Neutral Monsters vs. Independent Great Old Ones

This article is inspired by (and based on) a great discussion from BoardGameGeek. Thanks to all the Cthulhu Wars fans who brought up these ideas, to which I’ve added a few of my own.

To get a neutral monster, you have to pay doom, and later on, usually some power. To get an independent Great Old One, you only have to pay power, and it’s usually only about the same as a high-dollar monster. Both have special abilities, but the Great Old One can also get a spellbook, plus it’s a Great Old One. Why waste your time with an expensive monster instead of the Great Old One? Here are some reasons:


Once you hire a monster or terror, it stays hired. A great old one can be awakened by someone else after it’s killed.


Monsters enhance your board presence. They give you shields and let you hold onto more gates. Independent Great Old Ones actually constrict your board presence, since they require you to use other units to guard them.


Monsters have great combos with several factions. The Dhole is not only a good deterrent, but his Elder Sign production can be a keystone to a win. The Yellow Sign loves Ghasts, because he gets all of them at once, and they can garrison Desecration tokens without weakening your battle. Tsathoggua loves Gugs, because he can get his “roll 6 combat dice” in the second turn easy with those babies. Cthulhu is a big fan of Spiders of Leng, because they ensure he gets his “kill a dude” spellbooks. And so forth.


You can get a monster in the first Doom phase, and their special ability is ready-to-go. To get an independent great old one, first you have to awaken your own great old one (typically turn 2-3), then get the independent. This means you only really get the use of the independent great ole one for a couple of turns. While the monster is with you from the start of turn 2 on.

In other words, monsters are an early game boost, and great old ones are a mid-to-late boost. It’s common to see people take one of each. It’s rare to see a player take more than one monster type or more than one independent great old one (unless Gobogeg rears his ugly head).

Really, monsters and great old ones simply fill different niches – they’re hard to compare directly. Both have their uses, and there’s no reason to deny yourselves one of them.