The Ultimate Evil
Preview the Ancient Ones of Eldritch Horror!
January 5. The full moon seems to stir the blood of every beast. Even listless, old hounds seem possessed by the spirit of some feral ancestor, vicious and cruel. The omens grow darker, and darker still. The malignant forces of evil, great and unseen, are felt by all. Even those who know nothing of the horror that lies ahead are acting strangely. It will all be over soon. One way, or another.
In Eldritch Horror, a board game of mystery and terror, you and up to seven friends take on the role of globetrotting investigators who must must travel around the world, working against all odds to hold back the approaching horror. Foul monsters, obscure mysteries, and brutal challenges will take you to your limits and beyond. All the while, you and your fellow investigators must unravel the otherworldy mysteries scattered around the globe in order to push back the gathering mayhem that threatens to overwhelm humanity. The end draws near! Do you have the courage to prevent global destruction?
Over the past several weeks, we’ve looked at the unlikely heroes tasked with saving our world, as well as the games’ Action, Encounter, and Mythos Phases. Today, we’ll look at the horrors facing them: the Ancient Ones, along with their unique decks of Mystery and Research cards.
The Ancient Ones
While they have long been slumbering in other dimensions, the Ancient Ones, elder gods of unfathomable power, are beginning to stir. If an Ancient One should rise and come crashing through the barrier between its world and ours, it would spell certain destruction for all of mankind. As gates to otherworldly realms spawn across the globe and destructive, unseen forces spread around the world, the Great Old Ones become restless. Their cultists work to bring them into our dimension, spreading their malign influence wherever they go.
The key to preventing such utter calamity lies in the mythos surrounding each Ancient One. In each game of Eldritch Horror, you’ll select a Great Old One to work against. Then, you and your team of investigators will need to delve into the mysteries surrounding your chosen foe. Only by solving three mysteries can you hope to drive back the impending horror!
Azathoth: The Daemon Sultan
The Idiot God sits at the center of all things spreading madness and death. Its seeds descend from the stars, threatening to crack the world in half.
Azathoth, destroyer of worlds, is just one of the Ancient Ones to choose from in Eldritch Horror. Each Ancient One sheet has several components. We’ll use Azathoth’s as an example.
The icon in the top left corner of the card is the Doom Track symbol. The number next to it indicates where the Doom Track marker is placed at the beginning of the game. When battling against Azathoth, the marker is placed at space fifteen on the Doom Track. Other Ancient Ones have different starting places, which impact how much time you have to work against them. When the Doom Track reaches zero, the Ancient One rises, and you’ll have to solve a Final Mystery in order to win the game!
The left column on each Ancient One displays information regarding how gameplay is altered when playing against each Ancient One. For instance, each Ancient One has different setup instructions, along with different Mythos Deck building instructions. In last week’s preview, we looked at building the Mythos Deck as determined by the Ancient One sheet.
The human cultists who worship each Ancient One have rituals and identities determined by the Great Old One they follow. To reflect this, each Ancient One’s Cultist monsters have different text. The Cultist box shows the information for Azathoth’s Cultists. When engaging in combat with a Cultist Monster, follow combat rules as usual, but refer to the Ancient One sheet for the Monster’s stats.
The main text of each Ancient One card displays other Ancient One specific information. For example, Azathoth’s instructs you to flip the sheet and resolve “The World is Devoured!” should Azathoth awaken.
The back of each Ancient One sheet reveals what happens if that Ancient One should wake up. Most include a fourth and final mystery for you to solve, but you’ll need to wage a global battle against evil to find out what the Great Old Ones have in store!
Each of the loathsome Ancient Ones in Eldritch Horror requires you and your fellow investigators to solve three mysteries in order to save the world and win the game. Since each of the Ancient Ones have their own unique and terrible manifestations, each of the Ancient Ones in Eldritch Horror comes with its own deck of mystery cards.
Each Mystery card presents a new objective to complete, and each mystery you solve will bring you one step nearer to preventing the destruction of our world. Mysteries relate to the mythos surrounding each of the horrific Great Old Ones, drawing you ever deeper into a vast web of terror, treachery, and evil greater than you ever imagined.
One of Azathoth’s Mystery cards is called Occult Research. In order to solve it, you must research Clue tokens found across the map. Once your investigative team has placed Clues on the card equal to the number of players, you solve the mystery! As discussed in our preview of the Encounter Phase of the game, you gain clue tokens by resolving Research cards specific to the Ancient One. While playing against Azathoth, you may draw the following Research card:
If you resolve it successfully, place your newly earned clue token on the Occult Research Mystery card.
Yog-Sothoth: The Lurker at the Threshold
For eons, sorcerers have called upon the power of Yog-Sothoth to bend reality to their will. This incomprehensible Ancient One exists parallel to all places and times, but is bound to the space between dimensions. Gates between worlds continue to open with more frequency, and soon, Yog-Sothoth will be free.
Yog-Sothoth, along with the other Ancient Ones included in Eldritch Horror (with the exception of Azathoth), require your group of investigators to solve a fourth and final mystery in order to win the game if it rises.
Often, this is done through the use of Ancient One-specific Special Encounter cards. As you can see on Yog-Sothoth’s Ancient One sheet, the Setup Instructions advise you to set aside the Yog-Sothoth Special Encounter cards.
Special Encounter cards are complex encounters, meaning they contain multiple tests and pass/fail text, as described in our preview of the Encounter Phase. For example, the following Yog-Sothoth Special Encounter card reads:
First, resolve the text in the top box. If you pass the Strength test, resolve the text in the middle box. If you fail the initial Strength test, resolve the text in the bottom, red box. Resolving Special Encounters is one way to solve an Ancient One’s Final Mystery and win the game!