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TheHil

Best H.P. Lovecraft Game- Where to Start

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 Which H.P. Lovecraft game is the best? Arkham Horror, Mansions of Madness or Call of Cthulu: The Card Game? Big Lovecraft fan trying to decide where to start. 

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 Your asking a pretty biased board here.  ;)

Ok, I haven't played Mansions of Madness, but I've played Arkham Horror and Elder Sign (which you didn't mention but is also a solid Lovecraft game) quite a bit, and I've dabbled in Call of Cthulhu (Which I enjoy, but can't find a good player base near me :( )

From what I understand, Mansions of Madness is a full blown RPG type game with a dedicated Dungeon Master trying to thwart the players.  I'm sure someone on this board can fill you in better.

If you're looking for a light, fun but thematic game, Elder Sign might be up your ally.  It's not an incredibly difficult or strategic game, but it's fun and thematic, and you'll find yourself up against plenty of Horrors.  But once you figure out how to play the game, you'll find yourself beating it very consistently, and it actually makes a better solo game than multiplayer game.  It might be the best place to start though, as its small, cheap, easy and can be learned fairly quickly.

Call of Cthulhu is for you if you love deckbuilding card games along the lines of Magic, ect.  I really enjoy the LCG format, and it's plenty thematic with some solid mechanics and really nice art.  But you really need a good player base around you to enjoy the game.  I can play it with my brother when he's back home, but none of my other friends are interested, so it doesn't get a good lot of play time from me.  It'd be a great starting game if, and only if, you have a good player base near you.

Arkham Horror, is of course, the winner in my opinion.  Arkham is a huge, tough game that takes a long time to set up and a much longer time to play, and you will have to fight hard for your victory.  It can be adequately soloed but plays well in large or small groups (it can fit up to 8 which fits most party settings).  And it is WONDERFULLY thematic.  You fill fight your way through eldricht horrors whimpering as the game does everything in it's power to screw you over all the while laughing at your pitiful attempts to conquer it.  But when you do, it's often a huge accomplishment.  It's not quite an RPG, but it's an unfolding story which you will take full part in and most of the time, you'll have a blast.  But getting the full game (with all expansions) takes a significant financial investment and will take creative means to keep your pieces and chits separated and ready to play.  But is it worth it?  I think so.

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TheHil said:

 Which H.P. Lovecraft game is the best? Arkham Horror, Mansions of Madness or Call of Cthulu: The Card Game? Big Lovecraft fan trying to decide where to start. 

It strongly depends on what you're searching for.

- Solo play: Arkham Horror or Elder Sign

- Strategic playing: Arkham Horror, then Mansions of madness

- Theme in the game: Mansions of Madness, then Arkham Horror

- Variety of the game: Arkham Horror or the LCG (depends strongly on how much money you'll invest in it). But anyway, AH is much more fun, IMHO.

In my experience, Mansions is kinda ripetitive. Even if Scenarios are different, and you have many cards, and the plots are good, you keep on drawing the same Attack cards, the same Mythos cards, the same Injuries cards, and even if the first couple of times the flavour text is good, at the third or fourth time in the same game you read the same card, well, it's kinda boring. Keeper actions are a little limited as well, and the game is not that fun if you aren't able to find in time all the clues. On the other hand, it's very well balanced, the elements are incredibly exquisite and detailed and the general idea is very interesting (it's a kind of crossover between an RPG and a boardgame). This resulted in me still playing Arkham once / week, Mansions once / month and a new party of the CoC RPG (Chaosium glorious fourth edition) being started ::laughter::

Mansions is a *great* game, Arkham is a whole universe in a box. Elder signs is kinda too easy, and the LCG is good, but it's about deck building, so it requires constant play

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 Thanks for the info! Arkham Horror sounds pretty great, but I'm drawn to Mansions of Madness because it has the same kind of plastic miniatures as the first FFG game I've played, Battles of Westeros. Arkham has those investigator figures, but they're a bit expensive. And yeah, maybe I should have just posted this in the general chat. Thanks again! 

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I cannot comment on ES,, but I say choose Arkham Horror. I have the entire AH line, MoM + one PoD and have been collecting and playing the LCG since it began life as a CCG. The rationale for my recommendation is simple:

MoM is a thematically immersive, entertaining, beautifully conceived game but something went horribly wrong in the production process. I wont offer much comment on it other than to say a huge amount of lost trust in this product and FFG in general resulted, which FFG will now have its work cut out to undo. Until that time I could not recommend it to anyone. It could also do with some meatier support - with the base game, combat (especially unarmed) can quickly become repetitive as the same cards are encountered in the combat deck. FA counters this, but more are still needed before combat becomes more variable. Also it is wide open to exploitation in certain places and tends to stir the pot of feelings in people who play, so if your group falls out over such issues it is best avoided. I want to love this game, like many people, but have just found it asking too much of me for that affair to take off.

The LCG is again beautifully conceived (I mean this artistically and mechanically) and fun to play, with lots of replay potential and very healthy and muscular support. It has a community of loyal and adoring fans who are still competitive like MoM players but who do not tend to end up fighting as players after a bout. I have been to the fairly tense european championship final, and everyone left with friends. Ultimately, though, if you plan on staying in the game and want all the support offered for it this turns out to be the most expensive outlay.

AH wins because it is playable solo or co-op, has a huge degree of support, a continually inventive and creative fan community vigorous in exploring its mutable rule system, can be pitched at variable levels of difficulty from 'routine' to 'nigh impossible' and (within a predictable framework) manages to produce continuous surprises. Its simple but subtly complicated rules, the combos between cards and the amount of things to keep track of can generate problems for beginners and people who like simpler mechanics, but these issues can all be overcome in time and more importantly, with the many tentacled helpdesk that is this forums community. Happy New Year you blasphemous thing!
 

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dj2.0 said:

...but something went horribly wrong in the production process. I wont offer much comment on it other than to say a huge amount of lost trust in this product and FFG in general resulted, which FFG will now have its work cut out to undo. Until that time I could not recommend it to anyone.

You throw some strong negative statement out there, but you don't then explain what was, "horribly wrong"?  OK.

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The Old Man said:

dj2.0 said:

 

...but something went horribly wrong in the production process. I wont offer much comment on it other than to say a huge amount of lost trust in this product and FFG in general resulted, which FFG will now have its work cut out to undo. Until that time I could not recommend it to anyone.

 

You throw some strong negative statement out there, but you don't then explain what was, "horribly wrong"?  OK.

Probably because it's not all that hard to track down the disappointment.  Here...Board Game Geek...you can do any search and locate the same sentiment all over the place.

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jgt7771 said:

 

Probably because it's not all that hard to track down the disappointment.  Here...Board Game Geek...you can do any search and locate the same sentiment all over the place.

My friend is correct - I simply did not want to drag all that  up over here, again, but it bears such a significant part in my feelings towards MoM that I could not honestly just ignore it.

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dj2.0 said:

jgt7771 said:

 

 

Probably because it's not all that hard to track down the disappointment.  Here...Board Game Geek...you can do any search and locate the same sentiment all over the place.

 

 

My friend is correct - I simply did not want to drag all that  up over here, again, but it bears such a significant part in my feelings towards MoM that I could not honestly just ignore it.

I did poke around on BGG but I'm not sure I found what the OP was referring to.  Do I do a search on, "horribly wrong"?

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Everyone's got an opinion, remember. I do agree that Mansions had some problems, but I don't think "horribly wrong" is quite fair. I see where jgt is coming from. Mansions is not my favorite, and I'd rather play Arkham almost any day, and Mansions rarely gets any play, but I don't regret getting it. Someday when I have some cash I'll get all the expansions.

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ok heres my experience of 'horribly wrong': I spend 60 euros on a game and find that 2 miniatures have broken parts. I get them replaced. I set up the first game only to find that the Keeper has an (obvious) exploit that leads to a locked room that cannot be opened but must be entered to win the game. I find others with the same story. I try a second game. This time, a crucial sticking point is the presence of a ladder nobody can go down without a password, the entire group (including the Keeper) is mystified until it realises the ladder is a secret ladder and should really not be there on the setup map. At which point it is discovered that several cards -and the setup map -  in MoM need corrections, many of them critical components. We are told they will arrive in an expansion. Waiting patiently, the group shells out 15 euro for a PoD expansion, only to find it too has issues which need clarification. Then the expansion appears, the one to correct the base game, and it too has massive issues, which personally embarress and humiliate the designer to the extent that they say so on this website. The group, however, had actually expected this to happen and avoided shelling out more cash.

If thats not 'horribly wrong' in terms of what FFG expected, I dont know what is.

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Your mileage may vary of course, but my experience was widespread. I will say that as usual FFG support has been exemplary throughout - my broken minis were dispatched quickly and free of charge, arriving safely in europe from their warehouse.

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And one of my most epic FFG games of any capacity was the Mansions game I played on my wedding night... one investigator was moments away from solving the final puzzle, but his remaining companion went insane and decapitated him, winning the game for the Keeper. Everyone was stunned. We celebrated with Laphroaig.

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Tibs: I actually had my own instance of one investigator decpatitating another.  It was rather amusing reading the flavor text: "You scream as you tear its head right off.  Well, of course you don't actually take his head off...wait...what's his health again?"  I then immediately turned the decapitated investigator into a zombie.

Anyway: I haven't contributed so far because I pretty much agree with people here that Arkham is the best.  Mansions is still worth picking up, though.  It's worth noting that all of the problems with Mansions can be solved if you first peruse the various FAQs (although I can only speak for the base game and Season of the Witch, as I don't know the others), with the last story being an exception; carefully look over the clues and placement instructions for that one, I believe they confused two different placements.  And you really have to be on top of your game if you're the keeper, since one mistake in setup can screw everything up (though not necessarily irreperably).

Honestly, you should get both, but Arkham is the better one (although, as anyone on here can tell you, the base game by itself can be a bit too easy; Mansions is fine base-game only, with the only [admittedly major] issue being the paucity of stories).

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I'll repost a revised version of my post on the MoM forum. Arkham and Mansions and both great games in my opinion, but they differ significantly. I have not played Elder Sign yet.

Arkham has the greatest potential, though after playing it many times, I think that the opening gates mechanics is the weak part (I found it almost borring in the end). It really forces you to do the same actions each game (ie gathering clues, entering gates, sealing them, etc) when there are thousands of more exciting things you wanted to do. There are however interesting ideas (scenarios and variants) to get rid of the gates as they are in a standard game. Maybe Arkham investigations is one to look at. I shall add that the last expansions tend to be of poor quality (thematically speaking). That being said, the replayability is really amazing. It is not close to a role playing game or a mythos story as you can chase down gigantic monsters with your bare hands.

Mansions is much more immersive and realistic and closer to a roleplaying games. However the replayibility is a problem. The scenarios are always extremely linear (happily some fan-made ones are not). I have played Mansions several times (official scenarios and fan-made ones) and already I feel that although closer to a roleplaying game, you have the feeling of a deja vu fairly quickly (even if when the map and the objective change). 

As a conclusion, there is only way to go for me now - make a new lovecraft game that is immersive (as Mansions), that tells a story (better than Mansions, maybe like Arkham investigations), that has high replayability (like Arkham), where the bad guy is a keeper (I made such a variant for Arkham some time ago ; it is more fun to play against a human than against an IA) and importantly where the actions you can perform are not constrained by the game (e.g. get rid of the gates mechanics) but are stay opened during the game. Finally, keep the rules as simple as possible (ie Arkham may be too complicated). This has been poking around my brain for quite some time and I am getting closer to the idea, but am not there yet.

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amikezor said:

I'll repost a revised version of my post on the MoM forum. Arkham and Mansions and both great games in my opinion, but they differ significantly. I have not played Elder Sign yet.

Arkham has the greatest potential, though after playing it many times, I think that the opening gates mechanics is the weak part (I found it almost borring in the end). It really forces you to do the same actions each game (ie gathering clues, entering gates, sealing them, etc) when there are thousands of more exciting things you wanted to do. There are however interesting ideas (scenarios and variants) to get rid of the gates as they are in a standard game....

......As a conclusion, there is only way to go for me now - make a new lovecraft game that is immersive (as Mansions), that tells a story (better than Mansions, maybe like Arkham investigations), that has high replayability (like Arkham), where the bad guy is a keeper (I made such a variant for Arkham some time ago ; it is more fun to play against a human than against an IA) and importantly where the actions you can perform are not constrained by the game (e.g. get rid of the gates mechanics) but are stay opened during the game. Finally, keep the rules as simple as possible (ie Arkham may be too complicated). This has been poking around my brain for quite some time and I am getting closer to the idea, but am not there yet.

 

Replayability may be the greatest thing about Arkham Horror- each expansion or Ancient One puts a whole different slant on the game. But you're right, if you ignore all the other cool stuff (like investigating Rifts or exploring Innsmouth to stop the Deep Ones Track) and just close/seal Gates you'll probably win, but that can get repetitive. 

My high hopes for Mansions of Madness have been dashed by all the negatives people say (haven't played it yet but still want to) but I heard it's way better if the 'Keeper' is neutral like a GM rather than playing against the players.  Seems to me that MOM would really flesh out all those various locations from the Arkham board- Witch House, Unnamable, Silver Twilight etc in 'mini' scenarios that don't threaten the whole world every time.

You should try "The Vermont Horror" fan-made expansion for Arkham H (I keep harping on it in Forums but it's great) It involves a multi-turn 'Prequel' where Gates rarely appear (which you're not allowed to Seal yet) but several tokens are usually added to the Doom Track and the Terror Level usually rises significantly- all this happens before the Ancient One is even revealed(!) You spend time exploring Arkham and Vermont (town of Brattleboro?) and trying not to get abducted by the Mi-Go... I gave it a rave review on BGG despite the fact I was missing a few pieces.

 

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The base game for Mansions of Madness is quite fun.  It's just the scenarios that are of variable quality.  Some of the scenarios are very good.  I haven't heard many negative comments about Inner Sanctum, for example.  So, if you get MoM, carefully read reviews before deciding which scenarios to play.  If you do that, you'll may find Mansions to be well worth the time that you put into it. 

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Ideas have been churning in my head all day...Hmmm, an Arkham Horror version that departs from the Gates? The answer's literally staring at me from my bookshelf- the King In Yellow expansion! KIY  has something that no other expansion has; a worse threat than even the Gates or the Doom Track- The ACTS!

 

"Act III" means YOU LOSE; no Final Battle, nothing. Everything in the 'touring performance' revolves around "The Next Act Begins" Mythos cards. I've played whole games of KIY where Harvey Walters basically sits around with his stack of Tomes and casts the "Arcane Insight"  spell nearly every other turn- very little 'action' actually happens but it's always TENSE.  I consider this the most "Lovecraftian" gameplay from any of the expansions I've tried (still missing Dunwich and Miskatonic)

 

To the King you must look for inspiration! A really Lovecraftian game would be spent reading dusty old books, compiling accounts of past events from other peoples' journals/ deathbed confessions, maybe exploring a location or two, avoiding Cultists and the occasional unspeakable Monster (rather than fighting), and preventing The Gate from opening (rather than sealing numerous gates).

 

I like the Arkham Investigations "Tomes" idea- with multi-page Tomes. Haven't played with them yet, but it looks like a great idea. Wonder how a whole game of Tomes would be? The books could suck your characters into them, or challenge their sanity....

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Fake Ghost Pirate said:

You should try "The Vermont Horror" fan-made expansion for Arkham H (I keep harping on it in Forums but it's great) It involves a multi-turn 'Prequel' where Gates rarely appear (which you're not allowed to Seal yet) but several tokens are usually added to the Doom Track and the Terror Level usually rises significantly- all this happens before the Ancient One is even revealed(!) You spend time exploring Arkham and Vermont (town of Brattleboro?) and trying not to get abducted by the Mi-Go... I gave it a rave review on BGG despite the fact I was missing a few pieces.

 

I will then. I have been looking at it for several times now, but I will definitely try it on my next game. 

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Fake Ghost Pirate said:

 

Ideas have been churning in my head all day...Hmmm, an Arkham Horror version that departs from the Gates? The answer's literally staring at me from my bookshelf- the King In Yellow expansion! KIY  has something that no other expansion has; a worse threat than even the Gates or the Doom Track- The ACTS!

"Act III" means YOU LOSE; no Final Battle, nothing. Everything in the 'touring performance' revolves around "The Next Act Begins" Mythos cards. I've played whole games of KIY where Harvey Walters basically sits around with his stack of Tomes and casts the "Arcane Insight"  spell nearly every other turn- very little 'action' actually happens but it's always TENSE.  I consider this the most "Lovecraftian" gameplay from any of the expansions I've tried (still missing Dunwich and Miskatonic)

To the King you must look for inspiration! A really Lovecraftian game would be spent reading dusty old books, compiling accounts of past events from other peoples' journals/ deathbed confessions, maybe exploring a location or two, avoiding Cultists and the occasional unspeakable Monster (rather than fighting), and preventing The Gate from opening (rather than sealing numerous gates). 

I like the Arkham Investigations "Tomes" idea- with multi-page Tomes. Haven't played with them yet, but it looks like a great idea. Wonder how a whole game of Tomes would be? The books could suck your characters into them, or challenge their sanity....

 

 

Yes, I totally second your thought about KiY. It is my personal favorite and I am delighted that Hastur got revised since the first version was not really exciting. Dunwich is nice too, but you have to play it as a touring too (eg draw mythos once every other time from dunwich) to get the flavor of it (otherwise, it gets too dilluted). Miskatonic has no theme whatsoever (except for one institution), so don't expect any ^^.

As for an arkham game without gate, I like the idea of the Tome. Although I have played all arkham investigations, I should give a try to the Tomes. I am in the process of creating this new game based on arkham/mansions and it will be the goal of this coming year. Any further thought is very welcome. I would be happy to share more thoughts about it.

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A note on Lovecraftian theme: remember, although Lovecraft's stories are big on cosmic horror, they almost always involve the humans "winning" in some capacity, and they never involve the Ancient Ones destroying the world.  In fact, Cthulhu, the most well-known of all Ancient Ones, (spoiler alert) is defeated when he gets hit with a boat.

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Walk said:

A note on Lovecraftian theme: remember, although Lovecraft's stories are big on cosmic horror, they almost always involve the humans "winning" in some capacity, and they never involve the Ancient Ones destroying the world.  In fact, Cthulhu, the most well-known of all Ancient Ones, (spoiler alert) is defeated when he gets hit with a boat.

Indeed. Although, the winning is typically a draw since the cosmic horror will always come back... one of these day... it just sleeps... awaiting... ^^

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Walk said:

A note on Lovecraftian theme: remember, although Lovecraft's stories are big on cosmic horror, they almost always involve the humans "winning" in some capacity, and they never involve the Ancient Ones destroying the world.  In fact, Cthulhu, the most well-known of all Ancient Ones, (spoiler alert) is defeated when he gets hit with a boat.

 

If you read it carefully Cthulhu doesn't actually plan to destroy the world at all. He'll certainly change things, mankind will no longer be supreme on Earth- but the story makes it sound like an era of pagan orgies, which isn't such a bad thing but it offends a stodgy New Englander's Puritan sensibilities.... I'm sure ol' HP would think Cthulhu was fully awake if he could see the Free World of our present day...

 

[80-YEAR-OLD SPOILERS]  I believe Prof Armitage defeats the Dunwich Horror using the Powder of Ibn-Ghazi...another happy ending where our world is spared. But the world comes perilously close to destruction by the most obscure means imaginable...

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