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How do you like your random encounter cards?

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larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008

I am continuing to design my Eldrich Horror like game (eldrich express sequel), and one thing I disliked in this game is going somewhere, drawing a card and suffering the consequence. Little strategy and forward planning.

So I tried to put some information open, so that you could know the risk in advance. I tried to give players a choice of action after drawing a random monster. And also have deterministic consequence on one of the choice.

I also what to keep the amount of components low and small. After some design work, it would make more sense to thematically and mechanically put all the encounter information in 1 place, a random encounter card. But now I get the original problem of Eldritch Horror which is go somewhere, draw a card, and suffer the consequences.

Unless I put those encounter cards open beside the board (like elder sign), there is no way to anticipate the risk. I could standardize the attribute used by saying, this type of encounter always require an Awareness roll to succeed.

So I was wondering, how people liked their random encounters?

I want to have strategic encounters, but maybe there is another path I have not seen before.

Can encounters be strategic even if completely random?

Joined: 06/09/2017
you could try having x

you could try having x encounters, open, at the start of each game. all need to be completed and give rewards/ penalties, the choices then involve the order of completion not just the action. so it may be easier to pass this now but if i complete that first i get a bonus.

let-off studios
let-off studios's picture
Joined: 02/07/2011
Hazard Classes

Could you have specific classes or categories of hazards, and only that is known prior to investigating?

For example, imagine that characters are investigating a neighbourhood. As they approach, some environmental clues become apparent, and this gives some detail as to the kind of hazards (or boons) they may encounter in a given area. To simulate this in game, maybe the card backs can be labeled with categories like, "esoteric cult," "natural predators," "otherworldly entities," and so on. By visiting the location, the players flip over a card from the corresponding deck, and resolve the encounter - hopefully, with a desired result.

These categories can give players a general idea as to what/who would be best suited to face that encounter, find a specific type of equipment, or meet some other kind of objective related to the scenario.

Joined: 01/27/2017
One other way

I like LOS's idea of encounter types. Once the type becomes known, place a card of that type face-down in the space. Reveal when someone actually enters.

An alternative I used in one of my earliest designs was to keep the encounter completely hidden until someone entered the space. The card would have its type (Beast, Demon, Outlaw, or Undead), strength, and loot spelled out. If the encounter is not defeated, it stays there face-up and the player places a marker on it. Anyone who comes by later and defeats that baddie gets the original loot plus an additional Magic Item card for the marker.

That game was balanced so that characters had significantly better than a 50/50 chance to defeat an unknown encounter. You could swing things around and have a bonus for being the first to kick a particular hornet's nest.

larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
Quote:I like LOS's idea of

I like LOS's idea of encounter types. Once the type becomes known, place a card of that type face-down in the space. Reveal when someone actually enters.

That was my original idea, having humanoids and extra-planar creatures. But that implies that all threat are creatures. I cannot also give flavors to the encounter.

Here is what I posted on BGG


In my original eldtich express game the encounters and the monsters were all open on the board. So you knew the consequence and the results before taking action.

Then I thought of moving the "threat" part to random encounters cards, but keeping the resolution of the encounter open. So players could know if they have good chances to succeed the encounter, they just don't know the threat that is going to try stopping them. The threat would offer 2 choice of action: A) direct fight: deterministic outcome B) Avoid threat: random success.

In a new iteration, I was thinking in reorganising the cards, instead of having generic threat cards, they could be bound to the type of encounter. Which makes it logical to put the encounter results on the card too. It would strengthen the theme and the connection with the threat. But I get the problem that it is less predictable.


I just have an idea of leaving the encounter card revealed after a failed resolution, so that only the first attempt is a mystery. Other players will have open information.

I currently have 4 types of evil encounters: Rifts, Mystery, Worshippers and Disasters. If there is no change in the length of the game, there should be in average 7 of each encounter type tokens that spawn on the board. There is only 6 spaces and the same space cannot have 2 of the same encounter. That has 3 implications:

1- I could design only 12 cards for each encounter type and have enough variety for 2-3 game considering that the card is only revealed if a player chose to perform the encounter. That could keep the number of cards very low.

2- If a player fail the encounter and leaves the card on the edge of the board, it will be easy to associate the card with the token since there cannot be twice the same encounter on the same space.

3- Even if 4+ encounter tokens can be on a space, it's not likely that all cards are also going to be revealed. So the edge of the board will not necessarily be crowded with cards.

That should increase the strategy since the threat is only hidden to the first player adventuring there.

Joined: 09/06/2017
Ongoing efffects with end condition/count down/likely things

You could have the cards have an ongoing effect with an end condition. Something like all enemies do plus one damage until this enemy is defeated. Admittedly, this does not allow for pre-event strategy, but it would introduce some post-event strategy. Sentinels of the Multiverse uses this on many of their villain and environment cards.

You could have cards that have counters on the card and when they run out something happens unless players do something else before then. Admittedly, this too does not allow for pre-event strategy, but it would introduce some post-event strategy. These would be mechanically similar to the Mythos card with a rumor in Arkham Horror. Though you probably want to tone down their effect on the game.
( page 12)

Also Arkham Horror does give players some information about what is likely to happen in a spot by assigning each spot two icons. Maybe you could add something like this to the back of the cards. ( page 24 Location icons)

Edit: Forgot to add Good luck with your game.
Good luck with your game.

larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
I already have a system of

I already have a system of ongoing effects. Certain encounters, when on the board, will add ongoing effect in the area while the token remains.

I also agree that in a horror style game, flipping a card for a random encounter seems to add suspense to the game. But to get strategy you need a way to handle it. Could fit more in a haunted house exploration game: Enter a new room, flip a card, surprise.

"A touch of evil" use a similar mechanism, I liked it when equipment can actually hide itself in the deck.

It might just be easier to be less thematic (like my other Eldritch Express game) and just have generic monster cards stack of various categories. Simply draw from the matching stack.

It could require less cards, I won't crowd the edge of the board with cards,


I wanted to have 2 cards in one where for example, you could have a worshiper encounter and at the bottom of the card an Ally asset. Now depending on how you deal with that encounter, you could attach this card to your pool of asset if the ally joined you.

Now by having the reward tied in to specific encounters, it somewhat reinforces the theme, and if could incite players to dig into certain deck of cards if they want a specific asset. I found the idea pretty neat.

In that case, I could make "monsters" for each type of encounter, and have various rewards of it's own. Seem like a mix of both ideas.


Maybe I'll have to finish my prototype without encounter cards, playtest it a bit, see how it goes, and then try encounter cards.

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