Monday, March 06, 2006

What's the Arkham Horror Like?

Justin Walduck asked of an earlier post, "what's the Arkham Horror like?" It's like sitting at home waiting for the phone call that told you your mum died. It's intense, the whole game is spent on the edge of disaster. After the 6 hours we played for, we were exhausted. And we had a relatively easy win.

We had 4 characters - I was the magician and the photographer, and the kid was the sister and the gangster. The Ancient One was Yig. The sister was blessed, and we realised pretty quickly that being blessed is really really handy. I sent my guys in to seal a gate each, and the photographer went insane and the magician sealed a gate with an elder sign. The kid's guys went to fight some monsters - the gangster is awesome against monsters without physical resistance. The photographer recovered and sealed the gate with an elder sign. The sister sealed a gate with an elder sign. The gangster went around killing things with his Tommy Gun. He had a pile of monster trophies. The photographer went in and sealed a gate with clue tokens. There was some sort of ritual being performed which meant we had to discard 3 spells to prevent it, but the streets were full of monsters. The sister and the gangster went in and cleaned them out, then the monsters descended from the sky to attack them, so the killed them as well. The magician came and discarded 3 spells to prevent the ritual. There was some sort of occult fete in the streets, so the sister and the gangster went there to go shopping for elder signs, and found one. The gangster had killed so many monsters he got appointed police deputy. He drove the police van right into a gate. The sister went through a gate as well. She sealed her gate with clues, he sealed his with an elder sign and went insane, we won the game.

My opinion of the characters - photographer was useless. His special power of "take 2 encounters, choose one" meant that he was always suffering the lesser of 2 evils which was still pretty evil. The magician was reasonably decent, but weaker after he lost his spells. The sister was handy with her blessing, and could eventually fight OK. The gangster was great, mowing things down with his tommy gun and not taking much damage.

But the game is intense. I didn't know the rules particularly well, and there are LOTS of them. Much more complex than Runebound, for example. We spent a lot of time checking rules. And the Mythos phase is terrifying, and it happens all the time. After we had sealed the gate in the Woods, it was noticeably calmer, but two of the bad gates had such big (yellow) monsters on them that we couldn't even go near them. Some of the monsters are so dangerous that wherever they are, you don't go. We did see one item that would take out all monsters in an area, but we couldn't afford it.

The game is (unfortunately) a little like Talisman. This happens, roll a die to see whether you get knocked out, go insane, or get lost in time and space. In Runebound I feel like the dice are blessed and I will usually succeed, in Arkham Horror and Talisman they are out to get me. Maybe d6 are evil? The photographer's continued crappy luck was very wearing, it was only because the other characters had some good luck that we succeeded.

Compared to the Arkham Horror, Betrayal at House on the Hill is a happy walk in the park on a spring day. It's over in an hour and at least somebody will win. Arkham Horror is much harder work, and depressing if you lose. Maybe you could roleplay it, but your characters might end up killing themselves...

1 comment:

Mike van Schijndel said...

Great review! I enjoyed reading this!