Cities in Ruin!

Hey everybody!
It’s the first game day of 2018! It’s also the first game day in quite some time! With several life-changes going on these last few months, it’s been difficult to devote any real time to board games, but as per my Boxing Day tradition, I managed to get Eldritch Horror to the table, with predictably wonderful results! I sat down to no less than three games this time around, as the game proved to be a huge hit with my SO Jemma (and, it takes so much time to set up, once it’s there you might as well settle in for an afternoon!), and for the middle game we tried out the latest small box expansion, Cities in Ruin!

Eldritch Horror Cities in Ruin

This expansion brings one of my favourite Ancient Ones to the game, Shudde M’ell. The world-cracking king of the Cthonians originally appeared in the Dunwich Horror expansion for Arkham Horror, and of course was created by Brian Lumley in his short story Cement Surroundings. One of the non-Lovecraftian creations that has managed to retain significant traction among the mythos today, it’s also one of my favourites to go up against in Arkham Horror, so I was really looking forward to seeing how he’d be implemented in Eldritch Horror.

Like Yig and Ithaqua before him, Shudde M’ell has become so much more vicious in his Eldritch Horror incarnation!!

Eldritch Horror Cities in Ruin

Starting at 15 doom, Shudde M’ell looks like he should be fine, starting at the same point as Azathoth from the base game. However, true to form, he gets to destroy points on the board, which is where this expansion becomes a bit of a beast.

Eldritch Horror Cities in Ruin

To start with, Rome is ‘devastated’ – the city is wiped off the map, and all that remains are crumbling ruins. During set-up, three eldritch tokens are placed on the doom track and, when the doom counter reaches those, there is the chance that more cities will meet a similar fate.

Of course, they’re not really gone in the sense that you just skip over them if you’re moving through Europe, or something. When you arrive at a devastated location, rather than drawing from the normal deck you instead draw one of the Devastation cards, complex encounters that can net you useful stuff from poking about in the ruins. I found these to be particularly interesting, as the card will present you with a choice, and you can actually choose to resolve the failure part instead of the pass part, each of these then involving some kind of test with rewards for passing and detriments for failing. We’ve seen a similar thing with some Other World encounters, where you can still fail even when you passed the first part of the encounter, but even so, it’s interesting to see the depth going on in the game right now.

The other deck is, of course, the Disaster deck, which is drawn when finding out where on the map is going to be hit next. Shudde M’ell has got three in-built disasters in terms of the doom track anyway, but there are Mythos cards and other ways that can bring about Disasters, which range from destroying cities to removing all of the travel tokens from the game, as sea voyages become too perilous. It’s an added dimension to the game that I really enjoyed, especially if you’re relying on a specific location to buff a skill, or gain a spell, etc. I think it’s a tremendous addition, and I’m happy to say that there are additional Prelude cards included in the box to allow you to use the Disaster deck even if you aren’t trying to fend off Shudde M’ell. Excellent stuff!

Eldritch Horror Cities in Ruin

The investigators are more from the Arkham stable, I particularly liked Bob Jenkins and his ability to trade items with anybody on the board. We also get new assets and artifacts, conditions and spells, as well as new encounter cards and mythos cards that all help to bring in the feel of a monster lurking beneath the surface of the world – though without being quite so overt that you could still shuffle these into the deck and play against Yig, for instance. There are also Expedition encounter cards that make Shanghai and London possible locations, which I quite enjoyed – especially considering there is a Disaster that destroys these locations as well!

All in all, Cities in Ruin is another excellent expansion in what is becoming possibly the best game line Fantasy Flight is publishing right now! It’s certainly my top board game of the moment, and I am forever just bowled-over at how amazing these expansions are. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the expansions for Arkham Horror as much as the next man, but I feel that these for Eldritch Horror are designed with such care and attention that every single one of them has been so much more than simply, “more of the same”.

Definitely worth picking up if you enjoy this game!!

Cthulhu on the horizon!

Hey everybody!
It’s game day here at spalanz.com, and today I want to talk about some of the news from FFG about new Cthulhu-themed games coming on the horizon that I’ve only recently had the time to digest (the new Star Wars trailer dropping has primarily been responsible for my tardiness here!) So let’s kick off the Halloween season with a look at the next big box expansion for Eldritch Horror: Masks of Nyarlathotep!

Masks of Nyarlathotep

This was an expansion that was both entirely expected, and yet completely blew me away with the announcement last week. I mean, for sure we would be getting Nyarlathotep in the game soon enough – it’s a Cthulhu mythos game, what would it be without the wearer of a thousand masks? But I had entirely been expecting to see him in a small-box expansion, with some specific Mask monsters, and nothing more than that. Oh, how wrong I was!

Masks of Nyarlathotep introduces a campaign mode of play to Eldritch Horror, and currently we only have a few lines towards the end of the announcement that tell us what is involved here:

When taking on a Campaign, players will need to win multiple games, with consequences and benefits carrying over to the next game after each threat is sealed away from the world. If stopping any single Ancient One seems an impossible task, can the investigators possibly hope to succeed as these otherworldly beings attack one after another?

However, earlier in the article we learn that there are several cults springing up across the world, each seeming to worship a different entity, and it’s up to the investigators to stop them. While my first thoughts about campaign play were that we could play games using different expansions, and they would all somehow feature into this mode, I think rather it will be implemented as more self-contained within this box. I’m going to guess, then, that this expansion won’t have a new sideboard, but instead will just be choc-full of cards that allow for several different gameplay experiences, maybe even mini-Ancient Ones like the Heralds from Arkham Horror, all of which will add up to some climactic endgame against Nyarlathotep himself. Nyarlathotep will still appear as a more regular AO if you want to just play a straight game with him involved, but for the campaign mode he’s probably going to have some kind of mechanic that makes him stronger the more Mask villains we don’t defeat, or something.

We’ll see in Q1, 2018!

Omens of the Pharaoh

The next bit of news I was really happy to see was the new Elder Sign expansion, Omens of the Pharaoh!

Have you played Elder Sign: Omens? It’s a pretty good re-interpretation of the card game for Android/iOS, and features an expansion based on the sinister goings-on in Egypt. The Dark Pharaoh, Nephren-ka, has already made it into Eldritch Horror of course, and now he’s making his malevolent presence felt here, too!

I really like how the new mode for Elder Sign has allowed games to move out of the museum. Don’t get me wrong, I still love the classic game where you’re wandering the deserted exhibits at night, but Omens of Ice was an incredibly flavourful (and difficult!) game, and while I still haven’t managed to get round to Omens of the Deep, I’m sure that will also be a delight.

Whoever made the connection between having locations to explore inside a museum, and locations in a more general sense, should definitely feel a deep sense of pride at that achievement!

Adding the Egyptian horror feel to this game is definitely something to be pleased about, as it’s a classic setting for the mythos, though if we’ve already had the frozen Alaskan wilderness, the deep sea and now Egypt, I wonder whether this line of ‘Omens of’ expansions can continue for much longer? I’m guessing there will be an Amazonian jungle (or some kind of tropical theme) expansion at some point, but then what?

FFG’s Lovecraftian games are always a true delight, and I cannot wait to add both of these games to my collection when they arrive early next year!

World Cracking!

Eldritch Horror Cities in Ruin

Shudde M’ell is coming to Eldritch Horror!

I am very excited for this, as it’s one of the classic Old Ones that we have yet to see in the game, so upon reading the preview article that has gone up on FFG’s site today, I had to come here and ramble excitedly about it!

The new small-box expansion features the mother of the Cthonians, Shudde M’ell, and the game looks like it is really going to be shaken up as a result. Like previous small boxes have tweaked the game a little, Cities in Ruin sets about destroying cities through the Disaster Deck, a card from which is drawn whenever doom advances to specific points on the track, and which will cause some godawful thing to happen before destroying another city on the board. That’s right, another city – because the game begins with Rome wiped off the face of the earth!

Oh, the horror!

Also, how good is that subtitle, The Cataclysm from Below?

Shudde M’ell was created by Brian Lumley in his short story Cement Surroundings, my mini-review of which you can check out here. The big tentacle-snake-thing has also featured in Arkham Horror and Elder Sign, so it’s nice to have it come over into Eldritch Horror as well. Always love to see how the existing things are re-imagined whenever they come into the new game! That’s not to say new stuff like Strange Remnants isn’t very welcome indeed, but it’s just a nice bit of nostalgia for the fans of these older games to see them re-implemented.

Cities in Ruin is scheduled for the second quarter, so we should hopefully be getting this in the summer. I still haven’t yet managed to get a hold of The Dreamlands, shockingly, but I’m already much more excited for this than I perhaps should be!

Signs of Carcosa

Hey everybody!
It’s the first game day of 2017! I’m hoping to have lots of awesome games on the blog over the next 52 weeks, and I think I’m starting with an absolute cracker! As per my Christmastime tradition now, I’ve been playing Eldritch Horror with the new expansion, though in this case, “new” is kinda pushing it a little. With no new big box expansion for the game until later this month, I’d been saving the smaller box, Signs of Carcosa, until the festive period – no mean feat, considering the game was released in June!

Eldritch Horror Signs of Carcosa

So, Signs of Carcosa is a small-box expansion that follows in the manner of Strange Remnants in that it includes new investigators as well as a new Ancient One, and a glut of new cards to support that ancient enemy. Signs of Carcosa is particularly exciting for me, because we have four investigators from the Arkham Horror base game, which is always something of an event in these circumstances – they’re investigators who have been a part of this mythos for so long now, after all!

Eldritch Horror Signs of Carcosa

Hastur is the big bad guy from this expansion, and while his subtitle there might be “the unspeakable one”, this is very much a King In Yellow-themed expansion, similar to The Yellow Sign expansion for Arkham Horror. Naturally, there isn’t a lot of focus thrown specifically on the play from RW Chambers’ short story collection, but its presence does loom large in many of the game pieces. Encounters in the various board locations focus on artists and seeing the Yellow Sign, etc, while all of the Other World encounters are focused on Lost Carcosa.

Much like Strange Remnants brought back the focus mechanic from Mountains of Madness, Signs of Carcosa brings back the impairments mechanic from Under the Pyramids, which has a lot of focus placed on it through Hastur’s ability, along with a lot of the fail conditions on the encounter cards.

Hastur is one of the more difficult of the ancient ones to defeat in other games such as Arkham Horror and Elder Sign, but his incarnation here seems at first glance to be much more simple – you only need to solve two mysteries to win! However, these mysteries have a reliance on spending clues, and there are a lot of Mythos cards that will force you to discard your clues, which makes solving even two of Hastur’s mysteries a lot more difficult than it perhaps might seem! I actually managed to win the match against him, but it was a close-run thing, and the eventual win was actually highly luck-dependent, as I’d had an Other World encounter that gave me the clues I needed to go on to solve the mystery. One of my investigators had already gone insane, and I was keeping another pretty much permanently in London in an effort to spawn more clues before they kept getting discarded!

Eldritch Horror Signs of Carcosa

We also get the now-usual batch of new assets and artifacts (mostly King in Yellow-themed, of course!), new spells and unique assets, and Hastur gets three sets of special encounters. Considering you only need to solve two mysteries to win, he comes with a total of eight – a nice touch for replayability! The new Prelude cards offer some interesting set-up options, including doling out copies of the new Promise of Power condition card, one that allows the influence of The King in Yellow to be felt even if Hastur isn’t the ancient one, and another that brings the Order of the Silver Twilight to the game through a fifth reserve slot. I really like the Order, and for years had tried to make a Silver Twilight deck work in Call of Cthulhu, so it’s always fun when they show up. Part of me hopes we’ll get something of a full-on expansion with them in or something, but I also like the way they insinuate themselves into other expansions.

All in all, this was a fun box. Didn’t feel quite as exciting as Strange Remnants, which has a lot of stuff going on of course, but anything that adds so integral an ancient one as Hastur to the game has got to be close to the top of anybody’s wish list!

 

The Dreamlands!!

Well stop the panic about no new big-box expansion for Eldritch Horror on the horizon, because FFG have now previewed the upcoming Dreamlands expansion and it looks like it should be amazing!! I’m trying not to do too many game day blogs that merely look forward to upcoming stuff, but I’ve had this one on my mind all weekend, so need to talk about it!

Eldritch Horror The Dreamlands

This expansion brings us an Other World on the sideboard for the first time ever in an Arkham Files board game. At the start of the game, you place portals through which you can access the Dreamlands board, which is a fantastic way of mixing up the way in which you move between the boards. I really like this idea, not least it’s because it’s really quite thematic. All of the Arkham Horror boards, and both of those for Eldritch Horror thus far, have had the same mechanic: go somewhere, and access a new board. This idea of moving around like this just really appeals to me, and is the main focus for me wanting to write this short, excited blog now!

It is, of course, early days, but I’m wondering what kind of secondary mechanics we’ll be seeing in this box. Mountains of Madness introduced us to the Focus mechanic, and Under the Pyramids allowed us to decrease our skills as well as increase them. So I’m assuming we’ll see something more, but I guess it’ll remain to be seen…

At any rate, I’m really looking forward to getting this box. I find it really interesting that we’re now seeing Other Worlds on expansion boards, which really opens the door for all kinds of different expansion experiences, and the way we get there sounds super cool. I still hope we get to see something like a more expanded Europe, and an enlarged New England showing the traditional Arkham/Dunwich/Innsmouth/Kingsport locations, however!

Can’t wait!

Time for a change…

Hey everybody!
It’s Tuesday Game Day here at spalanz.com, and time for a bit of a ramble, I think. Not that my other blogs aren’t a ramble, of course!

For over two years now, I’ve been writing about some of my favourite games every Tuesday, but I thought I might try something a bit different today and just talk about gaming more generally, see how that goes. I’ll keep doing game blogs, of course, but maybe once in a while I’ll do more of these, sort of casual things.

First of all, I wanted to talk a bit about what games I’ve been playing lately. I’ve not actually had a lot of time to play games unfortunately, though have had a couple with some 40k-themed stuff. Notably some more glorious defeats in Space Hulk: Death Angel, which is pretty par for the course with that game, and also Conquest – including my first victory with my Necron deck! I’m a bit behind with the latest war packs, so I’ve been using Anrakyr the Traveller rather than having the new Illuminor Szeras, who I’ve been looking forward to for a while, but managed to get in a victory a short while ago when I played at the local store against a Space Marines deck that was pretty badly put together. But it’s a victory, and I’m not going to deny myself that!

Fun fact: Anrakyr was the first #Necrons character I painted! #WarhammerConquest

A post shared by Mark (@marrrkusss) on

I’ve fallen behind with the expansions, though – I’ve only got the first two packs from the new cycle, while FFG have just announced the fourth is available! Eek! I haven’t really been buying a lot of games lately, however, and have fallen behind with quite a few things, Lord of the Rings also being a case in point. I haven’t gotten to play much of that game lately, so I guess it’s no big deal, but still!

While there doesn’t appear to have been much announced for Conquest – I believe there’s currently a conspiracy theory doing the rounds that FFG and GW are about to part ways – I am impressed with the next cycle announcement for Lord of the Rings: we’re going to Harad! Back when Heirs of Númenor was announced, I was hoping we’d be seeing more from the Southrons, and while it’s taken a while, we’re finally getting there!

The Sands of Harad

In terms of fantasy settings, I think the desert locale is vastly under-used, and so cannot wait to see what’s in store for us here. The mechanics sound really interesting as well – paired traits that buff each other sounds to me very much like the dual-colour deck thing from Magic, of course. The effects of the temperature sound really intriguing, hopefully it’ll be super cool, anyway! Something I found very interesting from the expansion’s announcement was how the article didn’t include any information about the upcoming cycle, which made me speculate at the time that maybe it was moving to a distribution model similar to that Call of Cthulhu adopted before it was finished, of deluxe expansions only. However, we’ve recently also had the first look at the new Haradrim Cycle, which sees us trying to capture Oliphaunts! Oh, my! I’ve been away from this game for too long, but I think this upcoming expansion is going to be exactly the thing I want to get me back into Middle Earth with aplomb!

Something else I haven’t gotten round to yet is the new Eldritch Horror expansion – I’ve been eyeing it up, of course, but my local store had a shipment that came without the character cards, and it seemed to take forever for them to send replacements. I think he’s only recently put it up for sale, but I haven’t really had the money to get it, what with spending on more Warhammer kits! Seeing as how there probably isn’t going to be a new expansion out for Christmas this year, however, I think I might wait and get that one for myself then – it’s hardly the same as a big box thing, but it’s Eldritch Horror, so it’ll do! I haven’t actually played Eldritch Horror for a long time, sadly, so will have to try and change that soon!

Since my two-year anniversary with the Warhammer stuff, I’ve been mainly focused on the building/painting of minis, of course, and I tend to go along with these things lately – particularly given how many kits I have unbuilt and unpainted! I’ve actually been super-busy on that front, as I think last weekend’s hobby progress blog shows. Just been on something of a production line for building and priming models, which is probably going to keep me going through the winter, anyway!

Which leads me to…

The main gaming thing that has been on my mind for the last few weeks has been getting properly into Warhammer 40k, though. I may or may not have mentioned that my local GW store has been running a sort of mini-campaign-type-thing that starts off small and allows you to build up your army over time – it sounded perfect for a beginner like myself, and I actually got myself a list prepared of a Necron Overlord and two troops of Immortals, but due to work commitments have so far missed both events!

I am, however, really keen to get going with this whole thing, so I’m trying to arrange a suitable time with one of the guys from the store to get me in a learning game soon – stay tuned for that!

Conspiracy 2

As I get back into Warhammer, I seem to have lost my momentum with Magic once more, though these games tend to wax and wane for me, so I’m not too bummed at having spent a lot of money on snow-covered lands lately! I’ve kinda been following the spoilers for the second Conspiracy set, though I’m not really planning to get involved in drafting that, primarily because Draft has never actually interested me, though. I still have a bunch of decks built up, including a lot of Standard decks that I’m still somewhat keen to try out, but haven’t managed to play much of the game whatsoever since the Eldritch Moon prerelease last month.

I’m still planning to go to the Kaladesh prerelease next month, however, as that was a really good time!

It saddens me a little when I realise, I have probably the two most expensive gaming hobbies ever: plastic and card crack. But y’know, they’re enjoyable, so I’m not going to complain too loudly!

Anyway, that’s probably it for this blog, I don’t like to ramble on too much of course! I think I might try to change up the feel of these Tuesday blogs in the future, though, as just blandly talking through a game’s components can be, well, pretty bland. Might try and get some kind of game-report type of thing (I did try it once, of course!) or something. We’ll see. Anyway, hopefully if you made it this far, you enjoyed it (don’t be afraid to leave a comment!), and I’ll see you all in the next exciting installment!