We set up both boards for the Rise of the Elder Things ancient one in Eldritch Horror. The game took almost 5 hours, with a few breaks, and used up a phenomenal amount of brain power.
We won. We had to solve four mysteries before time ran out and the doom track went down to 7, which was only two or three bad turns way from the ancient one awakening.
The game never felt like it was getting away from us, but it did seem very hard to make progress. It was about two hours before we managed to get even the first mystery solved.
The first mystery required us to get two clues from city locations. It didn’t sound like much, but all the clues were appearing on wilderness or sea locations, or in Antarctica where there are obviously no cities. The City of the Elder Things doesn’t count (boo).
Clues you get from other means don’t work for this mystery and I think this is what made the start of the game so slow.
There are some nice new kinds of assets that interact with the mysteries. These are called Tasks, and if you do a certain thing then you get some reward or other. The reward can be to get a clue or two, or an item, or to ‘advance the current mystery’ which means to add a token to it (possibly solving it early).
Wilson got possibly the best of these, Walking the Ley Lines. Every time he closed a gate he put the gate token on the Ley Lines card. Then when he wanted to, he could flip the card. If he had two gate tokens on it, he solved the active mystery! Just like that, no matter what clues it needed!
Wilson won our game this way, storming into Shanghai with his blunderbuss, killing three cultists and then closing his second gate.
The locations in Antarctica do have a great synergy with the mystery cards.
In our game, the final mystery we drew needed us to fight a ‘Crazed Elder Thing’ mythic monster which can only be killed if you have the Mi-Go ‘alien device’ in your possession. The alien device is an artifact card. Luckily, the mystery card says that if you get hold of any artifact card then you can pick the alien device instead.
The problem is that artifact cards are very hard to come by. Sometimes you can get them by following the expedition, or from occasional other-world encounters. Basically, there is no guaranteed way to get one and so you are stuffed. Or are you?
The new Antarctic location ‘City of the Elder Things’ has an action on it which allows you to gain an artifact by scavenging amongst the abandoned ruins. The crazed monster always appears at the Miskatonic Outpost, so the way to solve this mystery is to get to Antarctica, land at the Outpost, dodge past the monster, hack your way across the frozen wastes to the City, make the rolls to win the artifact, then get back and finally kill the monster. Very thematic and neat.
Agnes was about to do this when Wilson won using his Ley Lines.
The game was great fun. There was always something to do. We played four investigators, two each. This made for more variety, but also made for more brain-work.
The length of the game will have been mainly down to playing four investigators, compared to two. With four investigators, you have to get twice as many of whatever you need to solve each mystery. The game takes about the same number of rounds, but each round is four turns instead of two. This scales up the game so that four players are occupied and not bored, but means that it takes more or less twice as long.
Also, I suspect that with all the new assets and tokens the investigators have available and trading between each other to make sure each has the best kit, we could have had more success. I think trading is more practical in Eldritch Horror than Arkham Horror because it is easier to move around and meet up.
One thing about Eldritch Horror is that I don’t think there is a single best strategy. In Arkham Horror, after a few plays you settle on getting clues and closing gates almost to the exclusion of all else. In Eldritch Horror there is too much variety in the mystery cards for a single strategy to work. You have to be flexible and work as a team.
Our previous standard for Most Difficult Game has been Android. I am thinking that after running a few games of Eldritch Horror like this we ought to revisit Android. It might seem simpler now? Probably not.