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Subject: Azathoth doesn't destroy the world! 11/15/2013 rss

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Brad Venable
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Two investigators: Mark Harrigan (lead) & Lola Hayes
Starting expedition: Amazon
Great Old One: Azathoth

So straightforward run, actually very good rolling all around. I played Harrigan, and my wife played Hayes. Her starting strategy was to travel to and have encounters in locations that would boost her abilities, and this bring Hayes' special action into play more (which is to swap around ability score improvements). My strategy was to kill monsters, which Harrigan is a beast at. Good draw on the opening gate and clue spawn, which were very close to me in turn one. We were able to solve mystery #1 in turn one, which was unheard of to this point. Extremely good draw, mystery-wise, and fortunate to have the clue spawn so close.

I decided to clear what I could in northern Europe, and got a clue in the Arctic Ocean, and fulfilled the requirements of the mystery, leaving a monster and gate in London for next turn. Hayes went from Tokyo to San Francisco to have an ability boost encounter with success, and that's when the fur started to fly.

First mythos phase, we pull a rumor that says we cannot complete expedition encounters until the rumor is solved (which is a test observation to pass, then spend clue tokens relative to the number of players to solve), and that on every reckoning, we are to remove the current expedition's cards from the encounter deck, then return them from the box. AND if there are no cards remaining in the expedition encounter deck, investigators lose. So wow. We really didn't catch on to this fact until turn two when we pulled a reckoning effect during mythos phase, and then the realization set in that we had an extremely limited number of turns to solve the rumor. This caused the expedition to move to the Pyramids.

So bad news, the rumor sucks and is like a mini doom track, good news, one turn, one mystery down. One way or another, this is probably going to be a fast game.

With the second mystery, we realized that we needed clue tokens and that we needed to close gates. We also needed to solve this rumor, as every time the cards for an expedition were removed from the deck due to the reckoning effect, the active expedition moved. So, we decided to leave me in London trying to spawn clues (which had a chance to happen with London encounters), and Hayes having the best score in observation (and the ability to bump up her score) would head towards the Himalayas, which we hoped is where the active expedition would end up, in order to solve the rumor. Harrigan was able to acquire clue tokens of his own, while spawning some over the next three turns. On turn two, however, he was able to clear the monster spawned from the initial gate, but left it open due to the conditions of the second mystery needing to close gates that matched the symbol on the current omen track. The mythos phase had a reckoning again, and the next active expedition was Tunguska, not the Himalayas, as we had hoped. More gates and monsters spawned, and Harrigan received a curse for being the lead investigator.

Turn three saw the omen track match the gate in London, so Harrigan, curse and all, would attempt to close it, and this meet the second mystery's requirements. Hayes continued her globetrotting to the Far East, going for locations that would either boost her ability scores, or pick up clues if they spawned nearby, which she did in turn two. Harrigan succeeded to make it to part two of the other world encounter, but failed to succeed to close the gate. Mythos had the omen track move, and another reckoning, which not only moved the active investigation to Antarctica, much to the curses of both Hayes and Harrigan, but a monster reckoning spawned an epic monster. A new gate spawned in Arkham, and a monster with it, and turn three was over.

Turn four saw the open gate in London left to shimmer in the fog, as Harrigan, once again, had an encounter with the hopes of spawning more clues, which he did, in Sydney. There was debate on whether Hayes should move to Buenos Aires or not, since that was one of only two locations that could reach Antarctica. Since a new clue had sprung up in Sydney, Hayes went in that direction, stopping in Calcutta in the hopes that a reckoning phase would shift the expedition to the Himalayas. Mythos was kind to them, as the reckoning only shifted monsters in the Western Hemisphere, but more importantly, the expedition did indeed move to the Himalayas, near Hayes' position. This reckoning also allowed Harrigan to rid himself of the curse that had been plaguing him for two turns. The omen track moved back into a favorable position for next turn, as well.

Turn five was the turning of the tide for the forces of good. Harrigan disappeared through the London gate into Yuggoth, and with the odds in his favor after the curse lifted, was able to complete both phases of the encounter beyond the veil, and meeting the requirements for mystery #2. Hayes braved the altitude and snow of the Himalayas in order to pass the proper observation test to meet the requirements of the rumor that had been hanging over the collective heads of the investigators since the beginning of the game. Mythos moved the omen track (and the Doom track), and a monster surge send Tokyo into undead central, as well as Arkham, to nobody's surprise. A clue also spawned in Tokyo, and with the end of the mythos phase, mystery #2 (and the rumor) were solved.

Turn six brought a new mystery that required the investigators to each complete research encounters and spend clues to solve. Fortunately, Harrigan is in London, the perfect place to attempt encounters that may spawn further clues. Hayes, fresh off her snowy trip to the foothills of Mt. Everest, started the long to Sydney, where a clue token was waiting for her. She had another encounter in Calcutta, which allowed her an ally as a reward. Harrigan was able to complete a London encounter that allowed him to spawn a clue in a location of his choice, which, of course, he spawned in London for turn seven. Mythos brought another omen track movement, a monster surge, and a clue popped up in the now-overrun Arkham.

Turn seven allowed Hayes to reach Sydney, and with a masterful passing of an influence test, acquired the clue token in her research encounter, fulfilling half of the requirements of mystery #3. Harrigan, ever the tourist, stayed in London to attempt a research encounter of his own. His first test failed, but with two clues in reserve, he spent them both to reroll and succeed, placing the other required clue on mystery #3. The mythos phase was mostly harmless, moving the omen track and spawning a new gate, but it was too late. Evil had been thwarted! Mystery #3 was solved and the Idiot God stayed on a different plane of existence.

Play time was 70 minutes, with an average of 1:40 for three plays this week in preparation of the preview event this weekend.

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William Gaskill
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Nice report-can't wait till my CSI pre-order gets here.
(but of course I must shake )

OD
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Oleg volobujev
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Very interesting thank you. Did you play AH before? And if you did now you compare AH and EH?
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Howard

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Nice work, Brad. What's the win count on those three plays? Did you find winning easy or challenging? How's it play with 2 and how to you think it would play with more?
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8-bit Matt
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Thanks for the write-up! What's your overall impression of the game?
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Jesse G
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Great preview review!

Any chance you have a solo play impression?

And i always want to know quality, since FFG does great work and most is of high quality, is this still the case with EH?
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M.C.Crispy
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Orange_Chef wrote:
Great preview review!

Any chance you have a solo play impression?

And i always want to know quality, since FFG does great work and most is of high quality, is this still the case with EH?
solo is brutal with a single Investigator, the rules recommend using two. It's still brutal.

My beta copy was up to standard, I have no reason to expect that the production release will be any different.
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Brian P Lewis
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Have played 3 games of this so far all against azathoth , 2 loses and finally a win, but we were really lucky with rolls, asset acquiring and the second mystery appeared one space away from two investigators, who both had enough clues to complete it the very next turn.

This is a cool game and the other baddies look a lot tougher.
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Brad Venable
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Glaurung2 wrote:
Very interesting thank you. Did you play AH before? And if you did now you compare AH and EH?


I have played AH before. I own it and all the expansions. As for a comparison, I can tell you that the entire experience is streamlined, yet on a much larger scale, which is funny to think of that way (as EH is a bigger game in scope, if not in practice), but it's true. EH takes more of a macro approach to the experience of investigating horrible things that go bump in the night. There's some really great flavor text, I think better than many of the encounters in AH and the expansions.

Combat is similar, the encounter mechanism is similar at its lowest common denominator, and of course, the acquisition of all-important clues. But there are enough tweaks to make the game a force unto itself.

The travel is really easy, and the motivation of your action choices will be driven by the current mystery. The mythos cards will help and hurt you, and making deals with eldritch horrors (see what I did there?) are always a possibility.

There's still a doom track, but in three games, we never actually triggered Azathoth's coming. We ran out of mythos cards the first time, the second, I got an 'investigators lose' scenario, and the third, we won.

The condition cards and the way that EH handles character defeat is just great. This shows that what happens from encounter to encounter really means something, and has an effect on your future in the game for your chosen investigator, no matter how long or short that may be. And when that is more short than long, you can have an encounter where that investigator ended up, with a chance to pick up the trail of the mystery where they left off. Call it your Goonies to their Chester Copperpot.

In our three games, our Doom track wasn't the thing to worry about. it was the rumors that the mythos deck threw us. A word to the wise: don't ignore them. At least understand their effect before traipsing off into the Heart of Africa.

Pumpkinhead76 wrote:
Nice work, Brad. What's the win count on those three plays? Did you find winning easy or challenging? How's it play with 2 and how to you think it would play with more?


Won one out of three. The first was our learning game, and I'm proud to say that we did not get anything wrong, from a rules standpoint. The second game I did solo, and I did not clear out a rumor before I realized how bad it was, and it was an insta-loss. Third play, you see how it went above. It was challenging and maddening, even when things were going right, because the combination of our choices and entropy. It played great with two, and we'll see how well the challenge scales at our store event tomorrow. My opinion is that it will play great all the way up to eight. Down time will, of course, be a concern, but I think it will still play in about 1.5 to 2 hours after a couple of plays.

8bit Geezer wrote:
Thanks for the write-up! What's your overall impression of the game?


Overall, I think that the game captures the essence of AH, but with a more streamlined rule and mechanic set, and really brings the struggle to a global scale. I love the fact that there is a different mythos deck assembled for each GOO, and the decks that are baddie-specific really drive home the point that you're investigating the GOO in question.

The other world and expedition encounters seem like someone that was on the Elder Sign: Omens (mobile game) team made a passing comment about the multi-level adventures against Cthulhu, Ithaqua, and Nyarlathotep, and some smart person said. 'eureka!' And BAM, we have multi-step encounters that are *not* easy.

I was asked the question, "does EH fire AH," and I have to say no. There will always be a place at the table for AH, and I think that the stories of the Lovecraftian mythos are alive in AH simply because that's where the stories originate. EH simply takes the microcosm of Arkham, and takes it to a global scale, but with streamlined mechanics.

Love this game.

Orange_Chef wrote:
Great preview review!

Any chance you have a solo play impression?

And i always want to know quality, since FFG does great work and most is of high quality, is this still the case with EH?


My solo play impression is that it kicked my arse up one side and down the other. I see a lot of people playing this with two investigators solo. I'm not saying that it's impossible to win. I am going to say that it smoked me because there simply wasn't enough of me to go around.

As for game quality, I can tell you that the board is gorgeous, the new art is very nice, and the whole game feels very retro-chic. Lots of attention to detail, and everything feels very period. The tokens are nice and thick, and there doesn't seem to be any wasted space. I think that there's just the right amount of stuff in the box that you shouldn't be too worried about games that go too similarly.

Now one thing, though. I've seen people bitch about the lack of variety especially when it comes to the number of GOOs and all, but I find that to be shortsighted and mismanaging of one's expectations. The fact is, in three games, not one played the same way. Sure, there could be a feew more encounter cards, But I have not seen a repeat encounter in three games. There was always tension and dread, and extreme elation at successes, as if we were feeling a touch of the anxiety and the surge of adrenaline when we overcame terrible odds to hold out hope for one turn more. And that's the thing I think the game gets best. The odds are stacked against you in such a way that successes happen, they happen more as a result of player choices and strategy...just enough to lift your hopes long enough to destroy you next turn. And that mercurial nature is what I find just awesome.

This game is welcome on my table any time.

P.S. I can totally see how they might approach expansions, at least at first.
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Brad Venable
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OK, a quick follow-up about expansions but first, one question that kept percolating in my brain, and that was: "could they do a book of encounters, a la Agents of SMERSH?"

Quick answer, yes, they could, and no, they won't. Maybe add some encounter cards, but no full-blown matrix-cross-reference-1500-separate-encounters-wire-bound-book.

Which brings me to the expansions. And yes, I believe there will be several. I would say that small boxes a la AH would be a great place to start, with say, three or four new GOOs (and their mystery, research encounter, and special encounter decks), three or four new (old) investigators, and maybe a dozen or so new encounter cards for the Americas, Europe, Australiasia, and the black generic encounter cards. That will change nothing mechanically (except the GOO specific parts), and extend the game almost double.

Down the road, I can also see a large box expansion a la Miskatonic Horror, where it essentially becomes an expansion-expansion, where new mysteries and encounters are added to all existing GOOs, and maybe an improved personal story mystery or two for each investigator a la Innsmouth Horror.

This game is super tight, and any expanding of the game, I believe the best approach is modular or compartmentalized. That way, there's no game-changing (this not a positive moniker) mechanics introduced, unless they can apply to each GOO or investigator in an individual manner, without the bloat that was brought on by each expansion with AH.

I'd be excited to drop $20-25 on a new expansion if that's how they were structured.

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M.C.Crispy
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Operadragon wrote:
Now one thing, though. I've seen people bitch about the lack of variety especially when it comes to the number of GOOs and all, but I find that to be shortsighted and mismanaging of one's expectations. The fact is, in three games, not one played the same way. Sure, there could be a feew more encounter cards, But I have not seen a repeat encounter in three games.
I don't know whether you would consider me to be one of those who are "bitching" about lack of variety, but in the fifteen or so games that I've played I've certainly become familiar with the OW Encounter deck and the Encounter decks for the main Cities. While my games haven't played out identically (obviously) each game with a given AO plays out in a similar fashion. This is actually a good thing, because it means that the AO is truly affecting Theme (unlike in Arkham Horror where many have limited impact). However, it often comes down to which three Mysteries are in play and in what sequence they come out (sure, nPr gives 24 permutations, but they aren't all radically different).

My impression is that of a really good game with sufficient content included to make an enjoyable base game with enough replayability for the price point and with enough scope for expansions to sustain a business line for the publisher and maintain interest for the players. I think people will want expansions, but I absolutely do not believe that the game needs expansions to be a "complete" or functional game. Personally I am planning another cycle of EH games for December once my production copy arrives, so I'm not "done" yet at $3 per play and falling (probably < $1 per play hour).
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Brad Venable
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Crispy, I don't know you and was referencing people that I know that have never played the game, yet find fault with it. I simply was responding to the loud naysayers that seem to exist to speak Sophistically.
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