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Arkham Horror» Forums » General

Subject: Accessible if you've not read Lovecraft? rss

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Dave Johannsen

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I am thinking of getting this game for my family, as my daughter just LOVES Betrayal At House On The Hill. From what I've read of this game, the atmospherics and some of the game mechanics (i.e., each player having an "investigator" who "explores") sound like a great fit for my daughter. My biggest question is: Does the game "make sense" and "hold together" if you don't know that Lovecraft universe/mythos? Secondarily: Does the game have a similar "feel" and "game play experience" to Betrayal At House On The Hill, or am I way off base? Thank you for any comments.


Dave
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Jason Nopa
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1. Yes, it is very playable without having read any Lovecraft.

2. Somewhat. Although, you could argue that Mansions of Madness is much closer to Betrayal at House on the Hill. If you haven't tried that one, I'd recommend it.
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Daily Grind
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Absolutely. The only thing you need to know is there is a big-bad who wants to be super evil, and there are folks trying to stop it. Might as well be a season of Buffy
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Dave Johannsen

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Thanks everyone. My daughter's birthday is coming-up, so I am very grateful for the comments and suggestions (I may also have a gander at Eldritch Horror, as well as Mansions of Madness). Again, thank you.


Dave
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Byron Campbell
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I would say it's more accessible if you haven't read Lovecraft. The Arkham Horror family of games are based on the Call of Cthulhu RPG, which is based on a much-expanded and somewhat bastardized version of the Mythos. Lovecraft created tension by writing vague descriptions of unknowable, uncategorizable things, but some joker (August Derleth, I believe) then subjected his creations to all manner of classification systems. You have Great Old Ones corresponding to the four elements, you have Old One family trees, and once you get into the gaming arena, you start getting stats for the Old Ones and other mythos creatures, something Lovecraft would have found appalling. Aside from a few names, there's not a lot of overlap between Lovecraft's fiction and modern "Lovecraftian" media.

Good game, though. For capturing the true Lovecraft flavor, Mansions of Madness does it best.
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John Di Ponio
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Hi Dave. You don't have to know the Lovecraft stories to enjoy the game. Sure it helps but not necessary. It may seem a bit abstract compared to Betrayal due to movement points per say and there is no 'traitor' element in this game so the flow of the game is slightly different. There is no lack of suspense in the game with all the monsters spawning at the open gates. Personally, it is one of my favorite games in the genre and the expansions just keep the gameplay fresh but prepare to have a BIG table to play the game!

Getting the gameplay mechanics down can be a bit for a younger one to wrap their head around but once you have it down, it plays quite smooth. The game does take a bit of set-up time as there are a ton of pieces to sort out (if you don't have them pre- sorted in plano boxes) so be prepared for that.

There are some options to consider if the jump to this game might be too much. Eldritch Horror is a very good pick and Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition is one I just picked up and plan to host games for Halloween in October. Both games are cooperative like Arkham Horror. Just a couple of options in the Cthulhu world.

If you can invest in the time to learn Arkham Horror, I don't think you will be disappointed. My kids enjoy the game and their ages were from 15 and 13 for my oldest boys and my younger son and daughter learned the game around age 12. If there is anything that I hold against the game for younger players it would be the length from set up to take down.
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Reverend Uncle Bastard
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I agree that you don't really need to have read Lovecraft to get into the game, but given that he mostly wrote short stories, and those stories are all public domain and available online, why not just spend a few minutes and read some?

Here is a good place to start:

http://www.hplovecraft.com/writings/texts/fiction/soi.aspx
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Jeff Finazzo
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It actually got me to read Lovecraft. Here's a link to his complete writings in eBook form:

http://arkhamarchivist.com/free-complete-lovecraft-ebook-noo...
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Dave Johannsen

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reverendunclebastard wrote:
...but given that he mostly wrote short stories, and those stories are all public domain and available online, why not just spend a few minutes and read some?


This morning I just downloaded and printed a copy of "The Call of Cthulhu." I think that the somewhat purple prose and sophisticated vocabulary might make it tough for my daughter (who's only eleven) to be drawn into the "atmosphere" of the stories (and that seems to me to be the their primary aspect - reminds me a bit of ETA Hoffmann, though it's been years since I read his stories). I am enjoying reading this tale, but it might be difficult for my daughter to appreciate (though she's a sophisticated reader, so maybe I'm selling her short). Thank you for the link.


Dave
 
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Charles-David
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I really like Arkham Horror, and I first started playing without knowing anything about the Lovecraft mythos.
Then I tried Elder Sign and it really got me into it. That said, I do not think you need to be familiar with Lovecratf's work to play the game.
But don't be surprised if you find out later that your daughter is now a cultist and wants Cthulhu to take over the world...

If you want something in the Betrayal At House On The Hill range, you should definitely go for Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition.
If you want something lighter with exploring investigators, Elder Sign is also very good, but it might not be as immersive as MofM.

MofM 2nd edition comes with a free app that enhances the whole game.
Makes you feel like you are right in there investigating the source of the evil lurking around. Great coop game where everyone gets to play together. (The app runs the game)
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Colm McCarthy
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The rules are very clunky as is the "storytelling", it's a very long game (usually 3-4 hours at least), Eldritch Horror probably plays a bit more smoothly (I was nonplussed by my one play of it - it wasn't creepy enough), and there are a lot of "turn a card - you go insane" moments, and the upcoming Arkham Horror: The Card Game might do a better job of atmospheric storytelling.

But despite all of its many flaws (and it has many) Arkham Horror is still my favorite game of its type. When it's firing on all cylinders it is terrific fun.

And my youngest son, who started playing it when he was twelve (he's fifteen now), absolutely loves it.

EDIT: Completely forgot about Mansions of Madness: Second Edition. My kid would be all over that.
 
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Reverend Uncle Bastard
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djohannsen wrote:
reverendunclebastard wrote:
...but given that he mostly wrote short stories, and those stories are all public domain and available online, why not just spend a few minutes and read some?


This morning I just downloaded and printed a copy of "The Call of Cthulhu." I think that the somewhat purple prose and sophisticated vocabulary might make it tough for my daughter (who's only eleven) to be drawn into the "atmosphere" of the stories (and that seems to me to be the their primary aspect - reminds me a bit of ETA Hoffmann, though it's been years since I read his stories). I am enjoying reading this tale, but it might be difficult for my daughter to appreciate (though she's a sophisticated reader, so maybe I'm selling her short). Thank you for the link.


Dave


Shadows over Innsmouth (the one I linked to) is probably his most accessible story. Might seem a bit much for your daughter but who knows? I read my first Lovecraft around that age and thoroughly enjoyed it (I started with Color Out of Space). There are also a bunch of accessible Lovecraft-style stories written by more contemporary authors that are a little less "purple" in their prose.

Color Out of Space: http://www.hplovecraft.com/writings/texts/fiction/cs.aspx

Either way, I would highly recommend Arkham Horror, it is one of only two games I have rated a 10. Good luck!
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Abdiel Xordium
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djohannsen wrote:
This morning I just downloaded and printed a copy of "The Call of Cthulhu."

Good place to start. It, along with "The Dunwich Horror", are probably the most like the game Arkham Horror in tone.

Overall the game is not a very good representation of Lovecraft's fiction, which itself is more interesting for its pulp concepts than its literary quality. I love Arkham Horror, but see it as an adventure game (the only better one is Talisman) with Easter eggs for Lovecraft fans more than a game that needs its source material understood.

This is in contrast to Fury of Dracula which is designed as a sequel to Bram Stoker's novel. It contains spoilers of the novel and continues the Dracula story.
 
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Bern Harkins
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Guess I'll add my voice to the choir.

Knowlege of Lovecraft will add to your enjoyment of the game. ("Hey, look... I've got the Powder of Ibn'Ghazi!"). It is in no way necessary. ("Hey, look! I've got a two-handed one-shot weapon that costs a sanity to use, but gives +8 on a combat check!")

As pointed out above, the game is based on the Call of Cthuhu role playing game. Debate rages, from time to time, on whether Arkham is "Lovecraftian" at all. If that interests you, here's one I started a few years back:

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/543029/how-lovecraftian...

Since I've logged more than 150 games of Arkham, I obviously think it's a terrific game. A twelve year old can play if they have the reading skills, but it does have a learning period associated with it, and can be frustrating in the beginning.

Eldritch Horror is smoother, but less immersive.

Mansions of Madness second edition, however, is a snap to learn. It provides a deeply immersive co-operative atmosphere with far, far less effort on the players' parts. It is a bit pricey, but the value is also high. I feel it's one of the best family games on the scene right now, and would be the best extension to her experiences with Betrayal. She will love it; you will love it. If the price tag isn't a bar, it's by far your best bet to secure the title of "Superdad" come her birthday.

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Dave Johannsen

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Again, thank you everyone - BGG always is such a great resource. As you (maybe or maybe not) can tell from my "avatar," my primary interest and experience is that of a board wargamer (where my taste runs much more to the simulation end of the spectrum and less to the game play). I am really grateful that I can get such wonderful advice from the community, answering not only the questions that I did ask, but also those that i should have asked. Anyway, after carefully reading the comments in this thread and poking around a bit, it seems that Mansions of Madness is the way to go. Family game night sure beats watching TV!


Dave
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Joe Pilkus
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Great question!

Like Bern, I've played Arkham Horror more than 150 times and it remains my #1 game. While I hadn't read H.P. Lovecraft's work before my exposure to AH, it greatly informed my desire to play again and again, reading more and more of his work.

Cheers,
Joe
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Bern Harkins
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djohannsen wrote:
Again, thank you everyone - BGG always is such a great resource. As you (maybe or maybe not) can tell from my "avatar," my primary interest and experience is that of a board wargamer (where my taste runs much more to the simulation end of the spectrum and less to the game play). I am really grateful that I can get such wonderful advice from the community, answering not only the questions that I did ask, but also those that i should have asked. Anyway, after carefully reading the comments in this thread and poking around a bit, it seems that Mansions of Madness is the way to go. Family game night sure beats watching TV!


Dave


If you would, come back and let us know hwo she liked it

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Dave Johannsen

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Radulla wrote:

If you would, come back and let us know how she liked it


Will do, though her birthday is mid-November. From what I've read here, it seems like a sure-fire hit.



Dave
 
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C F
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Reading is not required, but I recommend it. Having read almost everything Lovecraft wrote, I would say that, "The Dunwich Horror" best represents what is going on in Arkham Horror. It's a very complete, fleshed out, short story. A good place to start reading.

If you don't like reading, watch the new Netflix series, "Stranger Things", and John Carpenter's, "The Thing". Very Lovecraftian.
 
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Matěj Jan Morávek
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If you know the mythos, you will start to enjoy the small details (hey, I have read about this guy, his skills do make sense;-)). But to play and enjoy the game, it is absolutely unneccessary to know the stories.

It actually brought me to read the original Lovecraft - as some mentioned, hte "best" stories are IMO Dunwich Horror (lot of characters that you would find in the game, most similar to the "feel" of the AH), Shadow over Innsmouth ("zombie survival-like" horror, very, very good), Color out of Space (that was the one that seriously creeped me out) and maybe The Case of Charles Dexter Ward (although it's a bit "wordy" and too long for contemporary reader).
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M.C.Crispy
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matejmoravek wrote:
If you know the mythos, you will start to enjoy the small details (hey, I have read about this guy, his skills do make sense;-)). But to play and enjoy the game, it is absolutely unneccessary to know the stories.
I completely agree with this: I have introduced AH to many people who have never read HPL and most have enjoyed it enough to come back for more games. For me, but not - I expect - everyone, recognising elements of Lore in the game add to my pleasure (but again, I've never read any Mythos other than HPL, so some areas of Lore pass me by).
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Dapperghast Meowregard
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metabulis wrote:

But don't be surprised if you find out later that your daughter is now a cultist and wants Cthulhu to take over the world...


Personally I'd be very surprised, Hastur has way more to offer. Worshipping him gets you a free How to Train Your Byakhee, and he has an appreciation for the fine arts (well, the theatre at least). Cthulhu meanwhile is just like "I MADE YOU ALL LOOK LIKE GROSS FISH PEOPLE YOU'RE WELCOME."

Or maybe Azathoth, at least he can commit.
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Bern Harkins
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Dapperghast wrote:
metabulis wrote:

But don't be surprised if you find out later that your daughter is now a cultist and wants Cthulhu to take over the world...


Personally I'd be very surprised, Hastur has way more to offer. Worshipping him gets you a free How to Train Your Byakhee, and he has an appreciation for the fine arts (well, the theatre at least). Cthulhu meanwhile is just like "I MADE YOU ALL LOOK LIKE GROSS FISH PEOPLE YOU'RE WELCOME."

Or maybe Azathoth, at least he can commit.


Believe you may be mixing Cthulhu up with Father Dagon. Dagon encourages the mingling of fish and men, wheras Cthulhu is all about the parties.

"That cult would never die till the stars came right again, and the secret priests would take great Cthulhu from His tomb to revive His subjects and resume His rule of earth. The time would be easy to know, for then mankind would have become as the Great Old Ones; free and wild and beyond good and evil, with laws and morals thrown aside and all men shouting and killing and revelling in joy. Then the liberated Old Ones would teach them new ways to shout and kill and revel and enjoy themselves, and all the earth would flame with a holocaust of ecstasy and freedom." CoC, HPL.

Now that's a pitch that can get freshmen to pledge!

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Dapperghast Meowregard
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Radulla wrote:


Believe you may be mixing Cthulhu up with Father Dagon. Dagon encourages the mingling of fish and men, wheras Cthulhu is all about the parties.



Possibly, I'm just going off the Arkham Horror abilities where Cthulhu gives his cultists the Innsmouth look but Hastur gives them free pet dragons.
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Karl Ruppelt
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I sold my copy of AH after several plays because it was all about getting the mechanics right. So I bought the Audible Necronimicon collection of HP's stories recently and guess what. I just repurchased AH because with the back story, I believe it will breathe new life into the game and marginalize the mechanics. Perhaps, I hope, make the mechanics thematic rather than choresome. And with Halloween upon us, what better time to delve back in.
 
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