Friday, December 15, 2017

Cult of the Not So New - Dec 2007

BGG user JonMichael Rasmus (jmsr525) has been doing analysis of the games and their trends each month for what seems like forever. I thought it might be interesting to look back at what was so hot 10 years ago. So sit back and enjoy this blast from the past. Based on information in the geeklist - BGG Top 100 Analysis December 2007.

Prime Movers for December 
Race for the Galaxy +70 #29
Agricola +14 #13

Quick! Name two big games that were released in 2007. Not much surprise that these two showed up in the prime movers category. RftG had early reviews as far back as Oct. 2007 stirring up gamer's desire to get their hands on this game and when it was more widely available near the end of the year, this game was THE game to be played. This felt like a slightly more wide open version of San Juan and it was obvious from some of the things on some cards that there was going to be more to this game than just this one set of cards (and there was a lot more planned). Sadly, it took TEN YEARS for us to get a port of this game onto our tablets and phones. I've played a fair bit of Race because of the app this year, and while I enjoyed it more than I enjoyed the tabletop game initially, I still think the game is a little random and that you can have a good idea if you are going to win or lose after the first 3-4 cards are down. Well, of course its random, it is a card game, but this has never really sunk its hooks into me. Race currently still resides in the BGG Top 50.

Agricola was of course the Puerto Rico killer. That one game people liked enough to knock PR off its top spot (a spot that nobody thought PR would ever surrender). Obviously it hadn't done so yet, but climbing to #13 in the first year of release is pretty impressive. Ten years later, Agricola sits at #15 on the BGG charts.

Falling Stars for December
NONE! Fallingest star was Louis XIV dropping six to #82. I don't think I've talk about Louis before so let take a look! Louis XIV was/is the first in Alea's Medium Box line of games (released 2005). Something of an area control/influence game, players are trying to gather influence in the Sun King's court. The game's rules were pretty bad by Alea standards, but the game itself wasn't terribly hard to learn. It was a cool little game except for one thing - there was a set collection portion to scoring points and unfortunately it was totally random. At least for me, it spoiled this game. Out-planning the other players only to lose because someone got lucky isn't terribly appealing. Others must agree to some extent as Louis is sitting at #503 ten years later.


Hot Lava Birth for December
StarCraft: The Board Game #96
Blood Bowl - Third Edition #100

I'm going to mention Blood Bowl first - I love the concept, but have never played. This looks like one of those games that stays around with its cult following and it would periodically poke its head up and then disappear back into the woodwork. This particular entry on BGG currently sits at #230, but there are multiple entries and still tons of fans, so I'm sure we'll all still know what this is 10 years from now.

Starcraft was a new release in 2007. One of FFG's coffin box games meant that you were about to get a monster of a game. Tons of plastic and probably a heavy (physically and time commitment-wise) game. And they didn't disappoint. Fans of the original computer game loved Starcraft because of the amazingly well balanced factions and cool story (let's face it, Blizzard used to make tons of kick ass non-MMORPG games). Here, we got a tabletop game that had six factions (2x each of the three races) and lots of "toy" factor with model ships (that broke a lot) and armies. There was also a pretty fun game here. The game was designed a bit like AGoT such that you were going to be in conflict with the other players from the moment you started the game - the biggest twist was that everyone secretly placed orders on the board spaces. The orders stacked and were executed in reverse. If someone placed an order and then that got covered by three other orders, you could get screwed by that particular action getting delayed, or happening well after the board had changed. Don't get to a spot early enough and you allow someone else the chance to invade or occupy a space last. Truly, the planning portion was what made this game amazing.

Unfortunately, this was one of FFG's premium games and was expensive. Coupled with it being long playing, it had somewhat limited appeal. Additionally, FFG lost the Blizzard licenses and it didn't see a reprint and is slowly getting harder and harder to find. Nowdays, Starcraft sits around #326

Top 5 Winning Movers for December
These are the the five games that made the biggest jump up the BGG charts since the last month.
  • Agricola (Second month!) - see above
  • Commands & Colors: Ancients  - I've been a big fan of Borg's C&C system which has been used in an almost silly number of games. This feels like the Penultimate version to me (I count Battles of Westeros as the top version) and the huge number of expansions that came out for it and the number of fans probably agree to some extent or another. The reason I like this version is the mechanics have been refined and just work really well with this style of warfare. And while a lot of the C&C based games used minis, the GMT Ancients line bypassed that for simple blocks, which made it easy to setup and handle during the game. 
  • 1960: The Making of the President (Second month!) - 1960 was the followup to the amazing Twilight Struggle. It is also a card driven area-control game, but instead of the cold war, this game focuses on the Presidential race between Kennedy and Nixon. I've heard it described as more strategic than the tactical nature of Twilight Struggle, but have never had the chance to play it. This is one that I really wish would get made into an app or computer game.
  • Combat Commander: Europe (Second month!)  - Combat Commander is simply one of my favorite games of all time. I know that war games are not everyone's cup of tea and I know a number of people that have tried CC and said it was too random or chaotic for them. I still love this game (and in fact, embrace the chaos of war that this game injects). The main reason this game is so fantastic is that this game has a better narrative than any game I've ever played. This game has more memorable moments per game than any other I have played. I can remember more details about a number of matches from this game than I can from all other games I've played over the years. There are more highs and lows produced each session than almost any other game I've played and I can't stop gushing about how good Combat Command is and how much fun I have when I sit down to play it. There are a lot of expansions and scenarios that have been released for CC and yet almost universally, fans of the game will tell you that they'd play the very first scenario in the game over and over because you never really know what is going to happen and each session is just that much fun. It says something in a scenario based game when you don't get bored with the very first scenario, but even if you played through all the pre-defined scenarios, the random scenario generator in the game is so well done that you have to wonder if the designer didn't make that up first and then started cobbling together stories for a random set of stuff he generated.
  • Race for the Galaxy - see above
Next month we roll into the new year for Cult of the Not So New - see you then!

Be sure to check us out at PunchBoard Media!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

50 iOS Boardgames - 5 at a Time (20-16)

There are a lot of app conversions of boardgames out there - believe me, that was the sole reason I got an iPad back in the day and why I upgraded to a new iPad last year. While I do more than just play boardgame apps on my iPad, playing boardgame conversions was the main reason for my getting one. This series will do a countdown of my top 50 boardgame apps - five at a time. I took 50 of the best and dropped them into Pub Meeple's Ranking Engine so I could sort them and here is what I got...

** Note: There are a ton of boardgame apps I never purchased, and a huge number that I have, but that are currently not playable on iOS 11 - I'm only covering those that I can play and still have installed on my iPad. I also am apparently bad at counting and numbering (sigh).

Numbers 20-16
As I noted last time,  the following list is pretty interchangeable as far as rankings go. I might pick any of these over the others depending on my mood and the amount of time I have to dedicate to playing. Interestingly, these are all card games of one sort or another...

Tichu
Tichu is one of my favorite games of all time. Probably because I grew up in a family that played a fair amount of cards and trick taking games. Tichu was one of the first climbing games I ever played and I really love the pre-playing Tichu declaration.

When this was released for iOS (all devices) it was a no-brainer to purchase. I didn't expect to play online at all, rather just solo practice with bots. And that would be all well in good if it weren't for that damn Becky. If you have played this game with the AI bot Becky, you already know. If not - beware. She will make your blood boil. She will call Tichu over you (when she is your partner) and do other very very dumb things. Despite the poor AI play, it is still Tichu and I like it a lot and the app is quite playable otherwise.

Baseball 2045
I was turned onto this game by a friend that is a big baseball fan (which I'm really not). I was semi-interested as I am a fan of deck building games that are not Dominion, so when this was released, I grabbed it and learned the game. The game itself is really pretty good and gives you a decent feel for managing a set of games (as the manager of a club) through the deck building mechanism. It is unique as far as I know and it is well done. I don't jones to play this all the time, but it is different enough that it still sees action from time to time.

The app itself is also top notch - decent enough tutorial and it plays smoothly and doesn't seem to have a lot of those "accidentally touched the wrong thing and now I'm annoyed" moments that for some reason a lot of games have. What it doesn't have is online play so that I can play against my friends (the ones that would be fans are all in the midwest, many thousands of miles away).

Cthulhu Realms
Despite being a big Star Realms fan, I had not heard that a variation of the game had been done with a Lovecraftian theme. A buddy brought it over and we played it a couple times, and I enjoyed it, but at the time I was in the midst of spending all my time playing Star Realms on my iPad. Fast forward a while and the app for CR is released. At that point, I had burnt myself out on Star Realms. I recalled liking this game so I grabbed the app. I burnt out on this a little faster than Star Realms which I think might just be because there doesn't feel like there is as much depth to this game. It is still fun, especially with the lighthearted art that is somehow goofy and creepy.

The app is really well done - this was/is a good example of what a conversion of this kind of game should be - building off what Star Realms had brought us before. There is a decent little campaign game and good online play, including an indicator of others that are around online and might be available to play.

Jaipur
I have played a lot more games two-player this year than in the past and in looking around, kept hearing about Jaipur. This was supposed to be a gem of a game though I never had a chance to try it. When the app was released, I snapped it up and was pleasantly surprised to find a decent little game. The game is fairly simple really - collect cards of the same type and turn in the sets. The more you have the better off you are. The rub is - your hand size is limited. Normally you take a single card, but using camel cards, you can take more cards if they are the same type. There is a bunch of tough choices - do I turn in two cards right away to grab the early points, or wait and grab points and a bonus for more than 2 cards? Do I grab the camels so that I can grab bunches of cards, knowing that I'm about to give the other player a lot of new card choices? It is a clever game.

The app itself is pleasant enough that I'm not sure I will ever get the physical game - having the cards and coins managed by the game is very nice - the movement of the cards is quite quick and of course, I need no physical table space for everything. The game supports solo, online and pass and play modes, which is fantastic. Even better, the solo mode is really good. It is something of a campaign with stops on your routes having slight variations to each game that keep things interesting. The AI is decent (or I'm really below average at the game), which is also nice.

Star Realms
I'm going to start by saying - I cannot say enough good things about the game of Star Realms. It is a fantastically well done game that I have really enjoyed for years. I helped host a weekly league (if you want to call it that) at a local game store for a while, and enjoyed playing this with my friends many times. When the app was released, I was in heaven. I played game after game solo and against my buddies online. Where I really found a groove with the app was when I found an online league for Star Realms on BGG. Then I REALLY started playing a lot. I played for a long time - at least ten seasons of games. I fell out of the top bracket and fought my way back and was near the top of the leaderboard at least a couple times. But... playing as many matches in a demanding short time frame began to wear on me and when life got busy, it was hard to keep up and I realized I was simply burnt out and so I dropped from the league and really haven't played a lot since.

All of which has nothing to do with the fact that Star Realms might be one of the best implementation of a game of all time. It only falls this far on my list because of pure burn out (remember, I ranked these games based on my desire to play them vs playing something else loaded on my iPad). There is almost nothing about the app that I don't like. The AI is decent enough (though not nearly as good as a top tier player) and there is a campaign to keep the solo games from being stale. Online is easy to play, including async play. Added benefit - there are versions of the game on PC/Mac/Android/iOS and you can hop between any of the platforms to play your online games. If you have never tried this game, you are missing out on a fantastic game and a fantastic app. Go load this up now.

Next time we head into the top 15! Stay tuned, there are some great games coming.

Be sure to check us out at PunchBoard Media!

SaveSave

Friday, December 08, 2017

Collection Churn and Other Misc Stuff - November 2017

Ok, let's face it - its hard to say "Collection Churn" when all you did was sell two games. Well, lets get that portion of the discussion out of the way and then find something else to discuss - like how things look as we start wrapping up the year.

In the Door: Nothing! One of the goals this year was reduce the collection and so no new games was a good thing this time around.

Out the Door:
Agricola - I acquired this as soon as the english version came out. It was THE hotness back in the day. The thing was, I didn't really play it. I acquire Le Havre a little while later and liked that game better to be honest. Then I moved on to lots and lots of other games. In the last couple of years I found Caverna and discovered that I really liked it much better than Agricola (neither is my favorite Ewe, but Caverna definitely replaces Agricola for me). Combined with the fact that I could play Agricola on my iPad and I long ago decided that I could live without Agricola on my shelf. Unfortunately, it wasn't until last month that someone else agreed with me and purchased it.


Excape - this was best described to me as Knizia's answer to Sid Sackson's Can't Stop. A little push your luck dice game that got a lot more recognition back in the day. Good game with custom dice, it is a little hard to find. I hadn't played this in a long time, so it too was on the chopping block. I'm surprised Knizia didn't license this one to get made into iOS and Android apps - he licensed the heck out of other games. In the end I think I still prefer Can't Stop - You can pull out a wild lucky win in Can't Stop, but Excape has a flaw that if one player is going to win, you can only delay it, you can't actually win over them in one majestic single turn.

Summing up the Collection Churn for 2017:
For 2017 I wanted to start reducing my collection. The goal was make room and play the games I like more instead of just hoarding games. Through the beginning of December I have traded or sold 52 games and 15 expansions. Of course, since some of those were trades, I also acquired 14 games and 7 expansions. So the math says I had a nice net reduction of 38 games and 8 expansions. Earlier in the year I passed the tipping point of having previously owned more titles (games and expansions) than I currently own. According to BGG, I'm down to 227 games owned. That feels like a small number (compared to what I've had in the past), but it doesn't feel like I freed up much shelf space. Oh well. I'm sure I'll continue scaling back my collection in 2018.

Nickels and Dimes 2017
Speaking of playing the games I like more... The year isn't over yet, so I'm not going to list all the actual 5s and 10s. Instead, I'm going to mention the ones that are close and see if we get to the magic numbers in December.

Almost Dimes:
  • Biblios - 8 plays. This has gotten this high in count due to lunch gaming at my office. Not sure if we'll get more of this or not as there are a couple "almost nickels" that also need more plays.
  • Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game - 8 plays. I can get in a couple more solo or plays with my son. I'm sure I can. 
  • Race for the Galaxy: Rebel vs Imperium - 8 plays. These were all online plays against friends. I'm not sure that I'll get any more of just this. Same for the Gathering Storm.
  • Race for the Galaxy: The Gathering Storm - 7 plays.
  • Twilight Struggle - 7 plays. These were all via the app. I really enjoyed playing this, though the games started feeling a bit repetitive and getting my friends to play was harder. I don't know that I'll be able to find three more games before the end of the year. 
Almost Nickels:
  • Catan - 4 plays. I made a beautiful 3D printed set for my daughter a while back and we got some plays of this earlier in the year. We should get in another just because we can.
  • Splendor - 4 plays. Splendor is one that was introduced to my work lunch group, so I have a shot at another play. If not, my family all likes it so another play should be easy.
  • Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 2 – India & Switzerland - 4 plays. Well, these were all electronic, and I'm sure were split between the maps, so I don't know if should even count these.
  • Wyatt Earp - 4 plays. A recent addition to our lunch group. Definitely one that I hope to get another game in before the end of 2017.
  • Code 777 - 3 plays. I just talked about this one in my November plays. I might get a couple more in if we have a family game day.
  • Fast Food Fear! - 3 plays. I received this as a review copy. We might play this again as a goof around the holidays.
  • Las Vegas - 3 plays. Another kind of filler I like to play with the kids. Definitely a game to play again around the holidays.
  • Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries - 3 plays. Got this map on the iPad and will definitely try and play some more.
  • Ticket to Ride: The Card Game - 3 plays. My daughter loves this memory style game and asks to play it a lot. I should cave and play it a couple more times.
  • Attika - 3 plays. I played a few online games earlier this year (yucat√°.de) but I don't think I care enough about stretching this one just to get to the magic number that I'll actually get in a couple more games.

Be sure to check us out at PunchBoard Media!

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

50 iOS Boardgames - 5 at a Time (20-25)

There are a lot of app conversions of boardgames out there - believe me, that was the sole reason I got an iPad back in the day and why I upgraded to a new iPad last year. While I do more than just play boardgame apps on my iPad, playing boardgame conversions was the main reason for my getting one. This series will do a countdown of my top 50 boardgame apps - five at a time. I took 50 of the best and dropped them into Pub Meeple's Ranking Engine so I could sort them and here is what I got...

** Note: There are a ton of boardgame apps I never purchased, and a huge number that I have, but that are currently not playable on iOS 11 - I'm only covering those that I can play and still have installed on my iPad.

Numbers 20-25
Interestingly, I realize that I rank these 5 apps about the same - that is to say, I don't necessary want to play any one more than the others, it just depends on my mood.

Potion Explosion
I have never played the tabletop version of this game. It looks really cool, but nope. I checked out the app first, which cracked me up, because the game certainly feels a lot like a "board-gamified" version of any number of continuous elimination games (Candy Crush, Bejeweled, Angry Birds Blast, etc etc). So when you play the app? You are right back to where you started! There isn't a timer since this is a board game conversion and you can play against AI or online vs human opponents. The app is really well done and the game itself half bad. If you haven't played this or just really like the tabletop game, you should grab this one.

Terra Mystica
I have to admit, I have not spent a lot of time playing this one - mostly because I've only played the real game a handful of times and I don't ever fully recall the rules. The implementation seems to be good (I can't speak to the AI really). The tutorial might be my only real complaint at this point because it takes forever. NOTE TO DEVELOPERS - let me click through stuff I know. I hate having to sit through your "cute" dialog. This mostly is this high up because I liked the tabletop game and want to play it more. I think once I recall the game, I'll spend a fair bit more time exploring this app.

Glass Road
I like this game of Ewe - it is quite clever and an interesting take on his wheel mechanism from Ora et Labora. Rather than grabbing counters or such, you simply move the marker on one of your wheels. When you have accumulated all the resource types on a wheel - you automatically convert your goods to either glass or bricks. It makes for some interesting resource management. But that's not the only interesting part of this clever game. Oh no. Each round you are selecting actions you want to take. The kicker is, each card you pick has two actions on it. If you are the only player to select an action at a given moment, you get to take both actions on the card. Otherwise everyone takes a single action from the card. It makes your choices and the other player choices a lot more interesting.

The app is well done, but the game feels a little hard to learn from the app - I had played the tabletop game a number of times, so it wasn't an issue for me, but trying to teach the game to my love was much easier once she had played it at the table. If you like the tabletop game, you'll probably like this app as well, but if you are hoping to learn the game from scratch, find a buddy to teach your.

Haggis
I enjoy the heck out of card games and climbing games - I love Tichu. I kept hearing that this was a good alternative for 2 or 3 players. Then Chimera came along and I never bothered looking into Haggis. When I started this series, I ran across the Haggis app and grabbed it and then spent a couple nights playing it over and over. What a great little game.

The interface is generally pretty good, though the hand sorting options aren't really my style - I'd like to just be able to sort the hand however I like, but that feels like a minor quibble. I wish there was online play or even local network kind of thing, but for a card game, its ok that there isn't. This is a pretty good choice when you have an itch to play some cards.

Race For the Galaxy
Race and I have a bit of an odd relationship. I'd much rather play San Juan than Race at the table. Honestly, every single time I played Race, it felt like I knew how the game was going to play out after about 3 cards were played by each player. Worse, it felt a lot like luck of the draw in those first couple of rounds really was the difference. Lots of people LOVE this game, I was not in that group of people. When the app came out, I wasn't sure I wanted to bother getting it, but after playing a bazillion games of Star Realms, I thought maybe my sample size for the game was too small, so I went ahead and got the RFtG app and started playing it a lot.

My appreciation for the game didn't really change. It still felt like the same general problems. Then I started playing against the HARD AI (which was based on an AI that has been evolving for a long while now). I couldn't beat it. If the game was really random, I should be able to beat the AI right? It took a long time before I finally won and longer before I started playing better/optimally. I don't think I ever quite got to 50-50 against the hard AI, though I logged a lot of time trying.

I eventually purchased the two expansions for the game to change things up a bit and while I enjoyed them a fair bit, but I also came to a conclusion that I still don't love RFtG. I had to play a TON of the game to get to a point where I was ok at the game and it still felt a lot like randomness played a huge part in winning. And it felt MORE like I knew the outcome of the game after the first few cards - if only because I now knew the cards even better.

All that aside, the app is exceptionally well done, though the game notifications (it is your turn) were a bit suspect. If you enjoy the game or want to play it more, this is a great choice - like I said, the hard AI is really good. The UI is well done and smooth. Despite being lukewarm on the game itself, I can easily recommend this app.

Next time I'll break into the top 20 with a load of card games!

Be sure to check us out at PunchBoard Media!

What I've Been Playing: November 2017

This has been a hectic couple of months and then you add in the end of the year holidays and you look up and its almost 2018. Unbelievable! I don't see things slowing down through the end of the year, but some vacation time might afford me some game time! Without further ado, here is what I played in November!

Code 777
Code 777 is a deduction game. Every player has three tiles in front of them which they can't see. The goal is to "simply" figure out what your tiles are. Each turn, players draw a card and read and answer the question posed to them (how many blue 7s do you see). The questions aren't equal and sometime only help one or two players (generally not the person who read and answered), but as time goes on you get more and more information.

I first saw this played at a friend's gaming day when my daughter was with me. She wanted to play (I didn't play) and proceeded to destroy the adults at the table and came to find me later saying that I needed to get this game. What gaming father says no when their child falls in love with a game? Of course, I found the deluxe version and got it for her for Christmas that year. We ended up pulling this out a couple times last month as it hadn't been played for a while (though she asks for it a lot, we just can't keep up, so its hard to get the rest of the family to play with her).

Can't Stop
Fellow Punchboard Media writer Eric Buscemi mentioned that he had never played Can't Stop and I offered to teach/play against him on Yucata.de (where I have played over 900 times and won more than half). We got in a couple matches before he decided not to push his luck against me any more. For the record, I have so many games of this played because it is wonderfully fast and a buddy and I used to play head to head many times a day. Yucata's version is also nice in that it has a couple of minor variations (more than 3 columns to win, can't stop on another player's marker) that help make the game a hair less stale.

Eldritch Horror
I love this game. To my horror, I realized that this hadn't seen the light of day all year. What the heck?! Was I insane!? Whatever - I broke it out determined to save the world (solo-ish). The following day, a buddy dropped by and the two of us set out to save the world. In neither case was the world safe, but I got in a couple plays!.

I love the episodic story this tells. Its almost like a creepy Netflix series where each episode is some weird (almost) standalone piece of a large puzzle. Yes, it is sometimes very random and brutal, but it drips with theme and I love it. I'm not a huge co-op guy, but the story and lack of an Alpha player problem makes this one fun to me. With the number of expansions I have (and thus cards), the stories are always different and again, for me they are a lot of fun. The only thing that keeps me away from this is the amount of time it takes to setup and play. The story is worth it, but when I look at it on the shelf, the time thing is often what makes me leave it there. I really would like to get this out a couple more times before the end of the year.

Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game
I told my son he owed me a game (rematch from the previous time we played and he kicked my booty). This time around, I had the Civil War expansion, so was able to add some more Avengers to the party. I don't think we got in one shot on the Master Mind, though we were taking out the villains and henchmen left and right. We eventually just ran out of time and lost (I won the score though).

Playing a ton of the Legendary DXP game has just made me hungrier for the tabletop game given the huge amount of expansion material I own that isn't in the digital game yet.

Ticket to Ride: Heart of Africa
If you haven't tried the Africa map, here is what you should know - it is brutal. Do not play this map with the thin-skinned or those that don't like conflict, because someone is going to take your route and screw you. One more thing - you have to pay attention and score the game as you go. Most of the other maps you can get away with re-counting at the end, but this map gives players the chance to double their route scores, so there are no recounts later in the game.

Now, my kids have a love hate with this map. They love creating angst for other players (but of course hate when you hose them up). There is definitely some risky moves here, but if you can chain your routes together, digging for tickets really can work for you on this map. I think it plays well with 3-5 player counts, so despite only the one map, it is a worthy addition if you don't have it.

Be sure to check us out at PunchBoard Media!

Friday, December 01, 2017

Eldritch Horror - Azathoth Session Report

** WARNING - Possible Spoilers **
Due to the nature of the game, describing the full nature of a session will reveal detail about the Azathoth Ancient One as well as some details about a few mythos cards. Because the game has such an abundance of cards, each story is usually unique, but the information about Azathoth does not vary. As such, if you prefer not to know anything about this Ancient One in Eldritch Horror, please look away...

Prelude

Ultimate Sacrifice: People thought them foolish, troubled, or mad. However, they persisted. For all their efforts, they were the first to fall before the coming threat, and they will not be the last. You must finish the work they started, the world depends on it.


I enjoy the prelude cards, they add some flavor to the game’s story and occasionally influence the Ancient One, so I always use the cards. Before anything is set up, two random investigators are defeated. Rex Murphy and Thomas Muldoon (and their starting possessions) were placed on the board (coincidently on the same space - Anchorage). A Lucky Talisman and a Carbine Rifle await whichever investigator can get there first. The flip side (because there is always a flip side in EH) - the doom immediately advanced by two before the game even was started. I figured two ticks of the doom track were worth some free equipment on the board (plus, recovering it means a shot at getting those doom counts back).
Getting things set up

Set Up

  • Three investigators (I grabbed six random and chose three I had never played before):
    • Silas Marsh (aka Aquaman) - Silas has the awesome ability to move on a sea line and then take another action. This really lets him jet around the water connected areas. He has decent strength and his net (equipment) reduce the amount of damage he can take.
    • Patrice Hathaway - she can spend a clue and focus to increase a skill of your choice. She can gain a clue and focus by closing gates. She has decent observation, will and lore.
    • Lola Hayes - she can spend any number of improvements to improve another single skill. Let’s you set up for certain encounters or move unneeded advancements to needed areas.
  • Ancient One: (random from base game) - Azathoth
  • Expedition in Antarctica, gate in Rome (Mummy drawn, which moved to the Pyramids when drawn).
Early gates

1st Azathoth Mystery

The Green Flame
In response to the cult’s invocation, a jet of green flame emerged from the fissure, racing across the ceiling and walls as if a living thing.


The first mystery of the game is simple enough - defeat the Tulzscha Epic Monster. The stupid cultists have raised a threat, we have learned about it, and are out to defeat it.

Turn 1

  • Lola moves from Tokyo to Shanghai and takes a focus token
  • Silas takes a boat ticket then uses his special move ability/action and ticket to move from Sydney to the wilderness spot north of Tokyo. He’s on the hunt for the two investigators who started all this.
  • Patrice moves to Antarctica and takes a focus token. She’s going to join the expedition there.

Encounters:

  • Lola’s encounter improves her lore.
  • Silas’ food went bad in the wilderness, but was able to hunt for more to avoid food poisoning from rancid food.
  • On the Antarctic expedition, Patrice sees a vision of the future but is able to use her knowledge to prevent the unthinkable from passing. Doom retreated one space. (whoop) (Expedition moves to the Pyramids - home of the mummy no less).

Mythos Phase

Cold White Silence (blue)
Like a living thing, the cold has crept to parts of the globe that have not seen snow in eons. You fear the dreaded Ithaqua is transforming the world to free itself from its frozen prison.


This ongoing event is relatively mild - Must spend clues on space #1 after passing a test to rid myself of this. Meanwhile I might get a few hypothermia conditions coming.

Card racks and bits boxes help save space and the game is of course better with Cthulhu watching.

Turn 2

  • Silas uses his special ability to move to Anchorage (magic space #1) AND get a boat ticket, then gets a focus token.
  • Patrice has nothing better to do than head back to Sydney and grabs a boat ticket for next turn.
  • Lola gets a train ticket and uses it with her move to get to Istanbul

Encounters

  • Silas finds the insane Tommy Muldoon investigator and convinces him to give up his investigation. Tommy gives his carbine rifle (Becky) up as thanks.
  • In Sydney, Patrice rescues trapped subway passengers
  • Lola encounters an apparition in Istanbul, but discovers it wants revenge on cultists for all their victims (not her) and improves her influence.

Mythos Phase

You keep replaying the struggle in your mind. Just as you gained the upper hand, a smug expression crept over the monstrosity’s face, just for an instance. What did that abomination know you didn’t?


Nothing bad happens from the event on the card, but each investigator picked up Hypothermia from the ongoing event during the reckoning event that happened, and a new gate opened in San Francisco.

Turn 3

  • Silas uses his special ability to move to San Fran and then try to acquire assets (no luck). He picks up a focus token in preparation for the monster and the gate that is there.
  • Patrice uses a boat ticket to travel to South Africa to try and gain a clue token. She grabs a second focus token.
  • Lola uses her amazing ability to spend her ability tokens to gain new abilities, moving influence to observation, then moves to Rome to deal with the gate there.

Encounters

  • Silas (with the help of Becky) defeats the Skeleton at the entrance to the gate. His trip through the gate is not successful, though he does manage to avoid losing his mind as he came through the gate.
  • Patrice follows what looks like a metal crate with legs back to the lair of some cultists and picks up a clue! She now has two, so can end the ongoing event if she can get there soon enough.
  • With no monsters in her way, Lola is flung through the gate where she is horrified to learn the body she inhabits is alien. The thought threatens her sanity, but she recalls the knowledge of how to build a device that returns her to her own body and once done, she closes the gate down.

Mythos Phase

You can’t sleep and can’t stop shaking. Compulsively, you open your suitcase and count everything, gripping everything you own so tightly your hands bleed.


For the second round in a row, the omen changed, a reckoning effect happened, and a gate opened (in Arkham). The current mystery AND the current ongoing event are each putting a token on the green omen space during reckonings, which means there is now a stack of 4 eldritch tokens on the green omen space. When the omen token moves to the green space, doom advances by the number of tokens. i.e. I got a bad combo of crap going on. I need to stop at least one of them and soon.


Each investigator could give up items or take a wound for each they keep. I keep them all (Silas was the only one with items) - bwahahahahahaha.

Turn 4

  • Silas rests (which he can’t really do) which means he mediates to try and shake his Hypothermia condition (he does not). He heads out to try and take out Tulzscha. Because the space is one sea trip away, he uses his AWESOME special ability to move AND gain focus.
  • Patrice uses her banishment spell to easily banish the Warlock on the new gate that popped up in Arkham. It cost her a single sanity, but Lola can now take advantage to hit the gate. She then move up the coast of Africa.
  • Lola grabs a trans-Atlantic ticket and arrives in Arkham.

Encounters

  • I realize that Silas is about to go insane, but then use his focus token and get two 6s which allow him to hold a shred of his mental state. He manages only a meager two wounds on the Epic monster though and will have to move on or truly lose his mind.
  • Patrice is having a grand time. In the wilderness of Africa, she rescues Halpin Chalmers the archeologist. He has a tome which essentially does what her banishment spell does, only better. As her ally, she can move along wilderness trails like Silas does on the water - sweet!
  • Lola investigated green pyramids on the other side of the gate in Arkham. She found a Dragon Idol artifact, but then passed out and woke up with an amnesia condition with no clue what happened. Gate open, but cool artifact in hand.

Mythos Phase

Pulling the curtain back slightly you see that same suspicious man watching your hotel. You’re going to have to sneak out the back exit and try to lose him again.


Ongoing - I can’t perform a rest action until the next reckoning event.

Turn 5

  • Patrice takes the lead. She moves to Rome and gets a boat ticket.
  • Lola moves closer to the Epic monster by train ticket and moving to San Francisco. She’s going to use her new artifact to try and take out the green swirl epic monster.
  • Silas needs rest, but can’t now. He heads out to try for a clue and gathers a focus token.

Encounters

  • Patrice tries to defend some kids from a strix! She fails, fell down stairs and gained a head injury.
  • Lola questioned a warrior in the City of the Great Race and though he didn’t trust her, a spell he cast said she could be trusted and so he helped her seal the gate closed.
  • Silas found a report of stolen radium and tied it to cultists of Azathoth and gained a clue.

Mythos Phase

The scope of the tremor was so vast that the newspapers in every country reported on the damage done and the tragic destruction of ancient wonders.


The world shook and the omen track advanced which triggered a doom track movement up to 11. Then I had to add two more tokens to the pile. The next trigger is a jump of six! A new gate opened at the Pyramids, which coincidently were destroyed in the quake. The expedition moved to Tunguska. The reckoning triggered the end of the ongoing event by knocking out Lola and Patrice due to hypothermia. Two more dings on the doom track! Silas only has 1 sanity and 1 health left. The two new investigators are Lily Chen and Minh Thi Phan.

Turn 6

  • Silas uses his special to move to San Fran (to find Lola), get a focus token, and rest. He still has hypothermia and still can’t get rid of it, but got a little sanity back.
  • Minh moves to Shanghai and uses her special to get her and Lily a ticket.
  • Lily moves and then uses her ticket to get to the last known location of Rex (one of the first two investigators to go down).

Encounters

  • Silas encounters Lola and convinces her to go to the hospital to get her wounds looked at. She tells him everything and doom retreats one spot.
  • Minh is unlucky and gets poisoned and is unable to counter the stuff.
  • Lily finds Rex and gets his Lucky Talisman, but the next day a gas main explodes and leaves Rex burned and broken. No change to doom.

Mythos Phase

The disturbances occurred in such remote areas that they went largely unnoticed at first, but soon news spread to research outposts. These scientists reached out to you about strange lights in the sky and flocks of birds dying in flight and plummeting to the ground.


Omen advanced and doom advanced for the two blue gates still open. Monster surge at the two blue gates and some new clues came out. The main result of the mythos card? The expedition moved to the Himalayas.

Turn 7

  • Silas uses a little of his remaining sanity to activate the Dragon Idol artifact and wound the Epic monster. He uses his special ability to move and rest and gets his sanity back and is finally able to warm up and lose the hypothermia.
  • Ming moves to the Himalayas to check out the expedition, and rests to try and get rid of her poison - unfortunately, it turns out she needs medical assistance and needs to be in a city. Waste of an action.
  • Lily grabs a boat ticket and makes the long haul to Tokyo.

Encounters

  • Police were attacked by a Xiclotlan. Silas tried, but was not able to help and was attacked and defeated. Doom advances.
  • Minh finds a cult that was trying to summon the Ogres of Ra-Sa, but she broke up the ritual and deciphered the ancient text given to her by the grateful monks she rescued. That gave her a couple of spells. Expedition moved to Arkham.
  • Lily helps detective Kogoro Alcechi solve a case and he is so impressed he gives her some case files (a task and a unique tome).

Mythos Phase

Now that you truly grasp the significance of what you have learned, each scribbled note becomes unbearable to contemplate. All the books you have read and the icons you have scrutinized suddenly make sense as a single mind-shattering truth.


Omen advances - one red gate means doom advances. Reckoning! Lily loses a health as a result of poison. Spawned a new gate in Tunguska. Trish Scarbourough joins the team to replace Silas.

Turn 8

  • Trish uses her ability to get a clue and then heads to Tunguska to try and close the gate.
  • Minh uses her ticket to head to Istanbul then tries to decipher her ancient tome. She does and uses it to rid herself of the poison.
  • Lily moves to San Fran - moving closer to Silas’ last location.

Encounters

  • Trish first defeats a ghoul, the jumps through the gate where she finds herself in the near future in a camp full of plague victims. She tries to sneak out, but is attacked by the guards and left badly wounded (despite using her clue up).
  • Minh sneaks into a lecture in Istanbul and improves her will as a result.
  • Lily works with a forensic examiner and learns some observation skills and barely avoids being haunted by what she sees.

Mythos Phase

A cold bitter wind howls through the trees and people everywhere cling to their fires and blankets. The chill has settled into your bones, and there’s no warmth to be found.


Everyone lost two health and sanity from the Tide of Despair, except Minh, who used her glamour to avoid the health loss. Omen advanced and doom advanced two more spots. Reckoning throws another eldritch token on the board (I’m going to lose soon). Then a new Warlock manages to curse Lily. Succumbing to her internal injuries, Trish loses a bunch of health. Lily does however make her curse short lived and gets rid of it right after getting it.

Turn 9

  • Trish generates herself a clue and rests. Try again for the gate.
  • Minh goes to Rome and then rests. She’ll investigate Patrice.
  • Lily heads out to find Silas and also rests.

Encounters

  • Trish becomes the cat lady. She finds herself in a city where cats are sacred and communicates with them and gains two clues. She then feeds the cats her rations (starving herself in the process), but closes the gate.
  • Patrice was badly wounded and Minh was unable to communicate with her, but the doctors gave her all Patrice’s things. Doom stays where it is.
  • Like a pirate, Silas hid his treasures, which Lily found, but the man himself was nowhere and died alone. Again, doom stays where it is.

Mythos Phase

Madness from the Sea - Each night you dream of strange architecture built from massive green stones. When you awake, you find yourself walking towards the sea.


The ongoing rumor means that the investigators will go insane if this isn’t taken care of. But I get another turn because the omen didn’t advance to the crazy big stack of tokens that will decimate the doom track.

Turn 10

  • Lily moves to San Fran and uses a little sanity to invoke the Dragon Totem and defeat Tulzscha (finally). First mystery solved.
  • Trish moves and rests.
  • Minh tries to use her tomes and spells to get rid of the monsters at the Pyramids to no avail.

Encounters

  • Lily helps the San Fran police find a bomb (improving her observation and gaining a blessed condition).
  • Trish dealt with undercover cops and gained a weapon. It cost her clues, but the alternative was going to be being detained.
  • In Rome, Minh helps an old priest and gains a blessed condition.

Mythos Phase

The omen advances and hits the green omen, which causes doom to drop from 7 to 0.
Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions tear the Earth’s crust apart at a rate faster than the devastation can be recorded or comprehended...


Investigators lose the game

Sorry, we didn't save the world
Conclusion:

Some games are just like that. The random events conspire in odd ways to make things really bad. Having the first ongoing even AND the first mystery pile up tokens that decimated the doom track meant that a couple trips around the omen “clock” was all she wrote. The dice and events also conspired to keep me from just beating down the epic (Tulzscha) quickly. Silas was perfect for taking out monsters where strength was the concern but not so much in the will department. The few odd advantages I had early were overwhelmed by the doom track being taken apart so quickly. That’s not to say that the outcomes of the game are totally in the hands of fate. This game’s mechanics are about mitigating your risks and taking chances to try and overcome the odds, but the game itself is still about the story.