Horror in the Mountains!

Hey folks!
I hope you’ve all been having an excellent festive season, whatever you’ve been up to!

I had two very exciting games, one of which I managed to get in a game with at the weekend – the Mountains of Madness expansion for Eldritch Horror, which I’d like to talk about today, as I share my experiences and first impressions.

Eldritch Horror

Basically, I love this expansion! Two new Ancient Ones, complete with associated decks of mysteries, research encounters and special encounters; eight new investigators, and a new side board with associated encounter cards. Along with a whole load of new encounter cards for the base game, and assets and spells and conditions and artifacts. You also get enough new Mythos cards to make up decks for each new Ancient One. Fabulous!

Eldritch Horror

The addition of the new board felt a lot like the new town expansions in Arkham Horror, though after a short while the similarity largely disappeared. For one thing, it’s much easier to travel between the boards.

Eldritch Horror

There are rules to govern the use of the expansion components, largely through the introduction of the Prelude cards.

Eldritch Horror

These cards are effectively ways to vary the setup, by allowing the investigators to buy upgrades at the expense of their sanity, for instance, or if you aren’t using the Rise of the Elder Things, you can still use the Antarctica board. I suppose this is what was meant back when this came out of GenCon:

But let’s get back to the goodies inside this box!

Eldritch Horror

Rise of the Elder Things is a fairly intense game, needing four mysteries solved to defeat. They also come out of the box with two special encounter decks, one of which is used if they awaken.

Eldritch Horror

The new Investigators are drawn from the Arkham stable, with most from Innsmouth Horror. A lot of them have abilities that work on the new Focus effect – as an action, an investigator can collect a yellow Focus token (shown earlier), which he can later use to re-roll one die; each investigator can only have a maximum of two focus tokens, however. A useful action, as previously investigators could only re-roll dice if they had specific assets, which usually only allow for re-rolls on specific tests.

Eldritch Horror

There are quite a few more interesting twists on the original mechanics, such as encountering clues on Antarctica, where you use a special encounter deck rather than the Ancient One’s research encounters.

Eldritch Horror

That was a nice little twist, though necessary given that none of the spaces on the new board is marked as a city/wilderness/sea. There’s also an Antarctica Adventure deck, which I’ve not yet used, but appears to work from using the side board without the Rise of the Elder Things. Will have to try that at some point.

Eldritch Horror

Unique Assets are an interesting idea as well, with many being the reward for new encounters around the board.

Eldritch Horror

Mainly Allies, these assets also introduce Tasks, which give you rewards on whether you complete them, which are virtually the same as Tasks/Missions that were introduced in Dunwich Horror. Indeed, Mountains of Madness continues the trend of taking elements of Arkham Horror and refining them in this way. However, while comparisons with the older game are perhaps inevitable, they are also unfair, as both games are perfectly enjoyable and awesome, without having to force a preference between them.

We also get four new spells, and new Conditions – including Hypothermia, which is a bit like the main Poisoned Condition in Forsaken Lore for providing the expansion theme.

Eldritch Horror

The second Ancient One is Ithaqua:

Eldritch Horror

August Derleth’s giant wendigo, Ithaqua is another of the Ancient Ones from the base game of Arkham Horror, I think he’s the second-easiest to fight against, by common convention. I have to admit, while Yig is definitely more deadly in his Eldritch Horror incarnation, Ithaqua is fairly tame, I felt – though of course, this could just have been down to the start aligning in my favour, as I did have some pretty good draws in my game against him at the weekend.

With his appearance in the game, only two more Ancient Ones are left from the base game of Arkham – Nyarlathotep and Hastur. While Mountains of Madness hasn’t even been out for a fortnight yet, like any rabid boardgamer, I’ve already found myself thinking what’s next for the game. If the model for one new Ancient One in a small box holds true for expansions, there’s a case to be made that either Nyarlathotep or Hastur could provide enough material for this – the former with his Masks and Mi-Go, the latter with the King in Yellow shenanigans. They could also throw an entirely new direction and give us Shudde M’ell and the Cthonians, or Glaaki, or any other of the Ancient Ones that have appeared in the mythos over the years.

And what of side-boards? Have we got more in store? If so, will they always work off an expedition space? It was remarked upon back when the game was first announced how Africa doesn’t have any named spaces, but two expedition spaces – will we be traversing the Heart of Africa? Nyarlathotep will almost certainly be in a Pyramids expansion, with the Dark Pharaoh as his Herald. Ah yes, what of heralds and guardians? Wonder if they’ll do an Eldritch Horror equivalent.

Forsaken Lore was announced about two months after Eldritch Horror was released, but that may not be repeated this time due to the nature of the beast. However, I’m fairly sure the next expansion will be a small box, and will most likely follow the Yig example. However, the next big box is something of a mystery. I’m not exactly desperate for another side-board expansion, and indeed, the way FFG refer to Mountains of Madness as “a side-board expansion for Eldritch Horror” has me wondering if there will be another type of expansion. We could perhaps have a big box that introduces heralds and guardians – maybe even institutions? – and provides more cards for the Ancient Ones and the locations, a sort of Miskatonic Horror with a twist.

Whatever follows Mountains of Madness, I’m looking forward to it with abandon – and I’m sure it’ll be awesome!

Eldritch Horror

Buy it from amazon:
Eldritch Horror: Mountains of Madness

Off for the holidays!

Yep, I’m done for the festive period now!
It was my birthday on Thursday, and I’d bought the second Shield of Baal campaign book for myself, so picked that up today – that was exciting stuff! I mean: Necrons!

Shield of Baal Exterminatus

So far, I’ve been really enjoying this campaign. Of course, I’m still not a player of the game, as I’m taking my time with building up my Necron army while I wait for the new codex to hit (I think I’ve gone on about this for quite some time now), however I’ve been digesting the novellas that have been published to support all this bumph, and have so far been really impressed! I finished the Deathstorm novella this morning, which is one of the best tie-in stories I’ve ever read, to be honest! I also picked up the third novella in this series this morning, so once I’ve read that, I’ll be bringing some words of wisdom to you all on that!

Shield of Baal

On the subject of Warhammer, I’ve managed to do a little more painting today. I’ve currently got nearly twenty individual miniatures on the go, but have been finding it consistently difficult to get moving for any length of time with them. Today, anyway, I turned my attention to an idea for a scarab base that had excited me when it first came to me earlier in the month. I’ve not yet read Damnos, but I’ve nevertheless been somehow aware of the enmity between the Necrons and Ultramarines, so it really was a no-brainer to come up with the colour scheme…

Necron scarab base

The base colours are done, so I’m going to do some washing and highlighting soon (hopefully tomorrow), then glue those scarabs onto the poor bloke, and job done! For my second painting effort of a space marine, I don’t think it’s half bad, anyway!

Necrons

Imperial Assault

There was a minor flurry of releases from Fantasy Flight last week. Imperial Assault is probably the most notable here, of course – £80 of game, and it looks like you really get some bang for that buck! Down at my local games shop, the manager gave me a quick tour of the game on Wednesday – you basically get a game like Descent, with tiles and miniatures and cards and tokens, but then you get (I think) four rulebooks to suppose the other style of play, skirmish play. On top of that, you also get two mini-expansions, the Luke Skywalker ally pack, and the Darth Vader villain pack. These are apparently similar to the lieutenant packs for Descent, with cards for various bits as well as miniatures, which replace tokens in the main game.

It looks like an absolutely fantastic game, but kinda scares me as being a potential money-sink. It could just be due to the terms of their license agreement, but the game is also listed under “miniatures” rather than “board games” on FFG’s site, as X-Wing is, which makes me wonder if these ally/villain packs are going to be the de facto method of expansion… Hm! We’ll see if Santa has decided I’ve been a particularly good boy this year I suppose…

Mountains of Madness

Mountains of Madness has also been released, which kinda excites me much more than Imperial Assault – aside from the fact that it can be played solo, which is always exciting, I had the base game last xmas, so it’s a nice little repeat of that to have the first big-box expansion this year! It’s currently nestled under my tree, awaiting the big day, so I’m really very excited by this!

The next co-op scenario for Descent, Nature’s Ire, has also been made available, though it’ll most likely be a while before it makes its way over the Atlantic. Same for the next batch of Nightmare Scenarios for Lord of the Rings. I used to snap up the print-on-demand stuff as soon as it was released directly from the company, but postage has recently become ridiculous to get these things over here, so I’m now biding my time waiting for retailers in the UK to get them, though this seems to be taking much longer than usual…

Battlelore Hernfar Guardians

From new releases to new announcements, and we’ve seen a new preview for the upcoming Battlelore expansion, the Hernfar Guardians army pack. I’m not a big Daqan Lords fan, I admit, as I tend not to go for the Empire types where fantasy is concerned. However, I have lately begun to revise my position, and I’m looking forward to seeing this expansion hit the shelves. Of course, Battlelore is another of these games that is really lots of fun to play, but  never get to put on the table these days. So whether I rush to buy this – and the Warband of Scorn for the Uthuk, will remain to be seen…

Battlelore Hernfar Guardians

I was so impressed with the Imperial Raider news, of course, that I devoted an entire separate blog to it, but suffice it to say, I’m still getting fairly excited about X-Wing these days…

That actually brings me onto the subject of the other starship game from FFG, Armada. Take a moment, if you will, to refresh your memory of my earlier comments on the game…

However…

Let me take you back to Gen Con this August, where Armada was demo’d at the Fantasy Flight booth, a video that I didn’t even look at because I wasn’t feeling the love at that time:

First reaction, there are more nuances to this game than I was initially aware of. It’s not just a re-implemented X-Wing – while there are undeniably similarities to the earlier game, Armada does seem like it could be an enjoyable wargame rather than the dogfighting game of X-Wing. I mean, X-Wing feels like a really nice, well thought-out skirmish game between a group of starships, but Armada really succeeds with having the sense of the players being admirals in charge of rival fleets.

Star Wars Armada

I’ve been discussing it with the game store manager today, as he’s got his pre-orders up for the game, and I must admit, I’m beginning to think I’ll actually get it. Of course, whether I also get the expansion packs will remain to be seen, but they do look very pretty…

Star Wars Armada

The inevitable problem, of course, is scaring up someone who would be willing to play this game with me. My regular gaming buddy is no fan of X-Wing, so I doubt he’ll get into this one. It’s a hell of a lot of money to drop on something that might never actually see a play, of course, as well. So…hm. I’m at least feeling a lot more open to the idea of the game than I was in the summer, so that, if nothing else, is worth writing about!

Oh my goodness! Again!

When this appeared, I was aghast. I think 2014 has been my favourite GenCon to date!

EH03-boxright

 

As you may remember, I’m a big fan of Eldritch Horror, and really enjoyed the small expansion that came out earlier this year. Pretty much since the game was announced, fans (including me!) have been speculating on how big-box expansions would be implemented, given how the base game’s board is, well, the world. I had made this comment on the official forums back in August last year, barely following the game’s announcement:

I have no idea how Powergrid works, but I’m assuming from this talk here that smaller boards are added around the main board, so that when you land on that spot you’re directed to have an encounter in the smaller board? Well, even if that isn’t the case, I could see something like that happening here no problem. Exactly how far you take it, though, could be interesting – how about a small board, say the same size as a Capital board in Warhammer: Invasion, for, say, London, which has specific locations within the city that you can investigate? Too far? Hm. 

Additionally, the map does have these numbered locations at intervals, such as the number 14 (city?) space in Finland, which could easily have a mechanic that adds a ‘Helsinki’ location token to that space with future expansions, much as it appears R’lyeh is added to the number 3 (sea?) space in the video at 4’16. Unfortunately, Rome is such a big location that it obscures Marrakesh, so without a lot of fiddling, we probably won’t get to that place. Actually, looking at the map, Rome has taken over most of Western Europe. Another Hm. At least there are defined spaces in Central America, Indonesia and India to allow for a ‘Helsinki’-type future expansion.  

Incidentally, how hilarious is it to be discussing expansions for a game that has barely been announced?!  :lol:

But now, we have this! To see that we’re getting a “side board” in this expansion is very exciting, indeed!

EH03-GameLayout

I am very over-excited about this game. I didn’t actually get round to reading At the Mountains of Madness until last Christmas, but wasn’t all that impressed, if I’m completely honest:

Largely, my complaint was with the fact that there is supposed to be a sense of urgency to the mission to the Antarctic, and yet a great deal of time is spent by the professors transcribing wall writings, completely ruining any suspense for me. But anyway.

I’m really excited about getting new investigators, as I think I’d’ve liked to have seen some in the small box. But yeah, eight more investigators will be really nice. The possibility of seeing gates open on locations where they previously didn’t intrigues me, I’m assuming some new sort of mechanic will open them on the unnamed spaces?

What I’m most curious about, however, is how on earth you travel between boards! I’m assuming there will be some twist on the rules that allows an investigator, when on the Antarctica expedition space, to travel to the side board, but there’s nothing concrete in the announcement. I have a sneaky feeling that, when travel between boards has been fully spoiled, that will inform speculation for further expansions down the line.

I’m quite heartened by this news. I came to the Arkham party fairly late, so bought the entire game line pretty much in one sweep. I’ve never felt overwhelmed per se, but I think I can see how that might have been the case when they were new. I suppose I would like to see the game expanded with a small box and big box alternating every six months, that would be fine. I hope they can keep the high quality of theme in the expansions, though, as well. The jungle/Yig theme in Forsaken Lore was awesome, and the Antarctic theme in Mountains of Madness looks like it too will be amazing. What’s next? Hopefully something Oriental. Not that I can think of anything in that vein from the mythos, but I did enjoy the Curse of the Jade Emperor asylum pack for the LCG…

Anyway, Mountains of Madness is tremendously good news for Eldritch Horror, so I am really very pleased to see this. Bravo, FFG! Bravo!

Mountains of Madness