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Bugs: Recent Topics Paging, Uploading Images & Preview (11 Dec 2020)

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Cthulhu Wars - A Five Second Board Game Review

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03 May 2019 19:10 - 03 May 2019 21:44 #296482 by Josh Look
Wait until the next ICFTT drops and you hear which AT sacred cow I outright dislike.
Last edit: 03 May 2019 21:44 by Josh Look.
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03 May 2019 21:45 - 03 May 2019 21:46 #296486 by ubarose
The thing about CW is that people who like Chaos in the Old World expect it to be Chaos in the Old World, but bigger and better. And people who like strategic, DoaM games want it to be a strategic DoaM, but bigger and better.

But what it is a chaotic tactical game. It becomes increasingly chaotic as the game progresses. In the last turn or two are typically totally out of control, and any f**king thing can happen, and most of it will be "unfair." And this is so this is so thematically perfect.
Last edit: 03 May 2019 21:46 by ubarose.
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04 May 2019 00:19 #296491 by Gary Sax
Root actually has a similar "points get out of control at the end" factor, now that you mention it, uba. I think that drives people crazy too.

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04 May 2019 00:51 - 04 May 2019 00:51 #296493 by ubarose
@Gary Sax

Yeah, it's like that but more chaotic. Like the last turn of Argent when every one has so many special powers and actions that you can't track them. By the last couple of turns of CW most factions have some kind of teleport power, Cthulhu can convert other faction's cultists to his own anywhere on the board, the blue faction can scatter everyone's dudes when they have to retreat so you have no control over where your dudes end up on the board, everyone with 6 spell books can declare as many battles as they wish with a single action.

Your ability to predict and influence the board state peaks mid-game, and you have about two turns to make the most of it before all hell breaks loose.
Last edit: 04 May 2019 00:51 by ubarose.
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04 May 2019 11:31 - 04 May 2019 16:08 #296509 by Josh Look
I get that it’s not CitOW or something more deep and strategic, but that’s also not an excuse for flat, mediocre gameplay. Cthulhu Wars is the board game equivalent of a Zack Snyder flick, all style and no substance. More specifically, it’s like one of his DC movies. You can’t just literally copy and paste from the all-time greats, taking those individual elements completely out of context, deliver an entirely sub-par experience and hope that the walls of glitz, or in this case, plastic, are enough to distract your audience so that they don’t see that you don’t really understand what those things you’re referencing were really all about.
Last edit: 04 May 2019 16:08 by Josh Look.

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04 May 2019 12:56 #296516 by Jackwraith
I guess my note of reluctance is that I don't like what are essentially pre-programmed games. The last Kickstarter sent out one of their "updates" yesterday and it was a breakdown of how the game is played over the 4-6 turns that it usually lasts. Throughout said turn-by-turn breakdown, the words "must" and "have to" and phrase "if you don't, you're in trouble" are frequently used. It's basically saying that you have to have a your respective Great Old One on the board in turn two to keep up with all the other players summoning theirs. If you don't pursue that strategy that the games hands to you, you lose.

That's what makes Josh's comment about it potentially being a kaiju game relevant. It's mostly about giant Lovercraft monsters bashing each other. I guess you could play King of Tokyo/New York and save yourself an hour? Granted, none of the monsters in the King Of games are anywhere near as interesting as the CW factions, but what I found fascinating about games like CitOW is that there were other angles you could take in the early game, based on your opponents and their actions, which gives the game a nice, tactical feel. I often don't get that from CW because, as their email indicates, the game forces you to do certain things in order to stay competitive. There's nothing wrong with that. Sometimes the fun is in figuring out how to take that programmed path in the most efficient way, based on what you're up against and the game state. But I start to feel hemmed in when, on turn two(!), I have to get my big bad on the board or I'm basically out of the hunt.

That mild frustration is part of why I've been eager to try other factions, to see if they depart from that in some way (Windwalker's GOO coming in stages, for example; as does the new Demon Sultan faction's) and/or change the makeup of the game for how the other factions might proceed. But if they're saying that a game shouldn't go past the sixth turn because everyone SHOULD be doing X, maybe that means it's just not the game for me? Dunno.
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04 May 2019 13:12 #296518 by Scott_F
I'm a huge fan of Cthulhu Wars and am about 50 plays into my copy of the game. I think the game is great because its punchy, it has the right mix of strategy vs. luck, the asymmetric factions all play differently, a single 4 player game can often be done in 60-90 minutes, and it looks amazing.

Comparing this to Nexus Ops or Chaos in the Old world misses the point to me. Nexus Ops I loathe because winning is entirely reliant on dices rolls and card draws. Sure I'll play it with a 10 year old nephew. Do I want to play it against anyone other than that? Nope. And Chaos, while it is a game I love, has so much fiddly cardboard shit on the map and hidden information through the chaos cards that other players won't know unless they play the game half a dozen times. And odds are their first and second game Khorne will win and they will all bitch about balance and refuse to play again anyways. Compare that to CW where all the special powers are open information and games clock in at half the time. And everyone can play a fun faction (Tcho-Tcho aside) instead of just Khorne having the joy of killing other players and being the bully. Saying CW is nothing but minis rolling dice also is flat out wrong. I wish there was more conflict in the game honestly. Some factions will only fight a few times during the entire game, like Sleeper and King in Yellow and even Black Goat somewhat. I prefer not to play those factions, but if you don't like directly attacking other players as a strategy there are options for you.

I also agree that the first 1-2 turns of CW are programmed. And it is a negative in a game that lasts on average 5 turns. I would've preferred all players have a bit more resources on the board already and can get to the interaction quicker - kinda like in Star Trek Ascendancy I want an accelerated start just to skip the boring base building phase. The order that you get access to your spellbooks does matter on those turns though, as does when you summon your great old one so turns 1-2 are not completely programmed. Adding more neutral monsters and expansions and alternate spellbook options go a long way to fixing this but need a group comfortable with the main game.

Yeah for sure I like CW because the minis are huge and I've sunk significant money into it. But every game I play of it I can summon a huge, giant demon of some kind and make my friends groan in terror. Thats worth money to me.
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04 May 2019 13:17 #296519 by Gary Sax
This is a great conversation btw.
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04 May 2019 13:23 #296520 by WadeMonnig
Maybe I haven't hit the level of "must have" and "need to" play. It can be a game of who blinks first and summons a GOO and ends up energy poor in a round, putting a target on their back. Or how long you can appear weak while still getting spellbooks. Or making deals to buy time. Either way, it's been a fun ride figuring it all out.

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04 May 2019 13:33 - 04 May 2019 14:56 #296524 by Gary Sax
I do think that the discourse around this game and Root speak to me a lot about how you can't just throw away your 3-4 hour games and replace them with short distillations and keep everything about them intact.

Whether losing what you lose when cutting to a shorter, cut to the chase experience is worth it, of course, is a personal thing. I feel like it creates a race out of every game without as much time to swing back and forth.
Last edit: 04 May 2019 14:56 by Gary Sax.
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04 May 2019 13:57 - 04 May 2019 14:00 #296525 by Jexik

ubarose wrote: It looks like exactly what it is - big, dumb DoaM fun.


I feel like Heroscape is a similar kind of 'litmus game' for me. Even at tournaments for 'scape, there's usually a pretty relaxed and fun attitude. If you can't have some fun with a game, why bother?

That said, I'm not a big fan of Cthulhu Wars because of its price... which is funny considering how much Heroscape I used to have. It was basically the only game I played back then though.

Gary Sax wrote: I do think that the discourse around this game and Root speak to me a lot about how you can't just throw away your 3-4 hour games and replace them with short distillations and keep everything about them intact.


I try to play Advanced Civ once a year for this reason. Twilight Imperium is one I'm interested in but haven't played yet. I think I prefer 2 and 8 hour games to 4 hour games for some reason...
Last edit: 04 May 2019 14:00 by Jexik.
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04 May 2019 14:21 #296527 by hotseatgames
While there are recommended strategies for the factions, I don't think you automatically lose if you don't follow them to a tee. Certain factions have lengthier routes to getting their spell books out, yes. And the GOO is almost always part of that strategy. Of course, the Ancients don't even have a GOO.

There are also considerations you won't get from a strategy guide, mainly due to the unknown changes that different mixes of factions will introduce, as well as the general play style of the people you are with. Combine that with trying to coerce people into attacking the leader, etc.

Even mentioning King of Tokyo does this game a disservice.
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04 May 2019 15:24 #296529 by Josh Look

hotseatgames wrote: Even mentioning King of Tokyo does this game a disservice.


Yeah, no one should be making that comparison, it was only brought up as an option for someone who needs to play a Kaiju game, not for when someone needs a DOAM thing.

Nor should anyone be mentioning it in the same sentence as Nexus Ops or CitOW, though that one is more on Peterson for straightup copying the core mechanic and doing the asymmetrical armies thing. The only time I see them brought up as an actual, legitimate comparison is when someone is trying to defend CW. I find that very telling. You can tell me that it isn’t trying to be CitOW all you want, I’m not saying it is and I’m smart enough to notice that myself, thank you very much. I feel like saying it does x, y, and z while you didn’t like a,b and c about CitOW is some attempt to justify it. That price tag is on you, not me, no need to convince me of anything.

The Nexus Ops comparison I see fans of CW throw around is even more damning. It’s like when someone told me I had to see Men In Black because I love Ghostbusters. You just set my expectations at the absolute top, that middle of the road experience I’m getting is going to feel that much more flat.

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04 May 2019 15:41 #296530 by hotseatgames
I totally get why people would compare CW to CitOW. I don't really see the Nexus Ops comparison.

Petersen borrowing things from other games.... so what. Everyone does that. We are all standing on the shoulders of giants.

That dude worked on Call of Cthulhu, Doom, and Quake. People borrow from HIM.
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04 May 2019 16:06 #296531 by Josh Look

hotseatgames wrote: I totally get why people would compare CW to CitOW. I don't really see the Nexus Ops comparison.

Petersen borrowing things from other games.... so what. Everyone does that. We are all standing on the shoulders of giants.

That dude worked on Call of Cthulhu, Doom, and Quake. People borrow from HIM.


I agree with everything here. I think as designers, though, the goal sometimes is to do something with what came before to push things into new territory, to put some spin on it to make it noteworthy. Unfortunately the only thing noteworthy about CW had nothing to do with the actual _game_.

Okay, leaving this alone before somebody suspects me of being a complete curmudgeon.
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