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Arkham Horror review
Arkham horror is a board game for 1-8 players based on the Cthulhu mythos of H.P. Lovecraft et. al. It's a collaborative game in which players pose as investigators exploring the town of Arkham in an attempt to discover the source of recent strange-goings-on and other-worldish activity. Players travel round the board exploring various (in)famous Arkham locations for clues (in the form of clue tokens) which will help seal the numerous portals opening throughout the town which lead to other worlds whilst attempting not to lose their life or their mind. Investigators can (and must, in order to seal them) travel through these gates and have encounters in places such as the Plateau of Leng, and R'lyeh. The game is won when enough portals have been closed to send the awakening Old One back to sleep, or when, having been awoken, the Old One is defeated in combat. The game is lost if the Old One defeats all the investigator (very possible).
With a host of characters to choose from, all with different skills and abilities, and numerous weapons, spells and allies to aid you, Arkham is an exciting and tactical game where all players must work together and try to strike a balance between collecting items to bolster their skills and collecting clue tokens for closing gates. Playing Arkham for the first time can be a tad confusing, as you struggle to remember all the various steps which must be taken each turn, but this is a passing inconvenience and after a game or two it all becomes second nature. Though it is playable by 1-8, the optimum group size is 3-4. It's a long game which takes several hours to play, so it's perhaps not the best introduction to the world of board games for those who've not played anything other than Scrabble. As mentioned previously, it is perfectly possible to lose this game, especially when fighting some of the more difficult old ones (Azathoth, for example, immediately devours all if awoken). It is perhaps a little on the easy side once you've got to grips with the game mechanics - portals to the other worlds are far more likely to open in some locations than others, so once you've sealed a few of those key locations it becomes a lot less likely that a new gate will open each turn - but this is a problem solved by most of the expansions, especially Dunwich or Kingsport. It can also be solved by using a 'three strikes and the seal breaks' system, where every time a gate tries to open on a location which has already been sealed, you place a marker on the gate, and when three markers are placed on it, it reopens.
The plethora of variables which can affect each game gives the game a high replayability factor, and with the addition of numerous expansions which can add more items, playable characters, Old Ones, encounters and areas to explore it's a game that any Lovecraft fan will enjoy playing many times.
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