jgt7771

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About jgt7771

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    Saving the world from cosmic evil since 2006
  • Birthday 07/07/1971

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  1. Michael (Shiny), Norman (Me), Lily (Pizza), Rex (Zebra), and Joe (Wings) vs. Cthulhu. Kingsport with Dark Pharaoh and Lurker. Miskatonic. Hypnos. Plus, the Gate Deck was constructed with ONLY Expansion cards (including Yellow Sign and Black Goat). Disclaimer: this game went LATE, so by the time I got home, I was too wiped to jot down my usual notes (opting instead to accidentally pass out on the couch). So this tale might be a bit more Swiss-cheesed than I’d like. Just pretend you’re listening to a Lovecraftian survivor through a glass window to a padded cell. “I don’t know…he keeps screaming about woods and money…” Cthulhu played a little more sluggish than usual. I would say at least 50% of the Mythos cards were Woods Openings, which didn’t help his long Doom Track, but kept us hopping with plenty of surges, which, when combined with sleepy Kingsport, makes for a monster-clogged Terror-blanketed Arkham--which, I guess, was kinda the point of the Kingsport Expansion—and that makes fighters like Wings and Shiny happy. Mostly. Wings and Shiny chose their Investigators based on their gun-firing pictures, but Joe and Michael do tend to let the bullets fly with guaranteed weapons in their possessions. Michael even started with the supremely useful Psychology Skill, although it wasn’t until late in the game that Shiny realized (after I explained it after a failed roll) that it was +1 to the number rolled on the dice, and not just +1 die to roll. (Her cards were hidden from me behind a wall of neighborhood decks, so I blame myself for inattention.) Zebra is somewhat Cursed-prone, so I chuckled when I handed him Rex, but, like Zebra’s favorite Investigator Finn, Rex’s fixed possessions provides another $10-equivalent of random stuff, and Zebra is nothing if not a shopping hoarder. (Next game, I’m just giving him Bob, Monty, Dexter, and Pete to choose from.) Not only that, Rex started with a Press Pass, making him the best Clue-cruncher in any game (until he traded it to Joe after passing his Story). An Encounter card tossed Michael off to the Dreamlands, and he didn’t come back. (I don’t remember why.) Eventually there was no way home, so Shiny got to take a coffee break in Lost in Time and Space. When she came back, she took advantage of a money-free drop into Kingsport to be the Rift Sentinel. (Our Kingsport encounters were relatively uneventful all game: no delays, no trips to the Head, no monsters. Were we challenging Cthulhu or Tsathoggua? Malaaaaaise.) An Uptown Moon Beast from the Woods trapped Lily in the Magic Shoppe, but she drew an Encounter that allowed her to buy a random Unique Item at half-price. Pizza miraculously drew the freakin’ Healing Stone, and the immeasurable amount of time he spent deliberating a FOUR-DOLLAR HEALING STONE against being broke allows me to invite any of you, should you ever meet Pizza, to flick him one in the forehead. Needless to say, he bought it, and Lily never had a Stamina/Sanity recovery issue all game. I was most impressed with a Healing Stone/perpetual Azure Flame combo while still being able to slide her way to her Maximums. (Of course, this just ticked off the Mighty Cthulhu, but we’ll get to that.) Norman went to the Lodge—short trip with time to read for a Plague of Locusts Spell—and ended up with an offer to join, leaving him broke (but conscious!). I stuck around to visit some vault that gave me any Unique Item I wanted! With the Healing Stone spoken for, I put it to the group to go for either an Elder Sign or a weapon. (Mostly for Wings or Shiny: Norman’s not a fighter, and I had the other Azure Flame for tight spots.) The group went for the weapon—it was too early to worry about Elder Signs?—and we went with a Gladius of Carcosa to go with Joe’s one-handed gun, because it was the best weapon without Upkeep. I think either Joe or Lily could have taken that Moon Beast, but devoured is a word that always gets me dirty looks, so Norman used Locusts to make it go away, since there were no Clues in the mostly-stable Uptown anyway. In some ways I was motivated by selfishness, since Lily and Norman shared the Keen Analysts Relationship, and I needed Lily to be unblocked to keep getting bonus Clues. Norman followed Lily around--often just ducking into her location, comparing notes for a Clue, and moving away—and since Norman had a Motorcycle, and Lily had a Military Motorcycle, we made the weirdest Lovecraftian hog-riding team ever. Early on, there were only two Gates—Woods and Unnamable—and with a Strange Sightings and a double-doom tokened Plague of Insects (the unhelpful kind), the Uptown neighborhood and the Outskirts were swamped with monsters. Wings was making great Monster Cup draws, putting horrible things in the Uptown mess no one wanted to touch and in the Outskirts safely out of play, while placing flyers and Serpent People on the Unnamable, eventually leaving it unguarded. (I think she had to kill something that was still there, but I don’t remember what it was. Whatever it was, it wasn’t a big threat.) So it was Joe who went off to Another Dimension to get our first Seal, grabbing Norman’s Gladius before making the trip. While Joe was gone, with the Terror Track at 2 very early, it was amazingly fortunate for Wings to draw the Mythos that sent Private Security to blitz Uptown. (Wrong Woods card, Cthulhu!) Rex scrounged for Clues very quickly, and passed his Story in no time. With his Curse gone, he read Dhol Chants for Erica Carlyle and a Retainer (one of Zebra’s favorite things). He and Lily also belonged to the Book Club (Relationship), so Lily was able to secure the services of Earl Sawyer, whose Sneak boost eventually became critical to Lily’s survival. (We’ll get to that.) A Clue left by Hypnos attracted Pizza to the Bank, and I followed him. I got Blessed—I had to use Clues or else be Cursed—but Lily got a chance to return stolen money to the Bank for Sanity (which she didn’t need at all). So she just ran off with the $10 and the Wanted card. Not once did Pizza pay for her Speed, so Lily was stuck on Speed 1, but with a bike, it wasn’t that bad. (Pizza’s a cautious player; Speed 3 doesn’t usually bother him.) It also made it easy for me to follow him, and use extra movement for Tomes that only Zebra and I liked to read. It also allowed Zebra to take most of that money for acquisitions. Shiny was happy to help in Kingsport, but she started getting antsy after finding a Golden Sword of Y’ha-Talla and not having any monsters to kill for her Story. The Unvisited Isle had just popped to The City of the Great Race with BOTH Fire Vampires emerging from it, so I was figuring Norman with the Azure Flame could make short work of them, and get an easy ride to a Gate Trophy for his Story. Lily was focused on getting down to the Woods for a trip to R’lyeh (and discard her Wanted status). This left Rex, loaded with money but no Clues (and Zebra itching to shop shop shop), to relieve her as Kingsport Sentinel…on one condition: that Michael take enough money to cover a decent trip to the Curiosity Shoppe. Michael’s Story prevented more than a $4 trade, but it was enough to score the OTHER Golden Sword. And we all loved Michael with crossed swords on his back, especially when he emptied his “Chicago typewriter” into the Priest of Dagon right before dicing up a Proto-Shoggoth. Of course, the moment they swapped towns, Shiny drew “Unusual Phenomenon Spotted in Arkham!” auto-dropping the black moon Rift on the Isle as well as a Ghoul and a Gug. This meant Rex was stuck up in Kingsport with a job to do (and a bunch of useless money burning a hole in Zebra’s brain). But he was able to find Granny Orne, so he didn’t have to waste any of the few Clues he had. (Silver lining?) On her way down to the Woods, almost through no fault of her own, Lily ran over a Serpent People (Sneak 4 due to Wanted, Earl Sawyer, Military Motorcycle), finishing it off with a Sledgehammer. It was around here that I noticed Pizza was making a concentrated effort to read his cards, finding all the ways he could jack up that Evade check. (Tragically, when he really could have used it, he completely forgot about the Serpent People trophy. Perhaps I need to add, “…and your tokens!” to, “Read your cards!”) Joe had his monster trophies, and Michael was coming back to Arkham with the Elixir of Life—the only Unique Item amongst us that we felt we could part with—to give to Carl Sanford (passing his Story), but the Lodge was busy with a Gate to Yuggoth. Wings decided that she could brave that Gate, even with low Sanity and just a single Clue buffer. Shiny promised to be close by to trade when she returned, but that gave Michael a little time to street-sweep for trophies. After claiming the Priest and Proto, Michael found himself tied up in the Fourth of July Parade, just after Norman had come out for Seal 2 (using his ability to remove slash monsters: see ya, Gug!). The Rift moved into the Parade, and sent a Vampire to harass him. I was planning to leave the Ghoul for Shiny, but now Norman couldn’t get off the Isle, and one Combat Check was more viable than two Evade Checks. Shiny then realized she had forgotten she had a Flare Gun, and a lone Byakhee was barnstorming the Parade. So Michael called down the Byakhee into a hail of bullets, then ran the Vampire through to pass his Story. (The Vampire Horror Check is when Shiny discovered how cool Psychology really was to someone like Michael or Mark.) After Joe returned for Seal 3, Shiny, true to her word, got Michael to jump in and out of the Lodge to pass Joe the Elixir, but then a Lodge Membership invitation forced Joe out into the streets. (“Wait! I have the item! Get off me! What kinda game are you playing at, Sanford?! OOF!”) So Wings had to go back inside and wait another turn, finding herself a Foresee Spell—this will be sorta significant—before passing Joe’s Story. All this unused filthy lucre all over the board was bugging Zebra. Michael grabbed money off Joe and headed back up to Kingsport to relieve Rex. However, just as he got there, the “Worlds Drifting Apart” Mythos halted all further Rift token activity, making a Kingsport Sentinel less important. Rex closed the Rift, grabbed some money from Michael, and headed back to shop before the Curiosity Shoppe closed from our out-of-control Terror Track. Shiny decided to hang around the Congregational Hospital to heal for a couple of turns: Norman had borrowed Mike’s Sanity (Practitioners of the Art Relationship) to cast the Plague of Locusts again (I think to remove the Dhole?), and for $2 in two turns, Michael could get both of his Stats to maximum rather than just his Sanity in one turn. Norman went to the Train Station for a Hypnos Clue, found a Rail Pass, and shot up Kingsport to trade it to Michael as a “thank-you for the Sanity”. Lily had been stepping on Cthulhu’s tentacles a bit too much, but on his home turf—the Woods led to R’lyeh—Cthulhu would not abide. Unwilling to lose a Seal chance, Pizza refused to use Clues to avoid being Cursed in an Other World Encounter. And so it was that Lily returned to Arkham, facing a -3 Gate Check, as well as a Lloigor, a Dark Young, and the High Priest. Considering the amount of Woods activity we’d had, Pizza was really unwilling to leave until he could place a Seal. He went through THREE turns of solid rolled-6 Evasion before Wings got Lily uncursed at the Church, allowing her to finally close the portal to R’lyeh (Seal 4), sending the High Priest back to the Cup. “Now you can just sneak out,” we all said, but Pizza had a look… “Evacuate? In my moment of triumph? I think you overestimate their chances!” …Lily hit the kickstand down and dismounted the trusty bike that had helped her spin dangerous circles around the beasts for far, far too long. She called the Azure Flame back to her and watched her Crystal of the Elder Things glow fiercely as her mind remained clear, knowing it would do so again when she shriveled the other disgusting creature. She looked up at the towering behemoths still hunting her, her gaze hardening with resolve. “MY turn,” she hissed, and dropped into her ready stance… The Azure Flame was enough for the Lloigor, but Pizza wanted more dice for the Dark Young, so he went with a Shriveling-Martial Arts combo instead. (Eight dice vs. four dice with sixes counting double…someone check the statistics on that.) This is where that Serpent People trophy would have been great, but it wasn’t necessary. Vengeance was sweet, as Lily used those carcasses to pass some Blessings around in the following turns. Joe and Norman both chose to enter a Gate to Celeano on the same turn: Joe at the Witch House, Norman at the Science Building. Joe was already Blessed, so Lily chose Norman for the other Blessing. Since I could cast Find Gate, Wings and I agreed to swap exit locations, so I could block the more dangerous hotspot sooner. But just before I could manage that… Somewhere in R’lyeh, some poor servitor had to report to the boss that all his Woods kicking was now getting bounced by a Seal, and those pesky primates were about to shut him down. “WHAT?! When?! How long has this been going on?! Well, BURST IT!! NOW!!” The Mythos “Moon Creature Hoax” Burst the Woods, and sent a parachuting Tcho-Tcho into the Sky, where he floated there for the rest of the game. (“Get me DOWN!!”) This Seal setback threatened to lengthen our already-too-long game, so Michael rode the rails back to Independence Square to pick up the slack. Once Norman got back to the Witch House for Seal 4(5), I figured passing my Story was pointless, so I relieved Lily at the Church to Bless Michael and Lily. Eventually, Joe scored Seal 5(6) and Michael finished it up with Seal 6(7). Lily ended up finishing the game Lost in Time and Space, because Rex thought it would be fun to have a trade in the Black Cave. One last cascade of grandeur: to make sure that Cthulhu didn’t rake us again, Wings sent Joe for 3 Clues (4 with the Press Pass) at the Historical Society. (Yeah, Cthulhu, a drawback to all your Woods stuff.) But then a Terror-6-boosted Maniac and a Crawling One appeared in Southside, trapping both Norman and Joe in their respective locations. An Encounter threatened something unfortunate—I just don’t remember what —and Wings had failed her roll. So Wings decided to (!) cast a Spell VOLUNTARILY! She needed a Clue to successfully cast Foresee, but she pulled it off! (And then failed her magical reroll. D’OH!) But on her next turn, still trapped in the Historical Society, Wings decided to (!) read a Tome VOLUNTARILY! She read the Naacal Key to open a back door out to Yuggoth (in case there was no other way to remove that Crawling One), and though Joe never got a chance to get back before the game ended, we are all very proud that Wings succeeded at the TWO things she despises in as many turns! She’ll be playing Agnes and Daisy in no time! (Not.) Final Score: 19. Mostly from the long Doom Track; we’d used most of our trophies for Blessings. Shiny is a bit underwhelmed with Kingsport, and I think I agree: Kingsport alone with 5 players is monster-ific, but only for those in Arkham; the sleepy town appears even MORE comatose by comparison for anyone stuck up there. I may have to put Kingsport into a wider rotation, or maybe save it for games when one of our cultists can’t attend.
  2. Agnes (Pizza), Mandy (Wings), Carolyn (Zebra), Zoey (Shiny), and Akachi (Me) vs Ithaqua. Dunwich with Dark Pharaoh and Lurker. Hypnos. Zebra finally returned to active status, and we all crowded around Pizza and Wings’ round table for our first five-player game. We were due for an Innsmouth game, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to add extra monster and Innsmouth variables at the same time—at least for this first time—so I pulled out Dunwich instead. And then not ONE SINGLE Dunwich Gate was drawn for the ENTIRE GAME. Dunwich has never been so DEAD for me ever. I think a couple of flyers landed there to hassle Carolyn once—I honestly can’t remember why she went up there—but she just snuck away and they went back to the Sky in short order. Plus, Ithaqua (and a massive amount of flying monsters) kinda put the kibosh on the Strange Whispers encounters, as no one wanted to be in the Streets. It was still an exciting game, but on a broad level, it was a tad “base game remedial”. It’s almost impossible to get Wings to choose Investigators randomly now, so long as Mandy draws a weapon (this time it was a Shotgun). Shiny is learning some bad habits from that, but she drew Zoey in her random three, so that still worked out. She was able to add a Yithian Rifle to her Knife and Cross, so she was also happy. The game responded by giving them a Relationship based on Spells. I don’t remember which one because neither one of them ever casts Spells (or reads Tomes). Pizza chose Agnes, but never cast her Wither or Shriveling. Zoey traded her a Dhol Chants which could have benefited her and Carolyn (Socially Connected), but after failing to read it once or twice, I think Pizza just forgot it was In his inventory (or was slowed down way too much to read). Zebra recalled that he was a notorious shopper, and early in the game acquired the Carcosan Page. Thus Carolyn became the UPS Drone, constantly hauling things to her, and shipping them out the following turn. (This would eventually bite me pretty hard, but we’ll get to that.) Akachi started with Find Gate and Mists of Releh, and read Nameless Cults for a Markings of Isis, so I intended to play her straight: Gate Master, no fighting. We executed the “No Gates, only Monsters, for three turns” House Rule to assist with Zebra’s rustiness, but every Mythos we pulled during that lull was either the Black Cave or the Witch House. The Flying Polyp, the Servitor, a Gug, a Shan, an Elder Thing…it was an ugly mass of Monster Limit in eastern Arkham. (And it reminded Shiny that the Monster Cup HATES her, and she again refused to touch it forever.) But that left the rest of the board as empty as the River Docks, so almost everyone got out of the cold at Hibbs in order to pass Carolyn enough cash to get back to the Asylum to pass her story. Zoey got first Blood when the Elder Thing exited the Cave, but there was no way anyone was wandering into the first Gate at the Witch House with 5 monsters guarding it (including the Servitor). Both Wings and Zebra had drawn an Elder Sign, so when Hibbs Roadhouse opened a Gate completely unattended--Monster Limit reached—Akachi charged in. I was able to Find a Gate in the Abyss to seal Hibbs by the next turn (Seal 1). I even saved Carolyn’s Elder Sign because Akachi had 4 Clues when she returned to Arkham, and it wasn’t worth wasting it on a Lore 6 (Linguistics Skill) -2 (Abyss) +1 (Akachi’s Secret Rites Ability) roll. Backing up a bit before the Hibbs Gate, Agnes had been tossed out of the Hibbs Pow-wow—never trust pool players in Arkham—but ran back in to encounter a Ghoul. Later, Agnes would get tossed out of the Hospital, and almost tossed out of the Library. Shiny commented that “people just don’t like Agnes.” But she was lucky enough to pull a Retainer from the MU Dean, and get Akachi one as well (I’ll Vouch For My Friend). Of course, Akachi lost that Retainer on her first roll, so people just don’t like Agnes’ friends either. Shiny was still looking for monster trophies that didn’t have DEVOURED printed on them, and the Wizard Whateley had “summoned” a Dimensional Shambler to him in the Rivertown Streets. Shiny was wary but willing to try, but the game fought back…hard. A horrible Combat Roll against the Shambler had her heading out to Lost in Time and Space, which she seemed perfectly willing to do, but…generally, the only experience my Cult has with LiTaS is when something KOs them in an Other World; hence, the same Pavlovian response to an unwanted Hospital or Asylum trip, as opposed to, well, an “extended coffee break”. I just didn’t want her to lose the fight (or leave that stupid Wizard on the board), so I think we all kinda goaded her into some Clue spending (plus a Mandy reroll). Then we all got to watch her burn every Clue she had until she put the Shambler down. One failed Horror check with no Clues against Whateley, and Zoe was off to the Asylum, choosing to lose half her stuff (like a Tome she’d never read) rather than draw a Madness. While the game laughed, Shiny was a tad miffed she didn’t just take the coffee break. (To pour salt on it, a couple turns later, Shiny’s Elder Thing trophy came to life and the monster limit allowed to escape unchallenged to the Outskirts.) The Unravelling Tapestry Rumor came out, just after Agnes was shoved offworld by a Gate Encounter at the Unnameable. Agnes had only Combat Spells, so no easy way to cast a Wither-Shriveling combo in Another Dimension. That left Zebra and I, but both of us were lacking any pure utility Spells. The R’lyss Gate had opened in the Woods—a prime candidate for an Elder Sign—so Akachi Carcosan-Paged Carolyn her Mists of Releh (“Go Evade some monsters!”) with the intention of casting Find Gate from the other side. But the game was on a roll… I encountered a monster. I drew a Cultist! Except it’s an Ithaqua Cultist, so very tough. Well, then I can just cast my Mists of Releh…that…I…don’t…have anymore. Oh HELL. My Find Gate/Elder Sign combo had me overconfident enough to think I could survive one OW Encounter without needing any Clues. My Sneak was way too low. I couldn’t even cast my Markings of Isis because Cultists don’t have Horror Checks!!! And so frail Akachi had only her fists against some Wendigite: three dice needing three successes. Insert futile dice clicks and wail of agony here. The only silver lining was Carolyn had also passed Akachi a Map of the Mind, so I was also able to avoid Lost in Time and Space. However, I got silver poisoning when I risked an Injury and got Double Vision: the one Investigator that could use less Clues to Seal was now unable to simply pick Clues up off the board. And the game doubled over laughing… Mandy got a Gate Encounter at the Black Cave, and it was a Motorgate. (Pizza and Wings rendezvous in Another Dimension!) Eventually, a new plan formed: Agnes, lacking enough Clues to Seal, would exit via the Motorgate (now in the Streets) and just close it, while Mandy would come out at the Unnameable to Seal. But first, Wings would get her first monster encounter…a Lloigor, making all of her Weapons useless… “…but didn’t she have a Shotgun?” Okay, look: I don’t CARE what FFG says. WEAPON IMMUNITY. It’s IMMUNE to any gun, blade, stick, torch, hammer, and lamp, magic or otherwise! But a Shotgun’s sixes count as two successes because, what? It’s scared of the NOISE it makes?! I do not abide by this loophole! …so Wings unhappily snuck away. (She hates leaving creatures alive.) But the rest of the plan worked out. Pizza and Wings both got a Gate Trophy, and the Unnameable was Seal 2. Dizzy but undaunted, Akachi strode right back into the Abyss, Found that Gate, and Elder-Signed the Woods (Seal 3), passing her Story. Clues fell like rain: so many that we ran out of green ones (had to use some old CoC CCG brown ones), because Carolyn had a mint horde in the teens. Carolyn had managed to locate one of the original Spells with her name on it: Voice of Ra. Already a free +1 stat boost with her Psychology ability, but she and Mandy had the Mystic Knights Relationship: Zebra’s constant casting kept Wings uber-sane for the remainder of the game, in addition to finally putting down that pesky Spellcasting Rumor, which gave Akachi Vision Quest! If she can’t pick Clues up, she can find them with her MIND! The state of the Streets was a bit clogged now. A Crawling One had set up shop in Miskatonic, a Rivertown mob was Patroling, and there were still several flyers spread out to threaten the roadways. Everyone was trapped on the north end of town except Akachi (with 1 Sanity left), who decided to catch her breath in the South Church and burn all her Gate Trophies Blessing the rest of the team. (Then a Color Out of Space moved, and the Asylum carriage came for her.) Agnes had gotten stuck in the Rivertown Streets with two Byakhees and that Patrol marker, and almost everything she had was in the wrong place: her Stats were not set for Horror or Spellcasting, she was running low on Sanity and Stamina, and she had lots of money (to lose on bail) and barely any Clues. Pizza is already pretty skittish about taking risks in this game; when he has a razor-thin margin of error, he’d rather just find a deep hole and hum with his fingers in his ears until it goes away. The only decent option Pizza decided he had was to jack up his Sneak, and hide from monsters, townsfolk, and sleet in the Graveyard until something broke. (The Terror Track had recently closed the General Store, and Pizza has NEVER liked the Black Cave. BATS!) This opened up a very sheer-drop opportunity for Zoey: if she could manage to kill both Byakhees before the villagers had her arrested, she could pass her Story one game action before she failed her Story! Which is precisely what happened. Covered in Byakhee ichor, she smugly sat her jail cell, knowing God was on her side. And when they let her out, they Deputized her with all those blood drops she was sitting on. (A salary, an unloseable gun, and a personal Transporter?! Shiny liked being Deputy!) Happy Days Are Here Again came out, which normally would be a good thing, but if the Terror Level can’t increase, that Rivertown Patrol WOULD NEVER LEAVE! (Clever, clever game.) Agnes managed to drag herself slowly and painfully to the Asylum, and then to the Train Station, where a lucky encounter with Bill Washington gave her a ride to the Hospital, just after the Woods Burst. But the Gate was to the City of the Great Race, so Agnes had a somewhat leisurely trip to conclude with Seal 3(4). A Plague of Insects tried to form, but they all died in the freezing wind. But the damage was done as the two Doom Tokens put Ithaqua at 9. Just after that came the Disturbing the Dead Rumor. Agnes was the closest to be able to pass it, but we all agreed that it would be better to let it sit until it raised the Terror Level and sent those Rivertown busybodies back to their beds! (Which never actually happened. Seriously, the game was just being a d*ck about that Patrol.) Carolyn had been slowly acquiring Clues and a Newspaper Retainer, going the long way around Rivertown to get down to French Hill. Zebra remembered how much he hates Speed 3 Investigators. (Zoey had a Map for a short while, but lost it when she went insane, and none of Zebra’s numerous shopping trips resulted in a Speed bonus.) The Crawling One finally moved south, and Zebra and Wings had begun to discuss how to split the two French Hill Gates between them. (Zebra always seems to be playing one Phase ahead of everyone else.) Now, technically it was still Agnes’ Movement Phase, as I placed her Explored Token at the Woods, but the two conference-callers were on the Other Worlds side of the board. “Guys? Can you move Agnes out? Agnes? There? To the Woods? Guys? Bring Agnes out? Woods? City of the Great Race there? GUYS! AGNES! WOODS! NOW!” Boy, did I receive stares. “NOW your OCD kicks in?!” Zebra barked. But…but…sigh. Mandy took the Witch House, while Carolyn took the Silver Twilight Lodge. (I think the deciding factor was Wings wanted to take advantage to Hypnos’ boost to Plateau of Leng Encounters, because Zebra was still listening to the Voice of Ra on repeat.) Carolyn got delayed, so soon after, there was a two-turn cycle like this: Mandy Seal 4(5), Unnameable Gate Burst, Carolyn Seal 4(6). While all that was going on down in southeast Arkham, Deputy Zoey had scooted off to the Blasted Heath for a pack of dusty Clues—Dunwich was dead-asleep, remember?—while Akachi took the train to Cold Spring Glen, and used Vision Quest to empty the Backwoods Country of EIGHT Clues. Both of us loaded for Sealing, Zoey drove back to the Graveyard to go to R’lyeh, while broke Akachi caught an extremely lucky ride with Sheriff Engle to the Unvisited Isle, bypassing that stupid Color that wouldn’t leave. Remember when Carolyn came out for the second fourth Seal? Zoey and Akachi came out during the same turn for Seals 5(7) and 6(8). That very Mythos Phase would opened a Gate at Independence Square for Doom 11: won by a Phase! Take that, game! Final Score: 18. Ith tends to be a lower scoring game if the Terror track has decent activity, and we spent a LOT of trophies this game. Only six Monster Trophies were left, but that last sudden push left us with six unspent Gate Trophies. All that and Wings still resisted using her Elder Sign. A solid victory! A pretty well-balanced game of good fortune and bad luck all the way through, so next time we take Shiny to Innsmouth. I don’t expect that seafood platter to be as sleepy as Dunwich.
  3. Finn (Pizza), Wilson (Wings), Bob (Shiny), and Roland (Me) vs Ghatanothoa. Kingsport with Dark Pharaoh and Lurker. Hypnos. Zebra is still wandering the Dreamlands, hopped up on goofballs, musing about the taste of indigo with the Cats of Ulthar, but Shiny returned for her second four-player game. This was one of the longest games we’ve ever played: we actually depleted the Hypnos deck, but being a Kingsport game, there were no Miskatonic cards added to the deck of Hypnos. Still…29 turns! Shiny has taken after Wings—combat-ready, Spells and Tomes suck—so from her Investigator pulls, I suggested Bob: great Will, and with all the Common Item draws, most likely to end up with a weapon to make up for any lowered Fight when using that Will. Bob pulled both Molotovs and a Press Pass, but Ghatanothoa’s evil roulette spin when getting more than one Clue at the same time made the Press Pass less attractive than usual. (Hey, I tried to reinforce that the odds were always in our favor, but devouring is not treated like strategy in our house.) Bob still pulled a Yithian Rifle…Shiny would even acquire the other Yithian Rifle in this game—that’s THREE Yithian Rifles in TWO games…and shopped for the Tommy Gun on Turn 1. Wings didn’t like any of her pulls (although it is highly suspect that the only pull she would immediately like is Mandy), so I tossed her Wilson this time. She was skeptical—they decided Wilson looks more like a pale Danny Trejo than Tom Selleck, but how anyone shrugs off a free Shotgun is flabbergasting—but she played him rather well, so at the very least, I think Wilson liked Wings! The Feds sent Erich Weiss in a Sedanette to back up Roland, so I played Roland rather defensively most of the time, using his high Focus to play with his Speed/Sneak more often than anything else. All of my useful weapons came from trades with Shiny, but it was usually a better guarantee to slip away. I also pulled the Flute of the Outer Gods, which would have been useful a couple of times if all us 4 Sanity-ers could keep our brains topped off for any length of time. Finn started Whiskey and an Axe…wait, what? Where’s everything else? Somehow Pizza, Handler of the Investigator Decks, had forgotten to pull his own stuff! And his incredulousness kept increasing with his inventory: Criminal (a more accurate Skill pull I never did see), which gave Pizza access to the Sheldon Gang for the second time in as many games; Psychology (excellent for Finn’s low combat rating); Crystal of the Elder Things (good for when he acquired the Call Friend Spell); the King in Yellow (Ghata drooled); and a Ley Line map. I had mentioned that Finn is Zebra’s favorite Investigator, and before all that was over, Pizza declared that it was no wonder that mega-shopper Zebra loved Finn, and he should never be allowed to play him again! I wanted my story over as quickly as possible, so I risked a Ghata Visage Flip at the Unvisited Isle before finishing it at the Unnamable. Our Cult still appreciates the Dimensional Fractures House Rule (No Gates until Turn 4), but that didn’t stop me from dumping the **** Servitor on my own head at the Isle. This was when I learned early on that I was going to be playing from Urchin Wendy’s playbook: The Art of Not Being Seen. Having Houdi…er, Erich on my side was magic during these evasions. Wings got into one semi-lousy Encounter on Turn 1, and then realized how utilitarian Wilson’s Odd Jobs ability was. Until she had her $15 for her Story, every Encounter she had was replaced with a $1 gain: nailing up shoring at the Black Cave, repairing some barb wire barriers in the Woods, sweeping up body parts at the Lodge. She and Pizza were Friendly Rivals, and since Finn needed Monster Trophies, Wings usually ended up with a +1 to her Combat Checks. After finishing her story, she farmed the Science Building for four Clues, one at a time to avoid Ghata, acquiring Sir William Brinton. This kept Wings largely out of trouble for a long time. But an even better reason for this was both the Servitor AND the Flying Polyp perched in the Sky, making all of us afraid of the Streets (as our Monster Limit peaked). Pizza tried for some street larceny and got arrested, but was pleasantly surprised when Finn lost nothing. He was equally surprised when he was allowed to ignore his Bank Loan default, and never have to roll for it again. Later in the game, after he had finally killed a Cultist to pass his story, and the Hunting Horror kept chasing him, he finally understood the niftiness of Finn’s Slipperiness, as the Horror would land on his boardspace just as Finn had started to fade away (when they move, Circles and Diamonds always move together in the same Mythos Phase). I pulled the “Unusual Phenomenon Sighted in Arkham!” Mythos and was forced to open our first Rift (the middle one, since we were having a large amount of Circle movements in our Mythos). Since Roland was still weaponless, and becoming increasingly useless against the growing monster hoard, feeling responsible for even more monsters made me want to head to Kingsport to redeem myself. I was also making HORRIBLE Monster Cup draws, so Wings took the Cup away from me. Even goading Shiny into taking 3 Clues at once to finish Bob’s Story because a 1-in-7 Ghata Risk was worth it (she passed) wasn’t improving my status. I had to stop in the Train Station to avoid the Streets (Death from the Sky!), broke into a crate for a Unique Item...no, wait…used all my **** Clues to get CAUGHT breaking into a crate, and hauled off to jail by Deputy Dingby. (I hate that guy!) Late in the game, when our (too?) cautious gaining of Clues caught up with us, this was the incident that Pizza remembered when it was time to blame for frivolous Clue spending. It was decided that Kingsport couldn’t wait for my defective butt, so Bob popped into the Police Station for a Clue (and to eventually pass me a Molotov and $5 of his gold fortune to pass to Wilson to end his story) just as I was being released. Then some whack job killed himself to frame Bob for murder! Bob and Roland shared the “Take Me Instead” Relationship, so instead of Bob losing $11, I told the cops it was me, and lost a $1 to go right back into the clink. Bob bounced around Kingsport for a while, closing our first Rift (a second one opened while Bob was handling the first), while Finn dropped an Arkham Encounter Gate on himself at Independence Square. While in Another Dimension, Pizza only used one Clue to try to avoid being Cursed, but failed. (SPECIAL NOTE: PIZZA DID NOT FRIVOLOUSLY SPEND CLUES TO AVOID BEING CURSED!) Luckily, he had managed to have an Exhibit Encounter (before the Streets got ugly) to “Quid Pro Quo” his Whiskey and his King in Yellow…he wanted to ditch his Ley Line Map (!!!) but against my better judgment, I waved Ghata in his face to make those 4 Clues in that script look unappetizing…for a First Elder Sign Parchment. So Finn came home Cursed, but still Sealed the Square. (Seal 1) Goodbye Servitor! About the same time, I had finally gotten free of Dingby, and snuck past an Unvisited Isle Chthonian to get out to the City of the Great Race—I love it when monsters enter Arkham through properly matching Gates—and eventually Seal the Isle. (Seal 2) Shiny was getting bored with sleepy Kingsport, and wanted to go discharge ammunition at something, so Pizza took Finn up there to close the second Rift while Roland traded $5 with Wilson at the General Store to finish his story. “No One Can Help You Now.” One of the worst Environments in the game: progress just STOPS. We tried to look busy, waiting for it to go away: this was when Wilson hung out at the Science Building slowly earning Clues, and Brinton, and a Blessing (which she kept to the end of the game), and removing all monsters from the Sky and Outskirts. The Streets were finally safe, but now the game was ready for DIVERSITY. Gates were all over the place: Woods, Witch House, Graveyard, Historical Society, Silver Twilight Lodge. Every turn was another Surge. The Outskirts was constantly overfilling like an abandoned warehouse rave. (The Dhole hit the Outskirts THREE TIMES before it finally emerged in the Rivertown Streets. After that long a trip from Out There, it probably said something like, “Arkham?! I knew I shoulda taken that left turn at Albuquerque!”) Roland ran up to Kingsport—finally enacting my long-ago plan—to get Finn to return to Arkham to track down a Cultist and end his Story before Wilson’s Passed Story was no longer able to keep the Terror Track at bay anymore, and Finn would Fail at Terror Track 3. To stop “Too Many Gates”, the girls ran off to close the Graveyard and the Witch House. Finn passed his Story and started ducking the Hunting Horror all over town. Flashback of sorts: I’m not sure when it happened, but sometime before this, Bob had an Ancient Whispers Encounter that got him a Chime of Ra and the Local Guide card. Unfortunately, this was after he had spent most of his gold coins already, and the rest of us were scattered and broke. She had acquired the second Yithian Rifle, and without Focus, had no way of reloading either. Except…when she was offworld! Shiny was very excited to discover this. (Of course, this also made her VERY possessive of those rifles.) The girls came home, but Wings had had to lose Mr. Brinton as a trip to the Dreamlands had been exceptionally strenuous (1 Stamina). Both closed their locations, although the Witch House almost immediately reopened. Kingsport just stopped being a priority, and Roland returned to Evade a Crawling One in the Northside Streets, so that when Bob encountered it, Roland was there to take the first hit (X=5) for him. Bob still had to take his own hit (X=6, “Crap! I just made it MADDER!”) before putting it down (X=2). Bob also had to use the Chime of Ra to keep from going insane from a failed Horror Check; Shiny was aching to get him into the Asylum if not for the blockade…we’ll get to that. Roland’s luck continued to swing wildly. Just after spending all his money to get back his brains, he risked a pile of four Clues at Hibbs Roadhouse (Ghata Flip 1-in-5, and a reset!), and a stranger bought him a Whiskey. But then a bad encounter at the Library resulted in losing 2 Sanity and 2 Stamina. (If a book radiates evil, PICK UP A DIFFERENT BOOK!!!) Had to spend all his money AGAIN to recover from almost shattered (1 Stamina). “What the hell is Agent Roland billing on his Expense Account?!” “He said, ‘Because, SHUT UP!’” The Environment finally changed, allowing us to get back to work, but now there was a blockade of the Dhole at Rivertown and the Hunting Horror at the Merchant District, all the Hypnos Clues were on the north side of town, and the only Gates open on the south side led to R’lyeh: the Lodge, the Historical Society, and the Woods (the R’lyss Gate). Roland and Bob left for that accursed place through the empty Society, while the growing Doom Track (10) set off Pizza’s survival instincts and dumped five single-blood-drop’d monsters to get Blessed. Fortunately, he actually lost his Curse by roll a couple turns before, and his Blessing would become critical. (Both girls had been Blessed by Mythos Luck Rolls some time before that.) Then, since Pizza still had a Gate Trophy, he Blessed offworld Roland before he had to try to close a -3 R’lyeh Gate with only 4 Stats. (Note: without help or Clues, NO ONE could close the R’lyss Gate.) I still failed the first time to close, but eventually Sealed the Lodge (Seal 3); Shiny follows right after to Seal the Society. (Seal 4) The Southern Strangler had apparently gone the way of most Maniacs during High Doom, and started removing our Allies. For about a half-second, we considered saving them, but then decided that none of them were worth the five Clues we didn’t have anyways. Everyone’s gotta die some time, right? (Eh, Duke had already left town; strangle away, crazy person!) Seeing no standing Clues lying around, we suggested the Science Building for Clues, although she would have to play the Visage is Right with Ghata (1-in-6). Wings still beats us all with her ability to fail to acknowledge danger. She now had enough to Seal, but even Unknown Kadath (Witch House) is better than R’lyss. The problem was a Leng Spider from the Lodge and a Cultist from the Witch House were patrolling the French Hill Streets, and considering our incredibly lousy timing with Monster Movement, it was entirely possible that both the Dhole and the Hunting Horror would break their embargo to surround her in the Streets while she was cleaning up spider parts. Waiting in the Science Building for some way to achieve a better position, she got hit in the gut by Brinton AGAIN! It was a big surprise for Wings, as she thought when he was discarded for her max Stamina, he had already gone to the box! I think a lot of players have made this mistake (early on) since that’s usually how most Allies leave play, and it feels a bit more final to give up a PERSON than a gun or a lantern. But not even the Strangler had gotten a hold of Brinton! After Sealing, Roland entered the French Hill Streets to knock out the Cultist (with no weapons), and then toss a Molotov into a Leng Spider’s maw. This cleared a straight shot for a Hospitalized Wilson—“Stop HITTING me, you peon!!”—straight to the Witch House. Mission accomplished. …and then Shiny converged a Surged Rat Thing (from the Witch House! Brown Jenkin!!), the Dhole, and the Hunting Horror right on top of Roland’s unsuspecting back. I was told to make a special note that she was abnormally gleeful during this maneuver. (Almost maniacal giggling. ) Well, two can play at that game! Roland and Erich hopped into their Sedanette, shouted, “SEE YA!”, and tore out of there. (All yours, Wings!) Now that the blockade had been breached, Bob planned to get some quick therapy at the Asylum and then play some Zamfir for that crowd Roland had left behind. Alas, it was not to be, as a Mythos with two Doom Tokens ended our…frivolity. We actually had a decent stack of Ghata-canceling gats to spread around: Bob’s two Yithian Rifles and Tommy Gun, and Wilson’s Shotgun. Even if we pooled our money, we didn’t have enough to lose those tourists from Bob’s Local Guide stint. (Not sure if we could have done that anyway.) Since Bob was now Focus-less, but Ghata was not Resistant to anything, it made sense to trade those Rifles to Finn and Roland, and stick to the uncomplicated Tommy Gun. Everyone maxed their Fight and Speed, respectively...except for poor Finn, who had to rely on a .38-Axe combo while raising his Speed before he could reload his Rifle. Rolls were up and down the whole Battle: Finn and Wilson remained Blessed, and with Wilson’s motorcycle, they would both last two rounds longer than Bob and Roland. Plus, Finn was sitting on a +1 Combat Check from Friendly Rivals (he had no monster trophies), a +1 Fight Skill learned from the Cabala of Saboth, and the Skullcrackers Relationship between him and Roland. (Finn was Blessed: by Arkham Horror Statute 47-3, “Blessed players get die priority.”) Ghata negated a bunch of single success rolls, but when it came down to the beginning of Round 5 (Roland and Bob’s last), when Finn got to reload that Rifle, and roll six dice, Ghatanothoa finally went down. Final Score: 23. Boosted by Ghata’s 13 Doom, and a healthy stash of unspent trophies. I was told to mention (and this is for you, Zebra) that it would have been 24, but Finn lost his Bank Loan, the skinflint. Still, anything above 20 is a pretty solid victory. I got a “serviceable” out of Wings for Wilson, but maybe she just wanted me to go home after 29 turns. (Ah well, there’s still Hank, Pete, Mark, William, and Zoey.) And Shiny brought her own dice this time: Frosted Smoke. (Go Chessex!) Hurry up and pay $2 for your Stamina, Zebra! Time for some five player mayhem!
  4. Lola (Pizza), Michael (Wings), Mandy (Shiny), and Joe (Me) vs Nyarlathotep. Dunwich with Dark Pharaoh and Lurker. Hypnos. (Hoo boy, am I rusty…) The Stars were finally right, and my Cult planned a Labor Day weekend game. Except then Zebra came down with an Injury that required regular alchemical cocktails. (We told him to come anyway, as his altered mind state could probably let him SEE his Encounters. “Tell us what the Shoggoth looks like, Zebra!” “AAAAAAA!!!”) No dice. So tonight the part of Zebra will be played by…Shiny! Shiny’s a relatively new coworker (since January) who’s cut her teeth on card games like Dominion and party games like Werewolf (or variants). She’s been looking to upgrade her classification to Board Gamer, and needed more game badges on her sash. This would be her first completely co-op game (she has played some Battlestar Galactica as well). I gave her a few Investigators to examine and a short primer on operating them—the rest of the game we would lead by example as situations came up (although Wings walked her through a dozen game components as I was emptying contents onto the table)—so when we all “Drew 3, Pick 1”, the one she recognized was Mandy. (Not a bad first Investigator, eh?) Pizza commented on how DERANGED Lola looked (the only Investigator of his 3 picks that he never played before), and Wings got a bunch of unarmed spellcasters—Wings HATES Spells and Tomes—so I just tossed her Michael (free Tommy Guns make everyone happy!). I went with Joe over Rita (never George!) because I suddenly had gun envy from Michael (and I know Rita’s Story SUCKS against Nyarlathotep…shhh, don’t tell anyone!). Lola started with an Elder Sign and a Voice of Ra, but Pizza is very skittish about Sanity damage, so it wasn’t until laaate in the game when he found the Seven Books of Hsan, and the Voice of Ra became Sanity-free! We often have to keep advising him to look at his cards to remind him what he has, and I tried to prod him a couple of times to USE Lola as the Actress she is: skill-swapping. Mid-game, I finally got him to look at the bottom of the Skill deck (Criminal! No one ever gets that!), and a few turns later, Lola swapped out her Speed Skill to join the Sheldon Gang! Granted, she only ever manage to pickpocket $2, but the Streets are much less boring with petty larceny options! Michael started with a Yithian Rifle as well, so Wings was armed and happy. Eventually, a monster surprised him in the Black Cave, and a passed Horror Check would get him Spells, but a failed Horror Check would give him Bravery (great Skill for low-Will brawlers). Luckily, Michael’s a bit wobbly at Will Checks. Mandy started with a Flamethrower, a Carbine, a Cursed Sphere, and a Credit Rating. Her first Encounter in the Woods had her tripping over an Axe. So by the end of Turn 1, Shiny was loaded up like any First Person Shooter: four weapons, same backpack. Was the game befuddled by Shiny’s unbridled optimism? No, just biding its time: Big N plays the long game. Joe started with a Molotov, some Dusty Manuscripts, and Mental Fortitude (the BEST Skill for low-Will brawlers). That Skill saved my bacon multiple times! Joe went shopping his first turn, and ended up with a Yellow Sign medley: Throne of Carcosa, Book of the Believer, Carcosan Page. (What would YOU buy?) This would be the Unique Item to finish Joe’s Story, so I had to keep it. Joe sucks at Tomes, and the Throne is just too expensive for what it offers, so I bought the Page. It did allow me to borrow Mandy’s Carbine in a tight spot, so it was a well-used selection. Since we were all out of practice by a few years (and Shiny was brand-new), we didn’t pop an actual Gate (or Doom Token) until Turn 4, but we did place monsters at those Gate locations. Call it the Dimensional Fractures House Rule. It let Shiny get some atmosphere and FIGHT A HOUND OF TINDALOS, ARE YOU KIDDING?! Hey, everyone’s gotta have a first fight; might as well make it memorable. It took her a little while to get comfortable with “where should my sliders go?”, but facing a Hound teaches you one the greatest AH conundrums ever: the “Fight vs. Will in Combat” Joke! But it’s better to learn that lesson with a Cursed Sphere in your pocket. Also a great time to learn why EVERYONE loves Mandy: the “Your Roll SUCKED!” reroll! Shiny’s first trophy! Aside: Shiny owns two rescues: both completely black cats. So I gave her a Bast Token to use as Mandy’s “Special Ability Used” marker. This eventually led to that ability being dubbed as “Using the Magic Cat”. “Do you want to use my Magic Cat?” “This is the last Phase roll before the Mythos Phase: just use your Magic Cat.” Maybe it’s one word: MagiCat? Michael was following Hypnos around, beefing up his Clues, which is when he ended up in the Black Cave and gaining that Bravery. (It was either that or falling in a Lantern-less Pit for an Injury.) The Mythos “Along Came Jones” put a free Ally at the Train Station for the first Investigator who got there: that’s Lola’s Story right there! Joe went right past the Train Station to head out of Dunwich for a Dimensional Shambler and a pile of Clues, and Lola followed him to the rails, gaining William Bain! If you want someone following your career in the Arkham Gazette, that’s the Greatest Fan you want! Although Nyarl got his parting shot at our House Rule: there were still no Doom Tokens yet in play when Bain arrived. (The game giveth, the game taketh away.) On the other hand, Mandy sought a Clue at the Silver Twilight Lodge, gaining herself a membership. The following turn, she healed up her Hound scratches; later, she came back to trade a brain for a Red Sign Spell. Still later, she…we’ll get to that. Our first Gate was the R’lyss Gate (yeesh!) in the Woods: it brought the second Hound, and it moved almost immediately to Mandy. Obviously, Mandy’s intense research and disruptions had gotten her spotted by the Hounds, and those canines are relentless with their intended prey. Yeah, that was their mistake: second Hound went down just like the first. After failing to gain Corinna Jones’ assistance—stupid expensive Carcosan Page!—I moved to Wizard’s Hill… …Zebra’s assigned task is Arkham Encounter cards, bundled in three-neighborhood decks (draw until you hit the right color, just like Gate Deck draws), each of the those four decks in one of the Professor’s Crafthulhu Neighborhood Deck Holders: Dunwich, Top, Middle(+Misk U), Bottom(+ F Hill). Dropping Shiny in the deep end, she inherited this job. We need to assign these tasks because Pizza-n-Wings’ huge round table is way too large for any human to control more than one quadrant of it. Pizza gets the Investigator cards (also in a Crafthulhu space saver!), Wings gets the Tokens (Clues, Money, etc.), and I get the Ancient One, the Monster Cup to pass, and any other Board Mechanics to track (Dunwich Horror, Activity Tokens, Rifts, etc.). I only bring this up, because I asked for a Dunwich Red card, and Shiny promptly informed me that those cards were ORANGE…meaning that I STILL stand alone in my Cult in defense of AH’s coloring scheme. “These Unique Items are PINK!” “Is this (Easttown) what you mean by Grey?” Sigh… …and then Pizza dropped an Abyss Gate right on me…indirect Delayed lesson for Shiny. Michael was all set to follow me through the now-unguarded R’lyss Gate, but opted for a delightful trip through the City of the Great Hall of Celeano Gate (Black Cave). Michael immediately found a quick “Return to Arkham” Encounter and got our first Seal (#1). My trip in the Abyss was less than stellar. Joe utterly failed a chance at the Psychic card, and instead ended up Tainted AND Harried! So Joe had some errands to run. Luckily, when he was so rudely displaced, a Leng Spider was left behind that never moved. (It was just waiting for me to get back!) I used my Page to borrow Mandy’s Carbine, and wrapped its legs in a tissue. (Harried, my crumpled fedora.) Since I had been leaving my Fight at maximum, relying on my Mental Fortitude to keep my brains intact during Horror Checks, I beat that Gate into submission (Seal #2) while covered in spider ichor. Then a Mythos allowed me to toss the R’lyss Gate back into the Gate Cup. So the trip sucked, but the vacation photos were excellent! The Witch House finally opened the Lenglands Gate…seriously? Are we going to open EVERY double-Gate in the bag? Don’t get too excited: The Great Meddler managed to prevent those Gates and our monsters from matching most of the time… …Aside: The First Player performs the whole Mythos Phase by themselves, but Shiny is an abundantly helpful and non-superstitious person. So, as Wings grabbed the Lenglands Gate, Shiny pulled out the accompanying monster. Thus comes the most priceless moment in the game: Shiny: “Star Vampire.” (One of the worst Monsters, and Shiny has ZERO idea what she has done.) Me: “Aw hell!” Shiny: >blank look< “What?” Me: “Turn him over.” Shiny: >squealing< “IT’S HORRIBLE!” Wings: “You don’t get to pull monsters anymore!” And Shiny didn’t, for several turns. When I handed her the Cup for her next Mythos read, she stated bluntly, “No. I’m not allowed.” Michael took his shot at the Star Vampire with his Yithian Rifle, but never got past looking it in the face. Wings didn’t want to lose her stuff, so I had to remind Wings what a Madness was. We let her read an Injury (Broken Back) to understand the severity of her choice, but Wings has always been a bit fearless about combat consequences. (“Polyp, Shmolyp. Where’s my Knife?!”) Michael ended up with Agoraphobia, which had him midgame bouncing out of the Asylum, sweeping a street clean, freaking out from the wide open space, and bouncing back into the Asylum. Lola had managed to acquire a Marksman Skill (shortly thereafter feeling adventurous enough to drop his Speed for the Criminal Gang Membership), plus a Book of the Dead (IMPORTANT!) Exhibit, and rather self-sufficiently meandered in and out of R’lyeh at Independence Square without missing a step, using her Elder Sign to slow Big N’s roll a tad (Seal #3). Gradually, she traveled the length of Arkham, gaining 5+ Clues by the time she ended up at the Woods, where the Lostime Carcosa Gate had ruptured. (Another double?! If Yuggother Dimension shows up, I’m out!) Lola was eventually able to return from Another Time for Seal #5. (Sorry to get ahead there, but the paragraph was on a roll.) Mandy returned to the Lodge to prep for getting past the Star Vampire to reach the Gate, and her Lodge buddies performed a banishment ritual for her. She chose to go to the Dreamlands over the Plateau of Leng (although both were warded by Hypnos), so every card was an option. And Shiny’s first Gate Encounter ever was……the only WHITE card in the deck. (“Green Double Zero!”) Cute, Game, real cute. Shuffle shuffle shuffle. Eventually, Mandy returned, Sealed the Witch House (Seal #4), and removed 2 Gugs and the Wailing Writher to the Cup. Note: the Writher was our second monster in the whole game…but it was just lost waaaay up at Gardner’s Place, not affecting anyone. (Big N was probably frustrated as hell…and he let us know that shortly.) During all that, Joe needed to be a bit selfish to reestablish his status quo. After a welcome respite in the Asylum to get all that Abyss out of his mind, a Moon Beast had trundled into the Merchant District Streets, offering Joe his last blood drop for his story. I risked it with just a .45 and a Knife (having returned Mandy’s Carbine to her.) I took that molemeat to Carl Sanford, and fulfilled my contract with my Carcosan Page (gonna miss that). Plus $15! $5 went to Lola to buy bullets for her .357 Magnum, and $5 went to Michael for Asylum bills, having spent all his starting cash on that .357. One last stop at the South Church to trade my Gate Trophy for a Blessing. (Tainted, my ruffled trenchcoat.) Nyarlathotep had had just about enough of these stinking bothersome apes all up in his bidness: enter The Terrible Experiment. A Mi-Go, a Shan, a Leng Spider, the Knoph-Keh…and the God of the flippin’ Bloody Tongue! It certainly felt like I was not going to keep that Blessing for very long, so Joe got up from the pews and headed to Miskatonic with a knife and a gun. I left the Mi-Go for anyone else, and started using everything I had to remove other problems. I had little chance against the Tongue, but I could use my Mental Fortitude to completely bypass any real threat of a Shan, suck up the other Horror Checks with zero Will, and dump my Fight into melee with the Overwhelmings. Everything actually went according to plan; obviously I was relying on that Blessing to carry me through. But Joe was done, and booked it back to the Asylum. Another Moon Beast was conjured, and Pizza despises Rumors. So Lola came out of the Hospital at full strength, and dove into the fray. Fight 4, Will 2 (+ a Cross). She played it low-key and simply shrugged off the Mi-Go with just her Derringer…and that bug dropped her the Golden Sword of Y’ha-Talla! (That was the missing link.) Scooping up that blade, she drove it through the Derringer-sized bullet-holes in the Moon Beast’s mass of tentacles it calls a head. Then, leaving nothing behind, she charged at the Bloody Tongue, both guns a-blazing, using both her Passed Story (+1) and her Marksmanship (second roll came up with FIVE Successes!!) to drop that behemoth to the floor! Quickly chanting from the Book of the Dead, she cut off that abomination’s head and dragged it sloppily across campus. (GOD OF THE BLOODY TONGUE TAKEN AS TROPHY!!! IN COMBAT!!!) Eventually, she dropped it in the donation bin at the South Church (with some Deep One Hybrid’s teeth), whispered another passage from the Book of the Dead (BLOODY TONGUE REMOVED FROM THE GAME!!! ) and walked out glowing (Blessed). Most of the Skills gained were never used, but Mandy received a Will Skill, making her just that much more formidable in combat. Then there was a strange lull in the game. A couple of Mythos that did nothing drastic, like removing monsters from the empty Sky/Outskirts or dumping 2 monsters in the Streets within walking distance of an Agoraphobic Michael with an itchy trigger finger. We started bouncing energy off some Gate Seals, giving Mandy some hope that her story might finish in her favor. She had been slowly and quietly completing her Genealogy Research Task—the End of the World is no excuse for not doing your job—which she had acquired for free at a Neighborhood Sale early on and those last Clues at the Historical Society had earned her the Fire of Asshurbanipal. Everyone paid Hypnos their respects. We should have known better. Nyarlathotep was finally fed up, and started forcing Merchant District Surges (both the Unnameable and the Unvisited Isle). On consecutive monster surges, ALL THREE Serpent People entered play at that neighborhood, and remained this Snake Gang that never separated, diminishing our Monster Limit. The Crawling Chaos dropped “Murderer at Large” on us: Doom Track to 9, Terror Track to 3, General Store Closed. Dunwich finally woke up, but at least its monsters had a lousy sense of direction, seeing as how none of them at the Devil’s Hopyard had any eyes (Formless Spawn, two Crawling Ones). It took some time, but eventually all three took the long way out through the Village Commons. (Three…? Uh huh. Nyarlathotep has diabolical TIMING.) Good Work Undone. (Oh, knock it off!) Joe had just totaled 6 Clues at the Science Building, and was the only one who could just wax this Rumor NOW before it festered. But this Rumor still has an element of chance, and I’m sitting on a potential Sixth Seal. So I put it to a group vote. I think not only did we not want to get ABSOLUTELY SCREWED, but we all could have used an easy free Unique Item as a bonus. But then, just to be a jerk, the Bloated Woman blocked the Miskatonic U Streets. That pre-fight Will Check was NOT in my budget, and would have ruined the plan. So Mandy torched her for me, after having just come off of barbecuing a Mi-Go for his Fetch Stick (Magical Flamethrower). Joe convinced her to trade him her Stick, cuz she was already attached to her Sphere and Flamethrower (but you could see the gleeful greed in Shiny’s eyes. “Mine! More!”) Every Unique Item from the Rumor has a quick story: Lola finally got the Seven Books of Hsan, and with Joe’s Glass of Mortlan and Dusty Manuscripts, achieved a marvelously free Voice of Ra on command. Mandy received the De Vermiis Mysteriis, which, after read by Lola, closed the only Gate left in Dunwich, and coincidently shut down any NEW Gate activity in Dunwich for the rest of the game. (There was still CURRENT activity to be dealt with…hold that thought.) Michael got the Zanthu Tablets, which could very well be the lousiest Unique Item for Wings ever. (“FIVE Spells?!”) The following turn, Brown Jenkin came after her, and instead of facing a Rat-Thing at a -1 disadvantage, she just threw the Tablets at him and told him to scram. That’s when “Gossip Runs Wild” Headlined. Both Crawling Ones left this world, bringing out the Dunwich Horror, just before the Mythos Text required its presence to hurt us that much more. The Terror Level went up by FOUR (two Vortexed monsters and +2 on the Mythos Text), hitting 7—TWELVE Allies leaving town on the same bus!!—and Mandy failed her story, completely canceling out her hard-earned Fire of Asshurbanipal. Nicely played, Nephren-Ka. But you gave us an out: during the next turn while Clues were tradeable, Lola passed Mandy all of hers (in exchange for the De Vermiis), and that had both Michael and Mandy prepped for a Seal. Wings went into defense mode, and suggested everyone get Blessed. But the Merchant District was clear of monsters (besides the barely-heard Forked Tongue Trio hissing in the bushes) after Joe Fetch-Sticked a Mummy. So I said go for broke: each of the girls pick a Gate and try to end this swiftly. Even then, the Father of Bats had one last hole card: the Gates were to either R’lyeh or Lost Carcosa. Not to worry: though Michael got delayed, and the Doom Track was one away from complete catastrophe—neither Joe nor Lola had ANY Clues—Mandy was able to thread the non-Euclidean needle of R’lyeh, and Magic Cat one last time for Seal #6. I totally forgot to score the game, but even with Big N minus Terror being 4, we were sitting on a LOT of trophies by the end, of both kinds. My conservative estimate would put us somewhere in the high teens, 17 or 18. Not too shabby for Shiny’s maiden voyage. Shiny thoroughly enjoyed the game, Mandy, and the camaraderie, so welcome to the Carnival, new girl! (Obviously we have to play against GLAAKI next time.) Once Zebra remembers his name and home dimension, we’ll try to pull some 5-player games…give Wings all sorts of meat in the streets to steamroll. (Aaaah…that felt good.)
  5. I love Horror Movies. I didn't always, spooked the crap outta me as a kid, but after searing a few Nightmare of Elm Streets into my brain, I finally figured out the point (for me at least). So now I can watch what is currently affectionately known as "gore porn", where the blood and ichor piles up like sandbags, and giggle my demented head off. But then, over here, comes this movie series called Paranormal Activity. What is that? Shadows in a suburban house. Random knocks. White noise for a soundtrack. So then I go home and the darkness of my OWN BEDROOM freaks me out?! Not quite off topic, but perhaps barely tangent to it.
  6. The Top 5 Unvisited Locations (that aren't Islands) in Arkham Horror: (5) Harney Jones' Shack - Only visited if someone in Dunwich is too hurt (or too broke) to trek to Arkham, but not hurt enough for a free trip to the Hospital/Asylum. (4) The Kingsport Head - I realize that's three separate locations, but they are all equally undesirable. The only time anyone ever visits the white Kingsport neighborhood is when they get tossed up there involuntarily by cards. (3) Darke's Carnival - Only visited in extremely rare occasions as a resting place, and someone is tired of the Bishop's Brook Bridge. (2) Dunwich Village - See Darke's Carnival. This one is simply less attractive as a resting place because Investigators in Dunwich never seem to have $4, but they often have $1. And the least visited Location in Arkham: (1) River Docks - No one EVER uses their trophies for cash (not even to quash a Rumor). If you need a safe place to stop, all the adjacent neighborboods have better sanctuaries (Library, General Store, Newspaper, etc.); if someone's too slow to get to anywhere but the Docks, they just stay in the safe place they're already in, and get someone else to move faster. Only Silas ever uses the River Docks to get the hell out of Innsmouth, and more often than not, he goes to the Island for a Clue.
  7. Another keep-in-minder: I've been playing since 2006, and rarely have I ever needed more than 12 dice on any single roll. Conveniently, most gaming stores/sites sell small blocks of 12 Chessex dice for cheap. I've put six of these 12-setters in my boxes so all my Cult members get a choice of their own dice...but I'm a dice enthusiast.
  8. Now tell him how the Shotgun still rolls double-success sixes against a Physically Immune Monster, and watch his head explode.
  9. It usually depends on the particulars of each game. The Deputy will always make money, and sometimes it's way easier to get out to another board with the Patrol Wagon. (Plus, fun!) But maybe it's too little of a commodity in the mid-to-late game when you can actually afford it. Unless you're playing Tommy: he almost always becomes Deputy.
  10. I'm a steadfast "1-big-1-small" player. Having a good deal of experience with Chaosium's RPG back in school, I came in from the role-playing side as opposed to the boardgaming one. As such, the stories/encounters/lore is a priority for me and the rest of my gaming Cult. After the expansions started piling on, the chaotic mixing of all of them diminished the stories of each of them. The gameplay doesn't suffer too much, but the cohesiveness of the tale does. So I keep my sessions modular and rotate each satellite town in turn: D-K-I-repeat. Well experienced with the 1-1, I can say that any Small mixes fine with any Big, usually. Dunwich perfectly complements with anything; go nuts, it will always perform. Innsmouth is about the same, but there are no Gate Bursts in Innsmouth that hit the Arkham Board. Generally not a big deal, as the statisticians will explain, but I will always add Lurker's Mythos cards to Innsmouth's, because it has Gate Bursts that don't require any other board in play but Arkham. Beyond that, go nuts. As Julia says, Kingsport is a different beast: being Gateless, it benefits better if mixed with the strongest of the Smalls, Dark Pharaoh or King in Yellow. That usually keeps Arkham hopping more than enough. But that's just me. If you follow your excellent plan of chronological collection, you'll figure out what you like soon enough.
  11. I would say get Miskatonic early if it's the ONLY option you have to expand your game. Miskatonic was developed more for the "all expansions at once" players to fend off the ungodly amounts of expansion dilution by that point. To that end, it was developed with the Arkham veteran in mind; at the very least, a player well familiar with Innsmouth, the Death Star of Arkham. As Julia says...brutal. Now it could be you're one of the Arkham masochists, and wish the pain to be brought, but it could also be you just don't yet know what kind of AH player you're going to be. For the latter, Miskatonic just isn't a good idea too early in game-building. (Plus, on an economic scale, why spend the same money wad on a big box if you can't even use more than HALF of the contents??) Dark Pharaoh is a fantastic expansion; by all means, get that. But your first big box really ought to be Dunwich if you can help it. After that, the next 3-4 expansions are usually determined by which player camp to which you relate. There should be at least one expansion between Dunwich and Innsmouth, and only after Innsmouth should Miskatonic be pursued.
  12. I've been out of dimension for a loooong time, and I finally found my way back to this side of the Gate. And now my workplace is blocking this forum--Games-related, dammit--and I only see a handful of names I recognize. So this is for everyone, but maybe more for the newer forumites, just to get a new pulse on the community: (1) Have you found a favorite Investigator yet? Who and why? (2) Have you discovered that a particular Ancient One has emerged as your personal arch-nemesis? (Since this game is alive, it eventually chooses one to keep you humble.) Darrell the Photographer was my favorite forever, because he had decent stats and starting equipment, and I loved farming out Encounters. But over time and numerous expansions--not to mention Darrell's abhorrent Personal Story--I think Roland the Fed has never steered me wrong. Even though he's the one responsible for ending Clue Acquisition during Final Battles (because Tibs could never let go of the Nyarlathotep Infinite Protection Loop ), he's got great stats, good equipment (free Ally!), and one of the most welcome Special Abilities of the whole pool. Ever since he showed up, Glaaki has hated me, and never lets me forget it. Once you have Dunwich and King in Yellow, it becomes very rare that anyone can prevent the Terror Track from moving completely, and sometimes it only takes one well-timed Servant to start the item-vaporization avalanche. Glaaki always seems to be able to steal away my Clues and/or Elder Signs just before I return to Arkham, remove all my weapons while I'm surrounded by Shoggoths and Gugs, and find a way to get the Terrible Experiment out EVERY TIME to threaten Fear Cascade Game Singularity Collapse. Hard to save the world when all you have is a broken toothpick in your coat. Anyone else want to chime in?
  13. THE MEATLOAF IS MADE FROM MI-GO!!! MIIIIII-GOOOOO!!!
  14. 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.
  15. Thanks guys. Still not completely back, like a Yog cultist, but gimme a few months and I'll materialize fully corporeal.