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Subject: Cthulhu Wars: A Pre-Release Review rss

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Ryan Abrams
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Background:

Due to geographic circumstance and an offer by the designer, Sandy Petersen, on this very forum, I (along with two friends) got a chance to play Cthulhu Wars twice last night. We arrived just a bit before 7, and sat down to play probably around 7:30. We played two four player games, with Sandy's son Grant filling in the fourth player role. This was pretty useful for getting an idea of how all of the core factions function in play. In the first game, I played the Cthulhu faction. In the second game, I gave the Crawling Chaos a try.

I had never met Sandy before, and have no connection to this game other than an interest in trying it and the geographic luck to do so.

Components:

We played on a prototype set, so I can't speak to final paper quality or weight or what not, but the artwork all appeared top notch, and everything seems to work together well.

What I can speak to are the miniatures. The miniatures are incredible. There are so many of them, of so many types, and they completely swarm the map. They really do elevate the feel of the game and the combat into feeling like a battle between ancient gods. This is not a game of risk where you expand out and conquer. Play is more like watching tides move, as the various factions push and pull and envelop each other, gaining and losing territory all the time. And seeing that happen via gigantic and detailed miniatures really elevates the whole experience.

The dice we used were standard 12mm dice. We had a big pile of them, and we used them. They seemed pretty ideal based on how they fit on the table. That said, the custom dice shown on the Kickstarter page look like they'd be much easier to read at a glance. I think my ideal would be custom 12mm dice, but custom 16mm would be acceptable in a pinch. I will suggest that if any of you are pledging for the custom dice, you pledge for a second set. The dice pools grow quickly.

Overview:

Gameplay flows pretty quickly, with each player spending points to take a single action on their turn, and the round continuing until all of the players have spent all their power. There is a standard set of actions everyone can use, and each faction gains its own set of actions throughout the game in the form of 6 spell books. At the start of the game they are all locked, but as you meet various faction-specific criteria, you can unlock them in whatever order you choose. And once all 6 books are unlocked, you gain access to some more powerful versions of the shared actions (such as an attack action you can take immediately after moving).

When everyone is out of power, the round concludes and the clean up phase occurs. The core of this phase is about each faction gaining power based primarily on how many cultists and gates they have on the board. Once this is done, the first player (whoever has the most power) and play direction (first players choice) are determined, and everyone dives right back into it.

The game ends when one faction reaches the end of the doom track via their faction marker's position on the track. This position is increased whenever a player takes the "ritual" action, which moves their marker up the track a number of spaces equal to the number of gates they control, or by revealing elder tokens (which are typically kept secret until game end). At that point, the player with all 6 of their spell books unlocked who has the most doom points (including secret elder tokens) wins. One interesting twist is that as the ritual is performed, it gradually increases in cost. This could make it difficult to catch up to someone who takes several early ritual actions, but it's easy to gang up on the leader and destroy their power base, so that risk can be checked to some degree.

Overall, Cthulhu Wars has a lot of different tensions built in between gates and income, board actions vs ritual actions, spell book strategies and costs vs securing / expanding your board position, etc. Those tensions are modified and multiplied by the various faction powers and methods of playing, which all seem to add new and interesting mechanics to the game.

Personal Impressions:

This is not a heavy game. It's a solid medium weight - perfect for a casual night of kicking the hell out of each other's old gods. It plays in about 90 minutes on average, and outside of combat there isn't any point in the game where getting up to grab another drink would be wildly disruptive. You don't have be meticulous to do well - you just have to rampage across the world and have fun. And it /is/ fun.

The factions all have pretty interesting powers, and these cause them to all play quite differently. I felt like the factions were impressively balanced, but I also think that the game won't truly come into it's own until after a few games when all of the players are at least mostly familiar with all of the other faction's powers. The learning curve towards being able to play and enjoy it is pretty shallow, but there is a lot of information to retain to reach strategic proficiency.

The points mechanism feels a little bit removed from the rest of the game. Most of the points for many factions comes from the doom track, which requires taking a ritual action as your turn. This spends power, but does nothing on the board itself. To me, it felt sometimes as though I needed to interrupt my terrifically fun Great Old Ones brawl in order to grab a few points. That is to say, I didn't /want/ to get points. I wanted to fight monsters. While we were talking about the game on the ride home, we considered a house rule of gaining a point and/or an elder token every time you capture a gate, or perhaps when you kill a Great Old One (though that could cause issues w/ the king in yellow; maybe only neutral great old ones?). Don't misunderstand: The dynamic and tension between the doom track, the ritual track, gates, the power income, etc., all feels very well formed. It's a solid system. It's just very easy to get distracted by what's happening on the map, and I would be interesting to play a variant where more of the points are gained more directly from actions that occur there.

Conclusion:

This game is good. Quite possibly great, although after only two plays I am not quite ready to call it that. On the BGG scale, I'd give it a tentative 8 for "Very good. Like to play, will probably suggest it, will never turn it down."

It's a lighter game, featuring gigantic monsters destroying the world (and each other). It's very fun to play if you're into that (and who isn't?). It's probably not as much "game" for the money as you could get by tracking down a Splotter title or something, but it's a solid, fun game and if you're like me, it's probably more likely to reach the table. And even if it doesn't, you really need to see the minis. They're pretty amazing.

All three of us enjoyed the game. One of my friends on the drive back exclaimed "Damn it, I want to play again". And we all had ideas for how to use the faction powers in different ways.

Perhaps the biggest endorsement I can give is that this morning I pledged $200 towards the Kickstarter to get a copy of my own. And I'm still eying those expansions.

Pros:
- Very fun gameplay
- The factions seem impressively well balanced
- Everything seems built around options: Factions, double sided maps, expansions, etc. The game should stay fresh.
- Amazing, Huge Miniatures that will almost certainly work with other games also.
- Some of the spellbook powers are really fun. (For example, Cthulhu has one where he can basically teleport himself + his monster army to any space on the board.)

Cons:
- The "doom track" / "ritual of annihilation" point system feels a little bit removed from the rest of the game. It's integrated and balanced, but I don't like choosing between getting points and doing the big fun attack move.
- The game really starts to shine /after/ learning how the involved factions work, so there is a bit of an information-based learning curve.
- All of those miniatures aren't cheap (and I'm probably going to want the expansions too).


NOTE: I wanted to get this review up quickly, while the game was still fresh in my mind. There are probably lots of things I've missed. If anyone has any questions or what not, I'd be happy to answer them as best as I can.
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Thomas
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Thanks for sharing. I too would like to see some combat rewards as well, hopefully the designer comes up with something or I will end up house ruling as well.
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clemens kremer
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Thank you for your review ! I see you own, but have not rated, Chaos in the Old World... How do you think the two games compare ?
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Ryan Abrams
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ckremer2 wrote:
Thank you for your review ! I see you own, but have not rated, Chaos in the Old World... How do you think the two games compare ?

Sadly, CitOW isn't rated because I haven't gotten it to the table yet. So I have absolutely no idea. I'm hoping I can get the same crew together to play a game of it in the next week or two. If so, I'll post a comparison.
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clemens kremer
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ryanabrams wrote:
ckremer2 wrote:
Thank you for your review ! I see you own, but have not rated, Chaos in the Old World... How do you think the two games compare ?

Sadly, CitOW isn't rated because I haven't gotten it to the table yet. So I have absolutely no idea. I'm hoping I can get the same crew together to play a game of it in the next week or two. If so, I'll post a comparison.

That would be quite informative! And a perfect excuse for you to try out a great game in your collection
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Max Maloney
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ryanabrams wrote:
Don't misunderstand: The dynamic and tension between the doom track, the ritual track, gates, the power income, etc., all feels very well formed. It's a solid system. It's just very easy to get distracted by what's happening on the map, and I would be interesting to play a variant where more of the points are gained more directly from actions that occur there.
This reminds me of Nexus Ops, a game in which people often get distracted by ramping up their forces to kill more units and take more space, but which has a short enough play cycle that the player who focuses on points will often win before the other guy brings his sweet army to bear.
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Ryan Abrams
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Dormammu wrote:
get distracted by ramping up their forces to kill more units and take more space, but which has a short enough play cycle that the player who focuses on points will often win before the other guy brings his sweet army to bear.

This is very much a risk. In my second game, I focused on getting my spell books as quickly as I could, only to discover Cthulhu was halfway up the doom track already. From the factions I played, my impression is that it's important to start sticking it to the other players as quickly and as often as possible. This is not a game for turtling. That said, in the first game, Black Goat sort of turtled most of the game and won. Different factions have different strengths.
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Reddish22
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Your description also reminds me of Eclipse. Probably not as much, but I feel some people in their first games, and in fact most who are disappointed with the game, think the game should have a lot of combat. In truth, you just want to fight "enough." It's a points game, not a conquest game and I actually enjoy that subtlety to it, sounds like this game has it as well. Good to hear.
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Kelly N.
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ryanabrams wrote:
Perhaps the biggest endorsement I can give is that this morning I pledged $200 towards the Kickstarter to get a copy of my own. And I'm still eying those expansions.

....and this does say a lot. To have been previously undecided, and now "in" for 2 hunny simply because you played the game twice....makes me feel more warm and fuzzy about my pledge.
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John Thornby
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ryanabrams wrote:
Background:
There are probably lots of things I've missed. If anyone has any questions or what not, I'd be happy to answer them as best as I can.

Hi Ryan,

Nice write-up, although I guess a lot of it covered stuff we already know. So a few questions if I may please?

1. Did the two games play out very differently?

I presume you all switched factions, so did you try to play differently to the previous player? Did any similar situations arise? Given the start positions are identical I could imagine that some "standard" openings might emerge, so did the games diverge quickly? Were the results the same, or did you get a different winner?

2. One of the players was Sandy's son who has played before. How much did his experience level impact the game? i.e. Is this a game where a newbie is going to struggle to keep up with a group of experienced players or will s/he still have a good time (and a shot at winning)?

3. I presume both games used the core factions. Did you happen to see any of the expansion material - other factions, neutral GOOs?

4. What was the setup / pack away time?

5. If the game arrived in the mail tomorrow and you took it to your regular gaming group, do you feel confident that you could explain the rules to them? How quickly do you think you would be up and running with the first game?

6. Having played a couple of games, is it obvious to you how the alternate maps will shake up play? I realise the expansion maps add a lot more than just topological differences, but is it clear if/how different borders, start positions and distribution of land/ocean will change the play?

Thanks!
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Ryan Abrams
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xenakis wrote:
Nice write-up, although I guess a lot of it covered stuff we already know. So a few questions if I may please?

Of course! Sorry for any repetition from previous information - it's hard to really communicate the subtleties of play in any game without a /lot/ of thought and editing and writing, and I was trying to get my review written relatively quickly (over lunch really).

xenakis wrote:
1. Did the two games play out very differently?

Yes, they did. There are definite common strategies for each faction, but they don't play out the same way each game. In the first game, Crawling Chaos ended up having trouble getting gates, despite a strong opening. Second game, gates aplenty, but not nearly enough monsters. Black Goat starts in Africa, and tends to amass in Africa before attempting to expand to gain spell books. In the second game, this went smoothly. In the first game, they got stuck and knocked back. etc. There are things that are likely to happen per faction, but they aren't necessarily going to work.

xenakis wrote:
I presume you all switched factions, so did you try to play differently to the previous player? Did any similar situations arise? Given the start positions are identical I could imagine that some "standard" openings might emerge, so did the games diverge quickly? Were the results the same, or did you get a different winner?

I did try to play differently. In the first game, Crawling Chaos opened with a spell book that increased monster power, and they started stealing opponents cultists and such, but then found it hard to gain gates later. I opened the second game as Crawling Chaos by rushing for gates, only to have my fourth gate blocked by Cthulhu, who managed to get their GOO out on the second turn and devoured my fourth cultist.

Similar situations definitely arose - Black Goat really likes Africa. Yellow Sign definitely is going to travel and try to desecrate areas, etc. But the actual directions these things happen, and the success had in implementing them, is where the divergence comes in, and it comes in pretty fast. The feel of the game is the same, but the specifics are different. In the first game, Black Goat ended the game, but Yellow Sign won. In the second, Cthulhu won.

Really, I think there are several direct paths to victory by faction, but they get screwed up pretty quickly because of the essentially forced player interaction. For example, several spell books require you to capture another player's gate or cultist or what not to unlock. Meanwhile, other spell books require you to /have/ 4 gates. So one player may try to grab 4 gates, while another is hell bent on stealing one of them, and so on and so forth. It makes any rote consistency very hard to maintain, and most strategies very easy to disrupt.

xenaxis wrote:
2. One of the players was Sandy's son who has played before. How much did his experience level impact the game? i.e. Is this a game where a newbie is going to struggle to keep up with a group of experienced players or will s/he still have a good time (and a shot at winning)?

In the first game, his experience level had a major impact. He was well towards winning before we really knew what we were doing. This gets to the "lots of things to learn" part of the review - there is a learning curve before the strategy kicks in on top of the tactics. That said, we were able to gang up on him and prevent him from getting his spell book that requires a presence in 8 regions, so when he ended the game via the track, he was not actually the winner. Yellow Sign won instead, since they had all 6 spell books and were furthest up the track. In the second game, when we all had a better feel for the factions, his experience still seemed to help, but it wasn't such a clear lead, and we were able to mitigate some of that via attacks. So yeah, I'd say that the tactical stuff is obvious from the start, but the strategies start really coming in to play as the players learn the various faction's powers.

xenaxis wrote:
3. I presume both games used the core factions. Did you happen to see any of the expansion material - other factions, neutral GOOs?

I saw a lot of it actually, in very prototype form. I don't remember the powers as well, since I didn't see them in play, but I do remember seeing lots of powers in expansion factions that were appealing. Ones that come to mind include:
- the ability to drag a gate with you to a new region, cultist and all (even if it isn't your cultist, which means you can capture them the next turn)
- the ability to "pass" which basically lets you force other players to spend power while you hold on to your own, and then unload all of it at once
- the ability to essentially skip the remainder of a round and then gain new power in a clean up phase without losing the power you already have. Which seems like it could lead to some really mean turns.

I can't tell you how they actually play, but with the context of having played twice, they seemed pretty great.

I saw one of the neutral GOOs, a spider who's name escapes me, and it had a pretty fantastic mechanic involving webs and ultimately creating an additional new end game condition. It seemed like the kind of thing that offered the potential to radically alter the game, if players used it. Having several of those types of things there could make for a really interesting game.

A big thing about this game actually - most of the special powers feel VERY powerful. They are balanced, but not by making them weak feeling.

Oh, and I guess I should restate - all of the stuff above was very prototype. I think some of it had been playtested and balanced while others hadn't, but I don't remember which ones. If I stated something wrong up there, it's on me - I'm writing the concepts from memory, and there were a LOT of concepts.

xenaxis wrote:
4. What was the setup / pack away time?

No idea. It was on the table when we got there, and stayed there when we left. It looked like a board, a small number of shared resources, and minis. So probably not much. There aren't any meticulous stacks of things or randomized decks or anything. Just unload, pick a faction, take your pieces, and start playing.

The setup between the first and second game was about 5 minutes - 2-3 minutes to move the cultists back to start and remove the monsters and such back to their factions and the rest of the time spent just randomly choosing factions and changing seats. I'd imagine setup to be about the same, with a few more minutes for board and tile unpacking. Pack away may be a bit more, depending on how meticulous you are with your minis.

xenaxis wrote:
5. If the game arrived in the mail tomorrow and you took it to your regular gaming group, do you feel confident that you could explain the rules to them? How quickly do you think you would be up and running with the first game?

Yes. The flow of the game is dead simple, and it came with reference cards for all of the actions. I expect a few of the people in my group would gripe about not realizing that another player could do something, or forgetting one of their powers, or whatever. But they'd enjoy it anyway, and within a couple games would be fine. I think the first game would take 20-30 minutes to explain, but that's because I'd take time to explain each of the factions and how they tend to function. My most frequent gaming group doesn't always care for surprises, so learning curve is actually pretty important for me when picking a new game.

xenaxis wrote:
6. Having played a couple of games, is it obvious to you how the alternate maps will shake up play? I realise the expansion maps add a lot more than just topological differences, but is it clear if/how different borders, start positions and distribution of land/ocean will change the play?

I asked explicitly about the maps, and it seems almost impossible for them to NOT make a huge impact on play. Here's an overview of each (again, from memory, and in prototype / word of mouth form):

Primeval: This map basically works like the normal map, but it's laid out in bands and each round glaciers move in. They can freeze cultists in place, so the struggle over gates and power acquisition quickly becomes consolidated in the central "tropics" band, which ends up making this map hugely combative and nasty.

Dreamlands: This one has two maps, and you can go back and forth between them. It adds an endgame condition of "dominate one of the maps", presumably at specific points. And the upper map has creatures roaming around that affect things, while the lower map has a single, larger creature doing something similar.

Yuggoth: This one has three different capturable places that add capabilities to a faction, including an army of slimes that can be controlled by whoever controls the slime factory, but also can't enter the slime factory so the owner has to rely on their other monsters for defense.

It sounds like they will shake up play quite a lot - but not because the game felt very map dependant... instead, play will shake up because the maps include miniatures and rules that literally force play to be shaken up by the map itself.

xenaxis wrote:
Thanks!

Thank you for such great questions! I would probably have written a better review if I'd had them in the first place. Hopefully my replies helped fill in some blanks.

EDIT: My friend read this post and reminded me that I misremembered the outcome of the first game. Black Goat was way ahead on the Doom Track, as I said, but we ganged up on him and prevented him from getting his "be in 8 regions" spell book unlocked. The game was about to end via the ritual track running out, and Black Goat revealed their elder tokens to push themselves to 20 on the doom track and end the game... but since they didn't have 6 spell books they couldn't win, so the win actually went to Yellow Sign, who were farthest up the track while also having all 6 spell books.
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Marius Ødegård
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A quick question.. looking past the extremely high production value, how good would you say the actual gameplay is?

This is a -very- expensive game and I'm fearing it won't have the actual gameplay to keep up with it's extremely lavish production.
 
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Daniel Drickman
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His review seems entirely based on game quality. Since he's playing with prototype it probably isn't that lavish anyway
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Ryan Abrams
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Eremiel wrote:
A quick question.. looking past the extremely high production value, how good would you say the actual gameplay is?

This is a -very- expensive game and I'm fearing it won't have the actual gameplay to keep up with it's extremely lavish production.

The prototype was using actual art on the faction boards and the game board and such, but I wouldn't describe it as lavish. The game board was a few pieces of printed laminated paper taped together. Elder tokens were taken from an old avalon hill game, numbered 1,2 and 3, and we just divided their value in half. Most of the counters (desecration and such) had final art but were paper or cardstock cutouts, not diecut tokens. And we didn't have doom track markers - we had cubes. Most of the minis were there for play, and they were very lavish. But our Hastur was a Hydra mini stand in, The King in Yellow was a mummy, and our first player marker was some sort of plastic fairy. So yeah - my impression is a combination of gameplay and awesome mini sculpts.

With that, I'll try to separate them out for you:

The gameplay is good. Potentially more than good, although I can't tell from only two games. That said, this is not Go. It's not Chess. It's not even Tigris and Euphrates (a personal favorite). It doesn't have that brain burning long term planning struggle. It's so very very thematic.

It's a game with a very simple base mechanic / action loop that enables power gain, movement, combat, and a simple victory condition, and a whole lot of faction specific exceptions and powers that tweak, bend, and sometimes extend the base mechanics to create interesting combinations and scenarios. And then it adds in multiple factions and boards and neutral figures, etc etc, stacking on the additional factors.

Basically, it's a game about giant monsters fighting to be the one to destroy the world. If you're looking for $200 of deep deep brain burning action, you'll probably be disappointed. If you're looking for a fun game to play with friends over pizza and beer, with what seems like pretty decent replay value, then you won't be. I mean, we played twice, and on the way home we all wanted to play again the same night.

This gameplay is on par with many of the better games out there retailing for 40/50/60 bucks. It's fun. It has lots of options. It seems to have a "one more game" factor. It feels balanced. etc. If it were done entirely with tokens, I bet it would come in at that price range and do pretty damn well.

That said, I'm happy they didn't go that route. The miniatures are really awesome, and there's a lot of them. The board just gets completely swamped in huge monsters (Seriously, it's a lot of monsters, and they are huge). And the figures will be useful in more places than just here.

I would not pay $200 for the game if it didn't include all of the minis. I also wouldn't pay $200 for the minis if they didn't include a fun game. But together, I pledged. I really enjoyed the games, and the components are top notch. And the theme will appeal to my friends, so I feel like I'm pretty much guaranteed many fun nights of gaming with it.
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Ryan Abrams
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I edited my reply to Xenaxis above, as my friend pointed out that I had actually described the outcome of the first game incorrectly.

Black Goat was way ahead on the track, but did not have all of their spell books. When they ended the game Yellow Sign actually won, since they were the furthest up the track with all 6 books. Black Goat (Grant) /almost/ got the last book, but Sandy pointed out what was happening, at which point we all ganged up on him to stop him.

The core of my original answer stays the same, but it was worth getting the details right.
 
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I was there. I saw. I killed Cthulhu. He came back the next round, but hey, first blood!

I do not have a lot to add to Ryan's incredibly informative and descriptive review, but I'll try to give a somewhat parallax view of the game play.

I played Yellow Sign the first game, and fumbled my way to a backdoor victory, and then I ran Black Goat the second game, and was completely trounced.

Each faction has varying complexity depending on a person's personal style of play. I'm not sure how much of my success on the first game was blind luck and enemy player inexperience, and how much of it was forgiveness of the faction I started with. Black Goat should have won game one, but made a subtle mistake of performing one too many rituals before getting his sixth Spellbook, affording the other three players a chance to gang tackle him and assure that he could not get it.

I'm pretty sure that inexperience along with prejudice against the Black Goat faction left over from game one was my downfall in game two. I spread out too thinly, trying to overcome the mistake made by the previous Black Goat player by getting that Spellbook early. It didn't pan out.

Regardles, the Spellbook requirements for each faction sort of prompt you to play the way the faction is set up to achieve success, so you end up doing things you need to do to win just trying to accomplish the very basic mechanics of the faction. However, the order you bring the Spellbooks into play and which requirements you achieve first aren't set in stone.

In the second game, we let Cthulhu run rampant in the first couple turns while we all strove to establish more gateways than we had in game one, and he walked away with the victory. One of the lessons we learned from that was you can't just sit and let someone run a bunch of rituals. If you don't control enough gateways to run rituals yourself to keep apace on the Doom Track, then you need to be attacking the other person's gates to keep them from advancing out of reach. There are a set number of rituals that can be performed each game and they progressively grow more expensive to perform, but when the last is reached, it's game over no matter what. Playing catch up is not really an option if someone is way ahead.

There is also the sense when you spend a lot of power performing rituals on an action turn instead of moving and conquering that you are falling behind. But there is a check and balance to the game, if you focus solely on the ritual track, you are going to swiftly get devastated on the board and not have any gateways. However, if you focus solely on the board and ignore the ritual and doom track, you may have fun rampaging your GOO across the earth with all his minions, but you're probably not going to win the game. Not that rampaging isn't its own reward, but still.

I could also see how repetitive play could translate to alternative strategies developing. Though there are definitely synergies that will appear, "When this faction does 'x', someone has to do 'y' to counter", but how subtle 'x' is and who does 'y' and what form that will take can change from game to game dependent on who is playing what faction, and what strategies that person is going for. Being able to bring out your Spellbooks in any order, no matter which faction requirements you accomplish to get it, will certainly give you many different paths to play with.

Pros:
1) It was just downright fun. I would have loved to sit and play it again. And again. And then try it with that other faction one more time...
2) Easy to set up and play.
3) Not a steep learning curve for the basic tactics involved.
4) Stunning miniatures with a lot of nuance. The artwork is just amazing, and the detail of the miniatures made me want to get back into collecting and painting.
5) Lots of room for repetition, expansion, and addition to the basic set, but even playing with the same four people I can see a lot of game play occurring before it would become remotely routine. I would categorize it as quick to learn, long time to master.
6) Casual play - not that it's easy, but that you don't feel like you're going to miss something if you have to stand up and move away from the game board. It may have also been the play-testing/learning atmosphere, but we were all very above-board and laissez-faire about our turns and what was happening. It also may be that it's pretty obvious that Greater Old One miniatures have moved halfway across the table.
Cons:
1) Oi, the price tag. The miniatures alone are definitely worth it, and hey, bonus awesome game! But for a guy with a family and a budget that does not include "games" as a monthly category, it's just not in the cards for me at this time. The balm on my gamer's soul is that it is already funded, so it will exist and someday I may be able to budget for a copy.
2) A lot of information to absorb, I don't think I'd really "know" the game until I'd had a chance to play each faction a couple of times.
3) Lots and lots of dice. This is a personal preference, but when each side is throwing 6-12 or more dice for combat, it can get cumbersome.
4) Huge map. What else are huge miniature Elder Gods going to trounce across, but you will have to make sure you have adequate table top space.
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Paul Stephen Co
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Thanks for the review Ryan and Drew.

Looking at the kickstarter page, there are a lot of pledge levels available. Do you have any recommendations on how best to spend, what pledge level and what add-ons to get to get the best experience when playing the game?
 
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Ryan Abrams
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geeehm wrote:
Thanks for the review Ryan and Drew.

Looking at the kickstarter page, there are a lot of pledge levels available. Do you have any recommendations on how best to spend, what pledge level and what add-ons to get to get the best experience when playing the game?

In terms of game play, I have two recommendations:

1) The $25 Aenath Waite mini is completely unnecessary.

I actually think it was harder to understand play direction at a glance via a mini than it would have been with the simple cardboard token included. I am hoping the HP Lovecraft stretch goal is just him standing and pointing. That would probably be worthwhile as a first player marker / Kickstarter exclusive thing.

2) The custom dice are worth it, but 12 custom dice is not enough.

The custom dice will be easier to read at a glance, but if you decide to get them, get more than one set. (I am assuming that is possible). Dice pools get big. Example: Cthulhu faction has Shoggoths. They roll 3 dice. But before combat, they can consume their allies, and for each consumed, they gain 3 dice. So send one in along with 3 deep ones (who normally roll 1 die) and Cthulhu, and consume the deep ones. Now you can attack with 18 dice. Of course, if you need that many, your opponent probably needs quite a few also. One caveat: We played with 12mm regular dice. I think 12mm is the right size, given how many there are. But I have no idea what size the custom dice will actually end up being, and 16mm may offset the easier readability enough to make these less worth it. I don't know.

Personally, I am going for Cultist level and using addons to push my total past $200. I'm thinking that means: 1 set of 22 plastic gates, 2 sets of custom dice add-on, 1 high priests expansion, and probably a T-shirt.

I am also still debating the expansions. Between the two of them, I'd prioritize faction expansions before map expansions, but I suspect both would be fun.
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Mike Malley
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In your games, do you think the extra bulk of the gate miniatures would have gotten in the way? I'm guessing you don't think it'd be enough to matter since you're thinking of getting them.
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Ryan Abrams
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caffeinehead wrote:
In your games, do you think the extra bulk of the gate miniatures would have gotten in the way? I'm guessing you don't think it'd be enough to matter since you're thinking of getting them.

Mostly I just think they'll look cool. It's very possible they'll make it a bit harder to position things.

Frankly, although Drew listed the current 40x20 map size as too big, I would like to see a much bigger map option for those of us with larger tables. The current version works, but it strains to hold all the minis sometimes. When things get out of hand, you basically just kind of stick them in the general area. It's easy to figure out what's where, but the edges are kind of blurry, if that makes sense. The gates may end up contributing to that, but the image makes it seem like the bulk is mostly vertical, and that doesn't seem like it'll be so bad.

One thing I like about them is that they'll be easier to see when a Dark Young is out there. Those things are big, and they make the gates themselves tricky to spot. The vertical size would be helpful for that.
 
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Mike Malley
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I'll second the bigger map idea, though I'm not holding my breath.

24x48" would be 44% more area. 22x44" would be 21% more.
 
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Jim E
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Thanks for taking the time to review the game and share it with the group
 
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Sandy Petersen
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Rockwall
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In determining map size, I also worried about being able to fit the player's faction cards on the sides of the table. So with a wider map, then the faction cards would have been narrower. In the end I selfishly went with the size that best fit my own gaming table, hoping that many other gamers would have similar tastes.

The H. P. Lovecraft figure will not be engulfed with tentacles, nor will he be nude. I hope this doesn't burst any bubbles. Our current plan is for him to be holding a lantern with his outstretched arm, peering at ... Something.
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Thomas
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I just hope the map is big enough that it doesn't feel congested when all the figures are out.
 
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clemens kremer
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Sandy Petersen wrote:
In determining map size, I also worried about being able to fit the player's faction cards on the sides of the table. So with a wider map, then the faction cards would have been narrower. In the end I selfishly went with the size that best fit my own gaming table, hoping that many other gamers would have similar tastes.

The H. P. Lovecraft figure will not be engulfed with tentacles, nor will he be nude. I hope this doesn't burst any bubbles. Our current plan is for him to be holding a lantern with his outstretched arm, peering at ... Something.

I hope he will be holding a copy of the Necronomicon in his other arm...
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