Spotlight on Great Cthulhu

Great Cthulhu is pretty much the game’s poster child. Yet some people struggle with him. Many Cthulhu players follow a course similar to this: take a slight early lead, because you are initially unopposed – our monsters are scary, and Devolve protects you. Hold on, defensively, to your stuff. Then fall behind because you can’t turn your battle advantage into a board advantage, plus you have no real Power-saving abilities, and watch as the foes steal your Gates and trample you beneath their pseudopods. End the game dead last. There are two fundamental rules to follow in playing Cthulhu.

Be Aggressive 

This rule is a general truism for every Cthulhu Wars faction. A player who turtles up is likely to lose. This doesn’t mean every faction has to to seek out battle – “being aggressive” means something different for Yellow Sign than it does for Great Cthulhu. But Cthulhu has to be even more aggressive than the other factions. Since most players, the first time they play a game, tend to hang back and “get a feel for things”, this puts their use of Great Cthulhu at a disadvantage.

As Cthulhu, you can’t hang back and defend your gates – for one thing, you don’t have enough units. Instead, if Crawling Chaos (or whoever) flies to one of your Gates to take it, let him! Devolve the cultist to deny a Capture, and move to capture someone else’s Gate in exchange. Remember that even if your Gate is taken, you’ll still get 1 Power from it via Y’ha Nthlei so no biggy. Plus you have a Deep One left behind as a constant threat to pin down an enemy monster.

If you boldly rush into battle, you can easily get all your spellbooks by the end of the third turn. This gives you in turn 4 and 5 a Submerging Cthulhu who can emerge and immediately battle. That’s a hard-to-beat formula for pounding on the enemy. Sure Necrophagy and Madness might scatter your units to prevent an instant Gate capture. So what? Slaughter them! Think on this – if you can send in Cthulhu plus 2 Starspawn, you’ll roll 12 dice, plus a Devour, and your enemy has to roll 3 kills before any of your guys dies. This means on the average you kill 3 enemy units to his 0. That’s a differential that’s hard to make up.

What I’m trying to say is that as Cthulhu you are designed to be aggressive. Seize the reins.

You are the Apex Predator

Act like you are Cthulhu, not a puling mongrel. Here are two bits of advice taken directly from discussions at Boardgamegeek (i.e. not written by me)

To play Cthulhu well, you have to act like the apex predator [Sandy – love that phrase!] Get Dreams out relatively early, so Crawling Chaos can’t get away with controlling 5 gates; Build a big army, then park it with Submerge, and wait patiently, biding your time by moving units, summoning cheaper monsters, etc. A giant army waiting on the fringes casts just as much of a pall over the game as Dreams. Most new players don’t see the obvious utilities in Dreams, and they also often try and get their “Kill 1/2 Units” spellbooks before they have a big enough army. They’ll also be impatient to use their big army and immediately Un-Submerge, which lifts the pall.Adam Stark

It’s hard in this game to be a straight up bully and win at the same time because you get ganged up on. So I have spent the last few games playing Green and trying to tighten up my gameplan. And what I found after a few games was pretty cool. It was not Blue who dictated that first round. It was me. … The key for me is to not play scared. Allowing Blue game after game to easily take 3 opening gates because the rest of us are afraid of Blue’s harassment is not the mindset I wanted any longer. I am the Great Cthulhu after all! Kyle S.

Sample SImple Cthulhu Strategy

TURN ONE – build a Gate and summon a Monster to guard it plus threaten another player’s Gate, if they are so foolish as not to defend it.

TURN TWO – take Devolve in the Doom phase. The errata now also give you an Elder Sign with this first spellbook. Awaken Cthulhu and take Y’ha Nthlei if anyone else has, or is likely to get, a gate in the ocean. Otherwise, go for Submerge.

TURN THREE – you have 10 Power (more if Y’ha Nthlei kicked in), Cthulhu, and a spare monster. First get that second Ocean Gate. Easiest/cheapest way (assuming no one was foolish & built next to your start area) is to march Cthulhu into an adjacent sea, then devolve a Cultist back home. Recruit that cultist into Cthulhu’s spot and Gate ‘er up. For your fourth Gate, it depends whether the enemy gate structure is vulnerable to Dreams or not. If so, get Dreams. Otherwise take Submerge or maybe Regenerate. You still have 6 Power. Summon a monster or Cultist and spend 2 Power to move Cthulhu & his li’l buddy to an adjacent enemy Gate. Bound to be one. (If you took a cultist, Devolve him pre-Battle). You might possibly fail to take the Gate if a spoilsport invisible Polyp, or necrophagous Ghoul is around, but you’ll still murder one defender, and probably two. (Maybe you’ll luck out with 3 kills and get two spellbooks. It’s far from unlikely with 7-9 dice plus Devour.) Do not neglect the possibility of taking a Gate by Capture. Yeah, you may give up a spellbook since you didn’t fight for it, but it’s cheap and effective.

 TURN FOUR – you have 14 power from 4 Gates (again, possibly more with Y’ha Nthlei or a Capture). You also have 3-4 spellbooks (all 6 if you were lucky with kills last turn). Ritual this turn for the extra Doom & Elder Sign – you’ll have 8-9 Power remaining; still enough to get any remaining battle spellbook.

 TURN FIVE – if you kept your 4 gates from last turn (or, more likely, traded Gates with someone) then after Ritualing you have 20 Doom and at least 5 Elder Signs (1 from Cthulhu, 2 from Rituals, and 2 from your spellbook requirements). Since an average Elder Sign is worth 1.67, you are ~28 Doom. You might even have 30, in which case cash in and win! This is the turn in which the other players have the power and the will to turn against you, and will demolish you as best they can. You’ll be lucky if you end up with 2-3 Gates. Try to keep 4 Power to re-awaken Cthulhu if he’s killed. This also nets you an Elder Sign, which, again, might be enough to put you over the top and win the game immediately. That will chagrin your foes.

TURN SIX – of course this turn won’t go into the action phase. Even if you’re down to 1-2 Gates and Cthulhu is dead, you should Ritual. If you managed to hold onto 2 Gates and Cthulhu (not unlikely), you’ll have 24-25 Doom and 7 Elder Signs, giving you a final score ataround 35, generally more than sufficient.

Remember – don’t be afraid to Ritual. Don’t be afraid to fight. Let the other players fear you. They certainly have reason enough to do so.