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SGPrometheus

The Humble Move Action

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Hello all.

I've decided to create a series of threads each meditating on a different basic action, not counting parley and activate. I'm doing this on my phone during my lunch break, so don't expect any hard-hitting, deep analysis; it's more a study of how we use the rule of thumb that all actions are equal, which is great for learning the game and teaching it, as well as analyzing card effects, but in practice isn't always the case. Anyway, let the rambling begin.

What percentage of actions taken in an average scenario are move actions? My feeling is that it's higher than one would expect, and as the situation gets worse it goes even higher. Move actions are arguably the action you want to take the least, and there's a good reason for this: every other action has a concrete, measurable way of improving the board state, assuming you succeed. All move does is position you to accomplish those things, while often punishing you with forced effects on locations. I think my point here is that move has the largest "feels bad" element or stigma attached to it, both for being a workhorse action that does nothing on its own and for often slapping the player with a devious "gotcha" effect (you can almost hear Matt Newman giggling with sadistic glee every time you turn over a location in "Where Doom Awaits"). Experienced players know: NEVER move into an unrevealed location on your last action.

For these reasons, cards that let you skip/generate move actions are considered some of the best in the game. Pathfinder and both versions of Shortcut are highly prized for essentially cutting the fat out of the game, and even the massive costs of Astral Travel and Open Gate (more of an opportunity cost there) feel pretty reasonable for their effects. Rita Young and Track Shoes practically negate the problem entirely. The thing all these effects have in common is they allow you to focus on winning instead of getting from here to there.

But moving is an essential part of any game that claims to have deep strategy; more specifically, positioning is essential (not that there's a distinction here). So what can be done? I don't think the problem is movement itself, so perhaps there's a more nuanced design format for it? I don't claim to be a game designer by any stretch, and I can't think of anything as clear and simple as the current system, but there's definitely something chore-like when a treachery effect moves me someplace and I have to basically waste a whole turn getting back. Perhaps the problem will be solved with the release of new cards, if we can even call it a problem in the first place. After all, even Lord of the Rings had an extended running sequence, so sometimes your characters do just waste whole swaths of time going from place to place. In LotR though, I remember a "will they get there in time?" tension that pretended to make it interesting; in Arkham it's often a binary "I still have time and can do this" or "welp, now we're boned," with very little in that sweet middle spot.

Oh right, I wanted to talk about how actions aren't always the same value. This one's easy: move as little as possible. Every move away from the objective is two actions you could have spent working on that objective, at least (one to leave, a second to return). Of course, if the fighter has no hope of investigating and there's an enemy generating doom across the map, go kill him, but as far as your seeker is concerned, a move action is practically a two-action weakness. Unlike Resource or Draw, unnecessary move actions are actively harmful most of the time. A weird action, when you consider it.

Thanks for reading! I'll probably do resource or draw next, depends on what I'm thinking about. Also I don't think I'll cover Play; like Parley and Activate, it depends entirely on the card and should be judged on a card-to-card basis.

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I agree with your thoughts and really enjoyed reading and thinking about the move action. My turn to ramble about it, too.

Moving is a cost of doing the business of horror investigation. In and of itself, moving is not satisfying, as you say, so maybe that is why cards and abilities that make a move more than just a move are so cool. Ursula Downs’ ability to get a free investigation action after moving is fun, enough so that playing her involves planning how you can move each turn! Add Pathfinder to that and it feels like you are cheating. 😊 Don’t even get me started about how much I love being Elusive!

Some of my favorite scenarios ( Dunwich Express, Eztli Temple, 1000 Shapes of Horror) involve a “race against time” to get done or out of danger by moving your butts as quickly as you can from location to location. With the functionality of doom on the agenda making it a real race. I may appreciate these scenarios more because in my Dungeons and Dragons days as a DM, I wanted to create that sense of urgency for my hapless adventurers. The agenda deck is such a fantastic mechanic!

I am glad movement is an integral part of this game. It figures into your strategy in every game no matter what class of investigator you are playing. “If I go there, then I have two actions to ... wait, I have to play my (insert needed item asset) first ... how am I going to make this work?” So much fun!

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Posted (edited)

Agreed. Then add the locations that don’t slap you when you reveal them, but if you end your turn  there, making you “pay to stay”. Some cards and Investigators have a way around that too. As mentioned, in this situation, Seekers have Pathfinder and can move safely away to a connecting location, then use Pathfinder to go back at the beginning of their next turn. Ursula can also get the free investigation that would possibly have been her first action of she had stayed. Open Gate, Track Shoes, Shortcut and Elusive have been mentioned. Astral Travel, but has risks. Pendant of the Queen has an “Open Gate/Elusive” sort of option. Sometimes, being dropped by a Byhakee in a central location is a gift from the encounter deck. Obviously, in certain circumstances, Swift Reflexes, Think on your feet and Haste can help as well. 

Although we won’t be able to play this card in real Arkham, I do hope they finally release Barkham, because Skids O’Drool’s signature card is amazing. It is a moving machine! As I think about it, it is moving machine.  

Edited by Mimi61

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