So there exists a Cthulu themed card game from Fantasy Flight Games which supports 1-4 players… I’m interested. Both Wyrm and Monkey had copies of this game and had been keen to get it to the table, although I was hesitant, given I already have too many games bouncing around in my head. We’ve now played the first mission twice, once in a two player setting (incorrectly) and once in a four player setting (correctly).
Effectively the players go through a story which is contained on a set of cards, which have either challenges to be completed or events to occur before the story will advance. The challenges have a base challenge level which generally matches off to a character’s attribute, with cards then played to boost the ability during the challenge, before drawing a modifier token randomly which could (and usually does) severely impact the player’s ability to pass the test. In addition, there are enemies to fight, events that occur with varying effects, and equipment and allies that can assist.
Things I liked
The game is very heavy on the theme and story, and the game mechanics (completing cards challenges to progress) interlock completely with the story which I found very cool. The Lovecraftian horror theme that pervades the game is very much up my alley, although I expect the game would not be good for those who aren’t fans of that theme. The idea of a single player run intrigues me, and is something I’m keen to have a look at, as I haven’t seen many single player games that excite me. Further, the deck customisation and progression elements also seem very cool given I’m a fan of campaign style play, although I haven’t experienced that yet given limited experience with the game.
Things I didn’t like
Let me say it straight off, the fact FFG did not include a bag to draw the tokens out of seems like a massive oversight to me. Whilst it’s not a big deal to find an opaque container to draw from, it seems so simple to include a thematically appropriate chaos bag in the box that I can’t understand why it wasn’t done.
That aside, one thing that annoyed me was the lack of a non-combat path to the end of the first mission. It seems that there are mechanics included that allow you to progress without fighting to the final room, but then there’s a traditional boss fight to end out the mission. This was very disappointing, and I would’ve liked an alternative way to win the mission (perhaps by throwing the boss back into a portal). I’m hoping that not every story is capped by a boss fight and there’s some variation as we play on.
I think that some clearer guidance on how to lay out cards in the play area would also have helped considerably. I found as we progressed through the first story that it got confusing with different rooms, monsters, etc and there was no real layout in the rulebook.
Also, the game seems to slow down considerably at higher player counts and it really does not seem optimal for more than two players. Perhaps this was due to some at the table learning rules concurrently, but the time taken for the first mission did not bode well for future sessions.
I’m excited to continue playing this game, as the theme and story have really hooked me in after playing the first mission, and the deck building and progression mechanics should give the game increasing depth as we play through. Whilst I have a couple of quibbles with the game, it’s not sufficient to dissuade me from continuing on, and I’m considering picking up my own copy to play through as a one player experience.