Friday, December 6, 2013

Gaming Materials: Eldritch Horror

My roommates and I played Eldritch Horror, FFG's updated Lovecraft board game, which we consider to be a strong replacement for scratching the itch Arkham Horror used to do.

For those who don't know, Arkham Horror is a board game set in the Cthulhu Mythos, cosmic horror set in the 1920s.  Its a dark universe where those who look into the horrors find themselves going mad, for looking into the darkness drives those investigators Mad.  Arkham was set primarily in Arkham, a central site in the Cthulhu Mythos.  Its also where Arkham Asylum takes its name, too.

Eldritch Horror revisits Arkham Horror- except now its a global stage.  And the itch Arkham Horror used to scratch for me- horrorific hard co-op game where you are very likely going to lose an investigator before all is done.

Flavorwise, Eldritch Horror is dead on.  It takes the game of Arkham Horror and pushes it onto a global scale.  It has expeditions into dangerous corners of the world- mysterious places like Tunguska or the Amazon.  Different places on the board feel different from others.  When you are in Shanghai, it feels like Shanghai, not like other Asia locales.

For difficulty, Eldritch Horror simplifies the number of ways one can lose to a much more manageable level compared to where Arkham Horror reached at the last time we played.  In Arkham Horror, at its most insane, a single monster can trigger a chain reaction that causes a loss- but the algorithm to figure it out is complicated.  In Eldritch Horror, this is much simpler, smoother and less stuff to keep track of.  Its still somewhat out of your control, but the ways to combat the game's chaos are definite.  Things you can do now, or on the next turn, and less things are needed to set them up, just right.

Perhaps the best thing, and the thing about it that reminds me the most of Arkham Horror, is that Eldritch Horror generates stories.  It gets best if one can get into character and feel out the brilliant stories that come out of it.  Some things come up in sequence that makes one wonder.

Is that Migo at the Pyramids the one that I just encountered?  Are those weird colored lights tied to Leo Anderson's crusade against the Migo?  (Yeah, we had a bit of Migo thing going on).

Its brilliant, scary and scratches that creepy Lovecraft itch.

What does it bring to the table for storytelling and somesuch?  Cooperative games like Eldritch Horror are great for getting groups to learn team work.  And there is the element of inspiring roleplay out of something stock and hard ruled like a board game.  Creativity is sourced in hard limits, generated when the creator has to work around rules and limits he or she isn't allowed to change.

Games like these, core as they are to our subculture, is also great for trying out new ways to craft horror stories.  Try it out, and enjoy where the story goes.  At least, thats how I try to treat them.  Crafting stories is fun for me, and Eldritch Horror feels like a great way to do it.