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Cthulhu Wars (A Sandy Petersen Game)

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PoC

Sandy's re-launched his "Cthulhu Wars" idea as a board game. There's a Kickstarter for it now.

Cthulhu Wars Kickstarter

cthulhu-wars-board-game.jpg

Some very nice looking miniatures.
 

Cthulhu Wars is a competitive strategy game in which 3 to 5 players produce cultists and monsters, build mystic gates, and awaken Great Old Ones. The players earn spellbooks, try to destroy their enemies, and capture their bases. Each faction has its own unique set of monsters, spells, and its own Great Old One(s).


The Cthulhu Wars rules are available as a basic PDF download.

The stated retail price for this game is $169 (US).

 

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PoC

Funded quite quickly.

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yockenthwaite
The stated retail price for this game is $169 (US).

 

Crikey! And crumbs, as Penfold used to say.

 

Well this is one Kickstarter I won't be backing. There are discounted pledge options available still, but after I add $45 for international shipping its virtually at that RRP. Which is very high for a board game IMHO.

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Shimmin Beg

I do want it, but ouch that's expensive.

 

EDIT: Also, I don't see any particular reason to go for the Kickstarter TBH. There's no financial benefit if you're outside the US, because of the huge shipping costs. Unless you rack up to $200+ and commit to an expansion or two (before even playing the game) plus some fancy gate markers ($25 for markers?), you don't get any free perks, and even those are only if the KS does extremely well. Mostly backers get the option to buy KS-exclusive extras, which are okay, but don't inspire me (although the prints are very nice). Honestly it seems to me you're better off waiting until it goes on sale, and buying expansions if you get a lot of play out of it.

 

Personally I'm also rolling an eye or two at Sexy Asenath Waite but YMMV.

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yockenthwaite

Of course I must admit the figures look really nice. But I still couldn't justify that cost.

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christian

Take my money. Take my shoes and trousers to, I only need a cultist's robe

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DavetheLost

Well, that is a very nice looking game and huge miniatures. Well worth the money I am sure.

 

It is however the sort of game I very seldom get a chance to play. I may jump in to the Kickstarter to grab some of he other swag though, like the prints and dice.

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dce

This is a beautiful looking game ... and way too hard to resist backing.

 

Obviously I'm not the only person who has fallen under its spell. The game is 300% funded after less than a day. Well done Sandy and Co ... and here's hoping that Kicktraq's predictions (below, snapshot from a minute ago) come true!

 

cthulhu-wars-kicktraq.jpg

 

 

Dean (from Adelaide)

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celtic1888
Take my money. Take my shoes and trousers to, I only need a cultist's robe

 

I have seen the Yellow Sign as well

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Thomas Phinney

I sat with a friend of mine when she got to play this last month at the HP Lovecraft Film Festival & CthulhuCon here in Portland.

 

Sandy is a great guy. I mean, really. If he was in danger of not making it, that might sway me.

 

The miniatures are really gorgeous, top-notch sculpts. They are even in traditional ~ 28 mm scale. Yay!

 

The game itself? Kara describes it as glorified Risk. I thunk that is too harsh. The factional differences ate cool. But yes, the nature of the game system is such that luck seems to be a much stronger factor than I want in a game.

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SandyPetersen

Hey guys here is the deal. The game weighs 8 kilograms. We are eating part of the cost of shipping to Europe, but there is only so much that can happen. It is a luxury product and is fillled with stuff. I know it's expensive, but it is also a labor of love, for three guys who have been working out of their garage and salaryless for 2 1/2 years.

 

Glorified risk? I beg to differ strenuously. Go to Boardgamegeek and you can download the rules. It isn't in the least bit like Risk. It resembles Chaos in the Old World much much more. Pfui.

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PoC

As of typing Sandy's Cthulhu Wars has just overtaken the Call of Cthulhu 7th edition Kickstarter in under 24 hours.

 

They're both doing spectacularly well at nearly $200,000 (US) each and with several weeks to go!

 

When I saw the price of shipping and the weight I suspected Sandy & co. must be eating some of the postage costs, even at $45.

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Fallingtower

OH WOW! Sandy it's horrifically beautiful.

 

I am going to have to break my 'I don't do board games' oath.

It was hard resisting that Arkham Horror hullabaloo.

 

I guess there's big money in board and miniature war games these days...did you see what that Robotech Tactics Kickstarter brought in?!

 

Anyway, the game and advertising for it look amazing.

 

Congrats.

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Shimmin Beg

Don't get me wrong: it looks beautiful and I would love to have a copy. One day I hope to. Aside from the game itself, I can see using it alongside a CoC campaign, with scenarios themed in to what's going on in the board game, and the balance of Cthulhu Wars power shifting based on some of the outcomes.

 

However, it is still (entirely justifiably!) an expensive game, even with the generous Kickstarter discounts; and the cost of shipping soaks up those even with Sandy eating some of the shipping. My last comment might look like whining about lack of free perks, which really wasn't my intention; I was just weighing up the financial realities.

 

I long for the day when it's viable to have high-quality worldwide production runs, so everyone could stop worrying about international shipping eating (at least?) a quarter of costs on projects like this.

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Fallingtower

I got into gaming because it was a cheap hobby and I was poor.

 

What happened?

 

Circa 1981, It all started with me giving up on comics and saving my ducats for that little red box.

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SandyPetersen

Cthulhu Wars is my newest game, and marks my return to tabletop games after 25 years in the wastelands of the digital world. Our team (there are only 3 of us) have really put our hearts into this game. I wanted to post here a description of how the game plays - you can find physical descriptions and photos elsewhere. In case you haven't heard, it's on kickstarter right now and has already funded.

 

COMPONENTS

1) a large map of the Earth, subdivided into Areas, printed on both sides. Mounted, like a Fantasy Flight or old Avalon Hill game.

2) various thick-cut cardboard counters, dice, and such paraphernalia.

3) sixty-four 28mm scale plastic figures of cultists, monsters, and great old ones. I insisted they be 28mm, because I wanted to use the cool figures in Call of Cthulhu

 

FACTIONS

Each player takes on the part of either Great Cthulhu (green), the Crawling Chaos (blue), Black Goat (red), or the Yellow Sign (yellow, duh). Each faction has 15-18 figures, 6 spellbooks, and a faction card that includes his Power track, spellbook requirements, and his unique data. This card is vaguely similar in format to the faction cards in TWILIGHT IMPERIUM 3 or similar games. Factions include 6 cultists, 3 types of Monsters, and a Great Old One (Yellow Sign has only 2 types of monsters, but gets an extra Great Old One to make up for it.)

 

The only unit shared between factions are the Cultists. All Monsters and Great Old Ones are unique to each faction. In addition, each faction has its own unique special ability and set of 6 spellbooks. And of course the Great Old Ones have different abilities, awakening requirements, etc. I have unsurprisingly based these abilities on my own interpretations of the Great Old Ones, so they may be familiar to CoCers. For instance, Cthulhu has the Devour ability, enabling him to eliminate an enemy unit before combat even begins.

 

TURN STRUCTURE

 

1) Gather Power

2) Determine First Player

3) Action Rounds

4) Cleanup

 

Gather Power

The players scan the map and determine how much Power they will have in the upcoming turn. They earn 1 Power per Cultist and 2 per controlled Gate. Player control of Gates is determined by whose Cultist stands atop it. There are a few other ways to gain Power, but Cultists + Gates are the lion's share. At game start, each player has 8 Power. As the game proceeds, they earn more. 10-14 is decent, 15+ is good. Fewer than 10 (after the first turn) is not so great. More than 20 is uncommon, but does happen.

 

Determine First Player

Whoever has the most Power is First Player. If there's a tie, whoever was First Player last turn breaks the tie. The first player also determines the direction of play for the turn - whether clockwise or widdershins. Going earlier in the turn gives a slight advantage, so you can punk the guy sitting next to you by pointing the direction of play away from him.

 

Action Rounds

Each player may take one (1) Action per Action round. Each action has a cost, often 1, but ranging from 0 up to 10 or more. For instance, recruiting a new cultist costs 1 Power; Awakening Shub-Niggurath costs 8, and so forth. Players continue taking Action rounds and spending Power until all players have exhausted their Power. If a player runs out of Power early, he sits idly while the others complete the phase. You are not allowed to "pass" during the Action phase - you MUST take an Action. This turn structure is common to other games, like CHAOS IN THE OLD WORLD or HERE I STAND.

 

This Action Round system keeps the game moving quickly (because your turn is over fast), plus lets other players react to what you are doing. For instance, if you want to attack another player, first you take an Action to Move units into his territory. Then, on your next Action, you can declare the Battle Action. But in the meantime, he can take a Move action of his own, to flee, or bring in reinforcements. Or he might Summon a new monster to the area, etc.

 

Cleanup

In most turns, nothing happens during Cleanup. But occasionally there is some event which needs to occur before the next turn starts. So the Cleanup phase exists for that occasional need.

 

SPELLBOOKS

One of the main driving forces in the game are the spellbooks. On your faction card are six spaces with six different requirements. For instance, one of Cthulhu's requirements is "Control 3 Gates in Ocean Areas". One of Yellow Sign's requirements is "Desecrate North or South America". When a player fulfills one of these requirements, he immediately picks out one of his 6 spellbooks, and places it on his faction card, covering the space. He now has access to that spellbook throughout the rest of the game.

 

Each spellbook gives the player a unique benefit. Some spellbooks create ongoing effects. For instance, Black Goat's Frenzy spellbook grants her Cultists a Combat value of 1 (normally, a Cultist's Combat is 0). Some spellbooks give the player a new Action only he can perform (for instance, Yellow Sign's He Who Is Not to be Named, which lets Hastur teleport to any spot where there is a Cultist, who presumably unwittingly said The Name. There is at least one spellbook boosting each of the faction's Monsters. Crawling Chaos's Invisibility spellbook permits his Flying Polyps to turn invisible, for instance. Some spellbooks are absolutely core to a faction's future activities. Others are merely nice perks. Which spellbook you acquire in which order becomes a major part of the game's strategy, and, obviously, changes each game.

 

Earning all six spellbooks unlocks some late-game bonuses that massively boost a player, and typically indicates that the game is drawing near its end.

 

COMBAT

Combat is not particularly lethal. Both sides roll dice equal to their unit's Combat total in the Area, then check the dice. Each 6 results in a Kill. Each 4 or 5 results in a Pain. The defender (as in AXIS AND ALLIES) picks which units receive which results. Kills are removed from the board. Pained units must retreat into a neighboring Area. One of the main functions of Battle is to clear out an area of enemy units so you can take over a Gate they have built there. In 8 months of intense playtesting, I have only seen a player completely eliminated from the map once, so this is not a game of genocide. Wars are more like the CIVILIZATION boardgame, carried on for limited goals, and ended when those goals are achieved.

 

Among experienced players, the game is a constant stream of little skirmishes, with an occasional major clash.

 

VICTORY

The game features a Doom track, like a lot of other Lovecraft-themed games. However, in CTHULHU WARS, you are trying to increase the Doom track, not thwart it. Each player has a token on the track, and all are trying to get to the magic 20, which grants victory. Advancement on the Doom track is done by performing the Ritual of Annihilation (an Action). Each time the Ritual is performed, it gets more expensive for everyone. The amount of Doom points received for performing a Ritual is contingent on how many controlled Gates you have. For instance, if Cthulhu controlled 3 Gates, a Ritual would score him 3 Doom points. The most common way to hinder a player from winning is to take away his Gates. This not only reduces his Power for next turn (making it harder to perform the Ritual), but means he will actually gain fewer Doom points if he does manage to pull it off.

 

GAME COMPLEXITY

The rules themselves are not that complex, but all the many different abilities, monsters, and spellbooks give a lot of breadth. The game's depth comes from the interaction of the different factions. Knowing what an enemy faction can do, and mastering your own faction's possibilities is the path to victory.

 

The spellbooks, spellbook requirements, monsters, special abilities, etc. are completely different between factions, which all play very differently. Cthulhu is a combat powerhouse, Crawling Chaos strikes far across the board, preying on the vulnerable, Black Goat spreads like a fungal pool of consolidation and control, Yellow Sign follows its own insane logic.

 

GAME LENGTH

Par seems to about 90 minutes. I've seen games last less than an hour, but this is very rare. I've also seen a game in which two players had severe cases of analysis paralysis, take 3 hours. At CthulhuCon in Portland, we played 5 games in 9 hours. Yesterday, at NTRPGCon here in Dallas, we played 4 games in about the same time, with breaks between games.

 

- - - Updated - - -

 

I hope you can see from this description that this is NOT a damn glorified "Risk". Man that comment (in another thread) sticks in my craw. Sorry to sound so negative but wow.

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SandyPetersen

I agree that this is an expensive game. It is, admittedly, a luxury product. I wanted the production values to be really high, and that costs money too. But the way I see it, if you buy a game with better components, it lasts longer and you actually get more of your money's worth.

 

I play every week (2-3 games) with a playtest team at Robot Entertainment. They're not even Lovecraft fans, but they have played this game around 50 times and they STILL really like it. A lot. So it has a lot of replay value. It's not like my copy of Cthulhu Mash which I played once, and now sits, idly, on my shelf.

 

Also I thought our mi-go were kind of spindly-looking. Muscle-bound? Hmm. Actually I am hoping to alter the mi-go we have now to make it look more like the Mi-Go in "The Whisperer in Darkness" (which I was executive producer on).

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Shimmin Beg

Sandy, Fallingtower's mi-go sig turned up after the 7th edition Kickstarter and I'm 99% sure it's only referring to that.

 

It occurs to me now that December includes my birthday... hmm...

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christian

Dear Sandy, that was not a reflexion on YOUR Mi-go, but on the awful mi-go drawing in the 7th edition pledge, which has a lot of us cringing ( is that the word) and gnashing extra sets of teeth in dismay

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DavetheLost

I may yet pledge for this game. I need to download the rules and see how quickly and easily it can be learned by new players. I do get to a few cons where I could run it.

 

I spent at least as much on OGRE, although that game I play solitaire and have loved since it first came out.

 

Convince me Sandy, why should I buy this game? It is possibly edging out CoC 7e on the possibility list. Mainly because I already have versions of CoC that I like and play, I don't have Cthulhu Wars.

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PoC

I've merged the two Cthulhu Wars threads to keep conversation about the same topic in one place.

Not that it's a competition, but for those interested. Current standing:

 

Cthulhu Wars: $216,456

Call of Cthulhu 7e: $194,913

 

I think the Innsmouth House Irregulars might like playing this, but I'd suspect all the players would have to chip in. :-)

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SandyPetersen

I have been playing this game with a group of friends from Robot Entertainment almost every week. We typically play 3 games in our session. They don't know anything about Lovecraft (they call the Cthulhu figure "the octopus"), and after 50-100 sessions they STILL really like Cthulhu Wars. One of them just e-mailed me this morning and asked me to come down and bring the game so they can play it. Again. They keep uncovering new strategies and ideas. They are completely unpaid, and on a couple occasions I felt guilty about using up their game night to ONLY play Cthulhu Wars, so I asked if they'd like to play something else, like Lords of Waterdeep or whatever. The answer was "No". They wanted Cthulhu Wars.

 

So that is my evidence that Cthulhu Wars is a terrific game. It convinced the heck out of ME.

 

I may yet pledge for this game. I need to download the rules and see how quickly and easily it can be learned by new players. I do get to a few cons where I could run it.

 

I spent at least as much on OGRE, although that game I play solitaire and have loved since it first came out.

 

Convince me Sandy, why should I buy this game? It is possibly edging out CoC 7e on the possibility list. Mainly because I already have versions of CoC that I like and play, I don't have Cthulhu Wars.

 

- - - Updated - - -

 

I will just say that I am very happy with 7th edition CoC, and am writing a new intro for it.

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Fallingtower

I think the Innsmouth House Irregulars might like playing this, but I'd suspect all the players would have to chip in. :-)

 

 

Maybe you might be able to somehow get a hold of a free copy for an in depth play test and review. Just a thought...

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Shimmin Beg

Update: I have cracked and ordered a copy for my birthday. The pain is already dulling... in fact I barely remember it. My memory is slipping away, and only this strange scrap of parchment - or is it vellum, of a provenance I am oddly reluctant to consider? - marked with curious sigils, remains to whisper of some near-forgotten promise.

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DavetheLost

OK, I'm in too. Dammit Sandy, did you have to make the CdG pledge level so enticing? Now I have to decide about add ons.

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