Games Gazette Logo

         

TWILIGHT CREATIONS
Presents a Game by Jonathan & Kerry Breitenstein with superb artwork from Dave Atkins and mapwork by Giorgio De Michele.

The KINGSPORT EDITION of CTHULHU!!! Hastur la Vista, Baby !

CTHULHU!!! is a semi cooperative game based heavily on Twilight Creations' excellent and most popular ZOMBIES!!!. In fact this isn't far off being a direct copy of Todd Breitenstein's ZOMBIES!!! with Cthulhu style figures - though there is no actual Cthulhu himself; he is represented by Cultists and Byakhee.

As always, the components are excellent. The tiles are heavy duty glossy full colour card, as are the playing cards (Events and Relics), and the miniatures for the players (3 different coloured males and 3 more colours for females) and the Cult of Hastur (Cultists (green) and Byakhee (grey)) are durable plastic. 

Instead of running for the Helipad to escape the Zombies (or as experienced players know, running towards the Zombies to kill as many as you can and thus gain more VPs and win the game) the characters here are brave, courageous heroes and heroines, ready to face insanity in the shape of the unholy creatures that rise up from the depths, and the robed members of the Cult of Hastur who are intent on summoning the KING in YELLOW (having a figure for the KiY would have been a nice, though obviously unnecessary touch). The cultists have 5 sacred summoning or Ritual sites in the City (these are drawn from the deck like all other tiles but have specific placement rules) from where they can summon the King in Yellow. They need to triangulate their summoning by activating any 3 of the five and to do this they need to offer the KiY a human sacrifice on each (of 3) sites. By human sacrifice they only have to defeat a character on a Ritual site (characters are never killed per se they just melt away and pop up at the starting tile - the Church - ready to begin again next turn). 

The cultists and one Byakhee occupy all the spaces on a Ritual site when the tile is first placed. They will never leave the site tile to chase or attack the characters. However to destroy (sanctify) a Ritual site the characters have to clear it of all enemies. If a Ritual site is activated it is turned over and the tile remains in place but if a Ritual site is defeated the tile is removed and the space is open again for another tile (any type that legally fits) to be placed later. If at any time 3 Ritual sites are Sanctified then the characters have saved the world, but if 3 Ritual sites are ever Activated then the cultists have been successful in releasing all hell on earth in the shape of the King in Yellow and all who follow him.

         

Some of the spaces represent the shops and buildings that line the city streets. These buildings are entered by the characters crossing the white lines that identify the square on which they sit. These buildings often contain tokens for either extra Life or extra Bullets. Sanity tokens are lost when the characters are in contact /combat with the enemy pieces. Characters can collect and hold as many Bullet tokens as they like but may never hold more than 5 Life tokens - think of the Life tokens in these buildings as the booster Health packs found in electronic adventure games - if you get injured you can run through a building, collect these, and heal up on the run. Players begin the game with 5 Sanity tokens. If they lose all of these they get refreshed minus one, so they begin the next turn with only 4 Sanity tokens, then 3, 2 , 1, dead.

If a character dies (okay yes they can be killed but it takes a lot of defeats to actually kill a character) then they are out of the game completely. In all the games we have played we have yet to lose a character in this way; we have come close but never been successful at losing a character. We have won more games, just, than we have lost, but the imbalance is so slight that it hasn't put us off playing. Unlike some games which are virtually impossible to win (or lose) CTHULHU!!! is a reasonably well balanced game. Of course part of the balance is down to the way the players approach the game and part of it is the D6 system which is the simple combat mechanic.

     

If you play a totally cooperative game where you are all humans wanting for humanity to survive you have a much better chance of defeating the Chthulhuists and winning the game. If you sort of work together to get an overal win but also go for the personal win then it is a lot more difficult as you are unlikely to get support from your "friends" who will be sitting back waiting for you to defeat the majority of the enemies and then step in and mop up when you run out of actions. If you are playing with younger players who are new to this type of game (and if they are anything like our grandkids) then the first time you play they will want your characters helping them, then the next game they will be expecting you to set them up for the win; kids are crafty like that!

If you only play a game for the mechanic then to be honest if you have ZOMBIES!!! there is no point in buying CTHULHU!!! But let's face it, most players are hooked by the theme along with the game mechanic which itself is cool, plus the CTHULHU pieces themselves are just as cool as the ZOMBIE pieces but different, so why wouldn't you want both games? Heck you can even intermix the games and have the Cultists using the Zombies and the Byakhee to hold off the characters while they [the cultists] summon the King in Yellow. The game costs between £25.00 - £29.00 in the UK. The Kingsport edition features the town of Kingsport from the writing of H.P.Lovecraft. The "King in Yellow" is a reference to the title character in the Robert W Chambers book "The King in Yellow"  (1895).

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015