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Subject: Quick First Impressions rss

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Ryan Laukat
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I've had my eye on Arkham Horror for a while but haven't bought it due to the long playing time and high price, so needless to say, I was excited when I heard about this game. Short playing time, amazing art, interesting theme: all great attributes. It was all over the Essen game fair, so I bought it. I couldn't play it until now (thanks very much for the English translation!). Here is a quick rundown:

Components
Absolutely beautiful. The art is by famed Franz Vohwinkle, and he doesn't disappoint. The components are nice, with German-quality printing. I thought the cards were clear and very easy to understand.

Gameplay
The game joins the mountain of cooporative games being published this year. The players work together to banish the "Great Old One". For the first game, it was just my wife and me.
Basically, the game works in rounds. First, you draw a card (or cards, depending on the number of players) from the monster deck and place them on the board. In the monster deck are two copies of each monster. The first copy goes onto the board, in one of the locations in town. If you draw a monster and it is already sitting on the board, it activates and does something bad, like take all your items, etc.
After drawing, players may take their turns. On your turn you move around, fight monsters, trade with other players, use items, close portals, etc. I won't go into too much detail (as English rules are available).
When players are done with their turns, you draw an event card and move the Witch and take a positive or negative consequence.
You play until you lose, or banish the "Great Old One" and close all the open portals in town.

Impressions
While the game certainly doesn't have the level of depth that Ghost Stories does, there are still important choices to make (mostly depending on where you need to go for items, what monsters seem to be the most threatening, and what portals need to be closed.) There are some parts of the game that try to solve a few of the problems that cooporative games are notorious for. For example, players must move to each space and find out if it has a portal or not (there are tiles on each space face down depicting a wall-no portal, or a portal). Players are not allowed to say if a space has a portal or not once they find out, however they can say if there are still portals on the board. This is supposed to solve the problem of one "leader" playing the game for everyone, as not everything is open information.
My main complaint is that the game feels very luck-based. A very large amount of how well you do is based on the cards you draw, especially from the monster deck. And yes, while you can eliminate threats by defeating monsters, it never seemed worth it, as a new monster would show up as soon as the old one was defeated. One card draw can send the players to their doom, without much control of how powerful it is or when it is drawn.
I like the idea of the game, and I'll play it again to see if some of my conclusions are correct. It's got amazing art and a pretty fun theme. It's a fun little game, and for the price I paid, I'm glad I bought it.
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Great review, Ryan.

I was wondering how, in your opinion, Hexer rates against Ghost Stories? I realized that you said it doesn't have the depth of the latter, but which do you prefer overall?
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