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Subject: Fixing the Base Game for 1-3 Players rss

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Will
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I like anything Lovecraftian and own the base game plus 4 expansions. After the 4th I decided I wasn't going to buy anymore expansions until I figured out why this game wasn't what I expected from my first games. It always lacked "something". It wasn't completely abstract but wasn't thematic either. It never had a lovecraftian feeling to it and always felt incomplete. Each expansion completes the game a little more but increased more and more the feeling that the game was incomplete in the beginning and it was required hundred of dollars (I live in Argentina) to change that a bit but not completely.

I made a very negative review because in the end I felt the game was one way or the other dishonest with me. I thought this was a completed game and several house rules were needed to make it more difficult with 4+ players and less difficult with less than 4. It was random on all fronts and eventhough a bit of randomness is great this was too much. Clue tokens provided only more randomness and it was a shock to start the game with a character that owned no weapon and no money. Not to mention that is stupid to draw 3 cards in a store only to be able to buy on when you have more money.

Also the way sanity and stamina are treated were messy. And it was very discouraging to lose half your stuff without even gaining your max stamina or sanity. What kind of treatments where you give after half your stuff were stolen ?

Anyway, I had some changes in mind and decided to give a try to all of them at once. I read Arkham Investigations and think it's probably what this game should have been from the beginning. Still I wanted something ligher that was complete with a minimum of changes and hopefully these set of rules will accomplish that.

----------------------------------------

0) ALL INVESTIGATORS HAVE A WEAPON: Draw all the items and stuff an investigator must start with except 1 random common item. If an investigator doesn't have anything to deal combat damage, draw cards from the common item deck until you draw a weapon of some kind.

1) UNIQUE ELEMENTS: Remove all the copies from the unique and common items deck as well as on the spell decks. All items & spells are unique in the game.

2) BETTER CLUES: They can be used to give +1 to a die or to change in the middle of the game but before any roll, one stat to the left or to the right. Yes several clue tokens can be spent at the same time.

3) BUY NONE OR ALL THE ITEMS YOU ARE OFFERED: You can buy everything you are offered in the Curiosity Shop or in the General Store when you skip an encounter (as long as you have money to pay them).


4) SELLING STUFF: At the curiosity shop you can sell unique items and at the general store common items at 50% the list price (rounded down).

5) GOING INSANE: Lose half your clue tokens, half your spells & half your skills, go to Arkham Asylum and gain your max sanity. If you only have 1 of any of the things you must lose discard it as well. If you have nothing to discard you are devoured.

6) GOING UNCONSCIOUS: Lose half your items (common or unique) and 50% money, go to Hopital and gain max stamina and 1 sanity. If you only have 1 of any of the things you must lose discard it as well. If you have nothing to discard you are devoured.

7) ALWAYS HEALTHY: If you are in the Hospital or the Asylum but do not have any money to cure yourself to the max. stat you can discard one item that is costed $2+ to do so.

8) SACRIFICE OF THE HEROES: When you are about to be devoured for any reason if you have an ally you can discard it instead.

9) SHARE KNOWLEDGE: In the upkeed clue tokens can be passed to other investigators as this is a cooperative game.

----------------------------------------

All these changes won't make the game better but will fix the mechanics that are more upsetting than fun. I think Arkham Investigations can really be a solution for the atmosphere of the game.

Also these changes go more with a theme mechanic than the original, for now the clue tokens can be used with the purpose of increase your advantage strategically instead of only serving to more randomness, and being unconscious or insane doesn't drag a character on several bad luck turns. If they are devoured they can pick another character to keep playing which is also beneficial when a player is stuck with a character that only has bad luck.

These changes will help players to win more often but these way levels of difficulty can be set more clearly as now there is some strategy the characters can count with beyond the number of dice they roll each time.



DESIGN NOTES:

This game is so frustrating. I cannot believe the designer tried to make this game difficult by limiting the investigator instead of giving him a challenge. These rules are more fun to play and eventhough you lose you feel the players did things instead of just surviving while they try to shop or get their health a little functional.

0) ALL INVESTIGATORS HAVE A WEAPON: One of the most frustrating things you can have in this game is starting with nothing to fight. The investigators are supposed to come prepared to face the horrors yet sometimes they do not have a single weapon to fight with. This is absurd. Each investigator is supposed to understand they are in danger and they need to be prepared for the confrontation. That is why they all must come with a weapon. They might lose it later but preparation is the base of any successful strategy.

1) UNIQUE ELEMENTS: So Drake draws 3 spells and all are flesh wards ? Is the guy insane already ? What kind of unique items are those that aren't unique ? So I have 2 whiskeys and 2 food. What am I suppose to do, get a Star Spawn drunk or feed him to death ? I think if this game is going to be fun at least its cool all the investigators have unique stuff they can trade. Repetition is usually boring.

2) BETTER CLUES: Right now the clues are worthless. 1 extra die means nothing as it doesn't change anything for the investigators. Again randomness rules. So in order to make the clue tokens real clues one have to think these pieces of evidence will help the investigators more. For example if you are facing a byakee a clue token is not only a probability but a knowledge you can use to win an encounter, or a knowledge that can help you not to be scared of a creature. Also it is a knowledge that can make you react better to an event. +1 to any die or changing 1 stat makes the clue tokens be really important. And as they serve also other purposes (sealing gates for example) they are not a commodity but a strategic option.

3) BUY NONE OR ALL THE ITEMS YOU ARE OFFERED: Oh, come on, so you see 3 items but can buy one. That is bullshit. If you have the money you are supposed to have also the criteria to buy what is necesary to face the horrors. Limiting the investigators is not the way to make this game harder but just more boring.

4) SELLING STUFF: It's a must in any adventure game that you are least are capable of having some income beyond the random retainer this game offers. Finding and selling stuff adds more control to the randomness of the economic system.

5) GOING INSANE & 5) GOING UNCONSCIOUS: So people steal my stuff but never cure me. Come on, one of the things my group hates about this game is exactly this. You have no money, the system stole half your stuff and still you need to spend time in order to heal, thats absurd. Not to mention that at least I expect to lose my memory in the asylum and my stuff in the hospital and not everything everywhere. I hate that this game has so many ways to get you naked but very few to let you focus on the adventure per se.

6) ALWAYS HEALTHY: So if I do not have money nobody helps me, not even if I have an expensive piece of equipment. Come on !! Now you can bribe the staff to help you just by discarding an item. Its a strategic advantage that is necessary and undisputable.

7) SACRIFICE OF THE HEROES: Make allies work like allies instead of just skills. They are heroes too.

8) SHARE KNOWLEDGE: This is a cooperative game. Do I have to say more ?

-----------------------------------------

Now the game can have difficulty levels without having to limit the investigators to simulate that. Open 2 portals in the beginning of the game and you will have an extra challenge. 4 damages instead of 1 remove a doom token for a 1-4 players game. There are several ways to make the game more difficult but the idea is that before you do so, the game is at least fun. No more the closing gates winning condition, only sealing or fighting the GOO will surely add an extra spice to the game.
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Baki
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Re: Fixing the Base Game
willdesigns wrote:


8) SHARE KNOWLEDGE: This is a cooperative game. Do I have to say more ?


The share knowledge idea is great and supports the cooperative aspect of the game, but isn't it better, to put all collected clue tokens in a shared cup, so any investigator can take clue tokens from it?
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Will
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Re: Fixing the Base Game
That's not a bad idea either but I think the time for the investigators to reunite in order to share clues about the investigations is also a strategic aspect of the game. If not they would only act as couriers for a common pool that will seal portals pretty fast. Usually moving to give a clue token to other investigators causes a delay as the investigators are distracted from the main threat and that can add danger to the game.

But if extra difficulty is added is not a bad idea.
 
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Rauli Kettunen
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Re: Fixing the Base Game
willdesigns wrote:

0) ALL INVESTIGATORS HAVE A WEAPON: Draw all the items and stuff an investigator must start with except 1 random common item. If an investigator doesn't have anything to deal combat damage, draw cards from the common item deck until you draw a weapon of some kind.


Would make the game even easier.

Quote:
1) UNIQUE ELEMENTS: Remove all the copies from the unique and common items deck as well as on the spell decks. All items & spells are unique in the game.


You'd have only 1 Elder Sign, which would be very nice, but come on, Arkham can't have 2 .45 Automatics surprise ??? Only 1 fricking Lantern in the entire town???

Quote:
3) BUY NONE OR ALL THE ITEMS YOU ARE OFFERED: You can buy everything you are offered in the Curiosity Shop or in the General Store when you skip an encounter (as long as you have money to pay them).


Too easy again.

Quote:
4) GOING INSANE: Lose half your clue tokens, half your spells & half your skills, go to Arkham Asylum and gain your max sanity. If you only have 1 of any of the things you must lose discard it as well. If you have nothing to discard you are devoured.

5) GOING UNCONSCIOUS: Lose half your items (common or unique) and 50% money, go to Hopital and gain max stamina and 1 sanity. If you only have 1 of any of the things you must lose discard it as well. If you have nothing to discard you are devoured.

6) ALWAYS HEALTHY: If you are in the Hospital or the Asylum but do not have any money to cure yourself to the max. stat you can discard one item that is costed $2+ to do so.


Seriously, the game is not that hard, it definately doesn't need to become Candyland for Toddlers.

Quote:
7) SACRIFICE OF THE HEROES: When you are about to be devoured for any reason if you have an ally you can discard it instead.


Sounds nicely thematic.

Quote:
8) SHARE KNOWLEDGE: In the upkeed clue tokens can be passed to other investigators as this is a cooperative game.


Argh! No! I can just see Rex Murphy or anyone with Press Pass rolling in Clues, handing them out like candy. If you want clues, you gotta to go an unstable location yourself and possible get a bad encounter, can't be taking naps in the street while others do the work.

Quote:
2) BETTER CLUES: Right now the clues are worthless.


Lol, we're definately playing the same game then.
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Will
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Re: Fixing the Base Game
I've just played a 2 players game with the ARKHAM FIX mechanics and I can asure you the game isn't easier but at least we felt we played the game instead of the game playing us. We had more choices, but luck is a heavy conditioner in AH.

We found that it adds to the richness of our game to find always different stuff on the stores. Feel free to use all or just one change. It is your game and however you feel comfortable playing it is good.
 
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Jefferson Krogh
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Re: Fixing the Base Game
If those house rules work for you, great. Arkham is well suited for house rules; heck, with all the variety provided by the expansion, it's hard to find two groups who play it with exactly the same rules set now. For our group, though, your house rules would make the base game ridiculously easy to the point of boredom.

As far as your comment about the "game playing you," that's part of the point of the whole exercise. The investigators should feel as if they're up against a potentially overwhelming force that is most definitely NOT under their control. I understand if you consider that a bug and not a feature, but I think it's a large part of its appeal to its fans.
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Will
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Kobold Curry Chef wrote:
As far as your comment about the "game playing you," that's part of the point of the whole exercise.


Really ? I may have understood this game wrong. I thought it was an adventure that I WAS PLAYING. But to everyone it's own.

I agree that this rules will make a 4+ players game easier, but what I am trying to achieve is some strategic playability in a game that I feel is not complete. To increase the difficulty there are several simple methods mentioned, but if you like the game I do not see why you should agree with me. Keep playing it, but for those that felt like myself maybe this set will help them appreciate the game more.
 
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Jefferson Krogh
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I should probably go read your review, but I'm not entirely sure what you mean by "strategic playability." It's a game where you're trying to choose between a myriad of bad choices. That being said, players usually have quite a few choices to make during each turn. Sometimes you are trapped by circumstances, but it's a horror story; that's to be expected.

If you win, it's usually because you've scrabbled your way through broken glass and just barely overcome the disasters that the game has thrown past you. Sure, it's an adventure, but it's more like playing through the movie "Die Hard" than anything else.

This is more an attempt to explain how the game is seen by others, rather than to criticize what you're doing. The beauty of Arkham is that it is so flexible, and can be adapted to suit different styles, like yours.
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Will
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Truth is I have no problem with a game being difficult to win. In fact I bought this one because I read somewhere that the old version was so difficult to defeat, yet there is a difference between difficulty and overwhelming randomness.

RED NOVEMBER is a die hard movie. But this one is supposed to be an adventure, not just an action movie where you can't do a thing that is not prescripted.

My changes fix that a little. For 1-3 players things are still difficult and for more just open more gates at the beginning, or resolve 2 mythos cards. But at least it can be said you lost the game by playing it when you where overwhelmed by monsters not just bad dice.

Oh, and one more change that this game needs is better dice. I use casino transparent green dice that roll so much better.
 
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I actually like one rule for this fix. Sacrificing Allies seems like a fun addition and might not mess with the game too much, I'll definitely try it and see.

The rest of the changes however are a little too extreme.

Firstly, all investigators starting with weapons actually goes completely against a Lovecraftian theme. More often than not the investigators have no idea of what they're up against and pay the price. Also if you read the character background on each sheet, at most they have suspicions of something not being quite right, hardly, 'Ma! Get my shotgun!'

Also looking at the longer consequences, most weapons are pretty much an instant win against a fair share of monsters, eg Cultists. Arkham Horror monsters tend to be in tiers of power, but you'll sometimes find a weak monster that you can not beat because of your load out. Starting with weapons instantly takes away all of the power of witches, warlocks and the like. A large portion of monsters in Arkham are this weaker variety.

Also you seem to completely ignore sneaking and evade checks, which is always an extra option.

Secondly, by taking out a huge chunk of the item decks not only does it possibly mess with the item balance, but combined with your shopping rules it almost ensures that the investigators will very rapidly be tooled with some of the best equipment.

While on the subject, the existing shopping rules in base game are a specific fix that was made to the game in order to stop such strategies of waiting out the best items and spending the entire game shopping.

Clue tokens, in my opinion were never meant to be a sure thing. The way that Arkham works is usually a frantic dash in order to gain this precious resource in order to seal a gate. Every time that you spend a clue token, you're effectively draining away your chances of victory. Making them uncertain can often lead to tough decisions about how to deal with situations which can often make you rethink your strategy or pull off some wildly heroic one in a million chances. Spending clues is a vicious cycle, and one that will sometimes end poorly for the players and often gives a new level of respect for even the weakest of foes.

By making them too useful, you effectively deprive Arkham of it's teeth and knife edge decisions. Spending a clue is meant to be a tough decision where you either think about the long term or the short term.

Sharing knowledge links into this as well and means that investigators don't earn their clues, by having risky encounters or lowering their stats etc, and means that the trip to the outer world is pretty much a no risk affair. Again making the game a lot easier and for some players, but not all, less fun.

When it comes to the Hospital and Asylum recovery, I agree that he original rules are a pain, but that's why I always use Injury cards even in base game. It's an option that Dunwich brings to the table and is a quick easy fix with little extra rules added.

I wouldn't really say that these house rules are a fix, but more of a complete overhaul of mechanics that you don't enjoy playing with. When making a game fix, you usually look at the problems, such as too many monsters of not enough clues, and then make changes to those directly rather than attempting to redesign the entire game to make it easier.

To sum up, in my opinion, Arkham Horror is a game where the random elements such as Mythos cards and monster draws always make the game a litte different, but more often than not the investigators are able to make informed choices about how to deal with these situations. Sometimes the dice hate you, but you can say the same for Risk, Blood Bowl or any other game.

Even though I don't see most of these changes as necessary, I do at least hope it means you get to enjoy the game a bit more, which at the end of the day is the point.
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Will
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Hi, Mark, yes we enjoy the game much more but I cannot say we win more often, at least not on a 2 players game.

Now we can play the game more strategically, we feel we are playing it beyond the overwhelming luck, but the luck is now more in control (still not the random events).

The way we use the clues now allow a new branch of decisions to be made because we can certainly fight luck back to it's den. Still spending clue tokens usually get you without them to seal gates but at least now it's an option that have some purpose beyond the "let's add another bad dice to the equation".

I understand people that like to roll & move in a game. I like Skulls & Swords a lot, but that game has atmosphere. Even in Talisman you feel an adventure going on. So the problem in this game is not really the overwhelming luck but the lack of lovecraftian mood. For any Lovecraft's fan this mood is not just a set of random catastrophes. "The unnamable calls you by name". You are a Hero sentenced to doom but still you fight back. Usually it's the shadows that moves around a Lovecraft tale. Derleth uses more monsters for this purpose, but Derleth is not Lovecraft no matter how much chaosium would like to think that. And how can you fight back when no decisions of yours is really meaningful.

And we have to remember one way or the other that this is a board game. If it does not have a story in it at least it have to be playable. We feel most of the time we are moving the system instead of playing: A portal appears, monsters move, a clue token appears, rumors happen, events happen and you have to do a lot of work just to move your character on your next turn an possibly play a little.

I don't know maybe I am a guy that likes to play a game instead of the game playing him, but I play a lot of ameritrash that is so cool: CUTTHROAT CAVERNS, SWORD & SKULL, BETRAYAL AT THE HOUSE OF THE HILL. All of them have randomness but it is you playing the games.

AH needed these fixes for my group and maybe others can benefit from them. As I said before if somebody likes them good, if not it really doesn't matter
 
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Drake Coker
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I'm going to try these for a solo game.

I've been in a similar situation in that I've wanted to like AH more than I actually liked playing AH. I haven't fully identified why yet, other than the game tension tends to ramp down instead of up, which seems backwards.

I also am intrigued by Arkham Investigations, but haven't had a chance to try it yet.

Thanks for posting your ideas! Whether other players like them or not, they are certainly interesting

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Will
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You are welcome Drake, let me know if they help.
 
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Pedro Barradas
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Not trying to sound silly, but it might help if you ever had played Call of Cthulhu RPG..
It's just a game to have thrills, where the objective is not to win, but to see for how long you can survive!
Honestly, can anyone really believe that Cthulhu could be destroyed?
Delayed maybe...

I guess the game is quite good as it is.
It's not about winning, it's about telling an horror story and having fun.
 
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Nicklas Roman
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No.

I don't think I liked any of the suggested changes.
 
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