Game Review – Gates of Arkham from Fantasy Flight Games

sl05_featureI’ve blogged before about my love of the Lovecraftian dice game Elder Sign and am thrilled to have gotten hold of the newest expansion, Gates of Arkham. To say that this kicks the original game to a whole new level would be an understatement.

sl16_mainWhere the original game was set inside the Museum the Gates opens up the whole town for exploration – and destruction. The first time the hubby and I played this game we went through four investigators within forty minutes and gave up. Yes, it’s THAT bad-ass.

First there’s the change to the destination cards – the rooms are now buildings and each has one of three levels – green, yellow and red to show the difficulty level. Why, you ask? Because you don’t get to see what tasks you’re actually going to try and complete for rewards until you GO to the building and make that commitment. You can pay two trophies and turn the card over before deciding to go there – which leads to the biggest difference from the original game – your resource management. Whereas in the original game you could use trophies achieved from killing monsters or finishing off room to purchase health, sanity, various items or even an Elder Sign itself, Gates cuts your choices down dramatically and you won’t miss it a bit because you’ll need all you have to keep from dying a horrible death. Multiple times over.

There are also actual Gates, as the title suggests. With the addition of new decks to the game you also have a high chance of a Gate opening connecting an Otherworld card to a building card – you need to complete the Otherworld card before you can attempt the building – adding more time to complete tasks and we know you can never have enough time when saving the world!

sl15_mainOther cards add in new skills, new investigators, new objects to help you survive – and new Old Ones to suck the life out of you. If you’re going to play this expansion I highly suggest adding in the Unseen Forces expansion which adds the chance of having an extra dice on hand. This addition to the game kicks it up to an intense level that isn’t for starting players or for people who don’t like to work together to finish the game.

Some final notes – the hubby and I ran our initial run with one investigator each and got chewed up fast and furiously. Over the weekend a friend visited and we ran three investigators with the simplest Old One to defeat and just barely managed it. I wouldn’t suggest this be run with less than three investigators unless you have some mad dice mojo and if you’re that lucky head for Vegas!

I highly recommend Gates for old Elder Sign players looking to kick the game up to a whole new level of intensity. If you’re looking to get into the game I wouldn’t rush to get Gates and spend as much time as possible with the original game and then move to Unseen Forces before getting to this one – it’s not for the faint of heart and the odds are definitely against you!

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