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Subject: Open letter to Fantasy Flight regarding expansions. rss

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Morgan Dontanville
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Congratulations Fantasy Flight,

You have put out an astounding game system. Arkham Horror and all of its appendages get more table time that just about any game that I own (Age of Steam/Steam beats it, but what can one do?). So needless to say, I love it.

When I heard about The Lurker at the Threshold, I was elated. Now, one might examine the two boxes near bursting from the one million cards pack firmly inside and ask, "Morgan, how on earth could you need more cards for this?" The answer of course is, I don't. But that doesn't mean that I don't want them.

Let's talk about the point of this letter, rather than endlessly suckle on the milky teat of a squid god.

What can Fantasy Flight do for Arkham Horror that would make people feel that they need the expansion rather than what, in their caprice, they merely want?

A: We need an Expansion Expansion.

I've been a fiend for these expansions. I've taken a more is better approach, and for the most part it has paid off. I love to play the game in its entirety stretched across my table, leaves fully extended, with the legs near buckling under the sheer mass of game.

While I wouldn't go so far as to say that playing the Full Monty is problematic, there are some elements, to my mind, that could be improved upon. So, when I heard about the new expansion I was giddy with glee, first in knowing that the well was no longer dry (as you know, rumor had it that the trickling aqua vitae of expansions was kaput) and second, I'd hoped that some of these "issues" would be addressed.

I've read the contents, much to my chagrin, I'm a little disappointed. Don't get me wrong I'll buy it the day it comes out, and probably enjoy the facacta additions, and certainly will enjoy the additional cards to the base set.

So why am I disappointed? Well lets talk about my needs, shall we?

Prepare to be bullet pointed:
* Dilution: Events/features. With every expansion we get the joy of seeing all of the new stuff getting mixed into the base set. This is great for people that just want to play the base set with one expansion, but for suckers like me that want the whole shebang, there is little reason to go through the work to become a cultist if a cult card never comes up. I want to go through the work to become a cultist, I want it to be worth it. Now one might say that to get the full Cult of the Black Woods experience I should just play it with the one expansion. Now whoever says this might be right, but Fantasy Flight, I am a needy person and have unreasonable desires. I'll include what I think it the solution at the end of the next bullet point. I know that you are waiting with baited breath.

* Isolationism vs Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and Deck Size Envy. As it currently stands when you buy an expansion you add the expansion stuff more or less only into Arkham and their subsequent otherworlds (Lost Carcossa and Another Dimension get the short end of the stick). Dunwich stays with Dunwich, Kingsport stays with Kingsport, and King in Yellow only hangs out with Arkham. Yes I know that Arkham is the center of all of these stories, but, you know, conceptually someone in Kingsport should know about Innsmouth.

In addition, when you buy a big box expansion you get this promise of adventure the same way you get with Arkham, but I can't help but feel that there is a real love 'em and leave 'em attitude going on here. Just as it was felt necessary to add to the location encounter deck in order to mix things up, the big boxes could use some attention. How can we not compare the deck size of the Dunwich encounters to the base game. Taken out of the reality of the way that the expansions have developed to expand the base game, one has to ask does Hib's Roadhouse merit more attention than Wizard's Hill?

My solution is with the Expansion Expansion. Add cards to the expansions that cross-pollinate. Imagine my joy when I dig into a deep deck at Whately Farm to fine a cult encounter there or find an Egyptian Artifact at the Esoteric Order of Dagon. Seriously, imagine it.

That's right.

Big joy.

In addition, the inter-species fertilization suddenly means more fun mythos cards that can manipulate the environments of the other boards. Suddenly, this opens up the possibility for Rumors that are plaguing Dunwich requiring objectives found in other locations.

* Dilution: Stuff. No denying that the more you add to the system, them more the essentials are lost in the mix. Sometimes, you just really need a gun. There are two solutions to this:

One, you include cards and events that let you dig through the deck to get what you want. This is a real time suck and frankly is kludgy. The decks are gigantic, there is tons of stuff to read, and everyone will just pick the best item that they can, so you don't get to see the middling stuff as much.

Two, give me more of the same where it is needed to bolster the mix back to a normalized level. Using guns as an example, they don't have to be the same, but as long as they have something of a similar function I'm happy.

* Kingsport's potential. Let's not beat around the bush here. Kingsport is the weak link in a very strong chain. I want to like it, but there are problems (we don't need to go into them here). I'm not the only one that feels this way. It needs some spice.

I don't want this to take on an accusatory tone, but you are Fantasy Flight. You have a reputation of fixing a game with expansions. You've already done it once with this system. Well, this expansion needs some fixing, or at least a little lifeblood.

The Expansion Expansion could help (at the very least a way for monsters or gates to get into Kingsport with relative frequency).

* Heralds vs Guardians. I like the Heralds, but with all the expansions in play Heralds really drive the game forward and often prevent a sense of exploration. I like the exploration. I found that the Guardians allow for players to tool around a little bit. I miss it when you have no chance to accomplish side missions. I would love to see new Guardians to mix up the game. With all the new Heralds, one would hope to see new Guardians to offset them. I'm waiting.


Well, the bullet points are at their end.

I've been very pleased with most everything that has been done for this game (with the exception of the Acts which I think are lame joykills -- I think I threw them away). You have my trust and money with further expansions, but realize that some of what you've already released needs support.

Thank you for all your hard work and determination.

Hugs,
Morgan
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Jefferson Krogh
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I agree that a "blender" expansion would be a fun idea, but it should be the very last one. I thought FFG was done after Innsmouth. Now, I dunno -- we might have another 6 expansions for all I know.

After Innsmouth, I regretfully resigned from the "all the expansions all the time" club. I'm looking forward to playing Lurker with just the base game a few times, but not so much to playing with seven expansions at once....
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Fabian
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Sigh... and so we wishers wish... and wish...
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Chris Ferejohn
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This is the best "open letter" I've ever read. Usually they are are full of intolerable whining about how someone should be running their company. This one actually acknowledges that other concerns may exist.

It probably helps that I agree with it. laugh
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Jim Kiefer
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Kobold Curry Chef wrote:
I agree that a "blender" expansion would be a fun idea, but it should be the very last one. I thought FFG was done after Innsmouth. Now, I dunno -- we might have another 6 expansions for all I know.

How will they know its the last one? Should they go out on a high like MASH or Seinfeld? If and/or after sales drop dramatically, then FFG won't be interested anymore.

Quote:
After Innsmouth, I regretfully resigned from the "all the expansions all the time" club. I'm looking forward to playing Lurker with just the base game a few times, but not so much to playing with seven expansions at once....

I resigned from that club a while back but apparently not so regretfully as you. I really like playing only 1 or 2 expansions at a time. Even so I sometimes double up the effect of Dunwich and Innsmouth trying to coax the Dunwich Horror into making an appearance or teasing the Deep One Rising track into scaring me.

I have to admit that Black Goat doesn't get much playing time nor does Kingsport. OTOH I'm glad I don't have to deal with them every game either like the all-inners do.

I say: Bring on the expansions! I have room for several more in my big box of Arkham goodies!

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Jefferson Krogh
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mageith wrote:
Kobold Curry Chef wrote:
I agree that a "blender" expansion would be a fun idea, but it should be the very last one. I thought FFG was done after Innsmouth. Now, I dunno -- we might have another 6 expansions for all I know.

How will they know its the last one? Should they go out on a high like MASH or Seinfeld? If and/or after sales drop dramatically, then FFG won't be interested anymore.


That's a great question. I don't really have an answer. If you ship a "blender" expansion as #8, but keep going, then what? Do you start shipping expansion #9 and up so that they do blend with other expansions? Do a second "blender" expansion around #12? I really have no idea how FFG could do it.

This bothers me, because I really would like to see a "blender." Even if I'm using 2-3 expansions at a time, I'd love to have them interact more.

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Phil Garland
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sisteray wrote:
endlessly suckle on the milky teat of a squid god.


I didn't even need to finish the post to thumb this one up! Can someone out there name their band after this?

Great letter! I agree with it as well, even though I still have yet to acquire Innsmouth, Dark Pharaoh, and Black Goat. I've limited myself to one big box or two small boxes per month until I get all of them, and just picked up Kingsport two weeks back. It finally hits the table next week.

Some way to play the expansions without Arkham would be nice--might not do it often, but somehow integrating them would be fun to try.

Go FFG!
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David Hoffman
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Somehow, I knew this "open letter" would be different.

This is a very good idea. More, here's how you offer a blender expansion without making everyone's eyes bleed. Either:

(1) Blender Expansion 1 -- cross-pollinates all existing expansions (say, 1-7, if you want to number them).

(2) Blender Expansion 2 -- cross-pollinates next batch (say, 8-12)

- or -

(1) as above (1-7 all inclusive) and then,

(2) from 8 up, you include "blender" cards in future expansions.

The key thing is that not EVERY element of EVERY expansion has to be connected. But even 20 cards in a small box expansion which point at other elements of the game would be awesome.
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Daniel Smith
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Here's what I would like in a blender expansion. A big box that functions as a blender/new base, something like Antarctica or Egypt. The investigator card mix could balance item dilution and function on its own. The mythos cards/gate cards could refer to multiple other expansions. When those expansions are in play, their specific effects happen. When they are not in play, separate tracks (a la dunwhich horror, deep ones) are run up to our ultimate doom.

From a marketing standpoint, this could be better than a strict blender expansion because its market is not limited to those who have purchased all the previous expansions (or even the original base game). Its one failing is that its not going to add more encounters to other board locations.
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♫ Eric Herman ♫
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I thought Seinfeld was still great right up through the last season, but that finale... whew... happened to catch it on cable recently and it was as bad as I remembered it.

Anyway, great idea... I'm all for more expansions because I like variety and I have no intention to play with more than one, maybe two expansions at a time, anyway, so dilution isn't so much of an issue. But I agree that some cards that could help to blend expansions would be really nice.

I'd also be very interested in a new main board, or a board that functions in a new way or covers new territory, as others have suggested. Or better yet, they should really see about getting the Batman license and make this Batman adaptation using the AH system. It's a great system and there are so many interesting ways to adapt it and add on to it. I'm sure there will continue to be more expansions, as long as we keep buying them, but here's hoping they just don't add onto the bloat and head in some new directions...
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David Aubert
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Very good open letter.

As a 'All-in' player, I find playing with all AH expansion becoming slighly problematic and I was hoping that no more expansion were added after Innsmouth.

Now, a blender expansion with cards linking expansions together and renforce some dilluted mechanics (Next act, cult of the black goat) would be great.

My only regret is that they didn't assume this before : If, after Dunwich, each expansion contains, 10 to 15 mythos and OW usable for the owners of previous expansion, the need of a blender wouldn't have been raised.
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Gunther Schmidl
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"Blender" is a great name for this hypothetical expansion

I think it'd be a good idea, too. Could fix some of the minor complaints that've been popping up around the game, and/or misprints, at the same time.
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Rauli Kettunen
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sisteray wrote:
Now one might say that to get the full Cult of the Black Woods experience I should just play it with the one expansion.


Just play with the Herald, getting Cult Membership should be easy enough with the Corruption you can get for killing hexagon monsters. Of course, won't help in the exploration aspect you later mention.

Quote:
* Dilution: Stuff. No denying that the more you add to the system, them more the essentials are lost in the mix. Sometimes, you just really need a gun.


Personally, this adds to the difficulty, especially with the dilution of the Elder Signs and the better weapons, so a big plus for me. Actually, I'll go ahead and say this is a MUST for me.

Quote:
* Heralds vs Guardians. I like the Heralds, but with all the expansions in play Heralds really drive the game forward and often prevent a sense of exploration. I like the exploration. I found that the Guardians allow for players to tool around a little bit. I miss it when you have no chance to accomplish side missions. I would love to see new Guardians to mix up the game. With all the new Heralds, one would hope to see new Guardians to offset them. I'm waiting.


You could use a fairly minimal effect Herald like the DH if you want to use a Herald, but not get an increase in difficulty. To me, Heralds add difficulty, which is what I'm after. Exploration I do is OWs and those encounters I "have" to do when stopping to collect Clues.
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Another idea to play with might be a complete new alternative core board set in the Dreamlands and let things go nuts from there.

I'd like to see the aborted miniatures re-introduced but in a more sane marketing strategem than what was pretty much rejected by the gaming populace.

As for how many more could they go? Well the minis had a defined 2 year release structure so my guess is FFG has plans for at least one or two more expansions that would have kept interest over that span.

Thats just my thoughts and observations on the interesting state and development of the game so far.

Personally I liked the presentation that I was introduced to the game of playing the core and just one or two expansions at best in a session rather than some protoplasmic agglomeration of all the expansions that cause the posters listed issues.
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Paul
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I would imagine the best part about them doing an Anti Dilution Expansion would be that a big encouragement to finish off the expansions would mean increased sales of all the Arkham Horror box sets.

I always figured they don't consider an anti dilution expansion because they are concerned for small sales but someone like me who has no desire to buy all expansions because I can't use them all together any better than what I'm already playing with just a few expansions would deffinately buy them all up to be able to play a much more varied game.

Oh and please find a way to bring us them Arkham Horror miniatures, there were plenty of non whiners who were drooling at the prospect of collecting them
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♫ Eric Herman ♫
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FFG might already have the next expansion (meaning the one after Lurker) planned out and possibly already being playtested and produced, etc. As someone said, the 2 year plan of the minis probably indicates that other AH releases were going to go along with that. And why shouldn't they, from a business standpoint, considering it sells so well? So I'm guessing that there might be another "more cards/more stuff to add dilution" expansion after this one. But hopefully they might take a different direction and do an "expansion expansion" or a new main board "reboot" after that.
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Styfen wrote:
I'd like it to come in a box which holds all the cards and everything from all the expansions.

One game. One box!


This will do it... I don't know why people keep referring to this as a "small box" expansion.


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Totally agree with the open letter. I would also like to see the "expansion expansion idea" with Descent as well.
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Johannes Heimann
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I would appreciate an expansion without new rules!
Be it some sort of "cross-referring" the locations and/or tasks in encounters or just a replenishment of existing decks.

What I really desire is a special collectors edition with all existing components (something like they did for lotr), with card-holders, token-boxes etc. etc.
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White Raven wrote:
What I really desire is a special collectors edition with all existing components (something like they did for lotr), with card-holders, token-boxes etc. etc.


Shhhh.... They'll hear you and make the Arkham Horror Ultimate Edition.... my wallet could not take a LotR-esque remake that costs hundreds of dollars!
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Great letter, I wholeheartedly agree.

I'm going to add to it that getting from place to play can be slow and having someone stuck in a city the whole game can be a chore. I'd also like to see a variant rule for NPCs, wherein you get a bonus character for each additional board that is controlled by the group. These NPCs would be people with whom the main characters have a correspondence (a common mythos plot hook) who are having parallel and intertwining adventures. This way, characters are not forced to travel to all cities (especially with fewer players) and can still watch the story unfold in the broader multi-town setting.
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Jefferson Krogh
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Let me see what things should be in a blender expansion. Feel free to add to this list:

* At least doubling the number of Arkham Encounter cards for the 3 new towns.
* Arkham Encounters for the 3 new towns that provide "barred from the neighborhood" and "draw Exhibit items" results.
* Far more Arkham Encounter cards offering membership in the Black Goat cult.

* Blight cards for Dunwich and Kingsport, maybe Innsmouth too (they're already nuts up there, anyway).
* "Barred" cards for the 3 new towns.

* New Other Worlds Encounter cards exclusively for the Dunwich & Kingsport gates.

* Additional Mythos cards concentrating on gates for Dunwich and Innsmouth.
* Additional "Next Act Begin" cards for the Mythos deck to prevent dilution.

What have I missed? Plenty, I'm sure....
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Morgan Dontanville
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Dam the Man wrote:

Personally, this adds to the difficulty, especially with the dilution of the Elder Signs and the better weapons, so a big plus for me.


And sometimes you just want a map.
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Troy Mullineaux
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More!!!

More!!!

My only concern is to keep whatever they make available for all to purchase.
Many companies don't do this...
I don't like promo or reward based additions, make it all general public buying able.

Maybe also a promotional event like they are doing for Runewars/Runebound/Descent at their new center... I know $60 for an event, but could be interesting and useful to communicate these type of concerns and wish list items.

I've turned into a completest/collector on this and Runebound, so I'll probably snatch up anything they produce.
War of the Ring too... wow! was that expensive!!!
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Bob T
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I like your "expansion expansion" idea... They kinda do that with the Personal Story cards from Innsmouth, they include them for every Investigator from every previous expansion. The new Items already affect whatever game you're playing, but it'd be cool to have Dunwich encounters send you to Innsmouth or K-Port (never played the Kingsport expansion yet)

Maybe combine these "Crossover" decks with the sort of Massive Campaign Game we all secretly want where you fight multiple Old Ones (always leading up to Azathoth of course)

Maybe each town could get destroyed separately- for ex if the Dunwich Horror awakens for too long the Dunwich board is removed (and becomes "a habitation of devils"?), or if the Deep Ones emerge Innsmouth sinks into the sea- either event has vast consequences for the rest of the game (add to a Herald's negative effects, or lose max sanity or -1 on ALL skill checks from then on, that sort of thing)


You should do your own "expansion expansion" decks on Strange Aeons (I hear it's great but I've never used it)

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