Disclaimer: This preview is from a reviewer’s copy of the game that was provided by Indie Boards and Cards to Open Seat Gaming, but opinions are our own based on several plays of the game.
Game: Don’t Mess with Cthulhu (Deluxe)
Publisher: Indie Boards & Cards
Designer: Yusuke Sato
Artist: N/A (According to BGG)
Main Game Mechanisms: Deduction, Negotiation, Bluffing
Number of Players: 4 – 8
Game Time: 1 – 30 minutes
It’s Cultists versus Investigators in this social deduction game straight from the mythos. Everyone is dealt a secret role from one of those 2 groups, and then the deck is assembled with various cards like Cthulhu and Elder Signs. Cards are dealt to players so that each has 5. Players look at their cards, then arrange them face-down in a tableau in front of them.
You then go around the table claiming what Cthulhu or Elder Sign cards you have in front of you. You might tell the truth, you might lie, but even if everyone is honest there is still a hint of danger as the cards are face-down. Cultists are trying to get the Cthulhu card revealed while the Investigators are trying to reveal all the Elder Signs first. After actions (i.e.: cards revealed) equal to the number of players are taken in a round, the cards are gathered up, shuffled, and redealt so that everyone has the same number of cards again. The game takes place over 4 rounds (unless Cthulhu is revealed before then) and if the Elder Signs aren’t all found the Cultists win.
Review: Sarah and I already had the original Don’t Mess with Cthulhu and thought the game was a ton of fun already – it’s a very light and easy-to-understand social deduction game that works well in almost any group that you play it with. The game has solid mechanisms and is definitely a great time, even if you just get the original retail edition.
As a heads up – don’t expect some serious horror game where you are going to be scared senseless. Nope! It’s meant to be goofy, and everything points to how goofy it is.
In this review, I’m going to talk a lot about what the Deluxe version brings to the table. First, thank you Indie Boards and Cards for making the game go up to 8 now. When we’re looking for big group games, we’re usually looking for 7 or 8 players, and now we can bring Don’t Mess with Cthulhu as an option. The original goes to 6, which was fine sometimes, but we like having that higher player count option.
The components in the game are great – the role cards and the flashlight are made of nice, thick cardboard and they have a bit of diversity to them (several women and a couple of POC). The art has always drawn me to this title, and I think it’s really welcoming to new players that may have never played a deduction game before.
The 2 expansions included in the game are fantastic, in my opinion. The Necronomicon expansion throws in a huge problem for the investigators – twice, that team lost on the first turn because of the rule where, if you reveal the Necronomicon before you reveal any of the yellow generic Elder Signs, you lose (after the first Elder Sign is revealed, this isn’t a concern for the rest of the game). Otherwise, they just count as Elder Signs for the Investigators.
So now with the Necronomicon in there, some investigators may be trying to make choices in the first round so that their teammates don’t accidentally pick the Necronomicon in the first round, possibly casting suspicion on them later on (if they make it that far). Sure, the game can end in 5 minutes, but we usually just laughed it off and re-dealt a new game – no hard feelings, just a goofy failure. Some people won’t like that for sure – but that just depends on your group.
The other expansion makes some of the “fruitless investigation” cards into cards with an ability – most of which trigger when they’re revealed, but one makes it so you can’t communicate until it is revealed. While the one group we played with wasn’t too enthusiastic about that one (and I can understand why), I found it to be absolutely hilarious and I plan to keep the card in the deck during future games with other groups. These actions are great and they can be appropriately strong ways to turn the tide when it appears that one team may win.
All in all, the Deluxe version adds complexity and more fun to the game while still allowing it to be what it is – a very family-friendly/new gamer friendly version of a social deduction game that even seasoned gamers will enjoy. If I’m teaching teenagers and/or new gamers any sort of social deduction title for the first time, Don’t Mess with Cthulhu will always be my first choice, hands down. I feel like it is one of the most underrated social deduction games currently out there and I hope this Deluxe edition helps it to get into the spotlight.
Try, Buy, Deny: If you’re someone that loves social deduction games and you’re really excited about what they have to offer, but you want something that you can teach your friends who may not be as experienced in gaming, Don’t Mess with Cthulhu Deluxe is a definite buy, no questions asked. If you like the original game, there is no question that you need to get the Deluxe edition (we sold our original game, that’s how much we love the additions in the Deluxe version).
I’m not sure this will change the minds of people that don’t like social deduction, but I still think you should try it – there’s enough chance in the game that, even if someone is horrible at social deduction, they can still enjoy it. It’s a fantastic title, and I hope we see more mini-expansions for it in the future.