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Subject: Arkham Horror: How a Game is *Made* rss

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Adam Prince
Canada
Saskatoon
Saskatchewan
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I'se remember the foist time I placed my peepers on "Big A", as we called 'im. Tall, heavyset, and built like a box (which 'e was), he came strollin' in ta my joint wit' a Young Turk who I'se hung out wit'. 'E was a spectacle, ta be sure, and I could tell the kid was full a' promise. Promise and moxie, wit' some trouble boiling under his glad rags, the kind like ta make a good Bruno.

I'll admit, I was in full hinky. I'd seen plenty a' sharpers, but I decided to give 'im the chance to prove 'imself oyster fruit.


Sizin' 'Im Up:
-----------------
Any good Cugine needs to pack something under their jacket, and Big A didn't disappoint. Under them duds was a plethora of pieces, rangin' from the innocent-like (cards, tokens, dice) to full on sugar (full-colour character/monster sheets, double-sided monster tokens). From that assortment, I could tell he weren't no spiv.
With his hand cast out on the tile like that, I could see he could offer a Good Fella a Good Time. Everything was well-polished and in good order, yet with enough heft ta show it weren't just for show. So, Roscoe in hand, I prepared to hear what 'e was stringin'.


Putting the Screws On:
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I'll tell ya straight up. Nobody nohow gets anywhere in this buisness without hearin' some pretty over-the-edge tales, but this mook's story was without a doubt the most outlandish jingle-brained gibberin' I'se ever 'eard. Whatever marbles 'e still had must'a been cracked somethin' fierce.
Apparently, there's a bunch a' evil, ancient horrors out there with enough power to put the Peeler's ta shame. And they're makin' a lot a noise recently, lookin' ta horn in on Arkham. Because of this situation, "Big A" required us ta put aside our respective differences of opinions (fer a while, at least) in a "cooperative" effort. Pretty much every "game" I'se'd played till then was dog-eat-dog, and every time I ended up at the top o' the pile. Throwin' in with the likes of bulls, skirts, and even dicks weren't makin' me any cooler under the collar. Adding in the reasonable chance of being fitted for a Chicago overcoat (or a straightjacket) didn't sweeten the pot none. This was some heavy stuff, and yet it was darn compellin'. Sure, there was the chance to save the earth from evil outer gods, but it also meant the chance to fog a lot a' nasties (and maybe grab a bit a jack as well...).


The Operation:
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Whatever else "Big A" is, disorganized ain't it. Although his sheets were relatively sparse, he had a well-laid out plan for each "turn" we took. Each hood took turns runnin' the pack, and although we were working together, we each had different jobs ta take care of. Some of us were on the chooper squad, powdering the creeps who stood in our way. Some of us would muscle through "alternate realms", rips in space and time, in order ta stem the waves of nasties from comin' at us. All the while, we had to interact wit' the locals, scroungin' for Clues that would give us the edge.
Every question I had, he had an answer. He provided examples, and even had some support from highbinders over the wire (run out of Fantasy Flight Games). It would take a lot of gettin' used to, but it was certainly logical and straightforward once we got into the rythm.
Each "turn", we all dust out to a location in Arkham, either avoidin' the beasties in the street or takin' 'em on. If we managed to hit up one of the local establishments, we would have to deal with the Encounter that cropped up (some good, some bad). The Encounters could result in gaining an Ally, grabbing a Sawbuck or so, taking heat, or even being sent to far-off realms.
Speakin' of the outer worlds, whenever we found a Gate to one, we got sucked in and had to find our way back. In those other places, anything went, from having to ride Zebras across the plains, to facing horrific and indescribable foes, to searching through dusty books full of wierd scratches trying to find a way out. If you could survive long enough, you'd make it back home and could then shut the Gate that drew you into that nightmare in the first place. If you weren't able to hold out...well, the less said about that they better. I'll just say that I'se would rather meet the Reaper head on and fists up, then being torn to pieces by living shadows, or torn in half by things that were neveer meant to walk the earth. Some poor saps ended up in the Asylum, being forced to comprehend the uncomprehendable, and some of them were pretty hardboiled before this.
And loomin' above all this was the fact that if we failed, the High Pillow himself would descend upon us (in this case, callin' 'imself "Yog-Sothoth, the Key and the Gate" - jeez, those birds have some kooky handles), where we'd have the last chance to hand them the Broderick. More likely, though, was that we'd get the Bum's Rush, so we needed to close those gates on the swift.


The Verdict:
--------------

After we'd rapped, I knew "Big A"'s need was desperate, and that I didn't know his world from nothing. Still, it looked like a heck of a ride, and that's why I joined in (after all, it sounded like he needed a Hatchetman to get gashouse). I walked away much worse for wear, but with a sense of satisfaction, a new Gat, and the title of First Citizen of Arkham. Not bad for the worst few hours of my life.

Truly, "Big A" deserves a place in my Family. If you can get into his world, it's a heckuva time, and it really shows you who's nails and who's straw. Sure, he's worth a buncha sawbucks, but he's worth it just for what he brings to the table.


Ratings:
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- For "beer-and-popcorn" gamers, 5/10 (great atmosphere, beautiful presentation, but requires a lot of time and patience early on to grasp the rules and strategy). Once people have learned the game (and are willing to devote around 3-4 hours to it), this score increases.

- For grognards and dedicated Eurogamers, 6/10 (meaty, flexible gameplay, but still requires a lot of dice-rolling and a fair turn of randomness (such as encounters, etc.)).

- For young/aspiring gamers, 2/10 (probably too complex for them, and the subject matter, while not overly adult, might be a bit much for them).

- For college gamers, 9/10 (it's got enough flair and complexity to it to keep people hooked, and the large amount of variety in the choice of character and Ancient One keep the game fresh and interesting).

All in all, I'd recommend this game mainly to those people who love "themey" games, and those who like the Mythos. It's got a lot of flavour and a lot of good gameplay, but it does require a fair amount of willingness on the part of ALL players to learn the mechanics, as well as requiring a fair amount of playtime.

Also, I apologize for the excessive use of gangster-ish language in this review. But hey, they should be fun to write, natch?
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Ven Solomyne
United States
Colorado
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I must say, this is a very enjoyable read!

I also appreciate the opinion of the game; I had been debating purchasing this (being a long-time fan of Howard's works) and your review has convinced me to make the purchase.

 
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michael confoy
United States
ASHBURN
VA
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Gnarlythotep wrote:

- For grognards and dedicated Eurogamers, 6/10 (meaty, flexible gameplay, but still requires a lot of dice-rolling and a fair turn of randomness (such as encounters, etc.)).


While there may be a few "grognards" out there that will enjoy a fantasy, cooperative game, I have never met one and think that most will rate this game in the same range as I did -- a 1.
 
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