Cthulhu Realms – Written Card Game Review

Cthulhu Realms – Darwin Kastle| Tasty Minstrel Games
“The sky is falling, the earth is shaking, the world is coming to an end…!” that is maybe ours is, as we wear our sandwich boards and aluminum hats. “Cthulhu Realms” has feasted upon the world, does it consume us as it does our sanity? Let’s take a look…



Cthulhu Realms card game by Darwin Kastle and Tasty Minstrel Games - Game review by Gameapalooza AustraliaCthulhu Realms – Small box, big sanity loss!

Setup & Gameplay of Cthulhu Realms
In “Cthulhu Realms”, you play as characters in the world of H.P. Lovecraft, commissioning assistance to drive your rivals insane whilst helping protect your own. As the game progresses, players will build decks attempting to reduce their opponents sanity or have more sanity than their opponents by the time the deck has emptied, whoever achieves either of these goals first is the winner.

The setup is particularly simple for a deck builder. Each player gets a set deck of ten cards the left over initiates create a standard pile with the remaining cards shuffled together to form the deck (the remaining starting player cards are removed from the game). Depending on player count the cards from the standard deck are drawn to form a tableau of cards to purchase, in a two player game there are five cards in the center, whereas in a three or four player game the cards are laid out in lines of three in-between each player (players can only purchase cards from their immediate right or left, there will be some cards they cannot buy). The first player draws three cards, the other draws five (each player then draws five for the rest of the game) and the game begins.

Cthulhu Realms card game by TMG - Written game review by Gameapalooza AustraliaSome of the contents in Cthulhu Realms – You lose sanity just looking at this.

Beginning with a deck of basic cards, each turn the active player plays cards in order to: pay conjuring power to purchase new cards, boost their own sanity, reduce their opponents sanity, draw more cards, force other players to discard cards, put locations into play and remove cards from the game. The new cards purchased give players any combination of these abilities, some require prerequisite cards or icons to be in play prior to that card being played in order to take effect. These cards may also be locations, these give the player a bonus that can be used each turn once in play, additionally they may protect other locations from other players and also the player themselves. Once the active player has played all the cards they wish, they discard any cards still in hand, all entities and artifacts that were played, draw five more cards and play moves on to the next player.

In a two player game, all sanity reductions are inflicted on the opposing player, in a three or four player game all sanity attacks hit the active players neighbours (players to the left and right). If at any point a player loses all their sanity, they are out of the game. If there is more than one player still in the game, remove the cards from the lineup between the eliminated player and the other players and draw three more cards to create a new lineup. If there is only one player at the table still sane, they win.


Cthulhu Realms – Game Build Quality
The player boards are very useful, however the thickness of these boards leaves much to be desired. The cards do not follow the trend of the player boards, they are made from a very good card stock and covered in wonderful art, thematic jokes are scattered throughout, brilliant.


Cthulhu Realms – Gameapalooza House Rules
If you want a particularly nasty game, choose a player to attack instead of being forced to attack your neighbours.

2-4 Players
Ages: 14+
Setup Time: 5 minutes Play Time: 25-45 minutes

Cthulhu Realms card game from TMG - Review by Gameapalooza Australian tabletop game reviews and newsCheck out the cool comedic artwork in Cthulhu Realms.

Cthulhu Realms – Overall
“Cthulhu Realms” is very good deck builder. As with most card games, luck plays a role during the game, but the game allows for enough deck manipulation in order to turn an okay deck with great cards into a great deck with amazing cards. The chaining effects within the game and overall manipulation results in the better player winning most of the time (this is great for a game like this). It also understands that a game with a Cthulhu theme tends to be ‘scary’ and this game does not have that feel, to remedy this imbalance the cards are covered in wonderfully cartoony art with interesting humour to boot.

Another great thing about “Cthulhu Realms” is the way the three and four player games work, particularly conflict. Rather than a ‘take-that’ approach, players attack their neighbours. In a four player game this is really interesting as each player naturally forms temporary alliances with the players they do not attack, allowing for very interesting combos and tactical pseudo-team play.

An area of the game that is difficult to look past is the iconography on the cards, many players will struggle to memorise each symbol which is definitely frustrating, however once players become accustomed to the symbols gameplay flows very quickly. If you love the Cthulhu theme or deck builders then you should give “Cthulhu Realms” a try, especially if you enjoy both aspects. If you do not like the gameplay of deck builders, stay away, this will not change your mind. If it’s just the theme you are wary of maybe give Kastle’s other game “Star Realms” a go, as it uses similar mechanics.

[author] [authorimage timthumb=’off’]/content/images/2016/02/gameapalooza-micro-review-icon-sm.gif[/authorimage] [authorinfo]Micro Review – Cthulhu Realms is a humorous combination of a very good deck builder with a famous horror theme. If either of those things appeal to you this is definitely worth a play or two, otherwise give it a pass and hold onto your sanity, before your underpants eat your elbows…
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Review By Vincent.