# Can/Will Fantasy Flight make a good game perfect? (Someone going to Arkham Nights please ask!)

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Like many of you, I have been following the pre-release of Arkham Horror: The Card Game with great interest. However, despite the great majority of news being very exciting there is, in my opinion, one apparent major flaw in the game as we know it, namely:

The revealed side of location cards will only ever be an unexpected surprise for your very first play through. After that for your next several dozen, or even hundreds, of games you will know exactly what's behind them and it will be almost impossible not to let that affect/dictate your game play.

The solution is obvious, although implementation may vary. We need Fantasy Flight, later down the road, to sell expansions that focus primarily on providing us with multiple duplicate locations with unique hidden sides. Will they?

Following production of a complete campaign, for example The Dunwich Legacy, we will have on average 8 scenarios. If we assume that on average there are 7 locations per scenario we will end up with roughly 56 distinct location cards (7×8=56). If we create 2 new versions of each separate location that leaves us with 112 new cards that now allow each location a possibility of 3 unique possibilities that can be shuffled individually and selected prior to set up in each game. While this may seem small (only 3 possibilities per card) it actually results in 175,616 different possible unique campaign layouts! (56 sample points with 3 different possible positions each = 56^3 = math nerds check me on this!). Compare this to the currently possible 1 (and only 1!) combination for the locations as they are now.

My preferred take on a solution is as follows: Following each campaign cycle Fantasy Flight Games releases a big box "campaign" expansion for that specific campaign. Included are the approximately 112 needed new location cards to make a complete set of 3 possible versions for each card. Fantasy Flight's big box expansions usually have about 165 cards in them (Dunwich has 156 with 5 small player cards), that leaves us roughly 50 cards to play with (minus extra costs for double printing all locations). I propose they use those 50 card spots to provide "Nightmare" versions of existing playsets; i.e. "Nightmare Ghouls/Rats" that would completely swap out a original Ghouls/Rats playset, etc. That way you could bump the difficulty in any given scenario by swapping out one or more "Nightmare" playsets according to taste.

Possible alternatives include providing 3 new cards for each location (168 cards) for a total of 4 unique, or instead doing 2 full campaigns with one box (224 cards likely with a higher price point)

The question Fantasy Flight needs to ask itself is if there is demand for such a product. Well forum, is there? Make your voice heard now! I for one know I would snap up a product like that! Think how much it would improve replay ability between campaign cycles!

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They've solved this issue for other games, in which non-unique locations, like some generic Forest, have the same unnrevealed side, but you'll never know which side is going to be revealed. The Lost Island/Grotto locations in Temple of the Deceived from LOTR, for instance:

http://hallofbeorn.com/LotR?CardType=Location&Scenario=Temple%20of%20the%20Deceived

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I'm pretty sure it was spoiled they already did just that? Or am I mistaken?

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Seems scenario dependent, but for me, it won't have much impact on how much I like the game. I'd rather see design and production efforts put toward new player cards, scenarios and campaigns.

Specific scenarios having multiple versions of a patricular location is fine, though. If you have to search for somwthing or whatever. Didn't something like this get spoiled? Some woods location with several copies?

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I'm pretty sure it was spoiled they already did just that? Or am I mistaken?

That sounds vaguely correct but I don't remember the exact news post that mentioned it. For unique locations like the Cellar or the Attic - yeah, they kind of have to be one-of's. It'd be cool if they had 3 Attics, each with a different effect, and each game you pick just one, but that would start to clutter each release and I'd rather have more cards than different versions of the same cards.

Also consider that with the number of clues required to advance, you have to travel to both the Attic and the Cellar to complete the investigation anyway, so what difference does it make? Maybe you can send your higher-health ones to the Cellar and the higher-sanity ones to the Attic on your second playthrough, but really that foreknowledge has minimal impact on your gameplay.

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Hmmm... I have to agree that this seems a little disappointing in the design of the game and while I like your solution, buying an extra pack seems frustrating. Couldn't they just release it all together. While yes non-uniques can be more random, what about the first scenario will ever change. I didn't even realize that I had this concern before you brought it up. Oh well. In other games though, even with fore knowledge I don't mind replaying because I try a new strategy or the encounter deck is more random. Hope this won't impact my desire to play repeated times, and it probably won't.

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To address some of the points raised:

First, this same principle may have been shown in a preview (woods) where there are multiple copies of a location card that looks identical on the unrevealed side. Although it's unclear to me whether you shuffle these before the game and add only one (my idea) or if you simply have 3 copies of a generic location in the same game and you have to search each one to find what you need (appears more likely). In any case this simply proves my point that having multiple different hidden sides improves replay ability because it forces you to guess/play differently. The question is whether we are satisfied with this being a one-off 3 card diversion in one particular scenario or whether we'd like the whole campaign to have that feel.

Second, for those concerned with clutter/value I was clear that I DON'T want this to be part a a "regular" campaign box/cycle. It would be beyond foolish to thin the card pool in normal sets to give duplicate locations - that's why FFG didn't do it! Frankly, that's why they didn't give a full duplicate player card set in the Core Set either, they know variety is more important. I'll want that variety in full play sets of new player cards each cycle too! It's foolish to think that FFG will just design/test/create 112+ new location cards and just "include them for free" either.

What I'm saying is that I want a separate campaign location expansion that I can buy to give me the replay ability I want (encounter and player deck reshuffling already provides this to some extent - but set locations allow players to abuse foreknowledge). I'm also saying I want this enough that I'd rather delay the 2nd campaign several months (and then delay the 3rd, etc.) in order to make room for this location expansion box. I figure I'll get much more re-use out of playing the entire 8 scenario campaign indefinitely than I will by playing the first two scenarios of the next campaign a few times a few months earlier.

Now your opinion may differ, that's fine. If you only expect to play each campaign once, or if you don't really think you'll send the investigator with the flashlight to the -4 shroud room while his partner without the flashlight searches the -1 shroud room (really?), or if you can't be bothered to send your Guardian with the shotgun to the location the big Boss will spawn (REALLY?!!)... then I think you would be right to think that new locations won't benefit you much.

Ultimately it's about what you value in a game, and how you prioritize those values. No one is wrong to prioritize different types of content, and whether there is a consensus for or against this type of multiple versions of location content is what I want to know. Thanks.

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One way to make "one of" locations variable is to have the player do an additional action on entry.  Things that come to mind include

• draw a card from a set aside deck (they did this is LOTR in a variety of ways)
• pull a token from the chaos bag and apply a result based on what you get

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Why just Locations? You could say that if Agenda card 2A says "Discard all allies and deal 1 Horror per Investigator", then your first play-through you get caught off-guard, but from then on you know what's coming. How is that different? Do you want alternate versions of each Act and Agenda card, too? FFG already does that in LOTR for some scenarios, where you randomly pick one of 4 different stage 2B's to advance to. But normally, you know what's coming anyways.

You have to consider two important aspects of the realities of creating a card game. First - FFG has repeatedly stated that very few, if any, LCG packs would be anything other than the standard mix. No one-offs of player cards only, alternate encounter cards only (except Nightmare, but that also introduces completely new cards and quest mechanics, not just swap-outs for Standard mode), Core Set completions. It's not their business model, so I was giving my opinion off the assumption that any such change in the Location mechanic would have to occur within the confines of a Deluxe or Mythos Pack. If they're not going to see the ROI from creating such a pack as you explain, it's never going to happen. And they've got marketing analysts to look and these. You might think, they can charge a certain % over cost and people will pay it - consider that they can't just make one order for you. It'd have to be a large order that they probably can't foresee selling the full stock and recouping the investments. If you want to talk hypothetical about whether such a pack would be cool and useful, if FFG were open to that possibility, well.....

It might work if they did POD (Print On Demand). However -- the reason that would never happen, it takes months of development and playtesting to create each scenario. If they wanted to release alternate version of the Cellar and the Attic, they'd have to do a complete playtesting all over again to make sure the location is balanced, that the new effect or stats don't increase or decrease the difficulty of the scenario with the current cardpool.

Given an ideal situation, in which from the beginning, development, design, and playtesting had multiple alternates for every single location in every single quest in the game, and FFG printed on-demand Location Packs, then yes, I would be 100% on board with that. But just because they haven't and they can't, it doesn't mean the game's not "perfect". Its flaws remain to be seen once it gets released, but I guarantee you the lack of replayability from knowing what each location is is not going to be one of them.

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Why just Locations? You could say that if Agenda card 2A says "Discard all allies and deal 1 Horror per Investigator", then your first play-through you get caught off-guard, but from then on you know what's coming. How is that different? Do you want alternate versions of each Act and Agenda card, too? FFG already does that in LOTR for some scenarios, where you randomly pick one of 4 different stage 2B's to advance to. But normally, you know what's coming anyways.

You have to consider two important aspects of the realities of creating a card game. First - FFG has repeatedly stated that very few, if any, LCG packs would be anything other than the standard mix. No one-offs of player cards only, alternate encounter cards only (except Nightmare, but that also introduces completely new cards and quest mechanics, not just swap-outs for Standard mode), Core Set completions. It's not their business model, so I was giving my opinion off the assumption that any such change in the Location mechanic would have to occur within the confines of a Deluxe or Mythos Pack. If they're not going to see the ROI from creating such a pack as you explain, it's never going to happen. And they've got marketing analysts to look and these. You might think, they can charge a certain % over cost and people will pay it - consider that they can't just make one order for you. It'd have to be a large order that they probably can't foresee selling the full stock and recouping the investments. If you want to talk hypothetical about whether such a pack would be cool and useful, if FFG were open to that possibility, well.....

It might work if they did POD (Print On Demand). However -- the reason that would never happen, it takes months of development and playtesting to create each scenario. If they wanted to release alternate version of the Cellar and the Attic, they'd have to do a complete playtesting all over again to make sure the location is balanced, that the new effect or stats don't increase or decrease the difficulty of the scenario with the current cardpool.

Given an ideal situation, in which from the beginning, development, design, and playtesting had multiple alternates for every single location in every single quest in the game, and FFG printed on-demand Location Packs, then yes, I would be 100% on board with that. But just because they haven't and they can't, it doesn't mean the game's not "perfect". Its flaws remain to be seen once it gets released, but I guarantee you the lack of replayability from knowing what each location is is not going to be one of them.

Are you making my argument for me?  ;^)  Because I have precisely said that I am arguing for a new type of expansion that would require broad based community support (a market) to succeed.  A POD situation is pure fantasy.  That is why I was asking who would be interested in such a product.

However, should a large enough market arise for a location based expansion arise I doubt that FFG would just leave money on the table.  After all, it's not like they haven't gone the expansion expansion route with Arkham before...

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgameexpansion/93465/arkham-horror-miskatonic-horror-expansion

PS: I haven't even played this game, so I'm not qualified to pass a final verdict on it (my headline was more to get interest).  That being said you need to get off your high horse if you think that "it doesn't mean the games not 'perfect'".  I've got news for you, it's not perfect.  No game is.  And  yes having a hidden location that is only "hidden" once, is a flaw.  It may be a minor or a major flaw.  It may be a flaw that bothers you, or doesn't bother you but bothers others.   It may be a business influenced decision.  It may be the exactly correct business influenced decision to have made for the long term survival of the product line!  But it's still a flaw.  And if it makes you feel better, I apologize for using the clearly inappropriate word "perfect" in my headline.  "How to make a good game better" just sounds so much less sexy?  ;^)

Edited by Cannibal

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A POD situation is pure fantasy.

What makes you say that?  This is exactly what they did with the LOTR Nightmare decks.  Would make perfect sense.  Honestly, it would make MORE sense.  While you might think it would perfect the game, many players would not want be so impressed by the duplication of "Oh, THIS Attic reduces my Agility by 1, but THAT Attic reduces my Intellect by 1.  Variety!!"  If you do, cool - I wouldn't find that it adds much, personally.

Which is why POD is a perfect choice for it.  Much lower production costs, or even true on-demand printing, means that they can take something like that which has a more limited base of interest and still produce it.

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A POD situation is pure fantasy.

What makes you say that?  This is exactly what they did with the LOTR Nightmare decks.  Would make perfect sense.  Honestly, it would make MORE sense.  While you might think it would perfect the game, many players would not want be so impressed by the duplication of "Oh, THIS Attic reduces my Agility by 1, but THAT Attic reduces my Intellect by 1.  Variety!!"  If you do, cool - I wouldn't find that it adds much, personally.

Which is why POD is a perfect choice for it.  Much lower production costs, or even true on-demand printing, means that they can take something like that which has a more limited base of interest and still produce it.

You're right. I was unfamiliar with FFG's POD position on LOTR but have since done some research. I think I was thinking of print and play.

My response to your second point is that maybe they shouldn't buy that expansion then? But POD lower production costs help here as well. Thanks.

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Are you making my argument for me?  ;^)  Because I have precisely said that I am arguing for a new type of expansion that would require broad based community support (a market) to succeed.  A POD situation is pure fantasy.  That is why I was asking who would be interested in such a product.

A retail product is much more of a fantasy than a PoD job (but I don't think either is likely). PoD is economically feasible with smaller print runs.

Part of the problem with a location only set, or really, any "Mythos only" set, is that only a fraction of the players in any group needs to buy it, because everyone plays from the same mythos deck. If you have a regular group of, say, four players, they might each maintain playsets for their own deckbuilding, but four copies of any mythos-only expansion is just waste. It's the same reason we're not likely to get scenario-only retail expansions of any kind, and indeed, we have not in Lord of the Rings.

Though as others have noted, we have gotten PoD scenarios (and will for Arkham) and nightmare decks -- the latter might be closest to what you're asking for, because it sometimes subs in tougher versions of certain cards for a scenario, but Arkham's multiple difficulty levels mean nightmare cards might be redundant.

More broadly, even if such a product were to make a small profit, FFG only has so much bandwidth to put out product. Design, playtest, marketing, capital, warehousing, etc. are all finite resources. Would a locations (or whatever) box be more profit than a box with more player cards and new scenarios? Seems exceedingly unlikely. So you put the resources toward something that would be more profitable.

In any case--

And  yes having a hidden location that is only "hidden" once, is a flaw.  It may be a minor or a major flaw.  It may be a flaw that bothers you, or doesn't bother you but bothers others.

This isn't objectively the case. You're assuming that some kind of surprise or hidden information is the only, or even primary, purpose behind the hidden room mechanic.

Revealed" or "unrevealed" is a game state, so other cards (player and mythos) can interact with revealed or unrevealed in different ways. You could have movement effects that only move you to one or the other, cards that give bonuses (or penalties) based on how many revealed/unrevealed rooms there are, enemies that spawn in the nearest unrevealed room to the investigators, etc.

You can also have the timing of the revelation itself influence variables. A room's available clues might be equal to the number of monsters on the board when it's revealed, for example. Or a room might discard your ally the first time a player enters, and whether or not the room is revealed is more important for tracking whether the effect has triggered than for its surprise value.

There is a great deal of design space for the mechanic that has nothing to do with whether or not players know what they're going to see when they flip any given card over, and much more to do with whether and when the card is flipped over.

If FFG wants to have variable versions of particular locations, or other mythos cards like agendas or monsters, they can do so without a dedicated box. They've done so several times in Lord of the Rings scenarios, in both ways discussed here (exploring mutliple versions in a single scenario, or mutually exclusive versions of which only one appears in a given playthrough). That it's the exception rather than the rule suggests they see it as something not all that important.

In any case, FFG isn't going to make business decisions based on a few forum posts. As others have noted, they have market analysis for that.

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Revealed" or "unrevealed" is a game state, so other cards (player and mythos) can interact with revealed or unrevealed in different ways. You could have movement effects that only move you to one or the other, cards that give bonuses (or penalties) based on how many revealed/unrevealed rooms there are, enemies that spawn in the nearest unrevealed room to the investigators, etc.

Elusive
Type: Event
Class: Rogue
Cost: 2
Level: 0
Willpower: 0

Intellect: 1

Combat: 0

Agility: 1

Wild: 0
Tactic.

Disengage with each enemy engaged with you and move to a revealed location with no enemies.

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You do realize that FFG has already done this in the core set, right?  Both the second and third scenarios have random location cards.

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Why just Locations? You could say that if Agenda card 2A says "Discard all allies and deal 1 Horror per Investigator", then your first play-through you get caught off-guard, but from then on you know what's coming. How is that different? Do you want alternate versions of each Act and Agenda card, too? FFG already does that in LOTR for some scenarios, where you randomly pick one of 4 different stage 2B's to advance to. But normally, you know what's coming anyways.

You have to consider two important aspects of the realities of creating a card game. First - FFG has repeatedly stated that very few, if any, LCG packs would be anything other than the standard mix. No one-offs of player cards only, alternate encounter cards only (except Nightmare, but that also introduces completely new cards and quest mechanics, not just swap-outs for Standard mode), Core Set completions. It's not their business model, so I was giving my opinion off the assumption that any such change in the Location mechanic would have to occur within the confines of a Deluxe or Mythos Pack. If they're not going to see the ROI from creating such a pack as you explain, it's never going to happen. And they've got marketing analysts to look and these. You might think, they can charge a certain % over cost and people will pay it - consider that they can't just make one order for you. It'd have to be a large order that they probably can't foresee selling the full stock and recouping the investments. If you want to talk hypothetical about whether such a pack would be cool and useful, if FFG were open to that possibility, well.....

It might work if they did POD (Print On Demand). However -- the reason that would never happen, it takes months of development and playtesting to create each scenario. If they wanted to release alternate version of the Cellar and the Attic, they'd have to do a complete playtesting all over again to make sure the location is balanced, that the new effect or stats don't increase or decrease the difficulty of the scenario with the current cardpool.

Given an ideal situation, in which from the beginning, development, design, and playtesting had multiple alternates for every single location in every single quest in the game, and FFG printed on-demand Location Packs, then yes, I would be 100% on board with that. But just because they haven't and they can't, it doesn't mean the game's not "perfect". Its flaws remain to be seen once it gets released, but I guarantee you the lack of replayability from knowing what each location is is not going to be one of them.

Are you making my argument for me?  ;^)  Because I have precisely said that I am arguing for a new type of expansion that would require broad based community support (a market) to succeed.  A POD situation is pure fantasy.  That is why I was asking who would be interested in such a product.

However, should a large enough market arise for a location based expansion arise I doubt that FFG would just leave money on the table.  After all, it's not like they haven't gone the expansion expansion route with Arkham before...

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgameexpansion/93465/arkham-horror-miskatonic-horror-expansion

PS: I haven't even played this game, so I'm not qualified to pass a final verdict on it (my headline was more to get interest).  That being said you need to get off your high horse if you think that "it doesn't mean the games not 'perfect'".  I've got news for you, it's not perfect.  No game is.  And  yes having a hidden location that is only "hidden" once, is a flaw.  It may be a minor or a major flaw.  It may be a flaw that bothers you, or doesn't bother you but bothers others.   It may be a business influenced decision.  It may be the exactly correct business influenced decision to have made for the long term survival of the product line!  But it's still a flaw.  And if it makes you feel better, I apologize for using the clearly inappropriate word "perfect" in my headline.  "How to make a good game better" just sounds so much less sexy?  ;^)

High horse? Swing and a miss. I never said the game was perfect. I said this just isn't what makes it imperfect.

But by your logic you could say any game is imperfect. Fallout and Half-Life campaigns, I already know what's coming. Mario Bros. 3, I already know. It's a simple requirement of making games -- or anything with a storyline. Is a movie imperfect or a book imperfect because I've read it and already know the plot?

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You do realize that FFG has already done this in the core set, right?  Both the second and third scenarios have random location cards.

And Curse of the Rougarou, as well. That's three out of four scenarios, and the fourth one is a deliberately simple introduction to the game.

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You do realize that FFG has already done this in the core set, right?  Both the second and third scenarios have random location cards.

I um, don't think they're listening.  Let me guess, you actually own and have played the game right?  If so thanks for the info.  I didn't think the designers would overlook that especially considering all the ways they have from other Arkham Files games to keep such revelations fresh.

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I assume re-watching a movie or re-reading a book doesn't do anything for you?

Because i don't see the difference here and neither a 'design flaw'.

*going back to watch The Empire Strikes Back for the bazillions time.

Edited by florianhess

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I am listening, I just have nothing further to say. I haven't played the game and others have and those people believe it's not an issue.

For the record I don't consider one card change (uptown/downtown) based on a prior scenario result to satisfy my concern (although it does help a little in that you get at least two playthroughs where you don't know what's under every single every card's hidden side); the woods example appears more perfectly suited to address my concerns (but is again only a portion of one "map" in one scenario) but it shows the designers were considering these things as well. I'd expect future full length (non-introductory) scenarios to incorporate these excellent features to an even greater extent based upon what we (the community at whole and not playtesters who had it in advance) NOW know.

For the record I did not know these things when I wrote my original post, because... well nobody really knew these things as Arkham Nights hadn't happened yet! Also my main intent was to get people to ask the designers if they already had such plans, my secondary intent was to ask if others were concerned/interested in this issue as well. On that second note it appears the rest of you are not concerned/don't view this as a problem. Good for you. My intent was NEVER to criticize the game (critique maybe) as some here seem to think.

@florianhess: I re-watch countless movies and re-read great novels as well. I however do not tend to re-watch/read mystery movies/novels more than twice because the narrative structure is different and the surprise is a key element of enjoyment. Do you also enjoy watching good movies like The Sixth Sense for "bazillions" of times? Or does it cease to be as interesting at some point? If not... than bully for you! Congratulations!

For myself, similarly I expect my in-game excitement over revealing the Study/Hall/Downtown card during the course of a close nail biter of a game will be much higher the first time when the result is unknown then during subsequent play throughs. If the designers didn't think an element of surprise was fun (it is!) then there would be no reason to include double-sided cards with different hidden and revealed sides.

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You do realize that FFG has already done this in the core set, right?  Both the second and third scenarios have random location cards.

I um, don't think they're listening.  Let me guess, you actually own and have played the game right?  If so thanks for the info.  I didn't think the designers would overlook that especially considering all the ways they have from other Arkham Files games to keep such revelations fresh.

Yes, and yes.

Also, to OP.  Yes, we knew these things before Arkham Nights, as marcowargamer showed off multiple locations from his review copy.

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The most likely solution to the replayability issue would likely be a rough equivalent to Eldritch Horror's Rumor cards: a fourth deck beside Act, Encounter, and Agenda that modifies the global environment unpredictably. You'd draw one during the Mythos phase and each one would tell you when to discard it and draw another.

For example, one such card might say sonething like:

Non-Euclidean Geometry

The influence of the Ancient Ones has warped the very fabric of space-time. Notions such as "causality" and "connectedness" have gone right out the window... Or is that a roof tile?

Whenever an Investigator makes a skill test due to a location's text or by using a location's ability, draw a chaos token.

[ELDER SIGN]: Resolve the test using the Investigator's highest skill.

[CULTIST]: Resolve the test using the Investigator's Combat. If the test originally used Combat, use Agility instead.

[TABLET]: Resolve the test using the Investigator's Lore. If the test originally used Lore, use Willpower instead.

[sKULL]: Resolve the test using the Investigator's lowest skill.

Any other result: resolve the test normally.

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The designers intended for the game to have a heavy emphasis on story - the RPG experience. Over all I'm okay with some more 'static' elements to make the story more co-hesive.

Replay value will come through deck design and decision making with full information.  If LoTR is any example, there are certain quests you did not need to replay.  I imagine AH:LCG will be the same.  A few will be very fun and very challenging.  I have played Escape from Dul Godur only one other time after I beat it and that was with friends.  I have played Journey Down the Anduin over a dozen times since I've beaten, it was loads of fun!

The order in which you visit locations will have an effect on the game but replay value magnified by the combination of your deck and the encounter deck.  Lastly, I expect there will at least be some order and structure to this game... was anyone caught in a loop where they never got the objectives in the Troll scenario?  Designers learned from that and added some elements to minimize the random player screw.

FFG has earned my trust - they develop an excellent player experience.  I have full trust in AHLCG

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