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Arkham Horror: The Card Game» Forums » General

Subject: Do you think AHTCG is really deckbuilding lite? rss

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Jimmy Amir
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Hey everyone,

The question is in the title!

I have noticed a lot of people saying that this game is light on deckbuilding. I like to beg to differ.

Sure, you make your deck before you start the campaign and then change out cards using XP you gain from scenarios.
Coming from Magic and a bit of Netrunner + Warhammer 40k Conquest (RIP Warhammer cardgames from FFG, especially you, warhammer quest! </3)I find this game even harder to build decks for.

You can make a few changes after each scenario but the changes you make (or don't) have a very big impact on the game and your investigator's succesrate.

I'm curious as to what you folks think

*edit*: I forgot to mention that I am pretty impressed with deckbuilding options with 2 core sets. I really think this game is going places, especially when looking at the revealed cards from the deluxe and 2 mythos packs. Hype thrusters have reached immensely dangerous levels. I played the first scenario on tabletop simulator and waiting on the physical copies to play the other scenarios!
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Claude Hemberger
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I think/hope it will be what you want it to be, thanks to the adjustable difficulty.

Play it like a total RPG, don't meta-game, and just follow the story/campain as it is? Fine ! Your losses will be part of the story, and you'll only change a few card every time you gain xp.

Want to challenge yourself with the highest difficulty and want to min max as much as possible, and brag about your exploits online? Fine too ! Sure, the dice will annoy you a bit, but you'll try to minimize it's impact in your deckbuilding.

I'll probably try to maintain both approaches. Have a campaign deck I use to dive in head first into everything, and then for replayability challenge myself while tweaking my deck on every encounter.
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Donny Behne
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I've referred to it as lighter deck construction for a few reasons. The most obvious is the one you mention - build at the start and then subtlety tweak between scenarios as needed/permitted. One off games of LOTR you can gut the deck and start over or have to make major changes to win the next scenario. This is more about the longterm campaign play than it is building a deck one at a time.

It also lends itself to constructing with roleplaying decisions that don't exist in other games. If I'm playing a Guardian/Seeker, that's going to guide a lot of what goes into my deck and the choices are about character development and story - not about min/maxing to win. The fact that winning/losing a scenario are nebulous at best also helps.
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Emily Dickinson
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Light in this case does not mean easy or boring, it just means less. Less time spent building, less chasing after the perfect optimization, less obsession over the statistical impact of a given card, less need to play only the perfect cards and never any other cards.

Less is more.
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Alan Castree
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Was having a bit of a discussion (debate) about this yesterday, mainly in regards to buying a second core.

I bit he billet and preprdered a second core, however my friend thinks that's silly and unnecessary. From everything I hear I think a second core really opens up deckbuilding possibilities and you can build a more efficient deck at the start of your game. I'm into that. Building a deck and trying to come up with a good card frequency is part of the game for me.

However, people who aren't as into deck building don't really need to do that. And in that regards it's pretty light.

... also, since there's a max 2 of each card and a 30 card deck, theoretically shouldn't it be easier to build decks than ANR and LotR (those are the other games I play)?
 
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David Boeren
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A lot of non-LCG gamers get attracted to the co-op LCGs, and with Arkham Horror it's also got the RPG elements drawing in an ever wider group of people who aren't used to building decks.

Basically, they aren't into deck building themselves so they declare the game to be what they want it to be. However, I feel it is incorrect to see that the game *CAN* be played without doing serious deck building and then describe it as if there is no ability to do so. Yes, you can play a casual or default sort of deck (and possibly at an easier difficulty) but that doesn't mean that someone else cannot build a more intricate deck that will perform better and use it at potentially higher difficulties. The game allows both styles of play and it's misleading to say it "IS" just one way or the other. It does a good job of being whichever way you prefer to play it.

The other factor is that some people tend to confuse the core set for "the game". One core set isn't the game. Two core sets isn't the game. The full game is what will be released over years and years of expansions. With only 1-2 cores you cannot do as much customization as you will once more cards come out but we all know those cards are coming.
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Sal Paradice
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I'm hoping light is the case. LOTR went downhill fast for me after I started having to build for specific scenarios. I want to spend the little gaming time I get playing not prepping to get beat down. I appreciate the legit adjustable difficulty this game seems to offer and truly hope you don't have to have a Steward of Gondor or Light of Valinor to even have a shot at fun.
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Richard A. Edwards
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While I've been a big fan of treating this game as a light deckbuilder (mostly using decks from the core deck list which is about all you can build with one core set anyway), I have to agree with David that this game really can cater to both preferences.

While the campaign mode is my preferred play mode, for those who want to pump up the decks, including adding upgraded cards, and play against any scenario as a standalone experience on various difficulty levels, repeatedly, they can do that.

And has been mentioned, some might want to try each scenario to build the best all around deck for a given campaign and then play that.

So many ways to enjoy the game for everyone.

For those worried about being forced to reaptedly deck build, don't. Slap one together that sounds fun, set difficulty on easy, and buckle in for an amazing, thematic campaign ride!
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Kain
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I do think it's really deckbuilding lite.

It's what sold me on it.
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PACG does something similar. You gain new cards as you play the game, then remove cards from your deck to your deck limits after you're done with an adventure. I guess, with this in mind, AH and PACG differ from Magic and CCG's in that your deckbuilding reflects the evolution of your character, as he or she gains experience, and your character progresses from one adventure to another. With most CCG's (and Dominion), your deck does not represent a character, so, once your game or tournament is over, you have no reason to keep your deck around other than personal preference.

I would call it "deck evolution". Deckbuilding may be a misnomer because, afaik, you aren't building a deck from cards during the game (cf. Dominion), but modifying your deck between scenarios. Deck construction would be inaccurate, because most deck construction builds a deck from scratch. Deck evolution isn't quite right, since it could also be interpreted as a shared deck of cards that changes in the game during play.
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Tom Colddie
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Reading all the above, that is why I am afraid I will pass on the game despite my huge initial excitement about almost every aspect of it. I love the theme, I like what I read about the mechanics of the game, especially in comparison with LOTR, it is cool that it can be soloed or cooped with friends.

But the true fun for me lays is deck construction and the limitations of the game in that regard which is meant to play as a campaign primarily are too high. I just hope that FFG will eventually create a game that offers deeper deck construction and co-op/solo play with all the necessary modifications that AH brings over LOTR. A pity it likely will not be a Lovecraftian type of game.
 
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Jonatan Rueløkke
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So i came with a claim in another post that LotR is 70% deckbuilding and 30% playtactics. While AHLCG is the other way around.

Do note that i said 70/30 not 90/10.

The reason for that is that while i do think LotR is more heavy on the deckbuilding i still think that choices have to be made through the mission which might influence the final result.

Meanwhile i do think the most important aspect in AHLCG is how you play.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
As an example in the first map you can do things like place the fog cards just right, wait in the study and trigger it at the start of the player turn, summon the ghoul priest when you are ready to kill him, place monsters in the attic and cellar so they dont annoy you right away when fighting the ghoul priest and i could come with a further list of things to take into account.


I do however still believe that deckbuilding plays an important part of AHLCG, just not in the puzzle like way that it does in LotR. (Example) Playing Daisy in a 1/2 player game and not using Mind over Matter in your deck is in my opinion utter suicide. Meanwhile you might have more of an assigned bodyguard in a 3/4 player game.
 
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David Boeren
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Tvaru wrote:
But the true fun for me lays is deck construction and the limitations of the game in that regard which is meant to play as a campaign primarily are too high. I just hope that FFG will eventually create a game that offers deeper deck construction and co-op/solo play with all the necessary modifications that AH brings over LOTR.


They did. This is it. There are rules for playing every scenario as a one-off if you want to if you don't like the campaign concept, but I think you are selling the game short. There is plenty of deck construction if you want it, you just need to allow some time for more cards to release. Just adding the concept of inventory slots alone opens up a lot of extra pondering that doesn't exist in other games. Then you have so costs. Now you can simultaneously design your starting deck AND future decks. Is this card choice permanent or do I plan to replace it later? Can I afford to spend xp on level-0 swaps or do I need to make a compromise now to have more specific for later?
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Scott Hill
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Hard to say before actually having hands on cards, but it's looking, to me, like this game is very much as heavy on the deck construction front as you want it to be.

And that there is little to no deck building (in the Dominion/Legendary/Etc sense).
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Tom Colddie
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dboeren wrote:
They did. This is it. There are rules for playing every scenario as a one-off if you want to if you don't like the campaign concept, but I think you are selling the game short. There is plenty of deck construction if you want it, you just need to allow some time for more cards to release. Just adding the concept of inventory slots alone opens up a lot of extra pondering that doesn't exist in other games. Then you have so costs. Now you can simultaneously design your starting deck AND future decks. Is this card choice permanent or do I plan to replace it later? Can I afford to spend xp on level-0 swaps or do I need to make a compromise now to have more specific for later?


Thank you for your valid points. I really want to like this game, trust me. I am a big fan of LCGs, I love the theme, I like most of the core concepts. But I do not like the fact that campaign game (which is definitely the default mode of play) forces deck construction restrictions you described. They make sense theme-wise if all the episodes are taking place moment after another but I do not buy that you cannot call the cops or grab a box of ammo when you know you are headed to Dunwich by train tomorrow. Future planning of your deck does not excite me much, I would rather wipe the character clean and tackle the next scenario with a new idea rather than with a more experienced but worn-out version of the same concept. I could one-off the missions, sure, but I do not like that the game is balancing the worth of your cards with weakness cards instead of changing strength of monsters and problems you encounter. I would prefer it to be like in cRPGs, when the monsters level with you.

And sure, the game will get progressively more awesome but it is already cool. It is just not for me what pains me a lot, especially since that means that I will not have any LCG to collect until L5r comes out.
 
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David Boeren
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Tvaru wrote:
And sure, the game will get progressively more awesome but it is already cool. It is just not for me what pains me a lot, especially since that means that I will not have any LCG to collect until L5r comes out.


I definitely feel your pain. I was a Call of Cthulhu LCG player for years until they pulled the plug on that game and many of us from that community have never been able to find a good enough replacement card game to fill the gap, and we've tried all of them. Doomtown is ending, so is Conquest. It's not a good time to be a card gamer.

I have great hopes for Arkham Horror though, perhaps what you might want to do is give it some time and then revisit it maybe when the second deluxe box comes out in next fall and then you'll be better able to tell whether it's something you'd like or not.

Of course, by that time I expect the new L5R to be out too (probably a Gencon 2017 release), but there's no guarantee that you'll find it to your taste. I have some things I liked about L5R Ivory Edition but other parts of the game I find frustrating, clunky, or both. It's really hard to guess how much FFG will change because they have to think about satisfying both their own LCG fans and all the old L5R fans too.

To me, the deck modifications between scenarios rings true to the RPG feel of the game. When I'm playing a CRPG I select my skills on the skill tree with the future skills I want to unlock in mind, I see this as fairly similar to what I'm doing with Arkham Horror. Or maybe I shift my build based on some lucky equipment drop I earn - which could be paralleled by getting to add some special card I got in a scenario to my deck.

The way I expect to play is to build a deck for an investigator, run it through the campaign, then build a new one. I may allow myself some leeway to reboot a campaign after the first scenario if a deck just doesn't seem to work with a brand new investigator (i.e. - I'm learning them for the first time) or I misread a card that makes my intended strategy not work. If I was designing a new deck for a competitive LCG I'd probably be running it for at least 8 games too in order to tune that deck and learn to pilot it well. In a sense, you can view earning XP and buying cards as not that different from the usual tuning process of a new competitive LCG deck but as always feelings are subjective to different people.
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Richard
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Scorpion0x17 wrote:
Hard to say before actually having hands on cards, but it's looking, to me, like this game is very much as heavy on the deck construction front as you want it to be.

And that there is little to no deck building (in the Dominion/Legendary/Etc sense).


Side-note but I really wish the community would settle on the above names, seeing as they are completely different mechanisms.

To answer the OP, I am hoping this game requires less deck construction than most other games, especially LotR LCG. I am not a big fan of customizing decks outside of game play, especially not for nearly every scenario. For those that love it, they have LotR, so I'm excited to see if they can make a nice LCG for those of us that would rather create a deck once and then play through many campaigns and adventure scenarios.
 
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Lordson Yen
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I'm getting into LOTR LCG, due to cheap 2nd hand deal, and years of content, solo play and no friends to play with

I also want to introduce to my mom, but LOTR may be too complex for a non gamer.

I hope AH lcg will be the lighter version of it and can intro to mom.

Fingers crossed!
 
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Scott Dockery
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Raiden00 wrote:
I hope AH lcg will be the lighter version of it and can intro to mom.

Fingers crossed!


I'd say it is. The rulebook definitely benefits from LotR's years of errata; every preposition is defined precisely, and player response windows (for Fast and Free Triggered abilities, which are this game's equivalent of LotR's Actions) are simple enough to memorize. There are also significantly fewer moving parts to keep track of: There's a single Agenda deck for the entire game (rather than one Threat dial for each player); all the player-initiated actions are concentrated in the Investigation phase, rather than being split up among multiple phases (Planning, Quest, and Combat); and you only control a single investigator as opposed to three heroes and multiple allies (Allies in AH are more like pieces of equipment that also double as ablative armor).

Everything has been streamlined thanks to the Chaos Bag. LotR can be pretty daunting to newcomers because the different phases can feel like separate minigames all strung together (it all boils down to how best to spend your limited actions, of course, but bidding questers feels different from allocating attackers and defenders). In AHLCG, you resolve just about everything with a Chaos Bag pull. Whether you're searching for clues, battling cultists, swimming through a swamp, or trying to convince a fanatical ghoul-hunter to work with you for the time being, it's all the same mechanic. You can also bet that future expansions won't need to resort to LotR's special rules for hiding or sailing or catching Gollum or what have you; those, too, can be covered in the skill system.

Next, there's the deck building (or deck construction, I suppose, but the rulebook calls it "building"). First off, there's no more resource matching. You have only one pool of resources, and it can pay for any card in your deck. Since every Investigator is "multi-sphere" to some extent, that makes things much simpler. Second, your deck is meant to take you through an entire campaign, with small adjustments between scenarios. That means the scenarios themselves are designed to be beatable with the same deck. Obviously, some scenarios will punish certain decks harder than others, and you may well build your deck fully expecting to concede certain scenarios for the greater good (particularly on harder difficulties), but you probably won't see scenarios that require highly specialized decks to win.

Finally, there's quest control. It's an element of LotR that's absolutely crucial. If you quest too hard, you summon the boss monster, and then you die. Now, LotR does offer plenty of cards that help you in that area (whether by adjusting your questing power after staging or diverting your progress to side quests or helping you survive the threat hit for under-questing), but it's still a rather unintuitive mechanic that can catch newbies off-guard. In AHLCG, you have control over the Act deck. By default, it only advances when you have the necessary clues and choose to spend them; even the Act cards that advance on their own are tied to things that are more or less under the Investigators' control (like defeating monsters or entering a certain Location). You're motivated to keep moving forward by the steadily-advancing Agenda deck, which is frankly a far better timer than the Threat dials.

tl;dr, Arkham Horror is definitely easier to understand than LotR. I'm not saying it's strictly better (while it benefits from the designer's experience with its predecessor, the two are different games with their own particular charms), nor that it's easier to win, but it does have a much shallower learning curve.
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Lordson Yen
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rsdockery wrote:
Raiden00 wrote:
I hope AH lcg will be the lighter version of it and can intro to mom.

Fingers crossed!


I'd say it is. The rulebook definitely benefits from LotR's years of errata; every preposition is defined precisely, and player response windows (for Fast and Free Triggered abilities, which are this game's equivalent of LotR's Actions) are simple enough to memorize. There are also significantly fewer moving parts to keep track of: There's a single Agenda deck for the entire game (rather than one Threat dial for each player); all the player-initiated actions are concentrated in the Investigation phase, rather than being split up among multiple phases (Planning, Quest, and Combat); and you only control a single investigator as opposed to three heroes and multiple allies (Allies in AH are more like pieces of equipment that also double as ablative armor).

Everything has been streamlined thanks to the Chaos Bag. LotR can be pretty daunting to newcomers because the different phases can feel like separate minigames all strung together (it all boils down to how best to spend your limited actions, of course, but bidding questers feels different from allocating attackers and defenders). In AHLCG, you resolve just about everything with a Chaos Bag pull. Whether you're searching for clues, battling cultists, swimming through a swamp, or trying to convince a fanatical ghoul-hunter to work with you for the time being, it's all the same mechanic. You can also bet that future expansions won't need to resort to LotR's special rules for hiding or sailing or catching Gollum or what have you; those, too, can be covered in the skill system.

Next, there's the deck building (or deck construction, I suppose, but the rulebook calls it "building"). First off, there's no more resource matching. You have only one pool of resources, and it can pay for any card in your deck. Since every Investigator is "multi-sphere" to some extent, that makes things much simpler. Second, your deck is meant to take you through an entire campaign, with small adjustments between scenarios. That means the scenarios themselves are designed to be beatable with the same deck. Obviously, some scenarios will punish certain decks harder than others, and you may well build your deck fully expecting to concede certain scenarios for the greater good (particularly on harder difficulties), but you probably won't see scenarios that require highly specialized decks to win.

Finally, there's quest control. It's an element of LotR that's absolutely crucial. If you quest too hard, you summon the boss monster, and then you die. Now, LotR does offer plenty of cards that help you in that area (whether by adjusting your questing power after staging or diverting your progress to side quests or helping you survive the threat hit for under-questing), but it's still a rather unintuitive mechanic that can catch newbies off-guard. In AHLCG, you have control over the Act deck. By default, it only advances when you have the necessary clues and choose to spend them; even the Act cards that advance on their own are tied to things that are more or less under the Investigators' control (like defeating monsters or entering a certain Location). You're motivated to keep moving forward by the steadily-advancing Agenda deck, which is frankly a far better timer than the Threat dials.

tl;dr, Arkham Horror is definitely easier to understand than LotR. I'm not saying it's strictly better (while it benefits from the designer's experience with its predecessor, the two are different games with their own particular charms), nor that it's easier to win, but it does have a much shallower learning curve.


Very insightful! Thanks!
I am happy it's a cooperative game, so no pressure to keep up to date with the packs, definitely will try it out
 
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