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will i ever fully grasp this game?? (and expansion question)


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#1 screamformechicago

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Posted 27 May 2014 - 09:32 AM

I don't think of myself as a dumb person, and I do have some gaming experience, but I find myself wondering if I will ever fully grasp AH.  My progress in a game is painstakingly slow, with frequent interruptions to consult the rulebook and my flowchart.  I'd like to get to the point that I feel confident and proficient at this, but I don't have the time to make a second career out of it, lol!  I frequently find myself wondering if I should stop investing time and money into AH and just focus on EH, which I do feel I grasp well and enjoy.

 

Perhaps one of the problem I'm having is that I've purchased several expansions and have added their materials into my set.  I'm thinking, though, that since I don't feel I have the base rules down 100 percent (or even 90 percent), I should avoid the expansions until I am on firmer ground.  Does that make sense?

 

Assuming that I follow that course of action, should I remove all components (including mythos cards, other worlds cards, etc.), or just select out stuff like dark pact cards, etc. that are specific to the expansions?  The mythos cards, unique and common items, spells, etc. that are added by the expansions are not expansion-specific, are they?  (I haven't read them all, truth be told)

 

I have the following expansions: King in Yellow, Lurker, and Dark Pharaoh. I was thinking about buying Dunwich Horror, but maybe I should put that on hold, since I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed as it is.

 

Thanks for your input, anyone.


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#2 The Professor

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Posted 27 May 2014 - 10:16 AM

Well, first, Welcome to the Carnival! 

 

You're coming at the genre from a slightly different perspective in that you've played EH before really grasping AH.  Nothing wrong with it...it's just different.  As to your "problem" I would suggest, stripping out all aspects from every expansion (and you can easily do so as there are icons on the Mythos, Other World, and Arkham Encounter cards.  The Investigator cards, Spells, Common and Unique Items, Skills, etc are a bit less important in this respect, but you may certainly free yourself of all these expansion-related items.

 

Play the base game, with only the original 16 Investigators and really immerse yourself in the story and the horror associated with the game.  Once you feel as though you rtuly understand the ebband flow of the game, introduce one expansion at a time and again, fully-understand and fully-immerse yourself in each one.  While I'm an all-in player, I've been playing for more than 5 years.   In time, not only will you "get it" but you'll, moreover, enjoy it.

 

All the best,

Joe


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#3 Soakman

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Posted 27 May 2014 - 11:12 AM

Indeed, welcome!

Arkham Horror DOES, undeniably, take a lot of time and over the 3ish years I've been playing it, I will still learn things about the game that I did not fully understand. Often times I do this just by reading forums during my lunch or 15 minute break at work.

 

It really does take a good dozen or so plays to really get all of the mechanics and quirks of turn-order etched into your memory, but without those foundations the expansion will be much more difficult to grasp.  In a way, Arkham Horror is a bit like math in that the base set is arithmatic, components of expansions are like algebra, and the board expansions are like Geometry, Physics, and Calculus.

 

What I mean by this is that the base game gives you the building blocks, the non-board expansions give you more complex understanding of those building blocks, and the boards often have new mechanics that can quickly overwhelm you if you don't understand them, don't understand the building blocks, or just forget about them because you are still puzzling over algebra.

 

I know, it's probably a confusing metaphor, but that's the best I can explain it.

 

Start with the basics as The Professor suggested, and add in the small expansions as you start to memorize mechanics. The best thing about Arkham Horror is that you can tailor your own game in very nuanced ways once you have a good understanding of the expansion mechanics. 

 

You can use, for instance, the Blights and King in Yellow Herald from KIY, the Exhibit Token from CotDP, and Personal Stories and/or relationships without actually using any of the Big Boards... or you can use One Big board, no herald (to tone the difficulty down), with just the exhibit token for a little additional help.

It takes a LONG time to master AH... much longer than Eldritch Horror, but I feel the experience is a lot more rewarding and offers the most replayablity in a game I have ever seen.

Good luck, and if you have any questions, you can try the forums at Board Game Geek as well. There are some excellent pros around that field a variety of questions and offer strategies if you're finding the game difficult. There are also player-made reference sheets for rules on "the Geek" as well. I haven't used them or looked at them, but they might be of use to you.

:D  Happy Gaming!


Edited by Soakman, 27 May 2014 - 11:13 AM.

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#4 Julia

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Posted 27 May 2014 - 12:47 PM

Hi! And welcome to the Carnival!

 

Indeed, Joe and Soakman touched a very solid point. Arkham is... immense. It requires time, devotion, application. Mastering the game is something requiring a lot of dedication. You can't acquire that in 10 games, and probably not in 100, especially if you start mixing everything in from the beginning. Start from the core set. Play a complete rotation of the 8 AOs, and keep on playing until you're able to beat them all by sealing gates. This is important because you have to understand the opening frequencies of gates, the blind spots of the board, how things work. Then add Dunwich, and repeat, adding the 4 AOs coming with Dunwich. And so on.

 

No rush. It's a very long ride, but you can enjoy every minute of it :)


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#5 Soakman

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Posted 27 May 2014 - 01:23 PM

Listent to Julia, she has more experience with AH than anyone I have ever heard of, haha.


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#6 Julia

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Posted 27 May 2014 - 01:35 PM

Listent to Julia, she has more experience with AH than anyone I have ever heard of, haha.

Man, I wish I had half Tibs' or Avi's experience, but thanks :)


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#7 Lee418

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Posted 27 May 2014 - 02:02 PM

Perhaps one of the problem I'm having is that I've purchased several expansions and have added their materials into my set.  I'm thinking, though, that since I don't feel I have the base rules down 100 percent (or even 90 percent), I should avoid the expansions until I am on firmer ground.  Does that make sense?

 

It makes total sense to me. Go for it!

 

I started playing AH sometime last year and have spent quite a bit of time playing just the base game on it's own. It was time well spent! Whenever I have added an expansion, even just the small ones, I have noticed a hike in the overall level of complexity. But the 'step up' was made all the easier by having a thorough grounding in the basics. I'm sure that it would have been a longer and more frustrating process if I had gone 'all in' right from the start. As a new player I found it difficult enough to get to grips with the core rules without having extra expansion rules on top.

 

In addition I think this also applies to expansion 'item cards'. Initially I think it's better to become familiar with a smaller group of items and spells. In my early days I mixed all the item cards together, but frequently found myself mid-game trying to figure out how particular cards worked because I had never seen them before. In the end I sorted out all the item cards and gained experience with the set from the core game. Then I gradually added the newer item/spell cards as I went on. Essentially it was just another way to avoid the same 'overload' that you have encountered.

 

Learning Arkham is manageable, but it does reward small steps. At least at first.   


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#8 screamformechicago

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Posted 27 May 2014 - 02:03 PM

I appreciate all your nice welcomes, and helpful counsel.  It does make sense that I get a firm grasp on the algebra of AH before adding all the extra geometry of the expansions.  I will put those to the side and look forward to enjoying them when I am ready for them.  I like Julia's advice of playing through all the GOOs; that's a logical and systematic way of getting all the in's and out's of the game.

 

I guess it would help, too, to find some friends to play with...I have a nice gameshop nearby with a big playroom, so I should ask around there and see if I can find some people who are interested in playing...



#9 The Professor

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Posted 27 May 2014 - 02:34 PM

...And remember, you can play this game solo, as well. Pour a drink, turn-on some Nox Aracana, and enjoy a few hours of horrific fun!

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#10 Soakman

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Posted 27 May 2014 - 02:41 PM

Any time Chicago friend! You can indeed play the game solo as was kindly mentioned (it is much faster this way and probably easier to concentrate on mechanics). That being said, I love it roughly twice as much when I play it with friends.

 

Also, Julia, you are completely right about Tibs and Avi.. but compared to you, I'm certain I have maybe a quarter of the experience and a nothing-to-laugh-at three-ish years under my belt. Wrapping my head around the sheer amount of hours and experience that Tibs & Avi have is pretty much a Lovecraftian Horror story in itself. :P


Edited by Soakman, 27 May 2014 - 02:42 PM.

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#11 Tibs

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Posted 27 May 2014 - 04:24 PM

I'm sure the others have covered this, but yeah... never play a game with expansions at first (especially Arkham Horror!).

 

Play it a few times without expansions, and then add the expansions in when you feel like you need something fresh. By that point you'll have mastered both the mechanics and the strategy.


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#12 Corpus

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Posted 28 May 2014 - 02:49 PM

Others can chime in here as well, but I think the small box expansions (like the three you have -- i.e., Lurker, King in Yellow, etc.) are actually MORE complex than some of the big box expansions.

 

The problem with the small box expansions are that some of the elements only work very well if you play the scenarios for that box. For example, the "Act" cards (with their associated Mythos cards) are great fun in the King in Yellow scenario, but don't add an awful lot if they're just randomly mixed in to the main deck. The Exhibit Items/Patrol mechanism in Curse of the Dark Pharaoh make moving around the board extremely difficult, and add another complex element.

 

In contrast, the big box expansions usually have much of the mechanics work laid out right on the boards themselves. For example, the Rift mechanic of Kingsport Horror is conveniently tracked on the board; the Deep Ones Rising mechanic is conveniently tracked on the Deep Ones Rising track & Feds track; the Aquatic Locations element is easy to spot with the Orange bordered monsters & acquatic location markers; etc. They make the base game more difficult to win, but they don't have a lot of "hidden" elements that require keeping track of and don't add a ton of clutter to the base board (i.e., Arkham proper).

 

That said, I think Dunwich Horror is really very similar to the base game, with the main added element the rifts/portals that monsters can fall through (potentially spawning the Dunwich Horror). That element is one that is already essentially present in the base game with the monster movement mechanic. So, I think it makes an excellent first expansion to add to the base game. Plus, there are a lot of really great new Investigators that come in that expansion and a TON of great flavor to the encounters. It's definitely my favorite one.



#13 Soakman

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Posted 28 May 2014 - 04:02 PM

In a way, I agree with Corpus. But the way that the small box expansions force you to deal with a spontaneous challenge (like the Patrol mechanism in CotDP and the Corruptions in BGotW), IMO forces new players to react to these small inconveniences rather than focus on a completely new "game-changing mechanic" (and multiple new locations and special encounter options) often found on board expansions. The latter, if left unchecked, can completely unhinge a victory. 

 

I do agree that some of the small boxes are much much better when you avoid dilution issues caused by adding too many expansions, but there are many bits and pieces you can tack onto a game to alter the difficulty and subtly enhance a game without overly extending the play-time. I find new players really dislike micromanaging the fiddly-bits that are involved in large board expansions until the have a better sense of the basics. Kingsport's Rifts are particularly annoying (to me) to deal with as you have to remember to check them every mythos. 

 

Don't get we wrong, I love all of the expansions, but I find adding the board expansions can make the game overly cumbersome for new players while adding an entire (or even just bits of) small boxes forces new players to think more strategically, but on a more occasional basis. This is good if they are still uncertain about things such as phase-order or simply keeping track of their upkeep etc. One less board track on the board to remember helps my players to focus more on the gameplay and adapting to unexpected mechanics.


Edited by Soakman, 28 May 2014 - 04:06 PM.

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#14 Lee418

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Posted 29 May 2014 - 01:25 PM

Just curious.....

 

I haven't played EH, I've only glanced through the online rulebook. But from what I've seen EH seems to have quite a lot in common with AH. So what makes EH so accessible compared to AH? Is EH watered down AH-lite?



#15 Julia

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Posted 29 May 2014 - 03:50 PM

Generally speaking, there's much a sounder wording, rounds are simplified a little bit with logical triggers and there is a very clever mechanic designed (the omen track) to rule most of what's going on on the board. They do share the setting, the theme and certain ideas, but actually they are two games that are pretty different.

 

In EH the luck factor is more important than in AH, tho. This is no bad and no good, but something that should be remembered when considering getting the game


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#16 Corpus

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Posted 12 June 2014 - 11:22 AM

I know I'm a little late coming back to this. I've played with the Curse of the Dark Pharaoh expansion two more times now (when I initially posted, I only played once). I've changed my mind. I really love the expansion and I think it actually adds a lot to the base game for new players. The Exhibit Items add a lot to the game and thematically it seems to fit very well. And I think Soakman has some valid points in response to my post, as well. So I'd vote for Curse or Dunwich as great starter expansions - or both.

 

In fact, two nights ago I played with my daughters (ages 7 and 10) and we used both Curse and Dunwich, and they handled it all quite well (with me helping out on the rules, of course). By midway through the game, they had really grasped the Traveling Exhibit mechanic and my 10 year old (with Lily Chen) started looking for opportunities to move to a street location where, all in a row, she could fight monsters, visit the exhibit, and then use her Sheldon Gang Membership on the next upkeep. Daddy was so proud!  :wub:


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#17 Tibs

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Posted 12 June 2014 - 01:20 PM

Whoa. That is one HECK of a combo, and I am truly proud as well. Now if you own Miskatonic you can use the Organized Crime institution and buy items in the street via the Black Market ability.

 

Duh wait, actually you don't need MH to use the institutions. The relevant information can be found online if you poke around.


Edited by Tibs, 12 June 2014 - 01:21 PM.





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