Hauled out Arkham Horror for a game on Sunday. Despite some tweaking I’ve done with the game components recently, I haven’t played in some time. I reduced the number of Common Items, Unique Items, and Spells, stripped extraneous Skills so it would fit more easily in two boxes, but that’s all.

We tried two new house rules for the game:

You Always Get One
When an effect would reduce your dice pool to zero or less, you still get one die to roll.

Elder Sign Clue tokens
When you spend a Clue token, you reroll any or all of the dice in your pool instead of adding an extra die to your pool.

I think the first rule really helps to give players a “hope spot,” which helps mitigate the desire to bend rules in the players’ favor — if the players don’t want to use the rules because it doesn’t make the game more fun, there’s something wrong with the rules.

The second house rule, “Elder Sign Clue tokens,” is really just adopting a simpler, more player-oriented version of the Clue token rules — presented in Elder Sign. I found that our players were happier accepting fewer Skill dice, and seemed less inclined to refocus their Skills when given this option.

There’s an interesting rules interaction with some of the original Skills and Investigator powers that add dice with Clue tokens – sometimes spending dice to reroll is actually encouraged due to growing dice pools. Rather than an “Eleventh Hour” power, it had great strategic value. Player powers ought to be used often, or they’re too trivial.

…But you know what really made the game special was the fact we were teaching my grandma to play. I was reminded of one of the reasons I like to game with many different people, and that’s to learn about other players’ expectations.

During the game setup, we had an exchange like this:

“Whenever we aren’t sure what to do, we just ask Nick.”
“But doesn’t that mean he wins all the time?”

It’s easy to forget that not everyone is familiar with cooperative games, or games where the players play against themselves or against the game rather than each other. Arkham Horror isn’t a traditionally competitive game — players try to better themselves with each game.

Ultimately, we lost the game to Yig because the Doom track filled up while we were at our weakest, and only cookiemonger avoided his Curse (she was Blessed at the start of battle). But part of the reason we play is because we don’t always win. I got some ideas for new encounters, and I think I might rewrite the encounters again.