20 November 2010

Arkham Horror - Lurker at the Treshold. .[Boardgame review]

Lurker at the Treshold is the very latest expansion pack for the Arkham Horror boardgame series. Fantasy Flight Games has a habit of releasing 1 cardbased expansion followed by 1 boardbased - so there is a chance (unless they've run out of ideas) that you will see a continuation of this release schedule with a new boardbased expansion sooner or later.

The inspiration for this expansion is drawn from August Derleth, one of Lovecrafts buddies who carried the torch of the Cthulhu Mythos after Lovecrafts death.The story is about temptation of great power and trying to control that desire. In the expansion we have this herald - "Lurker at the Treshold" - suggesting a being in between our realm of reality and the other dimensions of the elder Gods. The "Lurker" promises power and help to the investigators of the game while at the same time manipulating them and makes them pay for his aid in various different ways. Trying to get a feel for this expansion it was decided to play this expansion "alone" - that is keeping all the generic game components but playing this expansion with no other thematic expansion components such as the Innsmouth board at the same time. Things like the Injury&Madness decks from Dunwich horror and other crossover components were used as normal.

The components,

You get the usual slice of location card, other dimension cards, mythos cards, unique items, weapons and spells. We actually played this expansion using ONLY the mythos and other dimension cards provided in the Lurker at the Treshold box to further enhance the effect of the expansion (as the expansion cards from these two categories tend to carry strong themes and be generally nastier than your regular mythos deck for instance).

The unique Lurker at the Treshold components consist of the "Dark Pact" deck divided into "Bound Ally", "Soul Pact" and "Blood Pact" decks. You make a Dark Pact with the Lurker during your upkeep phase OR accept his help when you cast spells. A player may only ever have 1 Dark Pact from each category (ally/soul/blood) - 3 pacts in total. These pacts provide the player with a slew of nice bonuses, a free ally joining you rightaway, being able to boost your sanity and stamina, it all sounds swell.
The problem is the evil nature of the Lurker himself - and he twists the fate of anyone involved in a Dark Pact by using the "Reckoning" deck.

The first player draws 1 Reckoning card every time a gate appears in Arkham and resolves the text on the card. There are a few good things that could happen to people having Dark Pact cards, but most of the time you will be drained of resources such as stamina, sanity etc. These Reckoning cards can vary in nature, sometimes they only punish one type of Dark Pact, other times they punish all players involved with the Lurker at the Treshold, sometimes only players with all 3 pacts will suffer.
Through the Reckoning card players that have Dark Pact cards can gain so called "Power Tokens", these can be used as either 1$ or 1 Clue Token.

The Lurker at the Treshold also gives a permanent -1 to fight/lore penalty for players trying to close/seal gates.

The new gates, I like these a lot, you get gate tokens to cover all expansions that have included new Other Dimensional  locations (Dunwich and Kingsport Horror). You simply put aside your old gate tokens and use the new ones from Lurker at the Treshold instead. These new gate tokens feature small symbols printed on them which enhance the gameplay by making the different gates more dynamic. Now you can have gates that move like monsters, gates that cannot be collected as trophies when sealed, gates that injure your Sanity/Stamina if you fail at your Lore/Fight check trying to close them or even spawn a monster every time you fail! Earlier you could fail to close a gate and nothing would happen, you would just try again. Now it is no longer a walk in the park. And if you thought being sucked into a gate opening in your location was bad before, now one of the gates have the funny feature of "Devouring" any investigator in the location in which the gate appears,

And finaly we have the "Relationship" cards. Each player draws one such card at the start of the game and places it between him and the player to the left. These two investigators now have a common past (no love stories though - could be pretty fun with certain combinations lol). None of these relationship cards are bad. Some are better than others giving a permanent bonus for both players, some cards can be exhausted in order to gain the bonus from the card during that turn, I had a "Business associates" card shared between me and the player to my left meaning whenever either one of use made money the other player would be given 1$.

Final thoughts about Lurker at the Treshold, it is important to ask yourself what new or unique each Arkham Horror expansion brings to the table. Out of all my expansions (King in Yellow, Dunwich Horror and Innsmouth Horror) I must say Lurker at the Treshold is the weakest considering the "theme" of the expansion. You don't really feel you are being hindered by some unique evil force like the King in Yellow, or Mother Hydra/Father Dagon.

The herald of "Lurker at the Treshold" just isn't evil/powerful enough to be classed as an additional villain. However what this expansion brings to the table are a few new solid features. The "Relationship" deck will be a new "generic" addition to all Arkham Horror games. I would say that you might as well mix all the new components of Lurker at the Treshold into your original Arkham game as well. The new Gate tokens are much more fun. The new Mythos cards are as always great fun and features things like two gates opening at the same time etc. The Lurker at the Treshold only increase the difficulty of closing gates (OK sometimes like today it made it quite hard to close certain high end gates) but only by a notch. What I liked about the Dark Pact cards is that any "Bound Ally" the players had (we had 4 in total) would be removed when the Elder God appears and count as additional wounds. So when Shub-Nigaruth appeared today and kicked our ass we really messed up by giving that freaky monster additional wounds and in the end this led to our demise. I like that.

Thoughts about Arkham Horror and expansion in general. The original Arkham Horror is a great game, however I use to describe it as a dish which you have to spice up according to your own taste before it truly blossoms. With a total of 4 expansion we could tell that the game start to be very heavy on cards. There is a LOT to keep in mind when you reach this point. You have character special rules, Elder God special rules, Mythos Card effects, lots of weapons and items that provide various effects, relationship cards, injury cards and so on. I think we reached the point today when adding one more expansion beyond what we have would make this game seriously difficult to keep track off. I do think that unless something totaly mindblowing will come along - like a At the Mountains of Madness themed expansion I will halt further expansion of my Arkham Horror. I feel that the amount of cards and features I have now makes for a complex and fun experience as it is, don't want to spoil it by making it unplayable.

I think I'd like to try this expansion out with either Dunwich or Innsmouth Horror next time to see how it flows with an additional board.



You can get this expansion at Kulturkommissariatet





2 comments:

  1. Hi. Have recently started to read your blog and have found it very funny and informative. Have especially liked the reviews of Arkham Horror expansions and they have been a good help to choose wich expansions to pick up. I hope you continue with the other expansions - Im especially curios about your thoughts on 'Curse of the Pharaoh'.

    (Extra kul med en blogg skriven av någon från Skandinavien. Hoppas du får en stor internationell läskrets.)

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  2. This might sound very odd but at this point with 4 expansions - I would really just like to pick up an Arkham Horror expansion that didn't add too many "generic" / "Crossover" components as I think the limit has been reached with what I have. Instead I would love the expansion to have a very strong stand alone appeal and theme.

    It is not impossible that I will pick up Curse of the Dark Pharaoh early next year. I love Arkham Horror, it was my very first boardgame that I bought and the game that led me into the world of boardgames. It did set a pretty high standard though haha - hence my obsession and love for game with LOTS of game components (I feel you get your money's worth when there is a lot of stuff in the box :D ).

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