Quick Game Review: Steve Jackson Games' Cthulhu Dice!

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BLOT: (27 Dec 2010 - 02:03:46 PM)

Quick Game Review: Steve Jackson Games' Cthulhu Dice!

There isn't much to this quick, couple-o-minute game. You have a die, twelve-sided by with custome faces rather than pips/numbers, and you have eighteen "sanity tokens" which are little glass stones. Gameplay is for 2-6 with the basic pack. You take turns being the "caster" and picking out a victim. You toss the die and play out the event as dictated by the symbol. The event can be "victim loses a stone", "victim gives a stone to caster", "everybody loses a stone", or "caster gains a stone from the center of the table". There is also "die-roller's choice". The center of the table is called Cthulhu and lost stones go to him. The victim will then get a chance to roll the die, and it might be best to think of this as "spell after-effects". The caster might lose a dice, might gain another dice from the victim, and so forth.

Once you lose all your sanity, you are insane. You can still act, but now you are working for Cthulhu, basically, and any gain you might make simple goes to the table. Last person left sane is the winner. Since you start out with only three sanity tokens, and it is possible to lose two a turn (and probable to lose at least one), the entire game resolves itself fairly quickly.Then you can easily restart and play again. As one last note, you only go insane when you have no sanity at the end of a "turn", which means that a caster who rolls Cthulhu (everyone pays one sanity to Cthulhu) still has a chance of getting a Tentacle (victim pays one sanity to caster), but if the victim runs out then there is only the Elder Sign (get one stone from Cthulhu). That all means little to the casual reader without a die in hand, but just take it say that you die fast and there isn't a whole lot of chance of stopping it.

The "call and response" gameplay gets a little weird, especially when the victim goes immediately after the caster, but it is not too bad. Besides that, it is a quick, relatively cheap game than can be carried in a simple pouch and resolved in less time than it took to read this review.

With all that being said, this is a game begging for house rules. BEGGING. Why not a rule that pits sane v. insane in a significant way, so that you can either try to build up a certain number of stones or try to win the most points for Cthulhu? A rule that causes one set of effects for the caster, but another set when the victim rolls the dice (to represent misfires)? Maybe a rule where everyone loses sanity every turn, starting with more sanity tokens to begin with and summoning Cthulhu results in the person with the least sanity being devoured? Caster and victim roll dice at the same time to some effect? There are a lot of possibilities.

For the price and intent, a Good game, but really not a whole lot to it. It's a pocket time waster for the when the GM is in the bathroom or the Munchkin deck is being reshuffled (or to see who buys drinks). I'm still going to go buy a couple more dice just to get some different colors. Oooo...is that a bone colored die with red paint I see?

Cthulhu Dice Official Site

LABEL(s): Games

BY WEEK: 2010, Week 52
BY MONTH: December 2010

Written by Doug Bolden

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