It’s the time of year where Gabe Newell turns on his giant money vacuum and the Steam sales are on in full force. You may find yourself in possession of dozens of games you didn’t realise you wanted just because they cost a few dollars each. The trap is alluring but one that can be avoided if you’re wary.
Instead of taking part in the Steam sale, I’ve been chipping away at my pile of shame. I blitzed through the Capra Demon in Dark Souls. I left a bloody mess of pixels in my wake as I finished Hotline Miami and I faced off against Yig, the father of serpents, with a tommy gun in Arkham Horror.
Not all board games are competitive multiplayer affairs, but just like video games, it is all too easy to pick up a game and then never get around to playing it. Arkham Horror is one of those games that I bought early in my obsession with dice and cardboard. Facing off a Great Old One in the roaring 20s armed with whatever trinkets you can find around the town of Arkham? Sounds like a good way to spend an afternoon. The endless expansions and frequent mentions on board gaming communities made it look like this really was something special.
Then one day, my girlfriend and I tried to sit down and play. It took 45 minutes of reading through the rules, putting tokens on and around the board and covering our table with cards of various sizes before we gave up without a single dice being rolled. The true horror of Arkham wasn’t the Great Old Ones, it was trying to work out how to play.
We tried again on Sunday, this time with the aid of a few board gaming buddies. The rulebook was nearly undecipherable. A copy of the Necronomicon might have been just as useful, or at the very least it would have been less cryptic. After a seemingly endless time, we picked out the investigators we were playing as and got started.
Our goal was simple: seal the gateways to other dimensions that were appearing throughout town. As we tried to do this, the town was flooded with maniacs, vampires and flying polyps. The town doctor whizzed through the streets on his motorbike, beating the monsters to a pulp with a holy cross he carried with him. Jenny Barnes, a wealthy dilettante, was caught by a monster as she tried to walk through the streets. She embedded one of her high heels in its neck and wore its skin as a trophy. I was Bob Jenkins, a travelling salesman, and had somehow convinced the owner of the local general store to sell me a tommy gun before being sucked through a portal to the City of the Great Race.
Despite our best efforts, the town was flooded with portals and Yig, the Ancient One we were trying to stop, rose from his slumber. Closing the portals didn’t matter any more. There was an Ancient One rampaging in the town square and that tends to end poorly.
After a fierce and bloody battle – where many a dice was rolled – Yig was slaughtered by Bob Jenkins and his trusty tommy gun. Oh sure, there were other townsfolk that helped out — but it was Bob that saved the day.
At least, that’s the story he’s going to be telling at the National Salesman Convention in Idaho next year.
We probably cheated or at least played the game very wrong. Doesn’t matter; killed Yig.
That brings the total of games I’ve finished this month to three: Proteus (PC), Hotline Miami (PC) and Arkham Horror (tabletop). How’s your month going?