Week in Review
The first look at the Innsmouth Conspiracy came to a close with the post on its well-received first scenario, The Pit of Despair. While it does have one of the most cheesy titles ever (sounds like something the Master prepared to capture the Doctor), this is a suspenseful and really quite difficult first step into that campaign. After that, it was back to Dunwich for Lost in Time and Space (again, sounds like something from Doctor Who!) and one of its encounter sets, Hideous Abominations. LiTaS is to this day the best campaign finale in my opinion.
I was originally going to post part #2 of my Arkham storage and components showcase that i started last week, but something else came up that i want to talk about instead this week. MJ Newman, Lead Designer for Arkham LCG, posted a behind-the-scenes article about enemy design on their blog, which you can find here. Give that post a read for sure if the design behind encounter cards is interesting to you in any shape or form (if not, what are you even doing on my site?). It’s obviously very relevant to my interests and to the content of my site, so i wanted to … well, compare notes.
Some of what they wrote in their blog of course mirrored what i pieced together myself or with my own observations about how enemies and investigators interact. As someone who also played LotRLCG (but never got into the design behind it as much as i do now with Arkham), i thought the comparison of how the enemies work in the two games was interesting. Makes perfect sense to me. While LotR certainly has its standout enemies as well (that Hill Troll in Journey down the Anduin comes to mind for those who are familiar with the game…), it never gets quite as personal as in Arkham.
The concept of ‘pinning’ an investigator was also something that i liked seeing spelled out. It’s something that we usually try to adress in deck building, so having to skip a full turn hopefully never really happens – either because we have a timely “I’ve got a plan!” for that occasion or because we partnered up with Mark Harrigan who will gladly take care of the issue for us. But by intentionally giving enemies the capability of threatening such a circumstance the designers made this sort of planning necessary in the first place. And in turn it creates good gameplay at every step along the way – from building the deck to playing out your turns.
Over the last weeks and months, i looked at a lot of different statlines for Arkham enemy cards, leading to recognizing some of the things MJ explained with their examples. Much of what i write about when discussing enemies is the question of Defeat vs Evade and how some keywords or mechanics or stats push in one corner or the other, just like with the example given about changing an enemies keyword from Retaliate to Hunter. If you are looking for another really non-subtle example, compare Furtive Zoog to Stealthy Zoog. I think this whole idea came to its pinnacle just now with the Creatures of the Deep, where some enemies pull you one way, others the other way and your current situation will dictate how to get out of it. MJ went into this a bit by discussing the Deep One Bull.
Having them explicitly mention boss and final boss enemies and the mechanical distinction is neat. And their explanation of why Massive works the way it does is something i didn’t pick up on before. Makes a lot of sense to me in how it facilitates a fight with everyone in the group for a showdown.
Of course, they finished their post with a spoiler for A Light in the Fog. In what i am sure what is a complete coincidence (wink wink), the FFG website posted the A Light in the Fog announcement the next day, giving us even more context on how to look at that adorable little Deep One Puppy.
Now, i am going to cut a long story short, but i have to say, that Hatchling really is a thing of evil. Surge on a relevant card always is a pain, and the Hatchling is absolutely relevant. Much more so than the usual 1-2 horror or damage we usually see on Surge cards. The whole interaction of Hatchling with the Deep One Nursemaid makes me shiver already. First you draw the Hatchling and surge. Then you kill the Hatchling because maybe you have to. This makes the Nursemaid engage you and surge again. That’s a lot of extra encounter cards. And there’s apparently four Baby Deep Ones in the deck? Look, we know little about this scenario yet, but i can already tell you that i am going to bring some Dynamite Blasts. “How dare i do this?” indeed.
In any case, that’s what i have for today. I always enjoy reading these looks behind the scenes for games that i play and getting some confirmation on my own theories about the design behind stuff. And there’s more to come as well? Sweet.