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Subject: Long and specific, yet fun and rewarding rss

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Pawel
Poland
Valley of Dragons
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From the beginning of my board game experiences I've always wanted to get something really big. I've bought a lot of games but Arkham Horror was always lurking somewhere at the threshold, so finally it had to happen... (you can't postpone the inevitable forever!)

What interested me in the game was the fact it's based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft. And that means otherworldly experiences, godlike monsters that could destroy an entire galaxy with one breath and monsters that can drive you insane just by looking at them. What can be better than making a game about it? You can feel the atmosphere is really heavy – you can almost picture yourself in a trench coat and a hat, on a grey, rainy day in the 1920s trying to solve a terrifying mystery. It only needs a bit of the 20s music, some dark ambient (I'd recommend Pulsefear here) or maybe both so you can brainwash yourself completely.

It is partially thanks to the games artwork – dark illustrations of hardcore, cold-blooded killers, classy girls and scientists that are ready to take the risk. The characters can use standard weaponry of their time, like the legendary Tommy Gun. The monsters are well designed with some of them really disgusting and horrifying. Their rules are well placed on the markers with one side for movement and evading them and the other used in a fight – depending on what you choose, you have only the necessary information needed. The board is quite minimalistic in design, but anything more creative could be hard to read, so we have a stalemate here. Special fields of the board are placed on its boarders, with other dimensions on the right and current game states at the bottom, so you know where you need to look to know what's happening. In my opinion the board itself could be a little smaller, but that's not a big drawback. And if it is a problem for you, you can find files for smaller boards here on the BGG. The quality? FFG should say enough.

I've heard a lot of opinions that the rules are hard and it's better for the players to have some experience. Well I partially agree. The game can, and will, be lengthy at times – some people will get tired quickly if it's one of their first few games. The set-up time is long as well, considering the amount of pieces. On the other hand the rules aren't that difficult. I can agree that there is a lot of things you need to remember, but apart from that you won't face a lot of unique or unclear situations.

The game is very dependant on dice rolls, which means that quite a lot is based on luck. I won't say it's purely a luck-based game. You still need to make a lot of choices and carefully calculate the risk. If, in a hypothetical situation, you could: A - fight a monster using 1 dice; or B - flee using 5 dice, the blame will be all yours, if you want to push the randomness to its edge with a fight. The decisions aren't anything fancy or morally challenging, but your destiny isn't pre-written as well.

For some, it might be interesting that Arkham Horror is a cooperative game, which means you won't fight against your friends and you will try to beat the game instead. And if you fail to overcome the urge to do everything on your own, you will surely lead the whole team to failure. It's not that big of a deal if you are into board games for some time, but you have to admit that cooperative games are rather a minority. This characteristic gives new tactical possibilities and needs the players to balance the advantages and disadvantages of the characters chosen, plan ahead for the whole team and - maybe the most important - know how to share! In my opinion the difficulty of beating the game is random and I think it's an advantage most of the time. It's not fun when a game repeatedly beats you to a pulp, regardless of your strategy (Death Angel: The Card Game...), but on the other hand using the same chain of moves every time would get boring really quick.

To sum it up, Arkham Horror is not a game you will play often and you have to keep that in mind. It is a specific type of game and I wouldn't recommend it as the first game you should buy, even though you can play it by yourself. The multitude of elements equals a lot of space needed, a long set-up and game play time and will probably make Arkham Horror the only game of the evening. On the other hand playing a long adventure scenario has its unique atmosphere. It doesn't matter if you like cooperative games or haven't played one yet – you don't need to be a Lovecraft fan to enjoy playing Arkham Horror.
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Jeff
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Rex
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Ghargh wrote:

To sum it up, Arkham Horror is not a game you will play often and you have to keep that in mind. It is a specific type of game and I wouldn't recommend it as the first game you should buy, even though you can play it by yourself. The multitude of elements equals a lot of space needed, a long set-up and game play time and will probably make Arkham Horror the only game of the evening. On the other hand playing a long adventure scenario has its unique atmosphere. It doesn't matter if you like cooperative games or haven't played one yet – you don't need to be a Lovecraft fan to enjoy playing Arkham Horror.


I completely agree with the notion of not having this be the first game you buy. Unfortunately it was the first board game I bought and if my GF and I hadn't forced ourselves through the first three games it would've ended up in the closet collecting dust. The rulebook sucks but the community here and at the FFG forums made figuring this bad boy out a lot easier.

After we figured it out we did play every night for almost three months though.
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Matthew Jeffery
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Yeah. So, very rarely(as I play a lot of Euros) the theme is more than a veneer on the mechanic. This game is an excellent example of theme in addition to mechanic, horror on top of coop action... the theme, in fact, if you can absorb it, becomes the focus and reason for playing this game. Matt Leacock has come up with a more mechanically sound coop game in the form of Pandemic, but even in that gem of a game, the theme plays second fiddle to the finely play-tested mechanics. Arkham Horror ignores these effects. It is theme eternal, here. In every expansion, Lovecraft(and to a minor and arguably major extent Derleth) reigns supreme. We find that, at that end of the game, unlike our Euro game brethren we can form a complete narrative of the game, almost and very close to a compelling story(a la a very excellent RPG) that on its own, contrasts directly with the more cerebral games that describe in after-play a more strategic and dry experience. So, yes, the playing time restricts the times that it may be played. But the experience, the overall ambiance, is beyond comparison. So, bring it out more often if you have the time, and engage your imagination. The rules, though adequate, are secondary to the enjoyment obtained by cooperative communication and storytelling.
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Jon Simpson
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A good review and I agree that is a game you keep but perhaps dont play that often,

Dont agree that the components are all great though, everything is fine indeed apart from a couple of things; the stands chew up the cards I stopped using mine a while back and really FFG should have replaced these in newer printings. The board is naff, FFG produce some beautiful artwork and and some great well designed game boards. Hand on heart, I cant say that the board matches up to this standard. Average at best.
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Pawel
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Arkham Horror » Forums » Reviews
redeye wrote:
(...) the stands chew up the cards I stopped using mine a while back and really FFG should have replaced these in newer printings.


If you are talking about the character stands I can agree to some point. You can leave the characters (like I did) in the stands for ever, but it sometimes gets tricky to place them in the box, or assemble them every time you play, which will surely start wearing down the character chits. It's also not that hard to cripple them when assembling them the first time, but if you are extremly careful and leave them in the stands it won't be visible at all
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