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Top 10 Cthulhu Board Games

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Top 10 Cthulhu Board Games

Themes in tabletop gaming seem to come and go in popularity. For a while zombies were all the range, yet now they seem to have fallen out of favor with the masses. However, one theme that seems to eternally live in the hearts of gamers belongs to that of the great Cthulhu. Rising from the depths of the ocean, there are countless games he has provided inspiration for.

So when it comes to the Lovecraftian genre, which game reigns supreme? To help answer that question, BGQ reviewers Tony and Brian W have teamed up to list out our Top 10 Cthulhu Board Games. We’ve descended into the depths, played the games, fought off the madness, and now are ready to conclude our investigation.

Top 10 Cthulhu Board Games

10. Arkham Horror: The Card Game

Arkham Horror: The Card GameReleased by Fantasy Flight Games in 2016, Arkham Horror: The Card Game replaced the competitive Call of Cthulhu LCG with a new, cooperative game. Instead of fighting each other, players now team up to tackle the mysteries of Arkham over a narrative campaign. Throughout their adventures, players will be solving mysteries and leveling up their investigators. Once again, this expandable card game follows the Fantasy Flight Games LCG model, so players don’t have to hunt down rare cards in blind booster packs. -Tony

1-2 Players • Ages 14+ • 60-120 minutes • $30Get Your Copy

 

 

9. Pocket Madness (review)

Pocket MadnessPocket Madness is a fast-paced game where players will evoke the powers of the Great Old Ones to drive other opponent’s insane. It’s an easy game to pick-up and the gameplay is rather unique. Players draft cards from the deck that has face-up and face-down cards trying to create sets. Players will use those sets to open portals to use the powers of the Old Ones or investigations to try to drive their opponents insane. Pocket Madness doesn’t have a deep Cthulhu theme, but the gameplay makes it worthy to make the list. -Brian

2-4 Players • Ages 8+ •30 minutes • $23Get Your Copy

 

 

8. Tides of Madness (review)

Tides of MadnessTides of Madness was published by Portal Games as a follow-up to their successful 2 player card drafting game Tides of Time. Based on a similar rule set, this version of the game not only features some excellent Lovecraftian art, but also incorporates a new madness mechanic. Certain cards in Tides of Madness will give a player madness, and if they get too much, they go insane and immediately lose. This opened up some new avenues for strategy in the game. -Tony

2 Players • Ages 10+ • 10 minutes • $12Get Your Copy

 

 

7. Machina Arcana (review)

Machina ArcanaMachina Arcana is a cooperative steampunk and Cthulhu horror-themed game. This dark, tactical, turn-based dungeon crawl is set in a neo-Victorian steampunk world. Players will be attempting to improve their explorers and stay alive while trying to overcome obstacles and advance the story. If explorers survive, they win. This game is difficult to win, but any gamer worth their salt loves a challenge. Designer Juraj Bilich outdid himself by giving players a ton of information and imagery to set the mood of this deep Cthulhu themed game. -Brian

1-5 Players • Ages 14+ • 45-120 minutes • OOPGet Your Copy

 

 

6. Shadows over Normandie

Shadows over NormandieSet in an alternate version of World War 2, Shadows over Normandie replaces the familiar Axis vs Allies theme and instead, has a squad from the Allies facing off against Lovecraftian monsters and Nazi mystics. The gameplay is based on the solid Heroes of Normandie ruleset, which is a great entry-level war game. In addition to the familiar rules for movement, cover, and shooting, players now have to deal with spell casting and madness! -Tony

2-3 Players • Ages 14+ • 90 minutes • $55Get Your Copy

 

 

5. Mythos Tales

Mythos TalesIf you’re a fan of the Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective game and enjoy the delving into the Cthulhu Mythos, then Mythos Tales is a game you will enjoy. It’s a cooperative storytelling game set in the Lovecraftian city of Arkham where players are trying to unravel mysteries. With each mystery, players have no dice to control, but instead, need to use their minds as well as player aids in the form of a newspaper, a list of allies, and a directory and map of Arkham. Their final score will depend on the number of mysteries that players correctly solve. Mythos Tales is unique because it fully immerses players into the theme and game itself. -Brian

1-10 Players • Ages 13+ • 120 minutes • $40Get Your Copy

 

 

4. Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu

Pandemic: Reign of CthulhuPandemic is one of the best-selling board games of all time and lately, has been venturing out into thematic, standalone games (Pandemic: Rising Tide for example). Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu is more than a simple retheme, it takes the core of Pandemic and builds on it to create a fun game set in the classic fictional New England Towns (Arkham, Dunwich, Innsmouth, and Kingsport). Instead of batting diseases, players must keep the cultists in check and close the four gates as quickly as they can before too many of the ancient evil ones awaken. -Tony

2-4 Players • Ages 14+ • 30-45 minutes • $40Get Your Copy

 

 

3. Mansions of Madness: Second Edition

Mansions of MadnessI’m sure most won’t be surprised to find Mansions of Madness: 2nd Edition as high as it is on the list. Fantasy Flight Games created a must have with this 2nd Edition in 2016. You are now able to download the app to run the mysteries instead of someone running the overlord role from the first edition. This Cthulhu-themed game of adventure and fighting is now fully cooperative thanks to the interactive app. Much like the first edition, it’s still highly thematic has seen multiple expansions since its release. -Brian

1-5 Players • Ages 12+ • 120-240 minutes • $80Get Your Copy

 

 

2. Eldritch Horror (review)

Eldritch-Horror-BoxEldritch Horror is the quintessential game of globetrotting investigations against the unknown. It debuted in 2013 to replace the fun but bloated Arkham Horror board game, this time taking players from the town of Arkharm to all over the world. Players must work together to solve enough mysteries before the ancient evil one awakens, along the way searching for relics, battling monsters, and having otherworldly encounters. With more than a half a dozen expansions already out, players will have no shortage of content for Eldritch Horror once you start down the rabbit hole. -Tony

1-8 Players • Ages 14+ • 120 minutes • $45Get Your Copy

 

 

1. Cthulhu Wars (review)

Cthulhu WarsI think the word that best describes Cthulhu Wars is epic. This asymmetrical, area control battle royale pits four of the Great Old One factions against each other for control of the Earth. Players can finally control the Great Old Ones instead of being their victims or sacrifices. This game comes with miniatures, but that term is a misnomer since some stand over 10 inches tall! Cthulhu Wars does come with a high price tag, but it boasts some amazing production values and Petersen Games is continually adding loads content with expansion support, making this game worth owning. -Brian

2-4 Players • Ages 14+ • 90-120 minutes • $125Get Your Copy

 

 

10 COMMENTS

  1. Mine has some similarities but I can’t get to 10. Yet.

    1) Cthulhu Wars
    2) Arkham Horror
    3) Arkham Horror: The Card Game
    4) Eldritch Horror
    5) Lovecraft Letter
    6) Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu
    7) Elder Sign

  2. I like Fate of the Elder Gods (tho the Rulebook needs better editing & Madness at Midnight. I kickstarted both and enjoy them greatly.
    Arkham Horror TCG has been a great play as well with the only downfall being you need two starters to play 4 people

    • I actually like the Arkham Horror LCG, but Brian doesn’t, so it didn’t make the list. We had considered Fate of the Elder Gods, but neither of us have played it enough to really decide how we feel about it, so it didn’t make the cut.

    • Thanks for the comment Mark. Not sure how you can call a top 10 list incomplete when there are 10 games on it though. But to address your specific games: A Study in Emerald Brian liked but I didn’t, so it was out Kingsport Festival just isn’t all that good. Ancient Terrible Things actually just missed the cut (it would have been #11). And Arkham Horror has been completely replaced by the better Eldritch Horror. We would never recommend anyone play that over EH.

  3. I mean incomplete in respect of the ommisions to the list. Eldritch may be more complete than Arkham, but I would still takeany of the games I listed ahead of your choices. To each their own of course. As for Kingsport Festival, you are talking Lovecraft mixed with Kingsburg, what is not to like ????

    • I understand and you are certainly entitled to your preferences. We actually did consider all of the games you listed, and outside of ATT, none were even close to being in our Top 10.

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