Take that, Hast’yr!

Arkham Horror coverWe hadn’t played Arkham Horror, the cooperative board game from Fantastic Flight Games, in over four years.  We played the basic game, without any of the expansions.

Arkham Horror pits all the players against the horrors from beyond that are opening gates into the town and letting loose monsters to haunt the streets.  The players each play an investigator with different skills, gear, knowledge, and resilience, trying to prevent an Ancient One from breaking through into our world; there are 16 investigators to pick from. There is a neat wiki with tons of information on the game, and of course the official support page from Fantasy Flight Games offers lots of free resources.

We drew three investigator cards each at random and picked from those; in play at the start were Gloria Goldberg the writer, who is hell on wheels at exploring other dimensions; Michael McGlen, a big tough gangster with a tommy gun, and I played Darrell Simmons, a photographer at the Arkham newspaper.  As our Ancient One opponent, we drew Hast’yr.

As usually happens in such a game, we had a mix of incredibly bad luck and bad rolls, and phenomenal good luck on other aspects.  On the lucky side: through luck of the draw, I started the game with an Elder Sign, which allows you to seal an interdimensional portal without having to make a skill roll or spend clue tokens.  In fact, we would go on to find all four Elder Signs in the deck! Getting Gloria among the investigators was also good luck, she was crucial.

On the unlucky side, Darrell was the victim of a curse early on and couldn’t shake it for a long time, so the opening phase of the game, which should have relatively easier, was a mess.  We had long strings when we rolled big handfuls of dice and couldn’t get a success, even without the curse.  (Or maybe the players were cursed.)  Eventually, I had to sacrifice Darrell to seal a gate, spending his last points of sanity and stamina; then I drew another character at random and finished the game with Jenny Barnes the two-fisted dilettante.

We spent most of the game staring our doom in the face, with five or six gates open (when a seventh gate opens, you enter the end game and things get even more difficult.)  We really, really thought we were going to lose horribly, and in fairly short order, but somehow through luck, strategy and cooperation, we managed to seal the required six gates and prevent Hast’yr from breaking through.  It was a long game, and a nail-biter ending.  All in all, the best Arkham Horror episode I’d ever played.

Best of all, I think, gangster Mike McGlen somehow ended up as Deputy of Arkham.  I guess when enough monsters have terrorized the town and law and order are breaking down, they’ll take anyone!