Tiago Perretto
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Thinking about my next move.
So, if my only options are these, then I shall...

About Chez Cthulhu:

1) What is it?
Chez Cthulhu is a party game about having an apartment during the coming of the Elder Gods - which you might be actively trying to help bringforth, or simply making the best of a bad situation.

The rulesheet isn't all that great in actually teaching the game, which is much simpler than one might think by reading it: is basically a matter of playing some cards, paying for some of them with income and/or free time, rolling the die a few times, and discarding and drawing more cards. The flow is pretty steady and the downtime isn't truly an issue.

Gameplay is straightforward, with some corner cases that the rulesheet does'n't cover completely, but usually is easy enough to come up with a reasoning.

The playing time, for us, was, surprisingly for a SJG game, less than indicated: while the box says 60 minutes, or play with 2 lasted around 25 minutes, and with 3, around 35. With 4 players it do gets closer to 1 hour, and I can see it going there and above with some players taking too much time on their turns.

There is some amount of take that and bash the leader, but much less then I expected at first - while it happens, it doesn't bother all that much, and the game is usually going forward, instead of players fighting in a one step forward two steps backwards type of way.

Chez Cthulhu isn't remarkably good, however the mechanics do their job well enough and there is some enjoyment in playing it.

2) How do you play?
The play has several phases and the goal is to reach an amount of slack determined by the Job card the player has. In her turn the player does:
- Draw cards;
- Call People/Pet - if the person has a slack value, a die is rolled: for 1-2 the person isn't there and the card is discarded; for 3-6, the person is added to the players room. A Pet doesn't required this roll. A Person with slack zero also doesn't require the roll. Persons/Pets can be put in other players rooms;
- Get rid of uninvited People - in a roll of 4-6 the Person leaves, and can be discarded or put in another player's room; in 1-3, the Person stays and activates his/her ability;
- Free Time - during the Free Time, the player can go Shopping and/or do Activities. Each Thing bought and each Activity costs 1 Free Time. The amount of Free Time someone has depends on the Job card. Also, some Activities and Things have a cost, which must be paid by the Income the player has, which comes from the Job card;
- Discard cards - the player can discard down to 1 card.

There are Whenever cards that can be played at any time, even in other players turn.

The description of the effect of each card is on the card itself.

There is, finally, a Madness mechanic. Little madness is bad, but be completely mad is desirable. Up to 8 Madness, the player loses slack (from 1 to 3, depending on the amount of Madness). From 9 above, the person is totally mad and starts to gain slack when she would gain Madness.

That is it. Players do the phases, use the ability of cards, gain slack and Madness. Use the income to get Things and do Activities. Attack the others by blocking actions or sending uninvited Persons.

When someone reaches the required amount of slack, she wins immediately.

3) Which are the decisions made during play?
- Which card to play, when and in which room/player. This is the main decision, and isn't truly hard: it is, usually, better to play as many cards as possible, since cards come for free at the start of each turn. Income and the amount of Free Time prevents, normally, the use of all cards, but this doesn't change the fact that the more cards you play, the best it is. Some cards can give more slack or have a better effect when a certain type or amount of something is already in your (or someone else's) room, and it might pay off holding them for a while. Therefore, there are some timming issues regarding the use of some cards, however, this is hardly a big concern or decisive;

- Which cards to keep and which to discard. Is better to not need to discard many cards. Yet, most of the time you will end up with 3, 4 cards in hand at the end of your turn. It could be of use to discard and hope for the best in your next turn.

Overall, being true to its party game nature, the decisions don't even come close of being hard or inducing to some AP. It is only a matter that some cards work better in some situations or interact best in some condition, and is might be worth to wait for this to happen.

4) What are the good things in the game?
- The art is very well done and fits well with the humor of the game;
- Pacing of the play is lively and downtime is hardly an issue;
- Usually the game is moving forwards, towards its end;
- Easy to teach and to play.

5) Which are the bad news?
- Language dependent: most, if not all, of the cards have text which explains how the card works;
- Some degree of take that and bash the leader;
- Luck of the draw and of the roll can play a big roll in deciding the winner;
- Decisions are usually a given thing.

6) How do you feel while playing?
As if living in a very strange building. People you don't know come and go, there are some weird pets, probably against regulations. There are unusual activities going on. Tentacles abound and there are food laying around. A good deal of noisy nookies. And likely some sacrifices are happening and the Elder Gods are near. Madness!

Overall, Chez Cthulhu worked better than we hoped it would: we went with more than some trepidation due to the nature of other Steve Jackson games, but our fears were, for the most part, unfounded: Chez Cthulhu isn't truly a great game, but it serves its purpose well enough, plays somewhat fast and it the art of John Kovalic adds a lot to the humor.

While it doesn't get a full recommendation, it gets approved enough on its own way.


Image credit: mtjander

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Hunter Shelburne
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Glad you enjoyed the game!
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