Posts tagged ‘arkham horror’

When Good Gaming Goes Bad – Lessons Learned

Since about January, we have had guest writers for our articles and they have been doing a wonderful job! Thanks guys! However, something happened at Friday Night Game Night that caused me to pause and wonder “What Happened? We had eager players and a great game…yet it crumbled.”

Given that Best Dang Games is about the gaming experience, we thought it would be appropriate to share our really bad game session with you, to help you know when it is time to bail on a game and just try again another time.

How NOT to Play Arkham Horror

We had played a few rounds of two-player versions, and a solo play or two. Everyone wanted to give it a go, so we decided to try it. We had a eight players (three had played it at least once) – one of which was a young teenager.

Given that I had the most experience with the game (that’s not saying a whole lot), I decided not to play and act as “game master”. My role was to oversee the game and make sure everyone understood the rules.

Lessons Learned

Lesson #1 – The “game master” is a good idea for big games like Arkham. This person needs to have done this a few times and understand the game. This person needs to be able to control a crowd and handle questions effectively. Understand, not only were we new to Arkham, but it was my first time as a “game master”.

Lesson #2 – You need a few players that have played Arkham Horror when you try it out with new players. There is a lot of information for new players to grasp – because it is more like a role playing game, rather than a strategy game. They had to understand their cards, the character’s abilities, the monster’s abilities, the locations on the board, and on and on. This leads to about an hour up front of answering questions and repeating things several times.

Lesson #3 – Table-talk is good…but too much table-talk is BAD! When you have a co-operative game, part of the nature of the game is table-talk and to work out how the team will beat the game (and the traitor – if that is part of the game). However, larger groups having lots of choices create an “analysis paralysis” situation. Sometimes people get mired down in making the right decision that they don’t make any decision. They start analyzing every move they can make. You start seeing the other players roll their eyes or get up for drinks and snacks. These are your clues. If you are in a game that starts showing these signs, speak up and start a house rule stating only 1 minute or so per person – or they skip their turn.

Lesson #4 – Know when to “Cut and Run”. Many times, games go bad. It just happens…and it is alright. Sometimes it is better to quit while you are in a good spot, rather than drag the game all the way through the mud. There seems to be an unwritten rule that says “Finish the game, no matter what!” This is sometimes not the best policy. We ran Arkham Horror from about 8:00 until 12:30 or so. At 11:30, we lost our first player – he wanted to leave and was not having fun anymore. Instead of calling it then, everyone wanted to keep going out of pride.

Lesson #5 – Be careful who you play with. Sometimes, the age level of the people at the table is VERY important. We had a pre-teen with us and she is typically fine to play with. However, because there were so many things to think about and decide, she kept repeating the questions after we answered it several times. There was a constant “Oh, I have another question” being spoken over the other players. This really disrupted the flow of the discussions. “What was the monster limit?” “Can I close that gate?” “If I go there, can I do X?” “How many spaces can I move again?” or whatever.

Lesson #6 – There are some cool variations you can do with Arkham as a “game master”. The players never got to read their cards (unless it was a special skill of theirs and they had to pick the one they wanted). This created a sense of adventure, and they players never knew what was coming. This was a hit and I would do it again, whenever possible. Also, when I placed gates down, they were flipped so you could not see where the gate went. This created a level of mystery and decisions for the players to ponder as they made decisions about what to do.

Lesson #7 – When you play a long game with a “full boat” of people, it just takes a long time to play. Arkham Horror is one of those big Fantasy Flight games. It typically takes a few hours to play. Add eight new players and it WILL take longer. Expect it and plan for it. Notify everyone playing that this is going to happen. Otherwise, you will be having a lt of people looking at their watches and wondering if the game will ever end. 

Needless to say, we were not playing a bad game. The event turned into a bad event due to the situation that developed. Had I been a better GM, I probably would have handled it better. We chalk it up to a learning event and we do it all again some other time.

Thankfully, our players are understanding. But if you are playing with non-gamers, or new gamers, be careful that you don’t sour the experience for them.

Bonus Lesson

One other lesson we learned from a different game night worth mentioning as a bonus lesson involves alcohol and gaming. They really don’t mix well – unless you are playing party games. But, strategy games and new games require a good amount of attention. This does not happen if everyone has been to happy hour and brings more beer to the game party. The game will take second-fiddle to the social aspect of the party. The game is supposed to enhance the social environment, not be overshadowed by it. Also, don’t even think about drinking and then attempting to learn a new game – we tried this with Munchkin Quest. It was very hard to concentrate on the game and comprehend some of the weird Munchkin rules.

I hope our screw-ups and lessons learned help you develop a better game night experience for your friends – and don’t let our experience scare you away from Arkham…let the Great Old Ones do that.


February 17, 2009 at 3:32 am 4 comments

Arkham Horror Board Game Video Overview

We posted another video on YouTube and on Best Dang Games for you.

We had a lot of people looking for Arkham Horror, by Fanatasy Flight Games, over the holidays, so we decided to give it a little attention.

In this video, Gary introduces you to the basics of the game, shows you a short turn overview, and explains how the expansions can enhance your gaming experiences.

Here is a blog article we have on Arkham Horror, as well.

Here is the game on our site.

January 11, 2009 at 8:27 pm Leave a comment

Fantasy Flight Games – New Video Posted

Just wanted to let everyone know that Gary and I spent some time putting some videos together for you all over the holiday break.

There are a lot of informational videos coming about different game companies, game systems, and just stuff to help you determine if a game is for you or not. We are trying to be a little different than the average video guys out there and offer you something you may not have seen or heard.

The first one is a quick overview of Fantasy Flight Games. In this one, Gary goes over the basic characteristics of these games and tells you a little about what to expect if you decide to purchase one of their games. They are definately for a specific type of gamer!

January 2, 2009 at 11:00 pm Leave a comment

Arkham Horror – A Brief Introduction

Author – Tristan Ansel T. Angeles

Arkham Horror is a cooperative board game for 1 to 8 players by Fantasy Flight Games, and designed by Kevin Wilson and Richard Launius. Set in the fictional town of Arkham, Massachusetts, the game has the players running around the town visiting and closing dimensional gates in locations such as the Arkham Sanitarium, Miskatonic University, and the Unnamable as well as “other dimensions” made famous in the stories by author Howard Philips Lovecraft , or H.P. Lovecraft as he his more popularly known . While doing this, monsters come out of the gates trying to ruin the investigators efforts to halt the awakening of an ancient one, one of the big baddies of the Cthulhu mythos, which will more or less decide the outcome of the game.

The Theme

For those uninitiated to the Chtulhu mythos, or H.P. Loveraft’s stories, a little background might be needed, although not necessary to fully enjoy the game.

First and foremost, H.P. Lovecraft’s stories (though not all of them), follow a premise that in the ancient past the earth was ruled by creatures from the other worlds, and that these creatures, through the help of minions and cultists are trying to regain mastery over the earth.

Perhaps the example, which best illustrates the theme of the H.P. Lovecraft’s stories, is none other than “The Call of Cthulhu”. In the short story, a strange statue procured from a police raid, pushes the protagonist to research on its background. The information he acquires reveals to him cults trying to awaken the ancient ones. The story climaxes, with the crew of a fishing vessel stumbling upon the sunken city of R’lyeh , and almost fully awakening Cthulhu, high priest of the ancient ones.

Some other H.P. Lovecraft stories that might be of interest to those trying to get into the game are:

  • The Shadow over Inssmouth,
  • the Unnamable
  • Dunwhich Horror( which is also the title of one of the Arkham expansions).

There are more H.P. Lovecraft stories to be found on the net, which will surely interest once one gets into the game.

The Gameplay

For those people looking for a quick game to be played during break times, Arkham Horror is NOT for you.

The game takes roughly 4 to 5 hour hours to finish and takes a huge amount of gaming space.

Now that the gaming constraints are set aside, lets continue to the actual board game review.

Arkham Horror is one of the very first board games I bought, and it does not disappoint. First, the amount of playing pieces in the game are astounding – more than 700 pieces. The pieces are composed of decks of cards which represents several elements of the game (Locations, events, items etc). There are also chits and tokens which represent the monsters, and various gates and portals that the player’s investigators will encounter on the board. Of course, there is the gigantic board itself which represents the fictional town of Arkham.

Aside from the high quality pieces, the artwork depicted on the cards and tokens will surely please any Lovecraft fan because they accurately evoke the theme of the game. Since we are in the topic of theme already, it is also safe to say that playing Arkham Horror will emulate the feel of the Lovecraft stories, that is, man against ancient horrors from beyond time and space, since the game is very hard to beat.

For the gameplay, there has been several complaints that the rulebook were hard to understand or confusing, but from my experience we did not have any problems with them. Once you play it a few times you generally get it.

Buy Arkham Horror here

January 1, 2009 at 7:50 pm 2 comments


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