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jlhorner1974

First Impressions

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Wow, it feels like this is the game that Elder Sign always wanted itself to be. Love the new mechanics. Having the adventures be face down and also having effects to buy things or restore health/sanity on the backs adds a lot of strategy. Do I take the chance or the sure thing? The new mythos are much nastier, as they should be. The events are really a truly random mix of things good and bad, which add to the unpredictability. Somehow the difficulty seemed to be about right. Tough, but not impossible. Man, though, the mythos can really pound on you when you're down now. I had a case when an investigator was devoured which added a doom token, which opened a gate; an effect from the previous mythos triggered, a new mythos effect added doom tokens, which opened another gate.. it was diabolical. I also love how the adventures were themed to the Arkham locations as well. It's also nice that there is a wide variety of difficulty present in the adventures. Some are a cakewalk. Some are f**king impossible! Allies are more common now, which is nice. Like the skills - they are needed to combat the increase difficulty. Also *really* love the items that can be used to help others so the game feels a bit more cooperative - why weren't there more of these from the beginning? Only thing I didn't like is when all three Gates are placed in Arkham and there are still unsealed Arkham adventures, another gate opening only adds a monster. This seems too generous. I would have expected a doom token instead. I don't mind that this game took the series in a new direction. I loved the original Elder Sign and this is even better. I'm already excited about new Streets of Arkham style expansions.

First game: Yibb-Tstll against Jenny, Jim, Amanda, and Skids. Steadily progressed. Got on a good run and got a number of Elder Signs and items, but Doom Track filled up steadily too. Thankfully a number of chances to retreat doom kept things under control. Still, the events wreaked havoc and the higher failure rate of adventures was apparent. Not enough to be frustrating, but definitely noticeable. Eventually got the final Elder Signs I needed to put the ancient one away. Without several chances to retreat doom, Yibb-Tstll might have woken up. Result: Victory by Elder Signs at 7 doom.

Second game: Ghatanothoa against same team. This time the mythos was furious and out for revenge. It started out ugly and got worse. Got FIVE red cards for the initial draw. Failed a couple of adventures early. Green die locked straightaway. Finally cleared it but the red die got locked and yellow doubly locked soon after. Gates opening everywhere - started looking like Yog Sothoth's back yard. After the initial items were used up couldn't really get any more. Jim headed to a face down other world to try to close and it turned out to be the Great Temple. He failed and midnight came up so he was devoured. Clawed my way to a couple of Elder Signs but a mythos forced me to lose two them or pay a hefty price. Monsters popped out. Never did manage to close any Gates so never faced the ancient one's deathly visage. Two more investigators devoured after losing health and going insane. Ghatanothoa awoke with only *1* Elder Sign collected. Fortunately this was just after someone was devoured so they had fresh items, and the previous mythos effect gave everyone an item. Most investigators had a clue or two also as rewards for completing easy adventures last turn - I had abandoned a seal victory given 1 Elder Sign showing and the doom track almost full with 2 more doom tokens coming at midnight. Final battle time. With the way the mythos had been screwing me over, I feared defeat was looming since I can't even focus during the final battle. Amazingly, after a game of abysmal dice rolling and brutal mythos effects, karma had had enough and was pissed. Suddenly everyone got red hot at just the right time. Ghatanothoa needed a peril + terror as his task. Amanda was up first with all eight dice, and she rolled the task three times! Finn was up next and he had a Sword of Glory. With a clue and eight dice he ripped another three doom tokens off the ancient one. Jenny was up next, discarded a common to get all eight dice, and she completed the task twice. One to go. Trish had a red die and a clue, but she didn't need either because she got what she needed in one roll. After some absolutely unholy dice rolling, Ghatanothoa was out for the count. What an amazing finish! Result: Victory by final combat

Edited by jlhorner1974

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Brilliant report, Jason, so happy you're enjoying the game!

 

Random stuff:

 

- three gates on the board, why not adding a doomer? It'd be too punishing when playing with the more difficult AOs coming with the expansion; the doom to elder sign ratio for this expansion is one of the parameter certainly carefully investigated during the testing windows, and altering this could have resulted in the game being über-brutal

 

- nice that you saw some chaining of bad stuff in action; I think these interactions hould remove the "ok, I won, now let's just admin the resources - YAWN" problem, forcing you to take only meaningful actions

 

- Ghat is rather easy in final battle! Good that you won :)

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Brilliant report, Jason, so happy you're enjoying the game!

 

Random stuff:

 

- three gates on the board, why not adding a doomer? It'd be too punishing when playing with the more difficult AOs coming with the expansion; the doom to elder sign ratio for this expansion is one of the parameter certainly carefully investigated during the testing windows, and altering this could have resulted in the game being über-brutal

 

- nice that you saw some chaining of bad stuff in action; I think these interactions hould remove the "ok, I won, now let's just admin the resources - YAWN" problem, forcing you to take only meaningful actions

 

- Ghat is rather easy in final battle! Good that you won :)

I see your point - I should have thought of that. My first thought was that just a monster just seemed uncharacteristically "nice" for the mythos. I witnessed how screwed you are with three gates open. You are denied access to three adventures and other than a lucky spell draw, the only way to free one up is to beat an otherworld adventure that is likely to be tough. One other thing I saw was that starting out, if you get a brutal adventure card draw and you fail the first few adventures, you could get in an enormous hole early, and it could be almost impossible to recover. There is no free healing or lost and found anymore either. You need to have trophies to power the location abilities and if you can't get any, you are in a bad place. Fortunately this should be rare.

I agree. I think that the mythos has to have a way to "turn the tide" and chain a bunch of awful stuff together so that the game result is not a foregone conclusion if you get comfortably ahead. I can only imagine how fun it must have been to get that right. I could see how delicate of a balancing act that must have been. There is no doubt that the mythos can chain some bad effects together and lay a serious beatdown on you. I think it's quite possible to get four or more doomers, a couple of Gates open, and some monsters all pop out from resolving one midnight. And that's possible *without* having any midnight effects on adventures. I need a few more games to be sure, but it looks so far that the balance is just right.

I can see that Ghatanothoa is supposed to be easy in the final battle, but that is assuming that you don't roll complete and utter crap. :) On average, each person will survive 6 rounds before buying it, but the gotcha, of course is if someone buys it early, the battle goes downhill fast. I decided to see what would have happened if Ghatanothoa survived the first round. He would have devoured two investigators. Apparently my karma boost lasted *just* long enough. :P

Fantasy Flight, if you are listening to this, please *please* some more Gates of Arkham style expansions. Just take my money now. :D

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Many good points scored here :) (and nice way to reflect on the game) When we look at the general balance (Arkham Adventures + gates + monsters) we should consider different eventualities. Like an Adventure locking a die where a gate is opened. A gate possibly leaving somewhere nasty, like the City of Gugs or Unknown Kadath. This simple combo (not so unlikely to happen) can cost you the game, or at least some resources, and you need to consider that investigators can be in need of some rounds to clear everything out and unlock the die. Monsters can make this even harder. For this reason - I think - there's a cap to the max number of gates in play (3 adventures are always gate free unless you play with Shudde - good luck with that!), and there's no additional doom penalty. The monster as additional penalty could be not so gentle, especially if you draw one of the monsters coming with GoA. Nightgaunts can mess up the board even further, the Dhole will grant you extra doom in any case, and so on. You're right when you say that being the Mythos generally cruel, it'd have been thematic that the penalty had been something stronger; but you could also consider this: when three gates are open, the end of the world is achieved at 95%, so that all additional complications are relatively smaller scale when compared with the existing Mythos activities. It's just like staying suddenly 3 miles away from the center of a tornado: indeed, you can say "my roof is still there", but possibly it's not the moment to be relieved. You're 100% right when you say that recovering is difficult and that there is no easy way to auto-heal. There are mechanics in the game allowing you to heal and so on, but the key point here is really resource management: in ES core game, you simply stockpiled trophies to buy ES and win the game; in UF you did the same to buy Blessings; here you desperately need to figure out what to do with each of the trophies you possess. Thanks for the note on balance. Curious to read your thoughts after some more plays. Allow me to be a little picky on Ghat's FB, tho: you're right, on average each person will survive 6 rounds, but the problem is that you need to consider the entire check pool. Let me explain this better. Let's say you play 4 investigators (which is what most people do). The odds for each investigator to be devoured are 1/6. But the cumulate odds that no one investigator is devoured after the first round of attacks are: (1-1/6)^4=48% This means that in more than half of the cases, one investigator dies at the end of combat round 1, Ghat regenerates 1 doom token due to the devouring and you keep going. In the end, it could not result being so easy. Sure, if you have a well stocked party, then you should nuke enough doomers during the first turn to win, but nonetheless the battle should be more difficult.

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Yes, I didn't calculate the probability of everyone surviving the first round (I should have), though I did allude to the fact that anyone dying is a devastating blow. Ghatanothoa has an interesting distinction of being able to devour multiple investigators instantly, even at full health. - very few other AOs have this ability. So the battle with him is very swingy. If you can pile on the hurt early, it can be a piece of cake if you can mortally wound him before he can fight back. Interestingly, neither current or maximum heaFacehave any effect on the battle. Let's face it, I got very lucky knocking off nine doom tokens in one round. If you don't get a fast start, you could be in trouble if you are good at rolling terrors. Question: I wonder, do any of the items that let you change terrors to something else work in the final battle with him? Some of the wording on some of them imply that they may work.

Another thought. How balanced are the existing AOs with the Gates of Arkham mode? Being less likely to open Gates, they should be a bit easier in some cases - though Shudde is a beast as you said. If some adjustments are needed, it would seem easy to create new versions of the AO cards with minimal effort, replacing some doom track spaces with gate openings. It would be sweet to have updated versions of all the original AOs for more variety.

 

Some more interesting timing questions and observations:

 

If the Dhole is covering the final task on a card and you kill it, but this token fills the doom track, does the adventure succeed and do you get the rewards before the final battle? My interpretation is no, that paying the cost of the doom token is needed to complete the task, and even though you did it the ancient one awakens as the task completes -- the adventure completion check has not happened yet and the AO wakes up before it can resolve.

 

Similar situation:  An event adds 2 doom tokens if an adventure is completed, and this fills the doom track.  I suspect this time, that all of the adventure complete effects trigger and you get your rewards before the AO awakens, because you can choose the order that the adventure completion effects are resolved, right?  This gets even more interesting if this was at an otherworld adventure and Ghatanothoa is the ancient one.  Can you get the reward for completing, take the 2 doom, and then awaken the ancient one so you spare yourself the roll for Ghatanothoa's gaze for completing the otherworld adventure, because the AO awakening interrupts everything else and prevents it from resolving?

 

Midnight effects:  If you advance the clock during your movement phase (for example, to get a skill), midnight effects still do not happen until the end of your turn, right?  And if you pass midnight twice or more as a result, all of the midnight effects happen in a batch at the end of your turn right? Resolve the first midhnight effect, then add doom tokens each subsequent time midnight was reached.

 

Foresee is a lot more powerful now, being able to get free peeks a the back of the cards and ditching one you don't like.

 

The event that opens a gate and moves you to it -- does this trump the mythos effect that prevents you from moving to otherworld adventures for the day?  Someone asked this on BGG.

 

Cheers,

Jason

Edited by jlhorner1974

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Many good points scored here :) (and nice way to reflect on the game) When we look at the general balance (Arkham Adventures + gates + monsters) we should consider different eventualities. Like an Adventure locking a die where a gate is opened. A gate possibly leaving somewhere nasty, like the City of Gugs or Unknown Kadath. This simple combo (not so unlikely to happen) can cost you the game, or at least some resources, and you need to consider that investigators can be in need of some rounds to clear everything out and unlock the die. Monsters can make this even harder. For this reason - I think - there's a cap to the max number of gates in play (3 adventures are always gate free unless you play with Shudde - good luck with that!), and there's no additional doom penalty. The monster as additional penalty could be not so gentle, especially if you draw one of the monsters coming with GoA. Nightgaunts can mess up the board even further, the Dhole will grant you extra doom in any case, and so on. You're right when you say that being the Mythos generally cruel, it'd have been thematic that the penalty had been something stronger; but you could also consider this: when three gates are open, the end of the world is achieved at 95%, so that all additional complications are relatively smaller scale when compared with the existing Mythos activities. It's just like staying suddenly 3 miles away from the center of a tornado: indeed, you can say "my roof is still there", but possibly it's not the moment to be relieved. You're 100% right when you say that recovering is difficult and that there is no easy way to auto-heal. There are mechanics in the game allowing you to heal and so on, but the key point here is really resource management: in ES core game, you simply stockpiled trophies to buy ES and win the game; in UF you did the same to buy Blessings; here you desperately need to figure out what to do with each of the trophies you possess. Thanks for the note on balance. Curious to read your thoughts after some more plays. Allow me to be a little picky on Ghat's FB, tho: you're right, on average each person will survive 6 rounds, but the problem is that you need to consider the entire check pool. Let me explain this better. Let's say you play 4 investigators (which is what most people do). The odds for each investigator to be devoured are 1/6. But the cumulate odds that no one investigator is devoured after the first round of attacks are: (1-1/6)^4=48% This means that in more than half of the cases, one investigator dies at the end of combat round 1, Ghat regenerates 1 doom token due to the devouring and you keep going. In the end, it could not result being so easy. Sure, if you have a well stocked party, then you should nuke enough doomers during the first turn to win, but nonetheless the battle should be more difficult.

 

I had to chuckle a bit here.  When you say.. "When we look at the general  balance... we should consider several eventualities..."  I see you as a professor standing up in front of the room of an Elder Sign lecture, with a stick, pointing at a chart.  Hee hee!

 

No offense intended toward the real professor, Professor. :)

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Elder Sign is getting the Love it deserves!

Totally agree. I loved the original game but this expansion fixes most of the things I didn't like about it. Gates of Arkham plays like a much different, much more strategic game.

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Some quick answers:

 

- rerolling due to items on Ghat's attack: I should check the wording on the cards. Can you provide a couple of examples?

 

- old AO vs GoA: the core of the expansion is represented by the new Adventure deck, and the increased difficulty of OWs and monsters so that the additional "gate icon" on the doom track could not be needed to provide the game to be difficult. I played several games against the "old AOs" and always had a good challenge (and lost consistently)

 

- Dhole: yup, I think you're right. Rewards and Penalties are awarded after the adventure is successfully completed / failed; in order to complete an Adventure, all tasks are to be passed; since you need to add a doomer to pass the Dhole, the doomer is propedeutic for the task to be passed, hence the AO wakes up before you score the adventure

 

- also yes to the similar situation, it seems correct to me

 

- midnight's a mess. LOL

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Some quick answers:

 

- rerolling due to items on Ghat's attack: I should check the wording on the cards. Can you provide a couple of examples?

 

- old AO vs GoA: the core of the expansion is represented by the new Adventure deck, and the increased difficulty of OWs and monsters so that the additional "gate icon" on the doom track could not be needed to provide the game to be difficult. I played several games against the "old AOs" and always had a good challenge (and lost consistently)

 

- Dhole: yup, I think you're right. Rewards and Penalties are awarded after the adventure is successfully completed / failed; in order to complete an Adventure, all tasks are to be passed; since you need to add a doomer to pass the Dhole, the doomer is propedeutic for the task to be passed, hence the AO wakes up before you score the adventure

 

- also yes to the similar situation, it seems correct to me

 

- midnight's a mess. LOL

 

Things that might work against Ghat:

 

Should work against Ghat's in-game power, but not final battle (because when Ghat attacks, it isn't any investigator's turn):

 

Reach of the Mind (spell): Discard during another investigator's turn to allow him to reroll any number of dice.

Occult Knowledge (skill): Once during your turn, you may change a terror result to a lore result.  Discard during any investigator's turn to change all terror results to lore results. 

Hermetic Text (unique): After a roll, discard to change a die to a lore result. You may use this item on any investigator's turn.

Silver Lance (unique): After a roll, discard to change a die to a peril result. You may use this item on any investigator's turn.

 
Things that might work during the final battle:
 

Voice of Ra (spell): After rolling, discard to change 1 die to the result of your choice.

Shotgun (common): After rolling, discard to change 1 die to a peril result.

Blue Watcher of the Pyramid (unique): After a roll, discard to change 1 die to a lore result.

 

Things that probably don't work:

 

Bravery (skill): Once during your turn, you may ignore 1 terror effect.  Discard during any investigator's turn to fully regain your sanity. [Ghat's gaze is not a terror effect.]

 

It depends on whether rolling the dice to resolve Ghatanathoa's visage counts as a "roll".  If it does, most of the above should work for the in-game power, at least.  Reach of the mind and Occult Knowledge might work even if the others don't because they don't reference rolling specifically.  The one-time effects are not *as* bad as the skill, but all of them can drastically reduce the effects of Ghatanothoa's visage.  An investigator with Occult Knowledge would be largely immune to Ghat's in-game power (but it would not help against the final battle). Still, an investigator with some of these one-use items to modify terror results could hold out quite a while in the final battle.

 

As for midnight, "mess" might be a bit strong.  I haven't seen anything *yet* that outright breaks the existing rules, but is is true that there are a lot more effects now that mess around with timing and midnight, and they can interact in more complex and interesting ways than before.

Edited by jlhorner1974

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I think the point should be that Ghat's attack does not happen during any investigator's turn, so that any clause saying "during your turn" or similar are not effective against his FB power.

 

(good examples, tho)

 

As for the mess... it stems from when you decide which "at Midnight" effect you have to resolve first. Let's say you have one on the AO, one on the back of an adventure card, one on the Mythos: which goes first?

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As for the "roll" thing for the visage ability... I'd not consider that "a roll", so you can't be protected by Occult Knowledge, but I need to check the rules (it's a while since we ended the testing, and I've not played any ES since that time, so, need to refresh and re-think about that)

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I take it back, you are right. Midnight is a mess, because there are no rules that state what order midnight effects are resolved in. It actually made a slight difference before (with Abhoth and a mythos effect that adds monsters, which you resolve first will help determine where the monsters go). With more midnight effects and more lingering effects, the order you resolve the effects in makes an even bigger difference now. Atlach Nacha is the really problematic one since he adds a doom token at midnight if there are 3 or more open gates. If you have a mythos effect that opens a gate or places a doom token that opens a gate, the order matters. It could mean the difference between the ancient one waking up or not.

I rechecked the rules and FAQ and there is one section that gives a partial list of how to resolve midnight effects:

 

1) Resolve effects on cards in play, including adventure cards and other world cards , as well as all "The next time the clock strikes midnight..." 

 

2) Draw a mythos card and resolve its immediate effects

 

3) Repenish once per day abilities

 

Nothing mentioned about the order in which to resolve the effects in step 1, but I want to say I remember people saying to take the text in step 1 literally: Adventures first, Otherworld cards. :ingering mythos effects.  Nothing is mentioned about Ancient One effects. 

 

I see only two possibilities here. Either the game has to define an order in which the effects are resolved, a la Eldritch Horror, or the investigators get to choose the order.

For midnight effects, a defined order only has to account for the ancient one, adventures in play, and mythos effects - I think that's it. Be glad those annoying wolves from the Ithaqua campaign in Elder Sign: Omens are not in the tabletop version.

For task and adventure resolution, there are monsters, the ancient one, events, assigning of rewards and penalties, effects on the adventure itself, effects that trigger off of doom tokens being placed. Having a deterministic rule for all of that might be challenging.

Edited by jlhorner1974

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Upsie, forgot to answer to this point of yours:

 

The event that opens a gate and moves you to it -- does this trump the mythos effect that prevents you from moving to otherworld adventures for the day?  Someone asked this on BGG.

 

I answered this question at BGG too. Read the Mythos card as if the movement restriction applies during the Movement Phase, not the Resolution Phase, hence Events stomp on Mythos effects (happened a similar issue during the testing with Lost in the Rambles + another card, and the designer gave us this answer)

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As for the order in which Midnight effects are to be resolved,

I've been playing so far in this way:

 

1. Resolve all "At Midnight" effects on all cards currently in play.
a. "At Midnight" Effects on the Ancient One.
b. "At Midnight" Effects on monsters.
c. "At Midnight" Effects on Adventure cards and Other World cards.
d. "At Midnight" Effects on other cards.
e. "The next time the clock strikes midnight..." effects on Mythos cads.
2. Draw one new Mythos card...

 

but this is just a rough scheme I use just to know what to do when in doubt. No official words so far, so, I think the best it's if you define a protocol, and simply follow it every time you play

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Hey all, thanks for your impressions.

I read Skids' ability but it doesn't make sense to me:

Once during his turn, after rolling dice, Skids may reroll all dice showing a result of his choice.

How can you "show a result of your choice" if you're rolling them randomly??

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Hey all, thanks for your impressions.

I read Skids' ability but it doesn't make sense to me:

Once during his turn, after rolling dice, Skids may reroll all dice showing a result of his choice.

How can you "show a result of your choice" if you're rolling them randomly??

After rolling, look at the dice and name a result (for example,you can pick "terror" or "1 investigation"). You then get to reroll all the dice that are showing that result. It usually ends up letting you reroll a die or two,but can be a lot more if you rolled a lot of the same symbol you don't want. The choice of symbol provides some flexibility. For example, if you are trying to get Two terror + a lore but you rolled two terror, two peril, and a 2 investigation. You can choose to reroll both peril to try to get the last lore you need.

Strategy: Because of the way his ability works, it is most powerful on your first couple of rolls when there are a lot of dice in your pool. If you roll four 1 investigation on your first roll and none of the tasks on the adventure need investigation results, that is a great time to use Skids's ability to reroll all four of those dice.

Edited by jlhorner1974

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