One of the first games I played when getting into the Board game hobby was Werewolves of Millers Hollow. After every gaming session when we’ve packed up Ticket to Ride and Smash Up we’d get everyone to sit in a circle and start casting accusations at people we barely knew. I hated that game. I began leaving the group early just to avoid playing it as I would always be killed first and I’d just sit on my phone for an eternity, then someone would suggest to play again and the cycle repeats it’s self.
So social deduction games haven’t always been my thing, Spyfall is at least quick and if you are the spy rounds are over generally quickly so I don’t mind that one too much. But we aren’t reviewing either of these games we are reviewing Don’t Mess with Cthulhu a social deduction game from indie Board & Cards and Yusuke Sato. Does this one strike me down with terror or is this a social deduction game that I can fully support?
Don’t Mess with Cthulhu as I mentioned is a social deduction card game from Indie Board & Cards (The Resistance – a game I have not played is from these guys) for 4-6 players. Surprisingly this is a Lovecraftian themed game where players take the role of Investigators or Cultists (I just don’t know where they get these wacky ideas from). The investigators are trying to stop Cthulhu’s rise whereas the Cultists just want to see the world burn. When the Investigators have discovered all the elder signs they win, if the Cthulhu card is shown then the cultists win.
The game takes place over 4 rounds. At the beginning of round 1 you give each player 5 cards. The cards will either be futile investigation cards, Elder Signs or the almighty Cthulhu. The number of these cards within the deck is also dependant on the number of players.
Each player will look at their hand of cards so they know which cards they have, they will then shuffle the cards and place them face down in front of them. So each of the players know which cards they have but they don’t know which card is which.
An active player is decided by whatever means you desire and that player will select a card to reveal with the “help” of the other players. This is the point you start lying to each other. As the investigators don’t want the cultists to know they have Cthulhu so all signs of Cthulhu are suddenly gone and it’s at this point you start to doubt that you put him in the deck in the first place as the cultists want to be chosen so will say they don’t have also Cthulhu even if they do. But have no fear Cthulhu is out there somewhere just waiting to be chosen. Once the active player has chosen a card the card is revealed as long as Cthulhu is not chosen the game continues and you repeat this until the number of actions equals the number of players. Unless Cthulhu is revealed then the Cultists immediately win.
You gather up all the investigation cards, shuffle them and hand them out evenly to the players and go for round 2 where you do the same as round 1 but there are only 4 cards each. In round 3 there are 3 cards each and round 2 there are only 2 cards each but only if you make it that far.
If you can’t find all the elder signs by the end of round 4 the cultists win if you do find them the investigators win.
You can play multiple rounds and the losers get insanity tokens once a player has three the night is over and the winner is the one with the fewest tokens.
My major problem with Werewolves of Millers Hollow is player elimination with this being my first experience of social deduction games and game with that tag line just gives me flashbacks of people shouting at each other calling people liars and generally not being very nice to each other or just being sat there for ages waiting for it to end.
Don’t Mess with Cthulhu has no player elimination so is obviously going to be higher in my estimation. But wait I hear you cry, Spyfall has no player elimination how does it fare against that? There is no greater feeling in this world than when you play Spyfall and the relief you feel as you see a location, birds are singing all is right in the world and you have a lovely time. However there is nothing more stressful than when you have the Spy card fire and brimstone may as well be coming down from the skies. Rivers and seas boiling.
Earthquakes, volcanoes, the dead rising from the grave, Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together all very bad things.
When you get a cultist card in Don’t Mess with Cthulhu everything is…fine. You just have to lie about Cthulhu if you even have it which is the same as the investigators so it’s not that stressful at all.
However there is a lot of tension in this game when it gets to the final round and you have three elder signs you are an investigator and the active player it’s all down to you to find the elder sign to save the world and be written down in folklore forever. And you do it, it’s great the investigators high-five and the cultists sulk, or you don’t do it and the reaction is inverted. It’s just a great feeling.
I haven’t even spoken about the art. The game art is from Brandt Peters and he has done a fantastic job it’s kinda cartoony but still kinda creepy so fits the theme really well, I’d be happy to pull this out with any group the art is pretty family friendly without being too cutesy but does in keep with the theme.
If you want to try a social deduction game with no player elimination, with great art and is a huge amount of fun Don’t mess with Cthulhu is a fantastic choice