Second Look - Boardgame reviews in depth. Check out that cat.Everything games eventually gets a Cthulhu version, right? Well, Cthulhu Realms is Tasty Minstrel Games’ Lovecraftian entry in to the deck building genre and it’s diabolically fun.

Cthulhu Realms is one of the easier-playing variety of deck-building games—like Ascension, DC Comics, or Star Realms—with only five cards available at a time and no restrictions on the order cards are purchased and played. Actually, Cthulhu Realms is an almost exact copy of Star Realms (licensed from White Wizard Games) but with cultists instead of space ships, locations instead of stations, sanity instead of authority, and conjuring power instead of trade. In terms of game-play, the only new features are that card types can also grant a kind-of ally bonus and that certain locations, while they’re out, represent a nexus, meaning they also protect other locations as well as the player’s sanity.

Cthulhu RealmsEasy-going game play is one of the things I like about Cthulhu Realms but another is how it goes light on the the sanity-stealing theme with art that’s more cartoonish than frightening. There is, for example, The King in Yellow card illustrated like a Dr. Seuss book and the image of a Mi-Go returning, briefcase in-hand, from a hard day at the office.

If there’s one thing about the game that I found a little off-putting, it’s the complete reliance on icons to indicate what each card does. Eliminating the instructional text found in most card games does help feature the wonderful art but I found it takes a fair amount of practice playing before interpreting those icons becomes automatic.

Tasty Minstrel’s Cthulhu Realms card game plays with 2-4 in about 30 minutes. MSRP is $20.

There’s also a new mobile app version of Cthulhu Realms recently released for Android. For an idea of how that plays, take a look at fellow contributor Robert’s review on his blog, A Pawn’s Perspective, or watch as he live streams it tonight at 8:30 Eastern.

A complimentary copy of Cthulhu Realms was provided for review by Tasty Minstrel Games. Purple Pawn contributor Thomas Deeny is credited with graphic design for the game.


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