Some people may have cottoned onto the fact that I am quite fond of the Cthulhu Mythos and all it entails, and now to further that, I have acquired a copy of the new Fantasy Flight game Eldritch Horror. To quote the Fantasy Flight website for Eldritch Horror:
Eldritch Horror is a cooperative game of terror and adventure in which one to eight players take the roles of globetrotting investigators working to solve mysteries, gather clues, and protect the world from an Ancient One – an elder being intent on destroying our world.
This is a very accurate description of the game, from a basic perspective of course. The rules are pretty easy to get used to, and Fantasy Flight have approached the rules in a slightly different manner this time, compared to previous games, but I will get to that later on.
The exterior of the box tells us that it is a game for 1 – 8 persons (so supports solo play) and that it is part of the ‘Arkham Horror Files’, the universe in which several board games are set, this being the newest. Upon opening the box, I was greeted with the normal promotional materials, as well as the rule book and a reference book. Further exploration into the box revealed the token sprues and the game board, the various cards, dice other extraneous materials at the bottom. Immediately, I saw a very acute resemblance to Arkham Horror, another board game released by Fantasy Flight several years ago. The Health, Sanity, Monster, Gate and Investigator tokens all make a re-appearance (though suitably modified for the new game). All the items in the box are at the high standard of quality that one would normally see in Fantasy Flight products. I would have had more pictures, but my camera is pretty terrible, so they are mostly all rubbish.
Now onto gameplay.
Remember I said earlier that there is a rulebook and a reference book? Well this is where they come into it. I was slightly puzzled at first why there would be two books, thinking maybe the game was that complicated that it would require two, but that is not really the case. The rulebook is there to provide all the introduction and basic information to setup and play your first game. The reference book is the definitive collection of rules, covering all the card interactions and so on and even including a small FAQ. While playing the game, I realised that this is a more efficient method of having the rules, because you follow the rulebook to play the first game, but during later games, you only need to refer to the reference book, which is organised in alphabetical order, meaning everything is a lot easier to find.
Anyone who has played Arkham Horror will click into this game very easily, the rules are very similar. The game turn are broken into three phases; Action, Encounter and Mythos. In the Action phase, the Investigators can do things such as move around the board, acquire items, rest or trade. The Encounter phase is when the Investigators battle monsters, try and close Gates, interact with Rumors or try and solve Mysteries. The Mythos phase is an automated phase where Gates are opened, Monsters spawn, Reckoning effects take place and other actions that further the awakening of the Ancient one. This automated Mythos phase is what allows the game to be played solo.
To win the game, the Investigators have to solve 3 Mysteries. There are separate Mysteries for each different Ancient One (of which there are 4) and each Mystery takes different criteria to solve. There are several ways that the Investigators can lose, such as the Ancient One awakening and generally ruining the day, the Mythos deck running out and others. Like Arkham Horror, it is not an easy game, but not impossible. Some of the more complex rules in Arkham Horror have been simplified in this game, making a more smooth gaming experience.
I played a game of it last night with three of my friends, the first time any of us had played this game. I had played a lot of Arkham Horror before, so for me the rules were a pretty easy transition, but my friends hadn’t, so were completely fresh to it. Even with this, the rules were very easy to pick up, and we didn’t have to consult the rules or reference very much after a while. In total, the game took us about 5 hours, but we took it slow, and had breaks in there for food and so on, so a more concentrated game is easily possible.
While it is a co-operative game, we played it pretty loose, not really worrying about working together too much, mostly just doing our own thing. A more cohesive effort gives a better chance for beating the game, as we found out. On the absolute final turn, we had only a singular chance to win, and it all came down to one final die roll. My friend needed to get a single 5 or 6 out of three dice rolled, a feat which he had already failed the previous turn. It was tense moment, watching the dice bounce across the game board, but Luck must have smiled down upon us at that moment, as one die face had a 5, neither of the other two were high enough. That let him make another action that let another of my friends manage to solve the last Mystery we needed and thus win us the game. A game so close and down to the wire, but we were thrilled to have conquered it. It was about 2:30 am by the time we finished.
In conclusion, I enjoyed this game very much and I am very glad I bought it. Any person who has played Arkham Horror and enjoyed that will love this one just as much. It is a brilliant game that stands up with the rest, following the good production values and quality that is common to Fantasy Flight products. The game is rife with lore and story, flows very well and is hard, so if/when you beat it, you get a very real sense of accomplishment, but not hard to the point of impossibility, and I never felt myself getting frustrated at the game because of the difficulty. The reference guide has rules to adjust the difficulty if you find it too easy or hard, just in case.
If you want something to do of an afternoon/evening, I do recommend this game. It was $85 at my local game store, and another local retailer had it for the same (online), so it is also at a reasonable price, less than some games, more than others, but well worth it.
Have you tried this game yet and want to share your thoughts on it, or perhaps you have some questions to ask me? Go ahead on both and post below.