Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Eldritch Horror

ELDRITCH HORROR

by Fantasy Flight Games

Published in 2013

Eldritch Horror - I was so excited when I heard that FFG was making this game!
In fact, years ago I wanted to create a board game very much like EH myself, and I even began writing down some ideas, but nothing came out of it!
Maybe that's one of the reasons why I was so enthusiastic to add this game to my collection...

To put it simply, Eldritch Horror is a global Cthulhu Mythos -adventure with a very solid theme and some truly interesting game mechanics.

When talking about Eldritch Horror, comparison to Arkham Horror is a sure thing. After all, these two games share the theme, and EH, as well as the latest version of AH are published by the same company. Even their names are very much alike.
Is the global scale the only thing that separates Eldritch from Arkham?


Not by a long shot.
And I think that the first thing to do when you start looking into EH is to recognize that this is not an Arkham Horror lite, global Arkham Horror, or AH 2013.
Eldritch Horror really is a whole new game with a new kind of outlook into the amazing Cthulhu Mythos. Better or worse than the good old AH? - that's a whole different matter.

But let's get the story going now.
The year is 1926 and the Stars are right! The Great Cthulhu is stirring in his slumber, and magical gates to other worlds are opening all around the world. The Doom is advancing - the Doom of mankind.
The majority of the world's population doesn't know what's going on, or maybe they don't even care. Some have studied the Mythos and they know what to expect... And they despair.
But a few individuals are willing to put their lifes and their minds at risk, and to start looking deeper into the mysteries of Cthulhu. These people are the only hope that the Earth has left.

Here is a couple of them:


Leo Anderson is an Expedition Leader who has spent the majority of his life travelling all around the world, exploring the most obscure corners of the planet. He has the means and the experience to follow the Mythos clues all around the world.
Currently in Buenos Aires, Leo is hiring some help. He has always found allies very easily.

Trish Scarborough is an international Spy. Talented and persistent, Trish is no stranger to danger. As a woman of logic and reason, she didn't know about Cthulhu until recently, after following a lead to the city of Krasnoyarsk. Deeply shocked by what she learned, she decides to abandon her mundane assignment and to begin investigating the Eldritch Horror.

... the Eldritch Horror that is known by the name of Cthulhu!

Said to be the high priest of the Great Old Ones, the Great Cthulhu has been trapped into his sunken city of R'lyeh for eons. Dead but dreaming, Cthulhu's influence over the Earth has prevailed, and the Cthulhu Cult has been around since the birth of mankind.

But now the Stars are right, and Cthulhu's time of awakening is near!
The seas are getting wild and dangerous, and sightings of Deep Ones and something even more terrifying have greatly increased.

Leo and Trish must hurry and solve enough mysteries to prevent Cthulhu's awakening, or the whole world will be lost in madness...

THE HORROR BEGINS:

The Stars are right! Cthulhu's time of awakening is near, and his cultists are rushing to the seas to witness his return. The first mystery that the investigators need to look into is the behavior of these people. Leo and Trish need to gather clues from all around the World in order to gain some understanding about the situation.

Leo learns that some suspicious people have been gathering on an island near Antarctica. He immediately embarks a ship that agrees to take him over there to investigate.
While there, he finds people who claim to be natives to the island. They tell tales about ancient monsters battling each other, but the stories affect Leo's mind strangely - Leo begins hallucinating.

Trish travels to Istanbul, where she gathers some clues. She also manages to gain a blessing from the friendly imam of the local mosque.

A sinister group of men have been spotted in Australia. Some call them "The Watches", some refer to them as "Tick Tock Men", but nobody seems to know who they are, or what is their purpose.

But somehow it is clear that their presence in this world is very unwholesome...

Trish decides to look into these Tick Tock Men.
But on her way to Australia, she hears of a situation in Shanghai: A mystical gate has opened up, and a Zombie has appeared from it!
Trish makes her way over there, and guns the Zombie down with her 45. automatic pistols.

She then proceeds to walk through the gate in order to find out a way to close it. She finds herself in the Great Hall of Celaeno.
There she finds a human being, reading through tomes of dark sorcery. Carefully spying on him, she learns the he is responsible for the gate, and manages to close it. Before leaving the great library, Trish takes a look at some of the books that the stranger was reading... A mistake! Trish's scientific mind cannot fathom the horrors that the books contained. She begins to lose her sanity.

Leo stays put and tries to get some rest in order clear his head.

In the middle of the night, Leo sees that an army of Deep Ones is climbing in and out of the water, sneaking all around Leo's ship!

Leo tries to hide, but one of the creatures spots him and attacks. Thanks to his hired muscle, Leo survives the fight, but he feels deeply frightened by the whole event.

Trish gains an ally: An Urban Guide joins Trish's quest. This valuable ally will assist her in her urban encounters.

Leo finds out that an Elder Thing has appeared to prevent him from doing any further investigations. He feels that this ancient monster is too powerful for him to defeat, and leaves Antarctica. He takes his ship to Sydney.
There he acquires some dynamite.

Trish also arrives in Sydney. The Tick Tock Men should be close.

Rumor has it, that a dozen of unpleasant-looking strangers have settled into Panama with a large collection of astronomical reference books.

What ever it is that they are doing, it clearly has effects on a world wide scale... Could they be trying to hasten up Cthulhu's arrival?



Trish travels to the last known location of the Tick Tock Men, and attempts to terminate them. The imam's blessing guides her efforts, and after a furious firefight she does manage defeat the strange men... If, in fact, the were men at all.

While searching the area further, Trish finds a cave with some curious cave paintings on the wall. She explores the dark and claustrophobic passageways, and finds a book... Her knowledge of the dark arts and forgotten mysteries is not very acute, but she reacognizes the book all the same - it is the dreaded Necronomicon, written by the mad arab Abdul Alhazred!


Whether this one is the original Necronomicon, or a copy - Trish doesn't know, but it certainly looks very old. Trish decides not to open it...

Leo leaves Sydney and heads west, towards South Africa. Half way there, he is attacked by another Deep One! Are these things following him..?
However, this time the creature is alone and Leo manages to kill it. From its corpse Leo finds some clues that might help in solving the first mystery about Cthulhu!

Leo notices that the seas become more and more hostile as the days go by...

A gate opens up in Sydney, and people there begin rioting.

Leo reaches Capetown. He tries to acquire some assets, but without any luck.
A group of intimitading Syndicate members confront Leo and demand money from him for protection. Leo refuses to pay... The Syndicate makes sure that Leo meets with an accident; he gains a leg injury.

Trish visits Sydney again and tries to disperse the riots.
Diplomacy fails, as the people attack her and she is forced to shoot several of them.

Trish gets slightly injured in the skirmish.



Later that night, Trish is assaulted by a group of unknown creatures. She is badly hurt, and especially her sanity is severely damaged.
At the same time in South Africa, Leo is also attacked. Leo identifies his attacker to be something out of this world; a Byakhee. The Byakhee injures Leo, but then flies away...


Trish leaves Sydney with haste, and stops in a little town in Indonesia. She rests, calms her shattered nerves, and steals a powerful Carbine Rifle from the local gun shop...







Leo heads back to Buenos Aires, and stumbles upon a gate. A member of the hideous Cthulhu Cult is guarding the gate, but Leo kills him. Leo then enters the gate and gets transported to the distant Yuggoth!
There Leo gathers his courage and enters the city of green pyramids - a place where even the unearthly Mi-Go refuse to go...

A treasure is found from the city; the Pallid Mask!
The Mask was supposedly worn by the King in Yellow, and Leo can't think of a reason for its presence here in Yuggoth...


However, Leo takes the Mask. It will allow him to avoid monsters with great ease.

Leo successfully escapes the pyramids and returns to Earth, closing the gate behind him.

After a short rest, Leo embarks a northbound ship and reaches Panama. He finds the unpleasant-looking strangers, and convinces la policía to remove them.
Leo feels that some damage was already done, though, as Cthulhu's oppressing Doom has clearly advanced...

Trish continues to rest, then moves to India.
There she is accused of a violent crime, which she didn't commit. She tries her best to convince the police of her innocence, but they lock her up and confiscate her pistols. She does manage to hide her rifle, so the police don't get their hands on that.

Meanwhile, Leo's leg injury is causing him troubles to move. He is been offered some strange remedies to heal the leg, but Leo feels that he doesn't have the time for that, and decides to move on.

Trish is interrogated. Another prisoner tells her that the food that her captors are offering to her is poisoned. Trish tries to free herself, but fails, and eventually she is forced to eat some of the food in order to fight off starvation...

She gets a serious poisoning, but survives.

Her captors let her go as they find out that Trish isn't going to give them any information.

Leo travels to Arkham, and visits the Arkham Asylum. He discusses with some of the patients, but learns nothing of any interest.
A gate opens up in Arkham.

Both of the investigators have acquired some interesting items, but their sanities have suffered, and they have some physical injuries too...


Leo stays in Arkham, and attempts to close the gate. He enters it, and ends up in the Lost Carcossa.
He finds his way to an elaborate masquerade, where he talks to some of the decadent party-goers. Leo is forced to spend some time with the people, and fails to close the gate, but his patience is rewarded in form of a gift: A powerful magical sword called the Sword of Saint Jerome is given to him!

Trish investigates the sewer system of Bombay. Locals told her that people have been abducted by a monster dwelling in there. After a while, she finds a Deep One!
After a struggle, Trish and her urban guide fight the monster off. An abducted Vatican Missionary is rescued - he agrees to join Trish on her mission.

Trish takes a train to Rome, where a gate and a Cultist are waiting for her.
She attacks the Cultist, but the Cultist proves to be tougher than what she anticipated... Trish is hurt in the fight, and the Cultist stays there, guarding the gate.



Leo - still in Arkham - goes through the gate again. This time the gate takes him back to Yuggoth, where he finds a room filled with living brains inside of metal cylinders. Leo communicates with the brains through a speaker box found in the room, and the brains attempt to teach Leo how to operate the Mi-Go's machinery that keeps the gate open.
Attempt to shut down the machinery fails. Leo returns to Arkham and the gate stays open.

Monsters appear from several gates all around the world. A Witch is seen in Arkham, and the gate in Rome spawns a Goat Spawn. The investigators decide to move on, and hurry up to finally complete the first mystery of Cthulhu!

Leo embarks a ship to London, and continues to sail northeast. There is a clue to be found somewhere in the Arctic Ocean.
While looking for the clue, his ship is attacked by a huge Star Spawn of Cthulhu! Not much is known about this conflict, but a few days later Leo is brought back to London - having completely lost his mind...
Leo Anderson will not be able to continue his quest!

Trish takes a train to Helsinki.
She follows a clue to the library. She is unable to find the book that she was looking for, but the librarian tells her that the book was checked out by a certain Mr. Marsh. Trish manages to find this Marsh before he leaves town, and steals the book from his room.
Deciphering some of the secrets from the book, Trish completes the First Mystery of Cthulhu!

But it took a too long time!
The first mystery is solved, but the Starts are right indeed... Cthulhu has awaken!

He is still in R'lyeh, and reports suggest that he remains behind the immense doors that have kept him sealed for eons, but he is awake!
His thoughts will quickly drive everyone on Earth insane.

If humanity is to survive, someone will eventually have to confront Cthulhu himself. But before that can happen, there are still two more mysteries to solve!

The next mystery is Cthulhu's city, R'lyeh, which now has risen from the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. Someone needs to enter this dreadful city and solve a mystery in there!

But all hope is not lost!

Leo Anderson cannot continue, but a new investigator appears: Silas Marsh. a Sailor from Innsmouth - currently in Sydney. People tend to distrust him because of his hometown and his surname, but right now he is relatively close to R'lyeh, and he claims to be eager to help...

He takes his ship and begins the journey towards east - towards the city of Cthulhu!

Silas finds the island, bravely swims up to the slimy rocks and walks into the corpse city of R'lyeh.
The strange, non-Euclidean angles cause silas to almost lose his mind...

Trish heads back to Rome and attacks the Cultist again. This time the Cultist seems even more powerful than before - undoubtebly empowered by Cthulhu's recent awakening - but Trish manages to kill him.
She then fires her powerful carbine rifle at the Goat Spawn, but the shot only injures the inhumane creature.
Trish can't get to the gate.

Then Madness overwhelms the investigators! Cthulhu's presence on this planet is too much for the already shaken investigators, and they both go insane.

And everyone on Earth will follow soon... The Stars are right, the Great Cthulhu has risen, and mankind will be consumed by madness!

"That cult would never die till the stars came right again, and the secret priests would take great Cthulhu from His tomb to revive His subjects and resume His rule of earth. The time would be easy to know, for then mankind would have become as the Great Old Ones; free and wild and beyond good and evil, with laws and morals thrown aside and all men shouting and killing and revelling in joy. Then the liberated Old Ones would teach them new ways to shout and kill and revel and enjoy themselves, and all the earth would flame with a holocaust of ecstasy and freedom."
      - 'The Call of Cthulhu', H. P. Lovecraft


CONCLUSION:

And Cthulhu remains undefeated! This was my third game against Cthulhu, and I have lost each one of them.
The main problem with this run was that I was clearly too slow in going after the first mystery. I had a pretty good start, closed up a couple of gates and kept my investigators in a good shape, but I was way too slow.
Eldritch Horror is not an easy game. Maybe not an especially difficult one either, but so far it has been challenging enough. I won't tell my exact win ratio, but I will say that it's way below 50 % :)

There is a lot to do in the game, and only a very limited amount of time to do it. To me, that's one of the main attractions of Eldritch Horror. It gives a sense of urgency, and it forces the players to think strategically. Also, it keeps the game rolling... You can't just sit around and wait for something good to happen. Or if you do, you will probably regret it later when you begin to realize that your time is running out.

The game also has Spells and Expeditions. At least these two major components were left completely unexamined in the game above, and still the game seemed to offer something new on almost every round.
The Expeditions are special encounters that usually require the investigators to go through two skill tests. All Expeditions have 4 different outcomes, ranging from some of the best rewards in the game to some of the most disastrous penalties.
The Spell-cards are double sided. When casting a spell for the first time, you may experience some surprising side effects... A cool mechanic which was also used in Mansions of Madness.

The artwork in the game is - should I say - FFG quality. Very good and detailed, though this time nothing really mindboggling. Other components in the game serve their purpose well, except that the base game comes with only 5 dice. So far I have made combat rolls with more than 5 dice in every game that I have played. Of course this is not a big deal: You can just reroll dice, or then buy some more.
Also, finally, the cards have different pictures than the ones we saw 8 years ago in AH. Not that there is anything wrong with them, but they have already been used in Elder Sign, and to some extent in Mansion of Madness as well.

RATING:  10 /10

SOLO RATING:  9 /10

So let's make the final comparison to Arkham Horror.
Yes, I think EH is even better than AH! Arkham Horror is still a great game, but for me Eldritch Horror is more suitable.
First, the global scale. I feel that the Cthulhu Mythos is something so immense, that the larger scale fits the theme better. In AH, the idea of all these eldritch monsters roaming around in one city is a bit too confined... In EH, it is very thematic to travel around the world, visiting strange locations and solving mysteries, while the whole world is inevitably descending into chaos...
Another thing is the fine tuned game mechanics of Eldritch Horror. AH is super heavy. Sure, it's also very detailed and "realistic", but I think I like the EH way better. Streamlined mechanics - that's the thing.

All in all, Eldritch Horror is a great game and I recommend it for all cooperative gamers.
For Cthulhu Mythos -fans, in my opinion, there is no game available that better depicts the feel of Mythos than Eldritch Horror.

8 comments:

  1. Own it, played it, loved it. Totally agree with your review. The only downside is that there are no miniatures in this game. It would look so much better.

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    1. If you're willing to shell out big bucks (looks like EUR 69 new on Amazon), you could pick up a copy of Mansions of Madness and use the miniatures in that game for EH. I'm not sure how the scale of the minis from MoM would work with EH, but it's a thought...

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    2. Don't need to buy it coz I already own it. Looking into making MoM a solo game by using the Mythic game rules instead of the already solo rules that are available. Thus creating a more D&D experience.

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  2. I have to demonstrate this game soon at Zuiderspel (southern game) in the Netherlands, and off course I invited some friends the same day I got the parcel from the delivery service. Four players, easiest Ancient One (Azathoth), and still an exciting game full of discussions, tactics, nerve-shattering dice-rolls and the usual bickering about who ritual-murdered-and-then-devoured who, thanks to an especially nasty Dark Pact. Great game and I sure love the tension! Nobody's going to sleep well tonight, for sure...

    P.S. Love your way of storytelling! good job!

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    Replies
    1. Had I known :( I was at Zuiderspel aswell.

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  3. Well written, insightful and engaging! Consider me 'sold' on the game. Now to skip out of work to pick up a copy ;-)

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  4. Mind-blowing......
    I am a lover of board games and also played a lot. I always preferred Wingogames.com for board games which is a globe house of board games.
    But this is one of the best I wish to play.

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  5. Its weekend and you are bored of partying and grooming. Looking for something new that leaves you spellbound and make your holiday fun filling; then call your friends and ask them to come to your place and play most popular board games with them.most popular board games | best board games

    ReplyDelete