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Kickstart This: Cthulhu Wars

The world has ended, civilization as we know it is in ruins, and strange evils are on the rise. This is the stuff of nightmares…

Lucky for you, you get to play as one of those evils! Game designer Sandy Petersen (Doom, Age of Empires, Call of Cthulhu) brings to the tabletop a new chapter of the Cthulhu mythos called Cthulhu Wars. There are plenty of games where the players must thwart the impending invasion of the Old Ones and their legions of nightmarish creatures; but in Cthulhu Wars, humanity has already failed and now the gods must battle each other for supreme dominance.

Cthulhu Wars is a competitive strategy game in which 3 to 5 players produce cultists and monsters, build mystic gates, and awaken Great Old Ones. The players earn spellbooks, try to destroy their enemies, and capture their bases. Each faction has its own unique set of monsters, spells, and its own Great Old One(s).

Here’s an in-depth look at how to play the game:

If I had to choose one thing that stood out to me the most about this game, it would be the amazing minis. All are highly detailed miniature figures that vary in height depending on the creature’s scale relative to a human’s in the game. If that wasn’t enough, for an additional cost, you get to choose from a long list of available Great Old Ones. Once more, you can use these minis for other games as well, such as Call of Cthulhu, Dungeons and Dragons…the possibilities are endless. You don’t even have to buy the game to get these fantastic pieces of art, though it is greatly encouraged.

Cthulhu faction

I got to sit down and talk with Mr. Petersen — and by that I mean, sit down in front of my computer and emailed him a bunch of questions to which he promptly responded back — about his latest upcoming game, which is currently being funded through Kickstarter.

Oftentimes, players of a video game, or board game in this case, takes control of “the good guy(s).” But Cthulhu Wars features antagonistic creatures that are fighting each other for the dominance of the world and all that is in it. Why the shift in POV, and what brought on this idea in the first place? What was your inspiration to do this particular game?

Really it was because I wanted an excuse to have a LOT of cool creatures in play at the same time, and humans were less interesting. Also, I felt that the different cults & beings of the Mythos might interact in interesting ways, rather than always being played off against humans. I guess the immediate inspiration was that I love strategy games.

To my understanding every game designer has some kind of story in mind behind the creation of a tabletop game, even if it ends up as simple as a one-line idea on the official reading material. If possible, can you elaborate the story you had in mind for Cthulhu Wars?

I might be an exception to the rule then. My only “story” was a thought about, what happens when Cthulhu comes back? And then the idea of having a sort of “clash of the titans” emerged from there.

Tell us about the creative team helping you with Cthulhu Wars.

Rob Atkins, an experienced gaming professional is our business manager, and Richard Luong, an impressively talented artist, is, unsurprisingly, our artist. Rob and I are long-term veterans of the game industry. Richard is younger, but his skills are so amazing that we feel privileged to have him on the team.

Nyarlathotep & Dark Young

Has Lovecraft influenced your designing other games not set in the Cthulhu universe? If so, how and what were the games?

I have attempted to slip Lovecraft references, and sometimes themes, into every single game I’ve ever done. Sometimes it is obvious, such as the Shambler and Shub-Niggurath and gug-like Chthon from the Quake game. Sometimes it is obscure, such as the Miskatonic Indian scout in Age of Empires III. But it is always there.

You and I know the appeal of the strange and expansive mythos H.P. Lovecraft created for himself, but others have yet to delve into this bizarre world. What would you say to those interested in checking out not only this game, but other Lovecraftian media available now? 

If you are a reader, all of his works are available from various sources. If you prefer film, there are now a number of excellent Lovecraft movies on DVD & Netflix, including one that I was executive producer on – The Whisperer in Darkness. If you are a gamer pure and simple, I recommend such works as Arkham Horror, Elder Sign, and of course Call of Cthulhu, the last of which I also authored.

Any other games you’re currently working on that we should keep an eye out for?

At the moment the unexpected success of Cthulhu Wars has unspeakably devoured most of my design time. I mean, I am designing and testing like a madman, but it is all Cthulhu Wars expansions and add-ons. But I am working on a future game which will use the Cthulhu Wars game system, but be set in a different type of universe.

Favorite Lovecraft story. 1-2-3-GO!

“Rats in the Walls.” I wish Lovecraft had named the cat something different, but man that story is creepy.

Any final words you’d like to add about Cthulhu Wars and the Kickstarter campaign?

Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn to you all!

Cthulhu Wars game

Having blown through its target funding within the first couple days, you can guarantee this game is going to get made. The only questions you have to struggle with now is, “Do I buy just the game complete with all four factions and all of the extra Kickstarter goodies, or do I include the expansion packs as well?” We know, it’s tough.

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The Author

Christina Janke

Christina Janke

Host of Intro to Geek on Shauncastic.com. Her love of all things Mass Effect knows no bounds. She also carries an obsession with comic books, video games, and quirky television shows. Her heroes are Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling, and Gail Simone, and hopes to be just like them when she grows up.