There are reasons to engage monsters in Arkham Horror, and there are reasons to avoid them. Until recently, I thought the Sneak skill was only good for encounters, and the ability to Evade monsters a last-resort option. This was before I learned that fighting a monster during the movement phase effectively ended your move. The trade-off between Sneak and Speed makes sense now.

Now, when you encounter a monster for the first time in your turn (and again each time you encounter the monster, or even another monster of the same type), you make a Horror check (a modified Will check) to avoid losing Sanity points. On a pass, you don’t lose any Sanity unless the monster is Nightmarish, in which case you lose Sanity anyway, a number of points equal to its Nightmarish value (usually 1).

Once you’ve moved past the Horror check (assuming you haven’t been driven insane by losing your last point of Sanity), you move on to the Combat check (modified Fight check) where you try to get a number of successes equal to your the monster’s Toughness (the little drops of blood in the middle of the card at the bottom). If you pass the Combat check, you defeat the monster and take it as a Trophy, taking damage only if it’s “Overwhelming,” which is functionally similar to Nightmarish.

If you fail to meet or exceed the monster’s Toughness in Combat, it automatically deals damage to you, and you have to try again. Of course, you can attempt to Evade the monster (modified Sneak check) before you encounter the monster, or on any following “round” of Combat checks after taking damage — unless of course the monster has the Ambush ability, in which case, you have to keep fighting the monster until you prevail … or it does.