Friday, June 10, 2022

A new favoriate pasttime

Coming into this eleventh hour of our family's traditional time together.  

Last Christmas my third son, our board game aficionado, received a game called Eldritch Horror.  It's based, as you can guess from the name, on the works of H.P. Lovecraft.  I was never particularly into Lovecraft, just as I'm not into Sci-fi and Fantasy in general.  I've read some of his stories.  The first story I read was Pickman's Model.  That's because I discovered an old Night Gallery episode I remember being scared by as a kid was based on that story.  From there I read some of his better known stories.  Eh.  I liked them as far as they went.

But the board game my son received, I must admit, puts a tremendous amount of fun and suspense in game form while remaining true to the 'feel' of Lovecraft.  I like that.  Games that purport to 'recreate' a particular historical period, or fictional genre, or specific mythos, had best do so.  I find they often fall short, and end up being nothing but checkers with embellishments and artwork. 

But Eldritch Horror strikes that fine balance between playability, mood and feel, complexity and accessibility.  Not bad, considering the most cumbersome part of it is the set up.  If it has one serious flaw, it's that it takes my son an hour or more to set it up.  This is a game we can only play if we have the better part of the day at hand.  Given how seldom that happens, it's amazing we've played it as much as we have.  That we have played it so often shows how much we enjoy it.

To me, the best part is the globetrotter feel.  The premise is that, per Lovecraft, some crazy super-tentacled elder space god is just itching to break out and exterminate life on Earth.  To stop this, the players represent a ragtag bunch of heroes who are rushing about the world, looking for clues, fighting slimy meanies, and otherwise doing what they can to close these gates between our world and that strange other place of Lovecraft's mind. 

This isn't the first 'rush about the world' game we've ever played.  As youngsters, my boys had a game called Dragonology, based upon a kid's book they owned.  It was fun in its way.  But the fact that you needed to run around the world never seemed to mean anything other than move your playing piece. I've found other, similar games to be the same. 

In Eldritch, however, where you are in the world has a direct impact on what happens to you.  If you're in the Amazon your encounters will be different than being in London, or in Istanbul, or in the Himalayas.  It matters where you are, and the flavor text and possibilities varying with different locations is a major boon for me. 

Charlie and the accumulating items and helps
Throughout the game, each player plays a different character, sometimes more than one since life expectancy for characters is often limited.  I typically play the same one, Charlie Kane (as in Charles Foster - get it?).  He doesn't do much and is no fighter.  A tycoon presidential candidate wannabe, his job is to use his business skills and contacts and wealth to obtain much needed items and resources, and then divvy them out to the others so they don't have to waste time getting such items themselves.  

I'll be honest that many of the rules are a bit beyond me, and I look to the others to guide me along with what's going on.  That's why I like that character.  For his part, he only tries to get his hands on rare items to help the others, so I don't worry about the greater strategies or goals.  Though I try to be cautious because, of course, every city in the world has its dangers.  I've already come to a bad end twice in San Francisco's Chinatown. 

But there you have it.  Again, we don't have nearly the time we used to. We still have some time, but in those cases the amount of time is limited to a sit down, reading books together, maybe a movie we've watched together, sometimes chattering about religion or politics, or a quick game.  But when we've had the time, we've brought this one out and enjoyed it.  As far as games based on genres that aren't my cup of tea go, I'd say this one is near the top of the heap.  

The family, the game, the memories


  1. An excellent choice. It's my understanding this game built off of FFG's "Arkham Horror" board game but took it to the globe level while the previous was always much more localized.

    I myself have only gotten to play this once with a friend but I otherwise completely agree with you on the review and yes, enjoyed it quite a lot. It does skirt dangerously close to that setup/gameplay ratio that's an automatic fail for me but as a CO-OP experience? Really solid.

    But yeah, FFG as a company LOVES to throw chits in their games. I see you converted what looks like a plate into a token holder. If you play it enough, I recommend you hit a store with fishing gear and look over their plano tackle boxes. You can get a decent box filled with divisions for like... $5 or less which are just ideal for storage of tokens. Yeah you can get some of those boxes at hobby lobby too, but they don't have quite the array of selection and sometimes are more expensive. My game board buddies and I regularly make runs to shops to pick up such storage for our favorite games. (forgive me if you already know this trick and just haven't gotten to the shop lately)

    If we ever intersect, I'll have to show you C'thulhu Wars sometime. lol

    1. I'll look into that. We have all types of things we use for the pieces. Some are better than others. But I admit this has been a fun game, despite the genre not being my thing. To me that's the impressive part.

  2. The photo reminds me that hardly anyone smokes anymore.

  3. No drinks or nibbles, either, I see.

    1. Heh. No smoking. That went out of our family when my dad had a heart attack in 88. But drinks as well since the little'un is part of it.

    2. C'mon. Some sections of orange, nuts, cheese (cream or muenster or mozzarella or baby swiss), summer sausage, strawberries, lemonade, cranberry juice, apple juice. (I gather your no. 2 son and his fiancée eat almost nothing). You have to be sparing with crackers. Carbs, and all that.

    3. I wish that was true. Both of them actually have healthy appetites. But then, so did I at that age. When I was in college I worked nights. The only place open on my way home was a Subway subs. I would stop and buy 3 foot longs and eat 2.5 of them that night, saving the half for the next day. Of course I used to jog as well, but I can't help but think it might be the age just the same.


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