Whether you’re in love with Lovecraft, and a cultist of The Old Ones, or you haven’t a clue who the giant squid faced scary looking guy is, it doesn’t matter! As long as you'll like a social deduction filler game that’s fun, quick to learn and quick to play then this deluxe version of Indie Boards & Cards' Don't Mess with Cthulhu is most certainly for you!
In the small box you will find a light but helpful rulebook, 40 poker sized Investigation cards, six thick Character Tokens, an Active Player marker and 28 Insanity Tokens, plus two mini expansions or playing variants, that consist of nine more cards in total; Three for the Necronomicon variant and six for the Objects of Power.
Why not have a look at my unboxing video below to see all these components and checkout the ace comic art theme of the game.
Where as the box says 4-8 players, inside the rulebook you’ll find a variant for a three-player game, making Don’t Mess With Cthulhu (designed by Yusuke Sato) an even more accessible game to get to your table!
So, how does it play? Everyone receives their secret identity dealt to them face-down, and regardless of player count there will always be one additional identity that’s returned to the box. This brings in that element of confusion that leaves people guessing how many Cultists are actually in play.
Once everyone has secretly looked at their identity the Investigation cards are dealt out, five to each player again face-down, and where as before, now all players secretly look at what cards they have in front of them. In turn each player declares (truthfully or not) what they have, and then shuffles these five cards and places them back in front of themselves.
Only the players themselves knows the truth of what they have, but now they don’t know it’s location. Over the next four rounds actions will take place equal to the number of players there are. For example, in a six-player game there will be six Actions.
To take an action the active player (with the Flashlight Marker) selects an Investigation Card that isn’t their own and places the marker on it. Before this happens everyone else can give their advice and input, deceptive or not, but the final decision is with the active player.
The chosen card is revealed and placed in the centre of the play area. If this card is Cthulhu the game ends and the Cultists win. If it isn’t, play continues with this card now revealed and out of play for the rest of the game. Whomever's card was just revealed now becomes the active player and takes up the mantle of the Flashlight Marker, to go on and decide, under the direction of other players, which card to investigate next.
This continues back and forth until either all actions are spent for this round, where then the remaining cards are collected in, shuffled and dealt out evenly again for the nest round, or until either all Elder Signs are revealed, bringing a win to the Investigators or a win to the Cultists on the finding of the Cthulhu card.
Final Thoughts on Don't Mess with Cthulhu
Don't Mess with Cthulhu is a fun packed game from start to finish, that can be played in most settings, and with most gamer types, from gateway to game lord or lady! It’s so easy to learn and you really don’t have to have a clue about Cthulhu to enjoy the deduction and deception of the gameplay.
It’s fun to try and work out who’s who from their actions, behaviours and things said, with plenty of player interaction through out. And with everyone being able to share their advice to the active player there is no real down time between turns.
The only irritation comes when your cards aren’t picked in that round’s investigation, and you don’t get to become the active player. Is this because you’re a Cultist or playing against one? That’s for you to find out and try to convince the others of, but don’t take too long because Cthulhu is close at hand!
This quick game is so much fun that after playing through you will want to play again… and again… and “go on, just one more time” again.
Although simple, and small this game has legs (and tentacles) for lots of replay-ability, especially when adding in one or both of the deluxe mini expansions; Necronomicon and Objects of Power.
I’ve seen this filler title become the main game to fill a night’s whole playtime on a number of occasions. Don’t let this fun filler game go undiscovered in your game nights!