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Subject: First Session with my Variant ... rss

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Allan Cybulskie
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I played a session last night -- even though I was going to wait until December due to time constraints -- using my new, encounter-focussed variant, which is described here:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/345429

I played the game as I tend to play all games: solo, multiple investigators. I'm also pretty certain that I got some of the rules wrong, so I'll mark the judgement calls I made so that you can correct me.

So, I set the boards up again, put in all the expansions to see how it would all play out, and decided to go with 4 investigators. Normally, I aimed for 8 investigators, but I figured that with the variant that would be too easy and too short a game, so settled on testing it with 4. That turned out to be a really good call [grin].

So I chose Kate Winthrop, Amanda Sharpe, Carolyn Sykes, and Mandy the Researcher (I forgot her last name; you'll find out why that might have occurred in a minute [grin]). I drew one Mission/Task for everyone, and only Amanda got a Task that would be immediately useful. Mandy got one where she could screw everyone over and win the game herself, which I didn't like so I chose a new one, which wasn't immediately useful either.

So, I started the game. I sent Amanada to go fulfill her task, since it would give her some cash which she desperately needs. Kate starts at the Science Building, so I had her stay there to get that Clue off the board. I started to send Mandy to start dealing with Kingsport, but due to movement she could only get to the Train Station. Carolyn I sent to Independence Square, which plays a big role in this game.

Resolving the encounters both Carolyn and Mandy failed (or got encounters that didn't have a check). I think I only succeeded maybe once or twice in Independence Square, and not at all at the Train Station in the entire game. Kate succeeded, and Amanda didn't have one. So we had extra clues in the stable locations with the Bank, Asylum, and Independence Square, and at the Train Station, Newspaper, and that other place on that area (I forget what it is and am not near my game).

Kate was dispatched to try to help out around the upper areas, Mandy went to Kingsport, Amanada went after her task, Carolyn stayed around the Downtown area.

So, as this proceeded, Mandy was having really bad luck in Kingsport, and had racked up a fair amount of Clues there and also had lost most of her sanity. She returned to Arkham to regain it, and Carolyn went to Kingsport. Kate was doing fairly well with encounters, and Amanda finished her task and tried to clean up the Graveyard zone, doing okay with her initial encounters.

After recharging, Mandy tried to clean-up Indepedence Square, and got the encounter that opened a gate and added a monster. I played it that she got sucked in and didn't have to fight the monster, but I had forgotten that she had an Elder Sign. She hadn't gotten enough Clues to gain a "Seal Gate" marker, so I dispatched Amanda to help her out and seal the gate. Next turn, Mandy's encounter brought Shan into the picture, where if you fail the Sanity Check you get devoured.

She failed the Sanity Check and was out of the game, leaving me 3 investigators.

I had also ruled that I didn't want to draw 3 Mythos cards in circumstances where the encounter opens a gate because I did the "3 cards thing" to make gate openings hard on you to reflect your failure, which didn't apply here.

I ruled that in OW encounters the monster disappeared after attacking, which is likely wrong but made more sense. Amanda had killed the monster guarding the gate with Holy Water and charged into the gate. She would eventually make it through and had a "Seal Gate", so she did so. I deliberately ignored the "roll to see if you succeed" rule, because I didn't want to add more complications.

Meanwhile, Carolyn was not doing well in Kingsport, and Kate had cleared up a bit in the upper zones, so she hopped over to help out. Amanda cleared out the Downtown area and headed back to finish off the Graveyard area.

Kate and Carolyn managed to get Kingsport in order, but not before there were a couple of areas with 4 Clue tokens, almost ready to form a nasty gate. Meanwhile, Amanda cleared out the Graveyard zone and tried to clear out where the Lodge was. She got the Membership, but failed at the Witch House. She didn't do much better at the Silver Lodge, and went back to the Witch House ... which opened a gate and she was sucked in.

For her first encounter, Amanda drew a monster. She had 4 Stamina, and fought the monster, who would reduce 4 Stamina if she lost. She tried and I rolled 4, and didn't get any Successes (I needed two). That was bad, but then I remembered that she had the Tommy gun and rolled the extra six, figuring that she'd get the Successes.

She didn't get one success, and was dead.

I'm not certain, but I think that that leaves you out of the game as well, so Amanda was dead, and the investigators conceded. It would take far too long to gather up all the clues with only two investigators. It was hard enough with 3.

So what did I think of my first run with my variant?

1) I had an absolute blast playing it. Wandering around, having encounters, having two gates open, leaving out the Mythos and effects so minimizing the mechanics was just a lot of fun. At the end of every turn, all I did was roll one die and move on, back to doing what I liked. It was great.

2) Dunwich and some of the other expansion things played little role. No Mythos cards meant no real way for the play to proceed. And while Dunwich would have to come into play eventually -- it has Clues -- the best strategy seemed to be to leave it alone until you got everything else straightened out. There might be some tweaks to bring some of the other expansion things into the picture.

3) Kingsport, on the other hand, was incredibly involved. To keep the rifts closed, you had to have encounters. But if you have encounters, you may add Clue tokens. This means that you might open a gate there. And eventually, the locations to keep rifts closed and the locations where you have too many Clues don't line up ... hence my having to send Kate to help out.

4) 4 investigators makes for a long game. I still think 8 might be too short, so the next time I try I'll use 6 and see how it works out.

5) There's a strategy that I didn't really clue into until mid-game, which is that in some locations you can end your turn there without having an encounter. This would -- for places like the Bank, for example -- allow some safety buffer to ensure that you get the Clues off without adding more in other areas, but this does seem to be limited.

6) Missions disappointed me, since most of the had outcomes that didn't really fit the game I wanted to play. Tasks were good, but there are too few to make this part of the main game (I had considered making the new victory condition be that all the Clues were gone and every player had completed one mission or task, but I might need more of those to try that. Unless I'm missing some ...)

7) I didn't mind the OW deck problems even though I didn't try to correct them; gates were rare enough that it didn't bog me down enough to really care.

8) Not being able to spend Clue tokens to add to rolls gives the investigators a disadvantage. I'm considering adding the ability to use one of the "Gate Sealing" credits to re-roll ones that didn't succeed. The main problem here is that as the game goes on, you get so many of these that it's kind of unfair to let you use them. Once per turn, maybe?


 
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Allan Cybulskie
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I did play the 6 player session over the weekend. I would have put up a new session report, but decided that since I didn't finish the game (or haven't yet, and may not depending on time) I'd just update it with my impressions with more players.

I added the waif and the reformed cultist to the team. I drew a gate card fairly early and drew another during the game, so gates DO seem to come into play fairly frequently.

So, new impressions:

1) With more players, you WILL run out of clue tokens. I did so at least three times.

2) The game wasn't any shorter with more players, which I had expected. The problem seems to be that there are a ton of encounters that don't allow you to roll, meaning that if you fail or get one of those you keep adding clues. Additionally, with more players you may get more failures in multiple or the same area, making things actually harder. I had managed to clear out Kingsport and a good part of Arkham, though, but with more rifts coming it seemed that that would open up again, and Dunwich was untouched. That still might change with 8 players.

3) I allowed the use of clue tokens -- not gate seal records -- for re-rolls, which was most helpful.

4) I still liked the game, but I'd like to actually be able to finish a game for once [grin]. That could be done by making the neutral rolls not add clue tokens at all or to the area. Definitely, though, a game I'll try again at some point, maybe look for more tweaks.
 
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Brian Mc Cabe
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There are those who look at things the way they are and ask why . . . I dream of things that never were and ask why not
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Since you're playing with a home-brewed variant, I'm not sure if this is relevent. Kate, as you mentioned, starts at the Science Building.
She starts with two clues, one of them being the clue that is normally placed in that location at game start; therefore, she wouldn't have to stay there a turn to collect it.

Brian

I was browsing and didn't remember until later. This comment is a little late in the day.
 
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