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Subject: Vanilla Arkham with 2 characters - some observations rss

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Boian Spasov
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Hi everyone,

Got Arkham two weeks ago and can't stop playing it with my wife - we already faced each Ancient One two times and the game is still fresh and exciting for us. I have read the rules several times and also asked on these forums about quite a few unclear points, so I am confident we are getting most of things right and are playing largely by the book.

We are playing the game running 1 character each. Since my impression is that most people prefer to play 2 player games running 2 characters each (4 total), I wanted to share my experience and some things that surprised me in our 2 character games.

1. The games are fast! For a given definition of "fast", that is. Our first one or two games were around three hours, but now we finish our games in 1 1/2 - 2 hours each and every time. We are not rushing, simply the games run smoothly and quickly. This is quite pleasant - we sometimes even play 2 games in sucession without getting tired.

2. We win (mostly) by sealing! While reading in the forums I was under the impression that most people think that 2 character games most often end with a final battle. This may be true with the expansions, but is simply not true for the vanilla game. We win mosty by sealing gates - only 2 of our victories were in final combat.

3. The game is well balanced for 2 characters - our win ratio started at 50% and climbed during our second face off with the ancient ones (after the first 8 games). Currently we win about 2 out of 3 games.

4. Games tend to be very dramatic - almost every one of our games can turn to victory or defeat literally in the last minute! We lost two games with the Ancient one remaining at 1 hit. We lost a game with 2 successes out of 20 dice on the final roll! We won a game by sealing at terror level 10 and 9 monsters on the board! We won a game by sealing after sucessfully passing 5 rumors! At least 3 times we sealed the gates and the doom track stopped just 1 doom token away from the maximum. Fun stuff!

5. Terror track matters - I was under the impression that terror track rarely goes above 5 or 6 when more characters are playing. not so in our games! Usually it is at 6-10 at the end game and we have even lost one game by awakening the GOO from terror level 10 and too many monsters.

6. Games tend to be very different from one another - A single interesting item or investigator ability can make a hell of a difference in a two player game. The ancient one may awaken from doom tokens, gates, and even, terror and monsters. Sometimes it is a good idea to close gates, sometimes it is not. Sometimes the games start slow and end in an action fest, other times most of the pressure is in the beginning. Sometimes we fight tons of monsters, sometimes almost none... Often a single roll turns the game upside down. Sometimes fortune is just too good to be true, other times we roll unbelievably poorly (again, 2 sucesses from 20 dice ) all evening long. All this may be also be true in games with more characters, I am just sharing our experience with two.

Hope this was an interesting read for someone out there. Almost everyone recommended us to play with 3-4 characters, but 2 character vanilla games are also very fun and if you haven't tried them ever, maybe you should! I am not saying they are the superior way to play the game or anything, only that they work for us very well.
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Rauli Kettunen
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blizzardb wrote:
1. The games are fast! For a given definition of "fast", that is. Our first one or two games were around three hours, but now we finish our games in 1 1/2 - 2 hours each and every time. We are not rushing, simply the games run smoothly and quickly. This is quite pleasant - we sometimes even play 2 games in sucession without getting tired.


TBH, that's my time frame for 4 investigator solo games or 2+2 with a friend.

Quote:
5. Terror track matters - I was under the impression that terror track rarely goes above 5 or 6 when more characters are playing. not so in our games! Usually it is at 6-10 at the end game and we have even lost one game by awakening the GOO from terror level 10 and too many monsters.


Except Terror doesn't matter really. It only affects score and closes shops (two of which I almost never bother with to begin with). With KiY or Dagon Herald, Hastur or Glaaki GOO, Terror matters (and with Hastur only if it goes to final combat), otherwise Terror 0 or 10, I don't care, since while I count the score at the end of each game, I don't play for score.
 
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Gijs Bouwman
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blizzardb wrote:
Got Arkham two weeks ago and can't stop playing it with my wife


I'm jealous!cry
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Boian Spasov
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Quote:
TBH, that's my time frame for 4 investigator solo games or 2+2 with a friend.


Good for you! You and your friend are faster than me and my wife after our first two weeks of play. You must be so proud If there ever is an AH race I will know on who to bet!

Quote:
Except Terror doesn't matter really. It only affects score and closes shops (two of which I almost never bother with to begin with). With KiY or Dagon Herald, Hastur or Glaaki GOO, Terror matters (and with Hastur only if it goes to final combat), otherwise Terror 0 or 10, I don't care, since while I count the score at the end of each game, I don't play for score.


It certainly mattered both in the game when the Ancient One awoke at 10 monsters and 5 seals on the board, and at the game when we won with terror at 10 after several rounds of one player thinning their numbers to keep them from reaching 10. The other games that it ended in 8-10 range it certainly gave us pause, if nothing else. And closing the Curiosity Shoppe is not pleasant, as you said.
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Rauli Kettunen
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IMO, adding the second investigator into a 2-player game (making it 2+2) doesn't really add that much time to the game. Plus, it's nice(r) to have another investigator in case one is arrested/LiTaS/etc., so your turn doesn't consist of moving it from prone to standing.

Should mention probably that I use everything but KH these days. Which generally means there is a window of 14 turns on average in which to get 6 seals down (or more, in case gate bursts) or the GOO wakes from the doom track filling. With DH and IH in the mix, there are 20 unstable locations (vs 11 in base game), leading to less monster surges ("best" is 0-surges in a 17 Mythos card game) and bounces on sealed locations, more doomers.
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Bob T
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(And I thought I was playing this way too often...)

Had one game where the Terror Level was 10 for several turns- Invs were frantically killing monsters to keep the Old One from awakening!

That's the brilliance of Arkham Horror, each game can be totally different....

Or to misquote The Golden Voyage of Sinbad- "Each voyage has its own flavor"
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Boian Spasov
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Dam the Man wrote:
IMO, adding the second investigator into a 2-player game (making it 2+2) doesn't really add that much time to the game. Plus, it's nice(r) to have another investigator in case one is arrested/LiTaS/etc., so your turn doesn't consist of moving it from prone to standing.

Should mention probably that I use everything but KH these days. Which generally means there is a window of 14 turns on average in which to get 6 seals down (or more, in case gate bursts) or the GOO wakes from the doom track filling. With DH and IH in the mix, there are 20 unstable locations (vs 11 in base game), leading to less monster surges ("best" is 0-surges in a 17 Mythos card game) and bounces on sealed locations, more doomers.


I suspected expansions change things much, even to the point where 3-4 investigators are the norm if you want to stand a chance.

Out vanilla games feel like they are quite longer than 14 turns, although I never really bothered to count the turns. Maybe I will next time we are playing.
 
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Rauli Kettunen
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blizzardb wrote:
Out vanilla games feel like they are quite longer than 14 turns, although I never really bothered to count the turns. Maybe I will next time we are playing.


Perils of OCD. I started using a D20 for keeping track of the Mythos cards drawn when I added Innsmouth blush .
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Volker Hirscher
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We play with Dunwich, CotDP and KiY now, and we only play 2p - 1 investigator each. Personally, I like this better BY FAR than playing with 2 investigators each - I think you feel more "connected" to the character you are playing ang get a better storyline out of it if you play only one.

The game (with the mentioned expansions) is hard, I would say we win about 1 in 4 games. But I like that - winning too often makes the challenge boring. BTW: For us, the "best" victory is by sealing the gates: You will never have all gates closed with only 2 players, and winning the battle against the GOO is ok, but not as good as a sealing-victory.
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Tristan Hall
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mavo wrote:
You will never have all gates closed with only 2 players


Play enough times and you will eventually.

To the OP: great post, extremely articulate, also echoes our sentiments exactly. We normally play with 2-3 players but never more than 1 investigator each and the games are exactly as dramatic as you described. If you do add in any expansions however, you will notice the difficulty increase significantly. You will also be unable to play without them, so enjoy your 2/3 victory ratio whilst it lasts! We all know that expansions, for you, are but an inevitability . . .

goo
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Boian Spasov
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You are right, of course. Our first expansion - Innsmouth (choosing between it and Dunwitch was very difficult, btw), is already on its way. However, if I find it ups the difficulty too much, I will use the additional board only for 3+ character games.
 
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