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The Doom That Came To Atlantic City» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Shed your prejudices and give it a try rss

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Denis Maddalena
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I see there are a couple video reviews and one initial gameplay impression at the time of writing this, but figured the Geek could use a little more in case you're like me and refuse to watch more than thirty second snippets of videos/don't like going off-site.

Full disclosure:

I DO hate Monopoly.
I DO enjoy the Cthulhu Mythos.
I AM irritated by Cthulhu being attached to nearly anything, especially as random Kickstarter stretch goals.
I HAVE only played this once (but as my gaming group was put off by the looks and theme, I probably won't get another chance), so treat this as an "initial impressions" with a bulky description.

Overview:

First impressions can be a bitch. I'm sure a lot of folks had mixed feelings about this one, especially those who both hate Monopoly AND Cthulhu (or whimsical Cthulhu). Monopoly this ain't. There are plenty of similarities, but most are only in passing.

Similarities:
- Roll 2d6 to move
- Uses resources
- Same rough board layout, 4x 8+2 sides
- Two card decks
- Area control and resource stealing from opponents landing on that area

Differences (list of things TDTCTAC provides):
- Individual abilities
- Some control over movement, either through gates or cards
- Static abilities, and lots of them
- Two different resources
- A LOT of player interaction
- Considerably shorter play time (Took us about 60 minutes on a first play, setup and rules included, with three players)

In short, it FIXES every issue I ever had with Monopoly. And that's because it's not monopoly. There are plenty of games with roll-and-move, plenty with area control and penalties for landing on the stuff I own... while it's obviously trying to evoke the nostalgia/revulsion associated with Monopoly, it's a completely different game.

Total Score/Quick Summary: 6

I liked this game, specifically within the casual time-waster games category. There's a little strategy to the game, mostly mid-to-late when choosing which gate to pop out of, and if/when to attack, but you're largely at the whims of the dice gods. Some rolls can be countered by abilities, but getting those abilities and resources to use single-use cards can be a bit random, too. It felt pretty balanced, but it is NOT something for hardcore tournament play. Or maybe I'm doing it wrong.

The speed of play is largely assisted by reachable end-goals, limited choice, and very few crap abilities that rapidly pile up to give you a proper "level up" feel.

I'd imagine this would scratch the same itch as Munchkin or other super casual Ameritrash games, albeit with a steeper price tag and prettier components.

My rating is purely based on gameplay. I don't think component quality really matters if the game is solid, especially in the era where Print-and-Play is so easy and accessible. If I like an ugly game, I can MAKE it prettier. If a pretty game is terrible, I have to write a new game system for it (Super Dungeon Explore... this is for you).

This said, I enjoyed it enough to want to play it again, but won't be throwing down any cash for it. I'm sure I could find other players outside my play group to play with, but it's such a casual game I'm not likely to want to play more than once or twice a year. If you do enjoy casual games, this is one of the more interesting I've played, with enough variation to keep it fresh for a time. The fact your abilities are vulnerable to theft, but are usually pretty comparable to others, means there's a certain feeling of sameness that would probably be a lot more apparent after 5+ plays.

Writing/Rules Readability: 6

Most of the rules are pretty well laid-out, but there's a pretty significant error on one of the Gate cards, essentially reversing the benefit by gaining multiples of the same Regional Gate. There are also misdirections in the rulebook (says p17, means p16). Certain things, like how to play Chants cards in combat, could use some clarification. Is there an order to play Chants? Do you have to play them simultaneously? Can you just throw them back and forth until someone submits? That sort of thing. It may be in the rulebook, but I couldn't find it within a reasonable amount of time (looking both in the Chants description and attacks vs. characters sections). Frustrating for those of us who want an answer to everything, but it's perfectly playable.

Looks/Layout: 8

Beautiful, but suffering from an identity crisis. The miniatures, character cards, other world board art, and Tomes are "darker". These are good representations of the worlds, sometimes beautiful and, as a miniatures guy, I can say the figures will hold paint very well (after some washing).

Cards themselves are more light-hearted, with most permanent cards showing a cartoon Yithian doing something related to the card title. Chants are all simple text, and events are white-on-black, making them very distinguishable from the other cards in their decks.

The board is plain on the spaces and filled with Other World art above each Region, all easy to read, and spaces will quickly be littered with gates showing the "dark" version of your Old One.

The rulebook is very plain, with giant text, so should be easy for the color-blind or hard-of-sight gamer. In fact, all text in the game is pretty large. Also for the color blind, gates within a region are clearly labeled above that region, and on the gate cards as well. Not being color-blind myself, I don't know the other strides this game makes to support those who are, but the similarity between colors (two shades or green, a lot of orange/yellow/red/purple) does mean those who aren't should double-check to make sure they're grabbing the right gate.

I sort of wish they'd have gone with all cute or all "real terror" art, but it didn't feel exactly wrong, either.

Components: 9

Everything feels appropriately thick. In the box you'll have a board, a big pile of giant cards (don't know anything that could sleeve them, actually), a couple smaller decks of cards, eight awesome miniatures (Cthulhu looks the least inspired, surprisingly... based on the same old statue he's always represented as), and a bag of house, resort, and cultist meeples.

The cultists look like investigators. This is a minor gripe, but I'm stealing a point.

Gameplay: 6

Ultimately you're trying to either open six of your gates or fulfill your Doom condition.

The game looks like Monopoly when you open the board, with 8+2 movement spaces on each side, each of which include a central location on each, a card draw and penalty space. Each of the four corners has a correlating space to the monopoly board; Mi-Go allows you to collect the game's resources, Banished! is a Go-to-Jail sort of thing, etc.

At the start of the game all players are issued an Old One, their starting Providence card, a Chants card, and one Doom. Two houses are distributed on each of the colored board spaces, so six per region, in the standard setup.

The starting Providence Card is your initial ability. For example, Hastur always draws two cards from the Providence or Chants decks and chooses one. Cthulhu may always take cards from the discard piles. Ithaqua has a stronger attack and may attack adjacent Regions (giving an effective attack range of one quarter of the board. Nyarlethotep is particularly nasty, able to steal an opponent's ability by trading his Mask when he attacks, and then able to reclaim his mask before initiating a future attack. The targeted opponent can feasibly trade this mask off before Nyarlethotep gets to steal it back, but there's potential for a lot of ability stealing. And yes, he can steal the opponent's starting ability.

Providence cards in general modify the gameplay of a character. You can find things to pump your defense, attack, and/or destruction, or give weird abilities like moving counterclockwise.

Chants cards are one-time use spells that require sacrifice of acquired houses and cultists to activate. They tend to be pretty powerful, and those that provide modifiers to your attack, defense, and destruction may be played AFTER your dice roll. They may let you move in reverse for one round, or swap the position of any two gates, etc.

Both Providence and Chants card decks contain events that, when drawn, must be immediately resolved. They're usually negative, and usually allow you to draw another card from the deck they came from, so you aren't totally hosed when you draw one.

Doom cards provide a "shortcut" to victory, usually by acquiring a certain number of gates first, then fulfilling another condition, such as immediately initiating and winning three attacks in a row, or having a gate of each side of the board and sacrificing four houses. Dooms can only be initiated when you land on a gate YOU own. You can acquire additional Dooms beyond the initial by landing on a certain corner space, but you only ever keep one.

Players take turns rolling a pair of dice and moving clockwise that many spaces. When you land on a space, you follow mandatory instructions. At the beginning of the game this is limited to the resource penalty (lose a cultist), card draw (Providence or Chants cards), or any of those four corner items. Later on you'll be paying "Gate Tolls" for landing on opponents' gates.

After mandatory instructions are completed, you'll proceed to combat. If you land on a space with an opponent, you MUST fight them. In a 3+ player game, if you land within a "region" (the five spaces on a single side of a board including the central gate, and up to, but excluding, the corner spaces), you MAY fight. In a 2+ player game, one entire side of the board is fair game to attack.

Attacks are handled simply, rolling 2d6 and adding your attack modifiers, while your opponent rolls 2d6 and adds their defense modifiers. If you win, you draw a Chants card and steal one of their cultists. If you lose, your turn ends.

If you make it to the next phase, and you're on a space with a house, you'll try to destroy one. Roll 2d6 and add your Destruction modifiers. On a 7+ you destroy a house and put it on your character card as a resource. If you destroyed the last house on this space, you place one of your gates on this location and gain a giant card (analogous to the Monopoly property cards) that indicate what special ability you've unlocked, and what the gate toll is for that location.

Each Region has a certain type of gate card associated with it. For example, one region will contain all the Gates to N'Kai, another region with all the Gates to Shaggai. Collecting more of the same gate, as in Monopoly, increases the gate toll (a certain number of cultists). It also powers up the gate ability, which usually requires a certain number of houses/cultists to be sacrificed to initiate. The more gates you own, the cheaper this ability is. You may use this gate ability no matter where you are on the board.

One of the better features in the game is the use of these gates. When you start a turn on a gate, you roll as normal, but may start your movement from ANY MATCHING gate. At the start of the game these are only the "railroad" spaces, but as the board gets more populated in late game, you'll have a decent amount of choice where you land, allowing you to snatch up additional gates. Landing on opponents' gates, then, is not usually too detrimental. Early game you probably won't have too many cultists to pay with anyway, and late game, teleporting to other gates they've put up is rather nice.

Speaking of, whenever you would be forced to pay a cultist/house and have no more, you just don't pay. Obviously this doesn't work for fueling abilities or chants, but when you land on enemy gates or penalty spaces, you don't have to wheel and deal to make ends meet.

You're allowed a total of three doubles in a single turn. Depending on when you roll doubles, there are different effects.

Movement: Take another turn (but keep your Doubles counter until you pass the dice) after you resolve all stuff on the space you're on.

Attack: You MUST attack again. The first attack roll is the one that determines whether your turn ends; any additional allow you to potentially leach more cultists from the opponent and draw Chants cards.

Destruction: You MUST try to destroy another building in this space. If there are no more, this double is wasted.

If you roll three doubles in a TURN (not in a row) you get Banished. This is a thematic version of Jail that hurts pretty bad; each turn you'll add a cultist by your board and roll a dice, trying to roll equal or under the number of cultists there. I'll admit I'm not 100% on the rest of this, whether you keep the cultists summoning you back or where you get placed, because in our three-player game no one wound up Banished.

Variants:
We only played with one Variant, just because it brought in Tomes. Every third space in a Region has its houses replaced by Resorts, which are just tough houses. When you destroy one, you place your gate as normal and gain a Tome. You can only ever have one Tome, so if you destroy multiple Resorts you'll have to choose to keep one or the other. Tomes are basically powerful static abilities similar to Providence cards, but practically immune to theft.

That's pretty much it. Teleport around, destroy buildings, build gates, screw with your opponents, and power up your character to do it all better.

Thanks for reading, and of course, feel free to comment below!
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Frank Castle
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Sounds like the perfect game to convert people who love Monopoly into LuvCraftianz lol goo
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bri beleren
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im not saying this specifically to you, im new to forums so sorry if it does the big blue box where it seems like im replying specifically to you, honestly I love the theme of this game, I wanted to like it sooooo bad, but I just hate this game, if you play with more than 2 people, it seems to have hope, but 2 player games are a nightmare, one bad roll or draw of cards, and its all over pretty much, I just got done playing a game where I didn't land a single gate and my opponent won by placing all 6, I was using hastur, I like him, he has a control element being able to decide what cards you get, and no noob stat buffs to make the game even more weighed, well I rolled terribly, I passed around the board lots, destroyed lots of houses, but was never able to get good chants or providence cards, I got some of the stupidest ones, and in two player, you almost always are in range for attack, so I did good at first destroyed some houses, but then my opponent kept beating me keeping my cultists low, I was never able to land and get chants cards to defend myself or interfere with my opponent, they landed their 3rd gate, then proceeded to just teleport around the board landing their last gates, anytime I went to get the final house, they have something to stop me because they could actually land on chants spaces, so all my houses was just clearing the board for my opponent to land where they want and destroy the last house, the games theme is great, really, but their setup for 2 player to me is completely ridiculous, never should you play a game that you can get steamrolled that easily, I mean all games have luck factors in them, but this game is nothing but luck, the most stradegizing you can do is the timing of your chants but doesn't do any good when you don't get any, and what you do get, doesn't help you, I recommend this for a game group, seems to be a good party game, its simple to understand, great theme, but if you wanna sit down and play one on one, or play something more equal and challenging, and therefore to me would be more fun, id steer clear of this, great theme, potential great game, but the 2 player is broken if there is a scenario that your opponent can land 6 gates before you land 1, there definitely shoulda been an equaling factor, but in this game, he who takes the lead, unless screwed over by lots of bad draws and rolls, will keep the lead, who wont have fun watching them destroy your face, and they wont have fun seeing the pure awfulness of whats happening on your end, I really wish it had been better put together, this is my assessment without playing more than 2 players or any of the other setups/game modes, so honestly more players could be just as broken, but it seems like it wouldn't be, maybe the games modes will shine something better for 2 people, but the standard 2 player mode, I will not play again and I haven't even played my 5th game of it which shows how long it took to be tired of that crap >.>
 
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Denis Maddalena
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Ha, it's perfectly acceptable to share your opinions in the comments.

So, those are all cornerstones of this game; it's incredibly random, and yes, bad dice mean you can get screwed. You choices basically boil down to whether you want to attack a guy within your region, what spells you want to play and when (assuming you can afford them, which is hard unless you succeed in brutalizing a few houses), and what gate you come out of (when starting on a gate, and choosing only gates of the same type).

It's incredibly casual, shouldn't be something you play competitively, and if you want the real ultimate power of choice and interesting decision making, feeling like you're properly piloting your GOO to victory, this ain't a game for ya.

I'll disagree the theme is great. It's pretty pasted on. It's a nice looking, effective cash-in, but would fit better with giant monsters. The fact your Old Ones are just waking up and "weak" at the start of the game is a bit silly, though I guess it does only take them about an hour to destroy the world. But...

- The whole basis of the mythos is that humans are completely insignificant, so there would be little to no point to our intentional destruction (could be argued the house destruction is just the character walking from point to point, destroying things as he moves by happenstance or random spite)
- Nyarlethotep is the only one who would really revel in it, but in all the stories, he's been around for years and years in various forms
- Azathoth, as center of the universe, would actually destroy the universe by leaving if he exhibits mass as we know it

And so on.

Mansions of Madness is probably the single most properly Cthulhu board game because it doesn't feature the GOOs themselves, just mythos-based plots. Kinda like a good session of the RPG.

But you can ignore all that. Every Cthulhu product out there ignores major points for the sake of "fun" gameplay. The LCG is fantastic, Elder Sign is definitely my favorite push-your-luck dice game (also very random, but it's all about controlling that chaos), and Cthulhu Wars looks like a more nutty Chaos in the Old World with a lot of hard counters mixed with strategic depth. This game, however, falls into the Munchkin Cthulhu/Unspeakable Words/Cthulhu!!! category of light thematic cash-ins.

I do believe if this game were giant monsters it would make it more universally appealing. There's a bit of Cthulhu overload going on in the gaming world today, while giant monsters still feel relatively fresh. King of Tokyo, Rampage, and others are pretty well rated.

King Kong translates very nicely into Azathoth
Some weird shapeshifter as Nyarlethotep
A giant alien brain as Hastur

etc, etc...

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bri beleren
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well agreed the theme isn't the best, but I just love anything cthulhu mythos related or anything that can give me a bioshock art feel, which is what this reminded me of, agreed though, if you are going cthulhu mythos gaming, this isn't the best choice by far, I really like arkham horror, I just don't like how weighed it is with few people, I still need to try the mansions of madness and elder sign, I have the base set for the lcg, and I found it fun, perhaps my adversion to this game had a lot to do with my gaming flow, I love playing magic the gathering, and I play a lot of deck builders, most of all the games I play, im not completely at the mercy of randomness, I mean yes, there is the whole way the cards fall, but this game for me was just so upsetting cause I didn't feel like I was doing much of anything, I was just rolling dice and making brain dead choices, and nothing I did mattered compared to how the dice fell and where people landed, guess ive just been out of the randomness of board games for too long
 
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