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TheHil

Best H.P. Lovecraft Game?

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 I posed this question in the "Arkham Horror" forum and now wanted to give the "Mansions of Madness" fans a chance to respond- I'm trying to decide which of FFG's H.P. Lovecraft-themed game to start off with- Arkham or Mansions? I'm also intrigued by "Elder SIgn" and the LCG. 

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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 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.

 

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dj2.0 said:

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.

That is probably the most fair proposal for Arkham Horror. My friend owns that game and I too am envious because of its solo-ability. However, I believe Mansions is my tried-and-true favorite board game. That being said, dj2.0 is correct in asserting that Mansions is being currently revised in their expansion, and forseeably the core set itself too shall be revised. The one criticism I have with Arkham Horror thus far in comparison is Mansions has a more emersive, mysterious, suspensful, dungeon-crawl feel while Arkham Horror feels more like Monopoly with monsters and madness. The detail put into a game of Mansions is awing. The game even has potential of customizing your own created maps and story-lines (I am nearly finished with one of my own). Mystery and coordinated mayhem from a mindful opponent makes this game a relish. One criticism I hear a lot about Mansions though is the Keeper is over-powered. I have Keeped 30 times over, and am undefeated (though I have had some close calls). I do not compromise because that will make my defeat that much sweeter. As an investigator, and a veteran player, against someone who Keeps and has slight experience with the game, I have about a 50/50 chance of winning. For investigators, the game feels like you are always on hard mode (only one setting, if following rules). As a veteran of the game, I enjoy that challenge. However, some players don't enjoy seeing someone else win with so much leverage. My recommendation to you is strongly in favor of Mansions if you understand that a revision may come in the near future, and know who you will be playing with (people who appreciate a good challenge and enjoy rotating the Keeper role I find like this game). If needs be, buy this game if you need to complement the Keeper player with a handicap. Honestly, I am waiting for the revision to smartly implement ranging difficulty settings, similar to Black Goat from AH.

If you are looking for some good cooperative games and solo games, I instead recommend Space Hulk: Death Angel, Gears of War, or Arkham Horror. But if I had to choose, I would go again and again with Mansions of Madness. That's my two-cents. I love the game.

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One last thing: if you were thinking about getting Elder Sign, save your money up for Arkham Horror instead. Elder Sign momentarily is a much simpler version of Arkham Horror. Had I known that, I'd have instead bought Arkham. Still, Mansions is the more immersive experience, and my recommendation to you.

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I'd say Arkham Horror. They're all great (And Elder Signs is greatly improved with the recent FAQ), but AH has solo (freakin' challenging) and is great for getting a big group of friends to play.

 

Edited on: However, if you've never played, it can be quite a challenge to figure out the rules just by reading the book.

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They are. Both games have HUGE potential, but in the interest of helping you out with that difficulty, atm AH is the only one living up to it, sadly. Give MoM time to get its act together is my advice, it will be hopefully better joining that train later, and keeping an eye on it for now.I think, if it were not in the business of paying staff wages and making profits, FFG would probably say the same right now.

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It all depends on what you are aiming for. Arkham and Mansions and both great games (in my opinion).

Arkham has the greatest potential, though after playing it many times (around 180 games), I think that the opening gates mechanics is the weak part. It really forces you to do similar actions (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. 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 very close to mythos stories as you can defea Ancient Ones with a Shotgun (at least as it is officially). It is an excellent game overall.

Mansions is much more immersive and realistic and closer to a roleplaying games. However the replayibility is way less. The scenarios are always extremely linear but some fan-made ones are not. I have played Mansions maybe 20 games (all official scenarios and several of the fan-made ones) and already I feel that although closer to a roleplaying game, you can have the feeling of a deja vu fairly quickly (even if the map changes). This is overall also an excellent game, but up to now the replayability is much less.

I have not played Elder Sign yet.

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Amikezor is right: replayability is down with the game IF you've played each map more than once and you constantly play with the same group. I play with three, so my replayability is always very high. If you only have one group of friends, this game may sit on your shelf after you have played every map (depending how you feel about the game). I have played mine almost fifty times, and the only reason I stopped was in anticipation of Forbidden Alchemy. The core game has five maps, and three plot arcs for each, so the first game has 15 total play values before it diminishes with one group. Each time you buy a PoD, you are getting one new map and three new arcs for the map story (set up changes the clues and climax each time). In my collection, I have the core and all PoDs, so that means my play value is 24; plus, replay with other groups gets me up to about 50. On top of that, win or lose has different endings, and when you lose, you understand next time more on HOW to win (though the Keeper, clues, and dice rolls can still be quite the obstacle). Truly, replay value is doubled when each group loses once, then wins once for each arc, making 48. Don't be surprised by Investigators having a hard time of it when first playing, but the more they continue playing the game, the more veteran they become. The game rewards personal experience with playing the game over and over as an investigator: once you understand the mechanics of the game, you become more apt to defeat the Keeper.

If you can't wait, it's worth it. The judgment is up to you whether you want to make variants for Keeper difficulty and remember to print off yourself the errata. Also announce the game to your players that the game has some errata; read through what it says and explain when adequate what has been errata'ed. Because you will most likely be Keeper first game, focus on Investigator and prime mechanics errata. Most is for the Keeper anyways. Wait for Forbidden Alchemy obviously and go ahead and pick yourself up the PoDs in this order: 'Til Death Do Us Part, Season of the Witch, and Silver Tablet.

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You do experience deja vu though, but it still feels roleplay-ish though a board game. I don't feel that as much with Arkham, though it is good too. I like being immersed when I play a game, and Arkham, though one day it will end up in my library, temporarily doesn't satisfy me as well as Mansions in that way.

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 Think I'm going to start with Arkham Horror and check out Mansions of Madness if they tweak it a bit. I heard there's errata for that game though- does that help make it more balanced? I do like the idea of trying to stop an Ancient/Old One from appearing from a portal though, but MoM has some cool miniatures. 

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TheHil said:

 Think I'm going to start with Arkham Horror and check out Mansions of Madness if they tweak it a bit. I heard there's errata for that game though- does that help make it more balanced? I do like the idea of trying to stop an Ancient/Old One from appearing from a portal though, but MoM has some cool miniatures. 

The erratas for both Arkham and Mansions bring more clarity to your boardgames, whichever you buy. If you are interested in Ancient One battles, then I do recommend Arkham Horror, and if you are waiting Mansions to get revised, I recommend Arkham Horror again.

If anything, get base game of Arkham Horror, and your first expansion that is recommended is Dunwich Horror (it is said the game feels incomplete without Dunwich). After that, it's your call what to buy. I posted a thread last month on the Arkham Horror forums asking what I should buy expansions in order, and it turns out my friend may just sell me his collection one day, so I am just waiting. However, their detailed advice is there and I recommend you take a look.

Then if it somehow turns out AH is not to your full liking, you can always get the core and a PoD of Mansions or revised Forbidden Alchemy and see if you like it. Balance the scales of your want, so to speak.

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Tromdial said:

You do experience deja vu though, but it still feels roleplay-ish though a board game. I don't feel that as much with Arkham, though it is good too. I like being immersed when I play a game, and Arkham, though one day it will end up in my library, temporarily doesn't satisfy me as well as Mansions in that way.

I agree. You should definitely play arkham investigations, which is better than MoM at story telling (although each scenario can only be played once).

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