Sharing The Love: Arkham Horror (Third Edition)

Copyright Fantasy Flight Games

As you may have inferred from past posts, I love board games. I’ve pretty much given up on video games, largely because I’m rarely in the mood to waste several hours playing a game on my own. I like the social aspect of gaming and video games aren’t really doing that for me.

Arkham Horror has long been my favorite game. It’s big, complicated, has some clumsy game mechanics, and a single game can last forever. The first time I played, the game ran nearly twelve hours. But I fell in love with it right away and grabbed a copy for myself. I finally snagged the last of the many expansions last year, and it turns out my timing was excellent, because that version of the game was discontinued to make room for Arkham Horror – Third Edition.

Copyright Fantasy Flight Games

The third edition version is a much different game than the previous incarnation. For starters, instead of a traditional fold-out board, this version has a modular design that allows you to create different map layouts based on which scenario you’re playing — of which there are four, and that’s another major change.

In Second Edition, players faced one of several available Elder Gods, and the goal was to prevent their awakening by traveling through Arkham to collect clues and close down interdimensional gates. In Third Edition, players still need to collect clues to prevent an ancient evil from coming into our world and raising hell, but the game itself is more story-driven. Meet certain conditions and the game takes players in one direction, fail to meet certain conditions and it takes you in another.

Some of the changes to the mechanics — adapted from FFG’s Arkham Horror – The Card Game — add to the stress levels, and the difficulty levels. I’ve played three of the four scenarios so far and got stomped every time. It’s easy to fall behind and get overwhelmed to the point there’s no way to recover and pull out a win.

One of the big improvements from Second Edition, if not the biggest, is that the whole thing has been somewhat stripped down and streamlined. Setup takes a fraction of the time, as does game play. It’s much more viable as a two-player game than Second Edition, and you can spend a gaming day running through all four scenarios rather than dedicating yourself to just one.

My hope for future expansions is that FFG will add scenarios along with new investigators, items, spells, allies, etc., but refrain from piling on new game mechanics.

Sharing The Love: King Of Tokyo

During a chat with my friend Pamela, she mentioned to me that people are more likely to share their complaints over a bad product or service than their praise, and will share those complaints with more people than someone passing around a good word. The ratio she quoted: a disgruntled customer will tell three people of his or her bad experience, while a satisfied customer will tell only one.

One of my takeaways from this: boy, people sure like to complain. My other takeaway: this theory easily applies to small artisans such as independent authors. Pamela’s context for this was her background in the restaurant industry, but the fact remains, indie writers depend on good word-of-mouth to sell their writing. Our budgets for promoting our work tend to be tiny to non-existent, so positive buzz is as crucial to our success as things like a solid social media presence.

I promised myself that in 2014, I would actively spread the word of things I loved instead of whining about things I disliked. I doubt this will lead to a sweeping change in thinking, but if it encourages people to do the same, great — in general; selfishly, for myself; and, less selfishly, for fellow indie authors who could also benefit from someone sharing their love for their stories.

Monster-fighting fun!
Monster-fighting fun!

So, here is my first share of the year, and it’s the game King of Tokyo. It’s a light, fast, easy game in which players fight as giant monsters. Think “Destroy All Monsters” by way of Yahtzee. It’s a lot of fun. There are a couple of expansions available, which I’m hoping will add to the basic game rather than complicate it, which tends to happen with expansions. I mean, I love Arkham Horror, but man, the expansions are sometimes, appropriately, maddening.