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Subject: In Which the Author Waxes Poetic on the Terror Track rss

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Geoff Dunbar
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The Doctor and I convened for another battle against the forces of evil last night. In this episode our heroes battle the madness of Hastur, the King in Yellow, with the Doctor taking on the part of Jenny Barnes, while I assumed my somewhat more feminine alter-ego of Amanda Sharpe.

Initially we planned to pursue the strategy of meeting Hastur mano-a-mano in combat. This has proven a tad difficult to pull off in past games, but I maintain that the strategy is sound; if you close gates (but don't seal them) relatively quickly, the Doom track should move along nicely without the Terror track advancing much. Since Hastur's Combat rating equals the Terror level, if you can get the Doom track to close out pretty quickly, he can be a patsy in battle. Plus with all the Gate trophies you will build up, you should be able to stock up on friendly allies, become the Deputy of Arkham, and so forth.

Sadly, in this game, we did not get a chance to try the strategy out; the Doctor went shopping (Jenny Barnes loves to shop!), and drew an early Elder Sign. She decreed that we were going to pursue the sealing strategy after all, and when the Doctor decrees, the wise quickly get themselves in line. Given Hastur's special power of "8-Clue tokens to seal a Gate", we were in for a long game.

And this proved to be true. This game was a long, drawn out war of attrition between us and the diabolical Hastur. To add to the ardor of our struggle, we drew just about every Rumor card possible from the Mythos deck. We satisfied the "victory" condition of most of the Rumor cards, though I remember that we let the Southside Strangler take all of our allies. The cost of the Southside Strangler (lose one maximum Sanity or Stamina for each character) was deemed to be less than the price of 5 Clue tokens to clear the Rumor, keeping in mind that we were absolutely desperate for Clue tokens at all points of the game. I'll put it this way; had one of our Clue tokens dropped into a soiled toilet in mid-game, and somehow we had both become hog-tied, the odds are 50-50 as to whether we would have gone into the dirty toilet face first to rescue the Clue token. Such are the dilemmas one faces when playing Arkham Horror. To make a long digression short, we had lots of Rumor cards in the game, which made things very challenging and slowed our progress considerably.

In the end-game, the Terror level went to 10, but we managed to dodge the hordes of monsters to assembly the final collection of Clue tokens and Seal the last two Gates. There were a couple of turns where we would have lost the game had the wrong Mythos card come up, due to the "8 Gates and you're out" rule; we did mitigate this somewhat by having Amanda Sharpe stand in one of two Gate-possible locations, but it turned out not to matter. So, a hard fought and satisfying victory was ours.

And this brings me to my point, vignette perhaps, on this night's game. The Terror level rules, as published in the original rules as well as amended in the FAQs, leaves me unsatisfied. For your edification:
* Original rules. When the Terror Track goes to 10, the Monster limit is abolished, and after a number of turns the board is completely overrun with monsters. This rule is good in that you can snatch victory in a very satisfying way against hordes of monsters, such as if you just have a gate or two to Seal when the Terror track goes to 10. But, this rule is bad in that the game can get deadlocked, where the players can't really make progress due to the monsters in the streets, but the Doom track can't advance due to a board already full of Gates or Elder Tokens. I should note that there are Mythos cards that slightly mitigate these troubles, but they come up so rarely that you could extend the game literally by hours if you insisted on playing things out.
* FAQ 1.0. They amended the above rule to add the rule that if you run out of monsters in the monster cup, the Great Old One (GOO) immediately awakens. This slightly mitigates the "streets completely full" problem, but it still takes _forever_ to get to that point.
* FAQ 1.1. In this edition they completely revamped the rule; now when the Terror Track goes to 10, the Monster limit doubles, but if the Monster limit is reached, the GOO immediately awakens. For us, we usually play a two player game, and it means that 10 Monsters on the board mean the GOO awakens; this can happen within one turn of the Terror Track going to 10, and will most likely just be a few turns. So, the effect is almost the same as causing the GOO to awaken when the Terror level goes to 10. This nicely solves the deadlock problem, but takes away the potential for the "victory against all odds", which I am partial to, having experienced it a couple of times.

So, our proposed house rule, used effectively in this game, is that when the Terror Track goes to 10, the Monster limit doubles. Monsters still go to the Outskirts, but if the Outskirts fills (same limit as normal), add a Doom token to the Doom track, emptying the Outskirts as per normal.

I argue for this rule:
* It doesn't add significant complexity to the game.
* It leaves the feeling of the town getting overrun when the Terror Track goes to 10, as double the normal number of Monsters is significant.
* It ends the deadlock problem, as if the investigators simply aren't making progress, the Doom track will continue to move.
* It still allows the always-exciting "win with the Terror Track at 10" scenario.

Anyways, one of the great things about Arkham Horror is that, being cooperative, you can play with any house rules you damn well please, so in one sense it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks of my house rule. But I thought I'd document it here, in the off case that there is some other gaming group with similar attitudes to mine, who can now play with my patented (but open source) Terror Track House Rule (TM).
 
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Jonathon Wong
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gdunbar wrote:
For us, we usually play a two player game, and it means that 10 Monsters on the board mean the GOO awakens; this can happen within one turn of the Terror Track going to 10, and will most likely just be a few turns. So, the effect is almost the same as causing the GOO to awaken when the Terror level goes to 10. This nicely solves the deadlock problem, but takes away the potential for the "victory against all odds", which I am partial to, having experienced it a couple of times.


First, we realize the AH is nearly impossible for 1 player, heroic for 2-3, normal for 4-6, and pointlessly easy for 7-8.

In our gaming group (with TOO many boardgame choices), not everybody wants to play AH all the time. So, at times, games had to be played by 2, or even 1 (solitaire), player.

Before we mangled the original rules, solitaire games were impossible, and 2-player games were only good if you just got a promotion at work or similar "pick-me-ups" to warrant an experience at "losing badly at AH".

So, we created a set of houserules, that might do away with your need to fiddle with the Terror track rules. We were able to effectively create consistent difficulty for 1 through 8 players. Before this, 8-player games were "chit-chat sessions", because everybody knows we just can't lose. With the houserules, 8-player games are as furious as 1-player games.

If you're interested in 2-player games, you might want a "deeper fix" (as some forum folks put it) for AH.

I wonder if the new expansion (Dunwich?) with an all-new board/town will include the proper "deep fix" to create CONSISTENT difficulty for 1 through 8 players.

But in any case, you're right. We can make our own rules. But then again, we'd have to contend with the new expansions potentially throwing our houserules off balance.

I wish the AH authors could look into the gameplay aspect of AH for future expansions.
 
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Tristan Hall
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Quote:
So, our proposed house rule, used effectively in this game, is that when the Terror Track goes to 10, the Monster limit doubles. Monsters still go to the Outskirts, but if the Outskirts fills (same limit as normal), add a Doom token to the Doom track, emptying the Outskirts as per normal.



Ingenious: simple, yet effective. This is a problem we’ve suffered with too and I think I’ll be putting this house rule into effect in our very next game, cheers, Geoff!
 
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Geoff Dunbar
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ninjadorg wrote:
Quote:
So, our proposed house rule, used effectively in this game, is that when the Terror Track goes to 10, the Monster limit doubles. Monsters still go to the Outskirts, but if the Outskirts fills (same limit as normal), add a Doom token to the Doom track, emptying the Outskirts as per normal.



Ingenious: simple, yet effective. This is a problem we’ve suffered with too and I think I’ll be putting this house rule into effect in our very next game, cheers, Geoff!


We've used this rule a couple of more times, with good results. It's still working pretty well for us. Post your impressions if you try it out...

Thanks,
Geoff
 
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Jonathon Wong
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ninjadorg wrote:
Quote:
So, our proposed house rule, used effectively in this game, is that when the Terror Track goes to 10, the Monster limit doubles. Monsters still go to the Outskirts, but if the Outskirts fills (same limit as normal), add a Doom token to the Doom track, emptying the Outskirts as per normal.
Ingenious: simple, yet effective. This is a problem we’ve suffered with too and I think I’ll be putting this house rule into effect in our very next game, cheers, Geoff!

Yes, this is interesting. Rather than simply waking the GOO prematurely (which according to our houserule means a 95% chance of defeat, we beefed up all GOOs), this method will still allow normal gameplay to progress until the Doom track is filled up.

After all, the Doom track is what should awaken the GOO, not some bunch of 10 or so monsters busy terrorizing Arkham. But this method clashes somewhat with our theme in our houserules, particularly with the final FAQ section. Help us resolve that? Thanks! Our houserules are at http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/858939 .
 
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