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!

Cursed!

Hey everybody,
Time for another game day! These things do come round very quickly, you’re right. Today, I’m looking at another expansion for Arkham Horror – it’s Curse of the Dark Pharaoh!

Arkham Horror Curse of the Dark Pharaoh

This was the first small-box expansion for the game, and so brings some more cards for the base game, as well as a whole load of small tweaks and little additions that add a great theme. The basis for the game is that an exhibition has come to Arkham with some mystery surrounding the whole thing.

Arkham Horror Curse of the Dark Pharaoh

 

The exhibition is denoted by a marker that moves around the board, which the investigators can interact with by drawing a card from a new Exhibit Encounters deck. These encounters will generally give you stuff from the Exhibit Items deck if you pass a skill test, but if you fail you’ll likely end up cursed. This is important when you play with the Herald included in the box:

Arkham Horror Curse of the Dark Pharaoh

The Dark Pharaoh, avatar of Nyarlathotep, is a pretty tough chap. He works perfectly well with Nyarlathotep, naturally, buffing that Ancient One during the final battle as well as the Mask monsters during the main game. Indeed, when you play with this Herald, you’re almost always going to want to be going up against the crawling chaos! The theme of the Pharaoh working against the investigators’ attempts to uncover the secret of the Exhibition can come across really well as the game progresses, which is really what the Heralds are all about.

Arkham Horror Curse of the Dark Pharaoh

If you read my original blog on the base game, you’ll notice I didn’t mention these monsters, as they only work in the specific instance of going up against Nyarlathotep. They’re really just normal monsters, albeit ones that are very tough to beat, as they represent the many faces of the Ancient One. They all have the Endless ability, which means they’re never claimed as trophies once defeated, so you might run into them again later in the game. The base game comes with five, though subsequent expansions have included more so that the total is now eight. Anyway.

The Ancient Egypt exhibition is the main focus of this expansion, and if you choose to avoid the marker during the game, you’ll largely just be playing the base game with the Herald, which is of course perfectly fine to do, as there are plenty of Other World and Arkham Encounter (and Mythos) cards that are also included in this expansion to diversify the fun. Something I particularly liked were the Other World cards that focus on a more involved encounter with just one world, rather than more generic encounters as normal:

Arkham Horror Curse of the Dark Pharaoh

These cards are really great, as they can lead to a truly epic game if you actually survive them. Indeed, a lot of the new cards in this expansion have some really epic moments, and some of them are just terrifyingly difficult to overcome, with penalties for failed skill checks including actually being devoured, rather than merely losing sanity or stamina, etc. It can produce some fairly tense moments, let me tell you!

As the first expansion for the game, Curse of the Dark Pharaoh is perhaps understandably predominantly more of the same, with a new theme sprinkled on; subsequent small-box expansions would contain a much more pervasive theme (such as Lurker at the Threshold). However, it can still lead to a really great play experience, not least as a result of the revised version, which is the one I have.

The biggest change is the randomly-moving marker that allows you to encounter the Exhibition. As stated above, this allows you to draw Exhibit Encounters that can potentially give you some really useful Exhibit Items, but it doesn’t stay still. In addition to the Exhibit Encounter cards moving it, it can also move as if it were a monster during the Mythos phase, so you can sometimes find yourself forced to encounter it. I’ve ended up cursed many times as a result of a forced encounter where I then failed the skill check. Definitely one to look out for!

It’s a great little box, which I highly recommend if you have the base game and want something new but not overly complicated like a big box expansion.

Arkham Horror Curse of the Dark Pharaoh