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Arkham Horror Review
I believe it is justified to write my first review on my blog on the game that really introduces me to other great games. Yes, please welcome my first board game (exclude Monopoly and Snake & Ladders, practically i did not consider them as board games), Arkham Horror, survived the elimination against other candidates (Pandemic and Red November) when we (my gaming group) decided to own our very first board game.
The year is 1926, and it is the height of the Roaring Twenties. Flappers dance till dawn in smoke-filled speakeasies drinking alcohol supplied by rum runners and the mob. It's a celebration to end all celebrations in the aftermath of the war to end all wars.
Yet a dark shadow grows in the city of Arkham. Alien entities known as Ancient Ones lurk in the emptiness beyond space and time, writhing at the gates between worlds. These gates have begun to open and must be closed before the Ancient Ones make our world their ruined domination.
Only a handful of investigators stand against the Arkham Horror. Will they Prevail?
Had been published under one of the biggest publishers of board and card games (Fantasy Flight Games), Arkham Horror was really being in the spotlight for quite some time. Designed by Richard Launius and Kevin Wilson, based on the epic cult horror stories by the myths of H.P. Lovecraft, Arkham Horror in a short time had earn it's fame among other board games.
After several considerations to choose which game that really suitable and fit for us (my gaming group), since we're 4 players group, have quite amount of spare time, and no experience in any professional board game, we decided to pick Arkham Horror, since it's a cooperative game (okay, it's a reasonable idea to start playing board game with cooperative play, right?) which can be played by 1 player up to 8 players at once and has the most variety mechanics, dozens of characters (the good and the bad), challenging game play and the most of all, the theme was so attractive for us in that time. So, looking at the considerations, you all must be thinking that we're the kind of players that really love and think theme is important, well this i can only answer for myself, which is not. No, theme is not the most, but really added as consideration. But for my first impression, visual does really matter, and yes, Akrham Horror has good and powerful visual artworks (well thanks to the artists).
What is it about Cthulhu? Well, it's a Myth creatures of great and supernatural powers by the imagination of Lovecraft, it's the high priest of the great old ones with gargantuan size, lots of tentacles, hideous appearance and usually known by the abject terror it evokes.
Okay, here is my overview of the game,
1. The Theme
As i had said before, the theme of the game is really interesting. Okay, who doesn't like chasing around monsters, closing gates and fighting powerful ones to save the city? Players take roles as investigators who have been summoned to investigate paranormal and mystical happenings in the city of Arkham. With a classic 1990's style and arts, Arkham Horror offer such an intense gripping horror feeling yet challenging and compelling game to accomplish. Player can choose character fro dozens of available options, with different backgrounds and statistics of course (whooho, i love it).
2. The Artworks
On behalf the theme, the artworks were also adjusted to the theme to support a streamline feelings of the theme and game. A classic cult with dark and antique surrounding style to describe the Mythos horror. Many artists were involved and contributes on the artworks and the did a fine job. The illustrations were re-implemented from works of H.P. Lovecraft, to provide details and fresh stunning graphics of the Ancient Ones, monsters and another dimensions.
3. The Game Components
Yeah, one of the things i like about Arkham Horror, the components. Since we're new to the world of board games, unboxing a game full of various components was one of the wonderful things in life (and still). The board is big, the components is so many, the cards are great and many. A 6 folded board that represent the city of Arkham, which consist of city locations, another dimensions, terror track, sky area and outskirt. The cards came in several types and sizes, big (mythos, another dimension, location cards) and small ones ( investigator cards like common items, unique items, spells, blessing / curse cards, retainers, and many others). Lots of tokens for clue tokens, stamina and sanity, elder sign and doom tokens, monsters and gates tokens, player markers and money tokens. The last are the investigator sheets and ancient one sheets and don't forget the 6 d6 dice.
4. The Game Play
Okay, here's the meat of the game. One of the best Ameritrash games with the compilation of game mechanics (dice rolling, variable player power, point to point movement, chit-pull system, hand management, co-operative play). Players choose their investigators (random or not), take their starting item and choose the ancient one they want to deal with. Setup the board with all the tokens and start the game. Player moves start with the first player and clockwise in these turns: Upkeep Phase > Movement > Arkham Encounter > Other World Encounter > Mythos Phase.
At Upkeep phase, players do action simultaneously, refresh their exhaust cards, receive money from the bank, resolve special upkeep actions, and adjust their skill based on their focus. During Movement Phase, each player start from the first player, move where they want to go around the city (based on his / her movement points). After all the players moves, the Arkham Encounter Phase is resolve. Each player in Arkham location draw location card or resolve the location special action. Other World Encounter Phase is resolved if only there's investigator in other world. After that Mythos Phase is resolved, draw Mythos card and resolve it's effect (headline, rumor and environment) and the movement of monsters. A Gate and monster can appear from the effect of Mythos card, and they appeared in Arkham location described by the card (if so, the doom track move 1 step higher. If the location already has a gate open, monster surge happened. Monsters appear from all open gates.Players explore the location of Arkham for acquire items and spells, defeating monsters (and collect their markers as trophy), venture the other world and close the gate, thus preventing the Ancient One awaken when the doom track reach it's limit. When Ancient One awaken, investigators must team up to battle it for the sake of Arkham (this is the final boss, just forget the gates and monsters, focus your aim at the boss and let blessing guide your bullets).
Battling monster is done in different way in Arkham Horror. Investigators must use their skill check to successfully pass the battle or other things. There are lots of checks used in Arkham Horror such as Speed Check, Evade Check, Fight Check, Combat Check, Spell Check, Horror Check and many more. These checks are made by rolling dice (commonly 1 for auto miss and 6 for auto hit). So, the 6 d6 dice are greatly increase the luck factor. Which can be up & down of the game. Well, surely this game is not for players who doesn't like luck interferes with their play.
5. The Replay Value
When you come to sense of the replay value, i assure you that this game provide variety and different game play in every game. Dozens of different investigators, different ancient ones, different items to collect and different effects of the cards and many more. So, yes the game value is quite high. Experience the game with each investigator and ancient ones, and race the trophies against your fellow investigators. Contains heavy text and English language conversion is needed but it will run off after several play and get used with the specific rules. But there's one thing to be notice right here, when you improve your gaming experience and skill, there's a chunk of possibility that you'll end up bored and not challenged anymore with the co-operative play system. So, like myself, after it happened, i was quite had enough of the co-operative game, and want to get into some player competitive games. And another thing, this game has a lot of expansions and by 'a lot' means so many. To this very date, there are 11 expansion listed (small and big boxes), so yes, you have a lot to do and still long way to go, experience all the myth of H.P. Lovecraft. The expansions offers you more game play, new rules, new investigators, ancient ones, monster, new cities, tons of cards and other elements. All of these will gives you something to think about til you go insane in the asylum, by the horror of Cthulhu.
My Thought of The Game
A great game indeed and i was grateful that it's my very first board game. For this level kind of game (heavy medium game), it's a good start to move into heavy games, and just by doing so, i found no difficulties to absorb more heavier games. The theme is almost provide real feeling and the game. The cool thing about the game is you can roaming around the city evading monsters or hunting them, searching and collecting items (wish that it would be powerful enough to help you kick some asses). The most extraordinary feeling about this game is when you battling monsters or doing skill check. Sometimes luck isn't in your side and damn, you sucked. Lose 1 or to stamina or sanity, even unconscious or insane or even devoured! Player elimination huh? Well not really, since you can enter the game immediately with new start investigator, well of course without all the items you have collected. Luck or dice seems the center of fun in this game, so don't blame the dice if your rolls awful, blame your hand!
Images courtesy of BGG users.
So long and thanks for all the fish
42 - Life the Universe and Everything
Nice well structured review, keep them coming.