The idea of open warfare in the Cthulhu Mythos feels totally odd because it is “un-lovecraftian” on so many levels... “Nyarlathotep sweeps across western Europe with his hunting horrors and drives back Hastur’s byakhees, but then Cthulhu himself arrives with hordes of star-spawns, and those hunting horrors scatter like flies.”
Pardon me, what?
The entire Cthulhu Wars game looks like a crowded cotton candy LSD nightmare: too many colors, both on the game board and miniatures; if you squint just enough and peek at the table, it could very well be My Little Pony: the board game, or Gargamel & The Smurfs. Instead of pure azure blue / bright red / cheerful lemon yellow, why not gray, purple, forest green, and a sickly dark yellow for Hastur’s boys? I don’t know... Okay, technically, we’re supposed to paint these minis – but what if you’re no good at it?
Figurines are both trending and profitable, and fans must be hungry for them I guess, because Petersen raised something like 4000% of what he originally aimed for; to think that this sum total is hundreds of times more than everything Lovecraft ever earned in his entire life is mind-boggling, to say the least.
Sure I’m gonna buy a hunting horror and a couple shoggoths when they show up on Hoard O’ Bits, but I am NOT coughing $190 for a boxed set. Miniatures are not downloadable (yet), and that’s why they’re such a goldmine these days. If you are a board game designer, create whatever you want – but load it with minis. Anything else can and will be scanned / reproduced / modded.
This post is not an “informed” critique. It is just an opinion. I didn’t give Cthulhu Wars a try, but I suppose I don’t really need to because I’ve played eight or ten games of Chaos in the Old World, which basically operates on the same principle: Khorne, Slaanesh, Nurgle and Tzeentch battle each other over the different countries of the Old World. Each player controls a bunch of miniatures – cultists (lots of them), medium-sized creatures, and one gigantic godling that is quite hard to summon up. Each of the four “gods” have a specific path to follow in order to achieve victory.
Don’t get me wrong: I love Sandy Petersen. His 1988 Field Guide to Cthulhu Monsters remains one of my all-time favorite RPG supplements. I continuously used it for the past 25 years. Without Petersen’s Call of Cthulhu and RuneQuest, a big fat chunk of my life would have been a boring wasteland of nothingness. Great movie directors do crap once in a while (Scott, Polanski, Allen, etc), and game designers are not immune to that possibility. Don’t worry though, the man will bounce back – his next project will be memorable.
Who wants a prismatic orgy of Cthulhu when you can relish playing the original ugly monster slugathon: Avalon Hill’s Titan!
Apples and Oranges
Azathoth, Yog-Sothoth, Shub-Niggurath and Nyarlathotep are Outer Gods, not Great Old Ones: there’s a very important difference between the two. Valar and Maiar. Gods and Angels... Sauron won’t attack Oromë or Yavanna. Medusa wouldn’t dare fight Zeus in a hundred years. Same thing goes for the Cthulhu Mythos: it would be guaranteed suicide for Shudde M’ell or Hastur to jump Yog-Sothoth. Don’t mess with Tawil at’Umr!
Hastur seems to be “in” these days, and I don’t know exactly why. Maybe because the “King In Yellow” was referenced in True Detective – or is it something else? Anyway, Hastur’s “coolness” resulted in his miniature being the biggest of that Cthulhu Wars lot. Bigger than Shub-Niggurath. Bigger than Yog-Sothoth... Still, any Outer God could rip Hastur in two without breaking a sweat. Come on. Nyarlathotep’s ultimate destiny is to (eventually) destroy the world; the only thing Hastur can eventually destroy is Lost Carcosa.