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Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game» Forums » Reviews

Subject: The Thinking Man's 'Magic:The Gathering' rss

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Nick Fash
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I started with the Game of Thrones LCG, and might dabble back there soon. It’s pretty good. But my FLGS man in Chicago said I should check out the Call of Cthulhu LCG. Notice: Both games have literature themes.

Call of Cthulhu is a living card game where players place Character cards and commit them to “stories.” Think: battlefields. Support Cards and Event Cards augment player strategies to win five points on one of three stories on the board. Winning three story cards (or getting your opponent to discard their entire draw deck) wins the game.

I now have the complete set minus the out-of-print At the Mountains of Madness asylum pack and play every day. Game of Thrones is said to have the better multiplayer, or is at least designed for it, but the game is slower, and the multiplayer adds an inherent element of diplomacy that always works negatively against the defending champion. Dueling card games allow it just to be their brain against mine.

There’s also a great multiplayer variant to play in Call of Cthulhu, which includes this element of diplomacy, if you’re kinky like that. As sometimes I am.

The game is brilliant. It has infinite depth. The art is beautiful and varied, but still thematically cohesive. I am always curious to see what goofball will be on the next card—it isn’t just gross, as I find warhammer to be. The cards are trying to spook your concept of reality. And it’s awesome.

The order and resolution effects of the terror, combat, arcane and investigation struggles (how stories resolve) are brilliant and goes beyond simple risk/reward.

If the struggles were an rpg party, terror would be the tank, combat the fighter, arcane the healer, and investigation the mage.

Terror resolves first and temporarily disables characters. What terror has in speed it loses in defendability: many cards have immunity in the form of “willpower,” and any card capable of inflicting terror is also immune to it; i.e., things with tentacles are not freaked out by a drooping eye.

Combat, while slower than terror, has the stronger result of completely removing a character from battle. Even this can be defended against with the keyword toughness, or hit points for cards, but this is somewhat uncommon.

When you cross into the second half of the struggles the effects change from negatives for the opponent to positives for the attacker, and if you think about it, are thus undefendable by the defender.

The Arcane struggle results in a character unexhausted, i.e. +1 complete character to defend next turn. This is usually only useful for the attacker as the defender is about to refresh their cards at the start of their turn; however, some effects call for a card to be exhausted, and they might find a use for it.

The last struggle, Investigation, has arguably the most powerful effect of all, giving an extra investigation icon on a story, and reducing the turns needed to take a story from 3 to 2.

It may not be immediately obvious from its use of icons, but this system basically divides the hp/str statistics of say, a magic card (barf) into 4 different stats, with an arguable 5th stat of “toughness” (set at most characters to one). A soft cap is also set on these stats of 6—i.e., only 6 icons could fit lengthwise on the card (Or maybe it’s 5...). This also neglects to include the bonuses from support and event cards, but hey.

Thus where characters truly shine, and by extension where the strategy of the game is, is the action abilities on the cards. This gives each card a unique personality by its often totally unique special ability, instead of being just a picture of a red dragon that says 2/2 on it, maybe with some flavor text: “Dragons are crazy,” said the wizard Glenning, “they killed my mother.”

As you get deeper into the game—and by this I mean, collect more of the asylum packs, and ideally, 2 more core sets—one realizes what game changers the event cards are.

Casual players can play by simply laying out their characters, have their opponents do the same, and then have them all smash each other up. But soon even casual players will become hardcore as the first of them realizes that spells can be played even after both sides have committed to stories.

There is so much room for cruelty here. Play buffs and turn your opponents smug grin into fear. Turn your piece of junk card into ravager of the deep with shocking transformation. Launch a chain of deep young characters from –nowhere- with your under the porch card. Or render all of your opponents cards useless with syndicate tricks.

The game rewards devotion to an organized strategy, be it “reduce skill to attack undefended,” “rush to the stories,” “control the board,” or even “get my opponent to discard.” A jack-of-all-trades deck will very often lose to a deck with a thought out strategy. It’s like being a general: you do all your planning beforehand, to ready yourself for the inherent chaotic nature of battle.

He who prepares, wins. And we know you like to prepare. You’re reading this before you buy the game. Now I exhaust silver twilight temptress on you. Oh. Crap. You don’t have any investigation icons. Now you’re sucked in by her sick and dark ways. As I was. Must buy.
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Great review, Nicholas. I've wanted this one for a long time and now I want it even more.

Keep up the good work.
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Brian McCormick
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Thanks for the great review. This card game looks great and I'd like to try it out one day.
 
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Dave Kudzma
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My current favorite combo deck uses primarily Agency with Syndicate as support.
 
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fightcitymayor
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"This is a really weird game, and you’ll find that most people will not want to play this."
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Duke_Rufus wrote:
The game is brilliant.

Yes, yes it is.

Duke_Rufus wrote:
It has infinite depth.

Let's not confuse copious amounts of mental math for "infinite" depth. Yes, it's deep, but essentially the same 4 icon struggles every time.

Duke_Rufus wrote:
The art is beautiful and varied,

Varied between mostly sloppy oil-painted mess and murky, streaky blurry mess. You got it: I hate the art. (reused RPG art or not, it's still sub-par.)

Duke_Rufus wrote:
I am always curious to see what goofball will be on the next card—it isn’t just gross, as I find warhammer to be.

Not as gross as the Cthulhu art. goo

Duke_Rufus wrote:
many cards have immunity in the form of “willpower,” and any card capable of inflicting terror is also immune to it; i.e., things with tentacles are not freaked out by a drooping eye.

Like the Festering Nurglings that apparently make you sleep with the lights on. zombie

Duke_Rufus wrote:
Even this can be defended against with the keyword toughness, or hit points for cards, but this is somewhat uncommon.

...unless you're every worthwhile Agency card.

Duke_Rufus wrote:
this system basically divides the hp/str statistics of say, a magic card (barf) into 4 different stats,

Oh, no! Not that game that sells more product than most other CCG/LCG/ZCG combined! Not that awful game without which there would be no other CCG/LCG/ZCG! Not that game with the consistently great art! Anything but that awful game!

Duke_Rufus wrote:
This gives each card a unique personality by its often totally unique special ability, instead of being just a picture of a red dragon that says 2/2 on it, maybe with some flavor text: “Dragons are crazy,” said the wizard Glenning, “they killed my mother.”

Dude, I will totally trade you for that card! x4! I suppose a 2/2 flapper would be waaay better. Oh, wait, it's the same thing.

Duke_Rufus wrote:
As you get deeper into the game—and by this I mean, collect more of the asylum packs, and ideally, 2 more core sets—one realizes what game changers the event cards are.

More asylum packs and 2 more Core Sets? That sounds like a lot of cash. Good god, what are we playing, that awful Magic game?!

Duke_Rufus wrote:
Or render all of your opponents cards useless with syndicate tricks.

Syndicate tricks are indeed mostly useless. Oh wait, HAUL OUT THE FLAPPER!

Duke_Rufus wrote:
The game rewards devotion to an organized strategy, be it “reduce skill to attack undefended,” “rush to the stories,” “control the board,” or even “get my opponent to discard.” A jack-of-all-trades deck will very often lose to a deck with a thought out strategy.

Hmm... sounds like deck themes one might use in some other positively horrible game (barf)... I wish i could remember which one...

Duke_Rufus wrote:
Now I exhaust silver twilight temptress on you. Oh. Crap. You don’t have any investigation icons. Now you’re sucked in by her sick and dark ways.

This card is so gross, I don't know how you can even play this game.


p.s.
(i am busting your ballz, don't go crazy apeshit, i love the game. i just wanted to play gross barfy Devil's Advocate.)
devil devil devil


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J Chav
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I got into this game as it was shifting from TCG to LCG. I really enjoy this game but I don't have anyone to play it with. My friend that plays it almost never has time to play. I have an Agency deck that would be compared to a Red MagicTG deck of direct damage. If I remember right I had cards called Shotguns or Shotgun blast that allowed me to insta-kill certain character with less strength then mine or something like that.
 
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Nick Fash
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fightcitymayor wrote:
Duke_Rufus wrote:
The game is brilliant.

Yes, yes it is.

Duke_Rufus wrote:
It has infinite depth.

Let's not confuse copious amounts of mental math for "infinite" depth. Yes, it's deep, but essentially the same 4 icon struggles every time.


p.s.
(i am busting your ballz, don't go crazy apeshit, i love the game. i just wanted to play gross barfy Devil's Advocate.)
devil devil devil



....You're a mean old bear.
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Nick Fash
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Danath wrote:
I got into this game as it was shifting from TCG to LCG. I really enjoy this game but I don't have anyone to play it with. My friend that plays it almost never has time to play. I have an Agency deck that would be compared to a Red MagicTG deck of direct damage. If I remember right I had cards called Shotguns or Shotgun blast that allowed me to insta-kill certain character with less strength then mine or something like that.


Yeah, that's my only complaint. Not enough people play. But c'est la vie. It is lonely at the top.
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Nick Fash
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Whoa
 
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TS S. Fulk
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That's why I have kids. whistle



Duke_Rufus wrote:
Danath wrote:
I got into this game as it was shifting from TCG to LCG. I really enjoy this game but I don't have anyone to play it with. My friend that plays it almost never has time to play. I have an Agency deck that would be compared to a Red MagicTG deck of direct damage. If I remember right I had cards called Shotguns or Shotgun blast that allowed me to insta-kill certain character with less strength then mine or something like that.


Yeah, that's my only complaint. Not enough people play. But c'est la vie. It is lonely at the top.
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J Chav
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tssfulk wrote:
That's why I have kids. whistle



My oldest is 3... I have about 5 years left to go.
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Jim Stoker
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Any of you live in Atlanta? I just picked up Warhammer: Invasion, and wrote a review saying pretty much the same thing. Very good game, need opponents. If any of you were in Atlanta I would pick this up.
 
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dan mce
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Red Dragon 2/2 red creature.
Duke_Rufus wrote:
maybe with some flavor text: “Dragons are crazy,” said the wizard Glenning, “they killed my mother.”

This made me laugh, and also made me remember what playing M:TG was like. And I think that is exactly why I love need games like CoC.

This is by far the best review I have read of this game, as it gives insight into the really unusaul and intricate mechanics of the game that set it apart from other overly-popular, thematically-poor games.
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