RBG #8: Cthulhu Dice
Developers: Steve Jackson
Publisher: Steve Jackson Games
Genre: Dice Game
Number of Players: 2-6 Players
Release Date: 2010
Score: 5 / 10
Alright…so it’s game night. You have all of your munchies and drinks (or hard flavored wets) and you have just played through one of the many big box games, such as Dead of Winter or Betrayal at the House on the Hill, you have in your collection. As it is suggested, you should take a quick break with a smaller mini game before you dive into your next big adventure. Well you have plenty of choices, but this one stands out to you. Welcome to Cthulhu Dice…perhaps one of Steve Jackson’s weaker projects.
So now that you have decided on wasting some time with Cthulhu Dice, you should know how to play. The point is to be the essentially the last player standing, as the rest of your compatriots slowly descend into madness as the Great Old One Cthulhu saps their sanity from their very bones. Okay, I know that is a little extravagant. Actually, each player has a pre-determined number of white glossy marbles. The player selects an opponent and rolls a 12-sided die, following the corresponding glyph that appears. Sounds simple right? These marbles can be traded among players or with Cthulhu itself in order to knock out your opponents. For once, the person with the most sanity actually wins. Granted, if they were sane they wouldn’t be playing this game.
You know how I mentioned the different glyphs that any player can roller earlier? Well as far as the glyph system goes, it is rather straight forward in terms of a balanced system. Since everything in this game has to be based in Lovecraft’s work (duh), each of the glyphs are well illustrated and relate to Cthulhu’s adventure in one way or another:
- Yellow Stone: Your target loses one sanity token to Cthulhu.
- Tentacle: The caster steals one sanity token from their target. If they have no sanity, Cthulhu collects the spoils.
- Elder Sign: The caster gains one sanity from Cthulhu.
- Cthulhu: POTLUCK! Every player loses one sanity token to Cthulhu.
- Eye of Horus: Wild card. Pick your choice of poison…by that I mean any other glyph.
When it comes to replayabilty however, Cthulhu Dice is rather a bust. Since there isn’t much to set up when it comes to a standard round of play, you would figure that it would at least be remotely fun right? The first two-three times, sure, even I could agree with that. But afterwards, you get tired of giving away your sanity tokens to a
mysterious empty space that is suppose to be your interpretation of Cthulhu. In my household, we make the games (even though it’s our rule for all Cthulhu games) a little more interesting by adding our glow in the dark mini Cthulhu figurine and playing cult chanting in the background. We made go a tad too over the top for a simple dice game, but we have to try and make it fun right?
The use/concept of sanity has always intrigued me when it came to the Cthulhu inspired games. Essentially taking place of the normal unit for health, the loss of sanity has become synonymous with Cthulhu. It begs the question, why do we lose sanity, or why does it have to be measured at all, when we approach the Great Old One? Are humans such fragile creates that we can’t expand our mind beyond the fray and try to comprehend something that is greater then us as individuals and make our lives seem insignificant on the greater stage? Okay, I’ll stop. Until next time on “Philosophy with Rhutsczar”.
While this issue of the RBG comes to a close and these opinions are strictly my own, we have to look at the positive elements Cthulhu Dice has to offer. This dice roller could easily be the mini game for your next horror-themed party, pleasing few and disappointing many with what it has to offer. Also, the game provides a solid framework for your own much better variation! But as we wrap things up with our good friend Cthulhu, it’s important to remember what we learned today. Steve Jackson should not make another game like Cthulhu Dice.
Interested in more tabletop games like Cthulhu Dice? Be sure to watch out for the next issue and follow my Bacon Bits for a sneak peak at what the next issue might hold. Be sure to also check out everything else Nerd Bacon has to offer over in Beyond Bacon.
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