Welcome to our review of Fantasy Flight Games‘ Eldritch Horror. In this Lovecraftian Game, you take on the roles of Investigators as you race around the world trying to close gates and stop the Ancient One from entering. Eldritch Horror is one of six games in the Arkham Horror Files Series of games. If you are interested in finding out more about the whole series, check out our World of Arkham Horror page.
We’ll be releasing our Game Overview next week, where we’ll detail HOW to play this game, here we’ll give you our thoughts on the game overall.
In Eldritch Horror, you take on the role of Amateur Investigators traveling the world from Shanghai to San Francisco looking for Arcane mysteries to solve. As with all Arkham games, this is fully cooperative. Together, you are trying to prevent the Ancient One from appearing. This game is for 1-8 players and takes approximately 2- hours to complete, and it is for ages 14 and up.
Get ready to be pushing out a lot of cardboard with this one. This game comes with many tokens and a lot of different card decks you will need within each scenario. The core game comes with four different ancient one-sheets. These, along with the mystery cards, are what you are trying to solve to win the game.
To win, you need to complete 3 of the 4 mystery cards for that ancient one. The game includes encounter cards for each of the world’s regions, expedition card deck, and other world cards. The game also has many smaller cards that the players throughout the game gain.
We like the cards’ quality, especially the illustrations on the backs of the cards, including the asset and artifact cards. They feel like they are part of the Arkham Horror Files set of games.
The setup is relatively straightforward, but it will take about 10 minutes to get everything sorted. After creating your token pools and randomizing the gate disks into a facedown pile, you pick your investigators and ancient ones and set up all the different card decks.
The only deck that takes a bit of time to set up is the Mythos deck. It is specific to the scenario, with each mythos type (green, yellow, and blue) appearing on the scenario sheet. Once you’ve laid out all the card piles and have shuffled them all, you are ready to begin playing!
Eldritch Horror is a bit different than the other games in the Arkham Horror Files series. The actions you take on your turn allow you to travel, prepare for travel, rest, trade, acquire assets or do activities on your cards. If you are familiar with the Arkham Horror Series of games, you’ll notice one thing straightaway… there is no fight action, or evade, or gather clues.
These actions happen during another phase of the game and are not active actions an investigator can do. Essentially these are all types of Encounters you can have during the second phase of the round. They depend on you being in a specific location at the end of the Action phase.
We found ourselves trying to play this game initially like Arkham Horror the Board Game and weren’t very successful. This game takes patience and focuses on where you end your turn geographically to set yourself up for the encounter phase. Once we got the hang of this fact, it allowed us to make our actions more preventative (like taking a moment to rest) than full-on action action action.
In that second phase of the encounter phase, players choose a specific encounter card based on their location to resolve. For instance, if there is a Clue in your location, you solve a research encounter card. If there is a gate in your location, you do an other world card to try and close the gate. If you end your turn in a named location, you can do a region encounter card. Finally, if the location is not named, you can do a general encounter card. There are other encounter types as well, such as Active Expedition and Rumor Mythos cards.
One of the most intriguing encounter types is the Defeated Investigator encounter. Suppose any investigator is defeated during the game. In that case, the player flips them on their side and puts either a heart health token or a brain horror token on them, depending on how an enemy defeated them. Then that player picks a new investigator to continue to play. Now suppose any other investigator ends their action phase in a location with a defeated investigator. In that case, they can perform an encounter with that investigator. These are usually positive and can help a current investigator in the game.
Another type of encounter is the Combat Encounter. This type of encounter is where you fight monsters in this game. Unlike other Arkham Horror Files Games, Fighting here means you must test both your willpower AND strength to try and defeat the monster. Also, you must defeat monsters in your location BEFORE you can do any other type of encounter. If you manage to defeat all monsters in your location, you do get the opportunity to complete an additional encounter. We have mixed feelings about this. We prefer to run into a place and start fighting immediately, but that’s not how this game works. That adjustment was a bit difficult at first, but we got the hang of it. It just took time.
The other aspect that was a bit weird at first is that enemies don’t stay with you when you move. Again in other Arkham Horror Files Games, the enemies remain with you, and in fact, you aren’t allowed to move without getting hurt. In Eldritch Horror, the idea is you are in a city, and you can leave it without defeating all the enemies there. The caveat is that you can’t do anything else in that location unless you defeat all the enemies.
After the Encounter Phase, the game moves to the Mythos Phase, where bad things tend to happen. Whoever is the current lead investigator draws a card from the mythos deck and resolves its icons. These include adding monsters, gates, clues, or advancing doom towards 0 when the ancient one arrives. All of these, except for adding clues, are bad.
We liked the variety of these cards. However, the Mythos cards are not specific to the current Ancient One. Sometimes you end up with a random event that either you’ve seen before in a different scenario, or it just doesn’t quite fit into the story regarding the current Ancient One.
In the end, your goal is to solve 3 of the 4 mystery cards for the ancient one. I would like to see more mystery cards per ancient one, especially if you repeat a scenario. At least two of the mysteries will be the same as the last time you played.
We did like this game once we realized we couldn’t play it like we play other Arkham Horror Files games. The strategy here is very different and much more passive during the action phase. The game is still very cool and exciting. One thing we didn’t touch on above is how you Test in this game. It’s the same as The Arkham Horror: Board Game. The number next to your skill on the skill sheet is the number of dice you roll, and both 5 and 6’s are successes. In this game, most encounters require you to roll at least one success. Combat encounters are a bit different but no less fun. The more successes you roll, the more damage you do to the enemies.
What could be better is the structure of the game is a bit too passive for us. The action phase of the game is mostly moving around, resting, and acquiring assets. All the fighting, clue gathering, and gate closing are the meat of the game, but they happen after you end your turn in the correct location.
I will say that this game is very different from the Arkham Horror Board Game in that way. However, it lives in the same Lovecraft world. It shares investigators, monsters, clues, health, and sanity as other Arkham Horror Games. It undoubtedly is a unique game. We haven’t played any of the expansions yet, but they look like they expand the board in specific locations by adding side boards to the game.
We recommend Eldritch Horror to those that want a different type of game in the Lovecraft world. It wasn’t what we were expecting, but we did have a great time playing this!
If you think you would enjoy this game, check it out in our store today!
Also, we are running a special offer on all Arkham Horror Files games in October. Spend $50 or more on any Arkham Horror Files game. We will send you a free copy of the Investigators of Arkham Horror coffee table book. This book has full-color illustrations and stories about many of the investigators to give you a greater background into who these characters are in this world.