More boring discussion of board games-- Rob canceled running his game tonight after a water leak broke out in his house. He ended up very lucky in that it wasn't frozen pipes. That's been a constant fear on my part given how cold it is out. Luckily we've dodged that bullet and he did as well. It ended up being a corroded washer that resulted in whatever link-up it affected simply gushing water. He managed to get a plumber to come out on a Friday night, a small miracle in itself.
Instead we played two games of Arkham Horror. Will likes the game or is at least intrigued by it. I've shown him a couple of board games, but this seems to be the first he's been enthusiastic about. I was afraid the time it takes (2-3 hours) might be a deterrent for him. But he's been reading up on the Lovecraft Mythos and trying to figure out what everything is. I'm not sure if he just missed that geek curriculum or what. For me, having read all that stuff and followed it pretty intensely for a long time, I kind of take for granted how delightfully arcane (in all senses of the word) it can be.
In any case, we played a three player game with myself, Will and Shari. We'd won fairly handily last time, so we took more experimental characters this time. That proved to be a huge mistake. That, combined with bad pulls throughout the game, ended up with the last gate opening with two of us still in the Other World and the third about to enter into it. I'm not sure we could have won even if we had managed to get through and close a couple more gates. We lacked the necessary clue tokens or Elder Signs to permanently seal them. This was a game against Nyarlythotep. The timing of it ended up well, since Rob arrived just as we lost and everyone seemed willing to play a second game.
The second game went much better, though the GOO we faced, Ithaqua, had some nasty abilities. His power to cause damage on us if we ended a turn in a street space forced some odd moves. But his negation of Weather environments and his boosting of the toughness of Cultists actually aided us. We bumped a few nasty cards which might have really hurt us and the Cultists ended up more valuable for Monster Trophies while still easy enough to kill. The real deciding factor for us was that Rob took the scientist character, who prevents gates from opening in her location. One of the players had had that in the first game, but it hadn't impacted too much. In this game, at least three gates didn't open because Rob was on the right space at the right time. Without that, the game would have been much closer.
We've learned that characters make a huge difference. Some simply have better abilities and stats. Some just aren't cut out for things, at least not cut out for the strategy we're playing in. There's a good deal of luck in the game, but I don't think it is entirely dependent on that. It seems that as players you still have a good deal of control in how you react to situations. It should feel overwhelming, and I think you should lose-- perhaps more than we have, but it should be close. I'm looking forward to eventually putting in one of the small box expansions to see how that changes things up.