Monday, January 19, 2015

Board Games! Betrayal at the House on the Hill and Arabian Nights - Theme Heavy

Board and more Board Games

Both at the store and home group, we have been focusing on board gaming. Just looking at my boardgamegeek account I've played ten different games this month. Four I've never played before. I'm going to comment on them in groups that match. This one is going to be theme heavy games.

Theme over Rules

Both Betrayal at House on the Hill and Arabian Nights the theme of the game is far more important than the competitive rules. For a competitive player these would both be a nightmare. They are not balanced at all. The experience and tale you form is where the enjoyment will come, not the victory.

Arabian Nights

Fantastical map of the known world...

1001 Adventures! Actually there are about 2500 adventures you could hit. At the beginning of the game you choose a combination of destiny and story points adding up to 20. If you earn your number of each and make it to Baghdad you win. What happens to you on the way can be quite crazy. A typical encounter you will run into something with an adjective and a letter. You then choose a response based on a list. Some options on the list you need a skill or be a certain gender. Another player then checks the matrix.
Try not to have 1e AD&D Flashbacks!

The player rolls a die that has a +, empty, or -. This will change the number from the matrix up or down by 1. Another player then finds the matching adventure and reads the text and what the original player needs to roll.

This tends to be very random. Normal logic doesn't always work, but fairy tale logic does. However, it is hard to have a real strategy. There are some city cards and quest cards that can help. In general it is best to get as many skills as possible. This tends to allow better results in the adventures. 

You also need to manage your status effects. Your wealth is always a status which decides your movement and can effect stories. Others are cards that can be both beneficial and dangerous. 

As the cards show married, cursed, pursued, wounded, and yes even sex-changed can happen. My character got married. Which can continually earn you points depending on your kids etc. However, Aladdin was cursed with a sex change and then pursued by a new lover! Seems my Tale was Ranma not Aladdin. The winner of the game had been kidnapped, cursed to be a werewolf but still managed to overthrow a Vizier. Since she was female couldn't marry the  princess but became the new Vizier (of Rome).

Overall this was a fun game. Where you are could effect the type of encounter. However, it could vary quite a bit. In many ways it was about mitigating negatives and survive to get enough destiny and story points. The variety of story and effects made the game a fun time of what will happen next? The statuses made the game shine. I see this game seeing a bit of play. I would not take this out with gamers who want a very competitive game. The theme is strong, however it borders on the ultimate choose your own adventure.

Betrayal at the House on the Hill

Three or more characters enter and explore a haunted mansion....unknowing that one of them is a traitor. The identity and the nature of the traitor is determined at a certain point into the game. Could they be an alien warping you into another realm? A cultist getting his Mummy Lord a Bride? There are about 50 possible scenarios.
The quality of the rooms is horrible and warp easy.

The first part of the game is building the house by exploring. As you enter a new room you place a new random tile matching the level you are on, basement, ground, or second floor. Your turn ends if an event, item, or omen is in the room. Omens are items/people that you collect. However, every time you pull an omen you need to roll. You roll six dice and if you roll under the number of omens, the traitor is revealed. That sounds tough, but the dice sides are blank, one, or two. The omen with the failed roll and the room decides which Haunt scenario occur. This will say who the traitor is. The traitor gets one briefing to read, the remaining players get a different briefing to read. 
My tentacled little kid taking out the professor...

This is a very hit or miss game. I like the building of the house and the various adventures. However, half the games I've played were good, the other half were not horrible, but not great. The game is best when short since it isn't really balanced. Some haunts greatly favor the Villain others the Heroes. The searching of the house doesn't really have enough theme. This means that the Haunt has to make up for that. This often can make an anticlimactic game if the Haunt is too one sided. I prefer Mansions of Madness. While that does have a set overlord and each mission has a set house, it is a better game. It still has random parts the overlord picks which can greatly change the feel. However, they are set made for the scenario so the theme builds up the experience.

So Arabian Nights I see more plays, not so many for Betrayal at the House on the Hill.

Random Stuff

So played some French Indian War Mini games. A lot of fun. The only bad thing is I'm now painting my redcoats for it. The red is fine, but they have a lot of yellow. My other two big projects arrived as well. First my great Christmas present of the Rorke's Drift Warlord Games set. The second is my French 30 years war models. Too many projects.