Cthulhu Wars is as Big and Epic as Its Name Suggests

That sidekick is 100% dead and definitely not something I spilled and didn’t notice until it was too late.

In 2015, Peterson Games released the first edition of the giant zone control game Cthulhu Wars. Since then, Peterson Games has continued to release numerous expansions, including new game features, maps, and cosmetic updates. The theme and its growing scope over the years have piqued my interest as one of my Grail games. I finally got a copy late last year, and it’s better than I could have imagined.

Cthulhu Wars puts players at the head of a cult in the service of one of the four great old men of the end of time. The earth is a battlefield, and life as we know it is over. The only thing that remains unclear is who will rule over his remains. Playing as the Creeping Chaos, Great Cthulhu, Yellow Mark or Black Goat, players fight to control what remains of the earth by performing rituals, summoning monsters and unlocking unique spells. Since no two factions are the same and there are a number of additional factions, there are an incredible number of options that can be taken advantage of.

Before the game begins, players choose one of four color-coded factions and familiarize themselves with the contents of the fact table. The faction card serves as a guide for the player for all questions during the game. To summarize (very) simply, the assets on the left side of the graph are an overview of specific faction units and starting powers. On the right side of the board is the power bar and all abilities that can be unlocked during play.

Installation is simple, but varies from fraction to fraction. Players place their pieces on the board according to the instructions on the front of the faction board. Each of the factions in the base game begins in a fairly similar fashion, with a summoning door and six acolytes in the box corresponding to the faction’s sign of affiliation. The Great Cthulhu begins his play in the South Pacific, the Yellow Sign in Europe, the Creeping Mayhem in Asia, and the Black Goat in Africa. All other minigames are assigned to the player pool.

The Cthulhu war round is divided into three short phases and one long phase, during which players perform their actions.

Current collection phase

In the action phase, players spend their energy moving, summoning new monsters and conquering the world. But you can’t spend what you don’t have. In the Force Gathering Phase, players summarize the state of the board and add force points to the Faction Board Track.

During this phase, players can simultaneously calculate their total success points to advance the game. Players move their token to the Power Lane and win:

  • 1 power for each of your growers on the map.
  • 1 power for each goal on the card not checked by the player.
  • 2 Power for each door controlled by the grouping.
  • 1 power for each enemy Cultivar they capture in an action phase. After adding the proper amount of power, these parts should be returned to their owners.

Some groups, such as B. the Yellow Badge, may have abilities that reward extra strength. These extra points must be calculated before you proceed. If the actors are familiar with this phase, it should take less than a minute for everyone.

To ensure that there is never a critical power difference between players, Cthulhu Wars has a minimum power rule. If a player ends this phase with less than half the power of the strongest player, he gets a few compensation points. Players always end this phase halfway, when the leader comes forward.

For example, if Player 1 has fifteen Might points and Player 2 only has three, then Player 2 gets five extra points, giving him a total of eight points (half of the fifteen rounded up).

Determine first player phase

Once everyone has gained their power, the person with the most power becomes the first player of the round. This means you take the first player marker (shown above). The first player of the turn can choose whether the order of the turn is clockwise or counterclockwise, by turning the chip over to the correct side. Unlike the power accumulation phase, this phase should last only a few seconds.

Doom phase

We now come to the aperitif of Cthulhu’s War of Destiny phase. The Doom phase itself is divided into four parts, all of which are fairly fast-paced. Since players will not meet most of the criteria for this level, it will be ignored in the first round of play.

Door power supply

Destiny lane is the victory point. The more fate points a faction has, the closer its world comes to the sphere of influence of the great elder. In the ‘Phase of Destiny’, each player earns one point for each ‘Door of Destiny’ under his faction’s control. This step can be performed in any order or simultaneously. When a player reaches thirty points, the game is over.

Ritual of Destruction

Starting with the first player and taking turns moving around the table, players should be able to perform the Destruction Ritual. To do this, players spend the amount of Strength needed for the current marker position and move it up one space, increasing the cost of future Rituals. The player who then performs the ritual also repeats the move in the Advance on the Fate Track, doubling the number of points scored in that turn. Finally, they randomly draw an old marker on each board they check. Each Ancient Sign token gives them one to three additional Fate Points, which can be added immediately or kept until the final score is reached. Personally, I like to keep some of those extra points hidden from the opponents to advance after the game is over. Because of the significant impact rituals can have on the outcome of the game, each player may only perform them once per turn.

In the example above, the marker is at the start position. To perform the Ritual of Destruction, the player must have five powers. When the first player of a turn performs a Ritual, he spends five powers to resolve the associated effects, then moves on to the next player. They then have the opportunity to resolve the consequences for themselves at the expense of the six energy sources.

If the player has already performed a ritual while the marker was in the Cost Ten box, the marker would go into Instant Death Mode, which would end the game after the entire Fate Phase had ended.

Special events

Some factions have passive abilities that manifest during the accident phase. If a player has this ability on the board (faction ability or spell book), then these actions take place.

Victory clause

At this stage, players simply check to see if the game is over. When a player reaches thirty Instant Fate or Instant Death points in the Annihilation Tracker ritual, the game is over.

Players count the number of Destiny tokens they own, including the Ancient Sign tokens they have not yet revealed. The player with the most setbacks is declared the winner. However, Cthulhu Wars has added the condition that the winning player must also unlock their six powers in the spellbook. If the player with the highest score also fails to unlock all six books, victory goes to the player with the highest score and all spell books are unlocked. If no player has six spell books, the game ends in defeat for all.

Active phase

The action phase is the end of the game. In this phase, players spend the Force moving around the board, summoning new servants, and fighting each other. Starting with the first player, each player performs one action at a time, using their power. The most common actions are the following:

  • Movement players may move any number of their units to an adjacent hex. For each device moved, the player must use one force. In no case may a unit move more than once per action phase.
  • Attract a Cultist – If players have a Cultist Axolite in their pool, they can pay a power to summon it to any field with an existing block.
  • Door Construction – Players can spend three powers building a new Challenge Door in a Gar-free zone where they control a farmer. The maximum number of doors per allowed range is one, so the action cannot be performed if there is already a door.
  • Monster Summoning – When a player controls a door, they can summon a monster for that door by paying the monster’s cost. Energy costs and monster abilities are described in more detail on the left side of the faction table, as they are specific to each faction.
  • Capturing a Cultivator – When a player controls a Beast or a Great Old Man in a hex where there is no opponent, they may choose to capture an enemy Cultivator by spending a Lore. The crop is then removed from the board. The targeted player must have a unit of the same level to not be captured. Si z. B. Player 1’s highest level unit in that hex is a monster, and it is trying to capture Player 2’s Cultivator, Player 2 can prevent this action by simply putting the monster in the target hex. But if player 1 has one, then player 2 must also have one, otherwise the catch is successful.
  • The Awakening of the Great Elder – Each faction has a great elder, the Eldritch, who commands its army. As an action, players can summon their Grand Old Man by spending the required amount of power, as indicated on their faction chart. Some great classic cars may have different requirements or costs associated with the challenge.
  • Combat – To attack another group of units, the player wishing to attack must spend a force to attack one of the selected factions in your area.

The action phase ends when each player has exhausted all of their available power or has chosen to pass (which also exhausts their remaining power). The game then begins again in the power gathering phase and continues in this circular structure until death or thirty points of fate are reached.

What excites me about the Cthulhu Wars is that they offer the full experience of controlling the local guys on the bridge for part of the time. Most games of this genre take two to three hours to provide the same level of excitement, but Cthulhu Wars does all that and more in an hour.

Moreover, the difference between the factions they play successfully requires a very different approach. I had a lot of fun getting back into the game and playing as each of the factions until I found a play style that really suited me.

It seems odd that the main game has a ship with only four factions, but it has a board that allows it to have up to five. It’s practically an invitation for the player to dive into the game and buy another faction. Then there are boards for six to eight players. Then you have to buy three more factions to enjoy the collection. The Cthulhu warriors are practically determined to take over as much of the collection as possible.

To his credit, the basic upgrades are excellent. There are neutral Great Oldies, cosmetic enhancements and map variations that are nice, but not what I have in mind. The four basic factions are pretty entertaining, but there are seven additional factions led by great classics like Yog-Sothoth that just add to the variety and fun of the game.

Greater Cthulhu

Yellow board

Black goat


Creeping chaos


The quality of the production of the parts is insane. The amount of detail and physical mass of these numbers really adds to the scale of the fight. When the board is full and players invoke the horrors of Eldritch from space, it really feels like Earth is just a playground for these monsters. The Big Elders are heavy and tall, making the situation even more devastating if your opponent calls one of the ether and puts it into play.

But all that good entertainment is pretty expensive. If available, Peterson Games will sell the main game for $200 only. What about the other groups I mentioned? They’re about $60 each. Fortunately, the core of the experiment is large enough that expansions are certainly not necessary. But even extensions have a higher price than most.

Cthulhu Wars is a fantastic game. I’d say it’s one of the best turf guard games on the market. But at such a high price, you have to know you want it. It’s not a game you buy on a whim to try. Find a friend who has one, or a board game cafe. Try one of the mods for the tabletop simulator. The investment is worth it, but it’s not called the Holy Grail game for nothing.

2 – 4 players with basic game. Possibility to expand to 8 players with expansions. Sixty minutes.
Area control
Action points
Rolling the dice
Variable power
World domination
Many Cthulhu fxtagn
Territorial control games don’t get the love they deserve in my house. They last too long and have too many diapers for my usual group. But Cthulhu Wars’ simplified gameplay allows you to play quickly and break the stigma of zone management that has kept me away from the genre for so long. However, it is best suited for players who already have some experience with zone control games and are familiar with some of the basic concepts. Otherwise, Cthulhu Wars becomes a monster for new players to learn.
Aside from dashboards and player cards, there are very few pieces of art in Cthulhu Wars. It is in the scale and detail of the Mini that it really shines. When bigger monsters come into play, Cthulhu Wars’ presence at the negotiating table is even more important than the Kingdom of Death: Freak. It’s easy to go back to the Cthulhu warriors. It is a fun and challenging game that is not a competitive puzzle game. With four different factions in the base game, there’s plenty of room to experiment with new strategies before heading into the expansion.


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