This is interesting, I dislike Eldrtich Horror Arkaham Horror (never played 3e) and Mansions of Madness for lack of agency reasons. I have no issue with output randomness though. Having played a lot of and loved many mini wargames I like the thrills and spills of dice tests to resolve things. I think my issue is more that my choices are so irrelevant to the games outcome and given that, I don’t find the stories interesting or engaging or have any interest in the writing. I think along the lines of if I’m not making the difference to this story, why not just read a book or a watch a film that would be a better story experience and expand my horizons.
On to the point that inspired me to this post. I actually like Betrayal at House on the Hill and I’m currently really enjoying a Betrayal Legacy campaign. While the exploration pre haunt is pure guess work I enjoy that experience as it feels thematic, it conjures up the feeling of the horror genre really well for me, also once the haunt begins I think I have enough information without it being complete that I feel that I’m making a plan and being engaged and that my decisions have relevance. It is possible to be in a situation where the haunt was triggered with one side basically having no chance, I however see that as an acceptable risk that’s part and parcel of it being able to generate surprising and engaging story. Also battling through against the odds feels thrilling. Having not played Betrayal since about 2009 I was nervous about playing it again in case my evolving tastes meant I no longer enjoyed it and the memory was tainted. When a friend insisted we play Betrayal Legacy I was nervous, turns out I’m not against story driven games. I’ve just played a lot that I want to describe as “shit” but would be more acurrately described as “not to my tastes”.
I would go on about input vs output randomness more, but this has already gone long.