Over the weekend, I got a chance to play a couple games: Arkham Horror, Mall of Horror, and Wits & Wagers. Here’s my thoughts on them.
We played with 8 players, and that was definitely a mistake. It was the first time playing for me, and I’ll admit that I got the game play down pretty quickly, though our friend who owned the game took care of a lot of the minutiae, that, if I had to play it again, I wouldn’t be able to get.
AH right after setup
This is a cooperative game, though our game felt more like “multiplayer solitaire.” The idea is that we’re all investigators wandering over the Lovecraft town of Arkham, trying to hold back a Great Old One (drawn from a deck at the beginning of the game) from entering the world. Portals open up, and monsters attack, and there are stacks of cards to indicate encounters.
I’m pretty sure I’d have to play it again (with fewer players) to get a handle on it, but I have the feeling I won’t like it. Lord of the Rings, one of my favorite games, is cooperative and fun because you constantly have to work with the other players to survive, and (if the difficulty level is set right) you constantly feel like the game is going to beat you. That’s what I wanted AH to be like. However, it never felt like a challenge to me, nor did we ever really have to work together to overcome any problems. We all sort of did our own things on our turns, with the occasional “I’ll go seal that portal.” But again, it seems like it might change depending on number of players and Old One. We also bailed on the game early since it was clear it was going to take far too long to be feasible.
Investigator versus Monster. Mostly just dice rolling.
Mall of Horror
A new game from Asmodee, this is my third playing with the copy that I bought. I really enjoy the game, though we had to tweak the rules to make it work right.
Zombies are attacking a mall, and you are trying to save your characters from being eaten. Only, so is everybody else, and the rooms of the mall only hold so many people. Thus the game becomes a negotiation game, where you wheel and deal with the other players to save your people and for any advantages you might have.
“Who let all these zombies into the mall?” “We couldn’t distinguish them from the people usually at the mall.”
The aspect I like best about the game is that it fits its theme really well. Like in survival horror movies, people end up doing silly things and getting themself killed. Not only that, but while you’re not out to kill the other players (indeed, you often need their help to keep the zombies out), a sense of self-preservation kicks in that often means sending other players to their doom so that you can live.
Despite how it looks, the Black player got his guy out from the zombies, and ended up winning. Dammit.
It’s probably the closest I’ve seen to a game that really captures a horror movie feel, and has pretty clean mechanics. If you like Quo Vadis! or I’m the Boss, you really should pick this one up, and if you’re a fan of horror movies you should pick this up.
Wits & Wagers
I’ve seen a couple trivia games recently that really spice things up by adding another mechanic, and this is one of them. (Stephan Glenn’s forthcoming “You Must Be An Idiot!” is another.) All the questions can be answered with numbers, and each team turns in an answer which creates a “spread.” Then you get to place bets on which answer you think is right (without going over.) The more extreme the answer from the middle, the more your bet pays off if it’s right.
It’s a neat mix of betting and trivia, where you can talk yourself out of what you think is the right answer to bet on an answer with better odds. If you like trivia and betting games, you’ll like this one. If either genre falls flat, or if you’re looking for something a bit more serious and strategic (e.g. a party game hater), steer clear.
Those are my unedited, mini-reviews. Hope they were handy.
Some pictures I took of the Arkham Horror game: