Archives for January 2006

The Horror, the Arkham Horror!

Arkham Horror Board Game

I’ve been meaning to write this for a while. Here Goes!

Fantasy Flight does it again. I got to try out Arkham Horror and it was a blast. It took a couple of hours to really understand the machanics of the game. I blame in part the rules book. Its not a bad rules book. However, in order to conserve space a lot of repetition that makes learning a complex game easier had to be dropped. The key to learning the game was playing a few rounds, questioning what seemed wrong and looking it up in the rules.

Once that was done the general play of the game is quite interesting. The game is cooperative much in the same way that a role-playing session is. There is no person running the game so its all of the players versus the system. And it is a tough and merciless system indeed. True to its horror origins the players are fairly weak against the minions of darkness. However through cooperation and sacrifice they can collectively make it through the game.

What makes this game such a winner is that its full of options. Each turn there are a thousand things you can do and there are also lots of things threatening. You can’t deal with all of them so you have to pick your poison. I spent most of the game dealing with threats. I had lots of resources to spend but never felt I had time to actually spend them to improve my chances. I think that was a mistake. Its a game that makes me want to replay it often. That is a good thing.

The production quality is exception on this product. Its packed full of components, a beautiful board and so forth. The company went out of its way to make a good looking game.

I would not recommend this for casual gaming. If you know what you are doing I suspect this game takes about 4 hours to come to a conclusion. If your first game is like mine, it could take up to 6 hours. The rules are also somewhat complicated. They make sense and there is a lovely FAQ out there but this is definitely more difficult than Monopoly! Or Runebound for that matter. I absolutely recommend reading the FAQ as it contains clarifications that are not obvious in the main text of the rules.

The best compliment I can give about the game is that it really does give a good feel for the atmosphere of Lovecraft’s work without his horrid writing (some will disagree with me here on his writing being horrid). Also the sense of terror and tension is quite real. The characters you get to play are soon taught a lesson in humility and its just absolute luck and determined cooperation and coordination that gets you to the win condition at the end.

Did we win when we played? No, but we came close. If I ever find the game gets too easy I will put the designer’s house rules to the test. For now, give me Arkham straight up!

The Latest News

Its been a while since I have posted and there is much to say. The project is steaming along nicely. I’ve been working on the CGI on the website off and on. Work takes top priority and on top of that I’ve been sick for a couple of days. However I have gotten some things done so the article system should be up soon and that will allow me to be much more prolific.

Alison has gone and done a bang up job on helping us get promotion opportunities. We might get national TV coverage is all goes well. The show we are talking to is on Sunday’s and I really like it. Its one of those things were you say “it’d be perfect if we could do that!” It would be a perfect match I think. More details as they become available.

The logistical planning for the show is coming along. I am very excited about what we are trying to do and I think that in short order we will have the show logistics nailed down. Transportation and other logistical needs are not yet figured out but I expect it will pan out.

We have been talking with the new Promotions fellow for Historicon, John Franklin and he is amiable, dedicated to the hobby and the show and one bright guy. Alison and he are going to make the magic happen!

I got some shirts from the products section of our website. I am totally happy with them! They look great! I will be making more product as we press on. I am supposedly getting mouse pads in the mail soon. I’ll report how those came out as well.

More news to follow and soon, hopefully a workbench article on the miniatures. Lets hope this cold of mine goes away soon.

–Pete

A Fantastic Series

Pacific: The Lost Evidence

A brilliant film maker came across photos taken by aircraft flying over various battlefields. What they reveal are some otherwise lost moments in history. The History Channel presentation of this evidence is really engaging. While I don’t have cable my good friend Pete English does and we watched a few of these when I was visiting him last. I can’t recommend them enough. I wish I could sell them off this site! However they are exclusively on the A&E website. Just click the link above to check them out.

They run 50 minutes each and give very good historical detail on several batles such as Leyte, Guam, Okinawa, Tarawa, Saipan and Guadalcanal. I don’t know if more are coming but these are quite good.

What did you get for the Holidays?

My big gift: Descent: Journeys in the Dark

My family just kinda nod their heads as they try to figure out why an adult enjoys GAMING. I never ask for metal miniatures from them because that would be even worse – all they’d see were unfinished metal blobs. However, this year, who could not be intrigued by what was in the box of Descent? I am flying home tomorrow and let me tell you, that box has given me a huge headache in how I am packing things. I considered leaving my shoes behind…

Descent is about entering a fantasy dungeon, fighting the big bad guy, stomping on his minions and stealing his loot. Loads of fun. Some of you may know that I wrote Dungeon Crawl a few years back. Where Dungeon Crawl was meant for one off gaming, this is totally meant for campaign play! Descent also uses the same background story as my other favorite game from Fantasy Flight Games, Runebound so its nice to see some more depth there.

Descent comes in a huge box, is STUFFED with miniatures (over 80, some very huge) and some very high quality components. Its a combat game where players hack and smash their way through a dungeon.

Another game I got was Shadows over Camelot which is an immensely cool game good for 3-7 players (though it can be played solo or with 2 players I hear.) This game retells the story of the Authurian legend starting with the the dark times after Guenevere and Lancelot have left the scene. There are plenty of quests to run on and lots of intrigue. What makes the game unique is that it is played cooperatively with the players vs. the system. It looks frightfully good. I’ll write more on it some other time.

As for the Greater Pacific War project, not much progress was made this past week. I wanted to get some painting done but visiting family and friends took precedence. I did play a fantastic game of Corsairs and Hellcats with Pete English. We did a scenario where the U.S. tried to bomb the hell out of a Japanese Air Base on the Leyte. Alas the U.S. bombers and fighter escort was no match for the Ki-84 as “Forget it, its a Frank” was called out. The Hayate (aka Hurricane) fighters had every advantage (including fanatical devotion to the Emperor!) With the lead Frank piloted by Jobo giving it a performance of 8 there was just no end to the lead these boys could throw and when they chose to attack the laden bombers… There was not much that could be done.

We also played Star Wars Miniatures Battles (of course.) I won one and English won one so that was a tie. The one I won had Seperatists droids running through the jungle vs. Clone Troopers and Jedi. I have new respect for the Super Battle Droids. Give them a little support and they are pretty kick ass.

Finally played a few games of Wings of War which is a card game but the card representing your bi-plane (or tri-plane) acts as a miniature that you fly around the board. Simple and fun. Cheap too. I got mine on sale for about $20. Up to 4 players can play out of the box and there are a few supplements to help add more variety and interst to the game.

Well that’s my report. Hope you all had a great holiday and I look forward to reporting more on the progress of the GPW project!