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Subject: My first three solo sessions of AH rss

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Matt Thrower
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I bought AH primarily to play as a solo game. I was well aware that it's usually considered very difficult to run a single investigator against the mythos when playing solo but playing multiple characters just felt wrong to me - a bit like playing an absent friends character alongside your own during an RPG session - as did playing a new game with house rules so I just ploughed in regardless.

For each game I randomly drew a new investigator and ancient one.

I made two tactical decisions from the outset. First it seemed like trying to win by closing all the gates was impossible, and going after the four Elder Signs in the fairly big unique items deck was like looking for needles in a haystack. The eight-gate limit for one player seemed pretty high so I decided my priority was going to be collecting clue tokens to seal gates - I wouldn't bother with unique items or closing gates I couldn't seal. Secondly the effects of the terror track didn't seem terribly worrysome to me so I figured I'd just forget about allys completely and just let the terror track rise, hoping I could stall things before it reached ten and shit really hit the fan.

Dexter Drake

This was my first game, and I played a couple of rules wrong. Most importantly I didn't realise that gates opening swallowed clue tokens and I allowed Dexter to collect the clues from locations before he got sucked through the gate.

The ancient one for my first ever game was - horror of horrors - Cthulhu! Thankfully then the game was appropriately short and made an excellent learning experience. Having stumbled around and collected enough clue tokens to seal a gate, I took on a Dark Young guarding the location with my withering spell. The magic made short work of the monster but I lost some sanity after failed the horror check. A couple of fairly painless otherworld encounters later I managed to get out and seal the gate.

So I set about collecting clue tokens again to go for a second gate, as more monsters and gates started appearing and roaming round the board. My second trip into the otherworld cost me my remaining sanity and I ended up Lost in Time and Space, bereft of my precious spells, and short on clue tokens.

In a desperate attempt to collect some more clues I ended up trying to sneak past a Gug and failing. A succession of appalling die rolls later (I had virtually no clues for re-rolls, remember) I ended up being reduced to zero sanity and stamina and being devoured. So I decided to start again.

Michael McGlen

My second game came out as the Gangster versus Shub Niggurath. I had quite an astonishing run of good luck right at the start of this session - the first gate opened in the woods and the next 3 mythos cards all also opened gates in the woods, leading to monster "surges" of one monster each! So I was in the very happy position of having only one gate on the board and the monster limit being reached with them all stuck down in the lower left hand corner of the board. Furthermore one of the critters was a Cthonian, who couldn't hurt Michael thanks to his "strong body" ability.

So I had a pretty easy time of it during my first run through to collect tokens and seal a gate. I even had time to pick up Silver Twilight membership and lurk a couple of turns there to see what the "Inner Sanctum" encounters are like (not really worth the $3 if you ask me). The second gate wasn't too difficult to prepare for either since all the monsters were confined to the same general locale. However on my trip through the otherworld I hit a horrible encounter which had me roll a dice for every stamina point I had and loose one for every failure. Out of seven dice, I rolled seven failures leaving me with just one point thanks again to "strong body". So I did make it out and seal the gate but I now needed to make my way to the hospital - with all the monsters in the game in my way! To add insult to injury the next mythos card I drew had the dreaded "Great Ritual" rumour on it which forced me to collect and discard spells or else face the prospect of two gates opening every turn. And of course the spell shop was *also* down in the area with all the monsters.

Thankfully Michael is a bit of combat monster himself, and none of the beasties had physical resistance. So I adjusted my will upward to try and deal with the horror rolls and waded in, guns blazing. The result was a monster massacre - I don't remember exactly what I killed, no doubt the soul-searing horror of the occasion has wiped it from my memory. But what did happen was that I got held up - a lot - as the time counted down on the Great Ritual. I also made the mistake of going to the hospital first when I probably ought to have saved both the time and the money to gather spells. I was one spell short when it went off.

Facing down two gates per turn with only two gates sealed is a recipe for disaster. There were monster surges galore as well as new gates and the terror track rose to six, closing the curiosity shop before I had the chance to grab some cash and go shopping there for elder signs or *something* I could've used against Shub Niggurath with her physical immunity. The big old black goat herself appeared shortly afterward and the shriveling spell I'd picked up trying to face down the Great Ritual was nowhere near enough to force her back before my paltry three remaining monster trophies ran out and she ate me, my soul and the rest of Arkham as well.

Joe Diamond

Round three was the private eye against Nyarlathotep. I liked the look of this character - he seemed to have a good balance of skills and best of all he started out with three precious clue tokens! So I spent my first turn running over to the first location with two clues and then dived straight through a gate and successfully sealed it.

By this time I had several gates open on the board and then I hit another run of luck - an environment mythos card turned up which stopped the terror track from rising and then I had a run of monster surges. Now the city was already full of a really nasty selection of beasties - a Dark Young, a Dimensional Shambler and no less than two Shoggoths - but the new monsters went straight to the outskirts. And although they kept piling up past the outskirts limit, the terror level couldn't rise so I was in hog heaven!

Maybe because I was playing a private eye, clue tokens seemed much easier to come by this session. I couple of locations managed to accumulate three, allowing me to race over and pick them up and a couple of lucky rolls during Arkham encounters yielded more at the cost of some sanity. So I was quickly able to dive in and seal a second gate, and try for a third. However, an otherworld encounter during that trip shattered Joe's already damaged mind and he ended up lost in time and space, bereft of useful items and clues.

But thankfully that environment card was still in effect and nothing really bad had happened in the city while I was away. I rematerialised on to Hibbs Roadhouse, snapping up three clues and - joy of joys - a very helpful encounter which allowed me to buy some common items at a little over list price. Going mad in another dimension hadn't - as far as I could tell - cost me my pocket money and I was able to buy a tommy gun and some sort of book which had the ability to yield yet more clue tokens - which it did, one lucky die roll later. Thusly armed I was able to gun down a Witch and enter and seal a third gate.

Things were looking pretty rosy at this point. A mythos card had put paid to the Shoggoths and relatively weak monsters had appeared in their place. The Haunter of the Dark was out, but he was in the sky and thus relatively easy to avoid. My lucky environment card had passed eventually but the doom track was still relatively low and there weren't too many gates open - and the fact I'd sealed three locations was helping to keep things in check. So, time to gather some more clue tokens and go for gate number four.

On my way round the board to trade some gate trophies for clues at the University, I was struck amidships by another diabolical rumour card. This one, "good work undone" required me to make a huge outlay of clue tokens or face all my sealed gates becoming unsealed. So now I was stuck between a rock and a hard place - I needed clues to seal more gates but if I didn't spend them on the rumour then I'd loose all the gates I'd already sealed. It looked like the crawling chaos was going to be putting in an appearance after all.

So I looked at the monster card and realised that with my tommy gun, my fight skill card and my relatively high potential innate fight I had a fairly good chance to beat Nyarlathotep. What I needed was - clue tokens. So I went off to the university after all, gunning through a couple of beasties on the way and traded up my gate trophies for clue tokens just like I'd planned. The rumour, unchecked, reached its horrible climax and all my carefully constructed gate seals burst. Gah!

While all this was going on I had seven gates open and was hitting monster surges galore. The terror track rose - three, six, nine and then eventually hit the big one-oh. Realising I'd be facing an administrative as well literal nightmare as monsters burst forth onto the Arkham streets. So I retreated into a stable location where I'd be safe, neglected to bother putting monsters on the streets since they'd never more to where I was and sat there, drawing encounter cards and mythos cards until the eighth gate opened and Nyarlathotep came howling forth.

And in the end he proved trivially easy to beat. I'd stocked up on something like eight or nine clue tokens and I was rolling something like nine dice, in spite of his -4 toughness. It took a mere four rounds before I forced him back into the black dimensions from which he'd come and I had my first - somewhat anticlimactic - victory.
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James Casey
United Kingdom
Caversham
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Great writeups. I have played this game a lot, both solo and with other people. As you have discovered, the game is pretty tough with a single investigator; Rumours in particular can be impossible to deal with on top of the main objective. As you say, the "feel" is probably more authentic with one, but winning requires a lot of luck. I generally play with 3 investigators, not too many to keep track of, but enough to give you a fighting chance.

BTW, the expansions add cards to the location decks, and I think the King in Yellow expansion in particular adds quite a few more cards which make visiting the Inner Sanctum of the LotST more appealing.

In my experience the final battles are often a bit anticlimatic. I believe this is being addressed in the upcoming Kingsport expansion.
 
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You know, I always thought that the Terror Track was no big deal, and in many cases it isn't. However, I finally got some expansions and that changed.

My wife and I played a game with the King in Yellow Herald (Blight cards/Extra Doom tokens on Terror Increase) and Glaaki (Servents of Glaaki on every increase - removing tons of items from the investigators) as the Ancient One.

I now have respect for the Terror Track.
 
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