Eldritch Horror vs Arkham Horror: Which Is Better?

Everyone has that one board game that’s a classic but nobody has played in a while because a newer, more interesting game had recently entered the market. And such is the case with Arkham Horror.

People know Arkham Horror as the predecessor to Eldritch Horror, being the first game to ever materialize the works of H.P. Lovecraft and turn it into an exciting and mind-racking game of minds.

Around 49027 had their own box of Arkham Horror in 2005.

When Eldritch Horror came along in 2013, however, people placed Arkham on the back burner and proceeded to enjoy the newer H.P. Lovecraft-themed board game.

This begs the question “which game is better, Eldritch Horror or Arkham Horror?”

Below, we’ll be comparing these games’ mechanics, storylines, expansions, and more to see which one wins the “best” title.

Eldritch Horror vs Arkham Horror Comparison

Categories Arkham Horror Eldritch Horror
Year Published 2005 2013
Designers Richard Launius
Kevin Wilson
Corey Konieczka
Nikki Valens
Number of Players 1-8 (Suggested number of players is 4.) 1-8 (Suggested number of players is 4.)
Playing Time 120 – 240 min 120 – 240 min
Minimum Age 14+ 14+
Complexity Rating 3.58 of 5 3.32 of 5
In-Game Mechanisms Cooperative Game
Dice Rolling
Hand Management
Point to Point Movement
Solo / Solitaire Game
Stat Check Resolution
Variable Player Powers
Action Points
Cooperative Game
Dice Rolling
Point to Point Movement
Solo / Solitaire Game
Stat Check Resolution
Variable Player Powers
Expansion 20 Available expansion packs, the most popular being:

The Forgotten Age
The Path to Carcosa

8 Available expansion packs, the most popular being:

Cities of Ruin
Forsaken Lore
Masks of Nyarlathotep

Arkham Horror

In this cooperative adventure game built around H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos, players choose from 16 investigators and take to the streets of Arkham, battling monsters and closing portals to prevent evil from breaking into the human world.

During the game, players can upgrade their investigators by:

  • Gathering skills
  • Weapons
  • Spells
  • Items
  • Allies

Players get creative reign over how they will clean out the streets of Arkham by battling different types of monsters of varying strengths. They must close all portals before the Ancient One awakens and destroys all of humanity.


Arkham Horror is great for players who like long-lasting games and complicated mechanics. It’s great for bigger groups of players and has a long list of investigators that help increase its replayability value and depth.

Arkham Horror Board Game Arkham Horror Board Game
  • A modern take on the classic cooperative game of cosmic horror
  • Choose one of twelve unique investigators, each with their own abilities, items, and backstory
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Eldritch Horror

Similarly, Eldritch Horror is another cooperative adventure game where a group of investigators works together to stop the Ancient One from rising and wreaking havoc and destruction on mankind. Each investigator takes turns battling monsters and closing gates, all to stop evil from escaping into our world.


Eldritch Horror is a great game for both beginners and veterans alike. Because of its easier gameplay, there’s less of a learning curve for Eldritch than there is for Arkham. Eldritch Horror is a great game to play with friends and family members.

Mechanics and Rules

Eldritch Horror mechanics are much easier to learn and/or teach compared to Arkham Horror. It has fewer rules and technicalities, so there’s less likelihood for you to play it wrong.

For instance, gate encounters for Arkham Horror take multiple turns to complete whereas in Eldritch Horror, you resolve a card and that’s it — you find out at the end of the Encounter Phase if you’ve successfully closed a gate or not.

Also, there are fewer issues involving money in Eldritch compared to Arkham.

You use monies in Arkham Horror to buy items from stores and If you don’t have enough, you have to wait until you have enough to buy anything.

On the other hand, Eldritch Horror lets you test your influence and if you need to increase your test result, you can roll for a debt condition.

You can always roll for a debt condition to increase your buying power in Eldritch Horror.

One thing that we do miss about Arkham Horror that we don’t see in Eldritch is the way investigators interact with monsters.

In Arkham, monsters can attack, block, or move around, which adds more character and life to the game. Eldritch monsters are static and immobile, and sometimes boring.


Eldritch Horror follows a three-phase structure that’s played from top to bottom. These phases are:

  • Action Phase — where each player plays one or two actions without repeating any of the actions they’ve already performed.
  • Encounter Phase — each player tries to resolve an encounter or battle a monster.
  • Mythos Phase — the lead Investigator resolves one Mythos card

Mythos cards advance the Doom token, spawn more Gates, or raise other challenges that investigators need to solve.

On the other hand, Arkham Horror follows a four-phase structure, that’s also played from top to bottom. These phases are:

  • Mythos Phase — arcane forces pitted against the investigators start to advance their evil agenda and attach investigators.
  • Investigation Phase — you have three actions during your turn that may be used to perform a variety of tasks, provided that you have enough resources to pay for it.
  • Enemy Phase — monsters come after you and — if they can — attack!
  • Upkeep Phase — monsters and investigators prepare for the next round.
During the first round, skip the Mythos Phase and proceed directly to the Investigation Phase.

Winning and Losing

The rules to winning and losing are essentially the same for both games.

To win:

  • Investigators must solve all three Mysteries before the Ancient One awakens
  • If the ancient one awakens before all three Mysteries are solved, you must solve the conditions/mystery written on the back of the Ancient One’s card

On the other hand, you lose if:

  • You and the rest of your teammates are devoured by monsters
  • An effect of a card triggers the end of a game
  • You run out of Mythos cards before all Mysteries are solved
  • You fail to solve the Ancient One’s final mystery

Gameplay, Complexity, and Replayability

Because Eldritch Horror has fewer phases, its gameplay is a little shorter compared to Arkham Horror, which could stretch out as much as 4 to 5 hours.

It also makes the game far less complicated and easier for beginners to learn.

On the bright side, Arkham Horror has tons of expansion packs which increases its replayability value. It also introduces newer and more interesting characters to the game, plus more complicated mechanics for veterans looking for a little challenge.

Eldritch Horror also has a few expansions, although it still can’t rival the ones from Arkham. It does make up for it in terms of world size. In other words, Eldritch Horror has a more expansive world compared to Arkham, with more cities and other locations to explore.

Components and Setup

Arkham has several components that you won’t find in Eldritch. For instance, Eldritch comes with 12 investigators and 4 Ancient Ones while Arkham Horror comes with 16 investigators and 8 Ancient Ones.

Here’s a brief look at their components.

Eldritch Horror
Game Board 1
Reference Guide 1
Investigator Sheets 12
Ancient One Sheets 4
Encounter Cards 122
Mythos Cards 51
Mystery Cards 16
Artifact Cards 14
Asset Cards 40
Condition Cards 36
Spell Cards 20
Monster Tokens 43
Mystery Token 1
Clue Tokens 36
Rumor Tokens 4
Omen Token 1
Doom Token 1
Gate Tokens 9
Lead Investigator Token 1
Travel Ticket Tokens 20
Improvement Tokens 30
Eldritch Tokens 20
Health and Sanity Tokens 78
Reference Cards 4
Active Expedition Token 1
Dice 4
Arkham Horror
Rule Book 1
Game Board 1
Dice 5
Ancient One Sheets 8
Investigator Sheets 16
Investigator Markers 16
Plastic Investigator Stands 16
First Player Marker 1
Investigator Status Tokens 198
Investigator Cards (smaller cards) 189
Special Cards 35
Ancient One Cards (larger cards) 179

In terms of art and design, however, both games have exceptional illustrations, which makes them all the more exciting to play!

Despite having different designers, they managed to retain very similar characteristics that are on-brand.

Both games are made of very sturdy material that can withstand several game nights in a row, so you don’t have to worry about wearing down the game components too early.


Both Eldritch Horror and Arkham Horror begin in similar ways, with players choosing a character to play. Once that’s settled, players choose one person to act as the lead investigator.

Eldritch Horror Setup
Arkham Horror Setup

After the lead investigator is identified, gather all tokens and create your token pool. The next step will be to separate the cards and put them in their corresponding decks.

One key difference between Arkham’s and Eldritch’s setup is that instead of a Chaos bag (which is what Arkham uses), Eldritch has a Monster cup, which is the main source of conflict in the game.

When the tokens and cards are organized, it’s time to distribute your starting possessions. This should be listed on your character’s card for either game.

For Eldritch Horror, the only step left to do is to choose an Ancient One. Once that’s decided, you can proceed to play.

In Arkham Horror, on the other hand, there’s no knowing which Ancient One you’ll be dealing with. The last step to setup is to draw opening hands from the player deck.

The Verdict

Both games obviously have their highlights and drawbacks. So it’s pretty difficult to say which one is the winner.

Ultimately, when choosing between Arkham and Eldritch, you have to think about what your wants and needs are.

For instance, if you’re looking for something with a higher replayability value and more challenging gameplay, Arkham is probably your best bet. Because of the way it’s designed (phases, characters, and cards) the game is more active, more alive, and more complicated.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for something that’s less complex and easier to understand, Eldritch Horror is a great option. With fewer characters, fewer phases, and fewer cards, the gameplay is shorter and there are far less things to worry/think about during the game.

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