It used to be that when I met up with my oldest group of friends, there would be beer. There would be beer, and gossip, and antics and sometimes, even dancing. But now we’re all old, there’s more tea than beer, gossip revolves around people’s children rather than the people themselves, and as for antics… well, they are slightly duller than of old. There is no dancing, and of that we are all relieved.
The weekend saw me travelling up to Cambridge for a board games evening (as in board and card as opposed to video). Now, I’ve never been a huge board and card gamer, but this sort of activity matches our more recent less antic-filled life and it’s nice to have an activity where you can catch up with people without having to shout over a DJ. When we’ve played games like ‘Kill Dr Lucky’ during Xmases past, they’ve always been a good laugh, so I was looking forward to this.
Our first game was Munchkin, a game where you not only have to kill monsters but also stab your fellow adventurers in the back. It sounded like a Sam Sykes novel. I’d try and tell you a little more of the rules but we suffered the problem where none of us had played the game before and so the rules appeared to change as the game progressed, usually to my disadvantage. If I’m honest, I’m probably just pissed that my evil move of doubling the monster’s strength then compelling it to attack another player was overcome. However, I still maintain that the rules we ended up with bore no resemblance to the rules we started out with.
I reckon it could be a fun little game with a bit of practise, especially if everyone schemed against each other.
Our second game of the evening required co-operation. This was probably our first mistake. My friends and I are much better at the backstabbing of Munchkin than working as a single unit. Arkham Horror is quite a lush game but given the sheer number of cards and tokens, the mere set up can find yourself feeling a little daunted. Even though we played a shorter game, and our GM had played the game before so the rules remained strangely consistent, it’s a much slower game. As a result there were long periods of inactivity. The game is based on the mythos of Lovecraft and I seemed to spend the entire game being sucked into portals.
I think our biggest problem was that we started this game too late. By the end we were tired and almost willing for the Old Gods to kill us. The end game also seemed to have little relevance on the previous couple of hours.
“And why did we shut all those portals?” one asked.
I think if you want a deep, involved game played over a large number of hours, Arkham Horror isn’t bad. It’s just a game with too many pieces to pack away and continue another time. Whereas Munckin is pretty much pick up, shuffle and play and more suited to shorter, sporadic gameplay.