I introduced a new co-worker to the game this weekend. After listening in on plenty of conversations with my pizza-and-sanity co-worker, he expressed much interest in trying it. He has some background in CCGs and MMOs, so I didn’t feel the need to backpedal all the way to the base game. So I prepared a AH/KY game and added Dunwich Investigators, Investigator cards, and monsters (w/ Dark Druid and Skeletons). I sent him pictures of the Investigators the day before, leaving out several of the "advanced" and "sucky" ones (like Wilson and Sister Mary...sorry, fans).
When we set up, Rookie didn’t want to be "coddled": "Anything you guys do, I’ll do, even if I spend the game being yanked around by a leash." Normally, Pizza and I play 2 Investigators each, and I didn’t want to lose that "sweet spot" rhythm, so they each "drew 2, pick 1" and I just drew 2. Rookie drew Rita and Kate, and he didn’t like Rita. Ability? Picture? Stats? "I like Kate." Oookay. Pizza picked Jim, and I got Jacqueline and Carolyn.
Yeah yeah...the Pimp and his 'Hos. Get it out of your systems.
I shuffled all the AH AOs, with the intent of pulling out Ghroth if Azathoth showed up, but we still ended up with Nyarlathotep. I think Nyarl just likes to be there when new meat hits the grill.
Rookie was cooperative to a FAULT; it seems you can learn something from all those co-op WOW quests. He drew the Bless Spell, and immediately wanted to cast it on Jim, who ended up with a Fight Skill, a Shrivelling, and an Enchanted Blade: "The Fighter should be Blessed." We practically had to hold him down to cast it on himself. (Crazily enough, Jim got Blessed on the next turn anyway, and held onto it the WHOLE GAME!) Then he wanted to trade his King in Yellow to Carolyn, and his Summon the Inner Beast to Jackie! The sick thing is those are actually really good ideas, and I took him up on it, giving him Jackie’s Knife (weak!) and Carolyn’s Cloud Memory (seems weak, but...). I hope I am forgiven by...uh...those who forgive?
I was kinda excited when the Beast hit the board, and I was really excited when the Black Man followed during our first monster surge. Then that went away when the Beast refused to leave, just pacing about the north end of town. (Stupid Star Gates never showed up.) He was a constant obstacle for the Asylum and the General Store, and seemed to...Jim...getting ahead of myself.
Awful, But Priceless: Rookie was able to take on both Tcho-Tchos, a Warlock, and a Mi-Go throughout the game, all at his own direction, not ours: "Can I take this guy?" Unfortunately, this means he never got a monster trophy, and we had to keep taking them away and giving him consolation prizes, although most of us would hardly call a Carbine Rifle and a Gladius of Carcosa "second place". This trend then culminated when "a monster appeared" while Kate was offworld:
"Gimme the Cup!"
"W-we can’t. You’re Kate."
"What does that mean?"
"Can’t I turn the Flux thing off?"
VERY strange explaining the greatness of Kate in an apologetic voice. Most of the combat went to the Spellcasting Carolyn and the on-a-mission-from-God Jim. Pizza delighted in using the Dead Man’s Stomp against the Mummy, a Ghost, and a Wraith, the last by standing in the Street and screaming at the Sky, one would imagine, until it finally came down for him.
We all managed to get offworld at least once, Jim and Jackie both by Mythos Card Surprise. We were planning to send Jim to R’lyeh to use his Strange Luck, but he suddenly vanished from the Graveyard, waiting for the Beast to move away...which, of course, we all realized he wouldn’t have, would he? "Strange Luck, indeed," Jim mused, moseying along the Plateau of Leng.
After Kate returned from the City of the Great Race (fourth Seal in the Woods), Rookie wanted to get north where all the monsters were. He stopped in the Silver Twilight Lodge, and met the infamous Carl Sanford personally. It was the Encounter where you roll dice equal to your Current Sanity, and any successes get you a membership, failures -1 Sanity. "Do I want a Membership?" We told him to read the Inner Sanctum Encounter, which was a Lore Check for 2 Clues and a Spell, but we neglected to tell him that some of those Inner Sanctum Encounters will wring him like a washrag; some lessons must be learned alone. He lost only one Sanity getting that Membership, and chose to hang out at the Lodge for another turn, getting another Clue, but then he couldn’t pay his dues, and Carl threw him out for -2 Sanity. He no longer felt sane enough for fighting (Kate’s lousy Will), so he ended up squatting in the Hospital casting Cloud Memory for three turns, because the damn Beast wouldn’t move from Downtown.
But besides that, somewhere around the middle of the game, Nyarlathotep kinda fell asleep. We drew Intermission, but Jim had the Director’s Diary. The Witch House brought forth a Colour out of Space, but it never activated before the Manhunt sent it back to the Cup. We drew the Southside Strangler Rumor, and there was Kate, fully healed from her Hospital stay, with a pile of Clues. VERY cool that Rookie got to close down the only Rumor in the game (that mattered).
By the time we had 5 Seals, the Mythos just kept bouncing off them (where were those damn Bursts?), except once which dumped a four-monster-surge all over Independence Square, the site of the only Open Gate: Cthonian, Byakhee, Vampire, Goat Spawn. Jackie took a Time Bomb, and tried to get inside the Gate, but her rolls were HORRIBLE and she was out of Clues by the time she failed sneaking past the Cthonian. Thrown into the Hospital with Double Vision.
Now seven-Clue Jim couldn’t leave the General Store, because the Beast was freakin’ tracking him or something, and Deputy Carolyn was Clueless. (How were we to know that no other Gates would open? Would YOU have dived to Yuggoth without any Clues? And Jackie was now useless as she was Clueless with BAD EYES!) It seemed that Nyarl had woken up with a comeback, but then Rookie asked if Jim could use the Patrol Wagon. Legal? Seems so, at least enough that I really didn’t care to debate it, since the game, while fun, was a bit on the "fortunate" side, and would just as soon let it be over. Carolyn "drove" to the General Store, and then Jim "drove" out to the Gate. Jim actually got to use his Strange Luck ability once, Nyarl got one last ditch Doom boost with the Virulent Disease Rumor that would never strike, and then the game was over.
Note that the Beast was there on the board almost the whole game. Just...watching.
Rookie is DYING to play again. He was actually rather upset that we won. (I’ve always said that the best stories of this game are when you lose and LOSE BADLY.) He didn’t get to fight nearly as much as he wanted to, and was disappointed that we didn’t get to beat on Nyarlathotep at the end. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a newbie take to this game so quickly. Before my stories (and screensaver slideshow, and Mythos plushies), he’d never heard of Lovecraft or Cthulhu, or done any kind of boardgaming. By the end of one game, he was taking the lead on Upkeep Pow-wows, constantly reminding Jim to roll his Blessing, and handling his First Player Mythos cards without any prompting.
Coming up next: Innsmouth, Atlach-Nacha, and the Rookie Who Screamed Like a Little Girl!
Very entertaining read!
Agreed. This was a great review.