The Horror of the Arkham Horror
August 21, 2010 7:56 PM   Subscribe

The horror! I've been invited to play Arkham Horror (Dunwich i think it is) but I have never played anything like it before. The game happens tomorrow (Sunday) at Noon. It's Saturday evening right now. I'm going to read the rules from the online manual. But what else should I know? O you monster slaying mofos of MeFi, help me get some mojo before my ass gets grassed.

What's a good strategy to at least not end up head first in a pit of mud right off the get go?
posted by storybored to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Just enjoy the game. It's a lot of fun. Of course reading the rules first is a big help. But depending upon your group, you shouldn't have a problem getting into it. That's how most people get started. You're a noob and people should help you. At first. As soon as they know that you have a clue, then you should worry.

Otherwise, the game isn't Monopoly. You can't really plan a strategy. Just go for it. And don't get too crazy.

That last part was a joke. But you understand. Right?
posted by Splunge at 8:04 PM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Arkham Horror is a very rough board game, certainly the roughest game in its style that I've played. Every time I've played it, we spend hours and hours (I'm taking 6-8+) playing it only to inevitably lose. Planning and playing as a team is absolutely key. Also, and sorry for my fuzziness on the exact words and terms as it's been awhile, do not spend time fighting monsters to gain exp or loot (again if this is even possible), go straight for starting to close the portal. Every turn you spend not resolving that is one turn closer to absolute mind ripping chaos. Good luck!
posted by Meagan at 8:09 PM on August 21, 2010

Oh, forgot to add: despite my pessimistic comments about it, I absolutely love playing it, and am looking forward to an upcoming game in the next few weeks. It's a unique game for sure, and all the times spent losing makes the winning ever so much sweeter (not like I'd know from experience yet).
posted by Meagan at 8:11 PM on August 21, 2010

Response by poster: Splunge, I was sneakily planning not to tell anyone i'd read the manual or gotten hints on the Green. I'd go over and pretend to be all noob-like and then spring some nasty whupass on them all a sudden :).

Meagan, thanks for the tip about the portals. I'll keep that in mind.

The good thing is that there will be a two hour timeout in the middle of the game, so I'll have a little time to reflect and maybe plan. Hope to post an update tomorrow.
posted by storybored at 8:24 PM on August 21, 2010

Don't worry - Arkham horror is co-operative, which means you're ass won't get grassed (although your team will almost certainly be devoured by the Ancient One). If you have the gist of the general flow of play, let the more experienced members strategize and handle the minutia while you enjoy the flavor and slowly absorb tactics via osmosis.
posted by muddgirl at 8:26 PM on August 21, 2010

Splunge, I was sneakily planning not to tell anyone i'd read the manual or gotten hints on the Green. I'd go over and pretend to be all noob-like and then spring some nasty whupass on them all a sudden :).

It does not work like this!!!!!
posted by muddgirl at 8:27 PM on August 21, 2010

Yeah, AE is not competitive. You either all win, or all lose. The manual has some goofy way to figure out a "winner", but it's completely unnecessary. "What should I do?" is a perfectly fine question to ask in the middle of things.

There's a lot of randomness in the game, so be prepared for arbitrarily bad things to happen to you from time to time. Just roll with it, it's easy to come back, and it's all in service of the story. AE is a game of atmosphere.
posted by mkultra at 8:35 PM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Ha, it reminds me of "Betrayal at House on the Hill". Yes, teamwork (like the ever-useful "DON'T SPLIT THE PARTY!") is good, but just enjoy the game. Some of the best parts of boardgames come from when the game goes wrong and the group happily starts another. So long as rule-lawyering doesn't impede the flow of the game, kick back and relax. You'll learn the rules as you go.
posted by SallySpades at 8:38 PM on August 21, 2010

Boardgamegeek's page on Arkham Horror has all kinds of stuff to read if you like, eg session reports, "tips for first timers", photos of games in progress etc.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:08 PM on August 21, 2010

Print a rules summary.

The portals can very quickly get out of control, so keep them down.

Mobility is really important, so if you have a chance to choose a character (in the official rules character choice is random, but Arkham Horror seems to spawn variants like Monopoly does) go for one with higher speed. Becoming the Deputy of Arkham is great for increasing mobility.

If you're not sure where to go, the Science Building is usually a good bet. There are a few game-changing encounters there that can pull you out of the fire.
posted by Paragon at 10:25 PM on August 21, 2010

Some of the Old Ones have conditions you need to fulfill before the final battle (kill monsters, close gates, get clues). If this isn't the case, it's often a worthwhile effort to focus on what you are good at -- if you have a high fight and some decent equipment, kill the monsters you can to help the gate-closers close gates; if you are more magically inclined, fight the magical monsters or close gates. Someone should be pretty much always closing gates -- it's nice to let them have the clue tokens so they can place Elder Signs. There is a gate "hierarchy" -- some locations spawn gates more than others, so closing down the Woods, for example, is a good strategy, although if you are playing with any of the expansions, Gate Burst events make this less effective.

Anyway, it's a fun game, and the best thing to do is enjoy the atmosphere and the outrageous turns of fortune. And, if you get devoured by Cosmic Evil, there is always another Sunday, right?
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:56 AM on August 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Play the Nun. She starts with a blessing, which is handy.

Or the Researcher who has a very useful re-roll power.
posted by keeo at 9:11 AM on August 22, 2010

Response by poster: It's funny how 24 hrs ago, I had trouble figuring out what everyone's posts even meant. But now it all makes sense!

Thanks for all the help. I ended up taking the Professor character but someone else had Researcher and it was all good. We closed and sealed four gates thus managing to defeat Yig with three slots still open on the Doom Track. Yay!

The high point for me was the final gate closing. I tossed an Elder Scroll to the Researcher as I fell through the gate into the Other World. She closed the gate after me. And then sealed it. I died so she could save the world. Guess that was okay since the Prof is an old dude anyway. :)

Thanks Paragon for the concise rules summary, I flipped through that one many, many times. LobsterMitten, i'll have to check out those first-timer links.
posted by storybored at 7:41 AM on August 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

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