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Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game» Forums » General

Subject: How Immersive is COC? rss

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Dave
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Been pondering this game as I like the subject matter. And it will be my first game of this type.

Was wondering how immersive the mechanics and theme are in creating a story. Having read the rules I get the impression that the story cards provide the setting and the players provide the struggle between good and evil. Correct?

I was wanting to know player impressions after the final battle has been fought and the final story card claimed. Is there a feeling that "a story just took place here" when all is played and done? I really like games where there is an underlying feeling that a narrative chain of events led to this final conclusion. Does COC give this?
 
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Its pretty good in that regard. The premade decks are built around a theme, which often works well together, and makes sense story wise. For example, you might play a Cultist who worships Cthulhu, and makes the cost to play him less. Several turns later, you'll play Cthulhu (more cheaply as his cultists are waiting for him), and once he arrives other creates and investigators start dying like crazy. The assignment of the characters to the storyline card is fairly mechanical, but the decks themselves have enough built in story to make it interesting.
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Chick Lewis
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That is an excellent question, super D, but the answer is complicated, so please bear with me as I try to tell you what goes on in my mind when playing CoCLCG.

A card game must necessarily be more abstract than a role-playing game or board game.

Your 'team' is a loose affiliation of the characters and capabilities which you have decided to include in your deck. But these resources are not reliable, and you do not have perfect control over them. (Sometimes they don't show up until late in the deck)

Your own 'goals', and those of your opponent, are randomly assigned through the mix of three story cards. The story cards, as you correctly surmise, represent things which can be learned, accomplished, or prevented. Through reading the effects of the available story cards, you must decide which ones you want to win in order to trigger the effect, and which you absolutely MUST win in order to prevent the bad guys from triggering them.

Sometimes the story cards seem like a mini map of three locations. More often they seem like some arcane bit of knowledge or history or rumour to be researched, understood, and then dealt with.

Your opponent's team and resources are also obscure to you. You have little idea what he is capable of, what vague agenda he wants to accomplish, or how to stop him.

During game play, you must make hard choices as to which cards to use for resources and which to put into play. Then more hard choices face the players regarding when to commit the available characters to stories.

When characters are at a story unopposed, They are awarded successes on that contest. Enough successes allow you to 'win' that story, and decide whether or not the story effects will be triggered.

When characters from both sides are committed to the same story, the struggles become crucial, and very interesting.

Let's now posit a situation in which a small team of investigators from the Miskatonic faction commit to a story. I might imagine them stealing into the graveyard at night, with lanterns, shovels, and a shotgun. But they are ambushed there by cultists with terrifying allies, including a controlled monster!

First is a chance to play actions. Probably the investigators fire all the shotgun ammo they have at the cultists. Some are wounded and removed from the story (killed and discarded, in game play). The cultists may also have actions, possibly spells which can be used here.

Then comes the terror struggle. If the monster has terror icons and has not been promptly killed by the shotgun, one of the investigators will likely go temporarily insane. This is very thematic, and follows many of Lovecraft's stories. "Aaaahh ! That thing is not HUMAN ! - (sounds of chortling madness as he runs from the graveyard).

Then is the combat struggle! The two sides grapple with one another, up close and personal, claws against fists! Combat icons are summed and compared, and one investigator or cultist is likely to be wounded and removed. Again, very much in the spirit of the role-playing game.

Follows the arcane struggle. I interpret this as using specialized knowledge to make some of the struggle winner's characters available on the opponent's turn (very important for the active player). Maybe the winner has deduced something which gives him a short-term advantage, realizing he cannot now go home to sleep, but must remain available to defend another story. .

At this point, IF a character with an investigation icon has somehow survived all of the above struggles, he can actually investigate, and possibly win a success token from what he discovers.

FINALLY, the skill of each character still functional at the story is summed and totals compared. Let's say the investigators win on skill. They can dig up the hoary sarcophagus and peek inside, gaining a success token at that story for their efforts.

In this game, the Cthulhu cultists DO NOT yet win when they get the BIG C on the board. The game would SUCK HUGELY if I could lose by my opponent merely paying for an expensive card.

In this card game Cthulhu can hit the table and be used to drive opponents insane or to kill them !! And those opponents MAY be able to banish Cthulhu, if they can assemble the proper resources !

WAY GREAT FLAMIN' MORE FUN !!!

I realize that the inside of my mind differs wildly from that of anybody else's. That said, I hope the above gives you a better feel for the thematic elements of a necessarily-very-abstract card game.

Ultimately, it will be only yourself who can decide whether the disparate actions and events mesh into a storyline which is satisfying. I do find it so, and always feel more RELIEVED than victorious when I manage to win.

Chick
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Benjamin Wooten
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I REALLY enjoy this game, I have to admit. It is an absolute blast to play, and I would not dissuade anybody from purchasing it if it looks interesting to them.

However, to me, immersion is not it's strong point. Art-wise and theme-wise it is consistent and I like it, however my responses to the stories themselves are completely strategic. I find my characters get expended too frequently to develop any lasting attachment to them in a narrative sense.

I do enjoy the feel of a mono-faction deck, and it's nice to bring out a big gun late in the game (Cthulhu, Hastur, etc...) and watch your opponent scramble.

For immersion, I think I'll stick to Lovecraft's writings - those really get me wrapped up in the story. This game just gets me wrapped up in the game, nothing more. And I like it just fine that way.

There is another Cthulhu card game that is out of print, though copies still float around. I can't think of the name offhand, though I'm certain somebody responding to this post will know what I am talking about. It has more story-driven mechanics.
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Brad Miller
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Colin Houghton
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I agree 100% with Benjamin

The game is great and along with SmallWorld, Race for the Galaxy and Shattered Sword, is all that I am playing at the moment.

But really the story cards do not set a story for you to pursue, they are just cards with an effect (optional) when you win them. While indicidual cards have atmosphere (and some make me really laugh as well as shover!) thay are also a means to an end of winning the game.

If you really want to soak up the atmosphere of Lovecraft in a game, then the Arkham games, I'm told, are great.. although they take some time to finish.

I suggest you do what I do.. play the Call of Cthulhu card game when you want a fun, absorbing, quick game with a Lovecraft flavour, and read the Lovecraft books if you want the real immersion.. I've just finished "At the Mountains of Madness" again.. it's brilliant!

Colin (Just call ne Nameless,slithering abhorrent, blasphemous, tentacled salivating aberration from the Pit)
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Chick Lewis
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Hoo, Baybee, I collected and played Mythos CCG when it was new.

Cards are great. Game is So flamingly LAME !

"Ok, I've completed this story, so let's go through my discard pile and my story checklist - - Yep, every card on the list has been discarded! I WIN (snorfle)"

MOST BORING game-win-condition of all time.

Chick
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I played about ten times with the core set.
I like the game but, for me, it is not immersive.

If you like Lovecraft and want to play an immersive game try Arkham Horror.
 
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Dave
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Hey all,

Thanks for the viewpoints and opinions. It sounds like the game play is pretty good on it's own and lends itself to the theme enough to make it enjoyable for me.

Been avoiding Arkham Horror for the time being as I am not up for managing all the components, rules, table space etc. I'll have to revisit my research on that one because initially it had really peaked my interest. Maybe at some point I will take the plunge and get it, or even better, have a chance to play to see how it is from personal experience.

I will probably also take the prior advice and re-read some Lovecraft.wow

Thanks everyone.
 
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Brad Miller
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Arkham Horror is deadly dull IMO. This game's pretty "math-y" as you add up all the icons, but, when you think about your deckbuilding, I feel the themes of the deck can be pretty evocative.
 
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Brian Franzman
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I've also been mildly interested in the LCG, but it consistently seems to be about the mechanics and not very immersive. It has far more combat than a Lovecraftian game should really call for IMHO (though the same should be said about AH). whistle Not a lot really strikes me as eerie, or shocking, or as having any kind of narrative in the LCG. AH does take a heck of a lot of time to play, but is a pretty satisfying co-op game. Both appear to be more about pulp action than true horror, which is a bit off the track from what the Old Gentleman originally gave us.

Mythos is not a terrible game. You get much more of a narrative as you travel and visit different locations, find allies and complete Adventure (story) cards. Scoring Adventure cards is admittedly a little dry, but it suffices. Gameplay is fast, and Mythos also has the Dreamlands as an expansion, if you're into that setting. It also has (what I consider) the distinct advantage of being playable by 2-6 players, or possibly more.

But none of these are better than a good old-fashioned CoC RPG session! goo
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Benjamin Wooten
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Pen and paper CoC, now that takes me back to being very immersed and scared while playing a game.

Helplessly watching my characters go nuts, then get devoured by something . . . those were the days. I wonder if anybody runs a session of that around here?
zombie


 
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Nigel Buckle
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Depends on the effort you put into deck building and your approach. If you put in cards just for effect X at cost Y then you are playing a game where the theme is just there for the pictures.

If on the other hand you build a deck around a theme, say building a swarm of deep ones and you put in cards that support that, so making your own story in a way, then it is more immersive. Nees your opponent to be doing similar of course.

In general it's too combat heavy to give a full lovecraft feel, there's not so much stumbling around and slowly uncovering the dark and dreadful (and hopless) truth and more about getting kitted out and blasting stuff.
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Jack Francisco
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funkenmittens wrote:
Pen and paper CoC, now that takes me back to being very immersed and scared while playing a game.

Helplessly watching my characters go nuts, then get devoured by something . . . those were the days. I wonder if anybody runs a session of that around here?
zombie




I loved the COC RPG. I wish there was a good venue to run a game online. I'd be pretty happy to run one if there was.
 
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Alan Goodrich
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Windopaene wrote:
Arkham Horror is deadly dull IMO. This game's pretty "math-y" as you add up all the icons, but, when you think about your deckbuilding, I feel the themes of the deck can be pretty evocative.


I strongly disagree that AH is dull, but to each his own. In terms of theme, though, I can't see how you can do better than AH.
 
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