Cthulhu Dice: A Battle for Sanity

Cthulhu Dice: Cultists Beware!This guest review brought to you by the letter C, the number 10 (tentacles), copious parenthetical asides, and a gaggle of exclamation points (!).

When rival Cultists of Cthulhu get together for a party, it is likely a battle for sanity will ensue. (Cultists beware! A battle for sanity could possibly end with the entire world going mad!)

The Game

Cthulhu Dice by Steve Jackson (illustrated by Alex Fernandez) is a fun way to pass the time at your local pub or as a warm up game while everyone settles in for a longer battle against the Great Old Ones (such as Arkham Horror). The super cool (and quite pretty) dodecahedron is adorned with wee tentacles, Yellow Signs, an Elder Sign, and one menacing Cthulhu face (of horror and madness).

I keep mine along with the 18 glass sanity tokens in an old gaming dice bag so I always have it ready at hand for a quick game wherever I may be. (Also, I’m really dorky.)

It’s meant to be played by three to six players and seems to take anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes no matter how many players there are. At a recent party we played several rounds: a few with 6 players, a couple with 3, and one with the two player variation. Game mechanics are simple and are fairly easy to learn (and retain) even after you’ve imbibed a few adult beverages.

Game Mechanics

When it’s your turn, you are the Caster and you get to choose your Victim. The turn ends when the Victim responds. If you’re not paying close enough attention, keeping track of who’s attacking and who’s responding and which order things are moving proves a bit of a challenge the later the evening wears on. As long as you have one person capable of maintaining their wits (in spite of the beverages and the ravages of Cthulhu) you should be fine.

Cultists attack each other with the hope of stealing sanity tokens. More often than not, however, it is Cthulu who benefits from the dueling Cultists. Each time anyone rolls a Yellow Sign, Cthulhu gains a sanity token. If you roll a tentacle, the Caster gets to steal sanity from the Victim, even if the Victim rolls the tentacle. Tentacles are nasty like that. If you are mad (having lost all your sanity tokens), you can only regain your sanity from Cthulhu by rolling an Elder Sign. Since there’s only one Elder Sign on the die, most mad Cultists tend to stay mad (and Cthulhu chuckles in his sleep).

The game ends when one Cultist remains with at least one sanity token at the end of a turn. If no Cultists have managed to retain their sanity, then the mighty Cthulhu has won, and the world’s sanity is lost.

Cultist Conclusions

I really enjoyed this game, and only have a couple of complaints. The established language of Caster and Victim is not always adhered to in the instructions, but I’m pretty sure we inferred correctly in the few instances it deviates. Mostly though, I’d much rather see one more tentacle and one fewer Yellow Sign on the die. Much of the fun of this game is in stealing sanity from fellow Cultists, and with so many Yellow Signs, Cthulhu tends to gain our sanity a bit too quickly.

(Though who am I to argue with a Great Old One such as Cthulhu?)

Guest Review By: Joelle B.
Twitter: sparklej

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