Lee Valentine
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I just played the longest board game that I've played in close to 20 years. I think it was about six hours playing one game of A Touch of Evil. The fun factor was high at points, but overall it reminded me of one of those endless games of Talisman I played in college. While ATOE remains a favorite of mine, this session, while tense, was really so damn long it was mind-numbing. Ironically we got crushed so fast in the previous game that it took less than an hour. So we didn't really have a normal length game either time.


Captain Hawkins (John), Inspector Cooke (Nick), and Isabella von Took (Lee) were the heroes at hand. Captain Hawkins was amassing wealth by sending Militia to their deaths against various extradimensional horrors coming through summoning circles. He took all the glory for the kills (and pocketed his men's final paychecks for himself).

Inspector Cooke wandered aimlessly for a while, but found a seemingly endless source of clues at the Inn near Echo Lake. Once he got his hands on the inn keeper's log, he started keeping a close eye on the other heroes as well. He knew every secret of the Town Elders that there was to know. If he had spent more time at the Magistrate's Office instead of sipping ale at the Inn, Cooke could have been a force to be reckoned with. As it was, he was gathering his clues by buying rounds of drinks rather than sharpening his keen mind.

Isabella managed to round up the Captain of the Watch and the handful of remaining soldiers that Captain Hawkins hadn't already sent to their untimely deaths. These along with Lucy Hanbrook, a musketeer, and faithful retainer carrying a locked box of bombs around were all on the lookout for the Unspeakable Horror. Unlike Hawkins, Isabella was a little cash poor from paying all her servants; she also tried to keep them in good health. She was a tireless woman of great endurance, and had a master plan. To augment her own endurance she had acquired healing herbs and a book with the secrets of life during her visit to the Monastery.

The Town Elders were almost all in league with things man was not meant to be named. Four of them were overtly on the side of the Unspeakable Horror, chanting his name and proclaiming "The End is Nigh". The Magistrate had come to the edge of death after one encounter with cultists, but Inspector Cooke gave his own blood in a transfusion to revive the man. The Magistrate was later driven mad and evil by spectral tentacles reaching into his mind. Another Town Elder had fallen. Lord Hanbrook was insane as well. While by day he was On the Hunt looking for cultists and fell creatures from beyond the pale, by night we knew he was a worshipper of the dark gods. Luckily, he was not called to the final battle with the evil horror. Doctor Manning was the only one out of the six Town Elders who was not wholly driven to serve the forces of Darkness. Even he had his mind shattered for a time; we found him vivisecting both a monk and the infamous bandit the Scarlet Shadow. He had proclaimed that by studying their living entrails, he had deduced the secret words that would be needed to keep the Unspeakable Horror at bay.

Every time evil moved its plans forward, the adventurers seemingly reset the doomsday clock, delaying the inevitable confrontation confrontation with the foul entity seeking entry into our own world. Given what seemed like an eternity to prepare, Isabella discovered the Unspeakable Horror in the dank waters beneath the same covered bridge where the Spectral Horseman had been spotted only months earlier. Others had tried to find the villains Lair several times, but the villain had so many gateways into our world prepared by its minions that it had eluded everyone but Isabella. Along with her faithful entourage, she took with her Doctor Manning. Thankfully the evil Lord Hanbrook was on business for his master, but all the other town elders stood at the bridge to welcome the hellspawn into our world.

Just as tentacles and a thousand eyes tore their way into our reality, and as the waters beneath the bridge gurgled with an indescribable sound, both beautiful and terrible, Isabella and her entourage opened fire first on the servants of darkness and then on the thing itself in a Spirited Attack. A tentacle reached for Isabella's head, but she blocked deftly with a crossbow which was knocked from her hands. A brave soldier lost his life to another tentacle and fell screaming into the creature's greedy maw. Isabella grabbed the fallen soldier's musket, and with the help of her entourage finished off the beast without a even a scratch of damage on any of them, no doubt in part to the secret words of power that Doctor Manning had been chanting to keep the creature writhing in pain as we fought it.

In game time it probably took weeks. In real time it was probably six hours of gaming for one villain. The bloody Shadow Track danced back and forth. At the end it was still probably around 8. If I hadn't called the Showdown when I did, the game could have gone on even longer. I forgot to use my bombs or I might have finished the creature off without even a loss of my militia man. I had so many sidekicks at one point that Inspector Cooke jokingly offered to sign up to be part of my retinue. The other players had several cards to deprive me of allies if I ever took a wound, but I don't think that my character took a single wound the whole game. Early on Captain Hawkins' militiamen were killing every monster on the board. Shortly after that, I had acquired enough investigation that I could use Isabella's ability to prevent all wounds. The other gamers thought Isabella was mad too. "I go from the Windmill the Blacksmith to the Windmill, I linger at the Windmill, and go to the Manor, and back to the Windmill." I probably spent close to 1/3 or more of the game wandering around the windmill. The other players reset the Shadow Track frequently, and most of the Mystery cards we drew were ongoing effects rather than Shadow Track moves, meaning that the game dragged on seemingly forever. I was actually visiting Void locations just to move the Shadow Track toward zero. I couldn't easily afford a Lair card for 8-12 Investigation, and I was trying to drive it down to a level where the cost was just 3. This is the only game I've played of ATOE where I was trying to draw Mystery cards as fast as I could. A ridiculous strategy for a ridiculous gaming session.

Lee Valentine
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Neil Edmonds
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Just a thought - did Reassuring Speech come up multiple times? It's supposed to go into the box after it's used vs. getting shuffled back into the deck.
 
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Lee Valentine
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Neil, if that happened, it probably didn't happen more than once because I had one of those and was refusing to play it, cause I wanted the Shadow Track to go down to make the Lair costs cheaper.

There was a Reassuring Speech, at least one Hold Back the Darkness, at least one Blood Transfusion. They all rolled at or near max and moved the Shadow Track back around 9 spaces. Somebody may have used something to fetch Hold Back the Darkness an extra time, I can't remember. I am not sure why Flying Frog errata'd Reassuring Speech to be discarded after use, and then went and made two other cards that aren't once per game and introduced them in Something Wicked. I seem to remember a card combo involving Victor Danforth, but those other cards can often prolong the game pretty easily.

That said, what really was happening a lot was that we were drawing lots of Ugly Mystery cards like Weather effects and upgrades to the big bad that didn't move the Shadow Track much, but which ate up real time. Some of these cards actually contributed to the game's pace, like reductions to our Movement, for example.

By the end of the game, if you include the Evil Elders the Unspeakable Horror had 15 Combat and 14 Wounds. If Lord Hanbrook had joined in with his extra secret, the Unspeakable Horror would have had 16 Combat and 16 Wounds, but Hanbrook wasn't accused of being an Evil Elder.

15/14 in a co-op game is not that ridiculous, but in competitive play it was a bit much. If I hadn't had 5+ hours to amp up I would have been croaked by the thing. Since I had the character I did and I had customized my upgrades so precisely it was actually pretty easy for me after all those hours of play.

Lee
 
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Vernon Evenhuis
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I haven't seen a game of this ever go beyond the 3 hour mark. The Unspeakable Horror is a nasty piece of work and the game can be longer with that villain, but 6 hours!? That's just insane!
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Lee Valentine
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This was competitive play, but the Unspeakable Horror always goes long since you can spend Investigation against him. It makes people want to bank up for a long time before fighting, "just to be sure".

Also, everyone else was investigation rich and not as well-developed overall as me. I was a fully developed character, ready for a fight, so they were trying to keep Lair costs high because I was cash poor.

Lee
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Fred Cromer
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The key word 'COMPETITIVE " play. The other players were part of the problem. The game lasted so long due to this. I can see how this happened. With that said, it sounded like an amazing game session. I`m just getting into this game and look forward to having a session to really talk about. Good gaming, guys.

Freebird out.
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