$30.00
Tiago Perretto
Brazil
Curitiba
Parana
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Thinking about my next move.
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So, if my only options are these, then I shall...
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About Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu:

1) What is it?
Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu is a reimplementation of many of the mechanics of Pandemic, as you have the same:
- 4 actions per turn;
- drawing cards (for the hand, in order to deal with the matter at hand; and to advance the problem);
- case of having at most three of something in a place, and if there is the need to add more in that spot, another issue happen;
- way of travelling using cards;
- special characters with, mostly, the same abilities;
- end to the game when the draw deck ends, when the advancement of the problem reaches its limit, when there is the need to add something to the board and there is none left to be put.

To the point that, if you know Pandemic, you will be able to play Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu in about 5 minutes, as the differences are very minor:
- there is a Sanity mechanic;
- there is the use of Relics (which work as the special cards from Pandemic, but some stay out of the main deck, and there is a danger in using them);
- there are Shoggoths.

That is mostly it. Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu is mostly Pandemic with some few cosmetic changes.

For the complexity, Pandemic is wedged between Pandemic and Forbidden Island, and is very similar to the one in Forbidden Desert.

2) How do you play?
Once the set up is done, each turn the player will have 4 actions, and the possibilities are:
- walk (1 AP per place);
- fight cultist (take out 1 cultist);
- special movement (using the bus stops or portals);
- fight Shoggoth (first roll the madness die, then use 3 actions; the player gains one Relic card);
- give or receive cards (1 AP per card; limited to cards of the same city both players are in; except Relics);
- seal a Gate (requires 5 cards of the city the gate is in).

Use Relic cards don't cost action, but the player must roll the Sanity die.

After the player has used her actions, she draws two cards. If one of the cards is a Evil Stirs the steps are:
- Fight madness: roll the madness die;
- Reveal the next Ancient One;
- Draw the last card of the Invocation: a Shoggoth is placed there;
- Shuffle the Invocation cards in the discard alongside this last one drawn, and put above the rest of the Invocation deck.

Then cards are revealed from the Invocation deck. These put cultists on the board. If a place already has 3 cultists and one is to be put there, the next Ancient One is revealed. If a card has the Shoggoth symbol, all the Shoggoths on the board walk one space towards the nearest open Gate. If the Shoggoth is already in a Gate and must move, it leaves play and the next Ancient One is revealed.

The game continues until the players seal all the 4 gates - they win! Players lose when:
- a player needs to draw a City card and there is no more cards in the deck;
- a cultist must be placed and there is none left;
- a Shoggoth must be placed and there isn't one;
- Cthulhu is revealed;
- all the players have mad characters.

3) Which are the decisions made during play?
Which action to use. For the majority of the time the decision will be: where to move, considering the need to stop Shoggoths from reaching the portals, and taking out the groups of cultists.

More than what happens in Pandemic, trading cards will be more often and the coordination of is very important to win.

While the use of special cards in Pandemic is given, in here, considerint that playing Relics can have a dire cost in Sanity or bring more cultists, the decision of when take the risk of using one (normally just before sealing a Gate) is important also.

Coordination of places to meet, isn't as relevant, since trading has become much easier to be done and the board is smaller.

I was surprise to see that Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu is lighter in decison-making then Pandemic.

4) What are the good things in the game?
- Good production value: the art is well done and the pieces and cards do the job just fine;
- Tough to beat - I like my cooperative games hard to defeat;
- Easy to teach and to play;
- Playing time is short enough, which is good for a hard game, as it calls for repeated plays;
- Fine level of replay level.

5) Which are the bad news?
- The theme is, sadly, not as strong as I want it to be, being pretty thin;
- Prone to alpha player;
- The randomness of the Sanity die can decide games.

6) How do you feel while playing?
Not what I was expecting, for sure. It is a surprise to me that Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu is actually simpler and less thematic Pandemic: the greater simplicity comes from making easier to trade cards and to travel; and the system of Pandemic, of diseases spreading, is simply perfect for the mechanics used, while in Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu, it just doesn't work as well, even when adding things like Sanity, Ancient Ones, special items from the Mythos, the overall feel is lacking, at best.

Yet, I had a good time with it. I played several times in a row. Then some more. And I still want to keep coming back to it. Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu is simply a breeze to prepare and start playing, and the game goes by very fast, in a lively pace. The challenge is high, and this is, maybe, the key to its survival: it makes players want to go at it again and again. In don't particularly enjoyed the weight the Sanity die has one the results -and is not even a matter of learning when is acceptable to roll it, because the Evil Stirs cards make the player roll the die. For now I see it as part of the challenge.

In the end, I recommend Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu as a shorter and simpler version of Pandemic, one that mostly works exactly the same, but has enough small changes to make the overall experience new, even if reminiscent.

Regards,


Image credit: W Eric Martin



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Max Maximus
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Re: Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu - It spreads like a disease and none in the world was immune - down to the basics review
I sort of agree with most of this, however i(and several of the people i've played it with) have thought this was a more 'fun' version of the original.

I think as well, they should have called the game something else because while it does share some of the mechanics of Pandemic, it is a different game IMO due tot he variations of the rules.

I guess if your after the same sort of experience you get with Pandemic, you will probably be disappointed, its a different experience, one which me and my gamers enjoy more
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Bruce Bacher
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Re: Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu - It spreads like a disease and none in the world was immune - down to the basics review
I think the randomness of the sanity die is very thematic.
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Bill Eldard
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Re: Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu - It spreads like a disease and none in the world was immune - down to the basics review
tiagoVIP wrote:
Not what I was expecting, for sure. It is a surprise to me that Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu is actually simpler and less thematic Pandemic: the greater simplicity comes from making easier to trade cards and to travel; and the system of Pandemic, of diseases spreading, is simply perfect for the mechanics used, while in Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu, it just doesn't work as well, even when adding things like Sanity, Ancient Ones, special items from the Mythos, the overall feel is lacking, at best.


Great review, Tiago. I agree with your assessment, except for the lack of theme. But then, I am not an enthusiast of the Cthulhu mythos, and I'm generally put off by Cthulhu-themed games. That said, the theme is indeed light in this game, but just right for me. I like the simplicity and shorter playing time, as well as the two sides of each character: sane and a less capable insane. From I understand of the mythos, there's just enough here to tie the mechanics of the design together, and that's good enough for me, but I can understand why Cthulhu fans might want more.
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T C
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Re: Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu - It spreads like a disease and none in the world was immune - down to the basics review
Great review!

I definitely feel that Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu (PROC) is a much lighter version of the original Pandemic. There are so many more random elements, and there are less-intricate puzzles to solve. I think I'll enjoy interleaving plays of this game with the original.

For me, however, PROC doesn't necessarily feel less thematic than the original; both are fairly abstract games. The various mechanics and components in this game (sanity, miniatures, gates, die-rolling, relics, etc) do a good job (in my opinion) of evoking the feel of the mechanics of other Cthulhu games like Arkham Horror.

So for me, the theme of PROC isn't necessarily the Cthulhu mythos; the theme is *board games* based on the Cthulhu mythos. For me, PROC's theme succeeds.

PS I only played a couple of times so far; in those games the randomness of the sanity die was overshadowed by the randomness of the "Shoggoths Move" cards. If over half the summoning cards you draw are Shoggoths Move cards, they can be extremely hard to catch.
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