Mythos Tales by 8th Summit
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- A cooperative investigation game set in the early 1900's
- Take on the role of investigators in Lovecraft's Arkham
- Solve 8 horrifying mysteries
- Game includes full color 176 page case book
- For 1-8 player, Ages 13+, Playtime: 60-120 minutes
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Mythos Tales is a cooperative game of macabre detection and Lovecraftian horror for 1 to 8 players. In Mythos Tales, players take on the role of investigators in Lovecraft’s Arkham, tasked with solving a series horrifying mysteries. Each investigation takes between 60-120 minutes to complete, and the game will include a full-color investigation book (with 8 investigations), a large fold out map, 19 Requirement cards, a Time Tracker with wood markers, Arkham Directory, 8 newspapers and rulebook.
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This item Mythos Tales by 8th Summit
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|Item Dimensions||9.3 x 13.1 x 2.2 in||8.6 x 12 x 1.7 in||3 x 11.5 x 13.5 in||9.25 x 2.56 x 12.2 in||4.5 x 1.5 x 7.2 in||8.8 x 2.2 x 11.8 in|
|Item Weight||—||2.3 lbs||6 lbs||5 lbs||0.56 lb||3 lbs|
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I am a fan of Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, so it stands to reason I would like Mythos Tales.
Mythos Tales takes SHCD and expands on it, it actually makes it better! I love how you have to keep track of your moves, meaning morning, noon and night some times can change what occurs when you visit a location. You also need have evidence (represented in a card with a number on it) at times to advance the story further. Like, "the door is locked, if you have card 1 read xxx, if you don't have card 1 read xxx" (bad example, but you get it). This all helps bring you into the game more than SHCD does.
The map isn't as good as SHCD, and is a bit of a let down. There are mistakes in the printing, the graphics really needed to be worked on, and there are no names on the map like there are in SHCD. The directory also has some mistakes in it, but overall works without many issues. Newspapers are cool too, but would have been nice to have had a bit of an ageing affect to them (yellowish vs white paper), and not double sided, but that helped cut costs.
The end of some of the cases seem a bit flat, not fully explaining what occurred, and that is a shame. There have been times at the end during the questions that they asked questions that we just looked at each other and asked "Where did that come from?", as in, no place we visited mentioned it. That is kind of cool, and kind of not. In the one case this was a big factor in, two of the six players wanted to investigate something in the newspaper, while the others didn't, if we would have, we would have stumbled upon more information and really changed the case. As it turned out, we were able to figure out the answers with what we knew anyway, but knowing there was a whole new side to that case was cool.
I am not a Lovecraftian, and I'm kind of getting sick of the IP, however, 8th Summit did a very good job with this game, mistakes and all. The mistakes won't stop you from playing and enjoying the game either. Unlike my copy of SHCD that has two cases that are almost unwinnable due to the English to French back to English translation mistakes, Mythos Tales does not have that issue, and with a game like this, it is almost impossible to catch everything.
Mythos Tales nails the feel of what its like perform an investigation in Lovecraft's world in a way I didn't think possible in a game. Unlike modern horror, which relies on gimmicks like gore all too often, Lovecraft's stories were not at all combat heavy (human's rarely stood a chance against his terrors) and the investigation was usually the center of the story. This game plays very much like the Investigation Phase of an RPG like Call of Cthulhu requiring you to actually figure out how to go about doing your investigation not unlike it might happen in real life. The formula is borrowed from the game Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective (SHCD), but improved upon in almost every way.
For those not familiar with SHCD, I'll briefly explain the mechanics. To start off, you are given the introduction to the story where you are recruited to help assist in an investigation of some crime. Then you're given a map (of London for SHCD and Arkham for Mythos Tales), a directory of names and addresses, and a newspaper. From there, you have to figure out, based on clues from the intro or newspaper, where you'd like to go and who you'd like to talk to next. Then you look up that person (or location) in the directory (or find it on the map) and open up the game book for that scenario to that address. There you read a paragraph or two about what happens and what you find out. This in turn may lead to more leads to investigate. You continue this process until you think you've figured out the mystery. Then you flip to the back of the scenario and test your knowledge against a series of questions. Then you compare your answers to the correct answers (written as the resolution of the story) and figure out your score based on a combination of correct answers and how long it took you to solve the mystery.
I loved SHCD in concept, but the execution I found wanting. Many of the mysteries were just too hard to solve. The writers 'out clevered' themselves and too often required such huge leaps of "logic" that no sane person would possibly take. This meant that probably more than half the time I'd explore every single possible area and still have no idea how to solve the main mystery, because I failed to read the designers mind. The clues just weren't good enough to give me a meaningful chance of solving the mystery. (And for what it is worth, when I play How to Host a Murder, I almost always solve the mystery, so its not just me here.) The other half of the time, the clues were logical, but just too hard to solve. I remember one of the adventures requiring cracking a code what you in fact weren't supposed to crack at all. In other words, they intentionally made the game more difficult by intentionally wasting the player's time. And then worse yet, the length of time they gave you to solve the mystery was so short that you usually score a zero at the end even if you do solve the mystery. And in fact if you actually could solve the mystery in that few turns, you'd miss out on most of what you paid for in the first place -- the interesting story, characters, and sub plots.
The thing the SHCD game makes didn't get is that the fun part of a game like this is *actually solving it*. I have had too many of my fellow players just throw up their hands and give up because the game was no longer fun.
Mythos Tales fixes all these problems. The investigation is still challenging, requiring some real thought, but no so difficult that you have to read the designer's minds to figure it out. It all felt a lot more natural and lacked the giant breaches of logic of SHCD. Furthermore the scoring at the end was fair (you're given more moves to solve the mystery for one thing), so you can realistically hope to win the scenario. Offsetting this is the fact that you now have a time limit on how many locations you can investigate. This makes the game feel more tense than SHCD without making it too hard. It also gives you a pretty good idea how many moves you should plan on making, so you find yourself prioritizing your investigations and cutting out the fat. I loved how in the game, as you pieced together the clues you find, you suddenly have that 'ah ha' moment where you realize you just figured out what is going on.
Another improvement over SHCD is that now you can go to a location and be giving a 'requirement card' which represents that you now have a piece of equipment or maybe some hidden piece of knowledge. With the requirement card in had, certain locations will now have different text when you visit them. This makes the narrative more branching and the story doesn't have to be written with no assumptions about order. In the end this makes for stronger and deeper stories.
Adding to the strength of the narrative is that Mythos Tales has an arc story on top of each individual story. To help you out with remembering the necessary details, they added a note that lists out questions you need to find answers to for the arc story. To keep this thematically all correct for the narrative, they made it so that you woke up one day and found those questions waiting for you in your own hand writing, but you don't recall ever having written it. Its a nice creepy touch that makes a piece of meta game fit nicely into the narrative.
When my family and I play Mythos Tales, I honestly feel like I'm playing a well thought out scenario from Call of Cthulhu RPG or that I'm the main character in one of Lovecraft's stories. The stories are oozing with appropriate creepy atmosphere and there is a constant threat of actually bumping into the monster or bad guy for that story and losing some of your sanity (or time) in the process (which lowers your score.) You do *not* want to bump into the villain because -- true to Lovecraft's original stories -- human's should have no chance of fighting their way out of the situation. Running away is the right move most of the time.
The one downside to this type of game is that there is no replayability. For Mythos Tales, there are 8 scenarios and then you're done. There is the promise of future expansions with new stories -- come on guys, hurry it up! -- but until then, the game becomes only a reminder of a few fond memories and a convenient paper weight.
If you loved SHCD, this game is definitely for you. Lovecraft's stories are a perfect fit for this type of game. If you hated SHCD, you might still like this game because of the improved balance and stronger narrative. If you haven't ever played SHCD, this is probably the better game to start on.
One note: find the errata on board game geek, otherwise there are (sometimes game-breaking) errors in the cases that slipped past the editors.