You Should Play | Arkham Horror

Do you like cooperative board games? Do you like HP Lovecraft? Do you not mind reading a giant rulebook before you play a game? Do you like a game where everyone can lose? Do you laugh in the face of danger? Do you have a giant table and at least three friends?

If you answered 'yes' to these questions, then Arkham Horror is the game for you! Read on for the Arhkam Horror review!


Set in the city of Arkham in the year 1926, this co-operative game is based on Lovecraftian lore. Players play as investigators trying to get to the bottom of the strange and horrible happenings in Arkham. Monsters roam the streets, gates to other dimensions appear, and a terrible Ancient One stirs in its slumber...

The goal of the game it to prevent the Ancient One from waking, or to defeat it if it does. You prevent the Ancient One from waking by either closing all the gates on the board (you need at least one closed gate per player to win) or by sealing six or more gate locations. If the terrible Ancient One awakens, all investigators must fight it. Should they fail, the game is considered lost... to say nothing of the universe.

Aesthetics

How many of you judge books by the cover?

You have nothing to fear here; Arkham is a beautiful game. The illustrations are top-notch, and all the chits are high quality and printed on both sides. The detailing in the artwork is incredible and it does a great job of bringing the Lovecraftian universe to life. (Not that you'd actually want that.)


Complexity


This is the most complex game I have ever played. We've played this game more times than I could count, and we still have to check the rules. There is a lot of information to keep track of, from simply remembering what certain symbols mean, to counting the number of monsters on the board, to remembering to roll for cards on the upkeep phase, to using your investigator's special abilities, to keeping track of rumors and environments. The gameplay is so dynamic and interactive that it creates quite a few edge cases whose resolution can come down to a single word in a description, or - in the worst case - can be solved only by searching through the FAQs on Fantasy Flight's website. This game is so complex that it really should be a computer game... there's no way that mere humans can keep track of everything that needs to be remembered.

So, this game is not for the casual player! Even after all this time, I'm still not sure we play correctly. Just last week we realized we had been forgetting a rule which would have removed monsters off the board every time we closed a gate. Forgetting that rule has definitely cost us a victory or two. Add on a couple expansions, and there's no way you could play this game as anything but stone sober and with no distractions. This game is not a party game!

"Arkham Horror at FFG booth, Origins 2005" by Tom "Snicker Daddy" Pancoast

Bringing in new players is also a daunting task. The number of cards and chits laid out on a table is enough to scare away any new player, and then when you start to explain the rules they often go cross-eyed. When bringing in new players, you should expect to babysit them for their first few games - not just over gameplay like how to interpret monster chits and make skill checks, but also strategy, such as what items to buy and what locations to travel to. With a few rounds of practice, the basic rules become familiar and then you should only have to check the rulebook for the tricky bits. :D

Where are all the men?

Collage of artwork featuring only female subjects
Screenshot of Art for Adults

Where are all the men?

This does seem like a ridiculous question, seeing as our movies, books, video games and music are stuffed to the brim with men, but this is something I've noticed for a long time. Why are there no men in art? Where are the male models? Where is the male figure? When I browse around art blogs and galleries, the thing I notice first is that the artwork almost always features women. Women's legs, waists, hair, butts, breasts and faces are a near-ubiquitous feature of artwork, both modern and historical.

Why?

The reason is that men aren't beautiful. Our society thinks it's impossible that male bodies can be beautiful in their own right. A male body is only attractive in as much as it demonstrates masculine power and agency, while female bodies are beautiful (well, erotic) on their own. As a woman, it's very difficult for me to imagine getting up in the morning and going about my morning routine and never once fussing about my appearance. I can't imagine not checking myself out in a mirror; I can't imagine not having days where I felt amazing and sexy, and days where I felt frumpy and ugly. I can't imagine never once catching someone's eyes doing a once-over from my feet to my hair. I can't imagine not browsing through magazines that bombard me with ways to be more attractive. Most of all, I can't imagine never (or, rarely) seeing images of someone my sex presented as beautiful.

At this point you're probably thinking, "Oh, those poor menz, they don't have to be measured against society's unreasonable expectations with every single human interaction. How terrible! Cry me a river!"

And yes, you'd be right. In fact, you'd be exactly right. The primary reason I despise critical attitudes of women's appearance isn't that there are beauty standards that cause body image issues... it's that it's not fair. A woman's whole life is centered around her appearance, while men's whole life is centered around his success. And this is bad for everyone.

We use female bodies as decorations because they're so beautiful! Where, then, are the beautiful male bodies? The only time we feature male bodies, they are sexual. And when they're sexual, they're often considered a joke. When the male body in question is attractive (I.E. is a well-muscled, powerful and heavily masculine body), the joke is at the expense of female desire. When the male body doesn't meet those requirements, the joke is at the man's expense.

Girls grow up thinking they aren't beautiful. Boys grow up knowing they can never be beautiful. Girls grow up thinking that they are a particularly unattractive example of an attractive archetype, while boys grow up with the awareness that now matter what they do, no one will ever consider them - or someone like them - beautiful.

I think this is the fundamental reason that very few men "get" what's so bad about being hit on by strangers. Being catcalled or yelled at while walking down the street is seen as a compliment to men. They don't experience an entire culture's worth of sexualization, harassment and abuse. Instead, when it comes to their physical bodies, they have a null area in their self-esteem that is filled by such "compliments."

Let's look at it from the other perspective.

Every once in a while, I'll see an attempt from someone to demonstrate how ridiculous the representation of women is by swapping the genders:

Can you imagine a “good male character who just happens to be wearing sexually exploitative outfits because he’s ok with his masculinity?” Constantly has the camera pan lovingly over his asscrack and firm glutes, and big ole dangly ballsack that is totes sweaty from all this MMA and soldiering. [...]

He’s not even a Bond-esque confident man, he’s basically a weird Bowie caricature that’s constantly having near-dickslips in every single cinematic as the completely nonsexualized female characters do their business of being gruff and shooting dudes and advancing the plot.


One of the primary critical responses to examples like the above is that there really is no equivalent. Having a camera slowly pan over a guy's junk isn't an expression of female desire. Visual molestation is still a male gaze tactic... because there is no female gaze. If you believe what our society tells you, a female gaze would be looking at his bank account, not his package.

It took me years and years to actually begin to develop a concept of what I thought was an attractive man. As in, physically attractive - not, "I need to get to know you first" attractive. This was not helped by the fact that the very few images of "sexy" men that we get to see are not what I'm attracted to. My sexuality and desire is completely marginalized (and often ridiculed) by our society, and the act of doing so also prevents men from feeling beautiful. It's Feminism 101: we all get shafted by patriarchy.

...Engaged!


Well, ladies and gentlemen, it's official! T and I are soulbound engaged! <3

He's so bad at keeping secrets. I can read him like a first grade primer. I've known what he was up to for two months now. What gave it away? Well, it could have been him insisting on me getting my ring size. It could have been his sudden interest in jewelry stores around New Year's Eve and Valentine's Day. Or, it might have been that time that he called me over to look at an online jewelry store to point out my favourite engagement rings. We'll never know for sure.

Poor thing got the ring in the mail on Tuesday and moped around the house for an hour after class before exclaiming, "I can't wait any longer! I'll explode!" He had been planning on waiting until today (because March 1st is a nice, simple date), but barely made it through half a day.

It's a beautiful ring. I love the symbolism of two hearts entwined. I've never been a fan of traditional engagement rings, so he did a great job picking it out. He's such a sweetie, and he knows me so well... We've been together for almost four years now. We've also been planning on getting married for a while, but it was always a distant "in the future" thing. Not so much any more!

What I didn't realize is how scary it is to have something so expensive just sitting on your finger. I'm so afraid I'm going to lose or damage it! I tried to eat a hamburger and didn't want to let the (delicious) juices drip all over the ring, but I didn't want to take it off lest I leave it on the tray and accidentally throw it away. I'm hoping that part goes away soon!


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"Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect."