You have a lot more control than that. Every location shows you what it tests or requires, and what you get on successes or spending money/remnants. Now, you certainly have no control over your dice rolls; you can roll 10 dice and not have 1 success, or roll just 1 and succeed. But that’s different from having no agency as you can put yourself in the best situation to succeed.
Depends on how you define “that”. I’m guessing you are using “that” to mean a level of player agency lower than I intended to convey, while for the people we are talking about, I’m guessing that “that” is lower than they like. Of course, there could be any number of other reasons why the game didn’t click…
The description of “draw to see what happens…” is what I’m referring to. You make the choice of which set of cards you get to draw from, and there are certain expected requirements and outcomes. In the 2nd edition of Arkham Horror, you’d have a vague idea of these requirements and outcomes depending on the location, but I’d say the description of “draw a card and see what happens” does apply to that game. 3rd edition is very different in that respect with respect to making informed choices.
I would say that Arkham Horror and Eldritch Horror are both celebrations of luck and chaos, and it leaves a lot of players feeling like the game burbs random events at them, they roll dice, something arbitrary happens, and then it’s the next player’s turn. I have played the games and enjoyed them not as a strategy game by any means, but a dramatic engine of random narrative, not unlike Betrayal At the House on the Hill. If I win, I may have made one or two smart choices, but mostly I rolled well or got events that favored my character’s strengths. If I lose, well, all the random factors aligned against me and thus I lost, or the game burped out something that I simply had no way of beating.
Not saying they’re bad games, but if you expect a strategy game, you will be disappointed by the “anything could happen!” narrative wackiness. If you can’t get into that craziness, they’re not games for you.
I actually know several strategy Euro and 18xx gamers who are not into the craziness who enjoy Eldritch Horror, but not Arkham Horror 2e because of the improved degree of control you can exert in EH. If you hate output randomness (in this case “roll to resolve”) then you’ll hate all these games regardless of how much agency you have as a player, which is fine, but that’s personal preference.
The description of a game being totally random bins it with something like Tales of the Arabian Nights, or even Betrayal at House on the Hill, and Arkham 3e offers much more control than that.
I do not hate “roll to resolve”, but in an “anything could happen” narrative, preparation for things is almost non-existent. Yeah, in Eldritch Horror, you can choose to buy a shotgun before you go off to fight that ghoul, but you have little information with which to prepare for the future challenges. You react, and hope stuff goes well, but there’s no knowledge of what sort of test is likely to come up when trying to close a gate or facing other events, so it’s a crapshoot trying to be prepared for the challenges ahead. The cards are as likely to make you roll your best stat as your worst stat, so you can do little but roll with the punches.
Compare to Pandemic, where the infections are relatively predictable and infection rate creeps up slowly, allowing for overarching strategy and planning to emerge. Compare to the XCOM board game (which has a ton of roll to resolve), where in preparation for combat with aliens, you know what units you will have available, can pick the best ones for the mission, and can have your scientist get on upgrading their weapons and armor. You don’t know everything that you’ll be facing, but you know enough to plan.
And compare to Betrayal at the House on the Hill, where you spend half the game gathering random items / random stat boosts / penalties and then get dumped into an unrelated combat-oriented scenario. Can you honestly prepare for the haunt? Not really, short of trying to convince another player to give you that gun because your speed stat is through the roof. But then you might be a disembodied spirit who can’t use that gun. You just don’t know enough to plan, and this is how Arkham Horror and Eldritch Horror feel to me. You can bring a card for a reroll on any test and bump your perception stat really high, but the game may ask for a strength test and then you’re screwed because the unknown cards dictated something that you had no way to prepare for.
You’re talking about Arkham Horror as if it’s a single game, but 2e and 3e are vastly different. Unlike Betrayal and AH2e and EH, you do know what stat you’re testing in 3e. This is a significant difference for players who care about agency.
Well I stand corrected then, as I haven’t played 3e.
What you’re saying is generally true; I was responding to the discussion of @simian’s Arkham 3e game.
Played Champions of Midgard with both expansions, 5 players. It’s a great game with the expansions, but I’m not sure how I feel about 5 player. On the whole it didn’t really drag much, except for the combat phase where it really slows down for each fight. We did try simultaneous combat at the end, but it was a total mess. Players moving their trackers around, collecting resources; it was impossible to tell what had just happened!
In the end it was ~2.45 hours for rules explanation and game so it wasn’t a long game for 5 player, but feel like we could slim it down some more.
I really want to try that, as it looks right up my alley, but the majority seems to agree that its not great at 2. Have you tried it yourself?
Sorry, I haven’t. I generally tend to avoid playing 2-4/5 player games at 2 player, especially worker placement. I much prefer the interactions of the higher player counts.
Had our on-going campaign of Space Cadets last night with the ambush mission. It started out so well! We were avoiding enemies (thanks to some early gravity arrows that bumped our ship up to Ludicrous Speed), getting some shots off, sucked up the Crystal, everything was coming up roses.
Until our madly careening ship took us into an uncharted region that turned out to have a lot of rifts, which we managed to avoid on pure luck, with the exception of the last one, which did a full six (SIX!) damage to our port side. Which also happened to be the side that the closest enemies were casting their glances at. We core breached before we could use the Jump Drive even once, and with no cards and no rerolls, we were at the (non-existant) mercy of the dice. We stayed alive for a few more turns (despite heavy damage since we had to go back through the same damn rift with the Loop maneuver which did its own damage as well), but obviously we core breached again, and at level 5. The repair deck never even got to the last player. Our first loss! Heart-breaking, and due to the complete brutality of rifts.
Flamme Rouge. Only two players so far but I really enjoyed it, as did my partner. I love the thematic touches. For example, how the roleurs and sprinters have different positions on the bike or how ‘the classicissima’ route uses the iconic hills of ‘milan-san remo’: the big hill of the turcino, followed by the two smaller hills of the cipressa and poggio.
the quacks of quedlingberg a very interesting game for reasons which seem to go against the natural way of thinking of games. In most games the idea is to achieve something over a long time (eradicate disease, beat opponents). quacks feels like a game where the strengths are all in the micro but the macro is a somewhat odd essential and superfluous combination. The thing is each phase of the game where you pull out chips (trying to avoid going bust) you can always calculate your chance of loss (you know exactly what will mess you up and the chance of pulling that from the vague pile of chips in your hand) and thus the push your luck feels informed and therefore equally delightful or devastating because you knew the risks. All of the fun is there.
The fact is though the whole game is about luckiness in that one exceptional (bad or good) round can set the tone or result of the whole game. So when you get to the end not only is there a lack of excitement in the end scores (the scoring seems to have this rather limp cadance to it unlike, say ticket to ride where wildly varied secret scores can be revealed with drama and flourish. Here everyone gets basically roughly the same score in most rounds and you can get a good sense of your position before final scores are called) but actually it doesn’t really feel like a victory or a defeat, it was all the damn chips fault whatever happens.
The thing is the fuller game is necessary because building your bag can feel very personal you choose to flood with crap to dilute bad stuff or curate with expensive good stuff and when those things pull off then you feel like a master. You need that ever engaging personalisation that the longer game allows even though all of the interesting parts exist in the times outside of actual competitiveness and “winning”.
It’s fun all told. I’ve played it two times with my partner and she actually dug it too.
I won the Flamme Rouge tournament at Handycon!
Then I played another game and lost to two people who’d never played before.
Cyclades - Only had two games of this but everyone in my game group loves it. Have decided to bag a copy of the Titans expansion.
Port Royal - First try of this over the festive period and have played a couple of times since. Enjoyable little game which again everyone seems happy to play. Can’t imagine it’ll get huge amounts of table time but some nice little strategies to explore at the beginning or end of a game night.
Azul:SGoS - Big fan of standard Azul so was keen to try this out. Found it to be just as interesting a puzzle. Happy to play either version.
A Feast for Odin - Second game of this and pleased to finish on positive points as my first game was pretty much just trying things out and not really focusing on anything in particular, which resulted in an awful score! Think breeding animals and plundering is my strategy of choice for the next game.
Codenames - reliable favourite. Introduced a few people to it last night, within five mins they were set on buying a copy for their collections.
Cash & Guns - Don’t play it a huge amount but have a bit of a soft spot for it as it was one of the games that introduced me to modern boardgaming about eight years ago. Shoehorned a game in last night and it provided much amusement.
Gloomhaven, our usual game. Very close to retiring my second character. Another very very close scenario, but, against all the odds, we pulled it off. I was exhausted before the end, but managed to limp back to the start point (which we needed to get to for the scenario).
Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra, its the new Azul. Azul is one of my favourite games, so I was interested to see how this played. The basics are the same: take tiles from the factory displays, or from the centre of the table, and you have to take all of a colour. Now things get more complicated. You have eight strips with various colours on them, and a figure called the glazier who starts on the leftmost strip. When you take tiles, you can only fill the strip your glazier is on, or any strip to the right (and then the glazier moves to the new strip). When you complete a strip for the first time, its turned over to show a different set of colours. You keep one of the tiles you used to complete it, and move it to one of the two spaces under the strip. If you complete it again, you remove the strip. We played the A side of the player board, where you get points for how many tiles surround each ornament, you can have up to 4 surrounding tiles.
My preference is still for basic Azul – its so easy to teach and play, but still has enough to think about.
Obsession – basically this is Downtown Abbey the Boardgame. You start with cards representing your family and a couple of guests. Each turn you play an activity, which will require certain members of your staff (ie butler, valet), and then invite guests to the activity, who also may require specific staff. Each activity (and guest) has a reputation which you must equal to be able to play them. An activity and guests all give you a reward when used, can be money, or reputation, or let you get new guests. Finally, you can buy a new actitivy tile from the builders market. Every four spaces on the round track is a courtship round, where you can gain one of the Fairchild siblings, who can add class to any activity. It’s not a bad game, although you can just get lucky when drawing guests. I ended up winning by a huge margin, because I had a heaps of prestige guests (guests are either casual or prestige), which gave me so many points at the end, even tho I never used them, and had a couple I couldnt have even used because of their high reputation. Same for activity/buildings, bought some and never used them, but worth points at the end. There are some variants to cut down on the randomness, I believe.
Ganz Schön Clever, another play of this great little roll n write
Tokyo Highway , this was a little weird. You’re trying to build up a network of your roads and cards, by placing supports and crossing other players roads. I thought it was just going to be a dexterity game, but theres a bit of strategy involved. Not sure if I quite got it.
Ganz Schön Clever, broke 200, so was happy with that
Gizmos x2, a game so good we had two games in succession. First game I grabbed a gizmo that gave me 3 random draws every time I filed a tile. Together with a few upgrade Gizmos, I was amassing heaps of balls, and then was trying to find something to use them on. It was all going pretty well, I had two items ready to build (one of them a level 3), but then the game ended by another player building his 4th level 3 Gizmo (and he won by a good margin). At least I felt like I had some sort of engine going in this game. I don’t think we’ve had a game finish before from level 3 Gizmos, its usually the 16 Gizmo limit that we reach.
In our second game I got 2 Gizmos that gave VPs for building yellow, so I was snapping up the basic yellows and amassing points. Wasn’t successful in the end (but finished second). On my last turn I researched, and thought I’d chosen the percentage play by getting a level 1 Gizmo (hoping to get a yellow to give me more points). I failed, couldn’t find one, then after the game I had a look at the level 2 pile, and there was one I could have built which I think would have given me the game. Doh. Enjoyed both games still, its a great game that doesn’t take long to get thru.
Walk the Plank!, somehow we had a conversation about this game, so we had a play.
Teotihuacan, I really dont play this game well. I find it hard to get anything going, and have no plan. And its a game where planning is required.
Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra, second game of this in two days. We played the B side of the player boards this time, which means that, when you complete a column, you score it, and also add any previously completed columns to the right. You can put some big combos together this way. I didn’t do badly, but had the maximum in negative points (18), from breakages (ie tiles you can’t place, or taking from the middle first). Instead of standard Azul, where you could get negative points each round, this has a single breakage track which you move up during the entire game, and then lose the points at the end. A couple of breakages isn’t a big deal, but they start really piling up. Good game, but same conclusion as the first game of this – I’d rather play standard Azul.
Thats what I love about Gloomhaven. it feels so close to failure you you scrape through, just!
I’m having withdrawals still.
Ahhh… the story of the Baltimore “shh, don’t call them the Colts” Stallions. Several curious stories all rolled up in one. Included in that tangled web of events is the story of how, in 1984, the Baltimore Colts were moved out of Baltimore and into Indianapolis literally overnight in fifteen trucks in order to be out of town before a bill was passed allowing the City of Baltimore to seize ownership of the team by eminent domain the next morning.
The CFL’s short-lived expansion south of the border (which, as a minor point of information, only lasted 3 years, not four, and only with one team at first, with three more added in year two, and then a whole host of relocations, expansions and dissolutions resulting in five teams in the third year) was ill-fated for several reasons a) there were very few American stadiums that could adequately accommodate the larger CFL field and so there were large squabbles about adjusting the rules to accommodate smaller fields (update: I just read that the Memphis Mad Dogs grounds crew marked out the field using 33-inch “yards” to squeeze the field in) b) all the American teams with the exception of Baltimore were completely unsuccessful, both in terms of game performance and in pulling in spectators and c) not long after Baltimore’s sole Grey Cup championship in 1995 (they were runners-up in 1994, their only other year of existence), another controversial NFL relocation was announced, this time for an NFL franchise to be brought into Baltimore from Cleveland, thus more or less invalidating the Stallions’ reason for existence as a professional football franchise in a Baltimore hungry for a pro football team ever since the NFL upped sticks and left.
I love fascinating historical oddities in sports like this, and I hope you’ll forgive me for hijacking the thread to relay this story as the whole thing is so bonkers that it’s brilliant. The idea of a sports team just being magicked into existence, finishing second in its first year, winning in its second, and then just dropping the mic and leaving almost as quickly as it came is just mind-boggling.
In other news, I played Yedo yesterday for the first time and loved it, in spite of being terrible at it and having to play the last two rounds with a deafening karaoke evening going on.