Arkham Horror Living Card Game: the Night of the Zealot Qt3 slumber party!

Embarrassing as it is to admit this, I realized while playing last night that there’s another clue to help explain my rotten track record.

I didn’t know about the Engage action! Or, more accurately, I glossed over it as an action an investigator can take to snatch engagement away from another investigator, or to engage an exhausted enemy. I’ve been playing each fight according to whichever investigator drew or encountered the enemy, not realizing I had more flexibility in combat.

Since it’s more fun to assign blame than to accept responsibility, I think the card format messed me up:

I would just scan down the words, Draw, Play, Activate, Move, Investigate, Fight, Evade… Poor, little, dangling “or Engage” just didn’t register.

Oh, well. Now that I know, it’s nice to have a bit more power than I thought I had with which to beat back these ghoulish twerps!

Good to hear you might be due for an easier time!

There are a lot of videos in the genre of “Arkham Horror LCG Rules You Might Have Missed”, but I recently watched this one and indeed found one I have been misplaying for a long time:

(The rule I found here was that cards–usually locations–mentioning that an ability could only be used “once per game/round/phase” mean once per player per game/round phase.)

Thanks for the link! Very helpful video.

After a great deal of death and dismay, I think I’ve finally hit my Arkham Horror stride. Skids and Daisy had a good run through The Gathering and had 5 experience points each to spend plus Lita Chandler on the team. I used the XP to give Skids Charisma so now he has an additional ally slot which is huge. I also got him two Cat Burglars to help him avoid danger and move around the map.

I realized I like the narrative flow of the full campaign but not as much as I dislike all the time spent on deck and scenario setup in between runs. I just want to keep playing. So now I’m on the second of a planned three or four runs through The Midnight Masks with my current investigators and decks. The first went okay but the one I played last night (and haven’t quite finished yet) has just been incredibly fun and satisfying.

This is partly down to good luck on the card and chaos token draws. But we all know a good Arkham Horror player manufactures their own luck, so I deserve some credit too! In past games, whenever a problem appeared, it would just grow and get worse and eventually bring forth my doom. But with this current run, each time a threat appears, I’ve been able to handle it.

Like when Skids drew an Acolyte and Daisy drew a Mysterious Chanting hex, suddenly I had three unexpected doom tokens on the board. Skids was already engaged with the cultist Peter Warren at an adjacent location. But he can do three damage per turn! So Skids fights Peter and wins, moves to Rivertown, then fights the Acolyte and kills him too, all in one turn. Now we’re getting somewhere! Meanwhile Daisy is out there evading Nightgaunts, investigating for clues, and healing Skids as needed.

I have two cultists so far. I should be able to get Herman Collins out of the Graveyard and maybe make it down to Ruth Turner at the hospital. But that Masked Hunter might become a problem soon. What a great time I’m (finally?) having with this fookin’ Arkham Horror card game! (I was having fun already, but I really like not losing horrendously.)

I think I’ll play Midnight Masks a couple more times, then I’ll run through The Devourer Below about three times to see how that goes, then I can move on to another boardgame!

Wait, what? You are not going to try any of the real campaigns?

I’m actually super tempted to buy Carcosa or Dunwich but I have three Final Girl season one boxes (plus season 2 coming very soon, I think) and Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion sitting untouched!

I’ve been playing this since I bought the game on summer vacation. The new release model finally tipped me over, so I decided to try.

Played the tutorial (aka. the base game) solitaire two handed, as God meant this game to be played, but lo and behold, suddenly a very close friend decided to shift our 2-3 times a month dinner outs for boardgame night, so we jumped into proper co-op.

Went through Dunwhich, which I was thrilled by, seeing how the incredible design space the game carved for itself with the base game was expanded into very different feeling and specific scenarios. We ended up losing because we didn’t win the second to last scenario and that’s an unexpected game over.

Instead of trying again we moved on to Carcosa (we are going to explore the game in more or less release order with the new release model until we hit un-rereleased expansions and then move to the newer ones). And so far, two scenarios in, it feels even more interesting than Dunwhich. It really does a lot of interesting things, both mechanically and thematically (you are unsure of even what you should be doing in the scenario, which ties really well with the theme of paranoia and hallucinations of the King in Yellow). It’s also cool that Carcosa has some mechanics that make the experience somewhat different between playing two-handed solo and pure co-op.

Anyway, I’ve been meaning to write in this thread for a while, but I’m a convert. This is one of the best board games I have ever played. The design space is incredibly broad, it’s masterfully managed at least in the ocntent I’ve played, plays fast enough and it’s somewhat easy to learn, and has the best narrative/mechanic balance and integration I have played. I hope it holds up as we keep playing it, because we will keep playing it.

But yes, I think the base game does show the potential of the game, but fails to properly explore it. Compared to the campaigns it does really feel like a tutorial (designed to kill you, but still a tutorial).

Okay, fine, I’ll go buy The Dunwich Legacy expansion! ARE YOU HAPPY, JUAN?!

(Thank you for the peer-pressure nudge I so totally wanted.)

I mean honestly Rob, the Gathering is fine for what it is, fo’ sho’.

But it is with the Dunwich Legacy adventure that you really see what kind of cool gameplay and narrative stuff AHLCG can do when it sets its mind to it. (And then, thankfully, other campaigns are also as good.)

Well, then I’m excited to play Dunwich! I almost bought it just last night when I took my daughter to see Blue Man Group in NYC. We had a little time to kill and I thought about visiting my boardgame store to see if they had it in stock. But then I didn’t want to lug it around with me so I decided not to. This is not the first time I’ve come close to buying it!

But then I remember I have many Final Girls plus more on the way and also Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion. I just don’t know how you boardgamers do it with shelves full of games! It takes me such a long time to wrap my head around all the rules and the intricate card interactions. That’s why I spent like half a year playing Sleeping Gods four times through before putting it back in the box. I feel like if I stop playing Arkham I may never start again so I should keep Arkhamming until I’m all Arkhammed out.

Y’all have got me excited to experience a proper campaign expansion. I was already super impressed with the flavor and variety of game/story experiences across the three small scenarios in the Night of the Gathering. I thought Midnight Masks would always be a mad, frantic race against time but the way this current game is going, it has a totally different feel of methodical investigation, improvised plans, staying one step ahead of my enemies, and occasionally hacking them up with a machete.

Mmmm, yeah?

Right? Every time you decide to play something, you necessarily decide NOT to play a few dozen other things. Agonizing, isn’t it? :)

But what I’ve come to appreciate is that the truly good games just get richer and richer the more you play them. If you focus on this, or even better if you specifically pursue it, you start to mind less about those few dozen other games you’re not playing, because if you had been playing them instead, you wouldn’t have come to the point where you’re appreciating this one as much as you are, where you’re seeing how rich it truly is the better you know it.

And I don’t mean to throw shade on Final Girl – okay, maybe I do – but it’s my experience that game is only ever what you see the first time you play it. There are no longer-term delights lurking in the Final Girl design, only remixes of its basic components, like the difference between a 99-cent taco and a 99-cent burrito. The longer I played, the less I discovered.

But this bit from Juan gets at what I appreciate about some of Fantasy Flight’s games, despite their abusive business models:

There are some very talented people banging on, refining, reworking, tuning their properties. Your longer-term investment in a Fantasy Flight game is a surer thing partly because they’re literally counting on it. They want to sell you more stuff and they’re not going to do it by just throwing 99-cent tacos and burritos into a fancy box. So if you give them your time and money, they know they have to keep earning it, they know they have to keep trying. They’re not just trying to get your money with a fancy Kickstarter; they want your money next year, the year after that, and the year after that. They’re a business, not a clutch of enthusiasts trying to sell you their D&D campaign.

And I don’t mean that to sound like I’m lecturing anyone. It’s more like I’m taking this opportunity to articulate why I’m okay with all the money and time I spend on Fantasy Flight properties, even though I’m perfectly happy to bitch and moan about their business models.

Which is all to say, @rrmorton, that I’m glad you’re going to push forward with Arkham Horror instead of moving on now that you feel you’ve wrapped your head around it. Because now you’re in for the really good stuff…

(BTW, this is what I also love about Apocrypha and especially the later Pathfinder games. Not necessarily the basic gameplay, but how smartly the scenarios and campaign progression flex that basic gameplay. Apocrypha and the Pathfinders, like Arkham Horror, are games you won’t fully appreciate until you’ve sampled a few campaigns.)

I love horror movies enough to tolerate the simplified game experience and rules in Final Girl. (EDIT: Not implying you don’t. I’m surprised horror-love doesn’t carry you further in that game, to be honest.) That lack of depth works in its favor for me since it’s a lot faster to set up and run through multiple play-throughs in one evening. But mostly it just wins on pure nostalgia for my favorite horror movies from when I was a kid. But I’ve only played a tiny handful of board games compared to you and the other veterans around here.

I don’t mind using Final Girl’s Grim Rule as much as I think you do since it’s fun to force yourself into dealing with the worst situation in a horror movie context. I’ve had to use it a few times in Arkham.

But, damn, do I just love how these games let a story experience emerge from the complex interplay of luck and strategy. I think back to Choose Your Own Adventure books and Steve Jackson’s Sorcery and can’t believe where we are today with all these wonderful, narrative-rich games.

I have a quick rules question!

Skids and Daisy are both in the centrally-located Rivertown.
Skids is engaged with the Ghoul Priest.
Skids draws On Wings of Darkness…


Skids failed and took his 1 damage and 1 horror.

Now, I’m assuming he gets yanked up into the sky just long enough for the Ghoul Priest to turn its attention to Daisy and engage with her before Skids comes plonking back down into Rivertown without any enemy engagement.

Does that sound right?

I’d rather Skids stayed engaged with the Ghoul Priest but it seems like his brief window of disengagement would immediately let the Ghoul Priest engage with the next investigator on the location.

Also want to make sure I’m moving him to the right location in this case since he’s already on it.

You did not just invoke the Grim Rule incorrectly, did you? :) For what it’s worth, you’re not alone.

The rule you’re thinking of only specifies that you opt for the most detrimental outcome when you can’t find an answer in the rules book. That last part is important and Fantasy Flight has always been very explicit about this. In fact, I’m pretty sure the Grim Rule isn’t them conceding that sometimes you can’t find the answer in the rules – they’re pretty much as good as it gets when it comes to comprehensive rules writing – but instead it’s them conceding that sometimes players just want to play fast rather than accurately. So Fantasy Flight’s mildly passive-aggressive retort is, “Fine, if you don’t wanna look it up, just do whatever fucks you over most, smart guy”. Except they put it more diplomatically by writing it in rules format.

Yet people still think it means “when there are two possible choices, pick the one that’s most detrimental”. It never meant that, but most people can’t be arsed to consult the rules so they just take the Grim Rule to mean “hey, when in doubt, rather than consult the rules book as the Grim Rule specifies, just rule against the players”. Heavy sigh.

I don’t mean to pick on you, and I’m not saying you do this! I can tell from this thread how much you care about getting the rules right. We’re of a piece in that regard. But I’ve spent years having rules debates with friends, on BGG, and here, and as much as I enjoy it, the one thing I’ve learned is that different people have different opinions on how much and when rules writing matters. :)

It’s all good, but I’ve had to learn that it’s super easy for me to accidentally just starting talking past someone because I expect everyone to share my borderline obsession with rules writing. But I still can’t help myself from weighing in about how people have widely misunderstood the “Grim Rule”. Sorry for the pedantic digression and please don’t take it personally.

No need to assume! The rules are pretty explicit about the timing window: as soon as a creature is in a location with an unengaged investigator, it will immediately engage. So, yes, Daisy has her hands full.

Thanks! And, yeah, I knew that. I think it was the double-whammy of enemy engagement plus moving to a “central location” I’m already on that tripped me up. Honestly, the only reason I asked is that I was secretly hoping I got something wrong. LOL. Fortunately I know the Engage action now so I can deal with this conundrum more readily. Overlooking that action for so long was a real doozy of a boner.

And that’s hilarious what you wrote about the grim rule being passive aggressive for dumb or lazy players. Is this open to interpretation? Cuz I don’t think I see it that way. I mean, what about the role of the lead investigator…

Screenshot 2023-03-17 184645

I think these judgement calls exist in both games. I think I remember that precise italicized example they give is the thing you objected to in Final Girl.

Of course, when playing solo, I’m always the lead investigator so it doesn’t matter. But given a choice, I would always have the monster go after the weaker investigator because I like the idea of a grim rule. I always try to maximize the challenge in any game I play so this fits fine with how I play every game.

(I’m sure this goes without saying, but I’m not trying to convince you of anything one way or another. I’m just curious what floats and/or sinks your proverbial boat.)

As Omar Little once said, “Oh, for sure.”

I don’t know if my own experience is common, but I have about a half-dozen games where I know the rules SUPER well. (Pathfinder ACG, Elder Sign, Eldritch Horror, Arkham Horror LCG, 7th Continent and Return to Dark Tower, since no one asked.) I have another tier of games (Sleeping Gods, Final Girl, Nemo’s War) where I know the rules “pretty well”. And then really there’s everything else. :)

But even so, when I’m planning to play a game – even one where I know the rules inside and out – I sometimes still will go watch a 20-30 minute rules video just as a refresher. And on games where I’m a little foggier in remembering rules, I’ll spend a little more time in video review, and also a quick spin through the manual.

Oh! I get my “gaming table” delivered tomorrow. (It’s actually two standup computer desks that I’m putting in my boardgame room lined up side by side to give me a 55" x 48" table that will hopefully be easier to move than a real gaming table.) The joys of not having to play games on the floor…my lower back and my knees rejoice!

Nice! I will join your lower back and knees in relief and celebration.

Skids and Daisy completed their epic run through the Midnight Masks last night. They got four out of six cultists and came SO CLOSE to five out of six.

So there they were, on a mad dash to St. Mary’s hospital to get Ruth Turner. The doom tokens are piled high and the Masked Hunter and Ghoul Priest are breathing down their necks. Still, they have a little more time… except Daisy draws an acolyte with a doom token, so now they don’t… unless maybe I spawn him at Miskatonic U, then we can kill him and remove that doom to buy time for one last turn.

Solid plan. Skids runs northwest to the university, out on to the grassy quad, and drops his machete down hard on that Acolyte’s face, right in front of hundreds of screaming co-eds who were outside vaping in their MU hoodies.

Since Daisy can’t handle fighting or evading Ruth Turner at the hospital on her own, she has to follow Skids. But as long as she’s on campus, she might as well follow her bliss and visit the library. She scans through her top six cards and takes out Shrivelling. Now she has a fighting chance! She moves south to the hospital and engages Ruth.

Enemy phase. Daisy takes one point of damage from Ruth. The Masked Hunter and Ghoul Priest arrive on campus and engage Skids. The co-eds get even more triggered. Skids can just barely soak up the four damage and three horror from their attacks with help from Lita.

My last investigator phase. Daisy brings out her Shrivelling spell, taking another point of damage from Ruth’s attack of opportunity. Then she Shrivels Ruth once and then twice, succeeding both times for two points of damage each time. Another cultist on the victory pile!

Time for Skids to pull out the huge win. He has two resources, just enough to buy one extra action. He exhausts Cat Burglar to disengage from the Hunter and the Priest and move to the north. He takes one more move east to Downtown where he engages with Wolf-Man Drew. Now he has two actions left to attack. If both attacks hit, he wins.

With +1 from Lita, +1 from his machete, and +1 more from a Derringer from his hand added to the skill challenge, that brings the strength challenge to 6 against 4 in his favor.

Let’s stir up those chaos tokens. Clickety-clack. Clickety-clack! He draws:

Tablet. -3. Oh, the lycanthropy!

So close to an epic final turn. But both investigators lived through the ordeal. And four cultists is a huge win… four more than my previous attempt!

My biggest overall change in strategy was the simple realization that I could fight these cultists rather than pay or parley for them with cards and resources. And, when you’ve got Lita and a big machete, it turns out fighting works.

Oh, sure, the motive behind the “Grim Rule” is certainly open for interpretation, and I hope I didn’t sound like my take was anything other than conjecture. I can only infer what rules writers are thinking, but I also sympathize with their dilemma: they give players the tools, but players will sometimes misread, misinterpret, or flat-out ignore those tools. Hence the “Grim Rule” as an available shortcut rather than a resolution. Because if you can still find an ongoing timing conflict in Arkham Horror, I’m all ears. As near as I can tell, the Grim Rule only exists for people who don’t care to look up the rules as written.

And I didn’t mean to imply anyone was “dumb” or “lazy”! But some players would rather “get on with the game” and some players would rather hold everything up to “get it right”. I’m partial to the latter, but I don’t mean to denigrate the former. In the end, we’re all customers of the same company and fans of the same game.

But the only thing I know for certain is what the “Grim Rule” actually says, and how often people assume it covers gaps in the rules where I’m pretty sure no such gaps exist.

This is me, as well! A few different tiers of “rules knowledge” spread out among a dozen or so games. A friend of mine has talked about the idea of having a buffer in your head for only so many games at a time. That’s how I am. But the rules for the games I’ve played the most are pretty firmly lodged in storage and can be accessed and “reloaded into memory” with minimal effort.

This is especially where I am with a bunch of Fantasy Flight stuff. One of the things I most appreciate about their games and why I keep coming back to them is how well their rules are written and organized these days. I even make occasional use of the “Learn to Play” booklets that I normally keep hidden under the insert. But it’s trivially easy for me to pick up an Arkham Horror, Eldritch Horror, or Marvel Champions even if I haven’t touched them in months. I just recently revisited their Warhammer Quest card game – designed by the Sadler brothers of Street Masters fame! – after literally years of having not touched it, and I had a game up and running within 30 minutes of taking the box off the shelf.

That’s what Fantasy Flight offers better (?) than anyone.

Nice! Pics in an appropriate thread or it didn’t happen. :)