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Subject: Alternate Awakened AO Endgame rss

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T. B.
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I really enjoy Arkham Horror, right up to the point at which an Ancient One awakens. The rules as written for combating an AO strike me as being dull and athematic, and leave me secretly wishing that the AO would hurry up and end the misery of dice roll after dice roll; whereas, the "awakened AO kills everyone immediately" house-rule makes me wish for a climactic "last chance".

Here's my attempt at a middle ground: lucky or well prepared investigators can stave off the entry of an awakening Ancient One for a turn or two, but its increasing power means that if our heroes don't hurry up and seal those last gates, their souls shall soon be utterly consumed by the pitiless, indescribable horror of an Ancient One's alien and terrifying indifference.

Sorry about that. The theme gets to me from time to time.

Anyway, here's my suggestion for a variant:

When events arise that cause the Ancient One to awaken, *one* investigator may discard: 2 gate trophies, or; 10 clue tokens, or; 1 gate trophy and 5 clue tokens to prevent the AO from fully manifesting itself. If no single investigator is able to do this, then they all die screaming deaths and lose the game. If they are able to make the sacrifice, then, with all investigators remaining in their *current location*, the following combat sequence takes place.

1.) Enact "Start of battle" rules for the AO being faced.

2.) Investigator Refresh, as per normal rules.

3.) Ancient One Attacks with skill check and modifier noted on AO card.

4.) Investigators attack USING EITHER LORE OR COMBAT CHECK.

If the investigators are unable in this one round of combat to gain enough successes to remove a token, they fail to stop the AO's ingress, and, as before, all perish in the subsequent unknowable, mind-shattering apocalypse.

If, however, the investigators gain enough successes to remove doom tokens (as per normal rules), they do so (removing a maximum of one if a more challenging game is desired, otherwise the normal number), the AO's entry attempt is staved off for the time being, and the investigators continue their undoubtedly redoubled efforts to seal or close off gates.

If, after earning this reprieve, the investigators dally too long, and the Ancient One again awakens, a single investigator may once again sacrifice enough gate trophies or clue tokens to initiate combat as before. However, this time the AO's attack reflets the more difficult modifier as noted on the card for a second round of combat (ie: Nyarlathotep's Lore (+1)check becomes Lore (+0)), and so on for any subsequent awakenings that the investigators have the gate/clue tokens to challenge.

Obviously, this variant makes an AO impossible *to kill*, which is as it should be, I think (no more tommy-gunning Cthulhu for twenty minutes). If investigators are prepared, they still face the AO , but it is unlikely that even large groups will be able to survive doing so more than once or twice. A succesful struggle against a manifesting AO means that the investigators get a second chance to finish closing gates, but they'd better hurry up about it.

Any feedback is appreciated.

Addendum (12-07):
I've found that I prefer an escalating cost for facing the Ancient One. The first skirmish does not require spending any gate or monster trophies, the second requires 1 gate or 5 monsters and the third and any subsequent encounter requires 2 gate or 10 monster trophies (or one and five).

EDIT: Amended the number of doom tokens that investigators can remove. For a more challenging game, investigators should remove a maximum of one, otherwise remove number of successes/number of investigators as per normal rules.
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Bob McMurray
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bohemian wrote:
4.) Investigators attack USING EITHER LORE OR COMBAT CHECK.


Just a clarification - since you say combat check that means that the investigators can use weapons in addition to their fight value correct?

Lore check - you can use spells?

 
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T. B.
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Yes to both, though most spells usable in this situation augment combat score, don't they?

Also, I'm currently rethinking the "maximum of one doom token removed" thing. During our test last night, the AO came back the very next turn and it was obnoxious to have gone through the whole thing and not really helped the cause despite a pretty phenomenal investigator attack roll. So, I'm leaning toward # of doom tokens removed=# of successes rolled/number of investigators. That way, a great success could buy you an extra turn or two.
 
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Bob McMurray
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bohemian wrote:
So, I'm leaning toward # of doom tokens removed=# of successes rolled/number of investigators.


Rounded down right?

I'm intrigued by your variant and I think I'll give it a spin next time we play although AH is a little outside of our rotation right now.

Have you found the upfront cost to even be able to attack the Ancient One to be about right?
 
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Chad Walton
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I really like this idea. I love Arkham, but I hate the AO battle. Anyway, I'm going to give this idea (or a variation of) a try.
 
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T. B.
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Islay wrote:
bohemian wrote:
So, I'm leaning toward # of doom tokens removed=# of successes rolled/number of investigators.


Rounded down right?

I'm intrigued by your variant and I think I'll give it a spin next time we play although AH is a little outside of our rotation right now.

Have you found the upfront cost to even be able to attack the Ancient One to be about right?


I've only tried it in one two-player game.

We had the gate trophies to fight the AO (Ithaqua) once, and that was without either of us doing any strategic stockpiling, so that seems about right. The perfect cost, it seems to me, would be one that inattentive players might have "just lying around" and manage to get the one chance, and yet allow more strategic minded players an advantage (2 or 3 chances to stuff the AO back into its hole) if they make the choice to pursue gate tokens for the purpose.

I'm going to try it solo (two investigators) tonight, allowing for multiple doom-token removal. I'll post the results. If you guys get a chance to try it out yourselves, I'd love to hear how it goes.
 
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T. B.
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Just finished my solo experiment.

Two investigators vs. Hastur, whose main nasty effect is to increase the cost of sealing gates. I wasn't playing a particularly strategic game, but things seemed to be going fairly well. However, I drew one of the "add two tokens but no gate" cards (CotP expansion) and things went steadily downhill from there.

When Hastur attempted his first manifestation, I'd only sealed three gates, so I wasn't in a particularly good position. The Professor spent his trophies, and the battle began. Hastur's luck-check attack failed miserably with both investigators rolling well despite having pretty low scores. The counter-attack succeeded quite nicely with the investigators knocking three doom tokens (6 successes) and sending Hastur back to his hole. This felt pretty good, and I was happy to continue hunting for clues and elder signs (both in pretty spare supply at this point in the game.)

Investigators managed to seal one more gate, and then were frustrated in their efforts by a general lack of clue tokens and a terror induced closing of the curiositie shoppe, followed by Ye Olde Magick Emporium. At this point, I felt a bit at a loss as to what to do. Another of those "two doom token" cards cropped up, bringing Hastur within one token of returning. I weighed my options, and decided that the investigators were better off closing gates than looking for enough clues to seal them, so off they went.

Two more gates were closed, with two remaining between me and victory. The investigators were on their way to deal with those, when disaster struck in the form of me remembering to deal with the stupid "Cursed Relics" rumor card (again, from CotP), which, because of some early neglect, now caused the terror level to leap three points to Big Bad 10. Hastur, now strengthed by the panic of the populace, returned. The Professor again had the trophies required to mount one last defense of our sweet dimension, and sacrificed them selflessly. However, Hastur had been practicing his smack-down, and his luck-check attack broke Ashcan Pete's brain in a bad way. The Professor fared better, but even the Dread Curse of Azathoth could not help him get more than one success against Hastur's now -10 modifier. This was not enough to knock off the required doom token, so once again, the Earth died screaming.

I'm pretty happy with the way the game went using the new rules. It made for a nice, triumphal moment when the investigators knocked off those three doom tokens in the first encounter with Hastur, and I was pleased to have earned a few extra turns. However, I will say that maybe there were a few too many turns before Hastur's return, and the game started to feel a bit bogged down. But, once I'd made the decision to close gates rather than seal them, victory seemed within reach and the game was interesting again. When Hastur came back, I was disappointed, but satisfied with the way things had gone.

I suppose that there is some danger that the game may be made too easy with more players. My suggestion would then be to go with the "only one doom token removed" variant. For two players, I prefer the way detailed in the session above.
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John Paul Sodusta
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This variant sounds very interesting. Like you, I enjoy Arkham Horror but the end game has much more to be desired. I have been playing with the variant of "When Ancient One awakens, it's game over!" It is ok but it feels lacking.

It sounds like your variant is working. I think you should still limit the removal of Doom Token to 1. This should still keep you in the climactic end of last push (or if you are lucky 2 more tries) to stop the Ancient One.

I will try this next time I get Arkham Horror on the table. It should be a great improvement.
 
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Bob McMurray
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bohemian wrote:
The counter-attack succeeded quite nicely with the investigators knocking three doom tokens (6 successes) and sending Hastur back to his hole.


I'm inclined to fully reward the investigators their traditional number of successes/doom token removals. I'm not too worried about this getting easier with more players (let's fix things one problem at a time...).

The more I see this idea the more I like it. It makes sense in the context of the game flow and seems more thematic - although I'll have to trust you guys on the power of the AO as I've never read a word of Lovecraft. What I particularly like about it is it addresses what happens to us on, what seems like, a regular basis. JUST as we're nearing "6th sealed gate territory" we get an unlucky mythos draw and the AO awakes.

I'm thinking this weekend I'll try and find an opportunity to give this a go.
 
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Daniel Becerra Aller
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I love it!

In fact, I think it is even more thematic, for in most Mythos tales, the big One appears at least once, then something happens to let humanity breath in relief, be that an action of the characters, like in Dunwich Horror, or a loose Norwegian steamboat against Great Cthulhu itself.

Sure I will try to use it at our next game. My gaming group always found the endgame tatally anticlimactic. In some instances it was even better to let the AO enter arkham and then kick its slimy, putrescent, amorphous ass fully charged of weapons and clues!!

I would recommend to be able to remove more than one doom counter, just as in a "normal" endgame battle round.

Also, I'm not so sure about the 2gates/10 clues costs... At the science building, you get 2 clues for each gate trophy, so I think a 2gates/4, maybe 6 clues could be better

Just one question... Does Ithaqua destroy items EACH time it appears??... this variant makes "Start of Battle" abilities mora like "special attack" abilities, since they are going to be used each time the AO shows itself, isn't it?


Great idea nonetheless!
 
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T. B.
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Quote:
Just one question... Does Ithaqua destroy items EACH time it appears??... this variant makes "Start of Battle" abilities mora like "special attack" abilities, since they are going to be used each time the AO shows itself, isn't it?


Yes, the idea being that the investigators *really* need to hurry after a successful encounter with the Ancient One. The encounter should be something that the investigators CAN succeed at maybe twice, but they should really be dreading it that second time.
 
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