Andy's Industrial Opinion Factory #3 - Arkham Horror 3rd Edition, Heroes of Terrinoth, Keyforge

Andy's Industrial Opinion Factory #3 - Arkham Horror 3rd Edition, Heroes of Terrinoth, Keyforge

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THE WORKERS HAVE TAKEN OVER THE FACTORY STOP THEY GOT THEIR HANDS ON A BUNCH OF NEW FANTASY FLIGHT GAMES STOP THEY’VE STOLEN MY ONE SONG REVIEW STOP PLEASE SEND HELP ASAP

Arkham Horror, 3rd edition


I had a chance to get in a single game of the new edition of Fantasy Flight’s flagship horror-adventure romp, newly updated and streamlined for the tastes of 2018. First, to dispel the elephant in the room: the design team (including Legacy of Dragonholt’s Nikki Valens) has presented the most palatable, inclusive version of Arkham yet. Every noticeable trace of Lovecraft’s racism and xenophobia has been wiped up (or at least swept under the rug), replaced by a diverse and distinctly contemporary-feeling take on the Mythos. While it may not solve the underlying problems Barnes explored in his incisive essay, you’ll at least not spend too much time cringing at the source material.

As far as the gameplay itself goes, much will be familiar to fans of earlier editions--players spend time gallivanting around Arkham, collecting clues, suppressing doom, and fiddling with decks of varying sizes. While the feeling remains the same, the designers have made a bunch of smart decisions that make the third edition far more playable than the second. Each scenario has its own setup and goals, with story cards being shuffled into the more generic event decks corresponding to each neighborhood. Unlike the Arkham of yore, which could occasionally feel like a random slurry of unconnected, vaguely spooky events, third edition creates a tighter, more cohesive narrative by using a nested card system similar to Fallout’s. It’s elegantly designed and is pleasingly low-overhead for the players, whose turns remain simple and quick. As far as big-box adventure games go, it’s hard to beat.

The problem is, good as it is (and it’s quite good!), the game has some stiff competition from its own product line. As narrative-driven horror gaming goes, it’s hard to beat the mechanical playfulness of Arkham Horror: The Card Game and the immersive sheen of Mansions of Madness, 2nd ed. And while Arkham Horror has the benefit of a smaller upfront cost and greater replayability, its mechanical core feels a bit older and more tired than these innovative new games. It might just be the scenario we were playing, but if you put aside the new coat of narrative paint, it’s easy to see how much of the game is spent doing stuff you’ve done in a dozen other co-ops: the game spits out tokens, you travel across the board to remove them, repeat for a few hours until you (probably) lose. That said, the game has character and style, so I’m looking forward to giving it another try and seeing what else it might have up its sleeves.

OSR: “oh baby” by LCD Soundsystem. It’s a great song from a pretty good record that had the misfortune of coming out seven years after the band’s triumphal exit from an era of absolute dominance. It’s the feeling of going to a party where you don’t NOT belong, exactly, but oh boy does everyone here look younger and cooler than you.

Heroes of Terrinoth

OMG y’all, it’s TERRINOTH! We can finally explore that storied land of, uh, dwarves and elves and orcs. No, not THAT one. The other one. With RUNES.

Okay, so mocking Terrinoth is the definition of low-hanging fruit. FFG’s bargain-basement clearinghouse of ye olde fantasy tropes has been the butt of plenty of jokes, and for good reason--it manages to nick the blandest bits of a dozen proprietary worlds, mixing them together into a flavorless stew that FFG is absolutely convinced you love. If you manage to choke down a bowl full of the stuff out of sheer politeness, you can guarantee they’ll be hovering above you, ready with a refill.

Thankfully, Heroes of Terrinoth seems only marginally more interested in its setting than I am. It muscles through its own flavor text with a cheery indifference, inviting players to skip the fluff and get straight to the good stuff. And the Good Stuff in question is the whip-smart card play at the heart of this dungeon adventure.

As a re-skin of FFG’s own Warhammer Quest: The Adventure Card Game (doomed due to licensing issues), Heroes succeeds by not messing too much with the original game’s winning formula. It takes the cooperative dungeon-crawling experience--exploring rooms, fighting monsters, getting treasure, and leveling up--and shrinks it down to a few decks of cards.

The core of the game couldn’t be simpler--each adventurer has four action cards representing classic dungeony activities (fightin’, lookin’ around, makin’ camp, etc.), and you get to resolve one of these cards per turn. There is more to the game than this, of course. Adventure aficionados won’t be cheated out of genre chrome like status conditions, programmed enemy actions, and decks full of capital-S Stuff. But it’s remarkable how each of these elements works to shine a spotlight on the game’s core puzzle, instead of distracting from it.

I won’t get any further into the details (you can check out Jackwraith’s excellent review for a more in-depth look), but I’ll say this: as a person skeptical of the dungeon-crawl genre as a whole, Heroes of Terrinoth has me itching to play more.

OSR: “Ceremony” by New Order. One of the last songs written by Joy Division before their lead singer’s suicide, the song was re-recorded with new vocals and released as the first single from the surviving members’ new project. While in some ways it was the last gasp of their old identity, it also heralded a new vision for the fledgling band as they moved forward.

Keyforge

I happened to be in our local game store the day this was released, and I was excited to pick up a few packs of the game everyone’s talk talk talkin’ about. I’ve only had the chance to play a single game so far, so I’m not ready to make any grand declarative statements about the franchise and its future. I would, however, like to share my brief impressions, which are that Keyforge is fun and I would like to play more of it.

This statement might seem, well, dumb, but immediate fun is by no means a sure thing. When you play your first match of a collectible card game, you’re dipping your toe in a deep pool, testing the waters to see if this ecosystem is worthy of your time and attention. Games that I ended up loving, like Netrunner and the Arkham Horror LCG, felt opaque and strange my first play, succeeding at piquing my interest even if I stumbled a fair bit on their steep learning curve.

Keyforge is very different, so I want to be careful of apples-and-oranges comparisons, but I’m struck by how little the game asked of me. Within five minutes of opening our decks, my opponent and I were making interesting decisions and having a blast. I think the biggest shock of this game is that it just works: it’s built around the simple, flexible house system that takes seconds to grok but ends up making each turn engaging. It just works! Richard Garfield, you’ve done it again, you wily fox.

My friend and I were playing at a game night at a local bar, and we kept getting visitors asking about Keyforge. Often, folks expressed their skepticism about the long-term viability of the model. Will decks stay fresh and interesting? Will the competitive scene be able to thrive with this distribution model? How long could this game possibly last? They brought up interesting critical points that I still don’t know how to answer.

But at the end of the day? I don’t care. I don’t care because you can plunk down ten dollars for a unique deck with a goofy name and have a really good time with your opponent. Both my friend and I are looking forward to a rematch. If the game ends up having an interesting tournament life and ongoing support, that’s groovy. But the game as it is now is enough for me--let’s just forge some more keys already!

OSR: “Dive” by Beach House. On the surface, it seems like more of the same from a veteran band with nothing left to prove. But a few repeat listens reveal new textures, sounds, and ambitions that set them apart from their dream pop peers. No one’s seventh album should feel this vital.
Andy's Industrial Opinion Factory #3 - Arkham Horror 3rd Edition, Heroes of Terrinoth, Keyforge There Will Be Games

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Andrew  McAlpineFollow Andrew McAlpine Follow Andrew McAlpine Message Andrew McAlpine

Board Game Reviewer

Andrew McAlpine is a writer and teacher living in Northampton, MA. When he’s not gaming, he’s probably obsessing over poetry and music. He’s also a member of the Connecticut River Valley Poets Theater, where he writes, acts, and directs.

 

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Posted: 03 Dec 2018 07:50 by ubarose #287316
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I really want to try Arkham Horror 3rd edition. I saw it being played, but I couldn't tell if it was less fiddly or more fiddly than 2nd edition.
Posted: 03 Dec 2018 08:27 by Gary Sax #287320
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^same

It's one of those things that will probably slip its way into an order over the next year or two. And then my spouse will look at me, try it, and be like "why didn't we just take the extra time to set up the original?" like she did with Eldritch Horror---also known in our house as "lose a turn."
Posted: 03 Dec 2018 10:25 by Vysetron #287329
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I'm making no rush to play AH3ed. AH2ed isn't perfect but it creates a great experience, warts and all. Eldritch by contrast felt too sterile. Plain. I worry FFG is learning the wrong lessons from game to game. If this ends up being Arkham Pandemic (as opposed to actual Cthulhu Pandemic) I'm going to be so disappointed.

I'll still try it given the chance though.
Posted: 03 Dec 2018 11:35 by Jackwraith #287333
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I just can't really be bothered, honestly. We played 2nd Ed for years. I had all the expansions. We more than got my money's worth, given the hours upon hours of enjoyment we had with it. I'm just looking for something different now, especially when it comes to co-op games. I feel like I've played out my "investigators in Arkham" thing. Maybe that's why I own Cthulhu Wars and Fate of the Elder Gods...? It's all about going to the other side... (plus, neither of them are co-ops.)
Posted: 03 Dec 2018 13:31 by Josh Look #287344
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I got to check out AH at PAX Unplugged this weekend. I really did not know what to make of it and part of me still doesn’t, but I think it’s ultimately a pass for me. Gameplay wise, as Andrew said, it’s more like the previous edition than I though it would be. Parts of the design are just so smart and the narrative threads are more cohesive and better on every level, very much on par with the LCG. And that’s where the whole thing fell apart for me. I do not foresee this edition being as replayable with out a steady influx of expansion materials, and for the experience it delivers, the card game is still the smarter option, or at least, the more economical one. There’s only so many times you’re going to be entertained by what happens, which is true for the card game as well but that game is cheaper and has the added benefit of customization if you want it. This new edition really feels redundant.
Posted: 04 Dec 2018 20:11 by san il defanso #287499
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Josh Look wrote:
I do not foresee this edition being as replayable with out a steady influx of expansion materials

I had a sneaking suspicion this would be the case, which is why I passed on it. What I really want is a fun adventure-style experience that 1) won't require an expansion after 10 plays and 2) doesn't cost a mint at retail. Does that game exist, at least since I last purchased a game like this, circa 2012 or so?
Posted: 05 Dec 2018 07:46 by Shellhead #287511
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I'm sure that I would enjoy playing Arkham Horror 3rd, but I don't see a reason to own it. By design, 3rd will tell more focused stories, which unfortunately means less replay value. Arkham Horror 2nd is not a perfect game, but it is a very big sandbox where nearly anything can happen, which makes for endless replay value. Arkham Horror 2nd isn't the best game in my collection, but it is the one game that I will never sell at any price.
Posted: 05 Dec 2018 08:15 by Jexik #287514
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Those with AH 2nd, how many have you played it 10 times? How many of those games involved expansions? If each expansion adds another 5-10 scenarios, I don't see it being a problem unless you really love it, at which point you got a pretty good return on it.

I say this just because I've got both expansions for Tragedy Looper, and we've played the first box of 10 and I think 3 of the ones in the first expansion. It's probably a little easier to get a group for AH, but I don't own it and have somehow managed to not play it once yet anywhere.

"I can only play this 3-hour game 10 times in the next 6 months before the expansion drops" isn't a problem I currently have.

At the same time, I haven't touched X-wing 2e despite it being one of my favorite games. The setup time has nearly killed it for me.
Posted: 05 Dec 2018 08:15 by SuperflyTNT #287515
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What kind of factory isn't, by definition, industrial?

Also, you wouldn't happen to know Dwight Evan Young, would you, Andy?
Posted: 05 Dec 2018 08:55 by Shellhead #287517
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Jexik wrote:
Those with AH 2nd, how many have you played it 10 times? How many of those games involved expansions? If each expansion adds another 5-10 scenarios, I don't see it being a problem unless you really love it, at which point you got a pretty good return on it.

I was already a big fan of Arkham Horror 1st when 2nd edition came out and blew it away. My gaming group of that time quickly became obsessed with Arkham Horror 2nd, and we probably played at least 40 games with the base set. We were actually losing interest at that point, because the 2nd edition base set alone is practically a solved game. Focus on sealing six gates and you will win 90% of the time. The first small box expansion made the game a little more challenging, but it took the Dunwich big box expansion to make the game a serious challenge again. By the time there were at least two big and two small expansions, Arkham Horror reached a state of offering a big sandbox of replay, and additional expansions expanded the possibilities almost endlessly. By now, I have probably played 150 games of Arkham Horror 2nd.
Posted: 05 Dec 2018 14:23 by mtagge #287539
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Jexik wrote:
Those with AH 2nd, how many have you played it 10 times? How many of those games involved expansions? If each expansion adds another 5-10 scenarios, I don't see it being a problem unless you really love it, at which point you got a pretty good return on it.
My copy, perhaps 10. Total easily 30. For me I prefer to mix in the base, 1 small, and 1 big expansion; or if time is shorter base and 1-2 small boxes. Of course we pull from all the possible characters, all possible bosses, all possible monsters each time. Messing with the decks was a pain before, but with the companion app, I just toggle the expansions in the app and I only have to mess with the Mythos Deck. I suppose sometimes we just ignored off expansion Mythos cards and redrew rather than cleaning the deck in between games sometimes.

That way we can set a theme without too much overhead. Putting everything together in one box dilutes the theme, but if you keep it to 1-2 expansions at a time (especially thematically comparable ones) it can have enough for my tastes.

Only reason we didn't play more was because we only lived in the same country for six years and we had newborns/young children at the time.

The difference between 2nd and 3rd it would seem would be 3rd edition games and scenarios are focused and you play one, 2nd can be jumbled together or not based on individual preference.
Posted: 05 Dec 2018 15:21 by AndrewMcAlpine #287545
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SuperflyTNT wrote:
What kind of factory isn't, by definition, industrial?

Also, you wouldn't happen to know Dwight Evan Young, would you, Andy?

Hmm... maybe a hit factory? Let's just say that it's my opinions that are industrial.

Never heard of Dwight Evan Young, what's he all about?
Posted: 05 Dec 2018 15:25 by AndrewMcAlpine #287546
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Yeah, I think if folks are accustomed to the smash-a-couple-expansions-together-and-see-what-happens style AH game, 3rd edition is going to feel pretty alien. I think I like 3rd more than 2nd, but with the caveat that there's no terribly good reason for it to exist. That is, at least, if you can afford to keep forking over cash to the AH:LCG content monster.
Posted: 05 Dec 2018 21:22 by Da Bid Dabid #287564
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san il defanso wrote:
Josh Look wrote:
I do not foresee this edition being as replayable with out a steady influx of expansion materials

I had a sneaking suspicion this would be the case, which is why I passed on it. What I really want is a fun adventure-style experience that 1) won't require an expansion after 10 plays and 2) doesn't cost a mint at retail. Does that game exist, at least since I last purchased a game like this, circa 2012 or so?

Merchants and Marauders?
Posted: 05 Dec 2018 21:40 by san il defanso #287565
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I have that one, and I do really like it. It does tick a lot of those boxes.

I think I'm ready to admit that I like the idea of adventure games more than I actually like adventure games. Aside from M&M and Talisman, I'm not sure I've found another representation of the hobby that really works well for me. I wonder why that is.
Posted: 06 Dec 2018 08:01 by SuperflyTNT #287587
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AndrewMcAlpine wrote:
SuperflyTNT wrote:
What kind of factory isn't, by definition, industrial?

Also, you wouldn't happen to know Dwight Evan Young, would you, Andy?

Hmm... maybe a hit factory? Let's just say that it's my opinions that are industrial.

Never heard of Dwight Evan Young, what's he all about?

Was up in your neck of the woods. Went to Keane, masters in film and theater, does poetry, and now does music (Weird Al was a major influence) but used to rock doing a Kaiser's Orchestra cover band...in Norwegian that he learned specifically due to his devotion to the band. After reading your bio with directing and poetry et al I thought you might know him.
Posted: 06 Dec 2018 16:10 by Sevej #287639
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I think you can play this more than ten times. The original has 5 scenarios (and 1 random mode), with only 4 fixed class heroes and I played it well into the teens.