A round of Arkham Horror last night prompted some discussion over great games. We've had the chance to try out quite a few lately, and here are some of the favorites:
Arkham Horror: The first couple run-throughs will invariably be disastrous - try as they might, this is a not a game that can be explained with written rules. That said, once Arkham Horror clicks, it may be one of the most fun cooperative games ever. The players band together to romp around Arkham, battling Lovecraftian monsters, diving into portals and generally engaging in pulpish mayhem. Infinite replay value due to thousands of encounters, a variety of game-changing Great Old Ones and a dozen very different characters. We've tried The King in Yellow expansion (a thoughtful wedding present!) and loved it.
Four others after the jump (spaceships, sandworms, titans & dungeon crawls!)...
Battlestar Galactica : I'll be honest - I don't like the show (eek!). But this cut-throat semi-cooperative game is a blast, and I'll happily tolerate the thin layer of BSG 'fluff' if that's what it takes to have a play. Everyone plays an officer on television's most emo starship - except some of you may be Cylons. Against this backdrop of total paranoia, everyone must constantly battle (or secretly aid) disasters - resource shortages, political uprisings and romantic entanglements (not really).
Dune: This semi-antique Avalon Hill game will take more than one rainy day to play through (in fact, it takes three just to set it up). Players represent the warring political factions of Frank Herbert's universe - each with their own powers and disadvantages (I like being the Emperor). Copies on eBay are few and far between, but a happy lunatic has recreated it for Windows. (And it looks like someone has recreated an express version for free). [Random Biographic Note: If the Bene Gesserit player successfully predicts the games winner (faction & turn), they actaully win instead... I've actually seen this pulled off. It was pretty awesome.]
Titan: Another Avalon Hill weekend-absorbing classic. Players push tiny stacks of cardboard beasties around a hexagonal board, chasing down one another's 'Titan'. Cardboard beasties turn into more cardboard beasties by recruiting their kin. Battles are resolved on additional gameboards - one for each type of terrain. (A lot of trees died to make Titan). Although Titan has been reprinted (a lot), I still prefer the older versions, with the more iconic illustrations. Someone has also created a free PC version of this game as well.
Talisman: Talisman, like Titan, has undergone a lot of editions over a lot of years, with the earlier (2nd) edition still preferred by the game's fanatics. Players take over the role of archetypical fantasy characters (Seer, Elf, Warrior, Wizard, etc. etc.) and meander around the gameboard, fighting beasties and trying to make it to the center of the board to claim the Crown of MacGuffin. It isn't a particularly competitive game (although my Assassin did lay the smack down on my friend's Troll once), nor is it cooperative. Instead, everyone sort of benignly ignores the other players while on their individual quest for glory. A strange dynamic, but still pretty fun. Again, rare & expensive on eBay, but I'd still love to get my paws on it...