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Jakob Schneider
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So, my first article here on BGG.
When I first heard of this game I nearly peed my pants, since I'm a real sucker for H.L.P. Oh yeah, a Cthulhu game with tons of
components, great art, etc. Iä! Iä!
When a friend of mine bought this game, we were dying to try it. After opening the box we where quite impressed with the number of bits. Many people here have especially mentioned the board and how they like it.
Frankly: I don't. It is a kind of schematic depiction of arkham and some strange dimensions. It really has some nice pictures,
but the nature of it doesn't let the right feeling emerge.
All the other components look good, although some of the cards are too small.
As I've mentioned I really love Cthulhu and the atmosphere the stories evoke. I can imagine it's hard to translate this
feeling into a bordgame-experience. And the FFG-guys really fail on a grand scale with Arkham horror. Iä? Iä? I don't think so.
Why is this game so bad? First of all it is quite boring. There are nearly no tough decisions to be made. All you have to do is to run around, kill monsters, travel to strange dimensions and fight an ancient god. This doesn't sound boring, I know.
But when running around, killing monsters, travelling to strange dimensions and fighting an ancient god boils down to rolling some dice, it really IS boring. You run around the town to collect tokens needed to seal gates and reroll dice.
These clues are located on the locations in the city, as randomly determined by cards. You have to go through an encounter to obtain this clue, though. This encounter comes down to: Draw a card. Roll lots of dice. Look up the outcome of the encounter.
After you have obtained some clues, you head for the next gate (which appear randomly as determined by cards...), and travel
to another dimension (consisting of 2 spaces). Here you have to survive 2 encounters (one for each space) in order to return to Arkham and close the gate. These encounters work exactly the same as mentioned earlier. Back in Arkham you run around again, killing monsters by - you guessed it - rolling insane amounts of dice. All players essentially play for themselves, since there is no use in moving two players together through the same gate. And since you need to close those gates, interaction between the players is minimal. Unless you are able to close a set number of gates, repeat until the god eventually awakes, and a bossfight decides the fate of Arkham and the world by an insane amount of rolled and rerolled dice.
If you can close enough gates, the god doesn't awake and everything is fine.
Whatever you do in AH, it includes rolling lots of dice, with little room for tactics whatsoever. Encounters are worst, since they are random and you can't really prepare for them. Since all actions include either calculating an amount of dice or reading cards there is a lot of downtime, which doesn't help the game. Oh! Did I mention this game takes forever? Believe me, it really does. Prepare for at least 4 hours of dice, dice, dice. I wouldn't mind 4 hours, if you would really have a great time, a feeling of accomplishing something or any other rewarding experience. But you don't have.
So as a game AH is true failure.
But to make things worse: This game has nothing to do with Cthulhu, except for the art and names. This game has no, I repeat NO atmosphere. It doesn't matter which god is your enemy, you will meet the same encounters and monsters, travel to all plains possible and read the same forbidden tomes. I mean why should Arkham be overrun by Dark youngs of SHUB NIGGURATH, if CTHULHU is your enemy? And why do you have to fight elder things? They are not even evil!
This whole game feels a lot as if it was designed with a zombie-theme in mind. And Cthulhu has nothing to do with that kind of splatter. It's as if you'd replace the zombies in ,,Zombies!!!'' with giant squids, mushrooms and tentacled trees, and claim it to be ,,mythos''. FFG, listen to me: It is NOT ,,mythos''! I don't know any Mythos stories where the world is plagued by open war against monsters. And that's what AH is about. No Mythos-feeling here, guys! Iä?Iä? Definitely not!
So in conclusion this game is a real stinker. Too long, too boring and too complicated for what it is: A dicefest without much of a brain.
I just can't believe that FFG killed yet another great license! And they did it the way they already killed Doom and Warcraft.
Does noone care for quality anymore? I can't believe this game got so much good press. It is among the worst games I ever played. So my advice is to save the money and spend it on more mythos-fiction instead.
I rate this game at a 1.5. Purely because of the art.
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Mike
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I agree that the board is a bit too schematic.

Runes wrote:
First of all it is quite boring. There are nearly no tough decisions to be made. All you have to do is to run around, kill monsters, travel to strange dimensions and fight an ancient god. This doesn't sound boring, I know.
But when running around, killing monsters, travelling to strange dimensions and fighting an ancient god boils down to rolling some dice, it really IS boring.


Hello, akin to an RPG. RPGs are essentially the same thing, the main thing that makes them interesting is the immagination and the people you play with. I am not too sure why people expected so much out of this game, it is only a board game after all, not a virtual reality, your mind can't even tell it's not real, horror thriller flick.

This is a good game if you don't go into it expecting the impossible out of a board game. And do remember the game already existed before, the remake fixes alot more issues than it creates. But it is, sadly, a bit too dependent on the dice, but there really isn't any other way for these types of board games. Less dice = more predictable = less replayability.
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Brian M
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Jakob - Sorry to hear Arkham Horror wasn't to your taste. Personally, I think its great. Some of your statements I agree with, some I don't agree with.

First, its really not fair to blame FFG for "killing the license". Arkham Horror is a re-do of an much earlier version originally published by Chaosium, and from most accounts is a complete improvement on that version - the earlier version was very similar, but had much more of a roll and move luck based mechanic.

I do agree that its very hard to capture a mythos "feel" in a boardgame. I think Arkham Horror has more of a fantasy adventure feel to it. But really, how would you capture a feel of slow investigation, gradual descents into madness, and overwhelming alieness in a good boardgame? I think a good job was done given the media available, and its got enough Cthulu in it to appeal to the HPL fans, but is accessible enough to appeal to people who may never have read a mythos story.

On the subject of tactics, one thing to notice is that each location encounter deck is fairly small. Within a few plays, you start to get a very good idea of which stats you are likely to need in which places. For example, you never want to go into the Unnameable with a low speed! Which makes managing your skill sliders very important. In the first play or two though, this will feel fairly random. Though I've usually found that the choice between Fight and Will is always tough, since they are both used at the same time and are opposite each other.

I'm curious about how many players you've had. Its my opinion that this game gets worse the more players you've got - as you have said, the downtime is just too long. Also, the more players you have, the more likely that someone can do everything that needs to be done and there will be no tough decisions to make. With fewer characters, you frequently can't get everything done at once. ("Right, I need to get to the gate, but can't get past the Shoggoth. Can anyone else manage to kill it so I can get through?" "Ok, well, I guess I can, but that means I'm not picking up those Clue tokens from the woods, and we risk losing them to a gate.") I think the game is really at its best with just two players (playing one or two characters each). In fact, its a really great couple game since you get to play on a team.

You might also want to try some of the variants listed. I always play with gate draws producing no doom token for a new gate, a doom token and a monster for a duplicate gate, and a monster surge for a sealed gate. This gives you more time at the start and piles on the pressure later, as opposed to having high stress at the start and an easier time later. It also gives a little more freedom to try things other than just gathering clue tokens!

At any rate, too bad it didn't work for you. Have you considered picking up the Call of Cthulu RPG (for Hastur's sake, NOT the D20 version!) and getting your group to try that? That might get you your Mythos fix!
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Markus S
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This is truly the worst and unprofessional review about a game I have ever seen. You´re complaining, that the game just consists of going to another dimension, close the gate? That would be like describing Magic the Gathering as: Draw a card, play it. There is so much to do in this game and so much strategy! If you don´t work together, you will never win, so I definately don´t think that it´s everyone for himself...shake

If you think that FFG did such a terrible job in transfering the Mythos to a board game, could you please tell us all your idea of doing so?

And about: "Cthulhu has nothing to do with this game..and it doesn´t matter which Great Old One is played"...Have you even read the rules or understood how gameplay changes, if the Great Old One is not Cthulhu, but Hastur for example? Every GOO has his own special abilities that influence the game and how it must be played.

You can´t predict and prepare to encounters? Nooo of course not...you can NOT go out and get yourself some weapons or spells, you can NOT set your skill at the beginning of your turn...guess you must have missed that too.
And encounters are supposed to be unpredictable...Nobody would run into a building knowing there is an evil monster for sure. And you can predict what COULD happen, because the location encounters never chance each game. If you choose to join Silver Twilight Lodge, you know you have insights to things others don´t, but there is always danger!

With a few tweaks you can even create new storylines or change the goal completely (Just look at the Black Pharaoh scenario here on BGG)

I read almost every Lovecraft material out there and I have been a gamemaster for the Call of Cthulhu RPG for almost 15 years and I have played Arkham Horror dozens of times and it DRIPS with atmosphere! If you are not able to see it and instead you only notice the massive dice being thrown, I am really sorry for you!

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Philip Thomas
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Oh, there are worse and less professional board game reviews out there, believe you me Welcome to the geek, both of you.

I think the first poster is basically right. Sure, you can fiddle with the numbers on your character card and go and buy stuff which is more random card drawing. Sure, the Ancient One changes a few rules. The game is dull.

On the other hand I have pretty much zero interest in Cthulu or his friends and I am generally unimpressed by boardgame/RPG hybrids. So it was a tough sell to start with.robot
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Michael Sosa
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I do not like this horror science fiction stuff and have not read any books on it, but I do enjoy the occasional fantasy book. Thus I know nothing about the world of Cthulu.

I played this game once and found it enjoyable and would be willing to play again. I felt under pressure to cooperate with the other player (2 player game) to try to close some gates before all hell broke lose. It was scary to move about when monsters where in the air...... I believe the Runes is right about the game being long. However that is only detrimental if you don't like long games, and from my experience long games usually offer the deeper more involved play that I prefer. I do believe there is strategy in this game, but it is cooperative strategy which is a bit different from competitive games. I do not mind dice rolling at all, that's what makes RPG so much fun!
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Nicholas Hutcheon
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I have enjoyed this game the half-dozen or so times I've played it. Although it doesn't really do a great job of capturing the true feel of the Cthulhu Mythos, I agree that this would be pretty difficult to do in a boardgame anyway.

I think what I enjoy the most about the game is the interaction and cooperation of the players, as well as the RPG-ish skill, equipment, and combat system.

The game does go on a long time, there is a fair amount of downtime, and I've found that the replayability wears out fairly quick. All that being said, though, I'd still be up for playing this, and I am greatly looking forward to the first expansion; The Dunwich Horror.
 
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Bruce Jones
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Oh Boy. Just what we need.
Yet another example of fans of an author, genre, franchise, license, etc. (Star Wars anyone? Tolkien?) being disappointed because they feel a game publisher (movie maker, comic writer, blah balh blah) didn't do thier beloved work justice. There are simply too many posts like this, not to mention every third person that walks into a comic or game store with thier Indiana Jones hat on and three dollar kicks carrying a can of Pringles in one hand and a 2 liter of Mountain Dew in the other spouting off about the color of Darth Maul's shoes. Enough already.
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Philip Thomas
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Wow, this review is attracting new users like hornets to a pot of honey! Anyway, welcome to the Geek Storm King Zero. Kudos for having actually rated some of the games you play, makes it easier to 'see' the person we are tallking to.

As you may have gathered from my post, I am not a fan of the genre, and I thought the game pretty boring. But then you were just devilling, right?devil
 
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Bruce Jones
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Yeah, these reviews can be pretty hit-and-miss... my problem is the main complaint of the reviewer is about violating the "Lovecraft Legacy". I am familiar with the genre, and I liked the game- but it had nothing to do with HPL. I enjoyed it mostly because, as many users have pointed out, it's a rare co-op game. We really had to set aside our competitive natures for a while which was nice. But my like or dislike of any game is connected to the game itself, not whether I thought it "worthy". I give the original authors kudos for even approaching a subject that is kind of a sacred cow. Or sacred mi-go. Or whatever.
 
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Ken
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Ah, the refreshing breeze of public discourse on the Geek. One of the things I enjoy most about BGG is the multitude of opinions. Just like elbows and (well, something else) everyone has an opinion.

I loved Arkham Horror. My only complaint is that I don't have an opportunity to play it more often! I am a Cthulhuphile, and feel as if the game does a great job of conveying the sense of desparation of trying to fight an unstoppable evil. Gates opening, monsters pouring through and all along the Doom Track advancing - heralding the coming of the Old One. I think the game mechanisms work very well in this regard, and integrate nicely with the theme.

But I can see how folks who don't appreciate the Mythos (or the horror genre generally) might not enjoy it as much. I've come to realize this is a bit of an "experience game", that pulls you in for a great ride.
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Chris
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Well, it is certainly not a game from the "German" tradition. It is what it is. I personally liked the game, and feel that it is a lot more thematic than, say, just about anything from the Herr Doktor Knizia paste-a-theme mill. I can understand why you might take umbrage at imbalance, extended duration, or even possibly a lack of decisions (though I suspect the nuances would become more apparent with further play). However, your criticism of no theme, well, I just don't get it.
 
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Fraser
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Back in the days when there were less maps we played every map back to back
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Ooh a little higher, now a bit to the left, a little more, a little more, just a bit more. Oooh yes, that's the spot!
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MrSkeletor wrote:
Personally the thing I love the most is it reminds me of the Fighting Fantasy books I use to read as a kid!


Frank, you're not selling me on playing this with comments like that meeple

And yet you still bag TransAmerica. You are at Kansas City, if you lay a track to the East turn to page 7, if lay a track to the West turn to page 13. C'mon you know you want to play...
 
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Jay Moore
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Awesome! It's about time someone else came along and said what they actually think of this "game."

I love it when people come along and say that because someone is a fan of the genre, and they have expectations that should be met, and then the game doesn't meet those expectations, that they're nothing more than a fanboy. This is ridiculous. The whole reason to come out with a game based on a franchise is to evoke the feeling of that franchise. If the game fails to do that, then it fails to do what it set out to do. And it should get panned by reviewers.

Anyway, good review. Thumbs up. Ignore the naysayers! Or, uh... ignore the yaysayers! zombie
 
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Fraser
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Back in the days when there were less maps we played every map back to back
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MrSkeletor wrote:

Remind me to take a photo of my old FF book collection. I think I was 3 or 4 short of having the whole set!


Might have to borrow them, Daughter the Elder is vaguely interested in that sort of thing.

Just to get back on thread, I haven't played the new one, but one night our Call of Cthulhu group played the original Arkham Horror and enjoyed it.
 
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Tony Chriscoe
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I agree with some of your points. However, another poster said it right when they recommend fewer players. I found it to be a more difficult experience when we had three players versus 6. It has become easy, however, as everytime we play we manage to defeat the GOO. We are toying with various changes to improve difficulty.

After you have played it a few times, you will find the game experience really speeds up. We managed to finish games in about 2 hours, and that is with 6 people playing. If you want a tougher experience, you can decide to remove the seal 6 gates victory condition. This will increase the game length however.

As for the luck, well it does play a large part in this game. There are large chunks of dice thrown for encounters, but by adding the skills adjustments, it really adds a tactical feel to the game. Thematically speaking, an encounter with a monster should never be a forgone conclusion. I like that element of chance, and thus that feeling of danger. But then again, this game was responsible for my returning the world of board games so I do present a bias.

My advice, try it again, and with different characters. You may find the experience much more enjoyable.
 
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Tristan Hall
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Erm . . .
This game is essentially a co-operative dungeon crawl with Mythos themed monsters.
The artwork is fantastic.
The tactics are limited but fun.
The action is increasingly tense.
We think it's brilliant.
Exactly what are you expecting from a board game, Jakob? If you want atmosphere you could try turning down the lights and playing some creepy music or something? But at the end of the day you'll still be playing with a bunch of cardboard and plastic pieces, tokens and dice. You know, just like when you play Heroquest, which you rated 10! I notice also that you rated Cthulhu 500 a “7” and you (threaten to) rate Arkham Horror 1.5. Does that mean Cthulhu 500 is satisfactorily Mythos themed for you when AH isn’t?
Either way, happy gaming!
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Philip Thomas
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Welcome to the geek, talen80meeple

I find Knizia's games to have plenty of theme. I can't really compare them to AH themewise because I don't know enough about AH's theme to work our if it fits. They are definitely more elegant and allow for more skillful play, though.meeple
 
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Squashua

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The game is more mathematics and balanced mechanics than it is, horror gaming. The genre for this game is quite swappable; it does not have to be Lovecraftian Horror. You could easily replace the concepts with space-borne elements and have a space-game, where you're a spaceship crew flying from world to world, gathering parts and stopping invasions and rogue aliens ships from taking over various ports of call, and travelling to outer planets to "strike back", eventually going up against a custom alien armada.

That's my first issue with the game, which I do like.
My second issue is the general layout of pretty much EVERYTHING. The board - no place to put the cards. The chits - the layout does not aid playability at all. There are too many little chits like the Stamina and Sanity and Money that could easily have been replaced with additional sliders on the character sheets.
 
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Steve Bernhardt
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I do agree that AH can be a bit boring, but this review/rant doesn't do the game justice at all. I think the author would be better off playing the Call of Cthulhu RPG since he feels AH fails thematically.

Personally, I think AH has a ton of theme and models the mythos as well as you can expect for a boardgame. Oh, and the comments about the Great Old Ones all being the same is bizarre. That is not true at all.
 
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Jeff Finazzo
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On a game like this I think it all comes down to your group and how they view the game. Even on a game as dry as say, E&T, our group tends to tell little stories of what is happening on the board. In a game that has a theme that is easy to get your head around this effect is multiplied. When we are playing AH we tend to speak as our characters would and descibe the events of the game as they unfold. When I'm reading the mythos event, for example, I will try and tailor it to the events the characters are currently experiencing (the old DM in me). This seems to keep the mood going.

I think any game can have it's theme stripped away to reveal the mechanics. I've often wondered which comes first in the design process. Do you work out the mechanics and then stick a theme on it or the other way around?
 
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i think the game is super-thematic and fun... but only if you play with the right people. probably only really suited to HPL fans, and RPGers, because really the most fun of the game is putting yourself into this desperate and mostly impossible situation, and seeing what you can make of it.

unfortunately, i don't currently belong to one such group, and so the couple times i've managed to get it out on the table, the result has been less than super.
 
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Philip Thomas
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Re: Truly horrible)
I'm guessing they started with the theme here! There are some things you can do to help the atmosphere- have another player read out the cards and monsters as one player deals with them, although the photographer and the novelist special effects mean they can't really use this so much.

The Old ones are very similar in some ways. Much of the difference is in the final fight, which doesn't always happen. Actually that part was the most enjoyable for us...

I have a friend who would probably like this (he bought it for me as a birthday present) I might try it again with him. Unfortunately it is difficult enought to get my regular game groups to play a board game at all (as opposed to Magic or Warhammer or Munchkin or an RPG).
 
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Tim Taylor
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So many interesting replies -- far better reading than the review itself!

As a new user myself, I want to add this bit of grist to the mill.

I've played AH about a dozen times since it came out last summer. My longest playing time was 2.5 hours (first time any of us played), while my shortest playing time was just under 50 minutes. These times include set up and reading out loud the flavor text on cards as well. When I read about Arkham Horror taking four or more hours to play, well, I must say I feel baffled. How can this game take so long for others to play?

Anyway, thanks everyone for all the interesting replies to this review!

TT
 
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Philip Thomas
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The game length varies depending on several factors
1)Number of players. More players dramatically increases game length in time taken per turn. If the players are skilled it should lead to fewer turns.
2)Which Old one you are facing: Some wake up faster than others! Hastur makes sealing gates more difficult.
3) Random factors: the 'Gates can't be sealed' mythos card is just one example.
 
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