## Wednesday, 9 March 2011

### Second Order Expanding

Yay! A brand new, large-scale expansion for Arkham Horror is on the way!

I have to say, the approach being applied here is... interesting.  A few brief comments based on a quick look at what's on offer:
• There's no new board section this time.  Whilst this doesn't really go down well with the part of my brain that's obsessively devoted for new haunted playgrounds to play in (or die screaming in), this is probably a wise move.  I have said before - and still maintain - that an Antarctic board section based around At The Mountains of Madness could work, assuming the travel issue was properly handled (a few transition locations similar to how one gets to Kingsport Head might work, for example, based around a ship voyage with plenty of opportunities for scary nautical encounters and attacks by aquatic monsters), but I may be in a minority there;
• The idea of expanding the current expansions is an interesting one, but in terms of actually adding to the enjoyment of playing the game, it could go either way.  On the one hand, once (like me) you have all seven expansions, the chance of any one of them significantly contributing to the game is quite small.  Act cards don't show up often enough to be much of an issue. Monsters are rare enough in Dunwich that its eponymous horror unlikely to show its tentacly non-face.  I think this has occurred to the game designers, both Innsmouth and (arguably to the detriment of the game) Kingsport remain relevant, because both respond to general events as well as those within their respective borders.  Extra cards could deal with this problem if handled rightly.  On the other hand, part of what makes the uber-game work is precisely because of this balancing act.  Each time round the most urgent threats are different, but you don't generally have to keep every plate spinning at the same time.  Upsetting that stability could mean every game with full expansions could end very, very bloodily;
•  This might be unfair, but it feels a little as though this is an admission that the game has been taken about as far it can go. Of course, if there really is nothing more that can feasibly be added, then that's fine (though I will miss the odd thrill of seeing the latest pack of extra-dimensional slime-encrusted bastards who are all geared up to ruin Earth's shit).  And, of course, if this expansion takes steps to tweak some of the less enjoyable parts of the game (like having to give one poor soul the job of exploring Kingsport for almost no reward), then that's all to the good.  Still, it feels a bit... uninspiring, doesn't it?  Every previous expansion has added to the basic game decks, and then given the game a new flavour and twist.  This is more akin to asking if you want the same meal again, only with a bigger portion.
• Having said all that, I do like the idea of the institutions, especially since (with the possible exception of Hypnos), there is simply no way that the use of Guardians compensates for the damage done by the inclusion of Heralds.

Beefing up the current expansions with cards aimed at them seems like a good idea to me. I only have Innsmouth, so I don't kno how things work for every other expansion, but everything card in Innsmouth only affects standard Arkham or Innsmouth. As you add expansions this will unavoidably dilute the stuff related to each expansion. The goal of this expansion should be, in my opinion, for each $i$ that is currently an expansion, restore the proportion of $i$-related cards in the overall deck to something much more similar to just $Arkham + i$ rather than the current $Arkham + \sum_i i$.
I would agree, actually, with the caveat that in returning to $Arkham + i$ there is consideration of the fact that multiple expansions have a disproportionate effect on the difficulty of the game. If there is a bias towards "nice" expansion cards, then I think your suggestion would work very well.