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Arkham Horror or Runebound?


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#1 Tromdial

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 03:23 AM

Because the holidays are coming closer and I will have some extra spending money coming to me, I am interested in collecting a game that will have many expansions and is solo-able. My analysis has came down to two games: Arkham Horror or Runebound, but I do not know which one I should choose and so I have a few questions about both games.

A strong breaking point for my decision would be whether or not the two games have loads of flavor text. Imagery only goes so far: I love to read aloud details that encompass more the tone of the game (as Mansions of Madness does so well). I also enjoy games that have flavor text for victory and defeat I found too.

Though I have heard Arkham is the better rated, Runebound has a competitive play mode too. Cooperative play is a must however. I know Arkham has cooperative play covered but I wondered if Runebound can do that too. Replay value is also important to me: how far do the expansions take the games?

Thanks.



#2 JCHendee

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Posted 15 December 2011 - 12:58 AM

I haven't played Arkham much, as it didn't go over well with my group; still hoping to play it more. It is designed as coop, so the competitive part or potential isn't obvious to me. Flavor text seems minimal, but is there.

Runebound is dominantly competitive, though there are some options for coop play. Some are player created and need to be searched out at the Runebound page over at BoardGameGeek.com.  Flavour text is present in small pieces throughout the game, but is minimal in many places; playing the game builds upon this, though the more small box editions are added, the more component level flavour is widely mixed... the world level flavour is more at the scenario to settins level and varies based on big box expansions.

Of all the big box expansions, likely Mists of Zanaga might be considered simultaneously coop and competitive. Players individual seek the win, but if they don't all watch the build up to appearance of an old god, everyone is in trouble.  Haven't played this big box expansion, but that's what I've heard.



#3 The_Warlock

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Posted 15 December 2011 - 11:37 AM

Tromdial said:

A strong breaking point for my decision would be whether or not the two games have loads of flavor text. Imagery only goes so far: I love to read aloud details that encompass more the tone of the game (as Mansions of Madness does so well). I also enjoy games that have flavor text for victory and defeat I found too.

Flavor text is more to be found in Runebound, clearly distinguished by italics. The same goes for Arkham, even though the italics are seldomly used. The cards are written in a story-telling manner and almost all text can be considered for flavor. Arkham Horror has flavor text (and game impact) for success and failure in most encounter cards, but don't expect too much.

Tromdial said:

Though I have heard Arkham is the better rated, Runebound has a competitive play mode too. Cooperative play is a must however. I know Arkham has cooperative play covered but I wondered if Runebound can do that too. Replay value is also important to me: how far do the expansions take the games?

The popularity of Arkham Horror will always be a mystery to me. I simply can't understand how such big audiences are attracted by a boardgame with Lovecraftian setting, hundreds of cards and a fake RPG-look. It might be a better game than Runebound because of its incredible variety, but it has limits and subtle balances that Runebound has not. Runebound is solid, perhaps monolithic; Arkham Horror is variable, not always fair to the players, not always a challenge. Very random, but ultimately entertaining.

If cooperative play is a must, you can forget Runebound. This game has no real co-op; JCHendee has hinted at the experiments made in the different expansions, but ultimately there's not a real co-op play except homebrew stuff. The only "real" co-op expansion is Midnight, where one player (Shadow Lord) is set against the others (Heroes), who can and possibly must cooperate to win, Midnight is out of print and wasn't well received by the public. Too different. I've never tried it yet, never had the guts to propose it. Arkham Horror is only co-op and there's no real competition between players. They have to help each other and coordinate their efforts to save the world from the awakening of the Ancient One.

Solo play can be done in both games but Arkham has too long a setup IMO. I played it 3 or 4 times alone, but it took too much to prepare everything. Runebound doesn't require that preparation and is very interesting if played with some variants that give you a limited time, otherwise your victory is just a matter of time and it's pretty pointless in terms of learning and challenge. There are better pastimes.

Replay value is very high in both games, considering all expansions. Runebound has many card expansions which give you the variety that you won't find in the base game after 10+ games. The big box expansions bring the changes to a deeper level and are recommended because they add new Heroes and a new setting as well. Arkham base set has so many cards that you won't need new material for variety's sake; you'll need it to increase the challenge, as the base game tends to be quite easy for experienced players. All expansions add a lot of stuff, perhaps too much, and it's very difficult to decide what to use and what to save for the next time. I noticed that most expansions change the game but their potential is not to be seen, as there are few chances to visit different places, draw new cards or achieve extra stuff. If your investigators lose time hanging around, they'll probably lose the game. So, new stuff plays a minor role, components tend to get diluted and I don't know how to put this bunch of material into real use.

I hope that my confuse flow of thoughts can help you.

Regards,



#4 Steve-O

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Posted 18 December 2011 - 03:09 PM

Both of these games are highly thematic, as the others have already said.  If you want lots of flavour text and atmosphere, I don't think either will disappoint.

Arkham Horror is entirely cooperative and as such, is designed to be difficult for the players to beat (as any good co-op game should be, IMHO.)  It's true that the base game will become easy to beat once you get the hang of things, but the many and varied expansions do a pretty good job of upping the challenge level, so you can pick them up as needed to keep things interesting.

Runebound has no true co-op game mode, it is technically competitive.  However, in my experience, players need to go pretty far out of the way to actually fight each other.  Unless someone is really bound and determined to cause trouble, most players just do their own thing and go questing on their own.  As such, the game can sometimes feel like it's co-op even though it isn't, really.  It's not uncommon at our table for people to give one another advice (honest to goodness valuable advice) since the impact it has on their own chance to win is minimal, at least in the early game.

Runebound expansions (the big boxes anyway) are also very good at mixing things up.  Each one is its own adventure, independent of the base game or the other expansions (although you do still need some common components from the base box to play them.)  As such, Runebound could be said to provide several different thematic adventures with a common fantasy undercurrent, whereas Arkham Horror is all Lovecraft, all the time (not that there's anything wrong with that.)



#5 JCHendee

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Posted 24 December 2011 - 03:05 AM

Steve-O said:

  It's not uncommon at our table for people to give one another advice (honest to goodness valuable advice) since the impact it has on their own chance to win is minimal, at least in the early game.

 

 

 

Good point to raise! This is the way we play because (1) its more fun when everyone is doing their best and (2) its fun to follow the so-called story line of every character.  I think Arkham... because it is cooperative... maybe encourages this more(?). But in any game that doesn't put inherent focus on CvC [or PVP] "pounding," this is the best way to play. It is worth noting when game either encourages this or makes good room for it. This appeals to certain types of players and not to others, and thereby helps in choosing an appropriate game for something that is outside the game.

In this case, Arkham inherently encourages inter-player assistance outside the game environment, while Runebound makes room for it. So both qualify in one way or another in allowing or encouraging it.

So, Tromdial, there's something more, though it may not be critical and is partly linked to the cooperation issue... though not entirely. It has more to do with what type of collective player atmosphere you want most in choosing another game. Cooperation can be about characters... or players... or both.

Hmm... now maybe me and mine have a reason to go wrestle with Arkham and dust off that box again.



#6 The_Warlock

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Posted 27 December 2011 - 07:10 AM

JCHendee said:

Steve-O said:

  It's not uncommon at our table for people to give one another advice (honest to goodness valuable advice) since the impact it has on their own chance to win is minimal, at least in the early game.

 

 

 

Good point to raise! This is the way we play because (1) its more fun when everyone is doing their best and (2) its fun to follow the so-called story line of every character.  I think Arkham... because it is cooperative... maybe encourages this more(?). But in any game that doesn't put inherent focus on CvC [or PVP] "pounding," this is the best way to play. It is worth noting when game either encourages this or makes good room for it. This appeals to certain types of players and not to others, and thereby helps in choosing an appropriate game for something that is outside the game.

I'm the type of player that gives advice to others because I don't like to win if other players make crucial mistakes or do not have the experience to make choices. I recognize Runebound has room for player assistance, mostly because players have not too much to do between turns, except planning the next move. But this is a limited help, Runebound being a game of choices and carefully planned strategies. Players will gladly suggest to use the item that a player is forgetting, or discuss the best strategy to face a challenge (when to attack, if a Before Combat effect shall be used or saved, etc...), but they usually won't (and shouldn't, IMO) debate which are the critical choices that will bring someone's game closer to victory. I saw some desperate player with no chance to win trying to persuade someone else to deliberately delay someone else's victory. This is legitimate, but usually comes too late to change anything.

I know by experience that Runebound is won with 80% strategy and 20% luck; I usually win at this game, something like 8 games out of 10, and this is because of my better strategic choices. There's still the occasional bad luck which makes you roll a 3 when you need a 5, but the impact is limited most of the time. I do not play for winning anymore, I'm getting used to it, and I usually tell the others which moves I considered wrong from a strategic point of view. I do this after the game; otherwise, I will turn Runebound into a game of dice and lucky draws, like Talisman.

On the other side, Arkham Horror is both player cooperation and investigator (character) cooperation. Players need to work together and help not only the game choices of others, but sometimes rescuing or joining the other investigators.



#7 JCHendee

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Posted 29 December 2011 - 04:04 AM

Hmmm... on the strategy vs. luck part, I'm not sure its the same percentages through all of the Big Box expansions. Of course I haven't played all of them, though I picked up the last of them for Christmas (sans Midnight). 

Barb and I have found that Sands of Al-Kalim can be a little more random on the win criteria vs the base game.  The quests you end up with later in the game might require one to travel a long way. Then there are certain cards picked up along the way that can make finishing a quest easier or nearly automatic... or cards that suddenly force you to discard a completed quest of a certain type (we hate those, but that's the way it is).

We've played quite a few games of SoAK, as it is our favorite so far.  I'd be inclined (at a guess) to put it more at 70/30 or 65/35. But you're right that it is a bit more strategic than heavily random games like Talisman (though of late that game has some imbalance between character cards the more that are added).

Summary: lots of good considerations in here for the choice between AH and RB.... or just which one to buy first, and then the other. Hopefully this helps out Tromdial... or others.



#8 Jake yet again

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 06:21 AM

I'd put Arkham ahead of Runebound, TMMV. I find that RB tends to play too long and has a lot of downtime. It's not a bad game, but I've usually lost interest about an hour before the game is over.


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.


#9 Jake yet again

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 06:22 AM

I'd put Arkham ahead of Runebound, TMMV. I find that RB tends to play too long and has a lot of downtime. It's not a bad game, but I've usually lost interest about an hour before the game is over.


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.


#10 Michael Scorefan

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 03:04 PM

 I love both games, but I am more partial to Runebound.  I think it really depends on what you are looking for.  In the case of Runebound, the big objective is to increase your character's abilities and power, so that they are able to successfully defeat progressively more difficult challenges.  With Arkham Horror, however, it is less about making your characters more powerful , and more about doing everything you can to stop the Ancient One from appearing before it is too late.  There are definitely things your character needs to obtain to make sealing the gates, and ultimately, defeating the last challenge possible, but you don't see your character develop as you would your character in Runebound.  In fact, depending on what happens, your character may end up less powerful in some ways (such as less sanity and less stamina) at the end of the game than he or she was before the game begins.  So a big picture difference, I would say Runebound is more character driven, and Arkham Horror is more plot driven.  Both are well worth playing.     






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