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letherunner

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Go to the Arkham Horror page
Go to the Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game page
Go to the Battlestar Galactica: Pegasus Expansion page
Go to the Arkham Horror: Black Goat of the Woods page
Go to the Arkham Horror: The Dunwich Horror page
8
Go to the Arkham Horror: The Dunwich Horror page
97 out of 108 gamers thought this was helpful

This expansion to Arkham Horror (AH) adds a new town board–the titular Dunwich. In game, you access Dunwich from Arkham (and vice versa) by train. Dunwich Horror (DH) adds a raft of new characters, items, monsters (including Ancient Ones) and skills which are mostly well-balanced and enjoyable, as well as lots more town and otherwordly encounters to enjoy. Just make sure you’ve got a big table with lots of open space!

The two primary new mechanics are the Madness/Injury system and the Dunwich Horror. The former are permanent mental or physical maladies that a player can acquire (e.g., paranoia or a back injury). These will effect what the player can do in various ways, from reducing what they can carry to interfering with the collection of investigation. The cards come into effect primarily when a player is reduced to 0 sanity or stamina, at which point they can opt to take a madness/injury (depending on which of their vital stats was drained) instead of the usual penalties for being knocked out. This does not unbalance the game as the effects of the madness/injury cards can be severe. Furthermore, if a player ever draws a madness/injury which already afflicts her character (i.e., her character has one ‘paranoia’ card and then draws another), the character is immediately devoured!

You might think of the Dunwich Horror itself as a mid-boss or mini-boss. Unstemmed, the movement of monsters in Dunwich can awaken the Horror, which must be put down at the risk overwhelming the players. Not only that, but the Horror can awaken multiple times in a game (if the players are very unfortunate). Nor will the fight be the same every time as the card which dictates the Horror’s statistics is drawn anew for each rising. It’s not all bad, however: defeating the Horror will gain the player a powerful item reward to combat the greater evil afoot. Of course, this is the insidious seductiveness of the mechanic: it tempts you to allow a lesser evil to awaken, on the chance that you *might* defeat it and gain resources against the larger threat. What will you do?

8
Go to the Ghost Stories page

Ghost Stories

229 out of 242 gamers thought this was helpful

This game has an exceedingly simple setup, which can be randomized for replay value. Each of the location tiles has a an ability which a player can activate for a cost. Some times the cost is one of your resources, sometimes it the cost is adding more enemies to the board.

Likewise, the 4 player boards (1 for each of 4 different monks) each have two sides allowing a different ability. You chose (randomly, if you like) which side and have the ability displayed on that side for the duration of the game. Different combinations of the various player’s abilities add more replay value, and allow for customizable team strategies. The abilities include enhanced movement, extra actions, protection for enemy effects and the like.

In addition to the aforementioned components are the combat dice, the curse die, ‘Qi’ tokens, colored spirit tokens, power tokens (in games with fewer than 4 players) and yin-yang tokens.
The combat die show various colours on each of their faces, corresponding to the various colors of enemies.
The curse die shows various effects (or, if your lucky, non-effects) on each face. This die can cause you to lose ‘Qi’, spirit tokens and can add enemies to the board–or do nothing at all (if a blank face comes up).
The ‘Qi’ tokens are the life of your monk. These can be taken by curses, being overwhelmed by enemies, or can be spent to achieve effects at certain board locations.
The colored spirt tokens allow you to add power to your attacks and to damage certain otherwise invincible enemies.
The power tokens allow you to use the powers of passive player boards.
The yin yang tokens are primarily spent to revive board locations rendered unusable by enemy abilities.

You can play with as few as 1 player and as many as 4. When not using all possible players, it is possible to activate the abilities of unused player boards by paying a cost: thus, the strategic benefits of other board’s abilities are never unavailable.

The game itself is difficult, even using the easiest rules. The game features rules for up to 3 levels of difficulty. On any difficulty, the game is challenging to win and requires close attention and careful planning (and possibly co-operation, when playing with multiple players).

The object is deafeat one or more “boss” ghosts before the the board is overrun, all players are eliminated, or the last enemy card is reached. Enemies have various immunities, vulnerabilities and abilities which add variety to combat. For instance, some enemies cannot be killed with die rolls, but must be vanquished with tokens (which can be gained by defeating enemies, and at some board locations). Yet other enemies will subtract from the number of die you can roll against enemies, and so forth.

Combat is done by attempting to exorcise ghosts from a location. Usually, this is achieved by rolling dice and getting sufficient dice of the necessary color to vanquish a ghost. You can automatically add to your number of successes with the color tokens mentioned early: so keeping a strategic supply of these is key. Some enemies can only be exorcised by spending these tokens.

The game is fairly easy to learn, be very difficult to master. However, improving and eventually succeeding in defeating a boss is gratifying.

6
Go to the Cranium page

Cranium

30 out of 35 gamers thought this was helpful

This game is easy to set up, and doesn’t have a lot of pieces. The only problematic component is the modelling clay, used in some of the creativity challenges: it can dry out if not properly cared for and become useless. So, take good care of it!

Cranium combines a bunch of classic party games and variations thereof. It has trivia elements, puzzle elements and bits of games like ‘Charades’ and ‘Pictionary’.

The trivia element is not too esoteric, nor are the puzzles. There are anagrams, multiple choice questions and spelling-bee challenges. The most entertaining parts of the game are the performance and creativity aspects. One member of a team will variously have to do an impression of a celebrity, hum a melody, draw a picture (sometimes with their eyes closed!), perform charades or model something out of clay to get their teammate to guess the clue on the card.

Some of the clues can be really hard to draw, mime or shape–but the game wouldn’t be fun if it were too easy.

7
Go to the The Settlers of Catan page
50 out of 61 gamers thought this was helpful

Usually, when this game is described to people, they anticipate that playing it will be dull. I know that’s what I thought as I prepared to play it the first time. However, surprisingly many and diverse people find this game extremely entertaining.

The ability to randomize resource distribution adds replay value to the game. Moreover, the numerous ways to achieve the requisite number of victory points facilitates a small variation of play styles. Importantly, the simplicity of the games components and setup means that new players can get up to speed very quickly.

I recently played the ‘Knights’ expansion to the original game. It adds three commodities (coins for the ore resource; wool for the sheep resource; paper for the wood resource) which fuel your cities’ progress. Spending these commodities adds to your cities certain buildings (varying with the commodities), which buildings give you the chance to pick up various progress cards on each dice roll. These cards have various, sometimes very powerful effects (e.g., ‘Alchemist’, which lets you chose the numbers which come up on your next dice roll). Additionally, there are the eponymous knights. You purchase these to help repel the seafaring barbarians, which can potentially sack your cities. This aspect of the expansion in particular adds a new layer of strategy, as you can force opponents to commit more of their knights than you do, force them to lose a city, or gain victory points by committing more forces than an other player.

The basic ‘Catan’ is excellent–but I think that the ‘Knights’ expansion makes for a more challenging and fun experience.

8
Go to the Arkham Horror page

Arkham Horror

64 out of 78 gamers thought this was helpful

I really like this game. It is complex both mechanically and narratively. The variety of game effects from the ancient ones (the “boss” monsters of the game) lends the game much of its replayability. Also, the variety of ways that victory can be achieved facilitates multiple play styles: one can go for a big, difficult fight, or simply repairing and sealing enough of the rifts in time and space. For those willing to put a little dramatic flare into reading the cards, the game can be excellently atmospheric as well.

The downside to the complexity of the game is that it can be a big barrier to encouraging new players. A further obstacle is the game’s heavy tilt against the players: that is, the difficulty of winning (or sometimes even coming close). This is in large part to the random element introduced by card order and dice rolling, but the game is structurally in favor of the players losing as well. To get past that, one needs to be able to shrug-off bad playthroughs. For instance, my friend (gtrobber) and I once played a game of AH which took longer to setup than it did for use to get mauled by the relevant ancient one.

Getting past the downsides, the game is one of my favorites. It will be especially intriguing to those who are a fan of Lovecraft’s work.

9
Go to the Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game page
38 out of 59 gamers thought this was helpful

This game can be fun for anyone, but my friends and I have found it especially entertaining because we are all fans of the show and so add a little but of light roleplaying into the mix! This is entirely for comedy value, really, but I think it adds to the experience if you understand why the characters have the abilities they do.

It can be a little bit daunting at first, but for those with a little gumption the effort will pay off. The intrigue element is what really enhances replayability, as the game will be as new as the strategies the secret Cylons use to out you off their trail.

There strategy element is also strong in this game. Managing both your personal card resources and the collective ship resources presents a good challenge–especially in the face of random catastrophe, the depredations of secret enemies and trying to maintain your innocence (or hide your guilt!).

10
Go to the Magic: The Gathering page
60 out of 85 gamers thought this was helpful

This was one of the first “nerdy” games I played. My older cousins played it when I was a kid and introduced me to it, but it wasn’t until years later that I picked it up on my own.

The complexity of the rules and the interplay of those rules with the constant addition and tweaking of card mechanics engenders a haven for those looking to make strategies out of loopholes and semantics.

Beyond that, some of the art is on the cards is a real pleasure to look at. I remember in the older sets, some of the flavor text is from classic literature. Indeed, I actually learned a lot of vocabulary and such from playing Magic!

This is truly one of my favorite games of all time: I have spent countless hours playing with lots of my friends. It can be a bug investment, but it is fun at any level of commitment.

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