I finally got Thaadd to show up for one of my AmeriTrash gaming days, and she brought the very-soon-to-be-released Kingsport Horror expansion to Arkham Horror. So we played a couple of games with just the base set and Kingsport, so we could fully savor the flavor the new expansion. Things were kind of chaotic, as I had a couple of no-shows wasting my time on the phone with elaborate excuses (truly: there are TORNADOS, and um, we're going to see Iron Man), plus a couple of other no-shows wheedling for me to come pick them up. So I didn't fully get a grip on some of the new mechanics. But here's my rough impression of Kingsport:
Kingsport itself: Same size board as Dunwich, with a similar layout, except that there is a series of three locations branching out from the rest of town in a rough line, representing Kingsport Head and related locations, like the Strange High House in the Mist. And instead of Vortex stuff, there is Rift stuff. Kingsport is a relatively peaceful town, with no gates and no monsters. I suppose that a flyer or a Hound of Tindalos could show up, but otherwise, this is the place to send the weakest investigator to hang out. Why? To keep the rifts under control.
Rifts: These rifts are kind of wandering gates that only come into play after certain combinations of symbols on mythos cards have been revealed. After four small counters have been laid down next to a given rift in Kingsport, the last mythos card to trigger that rift gets the usual gate and monster plus the rift appears there. Each rift has dimensional symbol on it (circle, moon, triangle, etc.) and each time one of those matching symbols appears on a mythos card after the rift manifests, the rift moves on the map, dumps out a monster and also moves the doom factor up by one. The way to prevent rifts is found on those little chits that activate the rifts. Each one has a small picture of a Kingsport location (similar to those smashed location chits for Sh'udde M'ell in Dunwich), and if an investigator gets an encounter at the location, he can discard a matching small chit for a rift. The rift rules are difficult to read, but are easy to play once you comprehend them.
Aquatic monsters: They have an orange border (tribute to silver age Aquaman?), and some kind of thing about appearing on the River Docks in Arkham. I didn't really catch that part, because I was on the phone. The only aquatic monster that I saw was a skeleton.
Elusive monsters: Thaadd compared the Mi-Go to a pinata... bash it with a stick and a prize falls out. These new elusive monsters are similar, but you can only engage them in combat if you sneak up on them. The only ones that I saw were Serpent Men, and while they might be shy, they are also fairly tough. At least you don't need to sneak past them if you are just trying to get across town. I like them.
New investigators: fairly powerful, comparable to the ones from the Dunwich set. There is a kickass martial artist who gains sanity or stamina when she focuses certain traits, and she gains a physical combat bonus for each empty hand. And I got to play a freaky dude who looked like Donnie Darko wearing a brazillian Carnival costume, and he starts play in the Dreamlands! I also played a crazy actress who can randomly change her skill every turn. I love the new investigators.
New Great Old Ones:Just as nasty as the Dunwich GOOs, or possibly even worse. Atlach-Nacha, a gigantic spider god, devours an ally or investigator each round during final battle, and all gate surges are treated as gate bursts, so we couldn't use our usual gate-sealing strategy. Y'Golonac gained a Doom Factor token every time we found a tome, and automatically dealt an increasing amount of sanity/stamina damage each round of final battle. Great stuff.
Epic Battles: The text on these cards is very desciptive and thematic, and the mechanics conspire to screw the investigators pretty hard. I thought that they were great and don't want to play without them, but a couple of other players thought that they made the game too hard. There are eight green cards and eight red cards, and you shuffle the two stacks separately, then play a green one each round until you run out, then switch to red. The green ones are supposed to be the easier ones, but we found them horrifyingly bad, so the red ones must be unspeakable. Each Great Old One (except Azathoth) also gets three specialized cards for the Epic Battle, which may come into play if referenced by a red or green card. Lots of replay value here, and fixes the weakest part of Arkham Horror completely.
Guardians: I think they were called Guardians, they are basically good guy Heralds. We didn't play with them, because they were optional and we already had a lot of new rules to handle.
Other new cards: Elephant Gun is a mighty 2H weapon, but you spend $2 every time you fire it. Some nasty new spells that potentially do great damage if you get many successes. Another new spell gives you a new skill, but you discard the spell after one use. There are some new allies, a new type of blessing, and some other neat stuff that I didn't even get a look at.
Overall, this looks like another fine set, comparable to the Dunwich one in terms of size, scope and entertainment value. Up until now, our group has always played the full game, gleefully mixing each new expansion into the full game. However, that may not be a good idea now that Kingsport is here. I would probably leave either Kingsport or Dunwich out of a given game unless there are at least six investigators... one to patrol Dunwich, one to patrol Kingsport, and four to handle Arkham.
And even then, the rumors are much harder to deal with, because rumors are always scaled on the number of investigators, so everybody needs to rush back to Arkham whenever there is a nasty rumor. We nearly lost to Y'Golonac because we got hit with two nasty rumors in a row. The first one cost us almost all of our equipment but at least we each got an ally. The second rumor we had to let happen, and that cost us all of our clue tokens.
This new set has pushed Arkham Horror up to an 11 for me. It is definitely my desert isle game, the one game that I could play for the rest of my life without ever getting bored with it.