So, time to offer poor Rhan a chance of redemption and see if it can beat me in an Arkham game. Five investigators on my side (Agnes, Diana, Norman, William, Skids) and two Heralds on its side (Dagon and Hydra). The usual AH, KH, IH and MH in play, with gates from the Lurker shuffled in the gate cup as well. Set-up was somehow okaish, but I was comforted by the high number of starting clues: considering William's ability, I had potential to have clue for 5 seals in the first two turns of the game, which was good. On the other had, Dagon could imply a doom track of 9 for Rhan after the setup Mythos, plus the Cultist triggering doom and terror could have meant a disaster in a really short time.
So... the beginning was good, with a gate from the Woods with Moon Beast walking in the streets and a second gate from the Esoteric Order of Dagon. No cultists in sight, my guys started collecting clues and Agnes nuked the Moon Beast showing an impressive firepower. Norm used the Magnifying Glass to double the clue at the Unvisited Isle, and was ready to seal. Same for Skids after passing at the Historical Society, but he was delayed there, even if this granted him an extra clue. William grabbed the clue at the Witch House, and Diana made the usual opening move by reading an Inner Sanctum encounter at the STL.
Gates were quick to open, and an encounter at the Unnamable opened it once more. Everything seemed to be perfectly under control (even the poor hopeless cultist that appeared at a certain point due to a monster surge was no biggie since the initial abundance) until No one can help you now entered play. At that moment, I had:
a) Norman in the second Area of R'lyeh and about to return at the Esoteric Order of Dagon
b) William in the first Area of the Abyss, after entering a gate at the Unvisited Isle
c) Diana, surfing the first are of the Plateau of Leng and about to return to the Unnamable
d) Skids, in the first area of Celano, after jumping into a gate at the Woods
e) poor Agnes reduced to 1 clue due to Dagon's excercises in becoming the greatest pita of all Arkham
How long can an environment stay in play? Usuall, if it's a nasty one, A LOT (for some mysterious reasons, I never had Favour of Nodens lasting more than 2 full Mythos phases). In this case, it lasted FIVE turns. Guys in OWs were all deleted at least once, which pradoxiclly was good, so that they didn't have to deal with eventual monster appearing after surges. Agnes moved north, towards Innsmouth, with the idea of helping weaponless Norman in case of troubles. As I had summoned it, a marvellous gate appeared at Devil Reef, releasing a Byakee. Ok, nothing to worry about. At least, not now.
My folks returned to Arkham and decided to wait one round more, and we got the surge, finally, and it was a terrible one (really):
a) Norman got a Goat Spawn + a Nightgaunt
b) Diana got a Hound of Tindalos, a Protoshoggoth and a Deep One (pre-existing)
c) William got Barnabas Marsh
d) Skids got a Lloigor
Agnes helped Norman cleaning out the monsters after grabbing his Find Gate, so that she entered R'lyeh, hoping to return home in the following turn. She got lucky, the OW encounter instructed her to face a monster et voilà, second Nightgaunt of the turn and she decided to attempt evading even if she had no dice to roll. Too bad, a free ride to Arkham Diana managed to evade the Hound, and defeat the other two guys there. William killed Barnabas, but at the steep price of spending two clues and remaining without resources for sealing. Skids, whose Skeak was blessed by a Skill card, evaded the Lloigor and remained at his place. Next Mythos removed the Environment, so that I could actually seal some stuff.
Agnes moved to Falcon Point, payed 2 bucks and reached Devil Reef, where she cleaned the Byakee and the Nightgaunt having there a picnic. She jumped to Yuggoth: even if clueless, I had to close that gate otherwise it'd have been game over pretty soon (doom track at this point of the game is 7 with ZERO seals on the board). Norm tried and failed to seal Dagon. William decided to wait for the next monster surge: with 4 monster trophies scored, one more would have meant a seal. Diana sealed the Unnamable, and Skids sealed the Woods. In the mean time, things in Kingsport started to worsen: two rifts had three tokens on his track. The Mythos opened a gate at Independence Square, doom hit 8 and I had only two seals on the board. Really bad.
So, ok, new turn, new strategy: Norm sealed Dagon (3!!), Agnes cast Find Gate to return to Devil Reef and close (mission: accomplished), Diana tried to recover something at the Curiosity Shoppe to help William (and she got the Puzzle Box! too bad William had only one San left), Willaim stayed on the gate counting the leaves of the willows of the island and Skids sneaked under a Deep One and a Goat Spawn for a 4-clue move: 2 gained at Science Building at the end of Movement, and 2 extra cashed during the Encounters Phase after spending the Celano trophy. With one spare clue he had, it was enough for another seal, and to pass his PS as well, so that his current 1 San became a 2 San. Not too bad.
Mythos: Devil Reef (again, Dreamlands gate), id est doom 9 + a marvellous Serpent People ready to make a *huge* amount of damage to everyone.
Norm headed to Kingsport to work on the rifts. Not the quickest guy in town, Norm: two turns to reach the Northpoint Lighthouse made me shiver down my spine. William remained on the gate, waiting for a monster to reach 5 clues and seal or waiting for the others to return. Agnes moved to the second area of the Dreamlands (I had only 2 San left, and didn't want to have her return too early, especially since she wouldn't have been able to block the Serpent People there). Skids entered Leng at the Historical Society, and Diana moved to Independence square. Mythos: a gate bounced at Dagon, and the Serpent People jumped off the rift. +2 DOR in one round (for a total of DOR=5), +1 terror, triggering a +1 doom (hence, doom: 10), always three seals on the board.
Next turn Norm removed the damn rift maker at the Lighthouse, Skids and Agnes moved to the second area of their OW, and Diana entered the first area of Kadath. Mythos: surge from the Reef.
Next turn Norm went to Neill's and removed the other potentially deadly rift progress marker. Skids returned, and maxed his Sneak because of a Dark Young over the gate. Could sound odd, but I thought about the following Mythos, and got three options:
a) gate bouncing on a seal: the DOR would have hit 6, hence FB (and game lost, Rhan is no easy guy in FB)
b) new gate opening: the doom track would have filled, hence, FB (and still no chances to win the game by closing gates)
c) a monster surge: this was the only option allowing me one more turn to close at the same time the last three gates. Not the best clearly, but I could have had a chance.
So, Skids maxed his Sneak despite the free pass against the Dark Young. Agnes returned, only to discover that she didn't have a chance to survive the Deep One and the Nightgaunt guarding the gate so that, even if this round would have meant free pass, in the following she would have been doomed, and I needed she to close the gate the next round. So, I cherry-picked the Nightgaunt and failed the Evade to return to the Dreamlands.
Next Mythos: surge from Independence Square. A Colour out of Space was added to the DR stack, the Nightgaunt there moved to the Sky (hence, the Outskirts, but I had room for some monsters over there) and a Rat-thing joined the Dark Young under Skids' feet. The second Rat-thing arrived for William.
New turn: Skids passed a Sneak check to avoid the Dark Young and killed the Rat-thing, while William cleared the other Rat-thing with ease. Diana returned to Independence Square and Agnes succeeded in casting Find gate and returned for the third time in the last six turns to Devil Reef. The rest is history: four gates to be closed, four investigators with explorer markers on them and some clues to cash for extra dice. Four checks passed.
Victory by closing gates in 15 Mythos (DOR track at 5, Doom track at 10)