November 10, 2007

Arkham Village Idiots

by Susan Rozmiarek

I almost decided to let this game of Arkham Horror with the family slide by without a report but I decided I needed to make a confession of sorts. Wow, did we ever botch this one! We were hoping to repeat our exciting game of last year when our younger son, Shea, was the last man standing and defeated the Old One on his last dice roll. Of course, it had been so long since we had played the game that we'd forgotten the rules and more importantly, the strategy. Arkham Horror is a wicked, wicked, unforgiving game. You don't mess around with the Old Ones. Rather than actually THINK about how we should proceed, we chose to run around willy-nilly first to remind ourselves what is at the various locations. Could we have been more stupid? We were soon running out of health, stamina and money for starters. There are just places in Arkham that you don't go near until you've buffed yourself up. That would actually be most places, in fact. We should have taken our starting cash and made a beeline to the stores for a little shopping excursion first.

It didn't help that the first card was a rumor that had an ally removed from the game at the start of every turn. According to the card, they were fleeing in fear from the Southside Strangler but I personally think it was because they had heard about the four bumbling investigators responsible for ridding the town of evil. Actually, we found out later that according to the corrected rules, we should have discarded this card and drawn a new one because it was a rumor card. I doubt it would have changed our fate.

Anyway, gates were soon opening everywhere, the streets were overrun with monsters, more people were fleeing in terror, and Yog-Sothoth was stirring in his sleep. We decided to stick with our lost cause and make it our goal to close a single gate. Yes, a single gate. Sheesh. Has any group ever done this poorly with this game! The person who ended up achieving this lofty goal was me. Since the others did not have a gate trophy when Yog-Sothoth awoke, they were all instantly devoured, leaving poor little me to face him alone. Bad choice, as my character, Marie Lambeau, was strong in the mystical arts and old Yog is immune to magic. I could not even manage a single attack and I lasted about 3 rounds before my mind cracked and I was put out of my misery. Sorry, citizens of Arkham!

All four of us are experienced gamers so the whole ordeal was quite embarrassing. We really need to pull it out again soon and redeem ourselves.

A winged denizen of evil prepares to swoop down on the brave investigators.

More gaming stuff:

I punched our new copy of 1960: The Making of the President and was very impressed with the component quality - big board, thick tiles and a linen finish on the cards. I read the rules, which are laid out very well, and I'm quite looking forward to spending a leisurely afternoon tomorrow playing it while watching NFL games. The Cowboys are playing the Giants which should be a good game.

I got several Mayfair games last week in the mail to review. My quick takes so far:
Market of Alturien - despite a big box of lavish components, they seem to have forgotten to include much of a game.
Chicago Poker - this is a very fun multi-player Schotten-Totten with some bluffing and special cards. I enjoyed it a lot.
Gangster - I haven't played it yet but I've read the rules. It's either going to be yet another area majority control game (yawn) or great fun because of the theme. We'll see.

I paid a visit to Great Hall Games in Austin and came away with a copy of Tantrix. I haven't played the game yet but the puzzles alone make it worth the purchase. Hopefully this will make another great travel game as it consists of 52 bakelite tiles with a bag to hold them.

Posted by Susan Rozmiarek at November 10, 2007 5:02 PM


Hi Susan. Arkham horror has always interested me. I know nothing about the books or the story behind the books. But the setting really appeals. How long does a game take generally? Is it similar to say, Lord of the Rings with players working together? Do you also have the expansions? and if so are they recommended? I really look forward to when my 2 sons are old enough to play games with me :)
--Mark Coomey

Posted by: mark coomey on November 11, 2007 12:32 AM

What the heck is that thing? The way the shot is composed, it looks like it could a manifestation of something from the dark recesses of Kevin's psyche.

But it could just be paper mache.

Posted by: Jay B on November 11, 2007 2:12 PM

Although Jason and Christian actually did consider using the historical election of 1860 for their game, it's actually based on the one that occured a century *later*. Kennedy, not Lincoln. The modern candidates had fewer hats, but the older guys had better beards (at least according to Nixon).


Posted by: Larry Levy on November 12, 2007 1:38 PM

Mark: It was a wonderful thing when my kids were finally mature enough to play our games without having us be in "parent" mode. For both of them this seemed to occur around age 10. Arkham Horror is a really good fit for us right now because my sons both like the roleplaying aspects of the game with its unique characters, loads of special items, health points, etc- a lot of the same characteristics of the computer and video games that they also like. However, this makes the game very fiddly and it can take the entire afternoon to play. I'm not sure how long our game was as we took a few breaks, but I'm sure it was over 3 hours. So, it is a lot more complicated and longer than the LotR cooperative game (which my kids also like and were able to handle at a younger age). We have all the expansions but haven't played a single one. The Dunwich Horror is supposed to make the game more challenging which I don't think we need right now! However, I used to be a big fan of the stories, so collecting them all is a must for me.

Jay: That thing and the other one in the cage is what happens when you let my warped family loose in a Halloween store! The heads are some sort of hard rubber.

Larry: Good catch! I've fixed it. I actually would be even more interested in the earlier election. Maybe with the success of 1960 they'll make it into a series of games.

Posted by: Susan on November 12, 2007 3:49 PM

Look up! Ewww!
(referring to the picture).
We've been watching five seasons of Buffy the Vampire slayer in one week so one of us is always saying, "Watch out, Buffy!"

I found Tantrix to be pretty hard. Is is just me?

Posted by: Betty Dingus on November 14, 2007 3:42 PM

Betty - no, it's not just you. Those Tantrix puzzles are e-v-i-l. I'm stuck on 9 tiles but Ed and Shea are up to something like 14. It's sitting out in the living room making it impossible to pass by and not work on them.

Posted by: Susan on November 14, 2007 4:54 PM
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