Arkham Nights 2012
I’m taking a bit of a sidetrack from the blog exchange with Andy at Scrolls of the Platinum Warlock. Check out my account of being a player in one his games here! Next week you’ll get to hear from a player’s perspective what it’s like to play in one of my games!
This past weekend, I attended Arkham Nights, a three-day gaming convention held by Fantasy Flight Games for their board games inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft. For those of you not familiar with him, H.P. Lovecraft was one of the early horror writers who wrote about “things man was not meant to know” and the slow drive to insanity of the people who encountered them.
By the way, Lovecraft first wrote about the fictional town of Arkham, MA in 1936, long before anybody thought about putting the Batman villains in Arkham Asylum!
Over the years, Fantasy Flight Games, known for their high production values (and rather expensive board games) developed several games set in the Call of Cthulhu mythos (thus named after one of Lovecraft’s most famous works: The Call of Cthluhu). Currently, they have Arkham Horror, Mansions of Madness, Elder Sign, and Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game. Generally, these board games are based around working cooperatively to hold back the horrors, but trying not to have your character go insane or be killed in the process.
Arkham Horror is perhaps my all time favorite board game, due to its near infinite replayability and its cooperative nature, so of course I decided to go to this convention! Plenty of other gamers were just as excited and some came from states away to come to play these games. Lucky for me, it was held at the Fantasy Flight Game Center in Roseville, MN a mere 15 minutes away from my house!
Part of the registration fee went towards some awesome swag! Because I didn’t preregister, I missed out on green shirt with white tentacles on it, but I did get a swag bag of promotional gameplay components for Arkham Horror (a new Ancient One card for Yig, the Father of Serpents) and Elder Sign (a new Shub-Niggurath card) as well as a dice bag and some printed art. It doesn’t seem like Fantasy Flight intends to ever release this or any of the other promo cards to the public, but fortunately there’s a fan who’s been recreating all of the promo stuff for Arkham Horror at least and making them available to download here (and Yig has just been added).
I started off with a game of Mansions of Madness being the Keeper (basically controlling all the bad guys against four players working cooperatively). We played a new scenario from The Yellow Sign expansion and I got to play a bunch of cultists living out the King in Yellow (a play which, when performed, drives everyone insane in the third act) with the investigators as hapless participants. We had a lot of fun and a very close game. Eventually though, I won defeating the four investigators before they could burn the play’s script.
After that, I played in a game of Arkham Horror for the Arkham League. Basically, it’s a series of scenarios that are majorly stacked against the players. Defeat is all but guaranteed and your goal is basically to do as well as you can before you lose and then a score is calculated. For the first scenario, here were the special rules:
- Only certain investigators were available, and they tended to be the weak ones
- No clue tokens start on the board
- No investigators start with any clues. Instead they gain $1 per clue, but…
- Ye Olde Magick Shoppe and The Curiosite Shoppe are closed for the game (so your money is pretty much useless)
- Cultists have the Endless ability and move on black arrows every Mythos phase unless they are engaged with an investigator
In addition, we were facing the new promo Yig. Every time a gate appears, you make a Sneak check at +2 minus the number of open gates. If you fail, you are Cursed. I’m told this was the easiest of the three scenarios!
First round, three out of four people got Cursed and things didn’t improve much from there. First round we got a rumor where we had to have someone go to a location and give up a Skill and a Blessing within a certain number of rounds or else all three monster rifts (from the Kingsport expansion) got unleashed. Needless to say with all of us being Cursed, we weren’t getting Blessed any time soon and we failed the mission, unleashing hordes of monsters onto the streets of Arkham.
After that, we had two monster surges with them emptying the outskirts twice, resulting in the terror track and the doom track skyrocketing up. We did managed to close (but not seal) two gates before Yig appeared. Unfortunately, anybody who is Cursed when he shows up is Devoured, so we all died (had anybody survived, they would have become Cursed). We totally got it handed to us, but that’s half the fun of Arkham Horror. After that, I played a standard game of Arkham Horror (what? there are clue tokens on the board?) in which we were actually doing alright!
The next day, I came back to play in an event called “Barricades,” in which all eight expansion packs of Arkham Horror were used! This resulted in a massive game and we wound up playing eight investigators between five players. Things were a little rough at first, but we wound up holding our own pretty well. And we even had Richard Launius, creator of Arkham Horror, stop by to chat with us and see how we were doing! Not long after we won! All in all, it was a really enjoyable game.
I finished up the convention with a game of Fiasco set in the Call of Cthulhu mythos. If you didn’t have a WTF moment, let me enlighten you: Call of Cthluhu is a psychological, grim game where characters are fighting back against an inevitable fate. Fiasco, by Bully Pulpit Games, is a freeform roleplaying game that advertises itself as “A game of powerful ambition & poor impulse control” and it winds up being incredibly chaotic and slapstick. Big genre clash! And that’s what made it awesome!
In Fiasco, characters have relationships and motivations with each other on the table. We had a teenager who joined a cult as an emo act of rebellion against his father, who shared the same name as a police officer, who worked with my character to get rich through a bit of murder, who participated in some illicit activities with a cultist, who was bitter rivals with the first cultist.
Things quickly got way out of control with multiple people getting whacked on the head with shovels, my character revealing he was a Deep One and launching an invasion or Arkham, one of the characters getting possessed by Hastur, and everyone getting rounded up into a cult meeting in which a crate of dynamite went off. Luckily my character walked way from the whole deal completely unscathed, but the wig he wore became fused onto his reptilian Deep One skull. We spent so much time laughing at the ridiculous situation we were developing that we didn’t care about how confusing it was turning out!
Finally, I ended my convention with one more game of Arkham Horror. We had to pack up before we were finished, but things were looking really well for us so I’ll call it a win.
All in all, Arkham Nights was a fantastic event! If anybody is around the Twin Cities area next year, I highly recommend they come!