Top 10 Cthulhu Board Games
Next to zombies, one of the most ubiquitous themes for a board game has to be a Lovecraftian theme. And no ancient elder god is more popular among the masses than the great Cthulhu. So why are the works of Lovecraft so popular? It could be a combination of the mysterious nature of his universe, and the fact that most of his works are now public domain.
Regardless of the reasons, gamers flock to Cthulhu, Azathoth, and the other elder gods in droves. And I’ll fully admit that I’m part of the teaming masses that love this genre of games. My game library is already overflowing with Lovecraftian games and yet, I’m still always willing to give a new game a shot. So let’s dive into the world of madness and elder gods and see which game rises to the top with our Top 10 Cthulhu Board Games.
Top 10 Cthulhu Board Games
Honorable Mention: Elder Sign
Elder Sign is a cooperative, dice rolling game where players must successfully survive the adventures within a museum. Players will be racing to not only keep the monsters in check, but to stave off their own approaching madness. However if they take too long, the ancient Evil One will awaken to do battle with the adventurers. Elder Sign also let’s players choose the elder god they wish to face each game, providing lots of replay value.
10. Mythos Tales
Taking a page out of Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, Mythos Tales is a game where players are examining the strange happenings in the town of Arkham. Armed with only a map of the town, a directory of its residents, and a newspaper, players must follow the clues to unravel the mystery. There are no dice, board, or even miniatures in Mythos Tales. It’s story telling and puzzle solving at its finest.
9. Pocket Madness
In this face paced card game, players will be invoking the powers of the ancient elder gods to try and drive their opponents insane. The rules in Pocket Madness are simple, and the gameplay is pretty unique. Players will be drafting cards from a mix of face-up and face-down cards, trying to acquire sets. While the Cthulhu theme isn’t very deep in Pocket Madness, the game play more than makes up for that fact.
8. Cthulhu Realms
Drawing inspiration from the hit card game Star Realms, Cthulhu Realms takes this deck building game out of the world of Sci Fi and gives it a Lovecraft spin. Once again, the goal of the game is to attack your opponent and reduce their sanity to zero. This is accomplished by recruiting allies and locations into your deck, giving you more powerful attacks and special abilities. With only three factions in Cthulhu Realms, you can expect a lot more synergy in your attacks and deck building.
7. Tides of Madness
Tides of Madness is based off the great two player card drafting game Tides of Time. Now featuring Lovecraftian locations and elder gods, Tide of Madness still has players drafting cards over the game’s three rounds. However now, certain cards have madness icons on them. If a player acquires too many madness tokens, they go insane and immediately lose. Tides of Madness plays quick, is very affordable, and looks fantastic.
6. Arkham Horror: The Card Game
Our very first Game of the Week, Arkham Horror: The Card Game is a cooperative game where players are investigation the strange happenings in Arkham. Each player controls an investigator and must navigate through the story of their mission, fighting off monsters and exploring the area. This game replaces the old Call of Cthulhu Living Card Game and is now fully cooperative with a great thematic story to it. Arkham Horror: The Card Game almost feels like a hybrid of a card game and a role playing game.
5. Shadows over Normandie
A spin off of the popular war game, Heroes of Normandie, Shadows over Normadie takes place during and alternate version of World War 2 with a Lovecraftian twist. Instead of just the Allies vs the Axis, it’s now the Allies vs the Deep Ones and the Nazi Mystics. The same great combat from Heroes over Normandie is back, but now there are now rules for both spell casting, and also madness. If you are looking for a great, light war game with a Cthulhu twist, Shadows over Normandie is it.
4. Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu
Pandemic is one of the best selling board games on the market today. Recently, the Pandemic brand has moved into more spinoff games with Pandemic: Legacy and Pandemic: Iberia. While I didn’t have high expectations for Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu, it actually ended up being a pretty fantastic game. Instead of traveling around the world curing diseases, players are regulated to a single town and must work to stop Cthulhu from awakening.
3. Eldritch Horror
This game replaces the old Cthulhu juggernaut that was Arkham Horror, which used to be the gold standard for Lovecraftian games. However it eventually got bogged down by its bloated rules and many expansions. Eldritch Horror was a fresh reboot of the adventure game and is leagues better than Arkham Horror ever was. Instead of being constrained to the lone town of Arkham, players now travel the world to gain clues, solve mysteries, fight monsters, and stop the Elder God from awaking. Eldritch Horror is my goto game for a globe-trotting adventure.
1-8 players, 120-240 minutes, 13+
2. Cthulhu Wars
No game on this list will look as amazing as Cthulhu Wars does. With miniatures that struggle to be called “minis”, Cthulhu Wars’ game pieces will dominate your tabletop. In Cthulhu Wars, each players takes control of one of the games four, very unique factions. Combat in Cthulhu Wars is fierce and frequent, with each player trying to control as many gates as possible. Both a ton of fun to play and a beauty to look at, Cthulhu Wars is worth ever bit of its hefty price tag.
3-4 players, 90-120 minutes, 12+
1. Mansions of Madness: 2nd Edition
If you browsed our Best of 2016 article, you probably shouldn’t be too surprised to find Mansions of Madness: 2nd Edition here in the top spot. Fantasy Flight Games created an absolute gem with Mansions of Madness: 2nd Edition. Kicking out the overlord role from the first edition, this Lovcraftian game of mystery is now fully cooperative, using a free tablet or computer app to run the game’s monsters and mysteries. It’s interactive, thematic, and highly entertaining. Mansions of Madness: 2nd Edition is everything we want from a Cthulhu board game.
1-5 players, 120-180, 12+