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Are there two player consolations for Arkham Horror? Help my wife and I!


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#1 Magnalon

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Posted 02 January 2012 - 11:11 AM

Hello! My wife and I picked up Arkham Horror for Christmas together, as we wanted a fun coop game to play. We engaged in a two player game this afternoon, and were absolutely stomped. It started off well enough, but turn three, after my wife and I were both lost and time and space due to an encounter in both our respective gates, gates kept opening every turn, and the Old God was basically out before we could say Happy New Year.

The main problem we found is that losing all your sanity or stamina, or getting lost in time and space is absolutely crippling. If you lose a turn due to any of these things, at  *least* three gates will open up due to needing 1 turn to get back, 1 to enter, and 1 to exit/close the gate. 

I've heard two possible ways to reconcile two player play:

1) Concede that the Old God is coming - prepare for him and ignore the gates unless you need the trophies. To me, this isn't that fun, and we might as well just simulate the final encounter with a few extra items.

2) Take two characters each.

3) Take one Elder sign unique card each automatically at the start in addition to your starting gear.

4) Start with 1-2 locations pre-sealed.

Does anyone have any other ideas in terms of what to do? I want to be able to play with my wife, but we're not too keen on the "two characters each" idea, as it can get kind of complicated.

Thanks in advance!

 



#2 Grudunza

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Posted 02 January 2012 - 11:36 AM

 2) Take two characters each.

That's your answer, right there.  AH does not scale very well down to 1-2 investigators, and 3-5 is generally considered the ideal range for the game.  The best thing about controlling 2 investigators each is you don't need to futz with any other changes.   Just control 2 each and you should have a blast with it.  



#3 Tibs

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Posted 02 January 2012 - 11:39 AM

Grudunza is right, but it's also worth mentioning that having two investigators means that if one is stuck indefinitely (nasty monster outside your location that refuses to move), you still have another character who can participate. It's not very fun when your ONLY character is being held up.



#4 Magnalon

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Posted 02 January 2012 - 12:50 PM

 Thanks guys!

Also, I've been meaning to ask - how do monster surges work?

Say there are 3 portals on the board, and 2 players playing (hence, 5 max monster limit). There are already 3 monsters on the board. So, is the next course of action:

Add one monster per portal (3), bringing the total monsters to 6. Since the limit is 5, add 1 to the Outskirts, then continue to play as normal. If more monsters enter the board before the other 5 max are taken care of, continue to add more to the outskirts until the limit is reached, then move the terror track up by one, then return them ALL to the cup? 

Is that right?



#5 jack21222

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Posted 02 January 2012 - 02:41 PM

Magnalon said:

 Thanks guys!

Also, I've been meaning to ask - how do monster surges work?

Say there are 3 portals on the board, and 2 players playing (hence, 5 max monster limit). There are already 3 monsters on the board. So, is the next course of action:

Add one monster per portal (3), bringing the total monsters to 6. Since the limit is 5, add 1 to the Outskirts, then continue to play as normal. If more monsters enter the board before the other 5 max are taken care of, continue to add more to the outskirts until the limit is reached, then move the terror track up by one, then return them ALL to the cup? 

Is that right?

Depends on exactly you mean by "bringing the total monsters to 6." Two would come out of the 3 portals into play. The location where the gate is listed on the mythos card must get one, and the first player chooses which other of the two gates gets the other one. The 3rd one (or sixth, depending on how you look at it) goes to the outskirts. And then, yes, any other time a monster would enter Arkham (or the sky) while you're at limit, it goes directly to the outskirts until the outskirt limit is reached. The one that goes beyond the outskirt limit "overflows" the outskirts, returning all of the outskirts to the cup (including the one that triggered it), and increasing the terror level by 1.



#6 Grudunza

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Posted 02 January 2012 - 05:19 PM

Grudunza said:

 2) Take two characters each.

That's your answer, right there.  AH does not scale very well down to 1-2 investigators, and 3-5 is generally considered the ideal range for the game.  The best thing about controlling 2 investigators each is you don't need to futz with any other changes.   Just control 2 each and you should have a blast with it.  

Heh, I guess I stopped reading after the #2 and didn't see later where you said you're not really crazy about playing 2 characters each.  Well, I definitely stand by that as being the best answer, and as Tibs points out, it's good to have the other character for keeping things interesting.  Yes, it can be difficult to keep up with everything for one character, much less 2 (or 3-4, which a lot of people control when playing solo).  But you'll get the hang of it.  One suggestion is to alternate the turn order, so your characters are 1 and 3 in the turn order and hers are 2 and 4.  That way, it may be a little easier to switch gears between the two of them.



#7 Avi_dreader

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Posted 03 January 2012 - 04:58 AM

Magnalon said:

Does anyone have any other ideas in terms of what to do? I want to be able to play with my wife, but we're not too keen on the "two characters each" idea, as it can get kind of complicated.

Play two characters each.  Now let me qualify that statement.  If you're finding managing two at a time to be too difficult for now, keep playing one each for a while.  I'm assuming you only have the base game for now.  You can win at that (consistently) with just two investigators, you just have to understand the game structure first.  While you're learning that, you'll get a better feel for the game and its items (and then controlling two investigators won't seem as daunting).  Or you could just play two each period ;') which is what I'd do.



#8 Disciple

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Posted 03 January 2012 - 07:24 AM

Hi there Magnalon, just to say myself and my girlfriend had a similar problem when we first started playing this game, however we all so tried playing with two investigators each and that was a little to stressful for use however we found that if we played one each and we shared a third it worked out nicely. That way we would use the extra charater as a street cleaner or as one of the more useful but less exciting investigators such as the docter.



#9 Longshot

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Posted 03 January 2012 - 08:26 AM

My wife and I run into the same thing with just the two of us playing. There are a couple different things we do, depending on the mood we are in.

 

-Two characters each. This is my personal favorite, and I get more out of the game this way. You can do more of the side stuff (Arkham encounters, any expansion side missions, etc) without it being a constant, break-neck speed race against time. However, there is more to keep track of and can seem daunting at first (or if it has been a long day). We just played two each last night, and got a sealed gate victory using the Dunwich expansion. There were never more than five gates open at once, we never filled the outskirts, and the terror level only went up once the very last round of the game.

-Pick the Ancient One carefully. Read over all the sheets, and pick the one that will work the best. I recommend Azathoth. I realize the idea of him waking up and the game just being over is a little scary, but consider the benefits. 1) He has a pretty big doom track, so filling it will take a while. With someone like Yig, it is really a mad dash for two people. The longer doom track actually gives you some breathing room. 2) Azathoth doesn't really have many in game effects. It makes Maniacs a little tougher, but otherwise doesn't do much at all to make the game more difficult. Some other Ancient ones can have tough to crippling effects that are up the whole game, so Azathoth is much more gentle in that respect. 3) Knowing there is no final battle, you can focus on a strategy. With two players, probably the most reasonable way to win is to seal 6 gates. Since you are not going to worry about preparing for the final battle, and have no open gates is not realistic for two people, you can really refine your sealing strategy and get comfortable with the order you need to do things in. The focus will help you get comfortable with the rules and give you more confidence in trying out new things when you have a solid plan going in.

-Pick your investigators carefully. When getting started, there are some investigators that will give you an important advantage. Take Darrel Simmons, for example. He has a decent sanity and stamina mix, and some solid stats. His special ability is really helpful. Every time you would have an Arkham encounter, you draw two cards and select one. You can avoid a lot of bad situations and get some beneficial cards. There is a female investigator who does something similar with Other Worlds encounters - also a huge benefit. It is the difference between getting Lost in Time and Space or drawing one free Unique Item sometimes, which can really change the game. Also, if any investigators have abilities that can affect themselves or the other players, that helps a lot. I know one investigator has an ability to allow someone to re-roll a check. That has been a life saver more than once. Not sure if she is a base game investigator, but you get the idea. Find the abilities that can help and try those people out first.

-Teamwork. Don't be afraid to trade items to get each person what can best be used. If I am clearing monsters with straight combat and not using Lore or spells at all, my partner can probably use tomes I have. If your partner is hopping in a gate, do some monster control as you collect some clue tokens. If you are both in the other world, things can get out of hand in Arkham, so trading off to keep things in controlled chaos is helpful.

-Use the game's options. Go buy an item or two from the Curiosity shop or general store. Trophies can be traded in for lots of handy things - clue tokens, allies, being deputy - the deputy is really valuable. You get an item (Patrol Wagon, I think) that really lets you bounce around the board fast while you have it. Allies give you bonuses and usually items or clues. Blessings, more skills - there are lots of things that can benefit you and/or your partner that can be gained with trophies or money. With only two of you, you will get plenty of trophies so spend them to get the advantages you can. See which ones work best for you.

-Only close gates you can seal, and focus on those locations that tend to get the most gates. With the base game, once a gate is sealed one will never open there again. If you just close it, a gate can open again, increasing the doom track. I'll take a monster surge or three over increasing the doom track any day. The exception is if you get close to the 8 open gate limit, then you may have to close one to avoid an instant wake up. I've never actually had that happen to me yet, though. As for which to close first, I try to hit the Woods, The Unnameable, and the Unvisited Isle first, and the Black Cave and Graveyard if none of those are options. Maybe it is just how I shuffle, but those are the primary places I get gates. It is very satisfying to keep drawing gate cards for sealed locations. It gives you time to get ready to seal the next gate.

Even with doing some or all these things, it is still quite possible to lose the game. Rumors can be game killers, especially with only two people. But give Azathoth a couple tries, stick to the gate sealing strategy, and take turns with gates instead of doing them at the same time, and I have no doubt that you will have some wins pretty quickly even with only one character each.
 



#10 Bluebird79

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Posted 03 January 2012 - 10:46 AM

2 Player is quite a challenge, 1 tip i would advise regarding sealing gates which Longshot mentions above, is concentrate on the 4 locations which spawn the most gates.  I've worked out which 4 locations account for around 60% of gates.  Not naming locations incase it spoils it for anyone, but sealing these 4 asap is always my main focus.



#11 The Old Man

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Posted 03 January 2012 - 12:40 PM

Magnalon said:

 Say there are 3 portals on the board, and 2 players playing (hence, 5 max monster limit). There are already 3 monsters on the board. So, is the next course of action:

 

Just to clarify.  It's the number of characters, not the number of players.  And I believe that playing two characters each is the only way to go.



#12 Avi_dreader

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Posted 03 January 2012 - 12:46 PM

Even two investigators isn't much of a challenge if you understand some of the fundamental game principles:

http://www.arkhamhorrorwiki.com/Basic_Strategy

If you find this makes the base game easy, and you don't have other board expansions yet, I made these for this purpose (although they're fun regardless).  Either way, good luck :'D

 

Enhancing the Base Game AOs


For playing the Base Game only and for enhancing the difficulty of the Base Game Ancient Ones:

I wouldn't play with the modified Doom Tracks if you have other board expansions (particularly Dunwich and Innsmouth), or use the following Elder Sign/Encounter rule:

Doom tokens can not be removed from the doom track by any means prior to final combat (that means no South Church exploit, and no Elder Sign hunting). This makes it so you can't just play out the clock for a guaranteed win. Elder Signs are used as normal, but they don't reduce the doom track.
Optional: ban the use of clues with the fight skill and/or the shotgun during final combat.


Starting Doom Tokens for base game Ancient Ones [with the base board only]:


Yig: 0
Ithaqua: 2
Azathoth: 5 [if you are not just playing the base game, 3]
Cthulhu: 3
Nyarlathotep: 2
Hastur: 3
Yog Sothoth: 2
Shub Niggurath: 3


Yig: Investigators can not be blessed during games against him (Sister Mary is an exception to this rule). Twice as many successes as normal are required to remove a doom token from his doom track.

Cultists are fast.


Ithaqua: gains physical and magical resistance.

Each round of combat with a cultist, roll a die for each weapon or spell you are using, on a failure, it is lost.

Azathoth: Start him with 5 or 3 doom tokens.

Cultists and Maniacs deal four damage to an investigator who defeats them and are stalkers.

Cthulhu: when he reaches 7 doom tokens, his ability reduces all investigators maximum stamina and sanity by 2 instead.

Star Spawn have their toughness increased by two. If they are adjacent to an Elder Sign, they will move onto it if their movement is shown during the mythos phase, ignoring investigators and arrows. If they are still on the Elder Sign during the next mythos phase, remove it from the board. If they defeat an investigator in combat and are permanently on the board, they immediately move one space closer to the nearest Elder Sign (player's choice if there is a tie), following an arrow, or directly (if they are directly adjacent). They can not be taken as monster trophies. If they are defeated, return them to the cup. If they are placed in the outskirts, substitute them with any non-Star Spawn monster on the board that is not in the Sky— if there is a Cultist on the board, a Cultist must be chosen.

Nyarlathotep: is magically and physically immune and requires twice as many successes as normal to remove doom tokens from his doom track.

If you defeat a Cultist, immediately search the monster cup for a random Mask, and fight or evade it as well. If the Cultist was on the board, the Mask remains on the board if undefeated, if not, return it to the cup.

Hastur: raise the terror track to four at the start of the game.

If a Cultist is in the sky, moves, and is unable to leave the sky (due to lack of investigators in the street), raise the terror level by one. When a Cultist is defeated, all investigators lose one clue.

Yog Sothoth: gains physical resistance. Flip all gates against him upside down until investigators enter them, increase their modifiers by -1.

Before investigators in an Other World draw their first encounter they must fight or evade a random monster from the monster cup. If this causes them to be devoured, add a doom token to the doom track.

Shub Niggurath: gains magical resistance. His final combat attack require investigators to lose 3 monster trophies.

Dark Young have their toughness increased an additional one, are Endless, and are not counted against the monster limit. Dhole moves like a Hound of Tindalos, is not counted against the monster limit, and is Endless. Every time a Cultist is defeated, roll a die, on a 1-3 search the cup and place the Dhole on the open gate with the least number of monsters on it (players choice if a tie). The Dhole and Dark Youngs can not be taken as trophies.
 



#13 avec

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Posted 03 January 2012 - 05:20 PM

There's a pretty simple solution that I don't think was mentioned yet.  Play one investigator each, which is what you're comfortable with.  Skip every other Mythos phase.  That's almost (but not quite) the same as having two investigators each.  The reason being that you and your wife will get 4 turns between each Mythos phase.  To make it fair, you should update the board as though 4 investigators are in play.  That is, when determining the Monster Limit, the Outskirts Limit, and the max number of open gates, treat it as though you have 4 investigators. 

 When you get right down to it, what really matters is the number of turns that you get between each Mythos Phase.  If you make this one minor adjustment, you should be good to go.



#14 Magnalon

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Posted 04 January 2012 - 01:16 AM

Thanks guys! We actually played the first game with a special Ancient One that we found off the wiki that doesn't come with the game - maybe that's why we had so much trouble :P. We literally had 3 monster surges and were just overrun by his slumber power.

The NEXT game, after your suggestions, was a lot easier. We actually still only played two investigators total, but tried the "every other mythos phase", and had a much easier Ancient One. Personally, we found that to be too easy. With every other mythos phase we were still able to easily close 4 gates/all and win the game (as if we were playing with 4 players) - we had so much time to get to each place, and admittedly, the Ancient One never affected us, and we had really, really good luck in the Other World. Everything just went our way - or we could also be picking up the game a bit more.

I think next time we're going to try 2 investigators and 1 mythos per turn as usual, but have 1-2 sealed gates already on the board and eliminate the "six seals" win condition. That way we have a random chance of having a free turn in regards to gates.



#15 avec

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Posted 04 January 2012 - 07:14 AM

Hmm, interesting.  Skipping every other Mythos Phase would get you through Other Worlds twice as quickly, but even so there should enough other activity on the board to keep you busy.  I play with that variant every once in a while and a closing victory has rarely been an option.  Sometimes the game just gets really easy on you.  Also, I always play with an expansion board.  I'll be interested to hear how your other variants work out. 



#16 Magnalon

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Posted 04 January 2012 - 07:27 AM

Thanks!

I have another question for a vet then - I have a few expansions lying in wait - the rest of my group/my wife don't want to play them yet. However, I am keen on bringing over some expansion investigators like Roland Banks and using them in vanilla Arkham.

Are the investigators mostly balanced? Would I be able to bring them into the normal game?



#17 avec

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Posted 04 January 2012 - 10:31 AM

That's a whole other can of worms.  Personally,  I think they're mostly balanced.  Patrice and Daisy are generally considered to be too powerful.  Mandy, Joe, Wendy and maybe Hank are borderline cases where they're maybe too powerful.  On the other side, Vincent, Jim, Dexter, Amanda, George and maybe Mary, Jack and Kate are considered too weak.  Other than that, the investigators are pretty well balanced.  Roland is OK.  Beware certain combos, though.  Roland + personal stories + Press Pass allows Roland to automatically acquire 1-2 clues each turn until he reaches 5 clues.  But the most dangerous combination is Kate + Arcane Insight.  AI is a spell that tells you where the next three gates will open.  You can strategically move Kate to prvent gates from opening on almost every turn. 



#18 Tibs

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Posted 04 January 2012 - 01:26 PM

To answer your general question, sure you can use investigators from expansions. Just note that some Dunwich or Kingsport investigators might require common or unique items that are in the Dunwich or Kingsport set, but it'll be no big deal to find them. Outside of that, there's no trouble (except maybe for Silas, whose special ability works on aquatic spaces and who has an Innsmouth-based penalty He's useable, but he won't have much of an ability after the fact).



#19 Fake Ghost Pirate

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Posted 07 January 2012 - 06:19 PM

Some of the Innsmouth investigators are super-powerful...

For just 2 players (1 Investigator per player) I recommend skipping every 2nd or 3rd Mythos phase- or play the Easy Level from the Black Goat expansion- (which means double Clues appear on the board)

Or... I have devised a clever system of my own. I use 7 or 8 cards (for lack of an original term I call it the 'Control Deck') One says "Skip the Gate Opening", another says "Skip Monster Movement", and the rest say "Too Bad: Normal Mythos Phase". You draw one of these before each Mythos Phase- once 4 are drawn, you re-shuffle.

For 2 Investigators I'd add "Skip Mythos Effect" or "Skip Entire Mythos Phase" into the deck as well.

This way you get some breathing space without it being predictable.

 



#20 Qurumo

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Posted 05 July 2013 - 03:47 AM

Hello, here is my 2 cents,

 

I've been playing this game for a while with my girlfriend and i can tell you from personal experience that it is very doable and fun with just 2 investigators. I've got some tips that got us through the first few games without losing straight up:

 

- Choose your investigators wisely the first few games, especially the investigator that can reroll failed dice is very strong (and fun) in a 2 player game.

 

- Start out blessed the first 2-3 games. This really helps the start of the game because you get more successes. When you finally lose your blessed card you probably have enough gear to keep you running.

 

- Start with Azetoth, as said before he gives A LOT of time to work with and defeat him, i've found him to be the easiest of them all.

 

- Make sure you trade your items, it sometimes takes a few rounds to get to eachother but its worth it. I've noticed that a nice mix of items is very important in this game and i've had games where i had 4 weapons and my girlfriend only had good spells, switching some items really gives you a power boost. Once in a while it wont be necessairy, but i've personally had some bad luck streaks with only crappy items, getting an item or 2 from your fellow investigator basicly puts you back in the game.

 

Now we use random investigators, random Old Ones and don't start out blessed and we make it about 70% of the times. The tips are just to get you into the game, once you get a feel for the mechanics and locations it becomes easier.

 

Good luck!






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