24th October 2021
We've logged into Board Game Arena for some Sunday night gaming.
The first game of the night was The Crew: Mission Deep Sea.
Clearly the lost continent of Mu has fascinated gamers since times immemorial, so what better than a game about discovering the sunken land: Or at least the plot for a very good trick taking game.
What's in a game?
Quality-wise, they're all pretty average quality and what you'd expect.
Artwork is repeated across the game's 4 main suits which are colour themed and tend to feature monochrome illustrations decorated in the suit's colour. The trump cards all feature submarines of progressively larger size.
The task deck utilises a fair amount of iconography for objectives, mostly it's fairly clear, sometimes some smaller writing appears on a card to clarify, occasionally the rulebook had to be referred to, nothing game breaking.
How's it play?
On to play
The Crew: Mission Deep Sea is a trick-taking game where one player starts a round by playing a card and the others must follow suit.
Players collectively win or lose at The Crew: Mission Deep Sea.
Ultimately they win when all the missions have been completed.
A friend described The Crew: Mission Deep Sea as whist with a twist and that's sort of accurate but barely describes how much of a good game this is.
The task cards are what makes so good, there are 96 of them, providing a vast combination of objectives that can appear. Even if you complete the 30-odd missions in the logbook (Which could take a while!), there's nothing to stop players from just choosing a difficulty and playing!
Players must always pay attention during missions, simple mistakes can very quickly end them and each one will provide a distinct randomly generated challenge to face - and pitfalls to avoid! Players will have to silently co-ordinate their efforts, task cards will force them to learn to exploit all the game's rules to be successful, they'll have to learn that winning a trick is not always the way they should go and at times not having the right suit is the right choice!
I could spend ages going on about how we've played the game but instead i'll say:
The Crew: Mission Deep Sea packs a lot of gameplay into a little package of what is essentially a couple of decks of cards and a handful of tokens. It's a game everyone should definitely try.
18th May 2021
Lockdown restrictions are easing and we're meeting at Simon's on a Tuesday IN PERSON for the first time THIS YEAR!
Today's game was Arkham Horror: The Card Game, you too can have fun watching your character's inevitable spiral into madness as they get caught up in unsettling investigations and tangle with unspeakable Lovecraftian horrors through the medium of flipping over cards!
What's in a game?
The first thing to say about Arkham Horror: The Card Game is that it's actually a Living Card Game, what does this mean? It means it's a game that has lots of expansions, extra character decks, add-ons and so on. This is Simon's game and I have no idea what packs were used, but it doesn't really matter for the purposes of this blog post.
Unsurprisingly, most of the game's components consist of various types of cards.
All of the tokens and cards are made to the typical quality that are expected from games nowadays.
From the cards that I did get to see, they contain a lot of high quality artwork. Iconography is generally easy to read.
How's it play?
In Arkham Horror: The Card Game player's take the role of characters investigating into the Cthulhu Mythos through the form of scenarios and campaigns in a RPG-esque experience that shares the same setting as the seminal Call of Cthulhu RPG.
On to play
Broadly speaking, the objective for the investigators is to accumulate clue tokens by moving from location to location and also advancing the act deck. How is this done? Read on.
In Arkham Horror: The Card Game, a round is divided into 4 phases.
Ending conditions will vary from scenario to scenario, generally play continues until the characters are defeated or certain conditions dictated by either the act or agenda deck are met.
There are also various levels or winning or losing, depending on the scenario and what players accomplish during the game, this is especially true during campaign play, where different win or loss conditions will lead to different, branching scenarios as a result.
Arkham Horror: The Card Game has some interesting gameplay dynamics, the exploration and investigation elements blend quite well the unpredictable changes brought about by the changing of the agenda and act decks. Players can't take anything for granted as twists and unexpected events occur. Challenges and enemies provided by the encounter deck are varied and interesting.
Finally, I like how the chaos bag works, I like how it's stacked against the characters and playing skill and event cards is how tests are overcome, it's suitably pessimistic. I also like how the bag's effect on gameplay can be tailored and can evolve over a campaign. It's a nice mechanic.
This brings me to the campaign play, campaign scenarios seem to feature at least 3-4 outcomes that influence the next scenario with interesting changes, which is pretty good.
Characters also earn experience points from scenarios, these points can be used to buy better cards to swap into the player deck, progressively making characters better.
Being a living card game, there are a lot of accessories, expansions and extra campaigns available to purchase, these can extend the game
Rules-wise, there are a lot of rules in Arkham Horror: The Card Game about specific situations and events. Despite this, as a game it's actually in some ways fairly straightforward, player's have three actions to perform per round, that never quite feels like enough, which makes you have to prioritise and try to come up with optimal strategies, which is a good thing.
However, like other games I've played that try to provide GM-less RPG-like gameplay, the game gets fiddly and complex when managing 'GM' elements and this seems to be where the bulk of the rules are applied, especially to enemy behaviour.
It seems like a lot of effort for what somehow ultimately feels a little bit like average gameplay. The rules and glossary run to over 30 pages, in contrast, there're Cthulhu Mythos inspired pen and paper RPGS that have lower page counts.
That's not to say I didn't enjoy playing Arkham Horror: The Card Game because I did, I'm just glad that I played with someone familiar with the game.
I play, I paint.