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Arkham Horror: The Card Game
To take the scenarios first, they could be better. There are only two that I really enjoyed, that I will look forward to playing in future runs, Istanbul and Havana. The rest are hobbled by difficulty that swings all over the place or messy rules. Seriously, the concealed mechanic is used in a new way in the finale, but the rules are spread between two scenario descriptions and agenda and act cards.
I am much more negative on the map, and how it’s used in this campaign. To take the positive first, I like how it integrates standalone scenarios, changing the xp cost to time. It makes playing them much easier in the campaign that actually makes sense for the investigators to travel to New Orleans and Venice.
Otherwise the map is a disappointment on pretty much every level. I don’t like the narrative it introduces. Unburdened from needing to tie text to a scenario, which was already stretched to its limit in Edge of the Earth, MJ fills pages. And none of it is that interesting. I get it. Writing in the second person and needing to accommodate a variety of win-loss conditions and not knowing at what point in the story the text will be read is hard. It might even be impossible to do well, but then you just shouldn’t try it rather than write more and hope some of it works.
I don’t like the puzzle of the map. I’ve heard there is a path to try every scenario and unlock the true ending. I have only ever managed four scenarios between the prelude and finale. I’ve heard people enjoy figuring out this optimal route. Good or them. It feels to me like a connect-the-dots but without the numbers and only being allowed to draw one line every ten minutes before being told an hour later that I did it wrong and didn’t actually uncover the secret scenario or earn one of the story allies.
I don’t like the map’s approach to non-linearity. The promise of the map is to play the campaign my way: to play the scenarios I want, when I want. But why would I when I only enjoy two of the campaign’s scenarios? Why not bum rush the finale, which is absolutely possible, instead of dragging myself through a bunch of stuff that isn’t great? For a campaign that promised incredible variety at the outset, this same player choice may very well end up working against it.
If the new design team returns to this style of campaign in the future, which I hope they do because there is a lot of potential, they need to think hard. They need to cut the pages of text. Reading second-person narrative that floats in an unassumed point in time is not fun. For all my earlier complaints about the scenarios, it’s actually playing the game. Arkham is fun. The bones are strong. I like playing my doofy Dragon Pole Daisy deck. Integrate those narrative beats into the scenarios. Let me meet Taylor in Alexandria and deliver the package to Anchorage.
And clean up the rules. It’s not like the game hasn’t received errata the day of release before, but who made the decision to not include rules on hollow at all or to break up the finale’s rules across scenarios?
DarthJoJo wrote: If the new design team returns to this style of campaign in the future, which I hope they do because there is a lot of potential, they need to think hard. They need to cut the pages of text. Reading second-person narrative that floats in an unassumed point in time is not fun. For all my earlier complaints about the scenarios, it’s actually playing the game. Arkham is fun. The bones are strong. I like playing my doofy Dragon Pole Daisy deck. Integrate those narrative beats into the scenarios. Let me meet Taylor in Alexandria and deliver the package to Anchorage.
I think the new announcement today is pretty promising with respect to the beefs outlined here, limited scope that doesn't seem to have much capacity for long short story style vignettes like TSK.
Off-topic: After a decent hiatus from the game for the last six months I finally started my first run of Carcosa last week. I'm up to the third scenario playing Sefina Rousseau and Mark Harrigan. Carcosa is often cited as 'the best' campaign and, unsurprisingly, I'm really digging it.
We wrecked the first scenario, though, the decklists we both downloaded (detective and the Calvin) are made by one of the really, really good deckbuilders on arkhamdb. Just sick ass card draw shit, at least for the detective.
I was also today years old when I learned that Fool Me Once can attach to your. basic weakness and take it out of play for the rest of the scenario (HOLY SHIT).
Even though I'm not up to these campaigns yet I grabbed Return to Forgotten Age, as everyone said it was nearly essential, and also Circle Undone for the snazzy tarot cards. I really liked Return to Dunwich when I played my pal's copy - even though the increased difficulty wrecked me lol - but it's now sold out everywhere.
So what are your thoughts on Return to Carcosa? There's one local shop left with a copy. Is it worth picking up while I still can?
I'm mean, I'm a completionist, so I'd still get it for the player cards, but I'd glance at what those are and see if you realistically see them having a lot of play.
It still doesn't feel like you'll be seeing those return to sets again so that's the other issue.
There are the player cards. Logical Reasoning 4 is pretty cool. Storm of Spirits 3 is pretty nuts. Lantern and Shovel 2 are pretty cool and I've used them before.