Halloween week continues here at spalanz.com! For the big day, I thought I’d share some thoughts on some of the Cthulhu-themed games that are available on the market today! As Smash Up quite rightly pokes fun, the Cthulhu theme has become almost obligatory for games nowadays, with Lovecraftian re-skins abounding. Here are some of my favourites:
First up, we have a favourite of mine, a subtheme of the popular game from Atlas Games.
Cthulhu Gloom is very similar to regular Gloom, in that you control a family that you’re trying to make as miserable as possible, before killing them all off. The storytelling aspect is still there, of course (just why will Asenaith Waite never stop screaming?), and any fan of Lovecraft’s work will no doubt get a kick out of some of these cards, seeing how the designers have worked in a whole load of different references to the mythos.
There are also a couple of new twists on regular Gloom, such as the Story cards (which can give benefits when you win them) and transformation cards (which can, well, transform your family member into something else, permanently replacing the character picture).
One expansion has been released, Unpleasant Dreams, which is basically like the Unwelcome Guests expansion for the regular game. You get a new family, a set of unwelcome guests, and a whole bunch of additional content to expand the base game.
There’s not a lot else to say: it’s like Gloom, but with a Cthulhu theme. For a Lovecraft fan, it can be utterly delightful, but even if you’re only vaguely familiar with the mythos, it’s still a whole load of fun, and I can recommend it to you all!
I turn now to a game that I’ve wanted to feature on my blog for a long while, but haven’t really played it enough to have any real comments to make: Munchkin. Even so, I couldn’t write a blog on Cthulhu-themed games without mentioning Munchkin Cthulhu!
Munchkin is a card game that lampoons the Dungeons-and-Dragons genre of dungeon-delving RPGs, where players control a character who is trying to move through ten levels by killing monsters and taking their treasure. It’s an excellent group-game, with the wonderful help-or-hinder mechanic that can make it really fun to gang up on your friends, or offer to help them for a share of the loot. At some point in the near future, I hope to feature the base game on my blog (I also have the Pathfinder Munchkin game, too, for added hilarity!), but suffice it to say Cthulhu Munchkin appears to be much of the same sort of delightfully tongue-in-cheek humour as you work your way up the levels!
Another game that I’ve not talked about here is Fluxx. The basic premise of this game is that, well, the game is in a constant state of flux, right down to the core rules.
The game begins with the “basic rules” card on the table, which allows players to draw a card from the central deck, then play one card. And that’s it – there’s no way to win the game until a Goal card is played. The rules can change round on round, as players play New Rule cards. It’s actually a tremendous game, and definitely worth picking up!
Cthulhu Fluxx takes the basic Fluxx design and gives it the Lovecraft treatment. We have cards called Keepers, which act like characters I suppose, and can trigger the win if you have them played in front of you when a Goal is played that states a player needs those specific Keepers. There are also Creepers, who normally prevent you from winning if you have them, but there are also cards that turn that on its head. In short, it’s a fantastic game!
I’m going to end this brief tour through Cthulhu games with one of the simplest, most fun games I have in my collection, Cthulhu Dice. From the same designer as Munchkin, the game is played with a giant d12 that has various symbols on it, such as tentacles, Elder Signs, the Yellow Sign, and Cthulhu himself, and a set of glass beads. These beads represent your cultists, and the dice result each turn will determine whether you gain or lose cultists – the last person with any remaining cultists wins. It’s that simple, and yet it’s a whole lot of fun, the perfect way to end a game day (even more perfect if that game day involved one of the heavyweights such as Arkham Horror!)
So there you have it, a whirlwind tour through some of my favourite Cthulhu games. Of course, I haven’t mentioned any of the big ones such as Arkham Horror, Eldritch Horror or Call of Cthulhu LCG as they’ve already made it to my blog in the full treatment, but they’re also really worth getting hold of if you haven’t already! To say nothing of Smash Up‘s Obligatory Cthulhu Expansion!
Have a great Halloween, everyone!
Iä! Iä! Cthulhu Fhtagn!