You might think that I’ve already done a review on this game, and actually, I was a bit surprised I hadn’t, but what I had done was a Board Game Battle between Arkham Horror LCG, Mansions of Madness, Elder Signs, and Arkham Horror 2nd Edition.…
Tag: Arkham Horror
Final top 5 list, I think that I could maybe come up with some more lists, but I might do eventual lists of games that play best or up to two through six or seven to give ideas for games like that. As I know that’s something that I want to think about as a person who hosts a board game night, what games provide that range in player count or allow players to split up more.
But we finish off with action points. What are action points, they are points or tokens that tell you how much you can do on a single turn. Maybe you can take five actions, and then you allocate those points to specific actions you can take, like moving or attacking.
5. Dead Men Tell No Tales
A cooperative game, in this one you are spending actions to try and find treasure on a pirate ship that is haunted and currently on fire. You have to contain the fire, try and find the treasures, deal with skeletal deck hands, and you have a certain number of actions you can take to do all of that. This game is like a lot of cooperative games in that you feel like you can never do enough. The interesting thing this game adds in with action points is that you can pass on your unused action points to the next player. So it might be that you are limited in what you can do, but the next person has a lot of useful things that they can do. You can move closer into position to set-up what for your next turn and then pass any unused action points to the next player so that they can do more. In a lot of cooperative games the action points are static but you can act upon other characters, in this one, you can’t do that, but you can pass out action points.
4. Dead of Winter
Dead of Winter is an interesting game on this list as it uses dice as your action points in the round. The dice don’t encompass every action you can take in the game, but the strongest actions, the ones that help you complete objectives are going to spend a die. Not only that, but the number you roll on the dice makes a difference as well. Some characters aren’t able to search or kill zombies with a low die roll. So in that case your die, which is supposed to be your strongest action is now made weaker and it looks like you are hurting the colony and people are starting to suspect you are the traitor more, but at the same time, they can see the roll, so they know it wasn’t great. And then you get more dice and actions when you have more survivors, but you are also responsible for more zombies showing up and more mouths to feed and making the game harder that way.
3. Arkham Horror LCG
This game doesn’t use the points as a physical token, but a lot of the games with action points don’t. Action allowance might be a good way of describing it as well, because you have a certain total number of actions you can take on a turn. Arkham Horror does this well, limiting you to two actions, and while you can do the same actions multiple times, you always feel the crush of not being able to do enough. Arkham Horror LCG is a placeholder on this list for all of Fantasy Flights Lovecraftian games as you feel the crunch Arkham Horror, Elder Signs, and Mansions of Madness as well. It’s a system that works well for them as it keep the tension high when you don’t have enough actions to do everything that you’d want.
2. Blood Rage
Action points are huge in Blood Rage as you try and get into territories, move troops around, and be able to hang in the round long enough to stop your opponent from doing what they are trying to do. What I like about the action point system in Blood Rage is that certain actions cost a certain number of action points. And the monsters, who are possibly more powerful or useful in some other way, also have action point costs. So you’re trying to balance using your action points so that you don’t run out much before anyone else, because once you are out of action points, you are out of the round at least in being able to take the large actions that are going to be most useful long term.
1. Pandemic Legacy
This game does great with action points, basically each turn the active player spends up to four action points, moving around, curing diseases, trading cards, and finding cures. Then as the game continues, you gain more and more actions that you can take. At the end of the game, you’re trying to balance out these actions in hopes that you’ll be able to survive. Pandemic does a really good job with these actions, because it evolves over time. A lot of games have more of a static action pool with maybe unique characters have special player power actions that they can take, but Pandemic Legacy, both seasons one and two, give more options as you play and unlock more of the game.
There are a ton of games that use this action point/action selection mechanic. It’s a strong mechanic for adding tension to decisions, because you’re almost always short of the action points you want to use in a round. This mechanic, however, isn’t always an ideal for players who might have AP, because it makes your choice really matter. But let’s talk about some honorable mentions:
Forbidden Desert/Forbidden Island – Cooperative exploration games that feel like Pandemic light.
Flash Point: Fire Rescue – Another Pandemic like game that also has a bit of a Dead Men Tell No Tales feel to it as well, this time you’re being fire fighters though.
KrosMaster Arena – Plan your movement and attacks in this Chibi MOBA style game. A little bit simple at times, and almost ways a best way to use your action points.
The Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game – This game is all about the Fate Points, as the action points are called. It’s a pool of action points which is a very different feel from a lot of the games as you as a team have to replenish and manage that pool of points.
What are some of your favorite games with action points? Is action points/action selection a mechanic that you enjoy?
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I’ve talked a lot about theme in board game before and how I like board games with a good theme on them. Instead of talking so much about why I like themes in board games, I think I’ve covered that decently well, I’m going to talk about some of my favorite themes in board games and why I like them.
Now, that could be less exciting, because there are a lot of generic themes out there, and a lot of games that are using themes over and over again. Especially now with copyrights not being extended to kingdom come, there are more works that are now public domain. A few years ago Sherlock Holmes became public domain and HP Lovecrafts work some time before that.
So what are some of my favorite themes on board games?
Epic Fantasy –
Super generic, but I really do enjoy a good fantasy game. Especially since a lot of them have a better developed story than most. Now it helps that I’m a big fantasy fan, so I can quickly understand what is going on with the various fantasy tropes and it allows me to get quickly into the story being told. Games like Gloomhaven and Legends of Andor do a good job of baking story into the actual game play themselves. I think what I like about the fantasy theme on board games is that it gives me a bit of that feeling of playing an RPG in a lot of the games and I can make my decisions like I am that hero. In a lot of ways it scratches my itch to play an RPG when I can’t be in a game as a player or as the GM.
I did a big board game battle post about all of the Fantasy Flight games that I’ve played with the HP Lovecraft world theme on them. I’m a bit surprised with how main stream Lovecraft is in board games, but it works in most of the cases. I will say that it gets slapped onto a lot of games that don’t need it. Like in Unspeakable Words, you’re just doing a pretty standard word game, but it has the Lovecraftian theme and cute Lovecraftian artwork on it. Now, that’s fine because it takes a game that wouldn’t have artistic direction and gives it some, but it’s kind of silly. Then there are games like Arkham Horror, Mansions of Madness, and Arkham Horror LCG that are just steeped in theme. Those games seek to make you feel like an investigator of some background who is really going through this world, dealing with the monsters, progressing the story, looking for clues, and sometimes dealing with the events of the normal world. It also does a good job of setting an aesthetic that is generally pleasing to play in but also being a horror focused game. It really doesn’t rely on blood and guts like some horror games would.
Another super generic option, like epic fantasy, but I figured I should say more than just Star Wars. While the Star Wars games are great that I’ve played, Imperial Assault and Star Wars: Rebellion, there are other sci-fi games out there that I’ve liked as well. It’s interesting because you have a wide variety of scope with games in the Sci-Fi genre. Games like Star Wars: Rebellion, Battlestar Galactica, and Cosmic Encounters are planet level Sci-Fi games. And while Cosmic Encounters doesn’t feel like quire as grand a scope as Rebellion, it’s still a bigger game in some ways. Compare that to Imperial Assault and Clank! In! Space!, those games have a focus that is much more on a smaller part of the world. You’re on a planet or in a space ship dealing with things, but you aren’t as worried about the whole cosmos. Having that variety is what makes Sci-Fi such a strong genre to me.
Now, there are so many more genres out there, but you’re not going to have that much issue finding games in these genres, and I tend to gravitate towards them. There is one that I want to see more of though.
Weird West –
I really enjoy the weird west setting. Some might say that it’s a bit Lovecraft mixed with the wild west, and that’s probably pretty accurate. But when people say a Lovecraft game, that’s generally meaning 1920’s and Arkham area. Weird west can be a lot more than just that, and I like Shadows of Brimstone for that, though I’ve only gotten it to the table once. I need to go back and fix the monsters and hopefully stream that game at some point in time so I can actually play it some more. But the game is interesting and has some cool big moments to it.
Now, some might say this is part of fantasy, but I think I would qualify it differently than “Epic Fantasy”. Theming of games like Lords of Hellas, which I haven’t played or Santorini which is really an abstract game, but has the Greek mythology added to it, that’s a theme that I can get behind. What makes it generally pretty thematic is that all the deities have their own powers which really do track with the mythology that you’re in. Even if you aren’t going the standard Greek, there are now a lot of games with Norse Mythology. Blood Rage on the cards you draft does a really good job of creating that mythological feel for each deity that you can draft cards from. In fact, those cards are where you really get the theme of Norse Mythology in Blood Rage.
I could go on talking about more themes in board games. There are games with a heavily influenced theme by Japan and/or Anime. There are games t hat have cool adventuring themes that give you the Indiana Jones feel. There are a few themes that I’ll generally avoid though. If a game has the “trading in the Mediterranean” theme, that’s a hard pass for me. I’m also kind of done with the zombie theme at this point. I do like Dead of Winter, so I’m not opposed to it, but a zombie themed game isn’t all that interesting to me most of the time.
What are some themes you like in board games. What are themes that you want to see more of in board games?
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Normally with Eating Nerdy, I try and go with a movie, show, or game that is a bit more obscure that you can make an event around and how you can feed people while staying in theme. That’s what I’m trying to do here as well, though this is a bit more Halloween focused and Mansions of Madness is a pretty big and well known game. But with it being around Halloween, this seemed like the right thing to do. So you might notice that the theming isn’t going to be as closely tied to Mansions of Madness but more focused on Halloween and how you can incorporate the two together. If you want more specially themed to the Lovecraftian set-up of Mansions of Madness, you can checkout the article that I wrote about Eating Nerdy and Arkham Horror back in September of 2016.
So what are the things to think about with Mansions of Madness, how would that have a Halloween feel to it? The game is an investigative game where you are exploring a house or various locations trying to stop cultists from bringing about the end of the world, or there are other scenarios as well. I’ve only played the one introductory scenario twice.
Starting with invitations to the party, they should probably be mailed out with some old time font or better yet hand written. Then add in a request that people dress up like they’re from the 1920’s. Whatever they feel like is appropriately 1920’s should work as that is when Lovecraft wrote and when the games are set. I’d definitely also find some nice atmospheric music to play during the game and during the party as well. Also, figure out a way to dim your lights or to create that feel of suspense through the mood. If you could get enough electric or other candles to make the room bright enough to see, that would be good, or figure out a way that it’s light enough to see the board well, but the corners of the room are a bit dark.
As for drinks, to borrow from my Arkham Horror post, stick with the classic drinks. Old Fashioned or a Martini would work really well. Just straight up scotch also would be really good. Have some mulled hot apple cider for those who might not want to have an alcoholic drink or for when people want to switch it up. A good old fashioned rootbeer would work nicely as well. There’s a book, Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails that has a lot of very nice recipes that you could pull from to create more thematic cocktails as well.
I’m not going to recommend a big meal for this, this is supposed to be a Halloween get together as well as Mansions of Madness, and I’d say just get down to gaming. Instead, focus on easier to eat finger foods. Caramel apples is an obvious choice for Halloween. Chips and salsa, peanuts and pretzels, just keep it simple for as you are playing. I’d also suggest that you ask people to bring food for this as well, it can be a longer game to play, so share the bringing of food, and if you do that, you can maybe got with some more labor intensive foods that would be more thematically appropriate for Halloween or for Mansions of Madness. I think going either way with the food would work for the event.
While you are playing, lean into the role playing your characters. People should be encouraged to pick the person who most looks like them or most looks like how they are dressed up. Do you over the top east coast accents or your noir detective voices, and really encourage people getting into and creating the story of your characters in the game. The Mansions of Madness characters do have some information about how they started to investigate these horrific events or ones like them, so have some fun with that. If you’ve made it atmospheric you’ll have a nice combination of suspense and goofy by getting into the role playing.
One thing to consider with Mansions of Madness is the app integration. In my case, since I have a projector, I’d be tempted to figure out a way to display it up there, because it wouldn’t be too obtrusive there and would allow everyone to easily see the text that is coming up. A tablet or laptop would work just fine as well, but figure out a way so that people can see it. I’d also consider, if you can, changing away your laptop from the normally harsher blue light that you get on TV’s, computers, and tablets. A lot of the newer tablets and other devices, you can go with a more yellow based lighting scheme, and that will fit into the aesthetic that you’re trying to create better than a blue light would.
What other things would you want to do to give it more of a Halloween feel? Doing something like pumpkin carving, to see who could carve the best elder god would be fun way to start the night and would also give you some fun lighting to use later as the jack-o-lanterns are lit.
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