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Subject: Arkham Horror vs Android rss

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Alex Brown
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I think I need one big RPG-style boardgame to round out my collection. Look at my collection and sell me one way or the other!
 
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S. R.
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Short question: Why?
What do you need a RPG-style (as you put it) game for? Seems to me, you enjoy the quicker games more, and the more strategic ones...

But to get to your question:
Based on your collection, ratings, and previous games, I cannot really recommend one of them. Heres why:
- you seem to dislike "convoluted", complicated
- you seem to dislike bigger timeframe
- you seem to dislike lots of bits, or "fiddly"
Both games take quite some time to play (and more so in my group), both games come with lots of parts, bits, rules and so on. There are more streamlined, more focussed games out there. Don't get yourself into something that you will probably not like. Why sacrifice your time?

That said, I would recommend Android over Arkham Horror to you. I am a fan of both games, equally (because they are so very different), and am not biased this way or that (although I have played AH a lot more). And here is why...

- The Fiddly Failure:
as said above, you seem to dislike this part. Well both games are fiddly, and Android is a bit more so (more small parts, fiddly scale, and stuff), BUT Android takes probably less than half the time to set up. Yes, that is right, in the time you set up AH, you can easily play a game of Carcassonne. Well, more or less...

- The Cooperative Conundrum:
As you state in your collection, you like competitive a lot more than cooperative. AH is cooperative, full stop. Additionally, Android is VERY cutthroat. In fact, you HAVE to hit your opponents with a sledgehammer ever so often, to make sure you can reap some benefits your own. That does not mitigate the ganging-up on players, but heck - you can't have it both ways. And don't bear grudges. If you get into a feud, you and your partner in rage will take yourselves out of the game completely. It's kicking ass all around, non-specific, that does the trick. Oh, and subdueing the leader, of course...

- The Randomness Repulsion:
Arkham Horror is random. Very much so. Everything depends on the cards you draw, and the dice you roll. If you're lucky, you win easily, or you lose quickly. If not, the game can sometimes drag a bit. Playtime can also fluctuate heavily, based on those aspects.
Android also has randomness, for sure. But it is more PvP than PvLuck. And the randomness here keeps the game exciting, rather than unforseeable and frustrating (at times).

- The People Problem:
You said that you are looking for a RPG-style game. Well, AH has the atmosphere and the feel of a RPG (or can include those things). But what it does not have is real differentiation of characters. Yes, they have different abilities, and impact the game in different ways. But in the end, they are just different variations of statistics on a piece of cardboard. Some are better equipped to be fighters, others to be spellslingers, clue-collectors, or gate-closers. So you divide the tasks among them. But that is it.
Android characters, on the other hand, very much change the game you play. Every character not only has flaws and merits, he HAS to be played completely different. And not only that, here we have personal stories that have a HUGE impact on the game, and your gameplay. This way, your character feels a lot more personal, and a lot more like a real protagonist. Everything he does or should do is related to reaching his own agenda and goals. He is not just a tool to defeat the game, he is very much a specific figure in the story.

That said, there are aspects that could make Android less interesting. It is more fiddly, as I said above. But not only that - it is quite convoluted. In general, it is four games rolled into one. There is the bluff game, the resource management game, the tile placement game, and the cutthroat pachisi-like game.
All these aspects are part of the complete set, and you try to get them under one roof. Your character will be better equipped to handle some aspect of this, but still - it is a lot to keep in mind, to control. Keeping track of where your co-players are is not impossible, but takes some effort...

On the other hand, there is the numbers thing. AH works perfectly with 3-6 players, and good for 1-2 and 7-8. Android HAS to be played with 3-5, and 3 will have kingmaker problems. I will always recommend 5 players for this one, as it balances the very different aspects of the game better, I think.

A lot more could be said, but I think the most important aspects I tackled.
So - if you really want to do this, I would go for Android...
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Alex Brown
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Thanks-that was an immense write-up and I found all of it insightful.

I guess my angle on lengthy, fiddly, complex games is that I only need the 'best-in-class'. Right now I have Twilight Struggle for the 2er, world-domination game, and I have Mage Knight Board Game for solo gaming, or 2-3 players where we want to do a lot of min.maxing.

I'm looking for a more immersive 2-5 player multiplayer game to round out my long games. You're right that I'd like it to be more competitive than co-operative. I'd also like player actions to matter a lot. I'm happy to forgo some elegance to get to grips with a really meaty game if it's something we will talk about after the game.

Chaos in the Old World is another title I'm considering, but I feel as if Android might have the theme, replayability and drama I'm looking for.



 
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S. R.
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If you are wrestling with the choice between CitOW and Android, well, I'd quite recommend CitOW. It is a lot less fiddly than Android, a lot less convoluted/complicated, and a really well-constructed game, albeit more in Euro-fashion than the other two. Also, it plays in less time than both of them.

CitOW also has the very different approach for the different roles (or gods), but they are not as difficult to understand or implement as in Android. What's more, there have been lenghty discussions here on the board, that the perceived merits and flaws for different tactical approaches, which seem to be mandatory for each role, can be mitigated. Meaning that there could be more than one path to victory for every role, even if one direction is always easier, or more likely.

What CitOW does NOT have, however, is a distinct RPG feel - which is something you seem to be looking for. This is a strategic game with lots of tactical thinking. Even more than in AH, the different roles are more statistics, and merit/flaw collections, than real characters. Yes, you have a motive, and/or an agenda. But that is just a pretty name for a mechanic here.
However, the mechanics are grand. This is a quite fantastic game, and I would highly recommend it. Even if the starting points are asymmetrical, it is very well-balanced (if you know how to play), possibly even more so than with Android.

However, don't be fooled by replayability in Android. Sure, the randomness in some elements makes for replayability in strategy, or tactical planning. But keep in mind that every character not only has to be played completely different, but only has three personal stories, two of which will come up in the game (and which will always have the same "decision" tree). So the feeling of "playing a character" does not have so much replayability as you might wish to have. Concerning replayability, the biggest variation would be that of AH (with its 16 characters, 8 bosses, and lots of randomness and cards). However, it also has a smaller part of RPG feel, as I have mentioned before.

The thing with Android is that, if you have played each character once or twice, the "newness" factor will cease, and the RPG element will fade into the background. Then, it becomes more of a tactical game. Don't get me wrong - it is a really fantastic game, that way. But the part of "discovering" the game (which is, also, biggest in AH, albeit more in the way of discovering events than character motivation and story) will impact the game less and less.

What's more, AH can be expanded, of course. Now, this is not necessary, but will add tremendously to replayability, new discovery, and surprise. So, if you compare those games in this way, I'd rank AH as having the biggest replayability value, followed by Android, and then afterwards CitOW. However, as to the strategy part, being straight-forward, less random and well-balanced, the ranking would be CitOW, then Android, then AH. Roleplaying, then, would be Android (most), then AH, then CitOW.

As always, you have to know what you are looking for. But, as for my understanding of RPGs, I am (not surprisingly) one of those strange fellows myself. And I particularly play (or rather, GM) Call of Cthulhu and Warhammer...
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Alex H.
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CitOW and Arkham/Android are really not games that should be compared with each other. I haven't played Android but Arkham and CitOW have basically as much in common as do Twilight Struggle and Nexus Ops.


Edit: your comments about Descent would make me reluctant to recommend Arkham to you. Descent has lots of micromanagement but Arkham has more. Descent is pretty straightforward... as is Arkham once you have really internalized the rules which will take you some time if you have noone to teach the game to you.
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S. R.
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Alex, we are really not comparing games here. Based on that, all three cannot be compared. It's just about recommendations, based on personal tendencies and preferences.

That said, you can compare most games with each other, if you find ANY common aspect. You can only compare them based on that aspect, though. And if the aspect is too generic, comparison probably does not present any information at all...

...but we digress...
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Alex H.
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I see what you are saying but I feel there is a comparative element to Alex' question. He says that he wants "one game for each category" and that these three games seem to fit the specific "immersive game" category. That's what triggered my comment. If I misread the OP's intent, please ignore my post.
 
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Well, I understood that the importanc characteristic of the game (for the OP) would be the RPG-aspect, probably what you called the "immersive" element. Based on this element, they can of course be compared, I think. However, they are fundamentally different in their approach to that aspect. That's what I tried to estimate in my lengthy sermons above...


However, I would probably side with you in the opinion that CitOW probably should not be on the list, were it for this aspect. Maybe there are even other (better) games out there that could be recommendet to the OP. But, since I am a RPGamer also, I usually make it a habit to NOT buy games with big immersive parts, or at least not buy them for that reason alone. So I probably would not be the right person o ask for general advice there...
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Alex Brown
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All of this is very useful; I'm as much looking for passionate persuasion as anything else.

I'll knock out CitOW. I'm really looking for something completely different to what I already own. I find my other long games strong games but mechanical first and foremost.

It's definitely the RPG aspect I'm after, but I'm probably asking a lot to have replay ability there too.

If you think there's a closer match to my style From a game I'm not aware of, I'm all ears!
 
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Scott
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Dumon wrote:
AH is cooperative, full stop.


Maybe the German rules are different to the Englis. Victories are scored, one player becomes "First Citizen" and there's a tie break for that title.
 
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S. R.
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Scott, points and scoring "First Citizenship" is something more of an optional rule, if you look closely. What's more, I don't know the German rules.

Additionally, the whole game is cooperative to a fault. Scoring in the end could be (I am as of this moment not fully aware of the details) only based on Health Points, Sanity Points, Items, Clue Tokens and (most importantly) trophies.

However, since you assign specific roles to specific players (the fighter, the gate-closer, etc), especially the trophies are somewhat imbalanced in who gets what. As to Health Points and Sanity Points, they are as much the victim of randomness (i.e. throw of the dice, draw of the card) as they are of careful planning. Whats more, the special abilities of specific characters would give them themselves a much more distinct advantage there.
As to Items, they are depending on randomness and choice of character (for money), and clue tokens are depending on randomness and partially on movement planning.
There is, overall, so much randomness, that one would hardly be able to say that the First Citizen earned his victory himself. Additionally, by distributing tasks to the characters with best disposition for them, you basically define the most likely winners by choosing character, already.
Mix that with the necessary combined effort to keep the AO from awakening, the necessity to swap items (in order to mitigate randomness), and there can be IMO no doubt that First Citizenship is a nice thought, but not a real victory won.

But, alas, once again I digress...
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Alex H.
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Dumon wrote:
Well, I understood that the importanc characteristic of the game (for the OP) would be the RPG-aspect, probably what you called the "immersive" element. Based on this element, they can of course be compared, I think. However, they are fundamentally different in their approach to that aspect. That's what I tried to estimate in my lengthy sermons above...


However, I would probably side with you in the opinion that CitOW probably should not be on the list, were it for this aspect. Maybe there are even other (better) games out there that could be recommendet to the OP. But, since I am a RPGamer also, I usually make it a habit to NOT buy games with big immersive parts, or at least not buy them for that reason alone. So I probably would not be the right person o ask for general advice there...


I think we actually agree. In fact, my initial post was not meant to critizise you or what you wrote.

And yes, AH is fully cooperative. If you play, your objective is to defeat the GOO, not become first citizen. Even if you include that rule it is more of an afterthought. If you consider how much luck is involved in the game, it would be very hard to argue that one single player played so much better than everyone else to deserve a single-player win.
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TS S. Fulk
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If you are looking for immersion and epic, then both are good. So just go with the one that fits your taste in themes more.

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