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Board Game Review: Eldritch Horror

Board Game Review: Eldritch Horror

Players: 1-8
Ages: 14+
Official Playtime: 120-240 minutes (which is about right)
Released: 2013
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
BGG Linkhere.
Reviewed by Edward.

Read other Game Reviews here.

Disclosure and foreword

1. I own a copy of "Eldritch Horror," which I bought myself. At the time of publishing this review, I don't have any affiliations with the game's creators or publishers. The opinions in this review are my own. Find the Review Policy here.

2. I try to be as objective as possible, but at the end, the review contains my opinions that you might disagree with. If you do, let us know in the comments below.

3. My Experience With Eldritch Horror: I have played the game in multiple sittings— as three and four players. Therefore, the review does not account for all player counts, especially solo games. That being said, mechanics-wise, solo games can be similar to multiplayer, as you can choose to play as multiple investigators.

4. At the time of writing, the review does not include any of the available expansions for the game.

5 The review does not teach how to play the game. This review does not fully detail all mechanics or teach how to play the game. It rather looks at the most critical aspects, elements, and mechanics, providing an overall idea of the game's value so you can evaluate whether the game might be a good fit for you.

tokens, board and elements of the board game eldritch horror

Let's Find Out How Good And Fun The "Eldritch Horror" Is!

Eldritch Horror from Fantasy Flight Games recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary, so I might be late to the party by publishing this review in 2024, but this game is still very popular and widely available worldwide. So, I am sure that there is still someone out there who might be interested in it.

Now let's dive into this co-op adventure board game, where you try to prevent the world's end!

player board and cards for an active gameplay of eldritch horror board game

"Eldritch Horror," Explained to a 10-Year-Old

Eldritch Horror might be a bit too complex for most 10-year old's, but that being said:

In Eldritch Horror, you become one of the supernatural investigators who try to prevent the end of the world by traveling across the world, finding clues, closing portals, fighting monsters, and more! Spooky and exciting, right?

As the player, you'll do a lot of reading and dice rolling. If it is a good or bad thing, it is up to you to decide!

rulebook and setup for the eldritch horror board game

Skill Level - How Difficult Was it to Learn Eldritch Horror?

Difficulty Rating: 4.8/5

  • The game has many specific rules, sub-rules, and situational rules.
  • It is heavily language-based, so be sure to know English (or localized language) well.
  • I watched the official how-to-play on their webpage and read the rulebook, but it still resulted in some overlooked rules when playing it for the first time.
  • Even after learning the core rules, the game changes depending on the chosen monster, card effects, and other effects.
  • The good news is that many unofficial tutorial videos that explain the commonly missed rules.
  • Overall, the game has many nuances, making it difficult to learn and play. So, I give it a complexity rating of 4.8/5 (higher means it is more complex).
player cards for the investigators of eldritch horror board game

Social Interactivity of Eldritch Horror

Social Rating: 4/5

Of course, if you are playing solo, this section does not apply, but for multiplayer settings, Eldritch Horror is a social game with many opportunities to help each other. I will even say that you'll need to play as a team unless you want the world to end!

In this game, you can trade and sometimes heal each other, but most importantly, you can (and should) coordinate your next moves. For example, who will close the gate, try out the expedition, fight the monsters, and so on. All that makes Eldritch Horror a very social game.

close up of player tokens and cards for the eldritch horror board game

Best Number of Players

Eldritch Horror is best played with 3-5 Players*.

As mentioned, I have not played the game with all possible player combinations, but playing the game in multiple 3- and 4-player sessions provided me with key insights into why I am sure that 3-5 players are the sweet spot for this game.

Firstly, each player controls one investigator, and having more investigators (usually) gives you an edge. Having 3-5 active investigators gives you a great chance of success. And more players, more fun!

Now you might be asking why 8-players isn't the best setting, then? That is an excellent question with a simple answer—it would make the game too tedious. With some exceptions, players take a pretty long time to complete their turns. Even playing with 4 players, some rounds took 20 minutes to complete, resulting in 5-10 minutes of downtime for each player.

*That being said, if you choose to play with multiple investigators per player, then 2 player games and solo games can be entertaining and reasonably difficult as well.

close up of components, dice, cards, board for the eldritch horror board game

What Did I Enjoy the Most About Eldritch Horror?

Clever Mechanics, Like:

  • The Doom tracker and Omen tracker.
  • Multiple expedition decks.
  • Unique decks and modifiers for each Ancient One.
  • Various types of stats and upgrades for the investigators.

Art style

Art is obviously subjective, but Eldrich Horror is a beautiful game, even by modern standards (remember, it was published in 2013). The cards, board, monsters, investigators, and tokens are designed and illustrated, aligning with the mystery/dark fantasy theme. The illustrations are vibrant yet dark and mysterious, making the players believe they are truly saving the world. Well, not literally, but you get the point!

Rulebook

Overall, the rules are very complicated and nuanced, but the rulebook and reference book do a good job of explaining the core rules and specific questions. I think that we only needed to use the Internet two or three times to settle our questions (and that is a good thing for a game of this scope). The worst thing about the rulebook is that you'll spend a lot of time reading it - but in this case, simply because there are a lot of rules.

Difficult, but in a good way

Even if you choose Azatoth, which is considered the easier one of the Ancient Ones (the main monsters in the game), the game throws many hurdles at you, making your lives difficult and probably resulting in the end of the world!

The game is built so that even when you lose, you enjoy the journey. And when you prevail, it is simply a great feeling with a sense of accomplishment.

To recap, key highlights of Eldritch Horror

  • Thematic gameplay;
  • Clever use of cards and their management;
  • Art style;
  • High Replayability;
  • Ancient one mechanics;
  • Quality materials.

rulebook with component parts for the eldritch horror board game

What Could Be Better?

Overall, it is a great game, but nothing's perfect, including Eldritch Horror. So, let's find out some areas for improvement:

More Actions

In some cases, players can find themselves in situations where they can do almost nothing, although they still have one or two actions left. Introducing some kind of additional actions could make the game better. If you know that some expansions do that - let us know in the comments below!

Difficult Setup

Setting everything up is a hassle, especially when you are playing for the first time. There are multiple decks of encounter cards, a bunch of tokens, asset cards, spell cards, different Ancient Ones, Investigator cards, and more. So, you can imagine the confusion when setting it up.

Of course, over several playthroughs, it becomes much easier (because you know what goes where), but even then, the setup can take up to 30+ minutes.

Language Un-friendly

Almost all cards have text on them, and many cards have A LOT of text, so if you are not proficient in the language, you might have a very difficult time playing it, if not entirely impossible.

Long Downtime

Eldritch Horror is divided into 3 main phases - Action, Encounter, and Mythos phase.

Each player has two actions per their Action Phase, and then 0 to multiple potential actions are taken in the encounter phase. That being said, some actions are incredibly straightforward (like traveling or buying a ticket), but others require reading lengthy cards and effects. That sometimes results in you finishing your moves in a few seconds and then waiting for 10+ minutes until your next turn.

On top of that, the Mythos Phase almost always impacts all players, so even if you had a short turn, you can't really take a break.

eldritch horror gameplay in action

Replayability of Eldritch Horror

Rating: 4.5/5

Eldritch Horror introduces multiple mechanics that increase the replayability factor. Multiple investigators that play relatively unique, different missions/cards and mechanics for each Ancient One, multiple encounter decks, randomized monsters, expeditions, asset-, spell- & artifact- cards. Everything makes each playthrough feel fresh and unique.

Throwing in the fact that Eldrich Horror has multiple expansions, it gets an impressive replayability rating of 4.5/5.

components and many tokens for eldritch horror board game

Components and Art of Eldritch Horror

Components

Eldritch Horror includes 200+ cards, 150+ tokens, a playing board, 12 investigator sheets, and 4 Ancient One sheets. The Investigator tokens come with plastic stands, so you can conveniently place them on the board.

It is safe to say Eldritch Horror is a very packed game, and the components are good quality.

Art and Design

The game is illustrated in the mystery, crime novel style of 20-40ies of the 20th Century. Think of Art Noir with a splash of mysticism on top. And it looks great, especially for a 10+ year old game!

The art perfectly matches the gameplay and immerses the players in its thematic gameplay, making them feel like actual mystic investigators. That being said, some parts of the game could be improved with a modern touch. Not that it needs a refreshed design, but if they published an updated version with new illustrations, I would probably be among the keen buyers.

component sheet for eldritch horror board game

Value For Money

Rating: 4.5/5

The game includes a good quality playing board, tokens, playing cards, and a ton of cut-outs; it is well illustrated, so component-wise, it almost has it all. And the gameplay is excellent! But how good of a value is it for the price?

Eldritch Horror is a popular game sold worldwide in many e-stores and retail stores, so its price varies. As with most things,  the price you can get it for affects its value.

I got a decent deal and purchased a new copy for just shy of 60 USD (including shipping), which is currently more or less the regular price. This would make it a great value game. The retail price is 70 USD (without shipping), which still makes it a good value.

That all being said,  considering the beautiful art style, polished mechanics, and good quality tokens, it is a great value.

Not convinced? Find out some of best Eldritch Horror alternatives here.

close up of cards and player tokens on the board of eldritch horror board game

Final Rating and To Who Would I Recommend Eldritch Horror?

Final Rating: 4/5

I like challenging, strategic gameplay without minding a few tricky rules, so I would recommend this game to me! But is it for you? Let's find out!

Most likely, it is not for you if you:

  • Strictly enjoy laid-back games with straightforward rules;
  • Dislike co-op games;
  • Get overwhelmed by a difficult setup with many different parts;
  • Enjoy only fast-paced games;
  • Are not keen on reading or have a language barrier;
  • Simply hate the mystic Art Noir style;

Otherwise, it is an excellent choice for players who:

  • Are willing to dive deep into the mechanics and nuances of rules;
  • Occasionally enjoy getting "punched in the face" by the game;
  • Don't mind a lot of reading;
  • Enjoy scheming together with friends;
  • Like to plan 3-5 steps ahead;
  • Enjoy a mental challenge;

Overall, I am giving it a 4/5 because it is a great game with interesting mechanics, great replayability value, a thematic art style, and good-quality components.

It does not get a perfect score because the game should have introduced at least 1-2 more actions, and the heavy use of reading, long playthrough, and difficult setup could be a hurdle for many players. But, if these things do not scare you, Eldritch Horror is really fun! 

In the meantime, feel free to explore what Joyful Games has to offer - from board game recommendations to other board game reviews and board game tips.

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Do you enjoy the mystic, dark fantasy style but want a simpler game to play with your friends?

The Spheres of Life: Mythical Forest is a competitive fantasy card game for 2-7 Players. Learn to play within 20 minutes, set up in 5 minutes, and play in 20-30 minutes!

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