It is fair to stay that in the core game of Cthulhu Wars, certain semi-fixed Openings exist, much as in chess. (Though probably not as many as Chess!) If Cthulhu builds a Gate in the North Pacific, this conceivably generates different responses from Crawling Chaos than if he goes to the South Atlantic. Particularly if Cthulhu’s next move is to summon a monster there.
No doubt, in any combination of factions and expansions, there are various opening moves, but they start to multiply so fast that it would be hard to keep track. If Windwalker starts in Antarctica, this should affect Cthulhu’s opening plays, for instance.
Probably the most hard-wired option is for Yellow Sign to move 1 cultist into an empty spot, then awaken the King. But perhaps it’s worth trying something else, just to see if this really IS the best move.
Let’s examine just one faction, and her choices for an Opening. Black Goat. At game start, Black Goat has only four available actions. She can Move, Summon a monster, Awaken her Great Old One, or remove two cultists for a spellbook. This is more than most factions (Cthulhu, for instance, can only Move or Summon). Let’s see where we can go from here.
BLACK GOAT OPENING ONE – the Four Areas Bluff
At some point, you’ll want to be present in 4 Areas, for the associated spellbook. A lot of players try to do this as their first move. But this can be a mistake, because once you have cultists in three new Areas, they are vulnerable to other players’ monsters (who WILL come calling). You only have 5 Power after the move, which could let you build a Gate and summon a guardian Monster, but you won’t be able to retrieve or protect all your cultists.
Therefore, one of the more common Black Goat Openings is to first Move into the 4 Areas, take the spellbook, then remove two of the moved cultists for a second spellbook. Lo and behold you are safely back in two Areas, and you can build a Gate in one of them. Summon a Ghoul to Guard it, and you have one Power left to recruit back one of the lost Cultists. You’ll start next turn down a cultist, but you’ll have two spellbooks on your sheet to comfort you.
BLACK GOAT OPENING – the Red Sign Gambit
You might just want to beef up your Power for next turn. One way to do this, AND get a spellbook, is to first remove two cultists. (This also acts as a 0-cost action, letting you observe the other players’ openings.) For your spellbook, choose Red Sign. Then summon a Dark Young, move it to an adjacent Area, and build a Gate. Use your last point of Power to recruit a cultist. Again, you are down a cultist next turn, but you have a nice Dark Young to make up the difference. And you can keep pumping out Dark Young as un-capturable gate guards, or switch to another strategy. It’s flexible.
BLACK GOAT OPENING – The Mother of all Monsters
A number of players Awaken Shub-Niggurath as their opening move. This of course blows the rest of the first turn, since it costs all their Power. Also, they’ll start the next turn with a puny 6 Power. On the other hand, they have an awesome Great Old One to play with. If any other players decide to summon their Great Old One on turn two, they’ll be even more power-starved than you.
I personally recommend getting the Blood Sacrifice spellbook if you Awaken Shub-Niggurath this early, but only if you plan to earn a second spellbook early in the next turn (for Thousand Young). Blood Sacrifice is way better the earlier you get it.
BLACK GOAT OPENING – Boring But Safe
An obvious possibility is to move a cultist, build a gate, and guard it with a Ghoul or Mi-Go. Then remove two cultists for a spellbook, and recruit them back. You’ll even have a Power or two to spare. This doesn’t take advantage of any of your special actions or abilities, but it is certainly an option, and keeps from telegraphing your next turn’s plan to your enemies. (They know what’s ahead if you chose the Red Sign Gambit, for instance.)
The biggest choice you have here is where to build that Gate. The most aggressive choice is Arabia. Both Crawling Chaos and Yellow Sign will become nervous, which can work to your advantage. The least aggressive choice is Africa. Where you choose depends on how nervy you feel.
Also, if you use High Priests, you have at least two other starting moves involving HIM!
There you have it. Four different Black Goat openings, each of which can be subdivided (for instance, in the Red Sign Gambit, where do you move your Dark Young?). The other factions have similar choices. Part of the fun of Cthulhu Wars is working them out.