Apparently, it’s summer now…

Hey everybody,
It’s been raining something terrible here in the UK for the last week or so, which has left me with a lot of indoor pursuits to take my mind off the fact we’ve had more than a month’s rainfall within hours. I’ve already talked about getting back into Magic, which has been very exciting as I’ve been rediscovering that classic. I’ve got quite a bit more to discuss on that, of course, so those blogs will be peppering my site over the coming weeks and months. I’ve already got some lined up, to keep things going while I move house (though when, exactly, that will be, remains to be seen!) so I thought I’d check in with everything else that has been going on!

First of all, I’ve really gotten back into painting, and have been really getting somewhere with my Skitarii army ideas from days gone by. I’ve been toying around with quite a number of list ideas, though for now I’m trying to focus on painting up what I’ve got built, and ensuring I can bring down the pile of shame into something more akin to a proper army.

I’ve managed to get two lots of five troops, along with one HQ and one elite slot finished. Once I’ve finished up the Tech Priest Enginseer and the next ten Vanguard painted up, I want to move back to making the two lots of five troops into two lots of ten, which I’ll probably do alongside another character model. I’ve also built up five Sicarian Infiltrators, which I really like – especially that Princeps model! I love the insane technical details on these models, and I’ve really enjoyed painting the abundance of clips and plugs and screens on the Enginseer, so I’m expecting to enjoy him as well!

It’s my plan to get 500 points of AdMech painted up soon, so that I can start to play games with them. I don’t have an Imperium army that I can play with, so I’m looking forward to seeing how they work. Once I’ve got those 500 points finished, I can keep painting and adding to the collection, but at least it will be an army that is seeing some action, at last!

Skitarii list 500 points

My thought process here is to keep adding units that interest me, or that I feel that I need, once I’ve been able to try the army out and see what it’s all about. I’m guessing that heavier artillery will be a requirement, and I’ve already started to put some paint on the first Dunecrawler twelve months ago,¬†so hopefully that will be making an appearance before too long!

On the subject of painting models, I’ve also been fidding with some Necromunda miniatures, the Delaque gangers that I’d built back in December. I want to get into this game so badly, but finding people to play with has been proving a bit more difficult than I’d thought – hopefully soon, though, I’ll be able to get either the Delaque or Van Saar models to the table and try it out! I just hope I actually enjoy it!

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#nowReading #Warhammer40k #BloodAngels

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I’ve also been reading Warhammer 40k novels quite voraciously, as I try to work my way through quite the backlog that I have! The Space Marines Legends series was a short-lived set of hardbacks that focused on a single Space Marine hero from one of the popular first-founding chapters. I’d read the first book in the series, Cassius, back in 2017, and was quite impressed overall. Lemartes takes us to the Blood Angels, and discusses the cursed sons of Sanguinius with the dual flaws of the Red Thirst and the Black Rage. We follow a Chaos incursion on the planet Phlegethon, which the Blood Angels are sent to put down. The Death Company are unleashed on the cultists, along with those brothers from the Fourth Company who are particularly susceptible to the Red Thirst. When the cultists bring down the wrath of Khorne on the planet, these brothers almost lose themselves, but fortunately the unbridled fury of the Death Company is able to bring down the greater daemon Skarbrand.

It’s an enjoyable enough novel, though it felt a little bit like a non-event in the grand scheme of things. I also read Azrael recently, by the king of the Dark Angels, Gav Thorpe, but I was particularly unimpressed with this one. It just felt interminable, and the plot was particularly uninspiring overall. Also dealing with a Chaos uprising, and showing Azrael’s ascent to Supreme Grand Master of the Chapter, I was hoping we’d get to see a lot more of the inner circle, but instead it all just fell a bit too flat for me. Ah well!

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#nowReading #Warhammer40k

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A bit more recently, we have Cadia Stands, which is something of a tie-in to the Gathering Storm series that brought 7th Edition to a close. The novel deals with, well, the Fall of Cadia, as the forces of Chaos emerge from the Eye of Terror for Abaddon’s Thirteenth Black Crusade. Yes, he’s had a Thirteenth Black Crusade before, but this is a different Thirteenth Black Crusade. I really found myself enjoying this book, as we followed groups of Cadians around the planet. I thought it was really quite interesting to see how the soldiers reacted to the increasingly Chaotic events on-world, as some struggled to evacuate from the warzone.

The book has been followed up by Cadian Honour, which seems to follow up on one of the soldiers featured in Cadia Stands, Minka Lesk. I’m not normally one for Cadian stories, as I’m not a fan of the army in-game, but I enjoyed this one enough that I’m thinking I’ll probably give it a try soon!

Arkham Horror LCG

From 40k to Lovecraft, and it’s been quite an adventure this afternoon, as I’ve finally started playing the Dunwich Legacy!

I’ve been playing this game for what feels like a long time now, but have never made it past the Core Set. Back last October, I finished the core set campaign, Night of the Zealot, and so built up some decks with the new cards and thought about starting up the Dunwich Legacy, but other things seemed to get in the way. Well, I’m pleased to report that I’ve finally made it to Dunwich!

I’ve played the first scenario, Extracurricular Activity, using my Jenny Barnes and Ursula Marsh decks. I know Ursula is a more recent investigator, but the deck was built, so there we are! I really enjoyed it, seeing how the game has evolved from the core set already was quite interesting. There is a strong discard theme in the first scenario, at least, which I wasn’t expecting – I didn’t quite see my decks completely discarded, but even so, it was something I wasn’t really prepared for, and the hate leveled at investigators by the Agenda for having a large discard pile was really something!

Arkham Horror LCG Dunwich Legacy

Overall, I’m really enjoying this game. I’ve been buying everything for it as it has been coming out up until the current cycle which, due to real life intrusions, I hadn’t been aware had been released! When I popped by the games shop recently, it turns out pretty much the entire cycle has been released now, though I’m fairly sure I’ve only picked up the deluxe cycle.

FFG have recently announced a fifth deluxe expansion, The Dream-Eaters, which has also taken me unawares! The way the campaign works for this expansion is quite unique, as it features scenarios set in the real world and in the Dreamlands, and you choose one of the two for your investigators to follow. There is still talk of a cohesive eight-part campaign, though, so it sounds as though it will still be a traditional cycle. I may even have caught up with it all by then, and be able to play this one as it happens!

While I am loving this return to the Arkham Horror LCG, and finally getting round to seeing what I’ve been missing all this time, I’m also excitedly awaiting A Shadow in the East, the next deluxe expansion for Lord of the Rings. I haven’t played that game for a long time now, I know, but it is still up there for me, and I look forward to getting my grubby little hands on it!

Getting back to Arkham!

Hey everybody!
After talking more about the general boardgames in recent weeks, rather than bombarding you all with news of my hobby progress etc, I thought I’d come here and ramble for a bit about how it went with my Arkham Horror LCG core set campaign!

It’s been ages since I had originally started this, of course, and I had actually had to re-start so that I could once again get into the game and its various mechanics.

So I took Daisy and Skids off on an adventure to save the world from a diabolical cult, and it actually went fairly well – my initial thought about two investigators causing more problems didn’t really pose that much of an issue, as there were also more clues being spawned and we got through the encounter deck a lot quicker, etc.

I must say, I’m quite surprised at the differences between this game and Lord of the Rings, which I’d recently gotten back into of course, and my approaches to them. Skids had pretty much been tooled-up to be the heavy hitter, while Daisy was scampering off investigating clues etc, but there is a distinct lack of enemies that require beating up for the Skids deck as I’d been building it to really work.

While there are plenty of monsters here, and that’s also true of the board game antecedent also, the game is less about combat than it is about, well, everything else! I quite like that about it, as I’m not really looking for a beat-’em-up style experience all the time.

The Dunwich Legacy

For now, anyway, I’ve made my way through the core set campaign, Night of the Zealot, and while I’m sure at some point I’ll be investing in the campaign box they recently brought out, for now my attention has been firmly fixed on Dunwich. I’ve been putting this off for an age now, of course, but I really want to actually make it to the first cycle of expansions and just see what they’re all about!

My initial investigations have shown that it has no real link to the core set, so I have retired my Daisy and Skids decks, and instead have been looking to build decks with the new investigators from the deluxe expansion. This sort of thing does bring with it an interesting situation, as the investigators here have a completely different sort of limitation upon their deckbuilding, which involves a lot more thought than the core investigators, and just mashing together two factions into a single deck! Of course, I still haven’t made the leap for a second core box, so my deckbuilding options are a little slim as far as that goes, so I’m thinking I may well be buying that second box before Christmas gets here.

I’m very much looking forward to getting back into the whole card gaming world of LCGs this autumn/winter season, so stay tuned for more exciting updates!!

Arkham Horror LCG

New games!

Hey everybody!
I feel like it’s been a while since I really thought about playing board games and the like, though my recent foray into Middle Earth has gotten me thinking a lot more about the breadth of other games out there in the wild, so it was with no small amount of excitement that I read the news of the next deluxe expansion for the Arkham Horror LCG, The Circle Undone!

Arkham Horror LCG The Circle Undone

I haven’t played nearly as much of this game as I’d have liked by now – indeed, despite buying the expansions as they have come out, I’ve never yet made it beyond playing the core set! Since that time, of course, the deluxe expansions for this game have taken us all over the world, currently alighting in Mesoamerica, but it feels quite exciting to me that with this deluxe box the game will be returning to the city where it all began.

The box comes with a prologue scenario, where you play as specific characters and try to find out some clues that presumably help with the main scenarios of the box. This does sound pretty awesome, as I’m always a huge fan of alternative ways to play like this. Having a sort of prescriptive introduction sounds like it’s a narrative player’s dream, so I’m all for it!

I’m definitely feeling excited by this, and I’m thinking about breaking back into the game with a couple of the decks that I’ve had built for well over a year at this point. I mean, it would be a victory for me to just get to the Dunwich expansion, and see something new for the game!

Arkham Horror LCG

Arkham Horror is one of my all-time favourite games, for sure, and I really do love the board game version like an old friend. The card game has a completely different feel, for sure, but it’s not something that I don’t like – the reason why I’ve not gotten round to playing the game nearly as much as I feel I should is simply one of time. I’ve devoted so much of my time to Warhammer 40k over the past year, in addition to all of the real-life stuff that’s been going on, that I just haven’t had the time to sit down and enjoy a game as I once did.

It’s certainly a difficult game when playing solo (I tried to get my wife into it a few weeks back, but even though it’s a co-op game, it didn’t go down as well as Lord of the Rings or Elder Sign). I think this might be another reason why I’ve neglected it somewhat, but the fact that I was moving house and getting everything packed up during the first cycle has sort of put me back a little bit on getting into the game. I did recently take a look through all of the material that I have for the game, more in an attempt to try and organise it all, but I’ve still not yet played with any of the expansions – something that I really think it’s time that I changed!

You just know that any blog that I write cannot go without mention of Games Workshop! When Warhammer Underworlds first came out last autumn with Shadespire, I wasn’t particularly interested in it, as I was trying to focus more on 40k and wasn’t paying any attention to the fantasy stuff. As time went on, I did like seeing some of the models for these warbands, and I did go so far as to buy the Fyreslayers because I love the scenic bases in that kit, though I have since sold that on and stuff. However, the new season of the game, Nightvault, has brought out another slew of amazing-looking miniatures, particularly for the Nighthaunt range, and I’m now considering buying into it. One of my regular gaming buddies does actually have a set of Shadespire, so I’m thinking about giving it a go before I dive on in, but I have been particularly taken by the sculpts of these flying ghost-people, especially their leader, the Briar Queen.

The Nighthaunt range does look amazing, but I had been trying to resist the fantasy stuff during AoS2, and so hadn’t got anything for it. Now, however, I’m already building a Beasts of Chaos army, so I can see the slippery slope of getting back into fantasy is occurring, and I have been considering getting a few ghosts to try my hand at painting…

For now, I’m trying to keep my slide into AoS a slow one, so as not to overwhelm myself with too many models. I don’t really know what I’m doing with the game overall, yet, either – though that’ll be the subject for another blog, I think…

Mythos delvings

Hey everybody!
It’s time to continue the tradition of the Christmas Lovecraftian delvings, and look at some of the short stories that I’ve been reading by the light of the Christmas tree. This year, I’ve been re-reading some old favourites, as well as investigating some little things that are new to me!

Let’s start with the always-wonderful Thing on the Doorstep. I first read this about five years ago now, and it was one of the few Lovecraftian tales that genuinely chilled me. It tells the story of Edward Derby and his ill-fated marriage to Asenath Waite, one of the Innsmouth Waites who has some very peculiar ideas about transferring consciousness (among other stuff). Over the course of the tale, Edward Derby becomes increasingly insane, it seems, convinced that his wife has some kind of hold over him, only to be revealed that she has indeed – through some foul sorcerous deeds – been taking control of her weak-willed husband. Even a marital separation can’t prevent Asenath from possessing Edward, and she eventually seems to have taken permanent control of his body. It’s up to the narrator to sort things out, by shooting his best friend before it’s too late – but what on earth is that thing crawling on his doorstep..?

It’s one of my favourite of his tales, with a very definite tie in to the Arkham line of board games etc – I remember a game of Arkham Horror where I had both Asenath and Herbert West as allies, making for a particularly hilarious game as I thought of the mischief each would no doubt be plotting behind my hero’s back! I also remember playing a game of Eldritch Horror with Charlie Kane travelling the globe and using Asenath for spell-casting… Anyway!

A short tale, The Statement of Randolph Carter is a bit of a spooky tale that seems to be told as a kind of confession. It concerns the nocturnal adventures of the titular Randolph and his occultist friend Harley Warren, as they attempt to access the underworld following Warren’s researches in a peculiar Arabic tome. Harley goes deep into a tomb in a graveyard somewhere near a cypress swamp, and screams for Randolph to flee before never being seen again. Randolph, for his part, loses part of his memory of the event, and the story is effectively his testimony as to what happened to Harley in the swamp. It is the first time the character of Randolph Carter appears in a story by Lovecraft, though he would reappear in later writings – including the famous Dream Cycle.

Continuing the link with the Arkham games now, The Unnamable is a short little tale that is set in the graveyard of the New England town, and details a debate between two gents on the nature of the supernatural. It has the hallmarks of a sort of campfire ghost story to it, and references several locations within the town that will be familiar to fans of the boardgame as being locations to be investigated. Notably also, the narrator is again Randolph Carter.

Herbert West – Reanimator is another classic that I’ve read before, chronicling the black-hearted career of Herbert West and his attempts to return people from the dead. Notably, Herbert and the narrator attended Miskatonic University in Arkham, the first time this venerable institution was mentioned in a short story by Lovecraft. West and his assistant have a series of near-successes across six short installments, each ending with a particularly gruesome climax. The tale had been serialized, which leads to some slightly annoying recaps at the start of each section, but the story itself is just wonderful gothic horror. We see West, always keen to have the freshest corpse possible, actually kill someone in order to then bring him back from death, before finally being abducted off into the bowels of the earth by his failed experiments of the past. Wonderful stuff!

Also serialized was the short story The Lurking Fear, which is a sort of classic haunted-house-on-the-hill type of tale. The house had been shunned by those living in its shadow, who were convinced some fell beast stalked within. The intrepid narrator attempts to get to the bottom of the matter with predictably morbid and horrific results. Again, it has that sort of sensationalized ending to each of its four parts, and while I wouldn’t say it was quite as classic as Herbert West – Reanimator, it was nevertheless a decent enough read!

He is a weird little tale, which is similar in parts to Cool Air that I read a couple of years back. The narrator follows a mysterious gentleman who appears to have preserved his life for more than a few centuries, and proceeds to show him some eldritch magic or other, including visions of the past and future New York, with dire warnings about the rise of the Chinese that, unfortunately, shows some of Lovecraft’s darker side.

Weird, but then, I suppose that’s the point of these stories!

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!!

Mansions of Madness

Hey everybody!
Happy Halloween! While I don’t really go in for all the spooky stuff personally, I always try to feature a thematic game here on my game day blog, and today’s offering is something I’ve been wanting to get round to for a long time – let’s enter the Mansions of Madness!

Mansions of Madness

(This blog is about 1st Edition, which is currently the only edition that I have played).

Mansions of Madness is an utterly fantastic game. I need to tell you this right at the top, because this entire post will be coloured quite significantly by my love of this game. It was released back in 2011, I picked it up a year later, and had my first game with it around Christmastime. As usual, I played with my regular gaming buddy Tony, and we played through the first scenario, The Fall of House Lynch. While we were certainly enjoying playing the game, despite taking time to actually learn the ropes as we went, once the game was over we had a sort of joint moment of awe at what we’d just experienced. Despite the fact that this game took place almost five years ago now, I can still remember, quite vividly, both of us sort of leaning back from the table when it was over, and letting out a simultaneous “whoa” at how good this game is. Immersive just doesn’t seem to cover it. The game was spectacular – it was incredible, in the very truest sense of the word!

Okay, so enough with the rhapsodizing, let’s take a look at the game.

Mansions of Madness is a one-vs-many game that has its closest parallel (for me) in Descent, where one player takes on the role of the Keeper, while the rest of the group play as the standard stock of Arkham Investigators. The Keeper is an interesting role because, unlike the Overlord of Descent, he is part antagonist but also part DM, and I feel sometimes that people might miss the subtlety of this. Sure, as the Keeper you’re trying to defeat the Investigators, but there is a responsibility to ensure that the story that the game is trying to tell is told. If you play as the Keeper and sit there brooding evilly all game, then it’s not going to be a great experience. I’ve always played this game as the Keeper, so I guess I have more to say about this part than that of the Investigators.

Mansions of Madness

Let’s start with the board. Mansions of Madness is a scenario-based game, and you get five of them in the core set. The board is modular depending on each scenario, with room tiles placed as shown in the set-up guide. It is then the Keeper’s responsibility to “seed” cards in the rooms according to his own set-up guide. Each scenario has up to six distinct parts where the Keeper can make a choice – does he pick choice A, B or C for part one? These story choices determine which Clue cards are seeded into the rooms. The rooms also include items that the Investigators can claim, but many also have traps or locks to overcome before they can be discovered. The set-up guide is crucial for ensuring the cards are placed so that they are encountered in the correct order – locks are no good on the bottom of the pile, after all!

Mansions of Madness

Once the cards are placed, the Investigators set about exploring the Mansion. They’re trying to solve a mystery that is read out by the Keeper at the start of the game, and Mansions of Madness is one of the relatively few board games where flavour text simply must be read during the course of the game! It certainly helps with the theme, and relates to what I was talking about earlier, where the Keeper is part-DM in his role. The Investigators don’t actually get to know ahead of time what they need to do to win, so it’s critical to pay attention to the story, and not just charge about trying to gather up stuff. Though, like any good RPG, it’s always good to get stuff! It’s really cool how the Investigators get to actually make real-time choices about what to do, based on the story being told, and not just some random whim.

Something that really blew me away when I first played this game was the fact that the Investigators will often come across some locked item, either a door or a suitcase, and in order to overcome this obstacle, they need to solve a real, actual puzzle. Normally in these sorts of games, a player would just roll some dice and add a modifier to determine this, but no! There are a variety of different puzzles that you have to physically solve, such as the wiring puzzle shown above. Harvey Walters can have¬†an Intellect of 7 (more on this shortly), meaning that he has up to 7 moves in this puzzle. Moves include rotating a piece 90¬ļ, swapping adjacent pieces, or removing a piece entirely and drawing a new one. In the above example, I actually managed it in 5 moves, which is fine for Harvey, but other characters might not fare so well!

Mansions of Madness

When you set up your Investigator character at the start of the game, you take the character’s card, then choose one of two Strength cards, and one of two Intellect cards, which give you the total stats for that character in the game. It’s an interesting way of mixing things up and, while you can’t alter your stats over the course of the game like Arkham Horror, it’s still a nice way of ensuring Investigators don’t always feel the same right out of the box.

The Keeper can interact with the Investigators in a variety of ways, using a currency of threat points. Over the course of each round, the Keeper gets a number of threat counters equal to the number of players, and he can use these to pay the costs on a number of different cards, such as the Mythos cards or Action cards. These can be played to either slowly increase the madness, or to suddenly go all-out and really spring the traps of the mansion!

Several of these cards do direct damage to the Investigators, and in true Arkham Horror-style, the Investigators can be both physically and mentally crippled over the course of the game. However, it’s not all shadowy-Keeper versus the Investigators, as there are a variety of monsters lurking in the dark places of the mansion, and the Keeper can use these to attack the Investigators head-on. Unlike in other Arkham-universe games, the monsters in Mansions of Madness are actual miniatures, though they also come with cardboard chits that slide into their bases for that classic Arkham Horror feel.

Mansions of Madness

The combat system in the game is card-based, which I seem to remember was somewhat in vogue around this time, with a few big games featuring cards rather than dice to resolve attacks. Dungeonquest has a similar kind of system, off the top of my head…

Mansions of Madness

So, rather than simply rolling dice and adding modifiers for strength, you determine what class of monster you’re attacking – humanoid (blue), beast (brown) or eldritch (green) and determine what weapon, if any, you’re using to go at it. You then draw cards from the appropriate deck until you find a card you can resolve – that is, a card that describes an attack with the type of weapon you’re using. There is still a dice element involved, as the cards will often ask you to test your Strength or something, but it’s overall a very different implementation of playing a board game.

You’ll no doubt notice that the cards above are split in two – this is because the same cards are used if an Investigator attacks a monster, or a monster attacks an Investigator. In my experience, it can be quite common for these decks to cycle through at least a couple of times over the course of a game, though subsequent expansions brought out more of them to add some variety!

Mansions of Madness

In addition to all of this, there is also an Event deck going on irrespective of what both Keeper and Investigators are up to in the mansion. This Event deck consists of five cards, one of which is drawn after a set number of turns has elapsed, and its effects are resolved by the Keeper based on the story choices he made during the set-up.¬†In the Fall of House Lynch scenario, the Objective card is revealed when the fourth event card is drawn, and this Objective then determines what happens. It’s an interesting way to keep something of a timer on the game, ensuring that you don’t end up just endlessly wandering about durdling, but in all of the games that I’ve played, I have never felt like these cards got in the way of the flow of the game.

Indeed, the whole game in general just flows very smoothly. For sure, it flows much better if you have experienced players – particularly an experienced Keeper – but despite the weight of stuff in the core set box, it does actually feel quite streamlined and, dare I say, intuitive when you start playing. Don’t get me wrong, there are a bajillion moving parts in this game, and it can be something of a nightmare to deal with, but if you just sit back and immerse yourselves in the story, you will be rewarded beyond your imagination!

I hear that Second Edition has streamlined the game somewhat, not least by relegating the role of Keeper to an app. I thought it surprising the new edition finally added actual new Investigators to the pool of Arkham Horror denizens – Agatha Crane, Carson Sinclair and Father Mateo join the ranks of Harvey Walters, Jenny Barnes and “Ashcan” Pete! I was initially dismayed to learn that the Keeper had been removed,¬†and it strikes me that the app feels more like playing a video game than a tabletop board game. I haven’t actually purchased the new edition, but I’m nevertheless intrigued as to whether the new Investigators will make the shift into those Arkham games that I do follow!

Interestingly, there was an article published on the FFG website earlier this year that talked about Mansions of Madness – and more broadly about Arkham games in general – and their family-friendly theme. It’s not something I’d thought about before, but these games can actually feel like a horror movie when done right. Is that the sort of thing you want to play through with your kids? Mansions of Madness has a rating of “ages 14+”, while Arkham Horror is 12+, which I’m really surprised by. Though I suppose the threat in the older game is somewhat more magical, whereas games of Mansions often involve blood-crazed maniacs trying to hack off your leg with an axe, and the like. There’s something more visceral, I suppose, and it can be quite terrifying to younger children if you have a good Keeper…

At any rate, I cannot recommend this game enough, certainly at this time of year!!

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!