Board Game Quest recently took an informal poll about the mechanic that the staff hated the most. “Roll and move” was number 1, but surprisingly to me, “take that” was high on the list as well. I have to say the latter was shocking because we tend to play a lot of “take that” games. Some that I’m currently playing with my family and gaming group are: Magic: The Gathering, Masmorra, Disney Villainous, or Dice Throne. These all include a heavy dose of “take that” and all are also solid games. So, I’m thinking “take that” needs to fall further down the list of hated game mechanics… or at least it will on mine.
This brings us to today’s review of Crazy Cultist from Rocket House Games. In this 3-6 player “take that” card game, players are Cultists who are trying to be the first to light all their pentagram candles and usher in a thousand years of darkness. Sound like fun? Read on!
Players each begin Crazy Cultists with 3 cards and a pentagram. Each pentagram has five spaces where the lighted candle tokens will go.
On a player’s turn they play a card and then draw a card. A player may not have more or less than 3 cards in their hand.
A player can either play a Favor card (ranging from 1-4 points) that help build influence for The Dark One to light their candle or play a Hijinx card to sabotage another player. A player will add Favor cards and build a Favor stack. When the Favor total of the stack reaches 10 that player then receives a lighted candle token to place on their pentagram and they discard their Favor stack.
The first player to collect 5 lighted candles wins.
I think it’s easy to see from the overview that the rules for Crazy Cultists is light and straightforward. This game is easy to teach, fast to get to the table, and I think makes a nice gateway game for new gamers. The first people we saw were my parents when our state slowly reopened. They are not gamers, but they had fun with Crazy Cultists even though my parents are conservative, and my Catholic mom was not thrilled about the theme. I think other people new to gaming could easily pick this game up as well and have some fun with it too.
Another plus was the lighted candles on your pentagram. These grant the player +1 favor per candle so as you add more candles you need fewer points in your Favor stack. I really thought this was smart because this allows the game to speed up, which is good because at higher player counts it can be a longer game. This really helps Crazy Cultists to not overstay it’s welcome.
The last plus for me were the Hijinx cards which give Crazy Cultists its “take that” feel. Most of the Hijinx cards will annoy you but aren’t too terribly mean. Many will have you discard 1-3 cards from your Favor stack or steal cards from your hand, but these keep the game interesting and also keep players on their toes. There is one card (Beelze-Beatdown) that is very mean and gets rid of a player’s Favor stack but there’s only one in the game. My favorite was the Counter Spell which helps protect players from other Hijinx cards and can be played outside of your normal turn.
Now I liked almost all the Hijinx cards except for Polymorphization which I completely loathe. This card makes a player skip their turn which was the BGQ #2 most hated mechanic. Crazy Cultists does a good job of keeping players engaged but Polymorphization takes away from that. Players only get one action per turn and so to lose that for a round is not fun. Luckily, there are only two of these cards in the deck.
My family likes Crazy Cultists and I did as well but after multiple plays, there’s not much gameplay variety and it eventually felt repetitive. If you don’t mind this, then no worries for you. But for those looking for a game that gives you replay value you’re not going to find it here.
Crazy Cultists primary mechanic is “take that,” but most of the Hijinx cards keep players on their toes and adds more fun to the game than take-away. Its easy rules are great for any players to pick up and gets it to the table fast. Plus, the lighted candles on your pentagram each add +1 to your Favor stack making Crazy Cultist not overstay it’s welcome at any player count.
Now what really holds Crazy Cultist back is repetitive gameplay and the skip your turn mechanic of the Polymorphization Hijinx card. If these are not deal breakers for you then give Crazy Cultists a try and have some fun with your family and friends.
Final Score: 3.0 Stars – A fun “take that” card game is easy to learn for any players but one that will become repetitive.
• Gameplay becomes repetitive