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The Cards of Cthulhu from Dan Verssen Games

By Aaron Skinner
Published: September 15, 2014
The Cards of Cthulhu
Product: The Cards of Cthulhu is a quick, simple card game based on the world created by H.P. Lovecraft and the many authors who have built on his work.

The sturdy box contains 108 cards illustrated with atmospheric art, four heavy mounted cult boards, 10 metal coins emblazoned with Cthulhu, seven dice, a player help sheet and a 24-page rulebook.

Everything has a sturdy, well-made feel, especially the beautifully printed cards and boards, as well as the cast metal coins.

Gameplay: Played by one to four players, the cooperative game pits investigators against the minions and horrors of the elder gods. The progress of the cults is based on random draws from a deck of cards.

Each player selects an investigator, each with a special skill that will be important in the battles to come, and receives four coins as “experience points” to spend. A player’s turn starts with the player drawing at least four cards from the cult deck and placing them on the appropriate cult board. Each card in the deck represents a minion or horror from its respective cult. In addition, the deck contains followers and items that can be purchased, and cursed items that hamper player efforts.

The player then picks a board (cult) to attack and rolls combat dice; red is the body die, green are health dice, and white are spirit dice. Anything but ones can be rerolled in an effort to knock out minions and horrors. Defeating them generates experience in the form of the coins that can be used to cast spells, close gates, and purchase items and followers.

Players win if they make it through the entire cult deck without dying or going insane. They lose if there are more than five minions on a single cult board at the end of a turn or they fail the sanity checks brought on by an awakened horror.

Most game options are spelled out on the cards, but players will need to keep the rulebook handy for some clarifications. Most games take 30 to 60 minutes.

Marketing: This is a fun, easy-to-learn and easy-to-play game, but that doesn’t mean every outing is a walk in the park. The random nature of the card draws can turn an easy game into a nightmare of horrors and insanity very quickly.

Fans of Lovecraft’s world should enjoy this game, which is definitely easier to set up and play — especially on the road or in short time periods — than others, such as Arkham Horror or Mansions of Madness. The Cards of Cthulhu is not as involved, but it captures the feeling of dread well, especially if you take time to appreciate the artwork.

Place it with the other Lovecraftian games and emphasize it as a lighter gameplay alternative. But that aspect should not be a negative. The game is fast-paced, but player decisions — which cult to attack; whether to reroll dice, close gates or buy items; and how to handle horrors — can lead to some nail-biting scenarios.

DVG sells bonus packs with a second set of dice and 10 Cthulhu coins. It makes multiple-player games easier.

When all’s said and done, this is a fun, engaging game. Whenever the game beat me, I wanted to shuffle the deck and start again.

Product: The Cards of Cthulhu
Maker: Dan Verssen Games
Stock number: DV1-029
MSRP: $39.99
Availability: Various distributors

• Rich Lovecraftian atmosphere
• Quick and easy gameplay
• Quality components