Chairman of the Board: Eldritch Horrors 101

Illustration by Ed Appleby
Illustration by Ed Appleby

‘The Big Book of Madness’ game review

By Ed Appleby, Illustrator

Some things were just not meant to be toyed with by insignificant mortals. But what’s the harm in a little peek…?

The Big Book of Madness is a cooperative deck building game for 2–5 players designed by Maxime Rambourg and published by IELLO in 2015. Players take the role of curious first-year students at a magical academy who have accidentally unleashed eldritch horrors onto the world by opening an ancient tome. Players harness the four elements and take turns casting spells in an attempt to defeat the horrors unleashed from the book before they can escape the school or drive the players mad. The game is won by getting to the sixth page of the book and defeating the final monster.

Like many cooperative games, this one is brutally hard but extremely fun. Strategy and teamwork factor in big time, forcing players to decide whether to assist one another by adding elements to the spells their teammates are casting, running the risk that they won’t have any during their own turn to deal with whatever fresh hell the book spews next.

The gameplay is moderately paced, with strategizing taking up the bulk of the time. The artwork and creature designs are very polished and creative. The game isn’t too hard to grasp, with some of the nuances of various spells becoming clear as the game progresses.

I love co-op games, and this one does not disappoint. Fans of J.K. Rowling and H.P. Lovecraft will identify well with the theme. I would recommend this game to any group populated by Cthulhu cultists or students of Hogwarts.