Eldritch Horror — ‘Keen Hates Losing’ Edition


Eldritch Horror just arrived and Keen and I finished up our first game yesterday. Or I should say we LOST our first game yesterday. This didn’t sit quite well with Keen who was rather annoyed that we spent several hours getting crapped on just to end up getting the world devoured by some elder god thing. I’m not entirely sure if he fully understands a lot about the Cthullu Mythos. I’m not exactly an expert myself and I’ve never read any of the H.P. Lovecraft stories but from what I’m gathered over the years my understanding was that most of the time everybody dies horrifically or ends up bat-$%^& crazy. I’m okay with losing in difficult games, especially if it fits in with the theme. Keen has never been overly fond of seeing the hero die. I remember when we saw Gladiator for the first time; he was loving the movie up until *SPOILERS I guess…? For a 13-14 year old movie…* the main character gets killed off. After that he kind of flipped out and said it was the worst movie ever. Interestingly enough, that scenario has played out several times over the years.

So, getting back on track here, the goal of the game is basically to travel around the world and close extra-dimensional portals, gather clues, solve mysteries, fight monsters, and do whatever else required to prevent some Ancient One from rising up and ruining your day. In order to win you need solve 3 mysteries pertaining to your chosen bad guy before your doom track reaches zero. I won’t go into full detail about the rules of the game but basically there are three phases: Action, Encounter, and Mythos. In the action phase each investigator performs two actions then in the encounter phase you encounter the city/wilderness/sea/portal/monster/etc. that you are on. Lastly the Mythos phase has you draw a card that determines if any clues, gates, monsters, or other horrible things happen.


We went with Azathoth which was supposed to be the easiest ancient one to start out with. I find that odd since you LOSE the game as soon as he shows up whereas you at least get to confront and potentially (although not likely) defeat the other guys when they rise. A pretty cool aspect of Eldritch Horror is how each Ancient One is very different from the others. They have unique mysteries, research encounters, special encounters, and even their cultist monsters have specialized stats. I like the idea of all of that since it seems like it makes playing against different bad guys feel different.

We each had to pick an investigator to play. They all seem pretty different and have different stat which determine the amount of dice you roll for checks along with having unique abilities and starting items/locations. I don’t have all of the names down yet, or any of them actually, but I do remember that Keen went with some fisherman guy who had a nifty ability to travel along boat paths. I chose some old dude because he seemed decent and wise but that didn’t turn out so well. Over the course of the game my investigator ended up hearing voices and slowly losing his sanity. The thing that ended up getting him, however, was an angry mob in Tokyo. I don’t know what their problem was. I was just trying to close a damn portal and stop the end of the world. After that I had to bring in a new character but even that didn’t last long since shortly after the doom track reached the end of the line and the world was devoured.


Another really cool aspect of the game are the condition cards. Throughout the game you will acquired various conditions like chest wounds, debt, paranoia, cursed, and so on. There are several of each type but what’s really neat is how they differ. On the back of each card, which you aren’t supposed to look at, there is a unique effect that can be revealed when a reckoning is triggered. For example, you might have to take a debt condition because you failed a check or something like that. On the card there will be a little symbol signifying what happens when a reckoning is triggered. When that happens somebody comes to collect your debt. Sometimes it can be a bad thing and other times it can be a REALLY bad thing. When my debt was collected I ended up just getting arrested and delayed for a while. From what I’ve heard, however, it can be a lot worse. Like you are in debt to powerful evil forces or you made a dark pact or something awful. I don’t want to go through the whole condition deck and see what’s in there because it would ruin the surprise.

I had a blast playing through Eldritch Horror and I can’t wait to jump back in and try for a win this time. Even if I lose again at least it makes for an interesting story. Hopefully I can convince Keen to join back up with me. Two brothers, traveling around fighting paranormal forces and trying to prevent the end of the world. You know… that would make a great TV show!

  • We haven’t won a game yet! Eldritch Horror is the single most difficult ‘board game’ I have ever played. It’s designed to literally punish you in sick and twisted ways. You think you’re getting a clue to save the world? Nope, you start hearing voices and your daddy issues consume your soul spiraling you downward into this dark abyss full of goat people who will eat you!

    I like to win, and Eldritch Horror makes the insanely difficult. I will say though, I have fun while I play. I Just hate the outcome.

    P.S. The Gladiator should have lived happily ever after.

  • I’m a huge Lovecraft nerd. It’s fitting that no one gets out alive or with their sanity. The universe is a indifferent to your suffering. You are a insignificant speck!

  • This sounds exactly like my first play with my family last week. The thing about Eldritch Horror is that it is supposed to be hard and your characters will be punished the whole time, but what’s cool about it is the story of how they went bat-#$!& crazy.

    When we finished our first game, we were very very close to winning actually. Another turn or 2 we would have won, but the counter hit 0 and Azathoth devoured the whole world. The last few turns were so damn exciting because we were all screwed with debt, back injuries, a dark pact, almost dead, but somehow we had some hope that we could do it. Well, maybe next time… hehe.

    I haven’t played a board game in ages and this was a great return to this hobby. I love Eldritch Horror and I’m looking forward to go insane again this next Friday. 🙂

  • I’m about halfway through The Complete Works of H.P. Lovecraft (free on my Kindle App) and I would say suriving with your body and mind intact should indeed be an epic, rare feat!

  • We have Arkham Horror and most of its expansions. They are definitely tough games but I noticed after more play throughs it got easier. Although I will admit my group will bend a few rules every once in awhile. But sometimes there’s those certain games that just decimate your team.

  • The Lovecraft mythos isn’t about winning, it is about trying to remain momentarily sane for a bit longer than those around you as they transmogrify into ichthyic monstrosities and/or rip out their own eyes as they descend into madness.

  • @Fergor I haven’t tried to play the game solo yet but I have a feeling that it will happen sooner than I expected. I think Keen is ready to give up. Playing solitaire would be pretty much the same as playing with other people. You just run all of the investigators. I hear 1 is really difficult, two is hard, and 4 is pretty balanced. Most of the time people say to avoid using odd numbers since the game will always round up on you, therefore penalizing you more while you don’t get the extra help of an additional guy.

  • Thanks! I’ve always loved board games but never had anyone available to play with more then once or twice a year. I bought a few games in the past but they collected dust. When I did get to play them it would take the whole session just to get used to the rules then it was back in the closet for 6-12 months.

    These solo options are perfect for me. I get to enjoy the game and keep the rules fresh in my mind. When I get a chance to play them with other people it’ll be an actual play session and not a re-figuring the rules out session.

    I’m trying to decide if I should start with this or maybe a card game like pathfinders. Out of all the games you bought which do you think is the “best” to start out?

  • @Fergor I think that Eldritch is probably really fun solo but I think getting beat up on is more fun, not to mention funnier, with more people. Pathfinder is great but like Eldritch you have to run more than one character when playing solo. If that’s no big deal then Pathfinder might be more enjoyable. Plus there is an element of progression and character building, which is always fun.

    However, I hear Mage Knight is really the ultimate solo play game. I always see people raving about how awesome it is for solo play. I haven’t put a whole lot of time into the game yet so I couldn’t really advise you on it but it is something to consider. You only have to play as one character, which is nice. You just need to run a dummy player to act as a timer of sorts.

    In the end I’d suggest watching some videos and reading up on each game before you make a purchase. Buyer’s remorse is the worst feeling ever. You might also want to take into account the price of each game.

    • I played the original DayZ and it felt janky to me. Watching streams of the new one… still looks janky. I think I’ll wait until they claim it’s ready for launch.

      Personally, I think it’s a short-term game anyway. If it looks really appealing to you, jump in now while it’s still popular.

  • I’ve played a couple of board games in this series so to speak and oh gosh they are brutally difficult. It’s still a lot of fun though… with the right people. Some will not like when there’s only a tiny glimpse of hope of winning. It’s not very casual friendly either. Rules are complex for the occassional gamer, they don’t come naturally like in some other games.