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Subject: A few house rules rss

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David Bowden
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Warning long post:

After playing a few games of Arkham Horror I decided to create a few house rules to spice things up - some make the game harder, some make it easier, some are thematic. Anyway, I thought I'd post them on here just in case any AH fans want to try them out. Some of these rules are a quite wordy so I apologise for that but hopefully I've explained them clearly enough. Here they are:

House rule 1: Tougher terror track:
1) Filled outskirt limit adds 2 to terror track
2) Devoured investigators add 1 to terror track
3) If the terror track reaches 4 then the threshold for too many gates before the GOO awakens is reduced by 1 (i.e. if too many gates was 7 it becomes 6). Additionally, if playing with 3+ investigators then an additional monster is spawned with each new gate/gate burst.
4) If the terror track reaches 8 then the threshold for too many gates before the GOO awakens is reduced by 2 (i.e. if too many gates was 7 it becomes 5). Additionally, if playing with 3+ investigators then 2 additional monsters are spawned with each new gate/gate burst. This replaces the effect of hitting 4 on the terror track.
A useful reminder for points 3 and 4 is to place doom tokens on points 4 and 8 of the terror track at the start of the game.
These rules are intended to increase the impact of the terror track and reflect the monsters becoming more entrenched due to people leaving and many abandoned houses creating lairs for the monsters plus the increasing overlap between Arkham and the Other worlds as the dimensional barriers get thinner over time.

House rule 2: Tougher injuries & madness:
1) If an investigator reaches zero stamina/sanity they must take an injury/madness card respectively, they can’t choose to discard items.
2) Each injury reduces maximum stamina by 1 and each madness reduces maximum sanity by 1.
3) If an investigator is knocked unconscious/driven insane in an Other World they are LiTaS and they only regain 2 current stamina/sanity (no surgeons/shrinks to help them).
4) If a drawn injury/madness duplicates any card in play then shuffle that card back into the deck and the investigator is devoured. E.g. Ashcan Pete gets a broken hand on turn 2 and later in the game Harvey also draws a broken hand injury so instead Harvey is devoured and his drawn broken hand card is shuffled back into the deck (Ashcan Pete isn’t devoured). Rita is the exception; she isn’t devoured if her injury/madness duplicates a card already in play.
5) If the injury/madness was gained as a result of zero stamina/sanity then the investigator also rolls a dice and if it is equal to or less than the number of injuries & madnesses on that investigator (after modifiers) then they are devoured. A player is allowed to spend 2 clues/2 monster trophies/1 gate trophy to reroll the result (2 clues/trophies or 1 gate trophy per reroll). Additionally there are some modifiers to the dice roll’s result:
Positive modifiers:
a) Investigator is blessed: +1 to dice result
b) Investigator is Rita: +1 to dice result. Additionally Rita rolls 2 dice and chooses the best result.
Negative modifiers:
a) Investigator is cursed: -1 to dice result
b) Investigator is sent to Lost in Time and Space: -1 to dice result
c) Investigator was made unconscious/insane from a monster’s combat/horror/evade check: -1 to dice result
These rules are intended to make injuries and madnesses a little more punishing and also to increase the risk of investigators being devoured a little (normally it will just cost some clues/trophies to pass the check).

House rule 3: Investigators can co-operate during encounters:
If investigators are on the same location in Arkham (not other worlds) then they are able to assist each other in 3 ways:
1) During the encounter phase all investigators on the same location draw their encounter cards simultaneously and they can agree to trade encounters so long as each investigator resolves 1 encounter each. This means that players can assign the drawn encounters to maximise the chances of success for each one.
2) Each investigator gets +1 on any skill check specified in the encounter (except encounters where a monster appears, which is resolved differently)
3) If a monster appears during an encounter, then other investigators may choose to assist the attacked investigator.

House rule 4: Investigators can co-operate during monster combat:
If an investigator enters combat with a monster (either during the movement or encounters phase) and another investigator is in the same Arkham location (not other worlds) then that player may choose to assist in the combat. Any assisting investigators must also make a horror check and will take sanity damage if they fail. Assisting investigators are considered to have entered combat so they must stay in that location if they are assisting during the movement phase. There is no limit on how many investigators can assist as long as they are in the same Arkham location.
All participating investigators make separate combat checks against the monster with the normal modifier and toughness affecting a success or fail. If any investigator passes the combat check then the monster is defeated (the trophy going to the player that rolled the most successes) and no investigator takes damage even if one player failed the check.
Important: players cannot pool successes together to pass a combat check and the monster applies it’s full modifier and toughness to each investigator’s combat check. The advantage is that only one investigator needs to pass the check to defeat the monster.
If none of the investigators passed the combat check, then all of the investigators take damage for the failed check (e.g. If both Harvey and Amanda fail their combat checks against a Cthonian then both investigators take 3 damage each).
If an investigator wants to flee then they must take and pass an evade check as normal and if they succeed then they will leave the combat and will be unable to assist any other investigators that are still fighting the monster.

House rule 5: One veto per investigator set-up:
When setting up an investigator, the player can veto one randomly drawn item/skill. They discard that card and draw a new one until they draw a card that is not a duplicate of the vetoed card. Characters like Monterey can apply their special abilities if applicable when drawing a replacement card. Fixed possessions cannot be vetoed.
This is intended to give a player some control over their investigator generation and is intended to avoid situations like Michael McGlen getting saddled with the expert occultist skill during setup.

House rule 6: A few extra Arkham encounters:
At the start of the game draw an encounter or resolve a location ability for each investigator in their home location.
Additionally, if an investigator is at a location with a special ability during the game, the player may spend 2 toughness worth of monster trophies to both do the location special ability and to draw a random encounter for that location. However, the player must spend the monster trophies before drawing the encounter card.
This is intended to allow a few more encounters because they tend to be interesting.

House rule 7: Tougher GOO battles:
These rules can be broken into 3 parts and for maximum challenge, try all 3.
House rule 7a – doom track timer:
With this house rule, the doom track represents a timer as well as the GOO’s health bar during the final battle. When the GOO wakes up place a marker at 1 on the doom track and each time the GOO attacks, move this marker one along the doom track in addition to the GOO’s normal attack. If the counter ever reaches the end of the doom track then all the investigators are devoured. For example if the investigators are fighting Yig, they have 9 turns to defeat him because each turn he attacks the counter also moves one and once it reaches the end of his doom track then Yig wins. Thematically, think about it as lots of monsters have rushed through the gates while you are battling the GOO and they have overwhelmed Arkham.
Note: If fighting Zhar, reset counter back to 1 if you beat his first half.


House rule 7b – performance in Arkham affects the length of the doom track timer:
This rule links the Arkham board state to the length of time available to defeat the GOO, if there are loads of gates and monsters when the GOO awakens then the investigators will have less time to defeat it.
To calculate how many turns the investigators have, when the GOO awakens look at the number of open gates, monsters, terror track, trophies and investigators on the board and tally them up like so:
Add together:
1) The number of investigators
2) The number of monsters on the board (including outskirts)
3) Double the number of gates on the board (e.g. 3 open gates would count as 6)
4) Double the current terror track (e.g. 2 on the terror track would count as 4)
Calculate the total, then subtract the following:
1) The number of monster trophies owned by players
2) Double the number of gate trophies owned by players (e.g. 2 gate trophies counts as 4)
3) Triple the number of elder signs on board locations (e.g. 3 sealed gates counts as 9)
4) The total doom track of the GOO (e.g. if yig then this would count as 10)
Take this new total and halve it rounding up; this is your final result.
Once all of these items have been subtracted from the initial total you should have a number indicating how well you have done keeping Arkham under control. Divide that number by two (rounding up) and then move the timer counter along the doom track that many times. If the number is zero/negative then the timer counter stays at 1 on the doom track.
For example: The investigators are fighting Yig and under house rule 1 they would have 9 turns to beat him, however under house rule 2 they do the following:
1) they add together the number of gates, monsters, investigators and terror track and they end up with a total 30
2) next they add together Yig’s doom track, their trophies, and the number of elder signs on the board and this totals 23, which they subtract from the original total of 30 to end up with 7.
3) Finally they halve the 7 to get 4 and they move the doom track timer counter along 4 times so that it starts at 5. The investigators now have 4 turns to defeat Yig or they lose the game.

House rule 7c: Elder signs cap the number of clues that can be spent:
I think one of the game designers came up with this rule and I’ve adopted it.
Each investigator cannot spend more clues per turn than the number of elder signs on the board during the final battle. E.g. if there’s 3 elder signs on the board then each investigator can spend a maximum of 3 clues per turn to be divided between the fight check and any skill checks associated with the GOO’s attack.

House rule 8: Limited trading:
Investigators must keep a minimum of $10 worth of tradable items either in cash, unique items, common items, or spells (which count as $5). If they have less than this then they cannot give items to other investigators.
Additionally, investigators must keep a minimum of $4 if they have a bank loan, they cannot give cash to another investigator if it would take them below this limit although they can spend money in shops as normal.
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Interesting additions.

A couple of notes:

Quote:
2) Devoured investigators add 1 to terror track.

The terror track represents the terror level in Arkham, so an investigator devoured in an Other World should have no effect on it.

Also the limited trading doesn't make a huge amount of thematic sense to me.
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William Wu
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I don't know, I mean, the idea of an investigator being devoured in an other world when working with other investigators, who have overall interacted with the citizens of Arkham, represents someone who has essentially disappeared. I think that can add to the terror level in a thematic way.
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David Bowden
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The limited trading is more to do with cheesy tactics like taking a bank loan, giving the cash to another player and then retiring - doesn't seem in the spirit of the game to me. I figure an investigator would want to hold onto some things even if they were retiring and heading out to Boston or wherever as there are supposed to be cults worldwide in Lovecraft's mythos.
The terror count for devoured investigators in other worlds would be due to rumours about the missing person
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Jason Sherlock
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workwilliam wrote:
I don't know, I mean, the idea of an investigator being devoured in an other world when working with other investigators, who have overall interacted with the citizens of Arkham, represents someone who has essentially disappeared. I think that can add to the terror level in a thematic way.


Some guy takes off on vacation and never comes back? I don't think most people would care, and I really don't see it raising the overall fearfulness in a city.
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David Bowden
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Hi Jason I take your point and it makes sense. I tend to think of it as locals see an investigator enter somewhere creepy like the witch house with it's glowing lights and notorious history and he's never seen again. Many of the Arkham locals are superstitious and fearful of that place anyway so they'd probably start grimly speculating that Brown Jenkin or Keziah Mason got him.
These are just the rules that I use but if you wanted to change them for your own games that's all good. One of the joys of board games is that we can tweak the rules how we want to.
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Angry Augury
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You really put a lot of thought and effort into tweaking your game experience and I think that's cool.

I couldn't do something as large-scale as this because I personally only like playing games as they are intended (or with only small tweaks). It's hard to accept a win on a game that we have altered the rules of game play. I know a lot of people like customized and variant games and, while I think they're usually cool ideas, it's just not for me.
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Christopher Lloyd
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n107 wrote:
You really put a lot of thought and effort into tweaking your game experience and I think that's cool.

I couldn't do something as large-scale as this because I personally only like playing games as they are intended (or with only small tweaks). It's hard to accept a win on a game that we have altered the rules of game play. I know a lot of people like customized and variant games and, while I think they're usually cool ideas, it's just not for me.


I prefer the Arkham Horror rules as they are already. We've never used house rules, and it feels... cleaner... that way.

L.
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David Bowden
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@n107 and Luge

I expect most people would want to stick with the base game rules and that's fine with me - these are just house rules I use and I felt like sharing them on here in case anyone wanted to try them out.
The standard rules are fine as is but there were some things that bugged me, which is why I thought up these rules in the first place.

I tweaked the terror track because I felt it was usually unimportant; the doom track always fills up much faster than the terror track. It also seemed odd that there could be hordes of monsters everywhere and the terror track was at 2. The penalties for letting the terror track rise are also very forgiving too. I think the designers recognised these limitations with the basic terror track and that's why they released King in Yellow.

I liked the injury and madness concept from DH but I felt it was too forgiving as the penalties aren't very severe and this meant the monsters weren't very intimidating either - if they knock you out then you just respawn at the hospital with a minor penalty. I think the base game's rules about losing items & clues are actually more challenging and I wanted to make injuries/madnesses similarly taxing.

The rules about co-operating were to do with all the box art where you see investigators literally fighting side by side against some tentacled nasty but you can never actually do that in the game - I also wanted to increase opportunities for player co-operation within the game.

The rule about a veto during set-up is probably common with many players as it helps to avoid frustration with getting a really lame item/skill.

The rule about extra encounters is simply because I like drawing encounters but with some locations it rarely makes sense to draw the random card as opposed to spending trophies for a known bonus. By allowing an investigator to do both for a small fee it keeps things more interesting. It effectively gives each investigator a weaker version of Ursala's ability although she gets to choose the order she resolves the fixed/random encounter and she can do both for free.

The rules about the GOO battle are because I noticed that some GOOs are actually very easy to fight so you can choose to not deal with gates and just tool up to fight the GOO as a plan A. I think the designers recognised this and the 8 GOOs from Innsmouth Horror are noticeably harder. I wanted to tweak things so that the base game GOOs are tougher but it wouldn't make the IH GOOs much tougher than they already are. I personally think fighting the GOO should always be a plan B even if it's Yig.

The limited trading house rule is just there because of gamey things like passing on all an investigators stuff to another player, retiring that investigator and drawing a whole bunch of new stuff - it just feels really cheesy to me and not in the spirit of the game.
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Jason Sherlock
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DGB246 wrote:
@n107 and Luge

The rules about the GOO battle are because I noticed that some GOOs are actually very easy to fight so you can choose to not deal with gates and just tool up to fight the GOO as a plan A. I think the designers recognised this and the 8 GOOs from Innsmouth Horror are noticeably harder. I wanted to tweak things so that the base game GOOs are tougher but it wouldn't make the IH GOOs much tougher than they already are. I personally think fighting the GOO should always be a plan B even if it's Yig.


Are you using Epic Final battle cards? These even make Yig an unpleasant fight.
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David Bowden
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@jackalope

I don't own Kingsport Horror, so nope. They look interesting but overall KH doesn't appeal to me much. I think the fan made expansion Arkham Nightmare looks like a more compelling take on the Dreamlands.
I have Dunwich Horror and plan to get Innsmouth Horror at some point but I think I'll skip the others.
If I did use the epic battle cards then I'd probably adapt my existing house rule so that you discard cards from the top based on board performance so you'd start drawing the red cards sooner.
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Ok, couple a quick things.

First, David thank you for sharing your house rules and even though it it seems to go against the general tone of this thread I'm going to suggest not only owning all the available commercial expansions but the fan created content as well. You seem to like adjusting play and that is the greatest thing about Arkham Horror. You can literally build the perfect version that suits you and those that sit at your table. The fan material is especially great because you can use parts or all of anything you find here. This is my favorite board game of all time and I have stopped even looking at other board games (I play and design wargames/conflict simulators but that I consider separate from board games). Again, just my two cents. Keep playing the way you like, and that goes for all of you, because if you are having fun then you know you are doing it right!
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