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Short Cut to Remote Gaming Forum (29 Aug 2020)

Since remote gaming has now become a significant part of how we play board games, we have added a short cut to this forum in the menu on the left.

Josh Look's Top 5 Horror Games

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31 Oct 2019 01:00 #302960 by Josh Look
As long time members of this site will know, ...

It's more than a Halloween thing.

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31 Oct 2019 08:42 - 31 Oct 2019 08:43 #302961 by drewcula
Fun post Josh. I've been reading your lead-up to this article for a few weeks, so I had a pretty good grasp of what you would include. And still, I wasn't expecting to see Nyctophobia & The Bloody Inn.
I have not played Nyctophobia. I've passed it by repeatedly because it just looked, "gimmicky." But with your seal of approval - I'll look again.
The Bloody Inn? Interesting. I owned it. I sold it. It didn't do much for me or my play group. I will admit though, the illustrations are bloody terrific. The games shines on artwork alone.

I played Fury of Dracula last night. As the Count, I reached lucky ol' 13 at the end of week two. Fun times, though whiskey and wine and a baseball game provided too many distractions. The game took three hours.

And during some of our sidebar, the lot of us reminisced over our sessions of Psycho Raiders.

So here's MY five horror hound favs:

5) Escape from the Dark Castle
4) The Thing: Infection at Outpost something something
3) Psycho Raiders
2) Fury of Dracula
1) Ouija*

* Yeah. I said it. There's a lot to unpack with that declaration. But I'll just leave it for now.
Last edit: 31 Oct 2019 08:43 by drewcula.
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31 Oct 2019 08:49 #302962 by Vysetron
Great piece. Your last point regarding how we evaluate games is key. It seems like most people go into any given game hoping or assuming it'll be one way, and if it's not then it's a failure somehow.

Camp Grizzly has mechanical problems if you're comparing it to other coops, but none of them matter here because they're intentional. And the result is great. We could do with more games that are willing to lean into flaws for authenticity's sake.
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31 Oct 2019 08:55 #302964 by Josh Look
I turned a corner on “flaws” in games a couple years back. It might have been War Chest that put it into place. I feel like there are a lot of gamers out there who label something they don’t like about a game as a flaw, they completely refuse to see them as an intentional limitation that serves a greater purpose. For as much as I love how streamlined modern design leans, there’s also this idea that everything needs to give you that hit of satisfaction. I think that’s ultimately damaging to design as a whole.
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31 Oct 2019 09:04 #302966 by charlest
Solid list for sure. The Bloody Inn is the only one I don't really like and it was fine. Surprised about Nyctophobia as well - it would definitely be on my list but I don't recall anyone else here really liking it.
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31 Oct 2019 09:15 - 31 Oct 2019 09:16 #302968 by Josh Look
I am utterly fascinated by it, but it’s definitely a hard sell for me with the folks I play with.

I knew Bloody Inn would be the divisive choice. While I appreciate that there are folks out there that are using the framework of board gaming to make statements about uncomfortable topics, it’s not the kind of thing I could really get into personally. The Bloody Inn was the first time I played something that, while still at a safe distance, definitely put me closer to being a “bad guy” than anything else I had played. I play with the Roses every once in a while and we love it, but every once in awhile I’m acutely aware of the conversation going on at the table and I remind myself, “Wow, this is really fucking grim.” The expansion completes it, it really fulfills ideas that were only hinted at in the base game, but man, do carnies not do it for me.

I wish I could get into Psycho Raiders. Something about it feels a little too XTREME IN YO FUCKIN FACE for me, and while I’d probably watch the shit out of that horror movie, for whatever reason I’m less okay with it in my games.
Last edit: 31 Oct 2019 09:16 by Josh Look.
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31 Oct 2019 09:49 #302969 by drewcula
I was going to say Psycho Raiders is not perfect, but then...

Anyway, PR is grim dark fun. My group really got into the characters and kept taunting the teenagers. We still laugh about it, and during FoD last night? We couldn't help but do a few chants. "Raaaaaaaaandy! RAAAAAAAANDY!" I sometimes wish there were a fewer options for players, because there can be some awkward rule interpretation with some weapons. But whatever. My biggest gripe is that I can't find card sleeves for the damn game. And I suppose that's a joke on me too, considering the nature of game/'zine.

I saw there was an expansion to The Bloody Inn, after I sold my copy. Does it improve on the base game, or is it more of the same? I don't think I would re-purchase it, but I could be persuaded to try it again.

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31 Oct 2019 09:59 #302970 by hotseatgames
Put me in the PRO-Bloody Inn camp. That game is great, and as mentioned, the artwork is amazing. We have the expansion and I think it adds more options. It has been a while since we played but I don't think there is any reason to not get the expansion if you enjoy the game.

This weekend I will be playing Sea Evil for the first time. I'm hoping for good things. Or evil things.

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31 Oct 2019 10:12 #302971 by Josh Look
IIRC, the carnies essentially act as an event deck. They’re mixed into the main deck and if they’re still in the inn when it’s time to check out, events happen, usually bad. Really ramps up the tension because they give you one more thing to deal with and you start accepting those calculated failures. They tighten up the game to the point where you will actually see someone bury one of their corpses in someone else’s building, which the base game offered as an option but gave you no need to ever do it.
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31 Oct 2019 10:36 #302972 by Michael Barnes
For as much as I love how streamlined modern design leans, there’s also this idea that everything needs to give you that hit of satisfaction. I think that’s ultimately damaging to design as a whole.

Quoting this because it is one of the most profound statements about modern design and audience reception I’ve ever seen. This gets into fail states and “flaws” (which are as Josh pointed out often intentional limitations), which is something some people get really antsy about. The idea that you can lose brutally and unfairly or find yourself in a situation with no good option is anathema to the golly gee board games are happytimes crowd.

Which ties into the horror thing here. Horror with no stakes doesn’t work. If there’s no risk of loss, a game can not be scary. Which is why Psycho Raiders is the best horror game ever made. It’s brutal, unfair, uncaring about your feelings, and death is always a turn ahead of you. It feels bad and wrong, it’s a tabletop video nasty and it’s sleazy crudeness serves to give it a harrowing, delinquent tone. I think it’s the only game I’ve ever played that felt like real horror. As much as I love Fury of Dracula, Horrified, or whatever none of them approach the feeling of watching Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Another one that I think gets close is actually a kids game, Im Waldschattenspiel. It’s available in the US now as Shadows in the Forest but the dark, folky tone isn’t the same. This is the game where one player is a witch represented by an actual candle and must try to find and bewitch dwarves hiding in the woods. The dwarves move around in the shadows cast by the light. You play it in the dark, so it takes on a eerie atmosphere and the notion of hiding in the shadows of a forest from a wandering witch is definitely spooky. There is some primeval stuff going on here- light and dark, hiding from a predator, fear of fire...the version you can get at Target now has a battery operated tea light and is lighter in tone, (it’s about finding elves) so the weird spookiness is thrown out the window. Which sucks. I love the simple fears expressed and the use of elemental triggers (dark, fire) to generate a sense of dread and unease.
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31 Oct 2019 11:08 #302974 by Shellhead
I'm also a big fan of horror board games and horror movies. Over a third of my board game collection is horror-themed. I haven't played 60% of the games on your list, but I suspect that I would enjoy them all, because your criteria is close to mine.

My list:

1. Camp Grizzly. I like it for all the same reasons, but I actually think that the quality of the visual design is so good that it makes up for the physical quality of the components. And while maybe Nyctophobia delivers bigger gotcha moments, I think that the red-splashed Otis Strikes cards also have that gotcha quality. Especially when a camper successfully runs away from Otis, then draws a cabin card of Otis Strikes anyway.

2. Psycho Raiders. The crude outsider art makes this game creepier than anything else in my collection, and the KILL cards take the whole experience over the top. I burned a 2-CD mix soundtrack for this game, and every song could have plausibly been played on October 31, 1978. Nearly every song I picked is from 1977 and 1978, and a surprising number work well for the game. Just for a few examples: Don't Fear the Reaper, by Blue Oyster Cult; Witchy Woman, by the Eagles; Psycho Killer, by the Talking Heads.

3. The Gothic Game. The murderous goal, the strange humor, and the brazen colors deliver great atmosphere. Despite the player elimination, everybody stays to watch the whole game play out. The vampire usually accounts for half the body count each game.

4. Intruder/Hidden Intruder. This pocket game was rushed to market by Task Force Games within a year of the movie Alien, and does a nice job of simulating that movie without the actual license. By modern standards, the components are cheap as hell, with a paper map and cardboard chits. But the gameplay is solid, and allows for solitaire, co-op, and one vs many play modes. An advanced scenario features a more challenging scenario where the good guys are space marines, anticipating Aliens a full seven years in advance. My copy is so worn out that I am tempted to buy a print on demand copy of the modern edition, Hidden Intruder.

5. Mall of Horror. All zombie board games are flawed, but this one does a nice job of emulating Dawn of the Dead, especially the Romero theme that other humans are often a bigger threat than the zombies. Characters lock themselves into stores as the zombies crowd against the entrance. Votes are held to see who gets eaten by zombies. Characters are forced to scramble from one location to another, and more zombies keep showing up. The visual of the zombie minis piling up is threatening, and the game usually gives at least one or two players the illusion that they are in control with a workable strategy. But the security room eventually gets overrun, and the parking lot is never safe, so the best-laid plans often end in shock and horror.

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31 Oct 2019 11:54 #302975 by ubarose
Excellent list. I think I mostly agree with you, except for Nyctophobia. That one creeped me out so much that I never want to play it again. I actually screamed out-loud while playing it. I don't know if that makes it the best horror game ever...or the worst.
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31 Oct 2019 12:45 #302980 by bfkiller

hotseatgames wrote: This weekend I will be playing Sea Evil for the first time. I'm hoping for good things. Or evil things.


I'm hoping to as well. I haven't read the rules yet, but cutting out the ships this past week made me excited to see how much this differs from PR (besides just the setting).

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31 Oct 2019 13:32 #302982 by WadeMonnig
Im this close to grabbing camp grizzly. I wonder if the publishers have even a clue where this "sudden" interest is coming from.

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31 Oct 2019 13:50 #302984 by Space Ghost

Michael Barnes wrote: For as much as I love how streamlined modern design leans, there’s also this idea that everything needs to give you that hit of satisfaction. I think that’s ultimately damaging to design as a whole.

Quoting this because it is one of the most profound statements about modern design and audience reception I’ve ever seen. This gets into fail states and “flaws” (which are as Josh pointed out often intentional limitations), which is something some people get really antsy about. The idea that you can lose brutally and unfairly or find yourself in a situation with no good option is anathema to the golly gee board games are happytimes crowd.
.


I agree with this and games that can cause either the brutal loss or the "no good options" situation are some of my favorites.

However, I feel like the last sentence in the original review

and if we're judging games based on how effectively they achieve what they set out to do, it's a perfect one.


is borderline a throwaway statement. It gets around projecting our own expectations on the game, but we replace it by our subjective interpretation and valuation of "what the game is setting out to do". If we don't like that, then we likely won't like the game, regardless of how well it does it. Pick the game you hate the most...do you think it sets out what it tries to do? How do you know what it is trying to do? I don't like Munchkin (for instance), but it might be doing what it was setting out to do. Or Spellfire (old CCG) -- I like it (most don't), I think it does what it wanted to do, but that doesn't mean it is a great game and my minority opinion is right. Sometimes what we set out to do is just dumb.
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