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Subject: "Don't worry guys, this game is nowhere near as long as Arkham Horror..." rss

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Rafael Maia
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Four and a half hours later, I was vigorously apologizing to my group, as we had only finished the first mystery and decided to cleaning up an unfinished game so we could at least get some sleep before going to work the next day...

So I got this a couple of months ago, even though (and maybe because) I had Arkham Horror in my relatively small collection. The main reason was that it seemed like a streamlined, shorter game that would scratch the same itch and would hit the table more often then its older brother. I played it twice as a 2-player game with my girlfriend and once 3-player, and all games had a duration of between one and two hours. Even the 3p game, which was also the first time all 3 of us were playing, didn't go much over 2 hours. The games weren't that short because we were getting quickly crushed either, they were all pretty evenly matched up to the last turn (1/3 wins so far).

After these experiences, I reluctantly brought it to my gaming night. Most of my group aren't heavy gamers, but they aren't non-gamers either. However, one of them had a horrible experience with a dreadfully long AH game and hated it, which is why I opened teaching the game with the sentence on the thread subject. It was going to be a 5-player game, but I was confident it couldn't take that much longer than my previous experiences.

After 4 and a half hours, I was walking home trying to figure out what went wrong, and why the hell did that game take so long. I figured it was because of some weird combination of the AOO (Azathoth) and an odd sequence of Mythos cards we drew in sequence that caused us to lose clue tokens just as we were ready to advance with the mystery. Maybe if we had fought a different AOO, things would have moved quicker. Maybe we had chosen a suboptimal group. Maybe, maybe...

However, later on I realized that couldn't be it - after all, the game does have multiple endgame timers! Sure, Azathoth starts the doom track at 15, which was higher than the other AOO we had played before, but then there's also the Mythos deck. If the game was too challenging and we were simply being unable to solve the mysteries on time, the Mythos deck would have run out on us. It didn't. I decided to go back and look at how many Mythos cards we had gone through (at some point we discussed leaving the game set up and coming back to finish it in a couple of days, so I had stored the used cards in a different orientation).

We had played a total of 9 turns. This means we were only about halfway through the Mythos deck. It also means we were taking around 30 minutes to play a full turn, which didn't seem unreasonable to me in a 5 player game, considering discussion of what to do, reading the cards, and so on... Still, this means that if we had played the game until the Mythos deck ran out, I can extrapolate that the entire game would take around 8 hours!

So, before breaking this one out to my group again (if they ever give it another chance...) I was wondering: did we just have some chronic case of AP? How long do your turns take, with the equivalent number of players? I'm sure that people who have played this game a gazillion times can rush through the motions pretty quick, but I don't think this was driven solely by inexperience. Everyone picked up the mechanics and the sequence of actions really quickly (quite impressive, to be honest). What is the average, or reasonable, turn time for a game with that many players? Does it scale well with more players and we just had an unusual bad experience?

Thanks!

Epilogue: My girlfriend and I were so frustrated when we got back home that we set up a game for 2 against Azathoth to see if the baddie was the reason for the long game. We got devoured while solving the third mystery... just under two hours.
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rmaia wrote:
Four and a half hours later, I was vigorously apologizing to my group, as we had only finished the first mystery and decided to cleaning up an unfinished game so we could at least get some sleep before going to work the next day...

So I got this a couple of months ago, even though (and maybe because) I had Arkham Horror in my relatively small collection. The main reason was that it seemed like a streamlined, shorter game that would scratch the same itch and would hit the table more often then its older brother. I played it twice as a 2-player game with my girlfriend and once 3-player, and all games had a duration of between one and two hours. Even the 3p game, which was also the first time all 3 of us were playing, didn't go much over 2 hours. The games weren't that short because we were getting quickly crushed either, they were all pretty evenly matched up to the last turn (1/3 wins so far).

After these experiences, I reluctantly brought it to my gaming night. Most of my group aren't heavy gamers, but they aren't non-gamers either. However, one of them had a horrible experience with a dreadfully long AH game and hated it, which is why I opened teaching the game with the sentence on the thread subject. It was going to be a 5-player game, but I was confident it couldn't take that much longer than my previous experiences.

After 4 and a half hours, I was walking home trying to figure out what went wrong, and why the hell did that game take so long. I figured it was because of some weird combination of the AOO (Azathoth) and an odd sequence of Mythos cards we drew in sequence that caused us to lose clue tokens just as we were ready to advance with the mystery. Maybe if we had fought a different AOO, things would have moved quicker. Maybe we had chosen a suboptimal group. Maybe, maybe...

However, later on I realized that couldn't be it - after all, the game does have multiple endgame timers! Sure, Azathoth starts the doom track at 15, which was higher than the other AOO we had played before, but then there's also the Mythos deck. If the game was too challenging and we were simply being unable to solve the mysteries on time, the Mythos deck would have run out on us. It didn't. I decided to go back and look at how many Mythos cards we had gone through (at some point we discussed leaving the game set up and coming back to finish it in a couple of days, so I had stored the used cards in a different orientation).

We had played a total of 9 turns. This means we were only about halfway through the Mythos deck. It also means we were taking around 30 minutes to play a full turn, which didn't seem unreasonable to me in a 5 player game, considering discussion of what to do, reading the cards, and so on... Still, this means that if we had played the game until the Mythos deck ran out, I can extrapolate that the entire game would take around 8 hours!

So, before breaking this one out to my group again (if they ever give it another chance...) I was wondering: did we just have some chronic case of AP? How long do your turns take, with the equivalent number of players? I'm sure that people who have played this game a gazillion times can rush through the motions pretty quick, but I don't think this was driven solely by inexperience. Everyone picked up the mechanics and the sequence of actions really quickly (quite impressive, to be honest). What is the average, or reasonable, turn time for a game with that many players? Does it scale well with more players and we just had an unusual bad experience?

Thanks!

Epilogue: My girlfriend and I were so frustrated when we got back home that we set up a game for 2 against Azathoth to see if the baddie was the reason for the long game. We got devoured while solving the third mystery... just under two hours.


I used to think this game was shorter than Arkham Horror. I was wrong. After a few more plays, I now realize its LONGER. A final battle in AH ends around the same time the ancient one flips in EH. So, tack on another 45 minutes, depending on which ancient one you're using.
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Boian Spasov
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My first game was incredibly long and since we were on the clock we couldn't even finish. Afterwards my playtime dropped drastically to an hour or so for 2 player games and 2+ hours or so for 5+ players - my last 6 player game took 130 minutes.

Still, I would not say the game is significantly quicker than Arkham Horror, our sessions are something like 15-20% shorter. So if your Arkham sessions were 5 hours long on average, you will probably stay above 4 hours in Eldritch.

Some tricks to make the game move quicker:
- Optimize setup, keeping all card piles neatly separated and ready to go.
- Designate a player to read all flavor texts, probably another one to manage tokens and reserve, hand conditions
- Discard encounters face up on the bottom of their respective decks
- Have tons of dice on the table

To compare playtimes and see other useful stats, go here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0ArNdOESpLXrNdE5...
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I have played 4 solo games with 2 investigators and all under 1.5 hrs and one 3 player game under 3 hrs...Just like you I am telling everybody in my gaming group how fast this game is Well, if this is really to be over 4-5 hrs with 5+ players I will be in big trouble this Thursday
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Rafael Maia
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blizzardb wrote:
To compare playtimes and see other useful stats, go here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0ArNdOESpLXrNdE5...


Whoa, this is amazing! thanks for the link! It seems like my 2-player games are well within reasonable time, but my 5-player was indeed an outlier. I'll have to figure out why...
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Rafael Maia
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rzaba wrote:
I have played 4 solo games with 2 investigators and all under 1.5 hrs and one 3 player game under 3 hrs...Just like you I am telling everybody in my gaming group how fast this game is Well, if this is really to be over 4-5 hrs with 5+ players I will be in big trouble this Thursday


From the stats on the link above, seems like a reasonable game time for 5 players is around 3 and a half hours, and generally takes about 45 minutes + 35 min/player, so maybe you shouldn't take my game as a yardstick However, that includes both games that were forfeited (possibly because it was taking too long?) and games that were played to the end; it'd be interesting to see how the breakdown is among those groups. Still, I'd be interested to know how your experience goes!
 
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Iain K
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I wouldn't count any solo sessions in your thought process regardless of the number of investigators.

As for your experience, yes, you guys took your sweet time. I've more experience with 4 plays and I'd expect turns to take 10-20 minutes. The time comes down as people become weary of reading the same old background text on cards and begin focusing on skills tests. That having been said, we've not found that the game is any shorter than Arkham for two reasons:
(a) the game has no "encounter-less" spaces. Consider in Arkham that if you end the turn in the street ... you often skip the encounter phase entirely.
(b) the coming of the GOO does not "immediately" end the game. Put another way, in EH, the GOO flips and the game continues (excepting Azahoth (sic)). In Arkham, the GOO 'activates' and the final battle, which in my experience is often brutally quick, ensues.

Bottom line, we've found EH shorter in length, but not so much that I'd market it as such to prospective gamers.
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Dave K
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I think the rules are cleaner and more streamlined, but the game was not any shorter for us regardless of that. Definitely not a short game still.
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Rafael Maia
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Happymrdave wrote:
I think the rules are cleaner and more streamlined, but the game was not any shorter for us regardless of that. Definitely not a short game still.


That's interesting, I think you're right. The streamlining definitely made the game quicker for me and my partner, so I expected that would scale as well. But I guess it gets diluted in what takes most of the gameplay time (reading the text, deciding what each player does). That's good to know now, I shouldn't have assumed that streamlined necessarily equals shorter (though even BGG lists 180 minutes for EH and 240 for AH). As citizen k said, unless you're willing to give up on the flavor text (we usually aren't, we like the storytelling aspect beyond the plan-move-roll) it's unlikely to be any shorter than AH.
 
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Yyyyyyeeah the same nonsense happened to me. I had played a handful of 2p games that I swore were about an hour each. This was before I started compiling the "time" statistic on the site.

Then someone said, "hey bring over Eldritch! Let's try it out 4-player!" Sure, why not. Yeah, that game lasted four hours and everyone wanted it to be done with already.

FOUR hours! UGH.
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kungfro wrote:
Yyyyyyeeah the same nonsense happened to me. I had played a handful of 2p games that I swore were about an hour each. This was before I started compiling the "time" statistic on the site.

Then someone said, "hey bring over Eldritch! Let's try it out 4-player!" Sure, why not. Yeah, that game lasted four hours and everyone wanted it to be done with already.

FOUR hours! UGH.

Same here but with a 5 player game against Cthulhu. We started at 19:30 and finished at 1.30. Very much UGH. It did not help one player stated they hated co-ops, was bored all the way through and did not really pay much attention to what was going on.
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just to quote the back of the box:
"2-4 hours"
Noone can say they didn't warn you
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Rafael Maia
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Anduin wrote:
just to quote the back of the box:
"2-4 hours"
Noone can say they didn't warn you


...that's just because around 4 hours is when people decide to quit, I guess!

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Well if you want to believe the box, and you want to completely enclose the error bars, then the time on the box is referring specifically to 4-investigator games.

What's weird is that the game takes about the same as Arkham. That's disappointing. EH is relatively simpler, and has more game-ending mechanisms, so I was hoping for a quicker game. If I know I'm going to sink more than 2.5 hours, I'd much rather play Arkham.
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I don't know if we're unusually fast, but only two games have gone to that 4 hour mark: one with 7 players, one with 8. 4-player games usually last ~2 to 2.5 hours, sometimes shorter.

Again, first-game-players can make things take longer if they get heavily AP'ed. The time count for us includes new players relatively often.
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Ryan M
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I avoided getting AH because I heard it was such a long game and bought EH becaus it was more streamlined. I've only had the chance to play it twice, and both times were longer than I would have liked (2 hours-ish would be perfect) but we still played a full game in 3 hours with 4 people. We lost both, but were coming close to the end regardless due to the game end mechanisms.

While longer than people expect, especially new players, I don't get how this could take 4.5 hours for just half a game. You only get two actions, both simple, and then everyone gets to draw a card and roll the dice. If I do the math, that means every single player in your group was taking 6 minutes per turn the whole game. 30 minutes seems like a lot of time for 5 people to take two simple actions, draw a card and roll the dice.
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Anduin wrote:
just to quote the back of the box:
"2-4 hours"
Noone can say they didn't warn you


2-4 hours of awesome game fun action!
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For one, I think that the mythos phase is significantly longer in Eldritch than in Arkham.
First, while AH mythos had only name and effect, EH also has a flavor text to read. This takes a few seconds.
Second, while it's harder to forget about something (thanks to reminding icons), there's generally more work to do. Some examples:
Increasing doom in Arkham: Gate opens, doom +1;
Increasing doom in Eldritch: Advance omen, count the gates with new omen (possibly moving monster counters covering the icon), advance doom.
Monster surge in Arkham: Put a new monster on each gate.
Monster surge in Eldritch: Find gates with corresponding omen, check how many monsters you spawn with your number of players, and finally you may spawn them.
Third, the main offender here is reckoning. Make a check for every condition in play, possibly read a new flavor text, and find a different condition for failing the first one.

New feature of backsides for spells adds a few moments, too.

Also, in AH your turn was: Focus, go somewhere, have encounter.
Focus is gone, but we now have actions - a very valuable resource. Decision what actions to take, is much more meaningful than decision where to move. You also need to plan in advance, because it's much harder to get to the other place of the board. In Arkham some investigators only needed one turn to get anywhere. Most of the time in AH I've had more movement than I needed. In EH the exact opposite is true.

Come to think of it, in AH only encounters had flavor texts, while in EH pretty much everything has those. Also you could have "no encounter" turn in AH when you were using location's special ability.
Complex encounters, these were basically absent in Arkham.

It all adds up.

Rules in EH are streamlined and simpler. But actual applying them takes longer. And there's more text to read. That's my impression.
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I don't believe 'shorter' has ever been used to describe Eldritch from FFG. It can be, however, because the rules are so clean and not as sanity-killing as they are in Arkham.

I can actually see Eldritch taking longer once the groups get better at it. If you're completely bad at the game, the Doom will crumble down quite quickly, but if your group is able to keep the Doom in check but just not quite get enough done to win and you have to go through all the Mythos cards, then yeah, it's going to take a while. Like the poster above said, you also don't have any turns which are without encounters.

The difference is, for me, that I am not spending time looking up rules, but playing the game and reading the flavor text. Also, I can get in a solo game in under 45 minutes easily, unlike Arkham. I think it will also smooth out the game time compared to Arkham on both sides: Arkham can end in a couple rounds due to bad Mythos card luck but it can also slog on for hours. There are plenty of threads in AH forum about games going into the six hour territory.

Anyway, to me, the question is: am I having a good time for the time spent? Eldritch, most of the time, hits that with a big "yes" for me.
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Mools wrote:
If I do the math, that means every single player in your group was taking 6 minutes per turn the whole game. 30 minutes seems like a lot of time for 5 people to take two simple actions, draw a card and roll the dice.


If you do the math, do it right
30 / 5 is 6, thats true. But a turn consists of more than just the Action phase and the encounter phase. As haroth9842 said, I also think that a great amount of the time in a turn is spent in the Mythos phase. Especially if there is reckoning and its a later round. If you have around 8-10 different reckoning effects, this can take a while
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Krzysiek Domański
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Actually, several times the reckoning took so long that I forgot about the rest of the effects! When the next mythos came I've noticed that the previous one was waiting on the board, with gate opening and special effect yet to be resolved.
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Coren wrote:
I don't believe 'shorter' has ever been used to describe Eldritch from FFG. It can be, however, because the rules are so clean and not as sanity-killing as they are in Arkham.


Maybe not by FFG, but even here on BGG they have dramatically different play times listed (180 EH vs 240 AH). So I don't believe I had an unreasonable expectation, and clearly others have hit the same roadbump...!

haroth9842 makes a really good point, those are good examples of streamlined rules that actually increase the gameplay time - Five players with a handful of conditions, plus monsters and rumors, all activating during the reckoning, many requiring rolling to resolve or counting distance to players... it adds up.

Also, with EH's different win condition solving the mysteries, you actually have more options and more to think about during each turn of the game. AH was a little more straightforward, as you win the game by doing an "upgraded" version of something you'd be worrying about anyways during the game.


In any case, I think based on my experience and what has been reported here, I don't think I'll be playing this game with more than 3 players... it is loads of fun and I love the game, but IMHO it overstays its welcome after the third or fourth hour. Even if we had finished the game after that long, I think it is a little too much for what the game is.
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I play with the same group of guys every week and we've played a lot of Arkham (50ish games) and a dozen of Eldritch. We almost always finish Arkham within about 2 1/2 hours, whereas we have had to abandon several games of Eldritch because we'd hit the 3 hour mark (about our limit - we are old farts). We read all the flavour text in both games.

Eldritch is longer for our group. That seems clear. But I think it's also pretty popular with us, despite that. It's always an enjoyable experience (except for that hateful Azathoth encounter which shuffles a solved mystery back into the deck.... grrr...)

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Deodand wrote:
It's always an enjoyable experience (except for that hateful Azathoth encounter which shuffles a solved mystery back into the deck.... grrr...)


the worst! people nurse a huge grievance over "lose a turn" events, but the "lose a mystery" events are just maddening! Such a suckerpunch. We usually just discard it and read a new one, because when it comes out it's like all the fun in the room has packed and left...

But interesting to see that AH is actually shorter for your group. I guess its fiddliness can be tamed when you're seasoned enough!
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