Friday, 30 August 2013

Hello, farewell and Fhtagn Cthulhu!

Hi there everybody! Just a quick post today, mainly to say welcome and thank you to all those who follow me on this blog. I have had several new additions recently so a warm 'welcome along' goes out to you but my oldest readers deserve a special thank you too!

As many of you are aware I started this blog off because of the nascent Oldhammer scene announcing it's inaugural get-together. Which is this weekend! I will be away enjoying all sorts of Oldhammery goodness with similarly depraved souls for a couple of days, hurrah! I have really got into blogging as a way to meet new people/gamers and track my progress so obviously the blog will keep on trucking after the big event having outgrown it's original purpose. Apologies for not being able to reply to comments with my usual swiftness but I will be back in business on Monday.

I know I have a few keen board gamers in the audience so I will briefly (who was I kidding) mention 'Arkham Horror' which we played at the club last night. It was the latest incarnation of the game and despite having heard the usual 'not as good as the original' grumblings from the interwebs we actually had a lot of fun playing it. Just to introduce it properly, Arkham Horror is a cooperative play board game set in Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos which enables the players to act as a team in order to 'beat the box'. It's rather clever mechanics make you feel as though the game itself is out to get you and that things are very much stacked against you from the start.

The box art. Don't be fooled, you are probably better off with a lucky lamp than a Tommy gun.

I played as Dexter Drake the stage magician (who fortunately has acquired one or two less than illusory, reality-bending skills on his travels) and joined a group of ghostbusters that included a haunted student, an archeologist seeking revenge for his murdered father, a best-selling author wracked with painful visions of doom and a mysterious drifter that has seen too much. Each character card comes with some narrative intro fluff on the back which is great for people like me.

How the board looks.

You begin the game without any real objective or direction, though you are told which of the Ancient Ones is threatening the world (we drew Yig who made all cultist encounters rather more unpleasant than usual and cursed all of us from the start). The idea is to wander around the streets and locations on the board using the symbols as a guide to the kind of encounters you will have (these are drawn once per player at the end of each turn). In addition, every turn you draw an Ancient One card that will open gates, introduce and move monsters and describe events that temporarily affect the gameplay. To end the nightmare threat players must close at least six gates before the doom counter reaches 10. It is up to the players to move to the gates, fight or evade any nearby monsters that have slipped through and close them. It is even possible to seal them permanently if you collect enough clue tokens or a rare Elder Sign. Apart from clues, other resources you have to manage include your sanity and stamina, money, common and magic items, allies, spells and your customisable statistics.

This really is a top drawer game. I was very impressed with the way it drew in everybody around the table, those that had never played it before as well as those who knew nothing about the Cthulhu mythos. The thematic flavour is engaging and leaves you wanting more while the nuts and bolts of the mechanics are just the right mix of simple to learn and frustratingly difficult to master. Eventually we narrowly prevented Yig from destroying the Human race (phew!) in a tense and exciting finale that saw a necessary and much-longed for Elder Sign appear just at the right moment. Mr Drake was quite the monster hunter with his array of deadly spells and a lucky lamp while Ashcan Pete the drifter collected a phenomenal number of clues enabling him to seal the most gates. The archeologist recovered from three early bouts of insanity to uncover both of the two Eldar Signs we amassed during the game. The author and the student chipped in but were often forced to focus on mere survival!

Fhtagn Cthulhu!

Thanks for stopping by!


  1. Replies
    1. Cheers mate! I flipping well did by the way! I will post about the experience but for now let me say it was a fun overload and more than delivered.

  2. Have fun, and Arkham Horror is a great game. My only concern is how much space it takes up on the table. My brother owns it and we've played a few times. I was wondering what the original was, as I've only seen this one.

    1. Hi Sean, thanks mate. I just got back and we all had an amaxing time. Oldhammerers came from all over Europe and we had one American too. Such a good weekend!

      Arkham Horror was first released in 1987 by Chaosium. That version fetches a handsome price on eBay if you are lucky enough to find one at all. Fantasy Flight bought the licence for the out of print game and re-released a new version in 2005 and a then a revised edition in 2007.

      It is a big game actually, especially if you're using an expansion with all the extra bits scattered on the table. I didn't notice because we had it on a 6' x 4' gaming table at the club but on a dining table you might have issues.