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Subject: Cthulhu Tips rss

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Kolby Reddish
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Hey CW players -

I've played the game in person now about 30 times and I have yet to see Cthulhu win. I have yet to play Cthulhu, we always draw randomly and I've played Yellow Sign over half of the games due to sheer luck.

One player who has played Cthulhu about three times in a row, today claimed he thinks Cthulhu is too weak.

I'm not really sure than I agree, I personally think the player is playing Cthulhu too slow - however the fact that I have yet to see Cthulhu win does make me raise an eyebrow.

What are your tips for playing Cthulhu?
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Dave Mendiola
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The other three factions are really good at getting Elder Signs and extra gates. Cthulhu is really great at beating the snot out of other players. Use that to your advantage and take their gates from them.

Also makes sure to use Y'ha Nthlei as soon as you can. During my last game as Cthulhu, I ended up with getting stupid amounts of power.

Additionally, remember that Dreams works very well if you already have a monster in the area (especially from pains) and they only have one cultist (and however many monsters).
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Kolby Reddish
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Like I said, I have yet to play Cthulhu, but I don't think just brute force is the answer, and here's the reason. Combat is way more expensive than the tricks that other factions can get away with to steal gates.

What just happened today, Cthulhu attacked and took two gates from me, killing all of my YS cultists in the process. However, after he was out of power, I ran around with The King in Yellow capturing his cultists, desecrating for my own off of three of his gates.

While I think attacking me to kill my cultists and attempting to kill Hastur actually helped me more than hurt me, I'm just seeing that Cthulhu seems to struggle more than any other faction.
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Chris Foster
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Dreams + Devolve early on is incredibly evil- if they don't put a monster into the area first, you can steal a gate for free, effectively. Especially go after land gates this way. Defend them with promises of Cthulhu Retribution- you can actually throw him St someone with relative impunity, as you get an elder sign for 4 power reviving him, and usually come out ahead.
Late game, use submerge to attack and murder ocean gates- you can coalesce in 1 turn onto the ocean, and you can usually rise and attack in 1 turn by that point, as you should have all your spell books by turn 3ish. You can beat the leader unconscious that way, and garner goodwill by not mauling the other factions.
Also, I find the Starspawn better for attack, and Shoggoths better on defense, oddly- if you're going to lose the area anyways, absorb the chaff with the Shoggoths and make them pay for the affront. 2x starspawn, Cthulhu, and a deep one or cultist can take a huuuuge am punt of punishment, and still roll 10 dice, so they can usually steamroll anything they want with almost immunity.
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Adam Starks
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I too have yet to see Cthulhu win a game, and have similar fears about him being weak. But I haven't played him enough times to justify that fear.

I suspect the key to playing him well is acting like an apex predator, i.e. keeping the other factions under control. Don't try and hold 5 gates. Instead, sit on your three, get your spellbooks out, and focus on keeping the other factions in check. Get Dreams early, and park Cthulhu with a big army on your faction sheet. Even if you have to delay by moving Cultists back and forth between gates, wait until a faction is about to pull ahead before you launch your assault.

Basically, win via steady Rituals instead of big turns, and keep the other factions from having big turns themselves.
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Michael Off The Shelf Board Game Reviews
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icemantis99 wrote:
Dreams + Devolve early on is incredibly evil- if they don't put a monster into the area first, you can steal a gate for free, effectively. Especially go after land gates this way. Defend them with promises of Cthulhu Retribution- you can actually throw him St someone with relative impunity, as you get an elder sign for 4 power reviving him, and usually come out ahead.
Late game, use submerge to attack and murder ocean gates- you can coalesce in 1 turn onto the ocean, and you can usually rise and attack in 1 turn by that point, as you should have all your spell books by turn 3ish. You can beat the leader unconscious that way, and garner goodwill by not mauling the other factions.
Also, I find the Starspawn better for attack, and Shoggoths better on defense, oddly- if you're going to lose the area anyways, absorb the chaff with the Shoggoths and make them pay for the affront. 2x starspawn, Cthulhu, and a deep one or cultist can take a huuuuge am punt of punishment, and still roll 10 dice, so they can usually steamroll anything they want with almost immunity.
This is pretty much it for how I win as Cthulhu. Don't hesitate to throw Cthulhu around. While everyone has to be careful and use their GOO carefully or risk losing a huge amount of power from a death, Cthulhu's lower recast cost (4 power) coupled with gaining an Elder Sign every time he is resummoned is a heck of a taunt "Go ahead and kill Cthulhu I could use a 5th Elder Sign, might give me up to 15 points at the end of the game.... please kill him for me..... no really, please do so!" Saying that alone is usually a good enough bluff to make the other players gun shy and give me some real impunity to devour with wild abandon.

Plus abusing the heck out of Devolve and Dreams should constantly keep your opponents on their guard when it comes to protecting their own gates and cultists. Dreams on your turn and Devolve right before your turn comes back around.
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Kolby Reddish
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This is how I won as WW in PBF 2 - I ritualed a few times even with 2 gates and a GOO because of the cheap cost with Herald lowering to to 5. (I realize Cthulhu and WW aren't the same, but they both have a slow build up and are combat heavy.)

I honestly am not convinced that Cthulhu is as strong as the other factions as of right now. I realize you should throw Cthulhu around like a wrecking ball, but doing so is expensive, meaning that you'll run out of power quickly. Running out of power long before other players is VERY dangerous in a game of Cthulhu Wars especially as Cthulhu. Yellow Sign can run around and capture cultists off of gates even with monsters on them because of the King in Yellow. Crawling Chaos and fly Nyarlyathotep around and do pretty much the same thing, not to mention that he often is the last person to have power if they properly use The Thousand Forms. Black Goat can be one of the worst with lots of power left at the end of the round, due to Avatar and the easy ability to steal gates through that route.

I'm also not buying the idea that Dreams and Devolve are as amazing as people say. Not often in our games at least are gates left completely unguarded, which is when Dreams is the most valuable. I still think it's a great spell book because without it, people could do so, but I'm not sure simply scaring opponents away from that certain tactic really helps Cthulhu. I've seen Dreams pulled off less than 10 times in all of the PBF games that I moderated and each of the in person games that I've played. Again, I want to repeat that I don't think this spell book in particular is imbalance, and I'm not even sure that Cthulhu as a faction is, but I really can't ignore the fact that I have YET to see him win. Not even once.

My belief is that Cthulhu really needs to play proactive as opposed to responsive. Before another faction builds a fourth or fifth gate and really gears up for a big turn, Cthulhu needs to be on them. Cthulhu's static combat means that he falls off in his effectiveness as the game progresses (I mean simply the GOO, not necessarily the faction as a whole). I think that Cthulhu needs to be used preemptively to stop those big turns from happening rather than cutting down people after they've happened. Here's the problem though, Cthulhu can't simply play world police as a faction and still win. Strike down one of the other 2 or 3 factions and the other(s) will fill that power void with their power, while you've used yours to cut someone else down.

One other issue, is that players can play to try to keep Cthulhu from getting his spell books. Cthulhu is THE faction that is most hindered from not having unlimited battle from having all six spell books.

My actual suggestion, if it is determined that Cthulhu needs a little bit of a boost would be to add to the ability Submerge. I'd think that Submerge should have an optional second action much like Screaming Dead or He Who is Not To Be Named. I'd say if Cthulhu needs even more of a boost, make this second action limited to Battle, and make it cost zero power
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Played my 10th game tonight and Cthulhu dominated. 34 to 26, 21, 18. Many were distracted into attacking Nyarlathotep during the game, when GC swept in and wiped off entire regions off of the map. Cthulhu - 1st, Nyar - 2nd, Black Goat - 3rd, Yellow sign - last.

So far, I've found Nyarlothatep and Yellow Sign to be quite powerful, but GC and BG are able to put so much fear and pressure on other players that it completely warps their gameplay. I think the latter two require a bit more practice and strategy to suss out their power, but they are ultimately even with the other two with a competent player.
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Dave Mendiola
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All I can say is that I stomped with Cthulhu, fighting against 2 players. They weren't as experienced as I, but it wasn't their first game either.

People are ignoring the fact that unless a faction limits themselves to 3 gates and thereby having 2 cultists at every location, they're not immune to Dreams. You simply need a monster occupying the same spot to protect your single cultist and the gate is now yours.

Dreams also makes it so that you can take back a gate that you "abandoned" by devolving a cultist. Admittedly this isn't as effective against a Great Old One, but a Shoggoth protecting your gate would do the trick against them.

I am also wondering whether having Cthulhu and a couple units submerged for a large portion of the game would be a good way to create a threat that deters attacks on gates you control.
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Kolby Reddish
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As I said, I may be wrong, I've never played Cthulhu. I'm going to next Thursday for sure and we'll see how it goes.

As for Dreams, it's really not effective to Dream away a cultist unless you have a monster there as well to protect him from capture.
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Jesse Bowles
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My experience in Cthulhu Wars isn't super high level. My group has played 9 games so far, mostly 3 player, but 2 were 4 player. Almost anyone in our group who uses Cthulhu tends to do well. I win the majority of games, regardless of who I play, but 2nd usually belongs to the Cthulhu faction and in the one case I played Cthulhu, I dominated the game and won quite quickly. This could simply mean that our strategies with the other factions aren't as developed yet, but either way I wanted to give you this preface before trying to sound like some sort of expert.

Anyways, with our experience as Cthulhu, our strategy typically involved:

1. Getting devolve early and using devolve anytime we felt our cultists were in danger.

2. Just running around with #yolo Cthulhu to beat up forces on land. The idea is to make them feel more comfortable having bases in the ocean, which just feeds you more power next turn and leaves them more vulnerable to submerge plays, should you need it.

3. Use devolve as a pseudo-avatar for cultists. A disadvantage for most factions having out all 6 cultists is that you don't have any left in your pool. We typically devolved cultists just before our turn so that we could recruit them anywhere on the board. This worked well with the Cthulhu rampage. Try and bring your Deep Ones anywhere you take Shoggoths so that they can absorb the Deep Ones before you run out of spares in your pool. It's about that resource management.

4. Rarely use Submerge and Dreams. Submerge is just too time consuming and slow to set up effectively. It's sometimes useful in a last turn push or to get Cthulhu back to where he was if you were in the middle of a long rampage across the board, but the idea of taking a huge army and launching a gigantic attack seemed not worth the set-up. Dream, none of us have used even once. If it were a power cost of 2, it might have been too potent of a spellbook, but it's at 3. And at 3, it just is too costly considering most of your gate capturing opportunities come from the Cthulhu rampage and it's easier to devolve-teleport a cultist next to Cthulhu instead.

So most of these are probably "no duh" strategies to CW veterans of these boards, but I thought I would share my current opinion of the faction. It seems Dreams/Submerge is where our group deviates from the majority on opinion. After I played Cthulhu and did well without submerge/dreams, everyone else in the group seemed to pick up a similar strat of ignoring those books for the most part. I'm sure there is going to be that one "AH HA!" moment where Dreams will be useful to us, but it hasn't happened yet.
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Chris Schafer
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We've played twice so far and Black Goat is undefeated.

Game 1: BG,CC,GC,YS
Game 2: BG,YS,GC

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Joey Larsen
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I will also agree that submerge may not always be necessary. Cthulhu tramping around by himself can cause a lot of trouble and get you gates. You don't have to be as worried as other factions about him dying either.
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Brian M
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I'm a bit curious about better Cthulhu strategies myself. It seems like in our games Cthulhu is almost always a very strong contender, usually in 2nd place, but we also have not seen Cthulhu win. I'm wondering what tactics we can use to boost the great squiddly one into a proper place of magnificent victory.

Dreams hasn't seemed too effective for us. As others have pointed out, the threat of dreams is huge, but it is very hard to actually use. You spend 3 power to get your cultist there, then Shubby just spends 1 power to avatar your cultist into the midst of a nest of Dark Young.

We've found the best success with either Cthulhu on his own or using submerge. Spending the power to move multiple units around individually with Cthulhu just results in the opponent running away for less power.

Quote:
Basically, win via steady Rituals instead of big turns, and keep the other factions from having big turns themselves.
I think this might be important. Getting too big a turn tends to mean everyone else goes after you, and Cthulhu has too few units to secure a lot of gates well. More conservative play might help.
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mike o
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For us it is the opposite. Cthulhu wins about a 3rd of the games. I have played with 4 different groups of players. It is Crawling Chaos I have never seen win, or even come close.
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Mike Beiter
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fich wrote:
For us it is the opposite. Cthulhu wins about a 3rd of the games. I have played with 4 different groups of players. It is Crawling Chaos I have never seen win, or even come close.
Crawling Chaos has been on a winning streak at my table. He won the last 3 games, all under different players. The key that we have found was using Harbinger as much as inhumanly possible. You can really rack up the extra energy and elder signs which allows you to gain extra gates late in the round since you have such an energy bonus.

Cthulhu has not won for us yet, but he always comes in a close second in most games. Picking your battle moments seems to be huge.
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mike o
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The problem CC seems to be having no matter which of the 4 groups of players I played with is that getting enough power and keeping it. 10 power to summon is the entire turn. And then trying to get support pieces so keep the GOO from being killed in combat...

The people playing never get the support to go on the offensive and if they try to attack without it the GOO dies and is REALLY set back.
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Sandy Petersen
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Cthulhu advantages:

1) he gets his spellbooks really fast - he often is the first to 6 spellbooks in the games I watch.

2) he gets two Elder Signs for free, just by playing the game.

3) his monsters are objectively superior in combat to everyone else's, with the possible exception of Windwalker. They simply roll more dice.

4) I find Dreams really useful. No, I don't often see Dreams outright displace a lone cultist against experienced players, but needing to keep your dude guarded is pretty big, and the fact that Cthulhu's gates DON'T need guarding in the same way is nice. Plus of course there are lots of ways to use this combo. I'm sure by now everyone knows that if they have a critter in the same area as a cultist on a Gate, though heavily guarded, they can Dream away the cultist and presto, their monster is already there guarding him.

5) Cthulhu's combat is really good, due to Devour and his aforementioned superior monsters.

6) he recovers from losing his GOO better than anyone else, even Yellow Sign.

I find this thread fascinating, because so many haven't seen Cthulhu or Crawling Chaos win - typically one or the other, not both. I bet the variation in "ideology" between different player groups is much of it. I was forced to play with a bunch of wildly different player teams while playtesting. I did notice for instance, that some players ALWAYS lost as Black Goat - they just couldn't get their head around her. Others (such as the ubiquitous Grant) love her. I wonder how much of it is this.
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mike o
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I too love these conversations. Proves what a great game it is. Thank you for creating it and thank you for being so active on the forums even though you must be super busy.

I also agree that it might be play style and personality etc. I have played it with 4 radically different groups. 1) teenage girls and their mom 2) a local gaming group that tends toward euro games and meeples very "family" orientated 3)an alternative lifestyle group that meets in a hardcore bar but are hard core chess players 4) another local gaming group that plays anythign but tends to be agressive and will be mildly vindictive even when playing the next game

Although CC has neve won a game or come close, the game has been only played a total of 9 times across all the groups. So not enough to prove or disprove this yet.

I can't wait till the master chess player takes a crack at CC. He played Cthulhu last time.
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Pierre Lanrezac
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Indeed Big Squid is a combat powerhouse, but also quite adept at psychological warfare ! Sandy already pointed the indirect influence of Dreams (even if you're not using it) however one of my favorite tactics is convincing others to build Gates in the ocean.

I usually start by saying that I'll strike every Faction that is not building at least one Gate in the seas. I also promise not to attack any Gate in the water.
Usually at least one or two players are complying and build in the water, highlighting the remaining players as my targets (if they all comply I say I'll then target the one with the least gates in the water).

Thanks to that, I usually have insane number of Power Points and can quietly focus on taking ground Gates.


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I have played only a few games with 4 and 5 players so far, but here is what I found:

DO NOT BUILD A THIRD GATE ON YOUR FIRST TURN AS CTHULHU!

Seriously, doing so has a high chance to stifle your progress for half the game. It might seem tempting to build a second gate in order to acquire a spellbook for having three ocean gates and to have a chance to start your second turn with 12 power instead of 10. However, since you always go first, there'll be at least one other player that has enough power left to build a cheap monster, move that monster and then capture the cultist on your third gate after you've already spent all your power on those two gates. This means that you start your second turn with only 9 power, which is not enough to summon Cthulhu!

Instead of building a third gate, just build a second one and build a cheap monster and then either snatch an opposing cultist in range or build another, stronger monster. This will secure your two gates and after summoning Cthulhu on your second turn, you already have a monster ready that can accompany him once he starts his world tour of destruction in turn three.

The very first time that we played the game, the GC player built a third gate and his opponents didn't think of capturing the cultist and he had a very good start. After that first game, we became aware of the power of capturing cultists, so that never worked again. It was attempted a few more times, but it always turned out to be a trap.

A few more observations/thoughts:
- We have never ever used Dreams so far.
- GC was never the faction that got its spellbooks first, but also never the faction to get them last.
- So far, GC hasn't won a single game yet. We are still in the learning phase though.
- Remember that Nyarlathotep only gets 2 power for paining/killing Cthulhu, even if it's the first time that the big squidhead has been awakened! We played this wrong and CC got quite a resource advantage from this.
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D Leininger

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Where does it say that the Crawling Chaos only gets 2 for killing/paining GC? Doesn't the sheet say half his "summoning cost," which would be 5 the first time?
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Kolby Reddish
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Cthulhu costs 4 to awaken after the first time. Thus if he exists on the board to be a target for Harbinger - it always only grants 2 power, or more likely the 2 Elder Signs as that's probably a better trade off.
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D Leininger

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reddish22 wrote:
Cthulhu costs 4 to awaken after the first time. Thus if he exists on the board to be a target for Harbinger - it always only grants 2 power, or more likely the 2 Elder Signs as that's probably a better trade off.
But does the faction sheet say CC gains power equal to half the cost to "reawaken" or to "awaken"? I thought the latter, which we interpreted as what it cost to awaken the GOO that round. If it is the first time GC is killed/pained it cost 10 rather than 4. This came up in one of our games and the language is not clear.
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Kolby Reddish
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After the first time he's been awakened (which would have to be the case if he's on the map) it costs 4 to awaken him. (For the record this is coming straight from the design team, not just my own opinion).

I agree that this could have been clearer. For a second edition, I would work Cthulhu's ability differently.
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