We played a game of Arkham Horror with my revised encounters last night, and I think I got a little insight into the victory problem I have with The Ascalon Horror. Now, my revised encounters aren’t necessarily any nicer or more friendly than the original location encounters, but they are a little better balanced.

What we realized as we played though, was that the game still has some pretty fundamental problems with its victory conditions. Even giving the players ample opportunities to collect whatever items they need to complete their objectives, the game was nigh-unwinnable. We closed ten gates. We sealed four.

But we were playing against Atlach-Nacha, who makes every gate that opens a gate burst. But that wasn’t the problem, we only had two seals burst on gates … one in the middle of the game, and one at the end. No, the Ancient One wasn’t the problem, and we had excellent cooperation among our players. That wasn’t the problem.

No, the problem was that the victory conditions built into Arkham Horror are simply unreasonable. Closing all the gates on the board is nigh-impossible once you bring in gate bursts (which I think almost come with every expansion after Dunwich Horror). Sealing six gates requires thirty Clue tokens, which will never be on the board.

Doing some quick math, there are eleven Clue tokens on the board in the first round of the game (one is removed by the first gate that opens, but generally replaced by the first Mythos card). If the game adds one Clue token every round (debatable), it would take about twenty rounds to add enough to seal six gates.

Never mind how long it takes to collect those Clue tokens as they appear.

Now, some investigators start the game with Clue tokens. But they start the game with an average of, say, one Clue token apiece (looking at just the basic game). Not much to write home about, since that means your typical game of four to five players still requires about twenty-five Clue tokens. That’s about four to five fewer rounds.

So, realistically speaking, we’re down from an “unwinnable” twenty rounds (more than enough time to awaken the Ancient One) to a more manageable fifteen rounds, if we’re talking about a four-to-five player game. Bear in mind, that’s the minimum amount of time to win the game, assuming you’re good and lucky.

Oh, and there’s defeating the Ancient One. Moving right along.