Friday, June 22, 2018

RNR - Call of Cthulhu

On May 20th, we had the latest meeting of the Fukuyama Gaming Club, and would you believe it, we had a surprise!  There I was grabbing a coffee with DTB before we started, when some jerk grabbed my bag from the chair next to me, threw it onto the table and flopped down.  I was just turning to give whoever it was a quick jab to the snoot when lo and behold!  Sarge!  He and DTB had been plotting to surprise me, and did they do a good job!  It was super exciting to have Sarge back for a meeting.  He's a great sport, whether winning or losing, and for me that's one of the most important things about having a good game.  If you're winning and your opponent whines the whole time about what they should have done, or that the dice are against them, or things like that, doesn't make a fun game.  Also, if you're losing and your opponent can't stop gloating, or is STILL complaining about how some minor event didn't work out in their favor, also not a fun game.  With Sarge, you don't have to worry about any of those things.  He's a strong player, but knows how to make a game fun, win or lose!

With Sarge joining us, we had a great opportunity to play a few games that we haven't had a chance to for a while... DTB and I managed to get in one tourney practice game while Sarge and Leland took a nice slow game to get Sarge back into the swing of things.  He used a new (for him) faction, Cryx!  Wow!  All these years, he's been the Cygnar fan boy!  Talk about jumping ship!  I guess he finally realized what we've always known about Cygnar... they're just a bunch of poser bullies (hahaha).  He did do a bit of Cryx painting during his time as a Press Ganger, though, and it was nice to see a few of his older models find their way back to the table!  Like this lovely Deneghra!  Fall victim to her deviousness!
Don't be a sucker to this lovely witch!

The final chapter of Widower's Wood took place, and finally, a game that we've been waiting to play for over a year!  One of our very favorites, a kickstarter from several years ago, Cthulhu Wars!  I've only gotten to play this twice before, but I really enjoyed it every time!  But before we get into this unholy diversion...

A couple of things to keep in mind... the next few meetings of the Fukuyama Gaming Club will be held on June 24 and on July 22.
The Japan Open Team Championships are still taking registration for the tournament on October 7.  Four teams have signed up, which means that only half the slots are still open!  Hurry up and register before all the spaces are taken!
And don't forget about Boundless Charge in Osaka!

So!  Cthulhu Wars, by Petersen Games.  As I mentioned, this was a kickstarted that DTB got involved in a few years back, and though it took a while to get to us (as most kickstarters do) this was well worth the wait.  This is a strategy game set in the universe of H. P. Lovecraft.  Each player takes control of a cult of one of the Great Old Ones, starting with only the human cultists and eventually making their way to summoning monsters and eventually, the Great Old Ones themselves.  You have to set up a power base, summon your monsters, open portals to the outer planes, and balance between cooperating with the other players and stabbing them in the back as you seize power!

*Standard Disclaimer*
I adore the Cthulhu mythos.  I've read all of the original Lovecraft stories, and I enjoy a variety of Cthulhu games and internet goodness (I'm looking at you, Calls For Cthulhu).  But please, please forgive me if I spell something wrong.  It happens sometimes, just roll with it!

Cultists and gates for everyone!
That's right!  The board is the Earth!  We're all going to rampage around the map, taking control of areas of land and sea as we expand our power bases and struggle for supremacy.  Let's get started!

Four factions were selected for today's game, and we decided to stay with the four main factions just to keep things simple since it had been such a long time since we played.  Cthulhu, Nyarlathotep, the King in Yellow and Hastur, and Shub-Niggurath will be facing off for control of this plane!
Great Cthulhu
Let's start with the big man/ octopus himself, Cthulhu!  Eric took control of this biggest of baddies.  Little backstory for those of you who don't follow the mythos... Cthulhu is a cosmic entity that is entombed, both dead and alive, in an underwater city called R'yleh somewhere in the South Pacific. "In his house at R'yleh, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming."  He may be sleeping, but his influence can still be felt by us hapless mortals, in the form of unnamed anxeity and other subconsious discomfort.  In Cthulhu Wars, Cthulhu is accompanied by Deep Ones, Shoggoth, and Starspawn.  This faction uses the special rule that they can bring out Cthulhu CHEAP!!!  It's easy to get him on the board early in the game, and if he dies, hey, no big deal, you can always bring him out again, super cheap!

The Black Goat
Everyone's favorite Commissar (yes, that's me!) took control of Shub-Niggurath, the Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young!  Now, I know that there is some debate going on whether or not Shub-Niggurath and the Black Goat of the Woods are the same entity, but for THIS GAME, they are indeed one and the same!  In the original stories, Shub-Niggurath is only mentioned by name in several incantations, but she gets expanded on in later mythos.... plus, she's either The Only or one of the only female Great Old Ones, so... #feminism?  She's accompanied by Ghouls, Fungi from Yuggoth, and Dark Young.  This faction's special rule is that they can bring out multiple creatures during a spawning action instead of the normal one.

The Yellow Sign
DTB took control of the yellow faction... THE CHEESIEST FACTION IN THE GAME!!  No, really!  This faction has TWO Great Old Ones!  Yeah, that's right... the King in Yellow and Hastur have teamed up to bring devastation to the planet!  Okay, so the King in Yellow MAY be an avatar of Hastur, but still!  The King in Yellow is a vague masked fellow (whatever you do, don't take of the mask!!!!), who uses a mysterious play about himself to break humanity's fragile little minds.  Hastur... the Unspeakable One... the original Him Who Is Not To Be Named... I think that says it all.   The two deities are joined by Undead and Byakhee.  This faction uses that devastation for several benefits, but their special rule is that they can do that instead of getting Elder Signs... if this is a good idea or not is up to you!
Crawling Chaos
Finally for today's game, Nyarlathotep, run by Leland.  Nyarlathotep is an Outer One, which is slightly different than a Great Old One, and actually then puts him directly in Hastur's cross hairs, seeing as how Hastur is currently at war with the Outer Ones!  So this should be a good battle, then.  Nyarlathotep uses music to draw in his cultists, confounding their minds until they are his willing slaves!  He is accompanied by Nightgaunts, Flying Polyps, and Hunting Horrors.  This faction can move two spaces for each move action instead of the normal one (cause, you know, they all can FLY!!!  Yes, even his human cultists!).

Game Play:
Cthulhu Wars is a strategy game that sees the players gathering power and then using that power to take actions until everyone is out of energy, and finally gaining points for certain accomplishments.  The first player to 30 points wins, more or less... more on that in a second.  So, let's take a look at the way the game works.

Player card for the Black Goat
 Step one, gather your power!  There are a couple of ways to get power.  For example, you get one for each cultist you control on the board, or each gate to the outer realms that you control.  Plus each faction has their own special ways of gaining power.  Shub-Niggurath can get power from each Dark Young on the board as though it was a cultist, and Cthulhu gets a power for any ENEMY controlled gate in an ocean area!  Anyway, everyone counts up how much power they have, and the person with the most will go first AND gets to decide the turn rotation for the round.

Next, the Ritual of Annihilation!  In turn order, players get to decide if they are going to spend power to enact a Ritual of Annihilation... and the amount of power that it costs raises as more rituals are completed.  So, the first person to do it will only pay like, seven power to enact the ritual, while the fifth time will cost, maybe, 10, and so on.  By enacting a ritual, you will receive an Elder Sign.  Each Elder Sign has a 1, 2, or 3 printed on it, which you want to keep hidden from the other players.  These are extra points that will be added to your total at the end of the game, and can actually push someone past the original person that first made it to 30 points!  But be careful!  Performing too many Rituals can actually end the game early!

The third phase of each turn is the Doom Tracker... which, in a Cthulhu game, as you can imagine, is important... basically you get points that advances your token along the doom track, and the first to thirty points wins (thirty plus elder signs, that is.  You can be the first player to reach thirty points and still lose the game if another player is close and has more elder signs!).  You get two doomy points for each controlled gate you have, plus if you enacted a ritual of Annihilation.

Then, it's time for the good stuff!  Spending all that power that you've been collecting!  Yeah!  Players take turns spending power to do all sorts of things... moving around the board, recruiting cultists, spawning monsters, building gates, casting spells, and summoning your Great Old One are just a couple of the things that you can do.  Also, battling against other factions, which is a huge amount of fun!  Naturally this is where most of the cunning needs to happen, especially because not everyone will have the same power to start with, or one player will be trying to accomplish something that takes a lot of power... but once you're out, you're out, and you can't influence the board anymore... so part of the strategy is trying to decide if you want to blow all your power and risk letting the others run wild over the board with you unable to stop them, or if you want to hoard your power and be the last one to have an action.

Game On!
Oh, Shub-Niggurath, you slut!
Our game started out pretty simple... no one bought a ritual, and we all started with out six cultists and a gate in one area on the map.  The Great Cthulhu faction gets a little boost early on in the game (I mean, the game is named after him, sooo, I guess it's okay?) and immediately gets one of their six spell books.  Then everyone started spreading out  and opening gates, trying to get a little more power for next turn.  Nyarlathotep, aka Leland, threw the first punch by putting out a Nightgaunt to steal a yellow cultist!  If one of your monsters is alone in a space with someone else's cultist, you can spend a power to steal the cultist and then during the next power up phase, you return it in exchange for one power.

Spreading out, to enslave the world!
Round two saw the rise of that sneaky blue Nyarlathotep, who quickly took control of the power up game!  Coming in first with power again, they stole another cultist, this time from Great Cthulhu!  The Black Goat started living up to their Thousand Young title and their gates started spewing forth monstrosities from the outer realms, including a Dark Young, which counts as a cultist for controlling gates and gaining power.  But the real power play this turn was the Yellow Sign faction, summoning the first of the game's Great Old Ones, the King in Yellow!  Of course, he started the desecration game straight off, desecrating Scandinavia...oops, sorry about that, Elsa!

The King in Yellow appears!
Nyarlathotep AGAIN takes control of the power gathering stage, but this time, the rest of us fought back a bit.  DTB and I both did Rituals of Annihilation, gaining elder signs... I came away with a 2, which is totally respectable!  Then that rascally blue demon STOLE ANOTHER CULTIST!!!  One of the yellow ones again... hmm, do I sense that intangible rivalry from the actually Mythos taking place on our board?  Nyarlathotep and the King in Yellow sniping at each other?  This cannot just be a coincidence!  In retaliation, the King in Yellow desecrated North Asia!  Take that, Crawling Chaos!  The Black Goat decided to start throwing some punches of her own, and made war on a Cthulhu held area, killing a cultist and stealing a gate in the process.  And then, the second Great Old One of the day, Great Cthulhu, made his debut!

Monsters run wild!
Great Googly Moogly!  For the third turn in a row, Nyarlathotep took the first turn... damn!  The the great chaotic Outer One made the table, and then took his posse off and chased down the King in Yellow... they did mighty battle, but while the King managed to kill off a Polyp, most of everything got pushed around.  Great Cthulhu consolidated his power in the South Atlantic.  And for the second time this turn, a mighty portal opened on Earth, and the Black Goat, Shub-Niggurath came forth onto the board!

Great Old One Vs. Outer One
Finally, the empire of Nyarlathotep crumbled and the King in Yellow rose to the top in the power game!  Shub-niggurath and Great Cthulhu both took another Ritual of Annihilation, and this time I only got one!  Oh noes!  I was really hoping for a 3!  The King in Yellow then decided not to forgive Nyarlathotep and chased him down for another BATTLE!!!  Nyarlathotep has a couple of rules to help in battle, but even still, the King in Yellow managed to take the upper hand... and then a Thousand Young Ghoul showed up and pushed all the remaining troops out of the square.  Cthulhu's posse is becoming almost unmanegable in the South Atlantic... and then takes a swing at the battered Nyarlathotep!  Guess he made himself a bit of a target by taking the early lead!  After the battle, Cthulhu used one of his spell books to take everyone left of his huge mob and disappeared into the ocean... this is a great power!  Everyone of his in his square can disappear into an ocean space, and then reappear ANYWHERE THEY WANT!!!!!  Aaaahhhhh!

Great Old One Vs. The Greatest Oldest One

Battle!!!  Battlebattlebattle!  This was a turn of everyone Vs. Everyone else!  To start, Cthulhu and his mob took on Shub-Niggurath with her 2 Dark Young and 3 Cultists (usually Cultists don't have a battle score, but the Black Goat has a spell book that gives them a fighting score of 1). Cthulhu did end up winning our battle, but he did get pushed around quite a bit.. Nyarlathotep and the King in Yellow went at it again, and then, I made my horrible mistake... so, I wasn't even really thinking about how the King in Yellow needed to get into one of my squares (where I had a mighty massive force) to desecrate in order to get his last yellow sign, but he couldn't penetrate my defenses... and I foolishly sent a ghoul into the area of their battle after they were done and like an idiot I pushed the King in Yellow INTO MY SQUARE WITH SHUB-NIGGURATH!!!!  So of course, he desecrated West Africa before I could stop him, and got his final spell book!  Argh!  What a mistake!

Things are getting a bit messy!
The King in Yellow takes the first turn and wouldn't you know it, they summoned Hestur!  All the Great Old Ones are on the table!  Actually, I can't believe that none of them got killed during the massive battle turn last round!  Cthulhu AGAIN took aim at Shub-Niggurath, and though he won again, (the Black Goat is a lover, not a fighter, after all), I managed to hang onto enough power that I had complete control of the board at the end of the turn, and so was able to steal a couple of gates... and with that, the game was over!  And with the stolen gates giving me an extra 2 points each and a pocketful of Elder Signs, I had enough points to outstrip the others and secure the win!

I'm gonna sing the Doom Song now!
Victory for the Black Goat with a Thousand Young!

This is a super fun game, and we had a heck of a good time playing it.  It's always nice to have Sarge show up for a day of good times!  We hope he can come again sometime soon!  For everyone else, see you in Fukuyama on June 24th, and don't forget to sign up for the Japan Open Team Tournament!  Spaces are going fast! 


  1. Okay, you make this game sound like a blast! So many games, not enough time...