Eldritch Horror has remained a firm favourite and sees regular visits to the table. We still haven’t mastered the game, far from it, probably winning one in every four or five games, but it’s the fact they all feel as though we should have won, if only… You know how it is!
It’s that type of game where you make all these plans at the start, spending an hour pondering over your choice of characters, working out strategy and priorities, but then, within moments of the game starting, it all goes drastically wrong, and I love it!
For instance, we might decide to take Charlie Kane who, when he Acquires Assets, can allow another investigator to gain any cards he buys and, with his high Influence, is very good at sitting in Tokyo and persuading them to take out monsters around the globe. But just as he gets there from his starting position in San Francisco, a gate opens smack bang in the middle of Tokyo and spawns some not too nice monsters. Now Charlie stinks when it comes to combat, so he needs help, or you have to change your plans.
For another example, we might decide to take two brawlers, characters good at combat, but rather than letting them kick butt, they’re needed to solve a rumour as nobody else has a good Observation, and all of a sudden you become overwhelmed by monsters.
It’s the best thing about the game, the unpredictability of what you’re going to face, even if you go against the same Ancient One time after time; every game is different. You have to constantly reprioritise, but usually end up firefighting, shoving whoever is closest into the fray, whether their equipped to deal with it or not, especially as the game moves on and you can see the end peering over the horizon.
Yes, it’s difficult, and it’s the randomness that makes it so, but it doesn’t feel, how do I put this, that random. That sounds daft, but it makes you feel like you’re in a living, evolving world. Rumours crop up and make you groan, gates can appear left right and centre and start spewing out more monsters than you can shake a stick at, and it’s all there to misguide you, to take your eye of what is really the goal, and that’s completing the Mysteries.
Still, sometimes it isn’t as simple as concentrating solely on those mysteries, if only it were, but somethings will need to be taken care of because they can be game ending, and here you have to make decisions, lovely, juicy, decisions. Do you split your efforts, some characters pursuing the main goal whilst others try to remove the more pressing, immediate threats, such as a rumour that could end the game in just a few more turns, or do you all dive in and put maximum effort into just one thing? Needless to say, whatever you choose things will be tight. You never seem to have just the right characters to do the job, so what do you do… time for Operation Prawn Sacrifice!
Yes, don’t become too attached to that character of yours because one of the best ways of winning at this game is to throw them under the bus. Our last game saw us go through 8+ characters (a 2-player game with 2-characters each) and we still lost, but only just. It might sound a bit ruthless but sending a character in to do as much damage as possible to an Epic monster can be two-fold. One, you might get lucky and actually defeat the thing. Two, using a character that has become worthless to your quest, say they’re holding on to their sanity by well chewed toothpick, well with their defeat you get to pick another, more useful to the now character.
I could harp on about this game for hours, singing its praises, discussing tactics, reliving many great, stand up and roll, situations, but it isn’t all plain sailing – Let’s talk expansions…
I have three of the eight available for the game, and they really do add more, and I mean that literally, more equipment, more spells, more Ancient Ones, more, well, everything really, and that, on the whole, makes Eldritch Horror even better, but… and to me, it’s a sticky point kind of but, setting the damn thing up has become a chore. It isn’t the amount of stuff that’s the problem, it’s the new rules and the introduction of specific cards that are only required if you’re playing with X, Y, or Z.
My problem with the new rules is simple. Every time we come to play, I have to trawl through the three extra rule sheets/books to recall all the new additions. Of course, you can pick and choose which rules you want to play with, and it would be easiest to play the original, but some rules do make the game better, such as the action to Focus. This is easy to fix, either make up a cheat sheet or look for one on BGG, and to be honest, I really should have done it by now.
The same goes for Adventure cards. I always pull them out of the box and think, what am I supposed to do with these again? Well, it all depends on what Prelude card you draw at the start of setup. Some adventures are only played when certain cards are drawn, further to this, some are only used when going against certain Ancient Ones. And then there’s the Antarctic side board, which is only used if Rise of the Elder Things is the Ancient One or the Doomsayer from Antarctica Prelude card is draw. Trying to figure all this out when you haven’t played for a while is time consuming.
It’s the only downside of the game as far as I’m concerned and I’m more than happy to put up with it for the return of a good couple of hours of entertainment that Eldritch Horror provides – I really should get a cheat sheet!
Knowing what I know now, would I still have bought it? Yes, I love this game.
Will it still remain in my collection? Definitely a keeper. It’s different enough to keep me interested and I much prefer it to Arkham Horror: The board game 3rd Edition, in fact I go as far as to say it’s my favourite Arkham Files game.
One Year On – Eldritch Horror continues to entertain. It has a way of thwarting you at every turn, but leaves enough hope dangling for you to grab and become invested in. Every game should be a win, but time and time again it beats you down and makes you question your decisions… should I have gone after that rumour instead of pursuing the main quest? What a different game it would have been if only I’d picked Lily instead of Charlie? And there’s always the ‘Damn, if only I hadn’t lost that dynamite, I could have taken out that group of monsters and we’d have won!’
Read my review HERE