went with Marvel. There was a lot of work to get done. I basically was like I’ll take Black Widow.” – MJ

“I’d like to branch out more. I think my specialty lies in card games, or narrative games. Before I joined the company I used to always think that RPGs would be my primary…I probably played more RPGs than I did board games. But I’d say now…I’m known as the co-operative LCG person…I’d love to do more, it’s more about finding that time. I certainly could not work on a brand new game, while also working on Arkham. That’s basically why after the core set it was basically just me. Nate went on to work on L5R after that. Nate was pretty hands off, because he was too busy with L5R to possibly work on both at the same time.” – MJ

April 2021:

Behind the Curtain: Investigators (part 1), from MJ Newman

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