Game Review: Cthulhu – The Great Old One

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# of Players 2-6
Time: 15-25 Minutes
Age: 12+
Game Type: Casual
Gamer Type: Casual

A Lovecraftian Genre

One of the factors that tends to kill Lovecraftian games is designers believe the game must be very complex for it to be fun. Dan Kriss Games have taken a simpler approach. Cthulhu: The Great Old One focuses on simple mechanics to ensure a playable game with the deep story of the Cthulhu. This is a great way to introduce people to the Lovecraftian Genre and the world of advanced gaming.

A Dark Card Game


The story of this game is based on the world of Cthulhu. This means it exists in one of the most well explored universes in the world. The game itself does not try to add to the story, but rather allows the players to draw their favorite characters out of the story. It places the story as a type of ‘side’ element to the game. This juxtaposition results in a score of 5 out of 10 for the story.


The artwork for this game draws players into the game in multiple ways. The artist took the time to capture the feeling of the Lovecraftian world. Each portrait is painstakingly drawn to match the card. Unfortunately, the cards can sometimes be too dark and hard to read. Playing a horror game in a sunlit room, while drinking a mojito, does not add to the vibe of the game. The good far outweighs the bad and Cthulhu: The Great Old One earns a 7.5 out of 10 for the artwork.

Reminiscent of Old Card Games

Mechanics and Strategy

This game is a combination of Go Fish, and Old Maid, combined with a global effect/interrupt mechanic. It definitely deserves to be considered an advanced game (gateway). The card drawing mechanic randomizes the game, but also adds a deep level of reading the other person as you draw cards from them. The ‘Table’ cards also add to that element.

The player chooses whether to play matched pairs, (same name), or linked pairs, (with sub-name), and lets them choose how fast to play cards and when to hold them. There is a catch, with each draw there is the risk of drawing The Great Old One, and putting the game at risk, (unless they have buddy the cultist.) This mix of elements plays well together. Trying to pronounce the names will definitely test the players sanity. That is the only drawback, so the game gets an 8 out of 10 for mechanics and 6 out of 10 for strategy.


The novelty of this game comes from its mixture of known mechanics. The genre is saturated, but this game falls into the gateway category, which has few Cthulhu games. The mechanics are well known mechanics, but they are pieced together in a novel way. This earns a score of 5 out of 10. Like its namesake, the novelty calculation for this one can wrack the brain.

An Easy, Fun Card Game

A score of 31.5 for a pure card game is very good. Cthulhu: The Great Old One is a fun game anyone can pick up and play in a matter of minutes. This makes it easy to set up, easy to clean up, and easy to play. The game is awarded an additional point for this ease, which give it a 32.5 out of 50 for its overall score. While the subject matter may be a little too ‘horror’ for some people, it is a great little game to have on the shelf for casual gaming. Cthulhu: The Great Old One is a fun game and earns my recommendation.

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Christopher W Smithmyer
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