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Cthulhu Wars

Cthulhu Wars

Game Information

Game Name
Petersen Games

The Old Ones Have Risen! Monsters Walk the Earth! Humanity is finished, but the struggle continues. Which Great Old One will rule the ruins of Earth? 

Now, you take charge in Cthulhu Wars, a fast-moving, competitive, tabletop strategy game of Lovecraftian horror in which 2 to 8 players face-off to determine the fate of the planet. In Cthulhu Wars, you can play as Great Cthulhu himself, or take charge of other monstrous factions seeking to dominate the world such as the slithering hordes of the Black Goat, Shub-Niggurath, the aquatic terrors of the Crawling Chaos, or the insane minions of the Yellow Sign. Recruit cultists, summon Shoggoths, cast spells, open interdimensional gates, and awaken your inner Great Old One in Cthulhu Wars!

Editor reviews

3 reviews

End of Days Destruction with Great Old Ones (Goo!)
Cthulhu Wars is Legit Fantastic! Oh, you already knew that? Sorry, Carry on.

Well now, I guess we get to see what happens when we add a different star editor star score to the mix :) I could (and probably will at a later date) write 1,500 words on what I love about Cthulhu Wars. I've played as all the base factions and shockingly, I liked all the base factions and would play any of them again. Granted, I love DOAM's but this is a fantastic one. I got my onslaught 2 copy (with a fist sized hole in the bottom of the box) for a mere $75.00 at a ding and dent sale. It's a game I will play in a heartbeat and it can go pretty damn quick. Definitely top 10 for me.

User reviews

2 reviews

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A ridiculous, glorious game
My group loves area control games / DOAMs. Cthulhu Wars is one of my favorites, and has a pretty comfortable spot in my top 5. It's ridiculously expensive if you are a completionist, but the good news is that the base game alone provides the best experience. I have not tried every new map at this time.

Each faction plays differently, with unique spellbooks that must be obtained by completing certain actions in the game. Summon Great Old Ones, take over territory, roll dice... and few games look this good doing it, due to the over-production that Kickstarter affords.

This is a "boat" game... it's better to have a friend that owns it.
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Played it once and didn't love it. There are other good games out there without the hefty price tag and FOMO Kickstarter BS.
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quozl's Avatar
quozl replied the topic: #154036 13 Jun 2013 03:34
No, this is not what his stories were about.

However, the Cthulhu fanbase doesn't care about Lovecraft much, in general. It's all about the "cool-looking" monsters.
hotseatgames's Avatar
hotseatgames replied the topic: #154057 13 Jun 2013 14:09
If I was going to sum up the overall feel of Lovecraft's work, I'd say it's about an ancient evil that has always been here, and woe to the human who gets even a little exposed to it.
Shellhead's Avatar
Shellhead replied the topic: #154061 13 Jun 2013 14:44

hotseatgames wrote: If I was going to sum up the overall feel of Lovecraft's work, I'd say it's about an ancient evil that has always been here, and woe to the human who gets even a little exposed to it.

In one of Lovecraft's longer works, At the Mountains of Madness, there were indications of past conflicts between mythos creatures. During his many years of developing and editing material for the Call of Cthulhu rpg, Sandy Peterson built upon that idea and extrapolated that various Great Old Ones had come into conflict in aeons past. Peterson is the big name on the design team for Cthulhu Wars, so he is extrapolating even more from that same idea. I think that it's plausible. There has never been a clear hierarchy established for the Great Old Ones, at least not in Lovecraft's writing, so it stands to reason that those beings might come into conflict from time to time.

It's true that Lovecraft's stories tended to have a different focus. Typically his stories featured one or a few intellectuals who come across compelling evidence of a mythos monster. They are skeptical at first, but after applying rigorous logic find themselves forced to believe. The unlucky ones gain unbearable insights into the underlying nature of reality and go insane. The lucky ones manage some minor victory over the mythos and live uneasily ever after. This isn't really ideal material for a game, so even great games like Arkham Horror and Call of Cthulhu miss the mark by erring on the side of entertainment value. Cthulhu Wars ignores most of Lovecraft's style of storytelling and takes things in a different direction.
hotseatgames's Avatar
hotseatgames replied the topic: #154087 13 Jun 2013 16:34
The Bethesda Lovecraft FPS from several years ago tapped into it very well. Unfortunately the game was otherwise flawed, but its atmosphere was excellent.
DukeofChutney's Avatar
DukeofChutney replied the topic: #154089 13 Jun 2013 17:08
my experience is that most Cthulhu fans have never read any of Lovecrafts works, just derivatives and games.

The theme in this game does sort of work like others have said. The Chtulhu mythos monsters aren't exactly a bunch of friends, but as has also been said, the stories are about very limited human beings encountering the monsters, not the monsters themselves actually doing anything interesting.
Jason Lutes's Avatar
Jason Lutes replied the topic: #154104 13 Jun 2013 18:44

Jeff White wrote: I've only read one Lovecraft story, played CoC the RPG twice and one game of AH, so I'm not the best judge on what is Lovecraftian. Is this what his stories were about though? Old ones fighting each other? Warfare?

I seem to recall Age of Conan getting dumped on because countries going to war isn't what Conan or REH are about. There was a theme disconnect.

If Lovecraft wasn't about war...why is this game getting such a huge pass whereas Age of Conan didn't?

It sounds like this game is aping CitOW...though I'm not a superfan, the Chaos gods spreading their seed across the Old World _is_ what Warhammer Chaos is about.

Is it the minis only? Surely, there are have been tons of other Chtulhu minis produced over the years.

What's going on with this game?

In addition to what Shellhead has said, I would add that Cthulhu is a subcultural phenomenon, nearly third place behind vampires and zombies in "mainstream geekdom," whereas Conan never really attained that status. And the larger an audience for a given subject is, the more that subject can be bent away from its canonical origins.

You can buy a Cthulhu plushie, but Thulsa Doom never had it so good.
Shellhead's Avatar
Shellhead replied the topic: #154110 13 Jun 2013 19:15
I haven't read most of the Conan books, but I did read the first several years of the excellent Marvel series based on the books. That included a lengthy storyline involving a couple of warring kingdoms in Hyperborea. I remembered one especially good issue was titled The Shadow of the Vulture, so I just wiki'd that to see which two countries were involved.

Oddly enough, it turns out those issues of the comic were totally based on a non-Conan story of the same name and by Robert E. Howard. But that story was a Red Sonja based on a couple of historical battles from the 1520s! That wily Roy Thomas transplanted that story into Hyperborea and replaced Red Sonja with Conan, while introducing her into the comic in a different story.

So maybe the guys that designed Age of Conan were fans of the Conan comic book instead of the original Conan books.
metalface13's Avatar
metalface13 replied the topic: #154117 13 Jun 2013 19:24
The problem people had with Age of Conan is that nobody got to play as Conan. There are lots of wars waging in the Conan stories, but the focus is on Conan, not the nations. Also the game wasn't that fun. So I heard, never played it. Plus it was the design team's followup to War of the Ring, talk about high expectations.
Shellhead's Avatar
Shellhead replied the topic: #154120 13 Jun 2013 19:51
That Cthulhu Wars kickstarter is going to cost me some sanity points. My gut instinct is that the game will be mediocre, but those minis and that map keep calling to me. Even if the game is mediocre, it seems possible that the quality of the components will enhance the game just enough to get my friends to play it and like it.

Hypothetically speaking, if I were to back this Kickstarter, I would go for the following combo:

Cultist level ($150), which is the base game

the plastic Gate miniatures ($25), which are stupid but look cool

The Opener of the Way expansion ($48), so we can play 5-player, and because it looks like this faction really changes up the game.

The Primeval Map expansion ($40), because I like the sound of the plastic icebergs forcing the endgame into a big knife fight in a phonebooth situation.

The Dreamlands Map expansion ($48), just because I have always liked the Dreamlands setting and want those map boards.

And because all of the above would put me well above the $200 minimum, I would receive the following Great Old One mini-expansions for free:

Chaugnar Faugn
Father Dagon
Mother Hydra

plus 8 more dice for free.

The base set alone weighs about 8 pounds, and those GOO minis are all probably large, so all of this stuff might end up weighing close to 20 pounds. Good thing I wouldn't be paying international shipping rates.

But that would be $311 for a game of unknown quality. By comparison, I bought Arkham Horror plus all the expansions for roughly the same amount, and I love that game. The big difference is I was able to gradually by those Arkham Horror releases as they came out, and I only had to buy the base set at first to discover that I loved the game.

I could probably get by without the extra map boards, and just pick up the base game, the plastic gates and the Opener of the Way for a mere $223 and still score all those bonus Great Old Ones.

But this is all hypothetical for now. In the next two weeks, I will find out if I will still have a job, depending on if our current investors can agree upon a sale price to the potential buyer. Then I still need to weigh my upper middle class income against big spending that might arise in the next twelve months, involving a car, a computer, and business attire for my girlfriend as she approaches graduation and her new career. I suppose $311 is nothing compared to all that, but the accountant in me worries anyway.
PavingMantis's Avatar
PavingMantis replied the topic: #154137 13 Jun 2013 23:41

Shellhead wrote:
plus 8 more dice for free.

For free.
ioticus's Avatar
ioticus replied the topic: #154155 14 Jun 2013 06:32
Man this Kickstarter broke my will and I failed a sanity check. I'm in for everything :(
Bull Nakano's Avatar
Bull Nakano replied the topic: #154156 14 Jun 2013 06:36

PavingMantis wrote:

Shellhead wrote:
plus 8 more dice for free.

For free.

Where do I sign for the free dice?
Shellhead's Avatar
Shellhead replied the topic: #154168 14 Jun 2013 14:02
My initial impression of the game was Cthulhu Risk, and then after studying the player mats, I also picked up on a Chaos in the Old World influence. After studying online comments by Sandy Peterson and his son, I'm also seeing the dynamic battlefield of Nexus Ops and a little bit of The Hills Rise Wild.

Peterson has admitted to the Chaos in the Old World influence, but in Cthulhu Wars, players effectively need to perform different kinds of actions for each of their six advancements, and they get to choose which order they receive their various advancements. Plus there isn't a Khorne-equivalent driving the whole game. If the Petersons are being honest, then they have been playtesting the hell out of this game, with particular focus on keeping all these different advancements balanced. They noticed early in the playtesting that there was one particular advancement for each faction that playtesters kept choosing first, so they made each of those advancements into starting powers for those factions. This might actually be a pretty good game. Still not sure if it's a $175+ game.
SuperflyPete's Avatar
SuperflyPete replied the topic: #154213 14 Jun 2013 17:43
I've been looking at this (Lovecraft fan) and it seems to me that the best option for this is to not buy the game, and just get Reaper (and other brands) of Cthulhu miniatures and play Strange Aeons or something.
Jackwraith's Avatar
Jackwraith replied the topic: #154250 15 Jun 2013 01:23
The Conan stories are actually rife with conflict between competing 'superpowers', especially Aquilonia and Turan, even if it isn't represented by all-out war as in the game, so it's really not that much of a stretch even if it doesn't wholly center around the title character. I'm a huge fan of the stories and I own the game and really like it. It's lone downfall, IMO, is that it's much more enjoyable if you are a fan, instead of just a player. /tangent
Disgustipater's Avatar
Disgustipater replied the topic: #154251 15 Jun 2013 01:26

Shellhead wrote: This might actually be a pretty good game. Still not sure if it's a $175+ game.

Seems like at least one person here is getting it, so hopefully we can get some kind of review of it.
ioticus's Avatar
ioticus replied the topic: #154253 15 Jun 2013 01:32
I keep vacillating back and forth about what to get and have changed my pledge amount 5 times. This KS is driving me insane! The problem is I don't know what the discount will be with Coolstuff or if they will even get sufficient quantities to cover the demand.
jason10mm's Avatar
jason10mm replied the topic: #154267 15 Jun 2013 13:36
Why would this be supply limited? Once they make the molds additional minis should be a trivial expense, heck, they have already said the mini company will be selling resin and metal versions as well.

I'm still on the fence. But I know if I don't back it then I'll see it at dragoncon in all it's glory and feel regret. I just need a few of those expansions to get put in the CDG level for my trigger. But they seem to be going towards expansion expansions now so who mows. $50 for a map and 16 of the same (glacier) minis is ludicrous, so I can only think they are inflating the price expecting to add "free" stuff to it later.
Shellhead's Avatar
Shellhead replied the topic: #154337 17 Jun 2013 00:26

Disgustipater wrote:

Shellhead wrote: This might actually be a pretty good game. Still not sure if it's a $175+ game.

Seems like at least one person here is getting it, so hopefully we can get some kind of review of it.

Reviews usually aren't helpful for a Kickstarter, unless it's a new edition of an existing game. By the time Cthulhu Wars is in stores, the Kickstarter will be over, and the chance to buy the Kickstarter exclusives will be gone.
Shellhead's Avatar
Shellhead replied the topic: #154345 17 Jun 2013 01:16
I talked it over with some friends this weekend, and had pretty much decided against Kickstarting Cthulhu Wars. Then I saw that they have a series of YouTube videos up now showing a complete game being played with a prototype set. It wasn't an education video so much as just players with some prior experience playing a normal game of Cthulhu Wars, except one player was pretty good about sometimes explaining exactly what was going on.

Actions go quickly, with each player doing one thing, generally paying some power to do that thing. They continue until everybody passes and then there is brief bookkeeping of who gets how much power for the start of the next turn. One guy summoned Shub-Niggurath right away and then had to pass every time. First player each turn seems to be based on who has the most power, and he gets to choose the direction of play that turn, clockwise or counter-clockwise.

Overall, it seemed like leisurely and enjoyable game of Chaos in the Old World, as though Khorne had been banned from the game. Game play was fairly dynamic, because each player is trying to gain more spellbooks (advanced abilities), and each player has a half-dozen different ways to get a spellbook. Each of those ways can only be used once, but then any one of the six spellbooks for that faction can be chosen. The net effect is that it's challenging to anticipate what other players will do, at least in the early game, because there are so many possibilities. At the end of the first video, Cthulhu arrives, and that is a really huge miniature.

Here is the first video, with links for the others in the recommended list off to the right side:

Shellhead's Avatar
Shellhead replied the topic: #154349 17 Jun 2013 01:44
Movement on the map seems fairly dynamic. Compared to Risk, each map space is huge and touches several other map sections, plus at least three of the factions seemed to have a special mode of movement to appear at a more distant location. Enemy units can peacefully co-exist in the same map space. There is at least one ocean space that connects two opposite ends of the board, which can potentially create a situation where two players have forces in the same space but don't realize it.

By the end of the second (of six) videos, one player has all six of his spellbooks, which apparently lets him declare attacks without paying power for them. The game is not over yet, as apparently the winner needs to advance to the end of the Doom Track, which appears to work like a victory point tracker except that at one point, a player used a special ability to spend Doom Points for a more powerful effect.

Player pieces seem to have very thematic abilities. The cultists can't normally fight and can be captured if they don't flee. Ghouls can move into a space where a battle just happened. Cthulhu automatically devours an enemy unit right before a battle starts in his space.

By the end of the third video, two players now have all of their spellbooks, but nobody seems very far up the Doom Track. The players comment on this and move the Doom Track over near the camera man. Although the Doom Track ends at 20, the players emphasize that the pace of the game accelerates. So when players are at around 10 on the Doom Track, the game isn't half over, it's about 90% over.
Shellhead's Avatar
Shellhead replied the topic: #154351 17 Jun 2013 02:21
Three of the players seem to be really enjoying the game. The fourth guy is pretty quiet, and playing cautiously.

Except for a special ability of Cthulhu's, there doesn't seem to be any meaningful difference between land spaces and ocean spaces.

During the fourth video, designer Sandy Peterson is called in from the next room to give a ruling for a situation where two different special abilities seem to contradict each other. This is apparently more of a playtest game than a demo game, but Sandy knew the answer immediately even if his answer was a bit hard for me to follow.

There is also a ritual track next to the Doom Track. Apparently it forces the game to end if somebody doesn't get to 20 on the Doom Track first.

By the fifth video (each are a little less than 15 minutes long), the energy level of the players seemed to have dropped. I had the impression that they already played one game before this one, but still a bit worrisome, like the game wasn't as fun after everybody had all their spellbooks.

Kingmaker situation for the Cthulhu player towards the end of the fifth video. He even says "kingmaker" out loud. The overall game took less than 75 minutes. Aside from the official win, most of the sixth video is the normal post-game analysis by the more enthusiastic players. The quiet guy came in distant last but had some interesting things to say post-game.

During the first couple of videos, I was back to really wanting to Kickstart this game, but my enthusiasm dwindled as the game went on. Don't get me wrong, this looks to be a better game than Chaos in the Old World, but it definitely didn't impress me as a $150+ game. The problem is the miniatures. They look great, but they push the cost up too high. I really like the artwork on the cardboard desecration tokens used by the King in Yellow player, and I feel like this game could have been made at a reasonable cost with good artwork on cardboard tokens.
ioticus's Avatar
ioticus replied the topic: #154360 17 Jun 2013 03:26
One problem I have is I can never play with more than one person, and I'm not sure the game would even play well that way. It seems more suited for at least 4 players.
Shellhead's Avatar
Shellhead replied the topic: #215339 18 Nov 2015 10:00
I remember being very interested in Cthulhu Wars more than two years ago, during the original Kickstarter campaign, so I went looking for this old discussion thread. In hindsight, I am amazed that I was on the verge of dropping $311 when my best job was on the verge of extinction. Despite the current wave of love for Cthulhu Wars here at F:AT, I made the right decision at the time to skip the Kickstarter. I didn't know it then, but my job did end in September of that year, and then I was unemployed for over 9 months after that. And the job that I finally landed pays 30% less than my old job. It does feel painfully ironic that I was the FATtie who was most interested in Cthulhu Wars and yet so many others now own it while I don't. Maybe I will be in a better place in 2016. My covert job search is heating up, and most potential employers are talking about wages comparable to what I got paid at my old job.
SuperflyPete's Avatar
SuperflyPete replied the topic: #215351 18 Nov 2015 11:30
300$ is a lot of fucking scratch.