When I moved in to my new place last year one of the things I was most excited about was setting up my new game room. With a home-made 6×4 table and a wolrd of board games and 40k to play, I couldn’t wait to put up decor and set up my hobby room. I never thought of naming it until I shared with my RevPub partner my WIP of Commissar Yarrick’s legendary Tank, The Fortress of Arrogance.
I learned of this mighty armored vehicle from Chains of Golgotha and immediately loved the name. I knew when I started my guard army (built almost ENTIRELY from rage quitters and scrap and a couple of boxed sets admittedly) a version of Yarrick’s pulpit would have to be included. Here’s my version:
When I shared this she commented that it would be a good name for my game space, and I started work on a sign that night that mimicked the “official” markings on the tank as it appears in the Apocalypse expansion. Here’s what I’ll print for my door:
As for the Fortress itself it’s progressed a bit. I was able to get my fantasy armies out of boxes with the addition of the two new inexpensive glass curios, and even added some shelves for the Blood Angels/Flesh Tearers that used to be crammed into the bottom shelf of my IG curio (a couple of chaos engines too big for my storage boxes are up there too.)
As I get things painted (which I’m working on now, my Vostroyan command squad is up first) I’ll share them. As can easily be seen I have a lot to paint, but I like to build and play, so painting always seems to take a back seat!
I’m actually working on a couple of posts that are taking a bit more oomph than expected so I thought I’d post something my friend Mike and I made a few months ago and we just last week starting up again.
With the growing popularity of Wil Wheaton’s TableTop and board gaming in general, a lot of YouTube Let’s Players are moving to the real world and out of the digital one. There are a number of channels that play a variety of table top games on video and we, as avid fans and gamers ourselves, decided to start doing some of our own.
It’s VERY amateurish and has 0 production value (I used my Sony SLR which can only shoot 29:57 before it shuts off) and we had to set up a fixed position for the games we’ve played. We had some good runs at this game of Castle Panic though and we hope to do some more with actual editing and shots. Not to compete or become a “thing” just because we have a lot of “moments” in these games that are worht capturing, as many gamers do, and we feel it’s fun to share with the gamer community at large!
Beware there’s the language of a couple of people playing games…and not always so successfully in these vids!
This month we’re spotlighting a young man who I have known his whole life 🙂 He’s a talented 15-year-old who is truly passionate about video games. Not only does he play them, he creates them! Ike has played video games since he was three years old and beat his first game at four. Thanks to Ike for being this month’s artist spotlight!
Be sure to subscribe to his YouTube channel at Ike Petro.
1. What are your favorite things about video games? The fun I usually have (emphasis on usually) and the challenge. I almost always have fun when I’m playing games, and challenge in the games keeps them from getting stale. I mean, who would want to beat a game without trying?
2. What inspires you to create new stories and games? Nothing in particular, really. I just have a very creative mind. My friends sometimes make me think about something, but that’s about it.
3. What are your goals when creating games? I don’t have much experience yet, just my RPG Maker DX. It’s hard to figure out where to set up grinds and side-quests. My main goal is to learn more and more from this software to eventually create a full-fledged game, complete with challenging bosses, creative stages, and great characters. I haven’t done it in a while, mainly playing games with friends in the meantime.
4. What are your favorite games and why? My favorite game of all time is Dragon Quest 8 — Journey of the Cursed King. I love turn-based RPGs and always will. This game is challenging, has a great world to explore, has great side-quests (Love the Monster Arena personally).
5. Why do you want to be a game designer/programmer? People always say do what you love, and if you don’t play video games, where does that lead you? Possibly to some random job down the street you don’t enjoy doing. I’ve loved video games all of my life (People, I started when I was 3), and I’ve loved them ever since. So, I’m sticking with what I love to do, and that’s fact.
6. What makes a good video game? People have very different opinions about this. I think what makes a good game is if you enjoy it. Sure, it might not be the best, but if you like it, don’t let anyone make you think differently. I personally like some challenge (aka, not a ball-busting game or Kirby’s Epic Yarn, for the matter), has an ok at least story(i don’t care that much anyways bout the story, it just helps), and it has to be fun.
7. What makes a bad video game? Where to start? Start with the opposite of what I said previously — not fun, too easy [Kirby’s Epic Yarn (cough)] or too hard. Story, as I said, I don’t care much for, but it’s ok with me. A lot of people hate bad voice actors or bad writing. It can be annoying, but I don’t think that aspect itself makes or breaks a game. It doesn’t change how the game itself plays at all; that’s why I have no problem with it. Now, the main reason … bad gameplay. If this is bad, the game is BAD. There’s nothing changing this, not a great story, scenery, etc. If you screw up on this part, it isn’t going to be good. Who likes a game you can’t play? While glitches are usually a problem, I mostly laugh at them. If they screw up a quest or objective, yeah, then that’s bad (looking at you Skyrim).
I am by no means an Arkham Horror expert. With less than ten full games, none of them played to the letter of the rules, it’d be ridiculous for me to claim it. However, as a relative novice I feel I can offer some helpful advice to other novices and other newbies to the world of Arkham Horror. These simple concepts certainly helped my friends and I get over the steepest parts of the learning curve, though mastering the intricacies of the rules can only come from multiple play throughs.
1.) Watch Tutorial Videos: Buying, storing, and playing Arkham Horror is a monetary, space, and time investment. Before investing it would be wise to watch many of the YouTube videos available to see what the game is about. It is best to start with short intro videos; many good-quality videos explain the premise and gameplay in 5-10 minutes. Then work your way up to rules and set-up descriptions before finally moving on to multi-hour play-through videos. It should be pointed out that I’ve never seen a video where they didn’t get at least one rule wrong. It goes to show even those most comfortable with the game can still mess up.
Mike found this short review. It’s very brief but gets the basics across.
2.) Organize the Game Components: For many of my games I use small ziplock bags to store the pieces. Arkham Horror has a stupendously long set up time and this can be drastically reduced by getting some kind of containers to hold the all the clues, money, elder signs, and other tokens needed for the game. I recommend stackable beading containers like these. They come in a big set of multiple sizes for about $5 and you can stack a pillar of them and only need one lid so you just unstuck them and all the pieces are set up. I’ve seen some use card holders, but I find these difficult to store so I still do take the time to shuffle and deploy the cards.
3.) Keep the Rules Handy When Playing: This might sound basic but you’ll be surprised how often it comes up… Fantasy Flight makes incredible games that can be very thick in rules with instruction books that can feel vague and difficult to navigate. You’ll only learn the rules while playing but you’ll have to consult them a lot, especially during your earliest games or when something uncommon occurs. Keep them close by. Mark the pages, because the citation for Blessings and Curses is on one page in the index but how they behave during upkeep isn’t in the same citation. Eventually you’ll get them memorized but it never hurts to have them close by if needed. As an aside the Miskatonic Horror expansion isn’t a true expansion as it’s more an add-on to the base game and all the other expansions. It DOES come with great little reference cards that explain how many monsters, gates, etc are allowed based on the number of players. They’re awesome.
4.) Be Patient…: Maybe the hardest of all of these rules is to be patient. A game the size and scope of Arkham Horror has tons of rules for a reason. It’s incredibly in-depth and absorbing. It can really draw you in for hours and hours. But it also means it takes a lot of time to gain even a basic understanding of it all. In our first game Mike and I essentially quit in frustration. We didn’t understand it so we gave up for the day and came back to game another day. Every time we do a bit better, and every time gain a greater respect for it. Also even as you get better the game is punishingly difficult. It WILL beat you almost every time. If you are pathological about losing don’t even try it, but for me it makes the eventual victory mean that much more…you KNOW you earned that one…
5.) The Most Important Rule! Every rulebook for Warhammer 40k I’ve ever read comes with this rule and it’s very valuable in EVERY game. I’ll quote them directly, “The most important rule then is that the rules aren’t all that important! So long as…players agree, you can treat them as sacrosanct or mere guidelines, the choice is entirely yours.” Of course 40k is a lot more open than Arkham Horror, but the spirit of this remains the same. The purpose of ANY game is to have fun. Especially while learning don’t let the rules get in the way of the fun!
Arkham Horror is definitely my favorite board game and it’s one I’d like to play more of with more players. It’s not for the timid and inexperienced gamers might be intimidated by its scale and scope, but if you stick with it you’ll have the most absorbing, difficult, and satisfying board game experience you’re likely to have. And in the famous words of Wil Wheaton: Play More Games!
Table top gaming is a near every day thing for some of us. So to continue the excitement brought about by International TableTop Day this month, the story of the month for April is actually several micro stories of how my friend Mike and I have navigated the learning curve of the infamous and glorious board game masterpiece: Arkham Horror.
Arkham Horror is one of those games that popped up frequently enough in my various “you might also like” lists and got such stellar reviews I had to try it. It comes with two main warnings: It is very rules heavy and punishingly difficult.
Those warnings are to be heeded.
Below is a basic timeline of the Arkham Horror learning curve my friend Mike and I experienced while learning the game. It’s steep, and full of lots of stupid; but just when you think you’ve figured the game out, it throws you a curve:
Play Through #1: We totally messed this up. We read the rules wrong and counted every player turn as a game turn. Meaning we performed BAD actions after every individual turn instead of at the end of all player turns like we were supposed to. The game is hard enough and we somehow made it harder…actually we made it impossible. We gave up in frustration.
Play Through #2: We decided to play again when killing a day. We battled Nyarlathotep this time. Among the stuff we messed up: we kept forgetting the lingering effects of the ancient one “stirring in his slumber,” did all the player turns out of order (fought monsters whenever, went through gates and had encounters whenever, didn’t really know what it meant to be delayed…), and TOTALLY screwed up the boss battle once the big bad awoke. We took a doom token off for ever successful roll…instead of taking one off for every six successes.
Play Through #3: We always randomize the options so we ended up fighting Nyarlathotep again a few months later. We got a lot of the rules right this time, we watched a few videos, learned a few new things. Did MUCH better on player turn order, fought monsters better, understood the “outskirts” and “surge” rules better, and even got owned by the big bad when he awoke this time… BUT…we still messed up combat rules. And a couple important monster rules we continued to mess up for the next few play throughs…
Play Through #4: The same night we fought Nyarlathotep the second time we played Elder Signs against Hastur and got burninated, owninated, and decimated(ed). When we played Arkham Horror the fourth time we drew random again and Hastur was our ancient one. We got almost everything right here. Player turns, actions, play order, surges, and sealed that mo-fo with six elder signs. BUT…there was still one VERY important rule we messed up…we didn’t even realize it…
Play Through #5: This was an afternoon game day. We battled Cthulhu whose “stirring in his slumber” effect is brutal. It was our best game yet though. We didn’t seal the bastard but by closing all open gates we still won and defeated Cthulhu sending him back to R’lyeh forever…BUUUUT! It was after this game Mike discovered we were playing monsters ALL wrong. For the last three games we forgot to spawn monsters EVERY time gates opened. A major and foolish oversight and one that plagued our next play through too. Furthermore, we always played six characters…which means anytime you draw a monster you draw TWO monsters…which we weren’t doing. We only drew one. Making the game that much easier. We desperately needed to see how this critical error would affect us when corrected. Which we did on…
Play Through #6: We included Mike’s fiancée Bekah in the game. We all played two characters each and had the rules down, save for that important monster+gate one, and battled Shub Niggurath. We fought maybe one or two monsters out of sequence and had five elder signs on the board sealing gates. THEN…monster surge, with two gates open. Brought TWELVE monsters out. Filling the outskirts several times and raising the terror track. That happened at least four times, again, with only two gates open there was a monster mash party around the two gates (which were in adjacent areas). The terror track reached ten, Shubby-kuns awoke, immediately devoured both of Mike’s characters and one of mine (no monster trophies…) and my remaining and Beckah’s two characters did battle. We took her down to half damage before I couldn’t sneak anymore and was devoured. Without me there to cure her sanity Beckah was offed in short order and we lost. We did so much right this game EXCEPT… We still hadn’t remembered to spawn two monsters every gate opening and, Mike, during the final battle (he was managing the Ancient One since his characters were, ya know, dead) said, “Oh…I’ll..uh tell you later..” “Later” was the next day when he texted me and told me Shubby-wubby was Physically Immune. Meaning only my one holy water usage and Beckah’s spell (which I was healing sanity so she could use) and her magic knife would’ve caused damage. So we just lost WORSE than we actually did.
What’s the lesson here? Arkham Horror might be my favorite board game. It’s huge, involving, in-depth, and once the rules are understood fit perfectly. The point is, if there is one, that despite all the screw ups, Mike and I kept playing. Looked for others to play with. Kept playing. And we never cheated on purpose. Anyone playing a big game like this WILL mess up the rules. But keep playing. Mess up the rules more. Make house rules if you have to. Gaming is about having fun. Being inclusive. Bringing new gamers in and helping them learn (and maybe learning something you missed!) Gaming is about fun. Win or lose, co-op or competitive. Have fun out there. It’s why we play!
1. Have fun. This is most important. It’s not about winning or ego, and there shouldn’t be any drama. We have a rule in our house: If you start to get upset or cop an attitude, we quit. It keeps things (and people) from getting emotional and ruining a good game.
Examples: Any board game as long as everyone stays cool
2. Get together. Guess what? It’s REALLY hard to play a board game and stay attached to your phone. Board games get everyone off their devices and allow people to spend time together. Many board games involve teams or strategies, so you have to work together to accomplish a goal or win. This may create a bond between people who normally would not connect.
Examples: Pandemic, Ticket to Ride, Castle Panic
3. Be mean. This is probably my favorite reason. I LOVE to screw people over in board games. It’s nothing personal, and I expect the same thing in return. Most times, you like the people playing with you, and you wouldn’t try to really hurt them, but sometimes they deserve a game back stab. And most times, they know they do. Harmful vindictiveness can be very therapeutic, too.
Examples: Zombies!, Small World, Sorry!
4. Meet new people. I’ve met at least one person every game day we’ve attended. I may or may not have something in common with them, but it doesn’t matter because we’re just playing the game. You also learn a lot about people while tabletop gaming. You learn their interests, strategies, and weaknesses. People tend to open up a little, which helps you learn about them without the awkwardness.
5. Make memories. We spend so much time documenting every miniscule moment to social media sites, but will your best friend remember what you had for dinner last week? Probably not. Will they remember you sending 20 zombies after them in a game? Oh yeah. Making memories and having a story to tell is what life should be about – not the daily grind.
As far as game titles, play anything you want. Don’t be afraid to get creative and try something new! The TableTop series produces great videos showing the game play, and you can buy most of the games online.
Feel free to share your favorite games in the comments below!