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Subject: Arkham Horror or Chaos in the Old World? rss

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Rational Drunk
Australia
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I hate my stupid, indecisive self. soblue

Alrighty. Greetings, O boardgamegeekers! I really need help in choosing either one of these two games, and since both are diametrically different, it's not going to be easy. So those who have played both, please aid a poor boy in aporia! (Let's ignore the expansions for the time being.)

Decisive factors:

1) The Replayability Consideration: How many estimated plays before the base game turns stale.
(I've found Runebound's base game to have bad replayability. So anyone who thinks otherwise probably has a completely different take on games, so their advice will have to be taken with a grain of salt )

2) The Optimal Player Factor: Our group normally only has 3 players, and I realize that while 3-player CitOW is still good, it's rather diminished. Q: 3-player Arkham or 3-player CitOW?

3) The Engagement-Downtime Scale: Is the downtime too long, and does Arkham engage other players during downtime? (I'm sure that downtime is not a problem in CitOW.)

4) The Multifaceted Consideration: Which game has more dimensions, functions, mechanics, and depth?

5) The Tie Breaker: Which game do you like(love) more?

P.S. Playtime, complexity, and rule confusion is of no import(hooray for the internet!)
P.P.S Largely ambivalent towards the co-op vs. competition dichotomy.
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I own Arkham but have played Chaos a few times. You're right, it's an odd two to choose between because they are completely different. Chaos is a dark themed Euro, Arkham is a dark themed role-playing game packaged as a board game.

HOWEVER, working from your five factors:

1. I think Chaos has more replayability. There are only 7 possible encounters in each Arkham location (base game only, more with the expansions) so those encounters get repetitive quickly. You do get variety with the different old ones and monster combinations, but having an encounter is very common, so you're always seeing the same ones.

2. Arkham might get the vote here, the rules scale the game well to less players, and that also reduces down time to acceptable levels. See #3.
BUT, Chaos moves quickly and player actions are pretty quick with short down times.

3. Arkham does not engage you during your down time, so the more players, the longer you sit there and wait, and that can get old with a large number of players.

4. That's a hard one to answer. Chaos has plenty of depth and replayability. Arkham does, sort of... If you really enjoy the theme and being immersed in that world, it can be fun. If not, it might feel repetitive to you. This one is a YMMV situation. Depends on your tastes.

5. I like Chaos more. But I'm more into Euros than immersive action/role-playing board games. For the Arkham Horror flavor, I'd rather just play and actual Lovecraft role playing game like Call of Cthulhu.

Hope that helps!

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Liam
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My vote would be:

Don't buy Arkham Horror.

I think it has limited decision making, limited replayability (base set has some major spoiling strategies) with long playing time and downtime.
Everyone else seems to love it though.

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Josh Bodah
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The biggest question you need to ask is: do I want a game where everyone works together or where everyone plays against each other?

But that aside, let's get started...

1) The Replayability Consideration:
- Hard to say which is better. CITOW has some variety in setup which helps. There is a lot of randomness in what you are dealt to start which also helps. Arkham has plenty of randomness too. The theme works very well and adds a lot to how satisfying the game is. CITOW's expansion was regarded as a step down while Arkham has many highly regarded expansions. I think I like CITOW because it is more thinky.

2) The Optimal Player Factor:
- I don't think I would play CITOW with anything but 4. This might be the deal breaker, but the map is really tuned for 4 players. You could try to come up with an algorithm for Khorne and just play him as an AI. Arkham works great with any number from 1-5.

3) The Engagement-Downtime Scale:
- CITOW uses a phase system, so all players play more or less simultaneously. In fact, this is one of the most interesting parts of the game (particularly in your initial action selection phase). There is virtually no downtime. Arkham uses an action point system (like Pandemic), so your downtime is a function of the number of players, but I don't think it's all that bad with less than 5

4) The Multifaceted Consideration:
- CITOW has more dimensions and better mechanics in my opinion. It is a Euro at heart while Arkham is a coop. I feel more limited in terms of strategy in Arkham than CITOW. Arkham is a little more immersive and has some cool mechanics which add to theme, but in the end you're doing a crapload of dice rolling for attribute checks (which I'm not a real big fan of).

5) The Tie Breaker: Which game do you like(love) more?
- I like CITOW more. I've only soloed it to get a grasp of the rules, but it was very intriguing. The asymmetrical nature of the game makes me smile just thinking about it. My only caveat is that I don't find Nurgle's strategies to be that interesting. I feel like he needs better cards.
- That said, Arkham is a fantastic coop, but I'd probably be more eager to pickup Pandemic or Flash Point for that slot given the playtime/table space/etc. It's a good game with some cool mechanics, but I never really feel in the mood to pull it out. It suffers from some of the same things that other coops do: after 15 minutes you've pretty much experienced all of the mechanics in the game. This isn't 100% true for Arkham, but it is in comparison to most non-coops.

My recommendation:
- If you want a coop, get Arkham. It's the best thematic pure-coop out there.
- If you want a thematic euro AND you can either get 4 players or have the time/patience to play with an AI, get CITOW. It's one of the best direct conflict games I've played.
- If you want a thematic euro AND you can't get 4 players, I suggest you look at another game.

More games that work well with 3:
- I really like Race for the Galaxy and Agricola. Coloretto with 3 is one of my favorite fillers.
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Rational Drunk
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Thanks for the responses, keep 'em coming!

And I'm perfectly fine with both co-op and competitive area-control.
 
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