Name: Eldritch Horror
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
Tagline: “A Board Game Of Global Mystery”
So, this was probably one of the most anticipated board games of the year. It’s pretty much a squeal to one of FFGs most successful titles, Arkham Horror. A quick run down of Arkham Horror: you and a team of investigators solve “mysteries” around the fictional town of Arkham, trying to slay monsters and close gates. All in a desperate bid to prevent an eldritch god from consuming our world.
Where Arkham Horror was set in one place, Eldritch Horror is a global affair. The first thing you can tell when opening the box is that, once again, FFG is giving you a lot of bang for your buck. It’s bursting with great components and the card style is simply superb. The board itself is presented very nicely and it even includes a useful legend for travel routes. You also get a quick reference guide for anything you might get stuck on mid-game. This is a great idea! Through play testing they have clearly found points in the game where you might get a tad confused and supplied this to help keep the game going at a fast pace.
The game itself seems to me like Arkham Horror with slimmed lined rules and a slightly faster pace. You are against the clock to save the world, in this case the clock is the well named “doom track”. You also have a cool “omen track” which dictates exactly how f**ked you are! The main aim is to solve 3 “mystery” cards, I like these a lot. They really add to the narrative. The game play is spilt into 3 phases: the action phase, the encounter phase and the mythos phase.
In phase one you perform actions like travel, buying items, resting etc. In phase two you have an “encounter”. This is my favourite phase, FFG have done amazingly here. Depending on where you are on the map you have a specific encounter for that location, and there are a lot! Very cool. Phase 3 is the mythos phase. This is where the bad stuff happens! This can be anything from gates spawning, monsters appearing, the omen chart changing and the doom track counting down!
Now, did I enjoy it? I hate to use a cliche but it’s not you, it’s me. I think I want more out of this game. At some points I had lots of fun but during most of it I found I was just going through the motions: move here, pick up a card, roll some dice, move here, pick up a card, roll some dice. Maybe I was just having a off day. There are two mechanics I hate in this game, and I really mean HATE! The first of which is the “delayed” mechanic. If you get “delayed” you basically miss you next turn, all games can be improved by losing the “miss a go mechanic”. The worst thing though is that, at points, this game encourages you to become delayed by giving you reward if you do so! The second thing I hate is very occasionally, depending on cards you draw, if you fail a test you may have to shuffle a solved mystery back in the deck! Bear in mind these mysteries can take around an hour to solve if you’re not doing well.
I feel I’m putting too much of a negative vibe into this review. I do enjoy this game. The problem is it’s a very narrative game, why is this a problem? If your players really dig the Lovecraftian mythos etched into this game then it’s not, what so ever. In fact it’s a good thing. But if you are playing with people who don’t know their Yog-Sothoth from their Dunwich horror then the narrative won’t impact on them nearly as much. Also I would not want to play with more then 4 players, maybe 5-6 if they are experienced with the game. On the plus side you can go globe trotting with a bull whip and a bottle of whiskey! Who doesn’t want that?!
Overall I would recommend this game if you enjoy anything Lovecraft. If you don’t then maybe try something else.