Feb 2007

Fire, Ice and Sand

Jeremiah and I have both commented before about the various recurring environment conditions in Runebound and Arkham Horror, both from Fantasy Flight Games. Although I have many cards from all the expansions I own (described in a future posting), there are certain distinctive Bad Things that always seem to happen.

Take Runebound, for example. No matter what we do, the forests are always on fire at some point of the game. There are a lot of forests in the land, let me tell you, and we are reminded of that every time this card appears.

In Arkham Horror, there are equally charming conditions, but at the other end of the temperature spectrum. It would take a pretty cold day to slow down those beasties. Naturally, Arkham is eager to oblige, in spades.

The Egyptian expansion added the wonderful sandstorm to Arkham, Massachusetts, and so the "Against all reason..." on the card took on a whole new meaning when one game went from ice to sand in two turns.

And, of course, we can't forget those careless picnickers.

Reiner softens you up for the big boys

You wonder sometimes how you get dragged into things. Take board games, for example. Personally, I'm not interested in playing a board game unless it is around an hour, hour and a half, tops. But yet, on Saturday night I find myself playing a rather long version of Arkham Horror, clocking in at around three hours with only myself and Jeremiah. We've played the game many times, so there was very little downtime for reading the rules. No, this was three hours of steady monster mayhem.

We came very close to victory at two hours but the forces of Azathoth rallied and blew open a whole bunch of astral gates to slow us down. Neither was it very fun having a gaggle of maniacs rampaging through the streets of Arkham, having recently broken out of the asylum en masse after chanting in unison something in an unknown ancient language (probably Egyptian, sometimes I hate that expansion). For once, the cultists were of very little concern, which was a novelty. They were like pups in comparison to what else filled the streets. The wizards were fighting the bad fight and causing no end of trouble in Dunwich, where the Dunwich Horror was slumbering and (gratefully) didn't wake up. We sent the Colour Out of Space to the outskirts so many times it was oozing green out there. Naturally, the picnickers were at it again, causing their own carnage. In short, Arkham came perilously close to being wiped out of existence.

Due to all this, the three hours of game play flew by. We were way too busy sending beasties back from whence they came to notice the time. Nevertheless, I believe that I have found the culprit for my expanded tolerance for longer games. His name is Reiner Knizia and he is very, very guilty. The byline on his website is "Bringing Enjoyment to the People", but it should be really something more sinister like "Bringing Board Game Addiction to the People".

Yes, it's all his fault. He designed a fantastic Lord of the Rings game and then Fantasy Flight Games sold it in North America. Fantasy Flight produces great quality games and they really draw you in. Once I played my first two and a half hour LOTR game, I was hooked. It was a very easy step to other monster length games (forgive the pun) like Runebound and Arkham Horror, and Fantasy Flight makes it oh so easy to get your fix.

I know that the wargame community will scoff at me and tell me that my three hour games are just a quick appetizer for them, but everything is relative. It seems long to me. Except when I'm playing, of course.

I'm just glad that Fantasy Flight takes a long time to release new big box games, otherwise I'll have to significantly revise my maximum playing time guidelines.

Now let me go take care of that Gug before things get out of hand.