Arkham Horror Review (Board Game)
I really struggled with this review. Maybe it was because this was my first board game review, or maybe it was the lack of sleep, whatever the case I had a serious lack of inspiration.
So don’t fault the game for my lackluster skills.
Arkham Horror – a board game based on the “Call of Cthulhu” Mythos.
Website: Arkham Horror Site
I simply adore this game – the mayhem, the setting, the insanity, and the myriad little game pieces. But there are two features that have sealed my devotion to the game, the cooperative game play and the strategic complexity.
The experience is truly cooperative. All the players not only have the same goal, but also can’t succeed without helping each other. You and your companions play mere humans attempting to save the town of Arkham from a terrible fate – the Great Old Ones want to move into town. By closing all the portals that are releasing monsters into town, you too can save Arkham from this cataclysm.
Finding a great group strategy, discussing solutions, and ultimately succeeding is incredibly satisfying. Best of all there is no subtle undermining of the group effort by having a player suddenly turn coat, play the bad guy, or encourage backstabbing for personal gain.
Complexity, like true cooperative play, is tough to implement well in a game. Many seem to confuse complexity with millions of game pieces, or a bloating of the rules to such an extent that the game becomes more about reading the rulebook then actual playing.
Arkham Horror has both lots of game pieces and lots of rules, but both these aspects are more subtle support rather then the focus. They add a wonderful depth and atmosphere that creates great immersion.
I’m not trying to downplay how complex the game really it. It took us three full games before we had managed to play without forgetting some rule, but I think its well worth the effort. Besides, the road to mastering the game is quite entertaining.
I must add here that I to get overwhelmed by it all sometimes. It’s especially hard when there are a bunch of special rules on the board and heaps of monsters out. Progress can get bogged down with trying to keep everything straight. And though it gets intense it still draws me in, the urge to keep playing never diminishing.
Before committing my opinion to paper (bytes?), I thought it best I traverse the doomed streets of Arkham one more time. I wasn’t able to convince anyone to join me. They mumbled excuses about not having enough time or having to wash hair.
The game does take a while to play, but I think the real reason for all this avoidance is that Arkham doesn’t mix well with drinking a massive quantity of alcohol. It requires a bit more brainpower then drunkenness provides. Or maybe they were scared of Cuthulhu sitting on them.
So my friends deserted me and I had to play alone. Stupid friends! But what a wonderful mechanism this game provides, that poor abandoned me could play my beloved game, alone!! (I need new friends. There must be others out there that share my love of this game.)
My whole table was covered with the game, which included the game board, the myriad stacks of cards, the rule books, and my laptop – so I could look up obscure rules clarifications – it felt like the geekiest form of masturbation. =D
In case anyone was wondering, I lost my solo game. In general I’m a decent loser, but losing in Arkham really never bothers me. It’s hard to be upset when you just got squashed by Cthulhu. Insane maybe, but not upset. Besides everyone else usually loses with you. That’s when the drinking can start.
All in all I would say this is probably one of my all time favorite board games. Top five for sure and if I had to choose a single favorite it would definitely vie for the position and have a good chance at winning.