Tabletop Horror, Part 5: The Call of Evil
It’s been fun having our friend, gamer, and guest contributor Tommy Brownell with us this week. He has laid out 10 Tabletop Horror games that should be on every gamer’s list-to-play.
Tonight he gives us his final two picks for games to play this Halloween season. If you’ve missed his other picks, here they are:
Thanks a bunch, Tommy! Be sure to check out his contact info after reading this post. Here’s Part 5, The Call of Evil:
Kind of the “big dog” in the horror board game arena, Arkham Horror is a Call of Cthulhu board game, adapting the works of HP Lovecraft in board game form.
Pick an Investigator and move around the city of Arkham trying desperately to stop the coming of a Great Old One. Along the way, all kinds of weird Lovecraftian monsters will attack you, while you sacrifice health and sanity to explore the town, learn ancient magic and attempt to seal the gates.
Arkham Horror can be a lot to keep track of, but it’s rarely boring. Once monsters hit the board, they move around like crazy, driving up the terror level of the town. Meanwhile, your investigations to different areas sometimes yield boons and sometimes yield horrifying encounters.
Your investigators are all very versatile, as you can shift around your stats from round to round to try and give yourself the best chance to succeed (some monsters may try to drive you insane, others will just tear your face off). And there’s always the possibility of getting dragged into another dimension, where REALLY weird encounters occur.
Arkham has been massively successful, spawning tons of expansions. I only own the base set, but I do hear that the extra expansions can make the game cumbersome, especially if you’re using multiple expansions. While Lovecraftian themes aren’t my favorite, and I think the game is too cumbersome for my personal taste, I am certainly glad I’ve experienced it.
(Note: Arkham Horror is a favorite play for @MichaelMcGannon‘s weekly game group. Hard to beat, says he!)
A Touch of Evil
Often compared to Arkham Horror, either being the poor man’s version or being the low-maintenance version, depending on who you ask. I call it the best board game I have ever played. Period. Set in the little town of Shadowbrook after the American Revolution, the town is beset by an evil horror (four options are included in the base game and it’s up to seventeen with all expansions, like a Vampire, a Werewolf, an Ancient Horror, a Gargoyle, a cursed Christmas parade and even The Reaper itself).
The Town Elders have summoned heroes to save them, but the Town Elders have secrets of their own. Some may be gossips or war criminals, some may be hidden crusaders for good, and you may find that the monster is masquerading as an elder right now!
A Touch of Evil uses the same “models and costumes” approach Last Night on Earth does, giving the game a campy, horror film appeal. The heroes move around the board, collecting investigation and powering up so they can hopefully find the monster and kill it before the monster plunges the town into darkness (or, in the case of The Bog Monster, drive the whole town underwater).
Each monster deploys their own minions and has their own special abilities, adding to the unique experience. The Werewolf leaves a path of rage all over the game…but you have to go TO The Unspeakable Horror…and The Grey Gargoyle leaves a field of statues in its wake.
Different locations have different card types waiting for you, and once you learn what KINDS of cards are there, you can plan your adventures accordingly. The Olde Woods may yield a powerful weapon (among the giant trees), but The Inn (from the Something Wicked expansion) is liable to screw with you due to the mysterious residents of the Inn…but out on The Coast (the third big box expansion), you may see a ghost ship appear!
Playing wonderfully solo, cooperative, or even in teams, A Touch of Evil – like Arkham Horror – should be played at least once by any true fan of tabletop horror. It may not be your cup of tea, or it may be the best monster-hunting experience you’ve had in a board game.
Hit me up when I have a table open. I’m always glad walk you through the basics. After all, monster hunting alone is dangerous and you never know WHO you can trust!
Happy Halloween 2014!
Tommy Brownell is freelance writer/editor and a tabletop gamer/reviewer. He writes The Chronicles of Rachel Strand for Equinox Comics and has worked with Savage Worlds licensees Savage Mojo, Daring Entertainment, Gun Metal Games and Third Eye Games, and has recently begun developing his own creative imprint known as Empyreal Creative, through which he is developing his own comic series, among other projects.
You can find him on the web at: http://mostunreadblogever.