Thursday, October 31, 2019

Horrific Halloween 2019: Arkham Horror (Third Edition)

It's October, so Shangrila Towers is serving up All Hallows' Eve-themed posts for the guys and ghouls in your neighborhood. I hope everyone is having a happy Halloween! To close out this year's festivities, let's look at the new edition of the classic cooperative Lovecraftian board game, "Arkham Horror."

My friends and I enjoyed Fantasy Flight Games's 2005 revision of Arkham Horror, but playing it became increasingly unwieldy thanks to FFG's numerous expansions. With all the sideboards, new cards, and rules piled on over the years, it became a Herculean task just to get the game out onto a table.

The new edition of Arkham Horror is, in some ways, a big improvement from the old. The game now takes its overall design and writing cues from Eldritch Horror, but with two key additions. First, there's a neat modular board representing the titular city, helping both replayability and compatibility with future expansions. Second, and probably more importantly, the randomness in the end-of-turn encounters has been tuned way down, which is a blessing for people who don't want to be at the mercy of an unlucky card draw.

The news isn't all good, I'm afraid. This version inexplicably adds even more end-of-turn housekeeping, with a tedious "Mythos Cup" mechanic that forces each player to draw and resolve various tokens, one at a time, on every turn. The process takes forever - whatever suspense or relief you might feel initially from drawing a bad token is replaced with tedium, since you have to draw so many. The items, powers, and monsters will mostly be familiar to anyone who's played a FFG Lovecraft game, which feels lazy given the high MSRP. For these reasons, I think Eldritch Horror remains the superior game.


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