Halesowen Board Gamers #4 (02/15/2014)

Halesowen – Wednesday 12/02/2014

Games Played – Eldritch Horror, Ra: The Dice Game

This week I bought along Eldritch Horror, as Dave D/Ian have both commented at some point that they’d like to play it and I figured it was a good choice for the evening. The game is set in a Lovecraftian world where GOO’s – Great Old Ones (Ancient beings of great power) threaten to rise again unless the investigators (players) can discover the plot at hand and stop it before it’s too late! In our game the blind idiot god, Azathoth, threated to rise and destroy the world in his rage.

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(Not entirely sure why this looked so bland, must have a setting messed up on my phone ^^)

You can find an account of this game from Dave’s perspective here:

http://blog.halesowenboardgamers.org.uk/

The game is played in rounds, with each round consisting of 3 phases – action phase, encounter phase & mythos phase. The game ends when either the Mythos deck runs out, or the doom track reaches 0 (Actually it can continue in the latter, but for Azathoth that’s the end, some GOO’s can still be defeated after that). For the players to win, they must solve 3 mysteries before those conditions can occur, to have discovered enough to prevent the…bad things…from happening. The Mysteries are cards specific to each GOO that you can fight and are themed accordingly, but mostly consist of gaining clues and using them in some way to progress towards solving a given mystery.

The first phase in a round is the action phase. Here players have 2 actions to move around and prepare themselves for the encounter phase, and can travel (move 1 space + 1 per ticket), rest (regain some health/sanity), aquire assets (try to gain useful items), gain a ticket or trade with another investigator on their space. They may also perform ‘component actions’, which may be spells, investigator abilities or various other things denoted by their cards. Each action can only be used once in a round however, so movement and recovery tend to be slow!

The second phase is where things happen and the game (hopefully) moves forward! Each investigator in turn draws an encounter card for his space, and resolves effects based on that encounter. There’s a fair variety of possible encounters, including generic (city/wilderness/sea), named cities (such as London, Tokyo, etc), Gate (portals on the board leading to other dimensions, and lettering horrific fiends into our world, these encounters let you close them), Research (GOO specific encounters for gaining clues to solve mysteries) and expeditions (Variety of effects, I never really pay them much attention, and we did none in this particular game).

The third and final phase of a round is where the game fights back. A mythos card is drawn (The mythos deck, I should mention, is generic cards, but organized in a different way for each GOO) and a number of effects are resolved. The top of each Mythos card has 2-3 symbols, and these make things happen such as the omen track moving (Which can advance doom), monsters spawning (All gates matching the omen track spawn monsters), clues spawning and more. Following this there’s a section of flavour text, then a special effects section which can do many different things, good and bad – sometimes the effect is ongoing, and can give the players another thing to worry about as well as the mysteries!).

The game continue doing those three phases until the players take their victory or the GOO rises and destroys everything. There’s a lot of luck in the game as so much is based on card draws, but it can generally all be mitigated if players are careful and work together.

In our game, against Azathoth, we (Myself, Chris Handy, Dave D & Ian) most certainly worked well together, with a set of investigators that turned out to synergize very nicely. My character – Charlie Kane – is a ‘support’ type character who I chose as it was a Handy’s/Ians first game, to be able to help them out a little throughout. I spent a whole lot of actions in the game acquiring assets, even increasing my influence skill to make it an even stronger ability. My characters ability let my give things I gained through it directly to other players, so I didn’t need to meet up somewhere to trade with them. I also managed to close a couple of gates along the way.

Ians role in the game turned out to be that he was master of clues. His characters ability let him trade clues with anyone anywhere on the board, and he spent a lot of time gathering them to pass them on to people who were moving around the board more. He managed to gain a ton of them throughout (6 at one point) and this greatly helped our chances. Dave D had a bit more variety (I think) than us and moved around dealing with gates and clues as he went. Handy ended up with some very powerful combat items (Sword of Saint Jerome + Lighting Gun) so he put some time into destroying monsters, as well as helping with solving mysteries and closing gates as he went.

The game went by fairly smoothly, with our ease of gaining useful items and sharing clues giving us a huge advantage. We had a couple of times as we went where investigators almost died, but nifty flesh ward casting from Ian kept us on the brink and alive. We got one rule wrong (My bad, seeing as I should have known) that the doom track should have advanced when the green comet was reached not the omen track (Azathoths effect) but at most it would have made a 2-3 doom difference and we had loads to spare. Fun game, and glad to have defeated the bad guy for once ^^.

Following on from Eldritch Horror, we played a ‘filler’ game at Dave’s suggestion – Ra: The Dice Game. In this game, players roll 5 dice yahtzee style (Roll, then reroll anything you don’t like up to twice) to make sets of symbols that you can use to advance various tracks and place cubes to set up point scoring for later in the game. The symbols on the dice are Sun, Ra, Ships, Civilization, Monuments and a wildcard. The wildcard can be used for anything, but not for the colour of that wildcard (Monuments and Civilizations have colour limitations and each dice is in one of 5 colours, so you sometimes need a specific coloured dice to be the side you want).

The various ways to score from these things are as follows. Any sun dice are played on the turn track, and are what pushes the game towards an end. If 3 go there however, it does not advance and you score 3 points. If 4 go there, it also does not advance and you get to cause a ‘disaster’ – this lets you do some damage to all other players on one of the various tracks used in scoring. The Ra symbol lets you advance the ‘ra’ track, the person furthest up this gets 5 points in scoring (And is moved down at that time) and the person with the least gets -2 points in scoring, but gets moved up when that happens. The ships let you move the ship track forward, or if you get 3 ship symbols you can cause a ‘flood’ that stacks a second cube on your ship and means it will score in that phase (If you don’t do this, it just doesn’t score!). Civilization gives you -5 for having none, 0 for 1-2 and 5-15 for 3/4/5 used up, and you can only have one of each colour, you need 3 civilization symbols to place one cube in this area. Finally, monuments are placed on a table on the board to gain points based on number of cubes in rows/columns.

Apologies that it’s not a very good explanation, but the gist is that it’s a simple dice rolling game with the strategy being in where you choose to place cubes and what you reroll. In our game, we each had a slightly different focus. Dave D’s focus was on the monuments table, Handy’s was on screwing other players with disasters, mine was on ships, and Ians was more all-rounder, although we all went for everything as a general thing. We didn’t roll all that many suns in the game in terms of moving the track forward, which meant the game took 2-3 times longer than it was supposed to, but we all had fun and got to completey fill the monuments track on the board, which a few people commented on as it’s not generally something that can happen.

We finished up with some very high scores, with me in the lead somewhere around 85 points, and I think last around 60. Lots of fun and I’m glad to have been introduced to it, though I think I’d want the game to be a little quicker next time ^^ (Then again, I’m not surprised people opted against pushing the turn marker forwards when possible, as it’s essentially 1-2 wasted dice when it happens).

Great Evening, such a great group to meet up with for games! Someone suggested an interest in Viticulture next week and as that’s a game I really enjoy I’ll be more than happy to introduce people to it. If I can resist making people play Space Cadets that is (If I even have it by then, receiving through the UK Feb Math Trade). Looking forward to it!

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