Well, after Friday’s post about playing more Eldritch Horror, here I am again! This time with another expansion that has only seen the light of day the once, Cities in Ruin! This one is quite the box, I have to say – there’s a lot going on with it, perhaps more so than we saw with the Hastur expansion last time. Shudde M’ell is of course the arch-Cthonian, so the box is themed around destroying parts of the world as these horrible monsters erupt from the earth. I remember playing the expansion almost four years ago now, and being impressed with how it changes up the game – you start at 15 doom, which feels like a walk in the park because it’s so far out, but there is so much that just advances doom, and when you add in the fact that the Mythos deck and other elements are working to destroy board spaces, things can get pretty wild!
Playing with expansion investigators, I took Roland Banks and Bob Jenkins on an unlikely adventure against the outer evil. Roland hilariously kept getting Debt or Detained conditions, while Bob actually solved all three mysteries pretty much single-handedly. He even managed to defeat the Worldrender epic monster thanks to an artifact that buffed him amazingly. Definitely wasn’t expecting that from the salesman, I have to say!
However, this game did feel pretty easy, somehow. The combination of mysteries drawn obviously works towards that, and I think having some where you just need to have encounters, and some where you have to spend the clues but we’re getting lots of those regardless, all contributed to a pretty quick game – just over an hour, from set-up to finish! It’s all well and good having a quick game, of course, but I do prefer to explore a bit more, and I suppose I could have avoided the Worldrender to draw it out a bit longer, but even so! This is the second game, easily, where I haven’t been to the eastern side of the board at all, which I think is something of a theme for me overall. I was thinking that I would try to interact with the Expedition more on this game, but that didn’t pan out, either!
All that said, I have since found out that I have actually been playing the combat rules wrong – I have basically been playing it as a slugfest between the investigator and the monster, but the rulebook is clear in that you only resolve a single encounter each round. Eek! I think I need to play this game a lot more, and get to grips with this side of things!
The Devastation deck is a nice addition to this expansion, and there is a Prelude card that allows you to use the mechanic without Shudde M’ell as the Ancient One. I think Preludes have been something that I have, in general, been avoiding for a lot of my games, so I should probably look into these more now that I have played through every expansion at least once. They’re a great way to pick-and-choose which elements, like the Devastation deck here, to include in your games, and I think I need to try them out some more.
And that’s exactly what I did, almost immediately afterwards! I went on an adventure using just the core set and the Devastation rules, sending Trish Scarborough and Akachi Onyele up against Yog Sothoth! I thought this was a very interesting game, because I tried to focus on getting my investigators to be the best they could through assets etc, but also keeping an eye on the mission, as Yog Sothoth isn’t the most forgiving of the core set Ancient Ones. It was interesting, though, because even while the doom track ticked down quite a lot, and I think three Disaster cards were drawn, it seemed to have such little impact on the game overall. I mean, I was too busy with the main mysteries to really bother to have encounters with the Devastation deck, and without Shudde M’ell’s specific mysteries requiring those encounters, it became very easy to just ignore that aspect of the game going on.
I would imagine that the prelude cards which bring out the sideboards and all of their associated stuff would lead to a more involved game overall, as there are additional incentives to explore those boards thanks to the gates spawning there and so on, but it was quite interesting to me to see just how little an impact these things can have on the game. That said, I suppose it is slightly hit and miss, because there are Prelude cards that alter the game in more subtle ways, such as that one which adds a fifth asset slot courtesy of the Silver Twilight Lodge. I want to try and use these some more, though, as I see them almost functioning like mini-expansions for the game, somehow. The Masks of Nyarlathotep has some very interesting Prelude cards, such as one that adds spells to the reserve for regular purchase, or the zombie apocalypse-style game, or one of my personal favourites, where if the investigators win, actually they don’t – you advance doom to 0 and awaken the Ancient One regardless! I think every expansion except Forsaken Lore, which came instead with additional cards for the base game, has a selection of Prelude cards to choose from, so it could be fun to explore those more as time goes on.
However, that’s not to forget about the actual expansions themselves, of course. As I’ve been playing more of the Edge of the Earth campaign in Arkham Horror LCG to try and wrap that up, I am thinking I’d like to try out the Mountains of Madness expansion once again! I haven’t played with that box for almost 7 years, so it would be nice to get back to these things!
I talked last time about how I want to try to play more and explore the expansions more, and this is definitely going to continue for me as we go into 2023. I do enjoy the game so much, I think it’s pretty much a no-brainer really. Elder Sign is another Lovecraft game that I hope to get to the table again soon. I have all of those small box Omens expansions, but I think I’ve only actually played Omens of Ice once, and the others are still new. Hopefully they can come to the table soon, and I can see what I’ve been missing all of these years!!
I also think I’m going to aim for more Arkham Horror as well, as that’s another game that I’ve enjoyed, but have barely scratched the surface with really. I have recently picked up the small box expansion for it, Dead of Night, which increases a lot of the content we already have in the base game, so hopefully I’ll be able to play more games there as well. Both of these games are what I like to think of as Saturday afternoon games, where you can sit back with the entire table covered, and just enjoy the experience in an unhurried manner. Nowadays with the kids, of course, that isn’t quite so easy, but I used to really enjoy having game days with a stack of games to play, and at least one “big box game” like this. It’s not about trying to rush through and just get it finished in the short time I have when the girls are napping, but rather I’m trying to enjoy an expansive adventure! So I’m hopeful for more of this in the coming year!