Jacqueline (Pizza), Ursula (Zebra), Monterey (Wings), Mandy (Me) vs. Bokrug. Innsmouth (+ Lurker Mythos) with Dark Pharaoh. Hypnos and Organized Crime.
Pizza had had enough of losing, and was prepared to thumb his nose at the universe. Violating the cardinal rule of “never say it out loud” during our confirmation-of-game e-mails, he sent the following:
P.S. Can we try and win one, please?
P.S.S. That does NOT mean make the game easier, JGT!
He spent most of the session brazenly challenging the game to take its best shot, despite the rest of us fearing for his soul and edging away from his chair so as to not get caught in the blast.
Bokrug was the last AO for this group to face at least once. I was happy about this, because c’mon, it’s the Holidays, and Bokrug is a very unique AO. Every other AO is just a countdown and a Slumber block, but Bokrug allows you to tangibly chip at his Slumber block as he counts down. It makes Bokrug the best “party AO”. I passed everyone a Being of Ib to read, secretly delighting in their disapproval because I knew how much they would enjoy beating them little white uglies up, one by one. Even better, everyone agreed to hold on to their Ib instead of putting them all on Bokrug, using them as a warty source of motivation.
Everyone started with a Mob Retainer, but Ursula and Mandy lost theirs on Turn 2. Monterey eventually lost his, but Jacqueline was a moll for the entire game. I think we used the Black Market once, but no one used a Sawbones or paid for a Lawyer (although Jacqueline came very close).
Ursula started in the Asylum to get a jump on her Newspaper Assignment Task. Jacqueline also had a Task (Genealogy Research), and headed to the Library. A Gug in Downtown, bolstered by bad Ibs, was pretty damn intimidating to the blocked Ursula. Mandy traded her Blue Watcher of the Pyramid to Monterey, already armed with a Seeker of the Yellow Sign, so he could use his sizable Stamina to silently remove the Gug without rolling a die. Ursula took his Gladius of Carcosa (Monterey had already shopped for a Cursed Sphere) on her way out after her own Story trophies.
An Evil Fog (extremely bad when combined with the Horror Ib!) cut Jacqueline off from Graveyard, so she went Clue gathering for a Seal and ammo for her Precognition. Monterey went after his favorite monster, a candy-coated Mi-Go, for some highly appropriate Petrifying Solution. Mandy shopped for an Elder Sign (to match Ursula’s starting one), then stuck around the shop for a visiting Hypnos and a Sale: the Golden Sword for Jacqueline, the second Gladius for Ursula, a Dark Cloak and Gray’s Anatomy for Mandy. So Ursula came back from the Witch House (Task, Part 2) with Thomas Malone to take out a Shoggoth and Deep One Hybrid with both Gladii (SPARTACUS!!!), but leaving her on the edge of insanity.
Clues had been built up by most (except Monterey and his annoying story) when Good Things Undone hit. Mandy and Ursula agreed to meet to split the Pass when Mandy got shock-dumped at Independence Square to the City of the Great Race. Not the worst event, since Mandy could seal, but we really wanted those Unique Items from that Rumor before we had to waste too many Clues. So Jacqueline forsook her Seal stash and Monterey eased his Story buffer, and all earthbound Investigators met at Easttown to pass the Rumor. Jacqueline received an Enchanted Blade, loading the whole party with almost every magic sword in the game. Ursula placed the Throne of Carcosa in Downtown (the only logical good place it can go), Monterey gave up an Eltdown Shards for our THIRD Elder Sign, and Mandy got a Lightning Gun. As the triumphant crew broke up, Jacqueline sterilized the Downtown Streets of a Elder Thing so Ursula could get to the Asylum after completing her Newspaper Task. Monterey beat up a Child of the Goat in the Streets before heading back to the Graveyard for the Ghoul that killed his father, completing his story before leaving for the Plateau of Leng.
Devil Reef finally opened—Innsmouth was pretty sleepy this game, and Jacqueline blocked any other aquatic Gates from opening—and dumped the Star Vampire and a Wraith on the Innsmouth Shore. We wanted someone to go up there—leaving Devil Reef alone for too long invites disaster—but Ursula had taken her full Sanity to the Dreamlands via the Witch House, and Mandy was needing to use a Carcosan Throne/Asylum combo to retrieve hearts and brains. Pizza was extremely unthrilled with trying to get past those monsters to get to Falcon Point, but agreed to stay north just to hit the Train Station for Hypnos. A quick trip to the Dreamlands found him with an Execration Text, which Pizza would consider using against the Wraith if he absolutely had to go to Innsmouth. But then the Church Boycotted the Dark Pharaoh’s Exhibit, dispelling the Evil Fog (and counteracting the Horror Ib’s effect: Horror Checks from -2 to +1!) and moving the Wraith to the Sky to fall victim to Mandy’s Lightning Gun. Pizza had no problem traveling to Innsmouth after that. (Nay, he crowed about it to the cosmos! )
…Except he stopped at the Esoteric Order of Dagon for three Clues and some Sanity loss. Which wouldn’t get him past the Horror Check against the Star Vampire, so he went to the Gilman Hotel to recover enough brains to forfeit the Horror Check and sack that blood-red monstrosity…leaving behind both yellow and blue “Call Feds” groupings full after his Innsmouth tour. (Pizza was almost insufferable in his taunting of the outer terrors now. )
Monterey got our second Seal on the Graveyard, traveling the length of Leng on 2 Stamina/2 Sanity. (Wings is a borderline Scrappy-Doo on low Stats: “Sanity, schmanity! Lemme at ‘em!”). The moment Wings got her Gate trophy, she prepared to punch an Ib’s ticket with fervor…which quickly turned to indignant bellowing after being told that she couldn’t do it until she was in an Other World. Wings was ready to clock me one, even though I KNOW I read Bokrug’s text word-for-word at the beginning. But I was told I did not read that part IN BOLD, nor did I emphasize it enough afterwards, so CLEARLY it was MY fault. This continues my streak of things-I-say-aloud-incorrectly-to-Wings…or at least it does in Wings’ deranged psychosis when it comes to me speaking…
Ursula encountered the Bloated Woman (Nyarlathotep , is that you?) in the Dreamlands to score a Mi-Go Brain Case…and that’s when the Return to the Old Ways Rumor hit. We considered using Jacqueline, but that would leave her at less than five Clues…and Zebra had a crazy idea: swap with the Dimensional Shambler on Devil Reef, to both kill the rumor (with a puny Knife!) and seal that damn rock. (Since Ursula could just brain-case back out to safety, screw Falcon Point and any reason for Jacqueline to remain in Innsmouth!) So Ursula returned through the more-recent Lenglands Gate on the Unnameable (our third Seal), clearing away the Hunting Horror waiting for her, and did exactly as planned: the poor Shambler was sent to the Outskirts due to the monster limit, and our second Rumor was passed. Then, while in Another Dimension, Ursula bumped into Nephren-Ka (Nyarlathotep again?) for (a) a fight with a Dark Young, which allowed her to pass her Story for an Eltdown Shards and a Petrifying Solution, and (b) the Book of the Dead, which Zebra used to escort that same Dark Young and a Shoggoth out of the ballpark when he removed the Horror Ib. (One wonders what beef the Great Meddler Nyarlathotep must have with Bokrug.)
Steering clear of our own Common Items in the meantime, the rest of us found places to safely hide. Since Monterey’s Elder Sign put him on the brink and he needed to recover before getting back offworld for another Ib, he made his way to the Hospital for full Stamina with a Feeding the Mind chaser. Mandy hid in the General Store while Jacqueline checked back into the Gilman Hotel.
Monterey charged out of the Hospital to the Historical Society, exhausted his Cursed Sphere on a Crawling One, and Revolver-Whipped a Maniac to head off to the City of the Great Race through the dual gate. Unfortunately, a Hound of Tindalos tracked him there, and not even his Petrifying Solution could save him from that. Since there was no way to survive combat with it, Wings had to lose her Seal to use enough Clues to evade it. But she was able to remove the Gate Ib as a consolation prize.
Okay, you’re going to love this: After narrowly avoiding Jacqueline being arrested, Pizza decided that the Gilman Hotel was not nearly as effective for therapy as the Asylum. As Jacqueline returned from Innsmouth, she stopped at the Train Station. But the train she was on turned out to be empty, and Pizza was forced to draw a Gate, go to that Other World immediately, and then set that Gate aside to be the next one placed once a Gate was opened. Luckily, it turned out to be a Dreamlands Gate, which was still open on the Witch House. (I say luckily because it seemed that Bokrug was more fond of surging open Gates than opening new ones. After three Elder Signs, I think Bokrug had yet to reach the second row of his Doom Track!) Pizza was quite on edge being forced offworld at 2 Sanity, but he was fortunate enough to find a riding zebra to get out in one turn! (“What the hell is a ‘riding zebra’?” Pizza flummoxed.) But here comes the best part: Jacqueline Sealed the Witch House (our fourth), thus having no Clues to block the next Mythos as her Seal was burst and returned her to the Dreamlands through the Gate she set aside for herself. Talk about psychic! (Pizza was not as amused as the universe surely was.) At least he was able to remove the Evade Ib with his trophy…leaving the Luck Ib to dance on his head when an Ill Wind Gripped Arkham, giving Pizza his requisite Encounter with Cursed every game. (He was able to pass the check, though: could this be the end of his Cursed streak? Stay tuned…)
Mandy decided to follow poor Monterey into the City of the Great Hall of Celeano Gate, but lost him in the miasma and ended up in Celeano instead. (Totally on purpose: a Celeano Gate had opened at the Esoteric Order, and that was a much easier way to get to it.) In Celeano, I had almost the exact same encounter: Luck (-2) for the first Tome in the Unique Deck. I had to check the bottom of the Encounter Deck to make sure I hadn’t put my last Encounter card on the top of the deck by mistake!
Ursula was about to give the Brain Case a workout. She sealed Devil Reef (re-fourth) and swapped back to Arkham, but when Mandy returned to seal the Order of Dagon (fifth), I complained that I was too broke for a bus ticket. So Ursula swapped with the Maniac in the Church Green (who had arrived through the same Gate I just sealed), which allowed Mandy to ran past her for enough money for a trip back to Arkham. Ursula then swapped back to Arkham, and proceeded to do her own Carcosan Throne/Asylum combo. (He was prepared to swap a Colour Out of Space into the Asylum to save Jacqueline from having to fight it, but I shut that down right quick: “A COLOUR IN THE ASYLUM? IT WON’T EVER LEAVE! ARE YOU INSANE?!?”)
Meanwhile, Monterey had closed the Historical Society and gone to the Woods for three Clues to replenish. An old man then gave him four more Clues for a delay, but by this time, Wings was getting punchy and refused to lay Monterey’s miniature over, choosing instead to…”dance” him to the edge of the boardspace. Then the R’lyss Gate opened underneath Monterey, and Wings refused to move him off the Woods since he “had to stay there next turn”. I tried to explain that she was delayed, and she’ll just move that delayed condition to the Abyss, but she just kept reading the Mythos card. I finally got Zebra to move Monterey to the Abyss, but when I tried to get him to lay Monterey down, Zebra wisely moved him back to a side-space position of “dancing” as Wings berated my lack of dancing ability. Serves me right, I guess.
Nyarlathotep made yet another appearance as the God of the Bloody Tongue attacked Monterey in the Abyss. Wings was easily able to use Clues to evade him, reaffirming my adoration for the revised Dark Pharaoh Expansion and its welcome replacement of all Surprises with Ambush. Because a Surprise at that moment would have had Wings cursing the expansion the same way I have cursed the original version for years. That revision was the best Arkham Horror decision FFG ever made.
Bokrug had made his last real move by using the R’lyeh Rising Mythos to bounce out Monterey through the -4 R’lyss Gate. Monterey would have to use Clues to close it if another Environment didn’t replace it. But another Environment did show up: the icky Oppressive Atmosphere, giving every monster Nightmarish (or even more Nightmarish if they already had it). Planning for the worst, Mandy and Ursula lost several brains amongst them scouring up more Clues…but Monterey was able to make it out of the Abyss relatively intact, and, with Mandy’s reroll, was able to single-die that nasty Gate into our sixth Seal.
Final Score: 19. Bokrug makes you spend a LOT of trophies: Wings would like the rules to reflect Trophies GAINED during the course of the game, not just Trophies OWNED at the end. (But that might just end up negligibly inflated, like how you can get a million points in pinball for just coughing on the plunger.)
As I said, Bokrug was more inclined to surge than open, ending on a sad Doom 4: first time I can ever remember Martial Law never being declared in Innsmouth. (Jacqueline earns her respect.) Zebra used Ursula’s double-Encountering a few times, but never dodged an Encounter. Wings got to draw for Monterey quite a bit, but never once after he passed his story, darn it. (Hey, how come when other Investigators get an increase to their Max Sanity, they get it added to the current Sanity, but Monterey doesn’t???) I didn’t use Mandy’s reroll as much as I expected to, but that’s actually a good thing.
Now Zebra wants rematches: any Ancient One not defeated during this first tour goes first, followed by any Ancient One “defeated emptily” in Final Battle. I think Martin Luther King’s Birthday is open…
Excellent session report as usual JGT. Keep 'em coming!
Terrific report. Thanks for taking the time to set it down for us!