Beckoning Madness: Review of Cthulhu The Horror In Dunwich
The Town of Dunwich is being assailed by the forces of the Elder Gods, aeons old beings of unfathomable power and inhuman intelligence. And all that stands between them and the rest of the world is you and your intrepid colleagues. And I am here to tell you right now… you don’t stand a chance.
Your position in The Horror in Dunwich never improves. You may gain actions, gear, equipment, allies, and weapons. You may kill foes, perhaps even banish one of the elder gods. But in the end, your position will never improve. The Horror in Dunwich will never quit its unrelenting goal of grinding you down until it destroys your mind, body and soul… or until you find a way to defeat it.
- # of Players: 1-5
- Playtime: about 1-2 hours
- Ages: 15+
- Designer: Philip Loyer
- Publisher: Wyvern Gaming
- Kickstarter Page
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this game to review.
The Horror in Dunwich is a
What I Liked
- The game mechanics fit the theme perfectly.
- The Horror In Dunwich feels like a Lovecraftian reality.
What I Didn’t
- That I have played this game several times and beat it once! I am not saying this is a bad thing… I just don’t like it.
Every round they will cause a complication for you and your group. Some will spawn a number of minions, some will damage your health or sanity directly, and others will do even worse things.
Inhuman Intelligence Peering Through Inhuman Eyes.
Each Elder God has a different soul crushing effect that will make your life miserable every single turn. And, If you are not diligent in dealing with the effects of the Elder Gods, it is very easy to become overwhelmed in just a few turns. For instance, Ubbo-Sathla. It isn’t bad enough that every round he also summons a little playmate for you, he’s also immune to your special abilities. Dagon, on the other hand, just makes a random player attack a colleague with every card in their hand.
Evil Never Sleeps
Meanwhile, the mythos deck is just as unrelenting. The mythos deck will bring you no comfort. Every turn you will face a new terror: Spawning new minions, forcing you to discard cards from your hands, or making it so you only draw four cards each turn, instead of five… or maybe you can only draw 3… And these are just a sample of what nightmares come with each card
Servants of Darkness
Minions, though usually not as dramatic or powerful as the elder gods, or the mythos cards, can creep up on you quickly. One void orb isn’t too hard to handle, with its three life. Sure, it will do some damage, but it is easy to kill… until you get a swarm of them because you had to take care of a bigger threat the last few rounds and Mordiggian just happened to be one of the active elder gods. Then there are the deep ones, who add insult to injury by not only damaging you, they also destroy every active ally every round until you deal with them.
At the start of every game
It does not take very much time, or “bad luck” to find yourself buried beneath the weight of all the mythos cards, elder gods, and the unending tsunami of minions that The Horror in Dunwich assails you with. Thankfully you have a few things going for you. Meager as they may be.
A Light In The Dark
At the start of the game each player is either randomly assigned, or chooses, a character to play. This choice is actually meaningful since all of the characters have a special ability that will offer some help against the mythos. Additionally, each character has an effect, based on their special, that continues to be of assistance to their colleagues even after their deaths.
You also start with 30 health and sanity. Keep close watch on these stats, for they will not last long in the face of the unimaginable horror that will tear at your mind and body unrelentingly.
The Beginning of your journey.
You start the game with a starter deck, which contains 7 Sleuth cards and 3 Stagger Cards. The sleuth cards provide you with the moxie you need to get started, while the stagger cards are much less helpful, in fact they are downright hurtful. Luckily you are under no obligation to play any card in your hand, unless of course the mythos gets involved.
One note here about the stagger cards: It is sometimes VERY beneficial to play a stagger card(s). For instance, when the mythos location is August Pliiars, which gives you moxie for every point of damage you take to either health or sanity. In fact the only session of Horror in Dunwich I have won came at the cost of steadily sacrificing all but one point of my sanity.
Researching the Problem…
While the Elder Gods have the mythos deck, minions, and the mythos location on their side, you have the Miskatonic University Library. This is where you get all the actions, spells, equipment, allies, locations, and gear that you will be fighting the Elder Gods and their underlings with. Of course, access to this wealth of knowledge and resources isn’t free, you have to have moxie to spend.
Action, spells and equipment cards typically provide moxie, or a temporary bonus for the round. These will form the backbone of your deck.
A word of caution about using spells in the Cthulhu Mythos: Spells are typically very powerful, and can turn the tide in your battle against the Elder Gods. However, spells are rarely, if ever, free. Most of the time , erode, or downright devour, your sanity each time you cast them. This makes them a very dangerous double edged sword.
Gear, allies, and locations are more permanent and can have a huge impact on the game. Adding extra cards to the library or healing a player each round are just two examples of these cards in action. Be warned though, are vulnerable. Even more than you are.
While Cthulhu: The Horror In Dunwich is an excellent game, it is definitely not for everyone. The game is neither easy, or friendly. Players who do not like games where they are losing from the first round and have to fight, often against the nearly impossible, to gain any ground should not delve into the horror contained within this box.
The Horror in Dunwich is a superb example of a Chuthlu game done right. Playing the Horror in Dunwich is like Living one of H.P. Lovecraft’s stories. You are facing dark and maddening realities. Realities that can, and will, rip the sanity from your soul. Every time you draw a mythos card the world your character inhabits becomes darker, more dangerous, and less forgiving. When the elder gods activate their powers each turn, your character moves a little closer to the edge. The horror in Dunwich cares nothing about you… And I cannot think of a better way to make a game based on the entities, worlds, and works of Lovecraft and his contemporaries. Every time you defeat a minion or an elder god, it is but a fleeting victory. Much like the characters in a Lovecraft story you will find that the madness behind reality isn’t defeated, it is just waiting. If you are a fan of Lovecraft, or of games that you really have to work at to win, you owe it to yourself to pick up The Horror In Dunwich.
- Overall Fun - 8.5/108.5/10
- Ease of Play - 6.5/106.5/10
- Replayablity - 8.4/108.4/10
- Downtime - 8.5/108.5/10
- Game Length - 6/106/10
- Bang For Your Buck - 8.5/108.5/10
- Engagment - 8.5/108.5/10