Previously on Cthulhu: Death May Die: 10 disparate heroes battled their way through 6 R’lyeh-raising episodes of pure pandemonium. Traversing the USA battling deep ones and fire vampires and the big guy himself, Cthulhu. Cultists were cut down. Cthonians curtailed. Season one of Eric M. Lang and Rob Daviau’s co-operative dice and slice through the Cthulhu universe was as fun as it was big and brash, but how does season 2 compare to the original?
Inside the chunky season 2 expansion box is a wealth of new components and missions. 10 new hero characters each with their individually sculpted mini can be played with missions from both season 1 and season 2. As with season 1, each hero also has their own unique ability.
You could be Margarethe, the paleoanthropologist chef, whose desire to bring the most exotic dishes to the world’s dining tables has led her to unearth ancient and otherworldly meats. Just don’t stand too close to her knives. Some say she’s a little crazy. Or how about gentle Sam, who wouldn’t hurt a fly… until those dang cultists went and killed his family? Now he’s armed with his pitchfork hunting down those robed varmints. Whatever your preference there’s a voodoo priestess, Italian sergeant or Venezuelan ex-cultist to match your mood.
And it’s not just the goodies whose numbers are swollen. Over six new missions you’ll be introduced to a bevvy of bad things: Hounds of Tindalos, Tcho-Tcho’s, Dimensional Shamblers and Yuggs. These new creatures are tougher and meaner than those faced in season one. With powers that will test the strength of the intrepid heroes and warp their minds to the point of insanity. In total there are 27 new minis included with season two, manufactured to the intricately detailed standard you’d expect of CMON.
Hastur La Vista, Baby
Season 2’s six new episodes are, like season 1, standalone adventures that can be played in any order and combined with any Elder One (the two from the base game or any of the mini expansions). While the episodes of season 1 were varied and solid Lang and Daviau have really upped their game in season two.
Avoiding spoilers, the episodes of season 2 feel more distinct from each other than those of the base game. Each has its own distinct mechanisms that impact how you play and feel easier or harder with different combinations of characters and Elder One’s. This range of play style also carries through into stronger theme and setting for each episode. Something that is massively helped by the new floor tiles included in the expansion that combine with the base game components to bring the scenarios to life on the table.
Whereas season 1 felt a little woods, caves, caves, woods (ep. 3: Danse Macabre aside); season 2 takes you to theatres, banks, gothic churches and a Vegas casino. In your quest to clobber cultists and destroy the Ancient Ones, you will solve a murder mystery, perform a heist and dig for buried treasure. As sequels go, Cthulhu: Death May Die Season Two is more Aliens than Terminator 3: Rise of The Machines.
Respect Your Elder Ones
Those people who found the original Cthulhu: Death May Die to be a little too lucky and lacking in strategy will not find much to change their mind here (although the mechanisms in the episodes do provide a puzzle aspect). Luckily, I am not those people. If, like me, you loved the in-your-face, dice-chucking silliness of the original game, you will be thrilled with what this expansion has to offer.
In a game that was always about excess, you will get even more of its cartoonish charm, over the top battle situations and boards so crammed with minis they spill off their spots onto the table. So, the not-so-mini minis are too big for the tiles. So, what? Make them bigger, I say (check out the Kickstarter exclusive Cthulhu if you want to see that!). At least the minis in Death May Die do something and don’t just sit there looking pretty.
Season two is a superb expansion. It builds and develops what was already a great game without trashing what made it excellent in the first place. Lang and Daviau use their combined experience to design a play experience that is thematically engrossing and massively enjoyable even when you go down vainly firing off rounds in a swarm of flailing tentacles and gaping maws.
And, yes, this will happen a lot. In my first game of episode 1, I died on my very first turn! It didn’t matter. Season two is a light strategy/high fun slash-n-dash slice of cultist campery. Rumours swirl on reddit, twitter and BGG of a third and fourth season to be kickstarted soon. Based on this expansion, I have all my toes and fingers crossed and am reciting every spell in my Necromicon to will those expansions into being.
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