Cthulhu Wars is a mythos game based losely on the tales of H.P. Lovecraft. You know, those great short stories that he wrote. Ok, if you don’t know them, think gribbly horrifying monsters, mind bending creatures and general horror usually written pretty dryly. I will recommend though, that if you are new to the mythos that stories like Dunwhich Horror are a great place to start. Needless to say, I am a fan.
So, like a lot of folks that watched the kickstarter for this game, I was a little unsure of dropping the kind of money they wanted to buy the core game. I figured it was probably better just to hang out, wait for it to hit stores and see what people think. Not to mention, then at least some of the money goes to my FLGS which needs it as much as this company making this game needs it. So when it hit the shelves at Pegasus Games, after a few minutes of indicision and staring at the box it was mine. Ok, so I did read a few reviews and watch a couple of how to play videos before I bought it.
Unboxing this game was a thrill. Immediately after pealing back a couple of layers of rules, game boards and other inserts you are staring at the big gribblies themselves. These guys are massive! Cthulhu, Hastur, and just all of them are huge, giant, and bright colors. Ok, I understand why a board game company made them bright colors and all of the same faction the same color, but these guys are just sad. Hastur just screams that he will wrip our sanity away with his bright yellow. Nyarlarthotep with gaping maws and tentacles everywhere in that blindingly bright blue. Yeah, these guys scream to get painted. While I am not a fan of pre-painted figures, at the price tag for this game there seems to be no reason why these figures weren’t pre-painted.
That aside, the game play is quite a bit of fun, though I am not sure how the game balance works for all 4 factions in the box. Crawling Chaos (the blue faction) seems to be the most powerful in the box, though savy players who engage the crawling chaos player early and often can keep them in check without too much trouble. Cthulhu (the green faction) himself is pretty awesome, but can suffer as well when aggressively pressed. Hastur (the yellow faction) is probably the most unique with two great old ones as the King in Yellow joins Hastur and has a very interesting and different mechanic of traveling the board sowing corruption. Meanwhile, the Black Goat (the red faction) seems the most frustrating. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems to tend to be wedged between two hard rocks with a need to expand quickly. With Cthulhu to the west of you on the board and Crawling Chaos to east, the Goat’s plans for world domination seem to get stopped before they can get models in that all so precious 6th zone.
I have covered the 4 base factions and some initial thoughts on how the balance between factions are. Ignore the game unbalance fact, and the game is good fun. The first big thing is you must pull out all of your spell deck. This is your primary goal, for without it, you cannot win the game. This usually sets up the first couple of turns as you working actively to build your power base and try to accomplish some or all of these goals. Overall, you are trying to build power so you can do actions and control portals so you can score points. The main body of this game, building those portals and establishing your control on the board, strictly means little other then the portals ability to score you points. This doesn’t mean that the main part of the game isn’t without merit as this is where you will spend most of your time in the game and having fun.
Overall, the game is a blast. Is it $200 worth of game, I am not sure. Now that I have it in my collection, I have to say it’s a lot of fun.