Travel the world! Solve mysteries! Fight monsters! Suffer a leg wound! Go insane! Read the Eldritch Horror review!
Today we’re looking at Eldritch Horror published by Fantasy Flight games. Eldritch Horror is a heavily thematic solo or cooperative game for 1-8 players that plays in 2+ hours with game time increasing proportionally to the number of players.
In Eldritch Horror each player takes on the role of an investigator working to prevent the awakening of one of the Ancient Ones from H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos. Each investigator has two special abilities, their own starting equipment and various strengths and weaknesses based on their starting attributes, health and sanity values.
The investigators will be racing around the globe gathering clues and resources, fighting monsters, and improving their skills in an attempt to solve a number of mysteries dependent upon the Ancient One being faced. The investigators will need to solve these mysteries before they are killed or driven insane by the horrors they will have to face and before the Doom track reaches zero and the Ancient One awakens. The awakening of the Ancient One will present the players with an enormous challenge or may even spell the end of the world!
Each game round is played in three phases. The first phase is the Action Phase in which each investigator will perform two actions such as traveling to a new location or using a special ability. The investigators will need to work as a team during the Action Phase to decide where best to move and which encounter to tackle during the next phase of the game.
The second phase is the Encounter Phase and it is in this phase that the theme really shines in the game. During the encounter phase each investigator will face one of a number of different encounters based on their current location. Investigators will fight terrifying monsters, close otherworldly gates, attempt to solve mysteries and may even come across a defeated investigator that has been killed or driven insane. Nearly every encounter involves drawing a card and resolving a micro-story. These micro stories are exciting and tense and will test the investigators attributes and push them to their limits.
The final phase of the game round is the Mythos Phase in which one Mythos card is drawn and resolved. The Mythos cards have various possible effects nearly all of which are bad for the investigators and often add new challenges for the investigators to face. It is during the Mythos phase that new otherworldly gates open above major cities of the world, new monsters are spawned on the board through these gates and new clues appear at various locations around the world.
After the Mythos Phase, assuming the players have not solved all required mysteries or the game has not ended due to the awakening of the Ancient One, a new game round will begin once again with the Action Phase.
A note on “chrome”: The cards included in the game are very good quality as are all of the cardboard chits and tokens. The dice are a bit bland and are smaller than standard. I replaced mine with a set like this. Monsters are drawn at random during the game and I highly recommend buying one of the thematic bags for this that Fantasy Flight offers. These bags can also be purchased via Amazon here and here.
A note on game length: Eldritch Horror will last up to 3 hours for 4 players. Adding additional players increases the playtime proportionally with each additional player adding about 45 minutes to the total game length.
A note on solo play: Eldritch Horror can be played solo although I would recommend playing at least two investigators as each investigator has their own strengths and weaknesses.
The Bottom Line:
Eldritch Horror is an excellent cooperative game. It can be played solo but it is far more fun to play with other people. The game is medium-long but never feels like it overstays its welcome. It can be difficult but has options to decrease (or increase!) the difficulty. Eldritch Horror is thematic to a fault and I recommend it to anyone who does not have an aversion to the setting.
Get this game if:
You enjoy challenging cooperative games.
You are looking for an extremely thematic game that tells a story as you play.
You enjoy dice based combat and skill checks.
Avoid this game if:
You dislike cooperative games.
You dislike the Cthulhu mythos.
Rulebooks and introduction/overview videos can be found here.