When you have just learned a shiny new board game, especially one which is a bit longer and more complex than others, it’s nice to have some strategic direction. That’s what I aim to provide with my series Three Basic Tips – strategy advice for beginner and intermediate players that is easy to remember and yet gets you places. That goes for cooperative as well as competitive games, and so today you’ll find the first ever Three Basic Tips for a co-op game!
It’s no secret that I like Eldritch Horror (Corey Konieczka/Nikki Valens, Fantasy Flight Games). It’s the non-campaign coop game I have played most often – no mean feat considering that a game easily lasts a few hours. With that kind of time commitment – and given that the fate of the world is at stake when the Ancient One takes over – you want to give yourself the best chances for success. Here’s how you get the job done, give yourself the time for it, and make the most of the means at your disposal.
Get the Job Done: Advance the Mystery
That’s the first and most important tip. After all, victory depends on solving a certain amount of mysteries (typically three). Thus, advancing the active mystery must be your #1 priority. Think about how your investigators can contribute to that even if they are not doing the exact thing that is required for the mystery (like resolving particular encounters, defeating a monster etc.): Can they furnish the investigators who are directly working on the mystery with spells, clues, a weapon, whatever else they need?
Or, at least, they might work on the #2 priority, which is…
Give Yourself Time: Close Gates
Victory, as said, depends on solving mysteries – with the little condition that they are solved before Doom drops to zero. After that, the Ancient One awakens, you need to still solve the regular amount of mysteries and then the Final Mystery on top, all the while contending with a moody Elder God before its first coffee. Thus, speed is of the essence. Solving the mysteries in time is a lot easier, though, if you have more time – and as Doom mainly advances via gates corresponding to the current omen, you want to close as many gates as possible. In addition to the time benefits, closing gates on time also helps with keeping the number of monsters on the board under control (particularly at higher player counts which get two or three new monsters per gate at a surge). As Other World encounters frequently test Lore and Will, dedicated gate-closers should be proficient in these skills.
Make the Most of It: Using Investigator and Possession Powers
We’re keeping it simple, so I’ll not go into the art and science which is team composition in Eldritch Horror here. If you want a primer, I recommend this (long) post on BoardGameGeek.
Instead, let’s talk about investigator and possession powers. Each investigator has a special action and a passive ability. Most assets, spells, artifacts etc. give you an action, a bonus to doing something, or a reward when you have done something. The longer a game lasts, the more of these little cards crowd around your investigators, and the easier it is to forget about one or the other – or even about one of your investigator abilities! (Even for something as amazing as Jacqueline Fine receiving a clue when another investigator gets a non-common condition, I often forget about it in the first one or two rounds when I’m still settling into the game.) So, I recommend you take a step back every once in a while (at least when there is a new mystery or rumor to solve), look at all your abilities and possessions, and think about how they will be able to help you take care of the situation.
Have you played Eldritch Horror? What are your best tricks to defeat the Ancient One? Let me know in the comments!