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Kingsport Horror

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27 May 2008 10:05 #7116 by Shellhead
Kingsport Horror was created by Shellhead
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.

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27 May 2008 10:16 #7118 by Ska_baron
Replied by Ska_baron on topic Re:Kingsport Horror
For some reason, this review/preview has been the first thing I've read about Arkham Horror that's made me interested in playing it. It's one of those games that seems like a no brainer for me to be interested in, but I guess it's because I'm somewhat lukewarm on the theme, but probably only due to my ignorance of its details.

Thanks!

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27 May 2008 10:18 #7119 by metalface13
Replied by metalface13 on topic Re:Kingsport Horror
Sounds pretty awesome. The only expansion I've played with so far is the Mask of the Dark Pharaoh. But AH doesn't get pulled out too often, so I've still got lots of playability in the base game for now.

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27 May 2008 10:51 #7127 by Michael Barnes
Replied by Michael Barnes on topic Re:Kingsport Horror
FRONT PAGE, SHELL! NAME IN LIGHTS!!! FRONT PAGE!!!

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27 May 2008 10:53 #7129 by Count Orlok
Replied by Count Orlok on topic Re:Kingsport Horror
Can't wait for this. Arkham Horror is probably one of the most pure-fun games I've ever played. It doesn't matter if you die horribly, it's just a blast to play.

Also, when it comes to expansions, is the King in Yellow worth getting?

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27 May 2008 11:16 #7131 by Gary Sax
Replied by Gary Sax on topic Re:Kingsport Horror
Cool!

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27 May 2008 12:37 - 27 May 2008 12:38 #7142 by jeb
Replied by jeb on topic Re:Kingsport Horror
Count Orlok wrote:

Can't wait for this. Arkham Horror is probably one of the most pure-fun games I've ever played. It doesn't matter if you die horribly, it's just a blast to play.

Also, when it comes to expansions, is the King in Yellow worth getting?

KIY is nice for a one-off here or there. It's thematic like CRAZY if you actually read that book. ( Which you can, for free . Or even have it read TO you .) It will go out of print, so weigh the potential sadness as well. CotDP is out of print already, I believe.

Kingsport just sounds AWESOME. I'm glad it "fixes" the epic battle--those always seemed a bit of a letdown after the action of the game itself. Especially if you saw it coming and geared up.
Last edit: 27 May 2008 12:38 by jeb.

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27 May 2008 12:51 #7143 by Shellhead
Replied by Shellhead on topic Re:Kingsport Horror
Count Orlok wrote:

Also, when it comes to expansions, is the King in Yellow worth getting?


The King in Yellow is better than Dark Pharoah, the only other small box expansion so far. It isn't essential to the game, but I really enjoy it. If you play it alone with the base set, KiY does a great job of delivering a new theme, the insidious influence of the arcane play called The King in Yellow. I prefer to play it with at least the Dunwich set in the mix, too, because one of the new other worlds on the Dunwich board is Lost Carcosa, which ties directly into the section of the mythos that includes The King in Yellow and a certain deity from the original set Who Should Not Be Named (okay, Hastur).

Besides adding lots of cards to the game overall, there are some unique elements in KiY:

1. The Blight cards. Due to the corrupting influence of the play, certain key NPCs around town (like Velma at the diner, or the priest at South Church) turn bad. This creates a new penalty for the investigators that makes the game harder. For example, when the shopkeeper turns bad, all common items become more expensive to purchase. And if you actually encounter an NPC named on a blight card during an encounter in Arkham, you lose a point of sanity or stamina. These are brought into play if you are using the King in Yellow herald, when the terror track increases.

2. The new Herald mechanic (the flip side of the Guardians I mentioned previously). They are kind of like sidekicks to the Great Old Ones, in game terms. This set comes with one herald, but you can download a couple of others at the FFG site. Each herald adds several global conditions to the game that make the game harder, and each herald tends to emphasize one of the expansion sets. Play with just one herald at a time, as they are all pretty tough.

3. The three new monster tokens are Mobs, representing entire crowds of deranged townsfolk on a rampage. They are tough to beat but not unstoppable.

4. The Act cards. These are three new cards that comprise a new way to lose the game. Each is triggered by a creepy Mythos card that doesn't open a new gate, but does move every monster in play. Then players face the possiblity of either allowing the next Act to enter play, or else accept a terrible penalty to prevent that Act from happening (yet). If the First Act is already in play, then the Second Act may get triggered by that special type of Mythos card. If the Second Act is in play, the players will automatically lose when the Third Act is triggered, with no recourse.

Our regular boardgame group got so good at the base game that we almost never lost. Dark Pharoah didn't change the odds, but after we included Dunwich, we started losing about half the time. Adding in The King in Yellow, we started losing about 2/3 of the time. Personally, I love it that the game has become so challenging, but some people may not enjoy losing that often. I don't get that, because, on average, I have a better chance of winning a fully-loaded game of Arkham Horror than a five-player game of any non-cooperative boardgame. Anyway, because of the tough odds, your group may want to just play the base game with one or two expansions at any given time.

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27 May 2008 12:53 #7144 by Shellhead
Replied by Shellhead on topic Re:Kingsport Horror
jeb wrote:

It will go out of print, so weigh the potential sadness as well. CotDP is out of print already, I believe.


Thaadd told me on Sunday that FFG recently reprinted Dark Pharoah. I have seen an influx of extra copies at the local game shop.

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27 May 2008 13:30 #7146 by Count Orlok
Replied by Count Orlok on topic Re:Kingsport Horror
Thanks for the low-down shellhead. That sounds awesome, and adds exactly what I love to Arkham Horror.

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27 May 2008 14:34 #7150 by Shellhead
Replied by Shellhead on topic Re:Kingsport Horror
Michael Barnes wrote:

FRONT PAGE, SHELL! NAME IN LIGHTS!!! FRONT PAGE!!!


Okay, I submitted that first post as an article for the front page. I think I followed all the right steps, because I got a confirmation immediately.

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27 May 2008 14:41 #7152 by Thaadd
Replied by Thaadd on topic Re:Kingsport Horror
Pharoah should be back in stores within a week or so. It was packed with Kingsport for shipping

You can always ask if you're curious if a game is going out of print - a certain person is very versed in it, or you can also check out the website for the printing schedule. Many times, if something is delayed (esp. to a popular game!) It's because the reprint is underway, and we're tweaking it - in this case, and several others, adding languages available. Think of all that text involved! That's alot of translation, and editing, and error checking. (And many of the language partners don't have the staffing to keep a full time translator on hand, so it actually may be staff on top of their normal duties, or contract translator who might not be down with Lovecraftian English).

I like Kingsport alot. I want to get a mega game going, with every one of the expansions, and a full 8 people for shits and giggles. I hope the guardians balance out the great old one epic battle rules, because Epic was HARD. Wave this at anyone who whines that the game is too easy!

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27 May 2008 15:07 #7154 by Shellhead
Replied by Shellhead on topic Re:Kingsport Horror
Thaadd, I would definitely be up for that mega 8-player game some time. The most we've had so far was 7 players, but that was before Dunwich, so it was too easy.

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