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Effects of LOTR LCG on Arkham LCG

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37 minutes ago, awp832 said:


Actually one of the things I find somewhat annoying about AH campaign is that the whole "winning" thing is a bit less clear cut.  I mean, supposing I defeat an ancient evil by sacrificing my friend to a grisly death, is that really a win?   Sorta?

 

That does make it quite thematic, however. Case in point, the novel Innsmouth Horror.

Also to throw my two cents in, so far AH LCG seems to be much better than LotR. If they keep at least the same level, I'll stop buying LotR for good.

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eh, personal preference.   I definitely don't feel AH is much better than LotR, if it's better at all.  I do enjoy both games though.  

AH win conditions may be more realistic (I wont go as far as to say it's more thematic), but I'm not sure I'm convinced it makes for a more enjoyable game.  

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22 hours ago, awp832 said:

AH win conditions may be more realistic (I wont go as far as to say it's more thematic), but I'm not sure I'm convinced it makes for a more enjoyable game.  

For the Lovecraftian setting, it's far more thematic.

Somewhere along the way Lovecraft's work got gamified into shooting and blasting and beating down the horrors.  That's not Lovecraft at all.  While the LCG certainly still has that, at least there are few truly happy endings.

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On 2/26/2017 at 11:10 AM, awp832 said:

it LotR campaign (Saga) even a scenario win can often lead to an undesirable result, often by losing a hero, or failing to acquire a valuable boon or something.  In LotR you are allowed, even encouraged to replay the scenario to get the result that you want.  I think a lot of this carries over for me,  I find myself replaying AH scenarios if I didn't achieve the desired outcome (which from what I have read, is pretty common), so the point about failing a mission due to chaos bag but ultimately being ok in the campaign overall doesn't have much impact for me.  
...
I don't get that vibe with LotR.   Since I have to win every scenario, there doesnt seem like the last mission is massively more important than  the rest.

Then let's be honest here - you're not complaining about AH, because you're not complaining about AH.  You're complaining about your house-ruled version of AH.  I honestly don't know how many people try to play it like this, but I can say pretty confidently that it is the wrong way to play the game.  You're trying to fix the game by breaking a big part of the design in a way that doesn't actually make it any better.

You don't get that vibe with LOTR because they're different games :)  The full campaign is one story that builds to a climax.  LOTR doesn't really do that, even in the Saga, but I think that's honestly poor design.  Chasing down a small band of orcs should not be harder than the siege of Helms Deep, but it was (at least for us).

On the Chaos Bag, I don't think the bag is bad, even with the autofail.  You make risk vs. reward choices with every test.  Sometimes it works - we pulled a true win out of Night of the Zealot by carefully applying resources to win 8 of 9 tests and win the game.  When we restarted we came down to the wire on the first scenario and failed 3 tests in a row - two due to the autofail and one because of the Elder Sign, when we needed to fail it.  But even then, we were on our last turn because we drew 3 Ancient Evils in a single turn, and let a Ghoul come to us rather than sending Zoey after it, and because we were greedy about clearing out locations for XP rather than working the scenario.  If we had another turn, we would have been able to pull it out.  Instead, we were all eaten and get to restart the campaign.  But even as we started at those red and blue tokens, it's a mistake to say they made us fail.  If we'd pushed harder, or had a Mystic who could cancel one of the Ancient Evils, etc, we would have been fine.

The important thing to recognize is that it is never required or expected to succeed at every test.  You expect some to fail, and plan accordingly.  And yes, that means that you can rarely just throw massive amounts of resources at a problem and be guaranteed to win.  That's part of balancing the risk and reward.  You know what's in the bag that can make you fail, and you decide what's worth risking, but you're never truly guaranteed safe.  But I don't truly think that feels any different from LOTR to me.  Sure, we may be long past designs like Sudden Pitfall, but I've still had any number of times that a single shadow card has ended what was otherwise a well-positioned game.  Especially in Saga, where a lost hero is basically a lost game, bad luck on a single shadow card can end it fast.

There may not be many ways to mitigate the bag yet (mostly Survivors) but while a lot of people seem to be comparing it to the mitigation options with LOTR, how many shadow cancels were there in the Core+Mirkwood?  I'd have to go back to check to be sure, but I'm pretty sure if you weren't running Spirit for Hasty Stroke or Lore for Burning Brand, you just ate whatever it threw at you.

Edit: Also worth noting that there are still plenty of Sudden Pitfall effects even outside of your attempts to mitigate them.  We just finished Wastes of Eriador...  Trying hitting a Predatory Wolves (or two) on setup in a 4-player game, or Lost in the Wilderness.  Pretty much game over on those single flips.  Whatever your view on the potential to fail a test is, I've never set up Arkham and said "Well, that was a good game.  Reshuffle and try again?" before I took even a single action.

Edited by Buhallin

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30 minutes ago, Buhallin said:

 

There may not be many ways to mitigate the bag yet (mostly Survivors) but while a lot of people seem to be comparing it to the mitigation options with LOTR, how many shadow cancels were there in the Core+Mirkwood?  I'd have to go back to check to be sure, but I'm pretty sure if you weren't running Spirit for Hasty Stroke or Lore for Burning Brand, you just ate whatever it threw at you.

Pretty sure Dawn Take You All (Leadership) was in the Mirkwood cycle... and maybe Rider of the Mark (spirit ally) and Dunedain Watcher (Leadership ally)? Don't have time to check.

Not arguing with the rest of your analysis.

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13 minutes ago, TwiceBornh said:

Pretty sure Dawn Take You All (Leadership) was in the Mirkwood cycle... and maybe Rider of the Mark (spirit ally) and Dunedain Watcher (Leadership ally)? Don't have time to check.

Not arguing with the rest of your analysis.

Rider of the Mark was in the Dwarrowdelf cycle, but the other two were late in Mirkwood...  So we can see if we get at least two more ways to manipulate the bag by the end of the Dunwich cycle :)  Honestly, I think if we really lay it out there are probably more ways to manipulate the bag results now than there were ways to mitigate shadow cards after Hunt for Gollum.  Wendy has it as a built-in, Lucky (as long as you don't hit the autofail), Oops, Will to Survive, Look What I Found...

I also think it is important to consider that depending on how you consider it, every card in the game has the ability to control the bag.  Every card you commit to a test makes you more likely to succeed, and many come with bonus effects.  I think this feels different to a lot of people because you have to make the decision before...  but is it any different than adding a maybe-unnecessary character to an attack in case the shadow increases defense, or blocking with a beefier character than is needed to block the printed attack value?

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The more you play both LOTR and AH the more you realise how different they feel , even though they are both LCGs with a similar approach to deckbuilding and mechanics.

I agree that LOTR is more about one off scenario challenges with a definitive win position and ending. AH is much more staggered and i guess flowing, you may think you won and still get a condition from it, so nothing is as clear cut until the final showdown i guess. Personally i couldn't get my head around the AH way after being a long term player of LOTR, and i just didnt like taking counters out of a bag all the time as a mechanism so i dropped out. I prefer to play cards against cards to solve the quest.

The thrust of my initial post thoughts about loving LOTR potentially making it harder to like AH does ring true for a number of people it seems. 

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13 hours ago, Buhallin said:

 

Somewhere along the way Lovecraft's work got gamified into shooting and blasting and beating down the horrors.  That's not Lovecraft at all.  While the LCG certainly still has that, at least there are few truly happy endings.


"Rats in the Walls" is one of my all time favorite Lovecraft stories.   Nevertheless, people don't want to play that game.  Nobody wants to play the game where you start out investigating something weird with your buds and your cat whose name is a racial slur, and ends with you cannibalizing one of your friends.     

People want to play the hero.   Lovecraft started getting 'gamified', when they started making lovecraft games.   I enjoy lovecraft's work as fiction, but good fiction doesn't always make for good board games. Point is,  if FFG (or whoever else) wants to sacrifice some elements of 'theme' for the sake of making a good game,  I am fine with that.  Not just fine with it,   I think it's their responsibility to do so if they want to have a good product.  

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I like LotR much more at the moment and I think that "my" reason wasn´t mentioned here. That reason is replayability. Always the same map and locations with very minor changes (random chose between 2 of nine locations doesn´t help). Arkham need much more and better work with locations in my oppinion. After first game you know what is where, where to go at what moment, what will happen in which act and agenda. You know quest cards in LotR as well but there is much more flexibility in encouter deck, that spawns enemies, treacheries AND locations that stand in your way. The narrative aspect for me is not so far ahead in the favor of Arkham as others say. LotR is great in that aspect as well. After playing LotR I want instantly more - no matter if I win or lose, I want to try that scenario one more time. In Arkham I go through the scenario and I win or lose but I don´t know if I was lucky or unhappy and the game "forces" me to play next scenario instantly.

But that´s my point of view and most people around me see Arkham as much better game so maybe it´s only my issue. 

Finally, we compare game with large portion of expansions and with much more experiences what is good or bad in that game. I will surely wait till the end of fist cycle but I´ pretty sure Arkham really needs improvements on the field of locations and greater flexibility. 

Sorry for language and possible mistakes, English is not my language...

 

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On 3/4/2017 at 3:42 PM, tyrion003 said:

In Arkham I go through the scenario and I win or lose but I don´t know if I was lucky or unhappy and the game "forces" me to play next scenario instantly.

I definitely agree that replay-ability is lower with Arkham atm.  I've played the core quests several times now, and I really have no interest in seeing them again.  But that can be said for the core quests of LotR as well.

I don't think Arkham forces you to play the next scenario any more than LotR Saga quests do.  If you want to replay a scenario in Arkham, there is nothing that prohibits you from doing this.  We also house rule that you can make changes to your deck between scenarios as we are still learning the card pool, what is good and what works.

 

Overall, they are different enough games you can't exactly compare them.  Both do different things very well and I enjoy them both for what they are.  

 

One of my frustrations with Arkham is playing games with different groups.  My different play groups are at different scenarios and naturally earn different values of XP, and so I have to constantly rebuild my decks with more/less XP.  

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On ‎2‎/‎27‎/‎2017 at 7:30 PM, Buhallin said:

For the Lovecraftian setting, it's far more thematic.

Somewhere along the way Lovecraft's work got gamified into shooting and blasting and beating down the horrors.  That's not Lovecraft at all.  While the LCG certainly still has that, at least there are few truly happy endings.

Exactly.  The games should feel different, because the works from which they're derived are vastly different!  Hope is a central theme of Tolkien's works.  This is not "hope" in the sense of just wanting things to turn out ok for individuals, personally, but rather the knowledge that, as Sam realized, "in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach."

 

This is most definitely not the view held by Lovecraft, in his works.  Lovecraftian works are more about the incomprehensibility of the world and the utter insignificance of humanity in comparison.  Even in "victory", protagonists realize that all they've really done is just bought a bit more time...

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12 hours ago, awp832 said:

I'll just reiterate what I said before;  I don't care if it's less thematic, I want it to be fun.

This is a highly subjective thing.  For a lot of Lovecraftian fans, theme=fun. I think the same can be said for LOTR. With some exceptions, it is a well themed game, and that contributes to the enjoyment. It's not just about getting thrashed by generic types and numbers, it's about how well it brings those to life.

If you're not someone who enjoys dark endings then that's cool, but it doesn't make Arkham a worse game. Just the opposite, honestly. The fact that you don't like it tells me that they captured the theme very well. If someone was disappointed that LOTR wasn't just a fighting game of battles and killing, and what was all this questing silliness, what would you tell them? Same goes for Arkham.

Arkham is not LOTR.  It does a lot better than LOTR, and a few things worse, but a lot of it is just different. Much of this thread is starting to feel like "it's not LOTR so it's worse". Which is to be expected in here, I guess, i think there are far more interesting comparisons to be had.

 

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You're not reading my posts.   I *do* like AH LCG.   I'm just saying that thematic  does not mean better.    You can't give a bad design element a free pass because "it's thematic."  Especially when it comes to Lovecraft.   Racism is thematic in Lovecraft.   That doesn't mean we should make it part of the game.

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6 hours ago, awp832 said:

You're not reading my posts.   I *do* like AH LCG.   I'm just saying that thematic  does not mean better.    You can't give a bad design element a free pass because "it's thematic."  Especially when it comes to Lovecraft.   Racism is thematic in Lovecraft.   That doesn't mean we should make it part of the game.

On the broader question, thematic elements most certainly contribute to the question whether something is good design or bad design.  No, theme doesn't justify everything, but it is a strong contributor to whether a design element is good or bad.  Is racism the core theme of the Lovecraftian universe?  Without bothering to get into the debate over Lovecraft himself, I doubt most people would say so.  So it doesn't need to be in this game.  Does that mean that racism as a theme never belongs in a game?  I think it would be hard to make, say, a game set in the Civil Rights Movement in Alabama without including racism as a thematic element.  It's core to the setting.  And the core of the Lovecraftian setting is that humanity never truly "wins".  It might survive, it might stave off the inevitable for a time, but we eventually lose and until then we emerge scarred.

That theme is core to the game.  You may not enjoy it, but (as I said) that's personal - it's not necessarily good or bad.  I happen to think it's good, but I'm someone who enjoys the horror movies where nobody makes it out.  You think it's bad, because you feel the need to "win" every scenario.  You said above that everyone wants to play the hero - that's not true.  You may want to always be the shining hero who's guaranteed to eventually emerge victorious, but that's not everyone.  I'd rather play Rats in the Walls (yes, complete with eventual descent into insanity) than a wish fulfillment fantasy like Harry Potter.

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I like the Cthulhu Mythos, and I like LotR. I play both, and like, AH and LotR LCGs. But to me, while theme is nice, it's the last thing I think about when playing the game. I'm a huge mechanics focused player, I don't care about the story or theme when I play. I get down to the nitty gritty details of the game. Having said that, it's nice when theme and mechanics intertwine beautifully, but when the game is a slave to theme and bad or frustrating mechanics are introduced for the sake of being faithful to that theme (autofail token I'm looking at you.), that's when it impacts my enjoyment of the game. I'm here to play a game that is fun and engaging, theme be damned. Good news is they are fun games in their own right. ;)

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I love the art and atmosphere of AHlcg, but I'm not sure what exactly the intended play experience is. I've been playing Dunwich Legacy with a solo investigator, and after doing well in one mission, have basically failed my way through the rest. It seems so unsatisfying to get halfway through Curse of the Rougarou, seeing all of the interesting things that *could* happen, and then just... die. The worst was the first mythos pack though - again, you go through all of the complicated setup, try to set the mood and get in the narrative zone, and then get killed about 1/3 of the way through the scenario.

With LotR, the focus is on the mechanics, so if you die you don't lose nearly as much momentum, and you can far more easily reshuffle and try again. It's akin to getting killed in a videogame, where you reload and try immediately. With Arkham, it feels more like you sit down for a 3 hour session of Call of Cthulhu RPG, and 20 minutes in the GM says "and you die. See you next week, and we'll pick up the story at a later point. I guess you'll never know what happened to the Rougarou etc." You feel that you've missed out on story content and it's very unsatisfying.
Now, I know people say you can just try again anyway - but with the different "resolutions" and all, it seems to me that that isn't the *intended experience*. So... what is the intended experience? It would be great if on your first playthrough, you just about make it "through" each scenario whilst suffering along the way. But more often than not, you die at a far less satisfying moment. It doesn't seem possible to have a compelling narrative when the random elements of the game might kill you.

There are other issues making this worse. A lot of the location effects (barriers etc) seem almost impossible to overcome depending on your investigator, and compared to LotR it frequently seems that there is just nothing you can do on your turn to avoid being killed. And I like the idea of exploring the locations, but when playing solo you can get really screwed because of the limited movements, and only realising in hindsight that you've wasted your precious actions by going to the wrong locations or pursuing the objective that is actually not best for your investigator.

I really, really wanted to like this. But the concept just doesn't seem to work, and compared to the freedom of LotR at this point it hardly seems like a game at all.

Edited by kaisergav

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I've got several dozen campaigns under my belt, and I think I've died once, maybe twice. If you find yourself dying that frequently, perhaps you're misunderstanding some rule? Or try on Easy Mode (Story Mode) if you're less concerned about gameplay and more concerned about the RPG element.

The point of Arkham is not to "win" a scenario. It's to see what happens, and if you hit a situation where some location is impossible for your Investigator to enter, or an enemy impossible to kill, to look for alternative ways of finishing. Find another exit, VP farm and resign, look for another Objective. Each Investigator should not be able to accomplish the same ends. Rex isn't going to kill boss enemies, but can easily find clues and get other resolutions. Similarly, Zoey might find it tough to investigate the whereabouts of missing professors, but science experiments run amok, she can kill with exigent impunity. In reality would a librarian kill winged snakes? Or would an Irish gangster care to hunt down hidden artefacts? I guess the point is this game is an RPG. Find a character whose personality and traits speak to you, and see how they can accomplish their mission.

I do agree, though, that setup and takedown can be fiddly, and it's disheartening to lose a scenario after 5 minutes. But many of the LOTR scenarios are the same way. Mount Gram takes a good 10 minutes to set up, and you can be completely boned from the first turn. Three Trials is the same way. Steward's Fear.

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Yea, I've played lots of games so far and have yet to completely die in a game, though some we've definitely finished with the least optimal resolution and with some deaths. Also worth noting, every game I play is 2-4 player. 

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3 hours ago, Network57 said:

The point of Arkham is not to "win" a scenario. It's to see what happens...

That´s my main issue with AH - you know what will happen after first campaign and you know all resolutions after 3 attempts no matter what investigator you play. There´´ s nothing that can surprise you. Deckbuilding is great, the game is flavorful, I have no problem with most of mechanics including chaos bag or auto fail token but this LCG has much less replayability then LotR.

 

I think that you need two different Cellars, two different Graveyards and ALL other locations with completely different effects to not be sure what happens where. Then this game will be really fantastic.

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Just now, tyrion003 said:

That´s my main issue with AH - you know what will happen after first campaign and you know all resolutions after 3 attempts no matter what investigator you play. There´´ s nothing that can surprise you. Deckbuilding is great, the game is flavorful, I have no problem with most of mechanics including chaos bag or auto fail token but this LCG has much less replayability then LotR.

 

I think that you need two different Cellars, two different Graveyards and ALL other locations with completely different effects to not be sure what happens where. Then this game will be really fantastic.

Explain how Arkham has less replayability than LOTR. Once you strip away the resolutions, which you have, the only randomness comes from the encounter deck and the chaos bag and which location you choose to travel to. The only randomness in LOTR comes from.... oh right, the encounter deck, the shadow effects, and which location you choose to travel to. Why is one different than the other?

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7 hours ago, kaisergav said:

With LotR, the focus is on the mechanics, so if you die you don't lose nearly as much momentum, and you can far more easily reshuffle and try again. It's akin to getting killed in a videogame, where you reload and try immediately.

This is actually an interesting discussion in video games as well.  A lot of people don't like the "die and reload instantly" thing.  It leads to games like EVE Online, where investment and loss hurt.  Not saying EVE is a great game (I don't personally think it is) but the potential for loss adds weight to what you do, and that makes everything more intense.

I never loved the "just reset and go again" nature of LOTR.  Saga fixes it a little by adding the hero loss penalty, but in reality that's so harsh that the only change is that "retry until win" becomes "retry until win without losing any heroes".

The fact that your scenario results in AH stick for at least the course of a campaign makes decisions matter more.  You're not just going to drop Delve Too Deep on a whim, because while the XP is good the negative effects may carry long-term consequences.  For me, what you're saying you dislike is exactly why I love it - I love that our decisions matter, that what we do in a game will have long-term benefits or losses.  Last game we played we got greedy with XP, and ended up failing because of it.  Decisions matter, and that's a good thing.

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1 hour ago, tyrion003 said:

That´s my main issue with AH - you know what will happen after first campaign and you know all resolutions after 3 attempts no matter what investigator you play. There´´ s nothing that can surprise you. 

 

To me, the replay ability in LotR is worse for the very reason that there is only 2 possible outcomes. You win, or you lose.  Once through the Quest cards the first time, there is nothing that will surprise you - though it still may catch you unprepared.  That's different.  In Arkham, I've played the expansion a few times now, starting with each quest as the "first" quest and each time I've had different scenario/combinations of the Act/Agenda happening to where each play-through, there were still fairly decent differences in the game.    But for me, I'd say your letting the games desire for you to continue the story interfere with how you want to play the game.  In LotR, you play until you win.  The quests - excluding Saga - are completely stand alone, and so you have no issue just repeating a question until RNG gives you the cards in the right order that you can win.  Just play Arkham that same way.  Don't feel rushed into moving on to the next quest if you got a resolution you didn't like.   But, that's just my suggestion to try to get the most out of it for you.   

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2 hours ago, Network57 said:

Explain how Arkham has less replayability than LOTR. Once you strip away the resolutions, which you have, the only randomness comes from the encounter deck and the chaos bag and which location you choose to travel to. The only randomness in LOTR comes from.... oh right, the encounter deck, the shadow effects, and which location you choose to travel to. Why is one different than the other?

Yeah, just my feeling. Maybe that´s because encounter deck has more card types - it spawns enemies, treacheries AND locations so you can get more combinations in different games but still leaded the right way by quests and unique cards at the right time, so you play the game and you are inside the story at the same time. In AH you go to location where you exactly know what will happen there. I think that locations are really missed opportunity how to make this game fantastic and maybe better than anything else. Now I feel AH too schematic for me - you go through the planned route and deal with treacheries or enemies, nothing more... and enemies seems too generic for me, they have stats but a lot of them have no special text, they feel too similar for me, where in LotR you have much more text and abilities which is maybe another thing that drives me closer to Rings.

But I have to admit that many players around me find AH as improvement in comparison to LotR so that could be my issue, not the game´´´ s.

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