If you’re searching for a way to incorporate a little Lovecraftian horror into your life, you’re not stuck with a handful of mediocre video games. You don’t even have to struggle to get together a group of people to play a lengthy Call of Cthulhu campaign if you don’t want to.
We’ve done a little digging and found a batch of the best Lovecraftian board games. There are several options to choose from, and all of them are perfect for giving you that creeping sense of dread whether you’re a dedicated Lovecraft fan or just like horror in general.
Best Lovecraftian Board Games
No list of Lovecraftian board games would be complete without Fantasy Flight’s classic, Arkham Horror. We actually own this exact copy of the game, and we’ve gotten a lot of use out of it, even in solo sessions.
In the game, players step into the shoes of a handful of investigators who are trying to close otherworldly gates in order to prevent hideous monsters from coming through. You’ll wander the dingy, misty streets of Arkham, exploring the town and the unknowable reaches of other dimensions as you get sucked through gates.
Fans of Lovecraft will love (or dread) encountering well-known entities from the mythos. Odds are, if you play the game more than once, you’ll find yourself face-to-face with Cthulhu at one point or another.
- Uses familiar gods from the Lovecraftian mythos.
- Cooperative gameplay is perfect for groups where some people get overly competitive.
- Can support up to eight players, so no one has to sit out.
- Has a beautiful board and pieces.
- Can be expensive.
- The games can run on rather long, especially if it’s your first time playing.
- The learning curve is a little steep, so you’ll likely need to check the rulebook often.
Read Next: What is Arkham Horror?
For better or for worse, Fantasy Flight will dominate this list. Eldritch Horror is proof of that, as the second Fantasy Flight board game here.
Eldritch Horror is another cooperative board game that up to eight people can play at once. In this game, however, you’re not restricted to the boundaries of Arkham. Instead, players will be traveling all over the world in order to stop an ancient evil from awakening.
Like in Arkham Horror, players will be able to choose the roles of several different investigators. You’ll also have several Lovecraftian gods to face, each with its own deck and set of conditions that needs to be met in order to ensure victory.
If you’re looking for a more affordable alternative to Arkham Horror, this could be perfect for you. It’s generally a little more economical.
- Allows players to explore the whole world rather than just Arkham.
- Cooperative gameplay is perfect for getting people to work together.
- Has several different investigators to choose from for play.
- You can play the game solo if you need to.
- Games can support up to eight players, which makes it ideal for groups.
- It can take awhile to set the game up.
We’ve included this one on our list of the best solo horror board games. That’s because, just like a tabletop RPG, this game incorporates a “DM” element that runs the game for you.
If you think that means you need to find one person to run it for you, though, you’d be pleasantly surprised. This game comes with a companion app that narrates encounters and controls the monsters for you. It’s like having an automated dungeon master.
What’s more, it comes with hundreds of super detailed parts. Many of the miniatures could be suitable for use in a Call of Cthulhu campaign if you decided you wanted to run one.
Plus, we’re suckers for the creepy mansion theme of this game. Players will undoubtedly have a blast exploring the evil-filled mansion and testing their ability to escape alive.
- Comes with hundreds of gorgeous pieces.
- A companion app will run the encounters for you and tell you how to set up the board.
- Includes four different campaigns to play through, giving it good replay value.
- You can play it solo if you want to.
- You need the app in order to play the game.
In the traditional version of Pandemic, you play as a group of scientists and doctors working to overcome a new epidemic. Reign of Cthulhu shakes up the routine by having you play a group of investigators working against an ancient and unknowable evil that threatens the world.
If you’re looking for an experience like that of Arkham Horror or Eldritch Horror, but want it to be a bit shorter, then this could be a good pick for you. With games taking less than an hour on average, you can easily squeeze it in between other events or just play it again and again.
You’ll have the ability to confront ten different Old Ones in this game. It even includes new figurines that give the game a much grittier feel than the standard Pandemic game.
- Games can be completed fairly quickly.
- Has ten different Old Ones for you to confront, giving it replay value.
- Includes unique new figurines that give the game a different feel.
- Its minimum requirement of two players makes it an excellent pick for couples.
- The usefulness of character roles sometimes depends on the number of people playing.
From the ominous art on the box to the grotesque minis, Cthulhu: Death May Die could be the next great Lovecraftian board game on your table.
With six different stories to play through, this is a game that won’t leave you feeling bored time after time. The outcome – and the journey – could be different every single playthrough.
It starts, however, by following a familiar concept: your team of players must work together to stop the completion of a ritual. If you fail, an alien Lovecraftian deity will be set forth upon the world.
- Has six different episodic stories to play through.
- Comes with a number of super detailed minis.
- If you don’t have anyone to play with, you can play it alone.
- Its cooperative-style gameplay is excellent for encouraging teamwork.
- There are a few reports of parts being damaged in shipping.
Fate of the Elder Gods is far from the most well-known game on this list. Unlike the Fantasy Flight games, it doesn’t appear to have a large community of dedicated players.
However, we feel like it’s worth giving it a try because it has a unique premise. You know how in all of the other games on our list, you play as investigators trying to stop the great evil from awakening?
Flip that whole concept on its head. Instead of trying to halt the emergence of evil, players in Fate of the Elder Gods will be working to actively bring it into the world. Along the way, you’ll need to work to foil the efforts of investigators who are closing your gates using Elder signs.
Oh, and this game also isn’t cooperative. Your mission will be to be the first person to complete your ritual and bring forth your horrifying god.
- Unique concept that has you playing as cultists rather than investigators.
- Competitive gameplay will get even the most hesitant players into the game.
- Can support up to four players.
- Because you can play with just two people, it’s a great game to play with your partner.
- It can be a bit difficult.
Features to Consider
Have you ever played a board or card game that was just a pain in the butt to learn? One where you felt like you had to whip out the rules every turn to figure out what you were supposed to do?
This is called learning curve. Games with steeper learning curves will take more time to learn, and you’ll consequently find yourself having to dive into the rules more often.
We’ll always say that hard doesn’t mean bad. It just means it takes more time to adjust to the gameplay. However, if you’re a beginner, you may want to consider games with a shallower learning curve, because you’ll be able to spend more time playing and less time reading rules.
Likewise, shallower learning curves are better for when you’re planning on introducing friends to the game. You’ll find yourself needing to preside over rules a little less if they can catch on quickly.
Some games take longer to play than others. Even just on our list, there were games with various durations.
That’s why it’s worth thinking about before you choose one or another. Try imagining how long you’re willing to sit down and play a game at a time.
Looking for something that you can finish quickly before you go out for the evening? There are plenty of games that can be completed in under an hour.
But if you’re in need of something to dedicate an entire gaming evening to, then why not go for one of the longer games on our list, like Arkham Horror? These are the perfect games to play over the course of a dark evening with your friends. Just make sure to take a couple bathroom breaks.
Another thing to think about is how much patience you have when it comes to setting and cleaning up a board game. For some, spending a great amount of time putting together the board and decks of cards isn’t an issue.
But if you want an experience that’s fast to set up and take down once you’re finished, something with hundreds of pieces likely isn’t going to be the best. Consider more complex games like Arkham Horror and Eldritch Horror if setting up and cleaning up doesn’t bother you or if you have a significant amount of experience with board games.
Quality of Pieces
Any board game enthusiast will tell you that there’s nothing quite as annoying as shelling out the big bucks for a board game, only to find that the parts are low-quality and break quickly.
This is why you should always consider how well-made the parts of the game are. The problem is, this isn’t exactly easy to tell from pictures or the product description alone. No manufacturer in their right mind is going to tell you, “our stuff breaks easily!”
To determine if this is the case, check out customer reviews. Most people do a good job of noting if minis are snapping or cards are bending too easily.
Let’s assume you’re only going to get one board game on this list. Which one would we recommend you get, and why?
Frankly, this is because of its unique take on the Lovecraftian genre. Look over the games in this list, and you’ll see that almost all of them have the same story: a group of investigators is working to prevent an inhuman horror from entering this world, usually by sealing gates.
Fate of the Elder Gods flips that on its head by putting you in the place of the cultists. We think the concept is a refreshing breath of fresh air in the arena of Lovecraftian board games.