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Eldritch Horror Board Game Review

You stayed in London overnight, getting a much needed rest after the fight you had with a violent cultist. All night you dreamed nightmarish visions of the Ancient Ones. Despite feeling tired and sore, you can’t stop any longer. You’ve heard a rumour that the dark forces are massing in North America. As one of the only people physically and mentally equipped to deal with the situation, you buy a ticket to grant you passage across the Atlantic and settle in for your journey. During the night, you are woken from a restless sleep by a low humming sound. Ignoring the dread in the pit of your stomach, you wander up to the main deck and step out into the cold Atlantic night air.

Looking down into the water you see a luminous mass, pulsating as though living, eerily suspended beneath the surface of the water. Pain grips you suddenly, doubling you over as you bring your hands to your head. Something is forcing its way into your mind. You catch a slight glimpse of an undulating beast before you regain your composure. You’ve stopped the forces from penetrating your consciousness, but at a small cost to your sanity. Your relief at surviving this ordeal is short lived, however, as the ship’s captain tells you a telegram from your colleague in Russia has informed you that evil is stirring there and your help is needed. You feel the need to rest, but you know that once your lead in America is investigated, you’ll have to leave for Russia straight away.

This is how a turn plays out in Eldritch Horror, Fantasy Flight’s Lovecraftian board game of cooperative global investigation from its Arkham Files range. For one to eight players, each player chooses from twelve investigators to play as and are then tasked with saving the world from the invading forces of the Ancient Ones. The core box includes four Ancient Ones to play against, each with their own unique threats and difficulty rating, which in turn can be customised by including or omitting certain mythos cards.

At its core, Eldritch Horror shares a lot of its mechanics with Pandemic. Players who are familiar with Pandemic will have no problems picking up the rules. Each round is split into three phases, the action phase, the encounter phase and the mythos phase. During the action phase, investigators carry out two actions. This could be moving one space, gaining a travel ticket to extend movement, resting to recover sanity or health, trading items with other investigators or acquiring item cards from the reserve. The encounter phase has each investigator draw an encounter card. Depending on your location in the world, you draw from one of many encounter decks, each one containing flavour text to be read aloud describing the encounter you must survive. In the mythos phase, one card is drawn which describes the nefarious antics of the ancient one and what its effects will be. Many of these can change the game in an instant, making things much harder for the investigators!

During play, portals will open up in major cities across the world and allow creatures and followers to cross over into our dimension. Combat is solved with dice rolls, the number of which you can roll depends on the abilities of the investigator you are playing as. Facing these beings doesn’t just effect your health, but also your sanity. Lose either one and your investigator is out of the game!

Although you will work together to beat the game, what makes Eldritch Horror shine is the personal journey that each of the investigators will go on. Every encounter will take its toll on you mentally, every fight will physically scar you, and should you run out of time and the doom track reaches zero, the ancient one will awaken and bring about the end of world. At times it’s tense, at times it’s spooky, but it’s always exciting. This game is a must have for any gamer who likes Lovecraft.