At one point, I didn't think there was a board game in existence that could match the supremacy of Settlers of Catan. That Klaus Teuber sure knows what he's doing.
Maybe after being subjected again and again to the monotony of Sorry! and Monopoly something primal and creative must have imploded in his brain. Compelled by what was left (which must have been heaps), he crafted the Catan.
Thank you Klaus. Will have your babies, if we ever meet.
Recently however, my love of Catan has been superseded by a new game - Arkham Horror.
What struck me first was the "Call of Cthulu" branding at the bottom of the box. Yes, I'm hardcore for H.P. Lovecraft. The second thing to whack me in the face with a tantalising appendage was that it's co-operative. The objective of the game is defeat an ancient evil, selected at random at the start. Instead of players competing for this honour, they have to work together, collecting weapons, clues and spells for the ultimate battle. Alternatively, they can go around sealing gates, and when enough have been closed, victory is obtained.
The game recommends 2-5 players, but you could have up to eight taking turns delving into the Necronomicon, exploring the Plateau of Leng or beating the acidic snot out of a Nightgaunt.
Players can choose from 16 different investigators, each with varying proficiencies at fighting, sneaking and swindling Lady Luck. Each investigator also receives a special ability, such as being able to re-roll the dice once per turn or restoring health and sanity.
Arkham Horror adopts a dice-rolling system akin to White Wolf's series of role-playing pen and paper games (Vampire, Werewolf, etc). Players get to roll a certain number of dice, depending on their skill level and bonuses, and fives and sixes on the dice count as a "success". For instance, a player may have a Fight skill of 3 and a sword that provides a +3 bonus. Say they're up against a monster that needs two hits to kill, they'd get to roll six dice and would need two successes to win.
Although the game was developed in the mid-1980s, it was updated, revised and re-released last year. And just this month a new expansion was released - Kingsport Horror - bringing the total additions to the game to four.
I've found 3-4 players to be optimal, and a game can be finished in around two hours, once you know the rules. It's daunting at first, scary even, but once you've got it down it all makes sense.
Fantasy Flight Games: Arkham Horror [Official site]