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What Arkham Still Does Better than Eldritch


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#1 Wolfgar

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Posted 03 March 2014 - 10:05 AM

I'm posting this as a companion to my thread on what Eldritch does better, over in the Eldritch Horror forum. This is of course all my personal opinion. For the sake of fairness I am trying to keep things down to the basic Arkham set.

 

Characters

Arkham has a much better emphasis on character than in Eldritch. While the Investigators in both games are adequately served, Arkham has a better focus on the non-player characters in the game. Ma Mathison, Doyle Jeffries, the Sheldon Gang, Deputy Dingby, - all of these characters have a real feeling and presence in Arkham. Likewise Allies are named characters taken straight from Lovecraft, where Eldritch only has generic "Hired Muscle" or "Lodge Researcher".

 

Dice

While the dice that come with AH aren't great - that's why they sell the neato custom dice separate - they are at least the standard white ivory tumblers, and there are five of them. Eldritch comes with four little black plastic dice that look and feel terrible, and are easily lost. Between the two dice sets, Arkham definitely wins.

 

Doom Advancement

While I like the countdown style in Eldritch, I don't particularly like how Doom is calculated with the complexity of counting gates and shifting the Omen marker back and forth. A lot of the time the Omen Track just seems confusing. Likewise, I like how Arkham gives a steady progress to Doom. In Eldritch it can jump around. It's not too hard in Eldritch to not have Doom advance for several turns, and then take a massive jump on a bad turn. I don't care for it.

 

(Because the way the rules are worded in Eldritch, it's better in game to close all but one Gate so the Doom advances more slowly. I find this a bit counterintuitive.)

 

Investigators

Arkham, as a base set, comes with 16 Investigators. That's a lot of variety, and a lot of combinations. EH comes with 12 Investigators, and we will likely have to wait for several  expansions before seeing the rest.

 

Encounter Locations

EH has nine city locations, roughly corresponding to Arkham's 16 stable locations.Just to start of with, Arkham has more locations, but these locations also feel more flavorful. EH encounters are more mechanically predictable, but Arkham is usually better at more narratively predictable encounters

EH has six Expedition Encounter areas, which correspond to Arkham's unstable Encounters as they are high risk, high reward areas. Such encounters are hard to get to, and very predictable. Arkham offers more flavor and more variety, even in the base set.

 

Other Worlds

Other worlds in Arkham have a very definite flavor. Encounters are set, and you have  a certain amount of judgement about who to send to what Otherworld. In EH Other Worlds are just a big mess. You could be sending an Investigator anywhere, and they all feel kind of same-y.

 

Rumors

Rumors in Arkham are limited, and have a reward for completion. They make the game more challenging, but also can help provide opportunity. Rumors in Eldritch Horror just screw you over, and can end up in rumor pile-up. I have lost games because of multiple rumors popping up simultaneously, and it really isn't that rare.

 

Standardized Mythos Phase

I will say it really helps that 99% of Arkham Mythos cards are exactly the same format.

Gate, Clue, Movement, Effect. It's very predictable. Eldritch's varying format in Mythos can make it very easy to forget or skip over something by mistake. Half the time I forget to apply the actual card's effect after applying all the Reckoning effects.

 

If I think of more things, I will post them.



#2 Jake yet again

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Posted 03 March 2014 - 11:09 AM

Fan Material. AH has been out longer than EH and Strange Eons supports it, so there is far more custom material available for AH than for EH.

 

Expansions. They'll no doubt come for EH in time, but currently AH has all the expansions.


Lovecraft Country Horror - A completely FREE Big Box expansion for Arkham Horror, exploring the minor locations of the Cthulhu Mythos. Contains: Lovecraft Country Board, 16 Investigators, 4 Ancient Ones, 16 Skills, 32 Common Items, 24 Unique Items, 10 Spells, 16 Music of Erich Zann cards, 76 Leads, 4 Allies, 32 Monsters, 24 Injuries and Madnesses, 54 Mythos Cards, 41 Outer World Encounters, 52 Location Encounters for each Neighbourhood.


#3 The Professor

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Posted 03 March 2014 - 07:56 PM

Wolfgar,

 

     I can't help but agree ~ overall, it's just a much more immersive experience for me.

 

Cheers,

Joe


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#4 jgt7771

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 05:09 PM

I think I would agree with all that as well, but I'm trying to remain objective, since I've been playing Arkham for years, and Eldritch only a handful of games.  Arkham gameplay is second-nature, but I'm still getting used to all of Eldritch; however, I've kinda forgotten how bumbling I was when I first played Arkham.

 

But gameplay aside, there's a slightly more ephemeral quality that the Professor touched on: scope.  By pulling the camera waaaaay back, Eldritch loses a certain intimacy.  It's still a clever conceit, that those Arkham Investigators have the moxie to take on the Ancient Ones on a global scale, that ultimately works on a mechanical level, but the storylines...just aren't there.  There's very little connectivity, almost Game-of-Thronesian, where you've got 4-8 different stories going on separately, with only the thin grasp of the AO to bind them in any way.  (It's like writing a story based on Pandemic or Risk.)  When everyone's zoomed in on Massachusetts, the actions of a few Investigators gain a great deal of weight.  Bumping into each other at the Black Cave feels like a whole chapter, rather than a footnote in Istanbul.  (I fear losing a day of gaming with my AH Cult, because Eldritch just doesn't have the same "heart" to possibly hook them.)

 

I will admit to a great deal of bias, though.  I played through the Masks of Nyarlathotep (Chaosium) in high school, and I have never had a more global role-playing experience since.  Eldritch had a lot to live up to in the dark recesses of my brain, both against the best RPG campaign and the best board game IMHO.  But it IS competent and this topic deserves revisiting once it has a couple of expansion under its belt.


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#5 Julia

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 05:44 PM

Nice reading you again, Jgt. Welcome back :)


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#6 The Professor

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Posted 16 March 2014 - 05:38 AM

jgt,

 

     It's great to see you again! 

 

Cheers,

Joe


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#7 DarkRaven47

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 02:52 PM

Eldritch Horror also only comes with four Ancient Ones which is a pitiful amount imo. Arkham Horror has double that. Much more variety in AH in numerous categories.

#8 The Professor

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Posted 28 March 2014 - 04:48 PM

DarkRaven,

Time will tell...as I noted over on BGG, math matters. Eldritch Horror, now in the 59th place of 50K games is amazing, but it's a function of myriad data points, not least of which includes only 2,000 or so folks who have given it a rating, compared to more than 20,000 for Arkham Horror, which has slipped...after nearly a decade to 100th. In the annals of gaming history, my money is on Arkham over Eldritch.

Cheers,
Joe
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#9 mulletcheese

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Posted 18 April 2014 - 11:16 AM

AH has lots of atmosphere, EH is a bit bland in comparison.

 

A wounded investigator fleeing to the hospital, avoiding dangerous locations and dodging/sneaking by wandering monsters while the residents of arkham shut up shop and leave the city.. for me that sums up the soul of arkham. EH is yet to find its soul but it's still early days.

 

There are some real improvements in EH that I would love to see in the next version of arkham.



#10 Steve-O

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Posted 19 April 2014 - 07:16 AM

I haven't played Eldritch Horror myself - to be honest it's not really very high on my list - but I agree with the sentiment about scale.

Part of the charm of Lovecraft's writing is how it's all "small town USA" or "isolated remote research base." One or two people stumble upon an unbelievable, mind-numbingly crazy plot and they do what they can to escape and/or stop it. The latter is usually an effort in futility. The horror in his writing comes from people going up against something that is so impossibly big they can't even hope to understand it, let alone defeat it. And unlike Hollywood movies, the heroes are rarely able to pull out a 1-in-a-million David vs Goliath victory.

Something about that gets lost in the shift to a global scale. It implies that the population of the world must be aware of the horrors as well, even if they're in denial or otherwise refusing to act. It may still be a great horror atmosphere and a great horror game, it just doesn't seem Lovecraftian to me.


TLDR; Size matters.


Edited by Steve-O, 19 April 2014 - 07:21 AM.

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#11 Julia

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Posted 19 April 2014 - 07:26 AM

*setting up another AH game while outside there's a raging storm*


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#12 The Professor

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Posted 19 April 2014 - 07:44 AM

Steve-O,

 

     Well-stated...I hadn't thought of it in those terms, but I really appreciate the micro-level that AH provides, especially as many players have stated that the Investigators in EH fall away to the background.

 

Julia,

 

     Good luck!

 

Cheers,

Joe


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#13 Julia

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Posted 19 April 2014 - 08:10 AM

Julia,

 

     Good luck!

 

Thanks. With both George and Vincent in the mix, the game is... challenging. Let's see if Chaugnar's jungle drums will be silenced or not :)


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#14 Wolfgar

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Posted 20 April 2014 - 01:11 AM

It's not a competition. I find Eldritch is my preferred game for individual play and Arkham is my preferred game for group play currently.



#15 Julia

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Posted 20 April 2014 - 02:59 AM

Agreed, no competition, but diversity & more options for everyone. Apologies if my comments sounded unrespectful, Wolfgar


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#16 Wolfgar

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Posted 20 April 2014 - 12:20 PM

Agreed, no competition, but diversity & more options for everyone. Apologies if my comments sounded unrespectful, Wolfgar

 

You never sound disrespectful Julia. No apologies needed.


Edited by Wolfgar, 20 April 2014 - 12:20 PM.


#17 Julia

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Posted 20 April 2014 - 01:20 PM

Thanks, glad we are ok :)


Edited by Julia, 20 April 2014 - 01:20 PM.

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#18 Rapier

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Posted 13 May 2014 - 09:56 PM

For me the big problem with Eldritch is that it lacks complexity.

To take one example: You can have any great old one and then combine it with any of the mythos deck. As you have 20+ GOO and the mythos deck has got to be 300+ cards in total if you own all the expansions - you are almost never going to play the same game twice.

This isn't just a function of AH having more expansions though, the interlocking parts of the various different parts of the game item decks, encounter cards, the fact that other world cards have special rules if you hit the right world and card all transpire to create a game which is potentially much more varied.

EH could release new cards to go with the great old ones they already have - but really you're always going to be playing Yig and "some of" his deck of cards - not: Here's how Yig effects the game and how it can interlock with other sections.

I'd love them to update some of the Ah bits that are less interesting and EH does some of these better (Stacking combat damage - having more "theme" to make the great old ones more different than just a single rule, doom track length, and minor monster changes). 

I just think that EH will never get the interlocking parts that AH has.and that means it will always be lighter (which is the goal from FFG) but also always be hollower.


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