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Varnias Tybalt

Isolating which expansion I need...

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Hello everyone.

So I've played the vanilla version of Arkham Horror a few times with my friends now (although not nearly with as good interval as might have been needed because every time we've needed to re-familiarize ourselves with the play setup and the rules and such, but what the hell, it's a big game).

It's time to take it to the next level, and im eyeing some of the expansions for AH. However, I want to get something in particular as the first expansion, namely something that really ramps up the game difficulty.

So far we have never "lost" the game, nor have we ever experienced that the Ancient One awakens (though it has been close a couple of times), and I have to admit that Yog-Sothoth could be quite a b*tch due to his insatiable appetite for investigators that become lost in time and space, but to be frank I find the game to be a little too "easy".

So I'd like an expansion that adds some serious difficulty to the game and that puts more emphasis on cooperation between the investigators to win. Because so far we've managed to beat the game every time and most of the time we're not planning or cooperating at all, just running around the board and running our own race (gathering money, trying to find cool weapons and magic items, beating monsters etc. etc.). It seems to be going against the mood of the game when you can basically ignore cooperation altogether and still win without even being close to let the ancient one to awaken.

So which expansion would be best to get if you want to add more difficulty to the game? While I am sort of tempted to get one that use an entirely new board (I have a particular eye for the Innsmouth expansion), I'd prefer if I could get just one of the smaller expansions first and still achieve the desired effect (i.e start to expand the game in baby steps).

So if you could break it down for me, and present some pro's and con's of certain expansions (including stuff like how ardous certain expansions are to use when it comes to flicking through the rules and setting it all up as well as game play aspects) it would be very helpful.

Cheers everyone. happy.gif

 

//VT

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Some thoughts on the increased difficulty of each expansion:

Curse of the Dark Pharaoh (small box) makes the base game a bit more difficult, mainly due to the dual-colored Gate cards, but it also adds some of the strongest Allies to the game, so the net gain is rather close to zero. Thus, I wouldn't really recommend it.

Dunwich Horror (large box) adds the Dunwich board with all its unstable locations, which alone makes the game much harder. There are also some rather tough monsters, not to mention the son of Yog-Sothoth himself. On the other hand, the new Investigators are slightly stronger than the ones of the base game, and there are many useful items and skills to help against the new Ancient Ones. Overall, I'd say Dunwich makes the game clearly harder, but not by too much for beginners.

The King in Yellow (small box) expansion by itself doesn't affect the difficulty much, but the included Herald has some nasty tricks in its tattered sleeves, making the lives of the Investigators a bit harder. Recommended.

Kingsport Horror (large box) adds elements that make the game both harder (rifts, Heralds and very powerful Ancient Ones) and easier (Guardians, over-powered Investigators). The Kingsport board doesn't have any unstable locations, so it doesn't really affect the difficulty, but some of the new monsters are quite nasty. The greatest advantage Kingsport has is the Epic Battle cards, which make the Final Battle more difficult; so, if you find your Investigators beating the Ancient Ones in the Final Battle too often, get Kingsport. However, until that happens, don't bother.

Black Goat of the Woods (small box) has a very nasty Herald, but other than that I can't say much about the expansion. Not really recommended before you've got some of the others.

Innsmouth Horror (large box) ramps up the difficulty by ridiculous amounts: the new Ancient Ones are all very powerful, there's a zillion ways to get your Investigators devoured (which is not always that bad, though) and the Innsmouth board itself is straight from a Lovecraftian nightmare. The new Investigators are strong and the Personal Stories boost some of the old ones, but that does little to offset the huge leap in difficulty. Recommended only if you find yourself waltzing through the other expansions, or if you have masochistic tendencies.

To sum it up, I recommend you get either Dunwich Horror or The King in Yellow; the former is better, the latter cheaper.

-Villain

 

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I'd go for the expansions more or less in order if I were you. I really like the Curse of the Dark Pharaoh theme but if you don't, and want a small box, then I'd definitely recommend The King in Yellow. The latter not only makes things more difficult, but also has the added advantage of employing the (up until then) underused Terror Track.

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 Agreed...  Go Dunwich.  It's a good difficulty boost.  And just playing that and the base game can be much more difficult (you can't just sit on your ass while the gate limit almost never breaks, and the doom track never breaks).  I think the base game is very dull if you have any idea how to manipulate it.  The fact that I've beaten it a few times with only one investigator says really everything that needs to be said...

Personally, I'd look at the small expansions as optional and the large expansions as mandatory.  Granted :') I do own everything, but I think that you get much better value from the large expansions (ironically).  The small expansions all have major dilution problems (which I've tried to fix to some degree with my custom heralds— but they're problematic by themselves).

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Avi_dreader said:

  The small expansions all have major dilution problems (which I've tried to fix to some degree with my custom heralds— but they're problematic by themselves).

 

All the expansions have major dilution problems except Kingsport and even including Innsmouth. So one expansion is all you'll ever need!  Dunwich is the most complete but Innsmouth is the most perfect and dangerous.

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Avi_dreader said:

 I think the base game is very dull if you have any idea how to manipulate it.  The fact that I've beaten it a few times with only one investigator says really everything that needs to be said...

Oh yes.

I noticed a few useful trick to pull in the base game. For instance I always go and take a bank loan the first round, and then start to buy useful weapons and items, then I usually go and beat some monsters and closing some gates, and once that is done it's off to Arkham Police Station to trade in the monster trophies or gate tokens to become a deputy. Suddenly I get a car which allows me to go wherever I go regardless of my Speed value, and as for the bank loan interest I will half of the time not have to bother because interest payments only occur at dice rolls of 1-3 so for a few turns I'll easily earn back all the money loaned.

This tactic tend to work regardless of which investigator you play with, and it gives you a ridiculous upper hand against the monsters and gates that pop up as long as you play smart.

Anyhow, Dunwich seems to be the expansion im looking for. Also boardgame geek seems to praise the addition of injury cards that you can take instead of becoming hospitalized once you lose all stamina, which seems like a nifty mechanic.

Once I have the necessary funds I think I'll try out Dunwich first, and then maybe get the Innsmouth expansion (I just love innsmouth since I got extremely hooked on the stories about the cursed fishing town and the FPS game Dark Corners of the Earth)

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mageith said:

Avi_dreader said:

  The small expansions all have major dilution problems (which I've tried to fix to some degree with my custom heralds— but they're problematic by themselves).

 

All the expansions have major dilution problems except Kingsport and even including Innsmouth. So one expansion is all you'll ever need!  Dunwich is the most complete but Innsmouth is the most perfect and dangerous.

 

Ehhh....  The big box expansions are still useful when diluted, but honestly, once CotDP or KiY are diluted, how often do you feel their effects?  I have *never* lost a game from act cards.  Ever.  And yes, I always let them come out.  With CotDP you sometimes get cool allies (and the wonderful Ancient One other world encounters), but how often do you see the Exhibit item deck.  Black Goat of the Woods is...  Blah.  It doesn't function properly even if you only play it with the base game (although I think it's pretty fun with one of my custom heralds).

::Shrug::  yeah, Innsmouth and Dunwich dilute, but not in the same way.  You still have the hazard of getting gate spammed.  Sometimes it can be even worse (if you get a round of bad luck Innsmouth and Dunwich together can really blitz you).  Plus the monsters, the sweet sweet monsters, and basic game components like madness/injury, epic battles, personal stories, and investigators/ancient ones (they just add to the party).

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Varnias Tybalt said:

 

Avi_dreader said:

 

 I think the base game is very dull if you have any idea how to manipulate it.  The fact that I've beaten it a few times with only one investigator says really everything that needs to be said...

 

 

Oh yes.

I noticed a few useful trick to pull in the base game. For instance I always go and take a bank loan the first round, and then start to buy useful weapons and items, then I usually go and beat some monsters and closing some gates, and once that is done it's off to Arkham Police Station to trade in the monster trophies or gate tokens to become a deputy. Suddenly I get a car which allows me to go wherever I go regardless of my Speed value, and as for the bank loan interest I will half of the time not have to bother because interest payments only occur at dice rolls of 1-3 so for a few turns I'll easily earn back all the money loaned.

This tactic tend to work regardless of which investigator you play with, and it gives you a ridiculous upper hand against the monsters and gates that pop up as long as you play smart.

Anyhow, Dunwich seems to be the expansion im looking for. Also boardgame geek seems to praise the addition of injury cards that you can take instead of becoming hospitalized once you lose all stamina, which seems like a nifty mechanic.

Once I have the necessary funds I think I'll try out Dunwich first, and then maybe get the Innsmouth expansion (I just love innsmouth since I got extremely hooked on the stories about the cursed fishing town and the FPS game Dark Corners of the Earth)

 

 

Heh...  If you *really* want to abuse the system, money launder.  Deliberately take out loans, trade away all your items and equipment, and try to default asap.  Although you probably won't feel any temptation to do this until the game becomes really abusive.  Resist temptation!  No.  Don't!  No.  Wait...  Agh!

 

I think getting Dunwich and Innsmouth is probably a good idea...  If I were buying all the games now (from scratch) on a limited budget, I'd get Dunwich First, then Innsmouth, then finally Kingsport (and I'd get the small expansions as fun little supplements whenever I had spare cash).  I complain about Kingsport a lot (and to be honest, I haven't even been using its board lately), but Epic Battles are great fun, and the extra monsters, investigators, and ancient ones are also much fun.

If price is an issue, I suggest you listen to Villain and just get KiY.  I think the extra investment for Dunwich would be worth it though...  There's really *a lot* more components, and the base game and Dunwich alone can be fairly tough.  Especially if you use heralds :')

 

re: Injury and Madness

I think they're *very* fun.  And colorful.  There's two problems with them though.  You're highly incentivized to take them; in fact, I'd argue that a game where you allow players to use injury and madness is easier, not harder, since you don't lose half your clues and items two dollars, or a turn healing-- most of the penalties are insignificant.  ::Rolls eyes:: and then there's retirement where you can just ditch an investigator with two detriment cards and draw a new one.  Arg.  I made one herald that doesn't allow retirements though, and that hands out injuries and madnesses like candy.  Happy fun times ;')

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Varnias Tybalt said:

So I'd like an expansion that adds some serious difficulty to the game and that puts more emphasis on cooperation between the investigators to win. 

Ordinarily I'd say Dunwich, but this is an almost perfect description of what Innsmouth does.  

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avec said:

Varnias Tybalt said:

 

So I'd like an expansion that adds some serious difficulty to the game and that puts more emphasis on cooperation between the investigators to win. 

 

 

Ordinarily I'd say Dunwich, but this is an almost perfect description of what Innsmouth does.  

You're only half right.  Base game and Innsmouth are still fairly easy to win if you play them properly.  The unique item deck is so small it's not too hard to browse through it for Elder Signs by using bank loans, retainers, and river docks trading.  Innsmouth won't stuff the unique deck at all.

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ricedwlit said:

 

Not to mention that Innsmouth doesn't have any gate bursts for Arkham Locations - makes it much easier to figure our where to plant those elder signs so they will stay in place.

 

 

 

Ah yes...  I forgot about that.

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ricedwlit said:

Not to mention that Innsmouth doesn't have any gate bursts for Arkham Locations - makes it much easier to figure our where to plant those elder signs so they will stay in place.

True... Though some argue that makes the DOR track feistier.  

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Avi_dreader said:

You're only half right.  Base game and Innsmouth are still fairly easy to win if you play them properly.  The unique item deck is so small it's not too hard to browse through it for Elder Signs by using bank loans, retainers, and river docks trading.  Innsmouth won't stuff the unique deck at all.

I don't know that I've ever found mining for elder signs to be especially cost effective even at the basic game level.

Figure that you can collect five clue tokens in five turns (at least early in the game) using encounters or the science building (later in the game).

Or you can go the Curiositie shop and get an elder sign on but there's only 4 in 39 cards so thats about (3/13th or 1/3rd to 1/4th chance (drawing 3 cards at a time) (modified, of course by how many elder signs and unique cards are known).  Then when/if you get one you will need to spend a sanity and stamina to use it.  Of course, it does remove a doom token but it also removes cash from your pocket.  More of often than not I run out of cash before I get the elder sign.

This not to say I haven't done it in dire circumstances but it would certainly not be one of my initial strategies unless I was Jenny or Monterey Jack who was friendly with Jenny.  Otherwise its mostly a gambler's gambit.  Sometimes its worth it, sometimes its not.

And in Insmouth/Arkham only games, its not the doom track that is the most threatening.  It's the Deep One Rising track.  I've played about 10-15 such games and the DOR track almost always fills up and elder signs do nothing to fix that, expecially if the monster cup is not diluted with flying and stationary monsters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Also, if the problem is too many elder signs in the unique items deck, there's a pretty easy fix.  I created a custom herald to illustrate:

Noel der Sign

Noel is a giant turquoise scorpion that listens to gansta rap and eats elder signs.  If Noel is used in a game, remove one elder sign from the unique items deck.  

Now all I need is an image to go with it.   

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mageith said:

Avi_dreader said:

You're only half right.  Base game and Innsmouth are still fairly easy to win if you play them properly.  The unique item deck is so small it's not too hard to browse through it for Elder Signs by using bank loans, retainers, and river docks trading.  Innsmouth won't stuff the unique deck at all.

 

I don't know that I've ever found mining for elder signs to be especially cost effective even at the basic game level.

Figure that you can collect five clue tokens in five turns (at least early in the game) using encounters or the science building (later in the game).

Or you can go the Curiositie shop and get an elder sign on but there's only 4 in 39 cards so thats about (3/13th or 1/3rd to 1/4th chance (drawing 3 cards at a time) (modified, of course by how many elder signs and unique cards are known).  Then when/if you get one you will need to spend a sanity and stamina to use it.  Of course, it does remove a doom token but it also removes cash from your pocket.  More of often than not I run out of cash before I get the elder sign.

This not to say I haven't done it in dire circumstances but it would certainly not be one of my initial strategies unless I was Jenny or Monterey Jack who was friendly with Jenny.  Otherwise its mostly a gambler's gambit.  Sometimes its worth it, sometimes its not.

And in Insmouth/Arkham only games, its not the doom track that is the most threatening.  It's the Deep One Rising track.  I've played about 10-15 such games and the DOR track almost always fills up and elder signs do nothing to fix that, expecially if the monster cup is not diluted with flying and stationary monsters.

No.

Gambling?  Hell no.

I'm tempted to leave it at that because I'm tired and hungry, but I'll elaborate a bit.

First of all, I know you don't exactly play with the most cooperative of teammates.

Second, think of it this way...  Let's say an average turn spent shopping at the Curiosity Shop costs five dollars.  Of course, you'll get a few cheaper turns with tomes, especially if you're only playing the base game), you can actually bump down the average even more if you shop with two players simultaneously (that way you can always shop with exactly five dollars and never have to buy more expensive items.  Let's say you have a four player team and take out four bank loans, and start with an average of $5 a player and maybe 2 unique items between the team members?  So that's a 38 card deck.  Now...  Moving on to the math.  If your entire team takes out bank loans, that should give you about $60 to spend.  Have two of the players then try to default on their loans, while the other two shop.  You need about 12 times shopping to cycle through the unique deck.  That costs...  ::Cough cough:: about $60.  This is only gambling if you consider over %90 odds gambling (I only say it's under %100 because this is Arkham, and you never know when the game is going to screw you by some extremely unlikely coincidence).

Anyways, if you haven't found it cost effective, it's just because you're doing it wrong, not because it can't be done.  It's a bit more difficult to pull off with a three player team, but again, throw in the river docks and you can do it (it'll just take a while longer, not that it'll matter since you'll be able to draw out the doom track for and extra three or four tokens).

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Avi_dreader said:

Anyways, if you haven't found it cost effective, it's just because you're doing it wrong, not because it can't be done.  It's a bit more difficult to pull off with a three player team, but again, throw in the river docks and you can do it (it'll just take a while longer, not that it'll matter since you'll be able to draw out the doom track for and extra three or four tokens).

 

Well, I haven't played it your way.

12 turns is practically a whole investigators turn for the whole game.  And that's not counting the 4 turns it takes to gain the bank loans.  (My games average around 15 turns,)  So that's essentially just one investigator just buying.  In addition, it will probably take a player's turn or two to distribute the largess.  

In addition, in the Innsmouth only game (to which I was responding), elder signs are of less value than in ordinary games.  It's the DOR track that needs controlling.

Though it's always good to have more turns.  Each elder sign played will reduce the number of turns needed by the  the 5 turns of collecting plus give another turn to each investigator. So if you collect 4 elder signs in 12 turns, the cost is 4 turns per elder sign (counting the turn of gaining the bank loan) and not counting the regaining of Sanity and Stamina.  So if you collect 2 clue tokens in one turn, it's essentlally break even (I make it through the OW and sealing a gate starting with 5 clue tokens over 90% of the time).

OTOH, you could get lucky and draw all the elder signs in the first few turns, or unlucky and draw two in the same turn and have to discard one and extend your fishing time.

So it's not gambling getting the elder signs, its gambling in getting them soon enough. So I stand by my assertion.  It's not "especially cost effective."

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First of all, if you were playing Innsmouth and Base only, you wouldn't want to use the Elder Signs on high frequency gates, you'd want to seal medium frequency gates.

Second.  You're forgetting that Elder Signs are not the only things the players would aquire, they'd probably get about seven or eight other items (which would likely include one or two King in Yellows).

Third.  If you're playing a game with an Elder Sign strategy, the game goes on considerably longer (like 20-26 turns). 

Fourth you can also alternate shopping duties (after a player comes in from an Other World, they're going to need to be replaced by someone with full health and sanity, you do that by sending them to the curiosity shop to continue the shopping, while also better consolidating items for the next player to take an other world trip).  If your group really hates shopping so much, you could just camp there collectively for the first two or three turns of the game (that's enough time, and it doesn't seem like a big deal if everyone's doing it although this strategy is a little less effective).

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Avi_dreader said:

First of all, if you were playing Innsmouth and Base only, you wouldn't want to use the Elder Signs on high frequency gates, you'd want to seal medium frequency gates.

 

Second.  You're forgetting that Elder Signs are not the only things the players would aquire, they'd probably get about seven or eight other items (which would likely include one or two King in Yellows).

Third.  If you're playing a game with an Elder Sign strategy, the game goes on considerably longer (like 20-26 turns). 

Fourth you can also alternate shopping duties (after a player comes in from an Other World, they're going to need to be replaced by someone with full health and sanity, you do that by sending them to the curiosity shop to continue the shopping, while also better consolidating items for the next player to take an other world trip).  If your group really hates shopping so much, you could just camp there collectively for the first two or three turns of the game (that's enough time, and it doesn't seem like a big deal if everyone's doing it although this strategy is a little less effective).

 

20-26 turns!?  No thanks.

I don't think I'm communicating.  If your playing with Innsmouth only, the DOR track is at least as worrisome as the doom track and the elder sign strategy does't really address that.  A longer game means that there's more chances for gates to be prevented, triggering the DOR track or more monster surges.

I don't imagine there are lots of people still playing with Innsmouth only, but that was the sort of suggestion by avec for the original poster based on the OP's description of what he wanted.  We don't even do it anymore. It's too time consuming to separate out the monsters.  Without the more mobile monsters of Innsmouth, a lot of monsters will just sit in Innsmouth and never trigger the DOR track.  Since I've combined all the monsters, the DOR track filling up is rare.

We did play a 6 player game of Innsmouth only a couple of weeks ago.  3 Investigators were devoured and the law was laid down just in time to prevent the DOR track from ending the game. We sealed Ghat away but it was a very close gamea very good game.

Each expansion, IMO, was only tested with the base game and each expansion works fine with just the base game and that includes the monster mix as well as investigator cards.

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mageith said:

It's too time consuming to separate out the monsters.  Without the more mobile monsters of Innsmouth, a lot of monsters will just sit in Innsmouth and never trigger the DOR track.  Since I've combined all the monsters, the DOR track filling up is rare.

Having separated monsters after every game, I've got it down to ten minutes.  Twelve if I make sure that the specific Kingsport Cultist gets back into the Kingsport box and such.  Although I still occasionally forget to separate out the Innsmouth Elder Thing from the base game.

I never include more than three of any monster with four copies unless it's a worshipper of the AO in play.  (Seven Dark Young?  Dear Lord, why?)  I've also tried some Innsmouth games with only two of any monster not included in the Innsmouth copies.  Both versions have been, on average, effective.  The only times it hasn't really worked is when the Mythos Deck conspires against the Cup, and you get the "Innsmouth Dance": Black, White, Black, White, ad infinitum, and no one leaves the dance floor.  You have to hand it to Dunwich for knowing how to clear out a town.

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