Well, November has definitely seen an up-tick in the number of games that I’m playing, after the last few years really seeing that number averaging around 4-5 games per month. So far this month I’ve been able to get quite a few favourites to the table, such as Lord of the Rings LCG and Arkham Horror LCG, as well as a few of the classics like Runebound and Eldritch Horror! I’m very excited about these developments, because they’re games that I enjoy greatly, but which I’ve only been playing sporadically, in the case of Eldritch Horror, of which have been MIA for years, as is the case with Runebound!
Eldritch Horror holds a lot of good memories though, and it was one of the first games that I played with my wife back in the day. It’s something that I used to associate quite closely with Christmas, as I used to enjoy getting in a game either on the big day itself, or else soon after. Many of the expansions came out at that time as well, or I would keep them until I got to my festive play-through. Recently, I got to play it with the Hastur-themed small box expansion Signs of Carcosa, which I have only actually played once, years back when I first featured it here on the blog!
That seems to be another theme of my recent game nights, getting to play with games or expansions that have rarely seen the light of day!
Eldritch Horror, as we know, is a game where the investigators travel the world trying to stop the nefarious schemes of a Great Old One. The Hastur expansion very much gives us more of the same, as do all of the small-box expansions for the game, although the small tweaks that we see in this one can still help to make it feel really interesting. The impairment tokens are back, after first coming to the game in the big box Under the Pyramids, and a lot of the new encounters have skill impairments as a fail condition. There is also the new Blight condition card, which forces us to discard allies when we gain it, reflecting the madness Hastur causes. Interestingly, Hastur as an Ancient One only requires two mysteries to be solved for victory, rather than three, but it can be quite difficult to actually solve these mysteries!
The first one that I had, The Yellow Sign, was the longest to resolve, as I had to spend sanity and gain a madness condition to claim an eldritch token and place it on the mystery. Needing four tokens, and requiring sanity for all sorts of stuff going on, it seemed to take a while. Unfortunately, I think I was one token away when I drew a mythos card which, by dint of the fact I had already used so much sanity in my investigators, drove both of them insane! I’ve never actually had that happen before, and was a bit worried that it might actually be game over. I had been using Jenny Barnes and Michael McGlen, the gangster and his moll, so they were replaced by Dexter Drake and Wendy Adams, the magician and his… assistant? Hm. Anyway, it’s nice to get to use all four of the new investigators – I don’t think I’d used Wendy before, and by a stroke of luck I was drawing all manner of things that made the little street urchin into a combat monster! Dexter gained all of Jenny’s items after sending her to the asylum, and he was similarly tooled up for greatness. That said, he has the very useful effect of being able to send monsters to another gate, so that came in handy!
Indeed, I don’t remember a game quite like this one for closing gates! Due to Hastur’s reckoning ability that forces sanity loss for each gate on the board, that was another thing to keep in mind as we went about our business! I was trying to use the asset inventory more as well, because I know in previous games I’ve tended to almost ignore that entirely. Often with Eldritch Horror, I find myself coming back to it like this and thinking, “right then, I’m going to try x this time” to get more out of it. I find there’s just so much going on with the game, usually, that some things do get ignored.
At any rate, Dexter and Wendy were able to solve the second mystery, which merely required each investigator to have an ally and a clue, but also to then spend clues to solve. Fortunately, Wendy had been on an expedition and gained quite a lot of clues, so that worked out well for us in the end!
It’s a cracking game, and even with the built-in timer of the mythos deck and so on, there is still opportunity to explore the board and whatnot. I particularly enjoy the encounters when they allow for you to build up a bit of a narrative in your head, like Wendy gaining the help of a Vatican Missionary while she was in Istanbul. It all makes for some really good storytelling, and is one of the reasons why I keep coming back to this game time and again! Unlike something like Runebound, which I enjoy greatly but hadn’t played for eight years, I have been steadily playing Eldritch Horror throughout this time. I suppose in part it is helped by the fact I had two big box expansions that I hadn’t played until recently, but pretty much all of the expansions have had little replays.
My stats on boardgamegeek tell me that I have played Eldritch Horror 29 times now, but the most-played expansions are Strange Remnants and Forsaken Lore, each of which has been played 4 times. Cities in Ruin and Masks of Nyarlathotep have each only been played once, and it’s just terrible! Across all the expansions for the game (four big boxes, four small boxes) I have played them all 20 times in total. Considering it is such a good game, and considering that I enjoy it so much, you’d think I would have played it more often! I realise that it can take a lot of set-up beforehand, but it doesn’t actually take all that long to play – I think it was around an hour and a half for the most recent game, so it’s not that bad!
Now, I’ve always been quite the stickler for storing my games and expansions rigidly, with all the expansion material kept in its own box so that I can make that kind of conscious decision to include an expansion in my game. However, Signs of Carcosa does feature investigators that were from the core set of Arkham Horror, which has got me thinking about how I keep these kinds of things, going forward. Actually, it was my recent games with A Touch of Evil that first put this idea in my head, but I’m now considering storing some things all-in, and then when it comes to investigators, for example, I can pick one or two from across the whole line. It’s interesting to me because it’s quite the departure, really, but when there is a game with just “more of the same” content, does it really matter if that stuff is already in the base game? Sometimes, if an expansion gives a new feel to things, then you might not want to have all the stuff stored together, but it’s got me thinking. Another reason for storing it all in the same box is the location decks, which are really quite thin in the base game. I know Forsaken Lore did a lot to plump up the card content of the base game, but it might be useful to have some stuff just always there. I don’t know, I can’t quite bring myself to do it for this game yet, but I am very close to taking out the plastic tray from A Touch of Evil and having most of the stuff in the same box there, as the base game for that is quite choc-full of stuff now!
Anyway, that’s quite a tangent, there!!
I realise that I often say stuff like, I hope I can play more of this soon, and then it goes unplayed for six months or more. However, I am intending to get more Eldritch Horror played as the weeks roll on towards Christmas. While I am sort of in the middle of three different campaigns between Arkham Horror LCG and Lord of the Rings LCG, I’m hoping to draw those to a close soon and then I can focus more on the sort of pick-up games, with board games making more of an appearance. Don’t get me wrong, I love some of the early Arkham campaigns, but I think they do kinda tie me into having to play that game when I get some spare time, rather than just playing what I fancy!