Board Games and Movie: I’m Bad

LotR card game: the Spirit deck, with heroes Eowyn of Rohan, Dunhere, and Eleanor.
LotR card game: the Spirit deck, with heroes Eowyn of Rohan, Dunhere, and Eleanor.

I had a packed to-do list for the weekend that included tax filing, layout work for the Dragonflight game convention, course work for online classes, editing the War of Ashes RPG draft in response to reviewers’ and playtesters’ comments, posting my notes on the playtest of Do: Fate of the Flying Temple, responding to other mail, taking care of bills,  plus social commitments for both Saturday and Sunday which I had backed out of at the last minute.

But after a long work week with rough commute hours (two to two and a half hours each way), I felt I had to have a day off. I decided to re-accept the Saturday social, which turned out to be two board games and a movie. I had my first encounter with Fantasy Flight Games’ Lord of the Rings “Living Card Game,” we played another session of the old warhorse Arkham Horror, and we re-watched Galaxy Quest.

Lord of the Rings Card Game: Three players with decks built on Leadership, Lore, and Spirit respectively, tackling the introductory scenario. I was surprised at how easy it was to learn to play after the initial explanation of the rules had bewildered me.

Arkham Horror: All-female roster, all starting in the North End.
Arkham Horror: All-female roster, all starting in the North End.

Arkham Horror: Three players, using the “King in Yellow” expansion. We managed to hold four gate trophies (six, actually) and seal five gates with Elder signs on the very turn when the Doom Track would fill up and Hastur was going to show up. We also kept the terror level to 0 most of the game, 1 point on the final turn; and we cleaned up most of the monsters. This is the game where I’ve felt most confident we were ahead throughout, thanks to some excellent luck in drawing our characters’ random equipment at the start.

The four characters (we had a dummy hand) were coincidentally all female: Zoey Samaras, Wendy Adams, Lola Hayes and Agnes Baker. Zoey started with a randomly drawn Elder sign; Wendy also starts with one by default plus she drew a Press Pass card that allowed her to double up on clue tokens; and Zoey started with two perfect items: a magical weapon and a Healing Stone, both of which saw much use.

On the one hand, I will pay for this; on the other hand, I would have paid if I had tried to work through the weekend and keep going through the week, so I ended up picking the more fun option. Oh, also: we won both games.


Board Game Day: Eldritch Horror

Eldritch Horror box coverOn Saturday we had some friends over and we tried the recently released board game Eldritch Horror from Fantasy Flight Games. This game is the heir and “streamlined version” of Arkham Horror—also from FFG—which I’ve mentioned a few times here.  Game Informer has an excellent and detailed description of the game, so I’ll give you my own impressions.

The Game

Like its predecessor, the game is about brave investigators shutting down inter-dimensional gates to prevent Elder Gods from erupting into our reality and eating it. It’s a very Lovecraftian setting, except that it’s possible to win. Not easy, mind you, just conceivable enough that it’s worth playing. Instead of concentrating on Arkham and its surroundings, it goes world-wide. The rules feel familiar but you have to build your sense of what is likely to happen in any given location or mission all over again. Continue reading “Board Game Day: Eldritch Horror”

Get your tentacles offa my allies!

Fun Board-Games-and-Fine-Food Day this weekend with our friend Steve!  It started mid-morning with a rematch of Fantasy Flight Games’ Arkham Horror; last time we had a narrow, nail-biting victory over Hast’yr using the basic rules; this time we threw in the first expansion, Dunwich Horror.

The game featured investigators Mike McGlen the Gangster (Edmund), Leo Anderson the Expedition Leader (Steve), Sister Mary the Nun (me), and Kate Winthrop the Scientist (dead man’s hand, played cooperatively).  It ended with a nail-biter defeat against Abhoth — we took him down to one point left before going down in a blaze of glory gibbering insanity.  I really don’t mind losing when it’s suspenseful and feels like we had a chance.  I won’t go over the basics of the game since I have a thumbnail in my last game report.

Vanished Planet coverWe had a lunch of tasty nibbles and leftovers: some home-made chicken soup and chicken salad, Edmund made French bread which we ate piping hot, and we added a fruit and cheese platter.

After Abhoth (“a horrid, dark gray protean mass and is said to be the ultimate source of all miscreation and abomination”) had us over for lunch, we switched to another cooperative board game, Vanished Planet.  This game completely relies on players cooperation to beat the system; there is no option for switching alliances or competing for resources.  Continue reading “Get your tentacles offa my allies!”

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!