Tuesday 10 June 2014

Eldritch Horror

Cthulhu and other Lovecraftian monstrosities are again awakening and threatening to do nasty things to the world, and once again it is up to intrepid investigators to try stop them. Much like Arkham Horror before it, Eldritch Horror is  a cooperative board game where players must run around the board to shut gates and gain clues to defeat whichever main bad guy you happen to be playing against at the time.

Unlike Arkham though, Eldritch Horror has a world wide scale with a world map as the board and each Eldritch abomination has it's own specific way of being defeated by means of its custom tailored mystery deck. Simply solve three (out of four randomly shuffled, one at a time) before it wakes up and you win.

That is not easy to do as investigators go insane and/or die permanently during the course of the game (and often through events out of your control) it is not wise to get attached to your selected character. Player elimination is avoided by letting them pick a new investigator at that point (provided the main baddie hasn't woken up yet) however there are only 12 in the base game and one of the losing conditions is that if all 12 die it is game over. No resurrection here!

Picture post game: Defeat! >.<

Eldritch is still a big game and takes a bit of time to setup and play, but because of clever streamlining it is only around half the time it takes to setup and play Arkham. This is partially because out of the 40 or so ancient one cards available you only use around 16 per game, and once those run out the players lose regardless at what stage the game is at. That for me is a huge positive, and despite the board and the dice being rigged against you it still makes for an awesome experience.

Another positive is the customized research decks against each ancient one. For example while facing Azathoth (rather, trying NOT to face him), there'll be a number of meteor showers and most likely an alien moon showing up now and again which doesn't happen if you face one of the other horrors.

The double sided cards are another great mechanic, and you are not allowed to read the flip side until the time is right. Spells are a good example. There are many copies of the same spell, but where one might flip to reveal added advantages, others might flip to reveal that by casting it you've just woken up the ancient one a little more, or slowly go insane, or accidentally insta-kill another player!

It does have a minor problem with somewhat thin card decks which means seeing repetition within a single game, but other than that it all goes swimmingly well (usually for the ancient ones). This problem is quite likely fixed with the expansion Forsaken Lore which adds a whole bunch of cards.

For me it does replace Arkham Horror due to the speeded up and polished mechanics. I give it four and a half tentacles out of five.

Re-review score: Four tentacles out of five.

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