One of the things that has really bound us together as a throuple, especially a gaymer throuple, is a unrelenting love of games inspired by the mythos of H.P. Lovecraft. This fascination was not limited to just us, but is also shared by many of our wonderful friends that we’ve made along the way.
Inevitably, we got to a point where we owned so many Lovecraft inspired games that we began hosting a party where we would, on Lovecraft’s birthday, gather a bunch of our friends, bring out every game we owned that featured the Lovecraftian mythos, and see how many games we could win and how many we would lose.
We called the party HP Lovecraft vs the World, and it was a blast.
Our playing and ongoing enjoyment of Lovecraftian board games wasn’t limited to just this party, but the party allowed it to grow and evolve our passion even further. So today, HP Lovecraft’s 130th birthday, we share our top six (in no particular order) favorite Lovecraftian games!
It would be very difficult to put together a list of amazing Lovecraft inspired games without including one or more from Fantasy Flight Games. As the years have gone on, Fantasy Flight has done an amazing job of bringing the mythos to the table top in well designed games with severe replay-ability. This is the reason why half of this list are Fantasy Flight products.
Eldritch Horror was a game that we highly anticipated collecting after initial discovery. Being already a big fan of Arkham Horror Second Edition, Elder Sign, and Mansions of Madness First Edition at that time, Eldritch Horror brought the rich flavor and storytelling aspect while combining or refining some of the best mechanics from their previous games. Nick even notes that Eldritch holds a nostalgic place in his heart for being one of the first Fantasy Flight games he ever owned and the cause of many fun but late nights with his friends in college. You’ll also notice that Belmont lists it as his favorite board game.
From a streamlined set up to great cooperative gameplay interactions, this is by far one of our favorite games, Lovecraftian or not.
Fate of the Elder Gods
For a long time, our Lovecraftian game experience was largely consisting of us either competitively or cooperatively attempting to stop Cthulhu and/or the Old Ones from waking up and destroying our world.
We then discovered a game where we could be on the other side of that equation: a cultist trying to wake their elder god and bring them into our world. That’s where Fate of the Elder Gods stole our hearts and fed them to nameless horrors. In this competitive gameplay, you represent one specific Elder God from Lovecraft’s mythos and use a combination of rituals and spells to bring forth your Ancient One, all the while redirecting pesky investigators toward your rival cults’ lodges or cursing them.
One particular aspect that we enjoy about this game is its unique movement mechanic. To move, you must lose a potential spell that matches the symbol of an open location all the while knowing that you’re leaving that spell as potential power for your opponents’ next endeavor. Having this unique movement mechanic so wonderfully interwoven into its strategic, interactive gameplay makes Fate of the Elder Gods a hit every time we play it.
Mansions of Madness, 2nd Edition
Like its sister games from Fantasy Flight, Mansions of Madness Second Edition is a great game night activity for any Lovecraft fan. Between the tiles for the setting, the figurines, and the well-written stories being told, this is a great game not only for setting the mood but also for exploring the intricacies of the mythos.
The first edition of this game was good, but still had much room for improvement. With the second edition, the addition of a free interactive app (a la X-Com) has not only added some rich, streamlined storytelling, but also adds deep replayability to the game. The second edition also solves the issue of finding fitting music for setting the eldritch mood.
The app also offers additional scenarios that can be purchased without having to purchase additional, storage bursting sets or expansion (though those also exist!). This feature allows for cheap ways to acquire new stories to run instantly, allowing for more diversity with your game purchase.
Even better than summoning the Ancient Ones is actually getting to be them as they wreak destruction and chaos upon our unsuspecting world. With Cthulhu Wars, you can do just that!
This Risk-meets-Cthulhu board game is packed full of eldritch horror for you to rain down on humanity. You take on the role of one of 5 Ancient Ones, each with unique abilities, powers, and minions to take control of various sections of Earth and battle your fellow Ancient Ones for dominance.
In this asymmetric game, each faction has distinct abilities and goals, creating engaging strategy gameplay while still providing an awesome game experience for all. The progression of your faction in this game is not linear, making each game different and fun.
What makes this game really stand out is its craftsmanship. From the exquisite 3D printed figurines to all of the colorful and detailed components, this “drenched in theme” construction makes Cthulhu Wars a looming titan among Lovecraftian games.
Arkham Horror – 3rd Edition
The last Fantasy Flight entry on our list of our favorite mythos inspired games is Arkham Horror Third Edition.
One attribute that really sets it apart from its predecessors is the modular set up in terms of both scenario and construction, allowing for quicker set up times as well increased replayability. The board is unique for each scenario/Ancient One and character set up is much more streamlined with this particular incarnation of the game. Also, monsters and combat/evasion mechanics became simpler yet much more effective with this version, thus making the game as a whole much more enjoyable.
In addition, where Fantasy Flight really perfected with this third edition is the flavor and story. Each scenario utilizes an amazing mechanic called the “archive”, which creates a sort of “choose your own adventure” style where success and/or failures of the characters determines the direction of the story and what challenge the team will face next.
Because of these amazing aspects and more, Alex even lists this as his favorite board game.
For those that love word games, the electable little Lovecraftian delight that is Unspeakable Words is a must have game.
This is a quick, fun, and engaging word game featuring a whole alphabet full of mythos flavor. It’s one of those games that easy to learn but a life time to master.
Unlike traditional word games however, what stands out about this game is that your strategies are entirely different to not risk you sanity, represented by the cutest little Cthulhu tokens. The optional rules as well also promote a lot of creativity and fun among all the players.
Some honorable mentions to our list:
Arkham Horror 2nd Edition – A classic game, despite its flaws
A Study in Emerald – Based on Neil Gaiman’s work of the same name, imagines a world where the Elder Gods have woken up and taken control
Cthulhu Fluxx – Cute and utilizes a wide variety of Lovecraft’s mythos
Elder Sign – Adds all the flavor that Fantasy Flight puts into their games, but with a lot more dice rolling. This game was also adapted into an amazing phone and PC game (Elder Sign Omens) which we have featured on past streams.
Be sure to join the Triad Gaymers today, August 20, 2020 as we stream Lovecraftian games live on Twitch!