Mythos delvings

This year has mainly been taken over by The Mound, one of Lovecraft’s “revisions”, for Zealia Bishop. Lovecraft and Bishop collaborated on three stories in total, this being the middle one, and from Lovecraft’s letters, it seems to be the case that he wrote it on the back of a single line of story idea.

The novella takes place in Oklahoma, the same area as their first collaboration, The Curse of Yig. I haven’t read that one for years, though I think this story has far more of the typical Lovecraft elements that we know and expect, which perhaps lends credence to the idea that it is almost entirely his own work. The story weighs in at almost 30,000 words, and I’ve read that would have been worth roughly $145 at the time if published, though Lovecraft only charged his usual fee of $20, perhaps because Zealia was still in his debt from last time. At any rate, we follow an unnamed anthropologist from Virginia who is investigating stories about paranormal goings-on at a mysterious mound. We learn of some of these goings-on before the narrator heads out there, armed with a talisman from a local Native chieftain, and promptly discovers a metallic case containing a parchment in Spanish. The majority of the story deals with the narrator’s translation report, as we learn of a Zanacoma, a member of Coronado’s party, who learnt of fabulous gold cities under the surface of the world, so goes in search of them and ends up finding a race of beings who live in a city they call K’n-yan. Zanacoma is treated as a valuable resource to learn about the surface world, as the natives here sealed themselves off from the surface after the fall of Atlantis. Their society has become decadent, and we learn all sorts about the subterranean realm, including its relationship to Yoth and N’kai. Zanacoma attempts to flee after many years, and his manuscript ends on a troubling note. The narrator therefore decides to head out to see whether he can prove the manuscript right or a hoax, and indeed it does seem to have been correct, as he delves into the mound and discovers Cyclopean carvings and ghost sentinels…

I quite liked this one, in the end! It’s very long, of course, with the bulk of the story taken up with the reported narrative of Zanacoma. That was interesting, though it is really the frame narrative of the anthropologist that provides most of the horror, I would say. True, encountering underground dwellers who worship Yig and Cthulhu (sorry, Tulu here) is very disturbing, but that was more of a mystery/thriller, to me. Of course, the story is quite rich for its length, and we get a lot to enjoy from the wider mythos. The natives apparently used to worship Tsathoggua, and that deity’s creator Clark Ashton Smith later used this story to further his creation’s lore. K’n-yan is used fairly extensively throughout the mythos stuff I’ve come into contact with, most recently with The Forgotten Age campaign for Arkham Horror LCG, which blends this with other tales for its story. While some of Lovecraft’s collaborations tend to be a bit hit and miss, I think this has definitely got a lot to make it worth a read. I’d put it off for years simply due to its length, but it is quite good!!

Much shorter is The Festival, which is a tale of someone who travels to Kingsport for the Yule festival of his ancestors. Very fishy, especially when the group of folks he meets with takes him down into the earth to a subterranean cavern, where odd flying beasts (possibly byakhees, for gamers out there) take the others off into the sky – no wonder he ends up in the hospital. We’ve been to Kingsport before, of course, but the description of the town here is said to reflect Lovecraft’s first visit to Marblehead, which created quite the impression. We also get a lengthy quote from the fabled Necronomicon itself, which is always worthwhile reading. It’s an oddly nice story to read specifically at Christmas time, given its setting and all – something otherwise not prevalent in Lovecraft.

Lovecraft apparently wrote The Transition of Juan Romero as proof of how someone could churn out a weird tale in an afternoon, and while he showed it to his friends, he never tried to publish it. He apparently hated it, and it only exists because later in life one of those friends asked for a copy. The story is actually not that bad, I thought – it’s a classic sort of tale where miners delve too deeply and open up a chasm too deep, which prompts the titular Juan Romero to “answer the call” of those drums in the deep. There’s a lot of overblown suspense, a lot of “it’s too horrible to tell you” and such, but I always think that’s kinda what these pulp stories are about, you know? It’s always interesting to read a Lovecraft story where the narrator isn’t basically Lovecraft, after all.

The Other Gods is another short one, and forms part of the ‘dream cycle’ that I read way back when I started these mythos delving blogs. A priest thinks he knows all about the old gods of earth, and wants to visit them when they come out to play. Scaling a mountain when the mist thins, it isn’t the old gods that he sees, but instead the other gods. It’s very fantastical, and drops lots of Dream-Quest names like Kadath and Ngranek, and we also have mention of the Pnakotic Manuscripts.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from The Temple, but it was quite an atmospheric tale that was oddly reminiscent of a disaster movie, for the most part. The Captain of a German U-boat narrates a tale of discovering what they think is a dead body with an ivory statuette on it, but as the sailors throw the body overboard, it seems to look at them, then to swim away. Catastrophes then result as the boat’s engines explode, and most of the crew go mad. The Captain shoots pretty much everybody, but then the boat’s drift takes them to the submerged city of Atlantis. The isolation seems to get the better of him, and his will is eroded as he feels compelled to visit the temple near the boat, with a frieze identical to the ivory statuette. Wonderful stuff! It was almost immediately reminiscent of Dagon, but I thought it was very interesting how the story developed. The captain is a bit of a caricature of Prussian superiority, and at times I wanted to laugh aloud at how far into that type Lovecraft leans. I think I was expecting a dreamlands-type of story, but instead we have something very different!

I’ll finish this year’s mythos blog with From Beyond, a piece firmly in the weird science mould similar to Herbert West and others. The narrator goes to visit his friend, who he hasn’t seen for ten weeks, and is shown a machine that seems able to enhance a person’s perception of the world beyond the five senses. His friend turns out to be a tiny bit bonkers, though, especially when he seems to want to kill the narrator. A gunshot rings out, and the machine is destroyed. I quite enjoyed this one – it’s very Lovecraft, but the narrator’s friend is so vicious and, well, mad, that it’s still a bit out of the ordinary! I do like these Lovecraft stories about weird science and laboratories in the attic, it’s all extremely suggestive. Interestingly, a lot of the substance of this one seems to have been derived from an actual scientific treatise published in 1919, and the notes in the Penguin version quote at some length to give an idea of how Lovecraft got his material. It shows how widely read the man was, really!!

Veil of Twilight

I tried to save the world from Yog-Sothoth, but I don’t think it went as planned…

Arkham Horror

I’ve been enjoying the Arkham universe once again lately, getting halfway through the Dream-Eaters campaign for the Arkham Horror LCG in fairly short order. I’ve not played the board game for a while, though, so decided to take the opportunity to try my hand at the third scenario from the core set, Veil of Twilight. This was a very interesting game, because I’m definitely starting to see how this game is less about picking an Ancient One to fight, and more about the unfolding narrative of the scenario, which may or may not culminate with a boss battle.

Very much as the rulebook says, we don’t really know what we’re trying to do at the start of the game. There are some bits and pieces, but we’re really trying to figure things out as we go. In this scenario, there are “scars” in the fabric of reality that, it seems, need to be mended. But you need to keep doom in check, of course, and there are lots of monsters in this one that interact with doom which, during the course of my game, meant I had something of a nexus of evil up at the top of the board!

Arkham Horror

I decided to use Agnes Baker and Minh Thi Phan as my investigators, as I am currently playing with them in the card game, so that was quite good. However, I hadn’t reckoned on their stats, so was left with two fairly fragile investigators going up against the denizens of hell. However, Minh constantly surprised me and was able to actually clear out that nexus of evil, while Agnes pretty much kept the rest of the board in check.

Arkham Horror

Partway through the scenario, more of these scars turn up on the board, and you need to spend clues from the scenario sheet to seal them up. Agnes became a powerhouse here, getting the clues and whacking them onto the sheet – I think Minh sealed two scars up, but it was mostly Agnes laying all of the groundwork. How surprising, then, when the time came, that I discovered that actually, I have paved the way for “the real work of the Silver Twilight Lodge” to begin! Minh had actually joined the secret fraternity, so I suppose technically she won, but jeez, I wasn’t expecting that!

Arkham Horror

It was a great game though, as I struggled to recall all of the rules. I was a bit distracted by my wife watching the new Cormoran Strike series in the next room, so probably took longer than normal to get going with it all, but impressively, the whole game only took about 2 hours – including set up and clean up. That’s a definite improvement on the 40 minutes of set up when I cracked open the box recently, I have to say!

The involvement of the Silver Twilight Lodge is very reminiscent of The Circle Undone, of course, and I seem to recall that I had the same result when I initially played that cycle, “winning” and allowing the Lodge to begin their “true work”. When will I learn that making a deal with the devil is not the best course of action?!

Arkham Horror

Still, it was a good game. There’s only one more scenario left from the core set now, and then I have the small expansion, Dead of Night, so I think it might be fun to crack open that box soon, and see what else is in store for me! I’m pretty sure it’s a “more of the same” situation, I think there are new investigators and two new scenarios? So that should keep me going for a while, though I am increasingly tempted by the other expansions, especially as (a) there are only two of them, and (b) the sky-is-falling attitude of the game potentially being dead meaning that supply might not always be there. It’s a great game, after all, and I think this year has shown that it is one that I keep coming back to, so don’t be surprised if I end up with more news on that before long!

The Dream-Eaters: stage two

Well folks, I am just breezing through the campaign right now! After making a start on Monday with both parts, I’m back again today with the next stage!

Dream-Eaters stage 2

The Search for Kadath

Things are progressing well with the Dream-Eaters cycle, as I basically re-live HP Lovecraft’s Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath. It’s remarkable, really, how this scenario sticks so true to the source material while also able to weave through additional threads from some of Lovecraft’s shorter dream pieces. We start where we left off, really, in the cat city of Ulthar, and the dreamers begin their quest to find answers by consulting a high priest. The act deck is hefty in this scenario, but this is because the game is pretty much staged in five different locations. Once the first act card has been advanced, we have a choice about where we need to go next, one of four locations. These are all classic mythos locations such as Ib, Celephaïs, etc. The object of our travels is to find ten signs of the gods, which will light our way to the next stage of our journey.

Dream-Eaters stage 2

Now, I must say that I really enjoyed this scenario, but it did get a bit repetitive towards the end. See, we have to search through all four of these Dreamlands locations to find these signs, and we only get a couple from each one, so you know that you need to get through each one. Each location also only has three cards to investigate, plus a unique enemy, and it all becomes a bit samey in the end.

Dream-Eaters stage 2

I think, if the locations has been a bit more different somehow, either through giving more signs or having more or less location cards, it might have mixed it up a bit. Of course, on the flipside you could say that it’s quite formulaic in the way that these dream sequences are following a rhythm or something. At any rate, my investigators made it through and ended up with a hefty chunk of victory points thanks to a lot of the locations giving out points! I had already taken some time beforehand to upgrade everybody’s decks, but this was quite amazing to end up with 13 more victory points!

There is a peculiar tally going on in the campaign log now as well – “evidence of Kadath”. I have eleven tally marks here, but I don’t yet know to what end I’m recording it all. It’ll be interesting, I think, to see where this whole thing ends up!

Dream-Eaters stage 2

A Thousand Shapes of Horror

In the waking world, however, things are a lot more Arkham-esque. Realising their dreaming friends are in trouble, the investigators attempt to find an entrance to the Dreamlands in the physical world, rather than through going to sleep, and with the help of Randolph Carter, they pursue a lead he once had via The Unnamable, a shunned house in the Merchant District for those fans of the original board game. The location was always a bit unstable, like you never really knew what you were going to find there, and that holds true here, now. We have to complete an objective on another scenario card to advance the act deck, so we’re exploring the house and spending clues to put other locations into play, etc. When the first card in the agenda deck advances, however, we end up with the Unnamable monster following us around on this journey around the house – it’s both Aloof and a Hunter, and cannot be defeated, so I was a bit perplexed at first as to how to handle it, but it seems the monster just follows us around and, unless we opt to engage us, it’ll just be there?

Dream-Eaters stage 2

Spending clues as we go allows us to take actions on the location cards, stuff like “the investigators found a cracked mirror” or “the investigators studied a desecrated portrait”. There’s a balance here, because we don’t really know what benefit these actions are going to be as we take them, but the whole thing begins to feel like a mystery that we need to solve, and I genuinely felt like this is one of the few scenarios in the game when you actually feel like an investigator! As it turns out, some of these actions will lower the fight value or evade value of the Unnamable monster, which comes in handy later in the scenario.

That scenario objective I mentioned turns up on another location card that gets put into play once we’ve investigated the upstairs of the house. When we investigate this new location, everything changes and we go down and down into the bowels of the earth, where the objective is to get to the bottom of the stairway. However, there are peculiarities involved that will hinder our progress, such as not being able to move from a location unless we discard a card, or unless the Unnamable (which has followed us) has a minimum amount of damage on him, etc. There are treachery cards within the encounter deck which will change the order of the locations as well, to make it feel like we’re really on the brink of madness, but it all adds up to not being a straightforward race for the exit.

Dream-Eaters stage 2

I have to say, I loved this scenario. Any time that we get to spend in Arkham is really exciting, I think, but when we’re actually exploring a board location like this, it feels extra special. It gave me strong Circle Undone vibes, mainly the exploration of the Witch House scenario, but also I was reminded of the penultimate scenario in that campaign, when we’re on the Unvisited Isle – it’s interesting to see the breadth of what those old board game locations actually involved, if you know what I mean?

We’re also once again firmly in Lovecraft territory, as this is almost a re-telling of The Statement of Randolph Carter, where he’s digging up graves with his pal for a laugh. I loved the fact that we re-used so many of the core set encounter sets as well, like the Rats and the Ghouls. Not many of those cards came up, it has to be said, but after the last scenario which didn’t use any of the core set encounters (I think it might be the first mythos pack where you only needed it and the corresponding deluxe expansion to play it), it was nice for those nostalgia beats.

I definitely think I should re-play the core set soon.

Dream-Eaters stage 2

At any rate, I only had 6 experience points from this one, so it seems like being in the dream state is much more profitable! However, the scenario ends with the waking investigators entering The Underworld, so I’m very interested to see where stage three takes us!

The Dream-Eaters: stage one

The Waking World Is Only One Reality

Well folks, after setting up my decks for the Dream-Eaters campaign for Arkham Horror LCG, I’ve finally made it through stage one of the proceedings, with all four of my investigators having a trial in their respective realities.

I’ve decided to pair Agnes and Minh together, as they are perhaps the most “ethereal” of the quartet, with Jenny and Carolyn being a bit more grounded. It also made an element of narrative sense, to have someone like Carolyn (a psychiatrist) “on the outside” watching the others in the dream-land.

The Dream-Eaters (1)

The first quest, Beyond the Gates of Sleep, sees the dreamers descend into the dream forest described in the writings of Virgil Grey, and has the curious mechanic of not bothering with an encounter deck for the first few act cards. I was initially completely thrown by this scenario, because I hadn’t read the set-up instructions properly! In order to progress the act deck, you need to travel from one location to another, but I hadn’t realised that the other location starts in play, so was slightly panicked! This has happened before for me, so I shouldn’t blame sloppy game design when it’s actually my poor reading comprehension.

Anyway, it is a very interesting way of staging the scenario, with each act card adding slightly more to the play area, to allow us to progress at a set rate. Of course, we can’t dawdle, because the agenda card is adding 3 doom each round we linger, so we really need to be progressing quickly. Fortunately, the investigator duo seems to be okay with handling this sort of thing for the moment, so I’m not too concerned about the comparatively low fight and evade on both of them. Agnes has some powerful spells that should allow for some mitigation here as well, though.

The Dream-Eaters (1)

The main body of this scenario begins with the final act card, when the enchanted woods blossom out before us, and the encounter deck appears for a more regular game. There is an interesting mechanic here as well, as we are forced to decide either to stay on the enchanted path, meaning we need to spend an absolute age there trying to gather the 10 clues needed (the location allows you to give up your turn to place a clue there, but its shroud value is based on the number of unrevealed enchanted woods, so it’s going to be a tough one!) or else explore the woods, which we need to record ominously as “the dreamers strayed from the path”. Not sure what is now in store for me, but I strayed, and investigated five of the six locations – netting myself a total of 9 experience points! So it’s not all bad, I suppose!

Of course, it’s probably just as well that the scenario gives so much experience, because we’re only using the dreamer investigators for half the number of scenarios that we normally have in a campaign. I have read some criticism of this cycle in that we don’t get to play with the investigators for very long, but in all honesty I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing – I mean, I’m playing a campaign with twice the number of investigators I would normally use, so I think that’s giving me experience of the wider group.

The Dream-Eaters (1)

The second scenario, or the first scenario in the Web of Dreams half of the campaign, is really good. The investigators who stayed awake are concerned about the strange behaviour of their sleeping companions, so take them to St Mary’s Hospital, and things start to get a bit creepy. Going off to investigate, we find the hospital seems to be overrun with massive spiders, and we need to find Randolph Carter, who is held somewhere in the basement rooms, before we can seal the rift that is allowing these spiders to get in. 

There are distinct vibes of The Unspeakable Oath from the Carcosa campaign, as we’re trying to find a patient in a creepy medical institution. I really enjoyed it, especially the twists that were put on the scenario this time around. There is an Infestation mechanic which uses chaos tokens to potentially bring out more and more spider enemies, and you need to clear the infestation before you can complete the scenario. When we do, one of the investigators is able to claim the Randolph Carter ally card, and onwards we go! Jenny is joined by Randolph for the continuing adventure.

The Dream-Eaters (1)

For all that I liked it, I must admit that I did rush through this one so didn’t probably get to investigate a lot of the scenario. I think I played quite responsively, ignoring almost all the other stuff going on, including when Carolyn drew her Chronophobia weakness card. She just kept taking direct horror, so long as she could complete the scenario! That said, we completed it in just a handful of rounds, and were able to get 6 experience points from this one.

There follows an Interlude which does feel ever so slightly janky – it starts off in Ulthar in the Dreamlands, where the dreamers meet with Virgil and a black cat takes a message to their companions in the waking world. It then splits into the waking world portion for the cat to deliver that message, so it does have that kind of split to it, which jarred me a little. Nevertheless, I have somehow managed to end up with adding a lot more chaos tokens to the bag now, so we shall see how things progress with the second stage!

So far, then, I have enjoyed the start of this campaign. I think I’ve allowed a lot of the opinion online to put me off from getting round to this one – when will I ever learn? Seems like people don’t like the split nature of the campaign mainly, and the aforementioned lack of time with your investigator deck. Personally, I don’t think that has ever really bothered me, as I can’t say I have grown attached to any investigator over the years I’ve been playing this game! True, sometimes you end up with a really good deck as you level up, but I don’t think I will bemoan the lack of time spent with my quartet.

For me, though, I think that so far it has felt very much like Arkham once again. I don’t want to try and bash the Edge of the Earth campaign, but I do prefer to play this game when I am in New England! Recently, I’ve been considering re-playing some of the earlier stuff for that Arkham theme, but now that I seem to be there in this campaign, I think I’m happy! I do love the game though, and I’m hoping to play more of it as time goes on, and discover more of what the game has to offer!

I read HP Lovecraft’s Dream-Quest during my Christmas 2020 mythos delvings, and playing this campaign now is giving me all sorts of nostalgia for that time. I think I might try to read some more of those stories this year, to stay on-theme!

The Dream-Eaters: a preamble

It hasn’t been all that long since I finished the Edge of the Earth campaign for Arkham Horror LCG, and here I am, planning my next foray into cosmic horror! I think there’s definitely something about this time of year, and this game, that just makes me want to keep playing.

The Dream-Eaters is the fifth campaign for the game, and came out starting in the autumn of 2019. Initially, I had stopped buying the game after The Circle Undone, so didn’t pay a great deal of attention to this one at the time, but then hurried to pick it all up a year later. I think I struck lucky because I managed to get it all just before things went mental, as the pandemic saw people getting into this game and packs disappeared.

The campaign is unique for containing, essentially, two mini-campaigns instead of one eight-parter. The story is that a fantasy novelist has had a disturbing dream, which he has written and published, whereupon hundreds of other people realise they had the exact same dream. The intrepid investigators decide to check it out, and recreate the circumstances under which this author had his dreams, and split into teams – one to delve into the dream-land, the other to stay and observe in the waking world. Apparently you can play either of the four-part campaigns as stand-alone, but I have opted for the big one, which therefore requires four investigators – two on each team!

It proved to be quite a challenge, in the end, building four decks from my card collection. Initially it seemed quite straightforward, as there are five investigator classes, so one from each should do it, but due to the way that things work in terms of multi-classing, I was trying not to let for example, Carolyn Fern step on Agnes Baker’s toes, as they both have Mystic cards. I don’t have a Survivor hero, but both Minh Thi Phan and Agnes have a good amount of Survivor cards. After enjoying Patrice Hathaway I had wanted to try out another Survivor initially, but upon building three female investigators, I wanted to stick with that and so went for a Survivor-heavy Minh instead. She’s actually an investigator that I had never previously had any interest in playing, but I’m now really interested in playing her. In fact, building these decks has shown me there are still plenty of investigators that I am keen to try!

I’m not sure how I want to pair them off just yet. I’m thinking I might follow the photo there, and go with Minh and Jenny in the dream-land, with Carolyn and Agnes in the waking world. However, Agnes has a backstory that would lend itself nicely to the dream-land, plus Jenny is probably more suited to more real-world adventures. I’m not sure if the decks would work well in that configuration, though I’m never sure if my decks will work regardless, so it’s probably a matter of luck, anyway!!

I’m probably going to start the campaign this week, as I am currently off work for the week, and I would like to try to play the game in paired sessions, to get both sides of the storyline. I don’t know if it actually runs like that, though, so it’ll be interesting!

Edge of the Earth: The Heart of Madness

Hey everybody,
I’ve finally completed the Edge of the Earth campaign for Arkham Horror LCG! I think this one was started at the end of August, so it’s taken me three months or so to get here, but I have finally done it. The final scenario in the campaign is a bit like the first, in that it is a long game that offers players the chance of using a checkpoint to check the game halfway through. The difference here is that we actually have a choice whether we play the first part at all, or just rush for the conclusion.

I opted to play it this time, so spent some time studying the great portal before going through, thinking I would learn something that would be of great benefit to me in the next part. We’re near the end now, having explored the city of the Elder Things and made our way to its beating heart. This heart of the complex, however, looks like the Elder Things were actually running from something. Unfortunately, whether through lack of comprehension or something, I spent way too long on part one! During part one, we are seeking runes by exploring locations and paying clues etc, but while some locations allow us to find these runes, others allow us to activate them. There isn’t really any explanation about why we’d want to do this, although the act is advanced when an activated rune is placed on the central gate location – I didn’t realise we could enter this location (I thought I had read that we actually couldn’t), so was playing almost the whole thing wrong! As such, I kinda fluffed the ending so that it was closer to what I would have done, without being entirely in my favour.

Part two then begins in mostly the same way, with the same sprawling map that we have to explore. This time, we’re trying to damage the huge pylons that hold up the roof, hoping to trap the nameless horror in here. As the pylon locations are explored, you can trade the clues for damage, and each has hit points equal to the number of clues; you can also fight them, and their fight value is equal to the shroud value. This proved to be a much more effective strategy, and I had Patrice collapsing the cavern with her .18 Derringer until it ran dry, then using Wither and all sorts of craziness to bring down the roof. Trish was able to get one pillar down, but really Patrice became the star of the show at this point!

However, the last stage of the agenda is really interesting, because we’re no longer placing doom but instead spawning these massive Nameless Madness monsters, which cannot take damage. What’s worse, when we finally bring down the roof, everything is re-organised into a series of ramp locations, and an exit – the act and agenda are replaced with a single objective: Run! We need to test evade to move between locations though, so Patrice was almost left behind when Trish was running.

In the end, through a combination of luck and probably some mis-plays, I was able to escape!

Campaign Thoughts
I can’t say that this has been my all-time favourite campaign, but I think part of this might be down to the fact I had competing priorities, and it took me a while to play it. The extended downtime between parts one and two of the first scenario in particular did somewhat ruin things for me. It’s a very different way of playing, and while the campaign does have a variable length insofar as you can opt to skip certain parts, it is still quite linear as you move through. I believe that the next box, The Scarlet Keys, does things differently in that you have to play a minimum number of scenarios, but you choose which ones and in which order? That seems more like what I had been expecting from this – the box is almost like a hybrid, as it tries to shake up the traditional cycle order we’ve been used to, but it’s almost for the sake of it, as the story being told is still quite linear.

There is a significant chunk, therefore, that I haven’t played with from this box. It makes it great to come back to at some point, and I think after a suitable break that’s exactly what I will do. Knowing more about what is involved now, I think I’ll pick some suitable investigators and maybe try my hand making some different choices in an effort to change things up. Although ultimately I’m going to be playing that scenario where I’m punching pylons and then escaping up the ramp again.

While I haven’t even bought it yet, I suppose The Scarlet Keys will play much more like a board game / RPG style campaign, when you play the scenario, and keep a track of what happened, with the possibility of going up against stuff in a far more random manner? Who knows! 

The snow tokens in the chaos bag were a big nightmare for me, and I think in part I made some bad choices which added far too many in early on. Even though I only ended up with five of them in the bag, they still seemed to come out to see me an awful lot! Snow tokens give -1 to a skill test and force another token reveal, but they are not removed from the bag when revealed (like bless/curse tokens are), and two tokens revealed together is an auto-fail. I seemed to draw a lot during the latter part of the campaign, and I found them increasingly annoying when Trish would have entire turns of doing nothing due to the fact she would draw two of them consecutively. An extremely irritating aspect of the campaign, I have to say!

However, I did find the storyline interesting. It did seem contrived at first – we’re going back, even knowing what Professor Dyer uncovered there. But it was really interesting to see the Lovecraft storyline expanded upon and furthered, in terms of what the Elder Things were up to, etc.

My Team
The two investigators I took with me to the frozen continent were actually a really interesting team. Patrice has been a bit of a discovery for me, as she has a very interesting and engaging playstyle – you discard her entire hand at the end of the round, and draw back up to 5 cards. Playing in this manner means you’ll probably see your entire deck at least once per game, so you don’t need to worry too much about not getting the clutch cards. But the downside is, unless you can afford to play everything you’re drawing, it might not be all that great for you! In addition to discarding useful items due to low funds, you also run the risk of drawing things at the wrong time, so that can be an issue as well, but overall I think it’s a really fascinating investigator, and I would say she is up there as one of my favourites!

Trish is an investigator that I have wanted to use for a while, and did make some effort last year to use her alongside Agnes Baker in a campaign, but left her deck assembled and have now been able to enjoy her for a full campaign here! Survivors are a class that I have trouble with, but Rogues are a class that I am woefully inexperienced with overall, so the pairing aimed to help with that. I have to say that Trish has been very interesting, although unfortunately a lot of her abilities around evading then damaging or investigating didn’t seem to come off for me. There are some really cool Rogue cards that I wish I had seen more of, or at the right time, so I think my next team might well feature another Rogue character!

More Thoughts
I was playing with “old” investigators, of course, but in addition to the campaign box, we do have the investigator expansion as well, with the new guys and gals there. Now, I have already played with Lily Chen from this expansion when I went through The Forgotten Age, and I think it’s a very interesting investigator design. See, each of the five starts out with level 0 cards of their professed class, Lily being a Mystic, but they then level up through a completely different class, in Lily’s case through Guardian. It was only recently pointed out to me that this symbolises the investigators thinking they’re something they’re not, and how their experiences with the mythos changes them: Lily thinks she is reliant on her spiritual side, but ends up resorting to her martial training to get through the ordeal. Daniela Reyes is a Guardian character who levels up through Survivor, symbolising how she thinks she can take on the world, but her experiences leave her struggling to make it through in one piece, etc. It’s a really cool concept, and I definitely feel like playing more of these in the future.

Final Thoughts
I’m struggling to not say that I disliked the campaign, because deep down, I didn’t. I think it’s just so far removed from what I think of as Arkham Horror that it felt just too different. It was really difficult at times, as well, almost to the point of being not-fun. While that has happened in the past, it tends to be few and far between. This time, it almost felt like I was getting the box down just so I could endure a couple of beatings, and then put it back again – which probably explained why I took so long to play the whole thing. Taking three months to play a campaign is definitely a long way from playing Dunwich or Carcosa in the space of a week or less.

I suppose this is something that becomes almost inevitable, as we see games expanded so far, though. Edge of the Earth is the seventh campaign expansion for the game (if we don’t count the core set), so we’ve gone through a lot of design space in that time. I’ve already talked about how one of the scenarios felt like one from the Carcosa campaign, but it does seem a bit like one way to expand the game is to simply ramp up the difficulty, which in a game like this is never good: this might be the first expansion someone buys, after all. We already have a way to make it more difficult, by adjusting the chaos bag. We don’t need to be brow-beaten during the campaign as well!

However, the difficulty could also be seen as on-point for symbolising the harsh conditions on Antarctica, especially when we see members of the party just die in front of us, etc. Now, I have to say, I didn’t really play the Partner allies as much as I would have expected. I found it interesting when reading the designer’s commentary in the back of the book, where MJ says she hopes we grew to care about these people – I certainly didn’t get that attached! It’s curious, actually, because I barely used any allies in the decks, as well – I think Trish has two, though I only ever played one of them (I just didn’t draw the other). Without being a sociopath, I suppose they just weren’t high on my priority list, and while the ally who gives you a base investigation skill of 5 was occasionally useful, otherwise I just wasn’t really taking account of them, and so their deaths were not much of an inconvenience to me!

I said recently that I think I want to try to have a break from these sorts of campaigns for a while, because I was finding that my game time was almost forced into playing this game (or Lord of the Rings) to keep the campaign going. While I do want to have more flexibility of course, and enjoy a lot more of the games from my collection, I am drawn back to this game so much that I think I will probably try to play another campaign soon! I’ve already said that I fancy trying out another Rogue, although I also thought about playing a Mystic/Seeker combo as well, so I think I might well be building some more decks in the near future! Whether I try again with Innsmouth, or attempt the Dream-Eaters, who knows! I do think I need to try and play these campaigns that I haven’t yet explored before I go back again over the older ones, though. But then, a big part of me is kinda wanting to try out Dunwich again!

At any rate, I’m hoping that I can play a lot more games in the foreseeable future, and don’t be surprised if one of them is Arkham Horror LCG!

Eldritch Horror: Cities in Ruin

Eldritch Horror

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!

Eldritch Horror

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!

Eldritch Horror

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.

Eldritch Horror

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.

Eldritch Horror

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!

Eldritch Horror

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!

Eldritch Horror: Signs of Carcosa

Hey everybody,
Well, November has definitely seen an up-tick in the number of games that I’m playing, after the last few years really seeing that number averaging around 4-5 games per month. So far this month I’ve been able to get quite a few favourites to the table, such as Lord of the Rings LCG and Arkham Horror LCG, as well as a few of the classics like Runebound and Eldritch Horror! I’m very excited about these developments, because they’re games that I enjoy greatly, but which I’ve only been playing sporadically, in the case of Eldritch Horror, of which have been MIA for years, as is the case with Runebound!

Eldritch Horror: Signs of Carcosa

Eldritch Horror holds a lot of good memories though, and it was one of the first games that I played with my wife back in the day. It’s something that I used to associate quite closely with Christmas, as I used to enjoy getting in a game either on the big day itself, or else soon after. Many of the expansions came out at that time as well, or I would keep them until I got to my festive play-through. Recently, I got to play it with the Hastur-themed small box expansion Signs of Carcosa, which I have only actually played once, years back when I first featured it here on the blog!

That seems to be another theme of my recent game nights, getting to play with games or expansions that have rarely seen the light of day!

Eldritch Horror: Signs of Carcosa

Eldritch Horror, as we know, is a game where the investigators travel the world trying to stop the nefarious schemes of a Great Old One. The Hastur expansion very much gives us more of the same, as do all of the small-box expansions for the game, although the small tweaks that we see in this one can still help to make it feel really interesting. The impairment tokens are back, after first coming to the game in the big box Under the Pyramids, and a lot of the new encounters have skill impairments as a fail condition. There is also the new Blight condition card, which forces us to discard allies when we gain it, reflecting the madness Hastur causes. Interestingly, Hastur as an Ancient One only requires two mysteries to be solved for victory, rather than three, but it can be quite difficult to actually solve these mysteries!

Eldritch Horror: Signs of Carcosa

The first one that I had, The Yellow Sign, was the longest to resolve, as I had to spend sanity and gain a madness condition to claim an eldritch token and place it on the mystery. Needing four tokens, and requiring sanity for all sorts of stuff going on, it seemed to take a while. Unfortunately, I think I was one token away when I drew a mythos card which, by dint of the fact I had already used so much sanity in my investigators, drove both of them insane! I’ve never actually had that happen before, and was a bit worried that it might actually be game over. I had been using Jenny Barnes and Michael McGlen, the gangster and his moll, so they were replaced by Dexter Drake and Wendy Adams, the magician and his… assistant? Hm. Anyway, it’s nice to get to use all four of the new investigators – I don’t think I’d used Wendy before, and by a stroke of luck I was drawing all manner of things that made the little street urchin into a combat monster! Dexter gained all of Jenny’s items after sending her to the asylum, and he was similarly tooled up for greatness. That said, he has the very useful effect of being able to send monsters to another gate, so that came in handy!

Eldritch Horror: Signs of Carcosa

Indeed, I don’t remember a game quite like this one for closing gates! Due to Hastur’s reckoning ability that forces sanity loss for each gate on the board, that was another thing to keep in mind as we went about our business! I was trying to use the asset inventory more as well, because I know in previous games I’ve tended to almost ignore that entirely. Often with Eldritch Horror, I find myself coming back to it like this and thinking, “right then, I’m going to try x this time” to get more out of it. I find there’s just so much going on with the game, usually, that some things do get ignored.

At any rate, Dexter and Wendy were able to solve the second mystery, which merely required each investigator to have an ally and a clue, but also to then spend clues to solve. Fortunately, Wendy had been on an expedition and gained quite a lot of clues, so that worked out well for us in the end!

Eldritch Horror: Signs of Carcosa

It’s a cracking game, and even with the built-in timer of the mythos deck and so on, there is still opportunity to explore the board and whatnot. I particularly enjoy the encounters when they allow for you to build up a bit of a narrative in your head, like Wendy gaining the help of a Vatican Missionary while she was in Istanbul. It all makes for some really good storytelling, and is one of the reasons why I keep coming back to this game time and again! Unlike something like Runebound, which I enjoy greatly but hadn’t played for eight years, I have been steadily playing Eldritch Horror throughout this time. I suppose in part it is helped by the fact I had two big box expansions that I hadn’t played until recently, but pretty much all of the expansions have had little replays. 

My stats on boardgamegeek tell me that I have played Eldritch Horror 29 times now, but the most-played expansions are Strange Remnants and Forsaken Lore, each of which has been played 4 times. Cities in Ruin and Masks of Nyarlathotep have each only been played once, and it’s just terrible! Across all the expansions for the game (four big boxes, four small boxes) I have played them all 20 times in total. Considering it is such a good game, and considering that I enjoy it so much, you’d think I would have played it more often! I realise that it can take a lot of set-up beforehand, but it doesn’t actually take all that long to play – I think it was around an hour and a half for the most recent game, so it’s not that bad!

Now, I’ve always been quite the stickler for storing my games and expansions rigidly, with all the expansion material kept in its own box so that I can make that kind of conscious decision to include an expansion in my game. However, Signs of Carcosa does feature investigators that were from the core set of Arkham Horror, which has got me thinking about how I keep these kinds of things, going forward. Actually, it was my recent games with A Touch of Evil that first put this idea in my head, but I’m now considering storing some things all-in, and then when it comes to investigators, for example, I can pick one or two from across the whole line. It’s interesting to me because it’s quite the departure, really, but when there is a game with just “more of the same” content, does it really matter if that stuff is already in the base game? Sometimes, if an expansion gives a new feel to things, then you might not want to have all the stuff stored together, but it’s got me thinking. Another reason for storing it all in the same box is the location decks, which are really quite thin in the base game. I know Forsaken Lore did a lot to plump up the card content of the base game, but it might be useful to have some stuff just always there. I don’t know, I can’t quite bring myself to do it for this game yet, but I am very close to taking out the plastic tray from A Touch of Evil and having most of the stuff in the same box there, as the base game for that is quite choc-full of stuff now!

Anyway, that’s quite a tangent, there!! 

I realise that I often say stuff like, I hope I can play more of this soon, and then it goes unplayed for six months or more. However, I am intending to get more Eldritch Horror played as the weeks roll on towards Christmas. While I am sort of in the middle of three different campaigns between Arkham Horror LCG and Lord of the Rings LCG, I’m hoping to draw those to a close soon and then I can focus more on the sort of pick-up games, with board games making more of an appearance. Don’t get me wrong, I love some of the early Arkham campaigns, but I think they do kinda tie me into having to play that game when I get some spare time, rather than just playing what I fancy!

Edge of the Earth: Ice and Death

It’s been ages since I started to play the Edge of the Earth campaign for Arkham Horror LCG, but I’ve not yet had a chance to talk about it here. I started this one three months ago now, shortly after finishing the Forgotten Age campaign, and have so far played the first two scenarios.

The campaign is basically a re-tread of At the Mountains of Madness, as we head back to Antarctica to see what happened out there. There is a huge chunk of story to read through as we start, whereupon we set off with our party. Now, so far one of the main objectives has been to try to keep the party alive, but as soon as we land on the ice, one of them dies! It’s quite grim, and as things move on, the disaster movie feel is real. Some of the party go missing in the night, and we have to mount a search party to rescue them.

The first scenario is a bit fractured, and gives us opportunity to park things rather than play through it in one go (though of course you can go through it all if you’re so inclined). We begin by basically heading to the frozen wastes, and after the crash-landing I mentioned earlier, we then set about trying to find a suitable camp site. The objective here, then, is to explore enough locations to find one with a high Shelter value, which will thereafter serve as our camp. After this, we have the opportunity to set a Checkpoint, preserving the game as it is for another time, or else pressing on with part two!

It took me more than a month to finally get back to part two, where we’re on the trail of one of our party members who has gone missing in the night. Whoever has disappeared from camp has a “possessed” version of themselves that we’re trying to find – we can fight them, at which point they are killed, or we can Parlay with them, to bring them to their senses.

We then hit a second Checkpoint, when something massive erupts from the snow and we have the option of running away, or standing and fighting these monsters! Naturally, I ran away, which meant that I skipped the third part of the scenario in its entirety. It’s touches like these that could never really have been implemented in the previous game model for the LCG, because Ice and Death is too big of an encounter to fit into a single mythos pack, but you’d never have had a pack where you had the option to skip that scenario completely.

We have plenty of Interludes along the way in here, as well, and there is a lot of text to read through as we make our way through the campaign. It’s surprisingly wordy, and I wonder why the design team have chosen to make it so. It’s almost like they have too much story to cover?

So far, then, the campaign has clearly deviated from those of the past, and it seems to break away quite a bit from the main “action” of the game. There is an awful lot going on, and I really like the sense of foreboding that comes through from the whole thing. But I can’t help feeling like I’m not actually enjoying this campaign, so far. Now, I know I’m only really one scenario in, but despite the theme coming out quite well, I’m just not as enamoured of this one as I have been of other campaigns. The sense of not knowing what the best choice is, which came through so well in previous campaigns, is missing here – perhaps because the storyline seems to be trying to re-tread the Lovecraft novella so closely. I do feel like Path to Carcosa was the high water mark for this game, and it hasn’t really been able to get back there, despite the fact that I enjoyed The Circle Undone, too. It is entirely possible that I’ll change my mind, the more that I play this, but somehow I don’t see it happening.

I saved the world last night

Arkham was swarming with robed cultists, trying to bring down the end of the world. They were using the newspaper building to distract me with their depraved rituals, but I was able to foil their plans and ward the city against the blind idiot god coming down and destroying the world. Of course it was at the black cave, the nexus of their foul sorceries, where it all went down. The city was mad with anomalies erupting across neighbourhoods, but in the end it didn’t matter, because we live to fight anew. Azathoth has not claimed this world. For now.

Well folks, I had my second ever game of Arkham Horror (third edition) last night, and I somehow managed to win! I think it was almost entirely by accident, but I’m still claiming it as a success!

Arkham Horror third edition

Arkham Horror is still a long game, I think it took me close to 3 hours to play it, but that did include roughly 40 minutes of set-up time. I was really surprised, I think, by just how quickly I seemed to grasp the rules this time around – considering my only other game was in January 2021, I can hardly say I’m an expert but somehow things just seemed to flow better. The rhythm of what I can do as an investigator, for example, was quite easy to get into, and the structure of each round quickly became ingrained so that I was just able to play the game, rather than continually looking things up.

I think my investigator choice helped here, though. I was playing as Jenny Barnes and Dexter Drake, and both of them had ways to take an additional action very early on in the game. Jenny, with her pistols, was a combat beast, and Dexter was able to keep doom in check for as long as possible. I can’t say enough how much it helped to have those additional actions though, and I think that was probably how I was able to play it fairly quickly.

Learning Point #1: You cannot take the same action twice in each round! At least once I had Jenny move twice, or move, kill, move, which probably explains why it felt a lot easier this time around!

Arkham Horror third edition

Dexter was quite the beast at removing doom, as well, and I found it quite useful to send him into Anomalies to try to close those gates etc. Even when monsters found their way to him, he is able to evade them using his will attribute, making him quite impressive, I have to say! He’s a spellcaster, of course, but I found that spells just didn’t really come up for this game. He did pretty well as my clue gatherer, although I found that I had to focus his observation attribute to ensure he was able to spend the clues.

Learning Point #2: Focus tokens are only “spent” to re-roll dice, and not when you use that attribute! I was discarding the token when I took a Research action, but that doesn’t seem to be how it works!

As I’ve said, the structure of the game really seemed to flow this time around. It was useful having Jenny out hunting monsters, of course, because once the Action phase was done, there were often no monsters on the board to worry about. True, sometimes I was putting my investigators into a specific neighbourhood to get them to have an encounter there, in the hope of gathering clues – as such, once they had moved I found I was at a loss for the second (or third) action to take, and would just randomly focus an attribute, or get $1. Money is something I wasn’t really finding myself concerned with, as only a couple of encounters seemed to want me to have any, or didn’t really have any bad things happen if I didn’t spend any money.

Arkham Horror third edition

Now, I did wonder if I was playing it wrong at first, when I was using Jenny to attack monsters. If she is going on the hunt and actively engaging them, it seemed quite easy to kill them by having her roll 6 dice. Maybe I got lucky, of course, but nothing really seemed to be a problem for her – of course, by the mid-point in the game she was taking an additional action, re-rolling one of the dice, +1 to a dice, and so on, so her attack suite was quite formidable! Even the monsters with four health she was able to pretty much one-shot, so it wasn’t much trouble. It’s only in the monster phase that they attack the investigators, though, so the fact that nothing survived to get there worked really well.

Ultimately, though, there are only five pages of rules, which set things out really well and enable you to work out exactly what you’re supposed to be doing and when. While the game might look complicated, especially in terms of its table presence, but also the fact I said it takes 40 minutes to set up, it plays really well, and I’m actually surprised that I haven’t played this more since I originally got it out last year. There’s a reputation, though, for Arkham games to be quite sprawling, and stuff like second edition, or Eldritch Horror, even the LCG, come with that feel of “this is going to take all day!” when you play them.

Arkham Horror third edition

In comparison to second edition, I find third edition to be a real delight. The older game is one of the greats, don’t get me wrong, and you can really lose yourself in the mythos as you spend the whole evening playing. Games lasting 5 hours or more were quite common, and sometimes I quite enjoyed the fact that I could plan to play this thing all night. However, it does suffer from essentially being the same game each time, just with a different Ancient One and different investigators. The monsters are all the same, the encounters are all (mostly) the same, and so on. Adding in expansions does give you more monsters, more encounters, and more Ancient Ones, but you’re mostly doing the same thing each time. Later expansions tried to have different stuff going on as well, of course, but overall it’s very much the same premise.

Third Edition Arkham Horror is scenario-based, so whereas it could be said you’re playing the same scenario in the older game, here you’re tweaking almost everything to suit. The board layout is different, the monsters are different, the “mythos deck” / Codex is different, and so forth. You’re doing the same things, mechanically, but thematically you’re trying to accomplish different goals. I think having the scenario event deck is a great way to give more variety right out of the box, as otherwise you do only have 8 cards per neighbourhood, and we all know how stale that situation got for Second Edition. Having additional cards which get shuffled into the encounter deck when you’re investigating clues, which change given each scenario, is a great way to mix things up.

Arkham Horror third edition

I think this game is a great addition to the shelf, and in many respects it has improved on the last one. I sold all of my second edition stuff a few years ago, so no longer have it to play with regardless, but I remember it well enough that I can positively say this is a real step up. It makes the game a story, which was definitely missing from the last game – it could be really quite random and becomes really abstract by comparison. Sure, this game is still representative of battling the eldritch mysteries of the cosmos, but it isn’t quite so random. The monsters feel right for what you’re doing, for instance, and everything pulls together really well to tell a good story of what you’re trying to do. Having that narrative backdrop is really key, I think, and it’s probably a good portion of the success of the LCG, which is supreme at giving that kind of narrative.

I’m going to make a real effort to play more of this going forward, and I think before the end of the year I’m going to want to pick up at least the first expansion, which adds more of the same. I’m not entirely sure, of course, but I think there are more encounter cards as well as more investigators and so on, which is always a welcome bonus. After the Silver Twilight expansion that came out last year, I think there’s a feeling that the game might be finished already, which wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing as sometimes Arkham Files games can go on quite a bit! While I always love to have more game to play and enjoy, there is that danger of just repeating the old game’s line of expansions, so we can look forward to the Dunwich expansion, the Innsmouth expansion, etc. As much as I like the idea of getting more game to play, expansions for the sake of it aren’t the way to do this. I think that having stuff that adds more to the game, without necessarily cluttering the experience, is the way to go, and from my limited knowledge of the expansions for this game, it seems that’s what we have here. Arkham Horror third edition is a traditional FFG board game, where we have the base game and one expansion per year. As I’m getting older, with far less time for these sorts of things, that is exactly the kind of schedule that I think the company should keep to!