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Conrad Zimmerman avatar 12:29 PM on 05.04.2008
On the Table: Do You Worship Cthulhu?


While I adore video games, I'm equally fond of board and card games. On the Table is a weekly feature of my cBlog that examines some of these analog entertainments. If you have a suggestion for a game to appear in this column or suggestions on how to improve it, please let me know.

Sorry to those of you who might actually care if this column goes up on time each week. The reference site that I use for most of my images (and a good bit of research at times), BoardGameGeek.com, was down for maintenance yesterday right about the time I needed it. It's back up now, hence the finished column, and I'd highly recommend anyone who hasn't visited this treasure trove of board gaming to go have a gander.





This week, I'm going to do something that isn't strictly a "tabletop" game. With all the talk about NARP groups forming, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to mention a party game that works well with any size group, requires little commitment from the players and can add another element to an already awesome party.





Do You Worship Cthulhu is a party game for 5-30 players. If you've ever gone to summer camp, you may have played something similar (often referred to as Mafia, but there are many names). Every player lives in a rural village but one of the villagers is a cult member sacrificing his community, one at a time, to Great Cthulhu. Other villagers, called Seers, have the gift of second sight which they may use to try and determine who the cultists are. One person, usually the host of the party, acts as a moderator, tracks who everyone is and keeps the game running smoothly.





Each night ("night" occurs either at a pre-determined interval or at the discretion of the game's moderator), the village goes to sleep by bowing their heads and closing their eyes. At this time, the Worshipers awaken and each indicate to the moderator a villager to be sacrificed. Once this is done, the Worshipers go back to sleep and the Seers awaken. They point to a person who they think may be a Worshiper and the moderator gives them either a thumbs up or thumbs down. Finally, the village awakens and the moderator reveals who has been left at the altar (so to speak).

Of course, no angry, rural village with its citizens dropping like flies is going to sit idly by. After day breaks and more corpses are discovered, the villagers then have a lynching. One villager is selected by majority vote to be strung up. Once killed, the victim's card is shown and the village gets to feel really stupid if they've killed yet another innocent. The game ends if there are either an equal number of Worshipers as there are villagers (making the Worshipers victorious) or all the Worshipers are lynched.





Two other card types come in the set that can be integrated in if the basic experience isn't interesting enough for you. Vigilantes, wanting to protect the village and not caring about the democratic process, select one person each night to kill in the hopes that they've eliminated a Worshiper. Protectors select one villager who will be kept alive through the night, no matter who decides they should die.

It sounds kinda hokey and I guess it is, but it can be an interesting way to get people talking to each other a little more, even if it's only on the subject of who's killing everyone else. Worshipers must work hard to spread dissent amongst the villagers without tipping their hand as to their true nature. Seers have to be careful about revealing that they have their gift, as they'll be quickly snuffed out by Worshipers should it be known.





I love the art on the cards and, frankly, you'd almost have to in order to actually buy this game. At $16, this is really expensive for something that's in the public domain. The art, quality of the cards and the Cthulhu name (which some of us are a sucker for) goes a good ways towards creating value but I doubt it goes far enough for most.

All in all, if you have a large group of people who'll be open to the idea, Do You Worship Cthulhu? can be a pretty fun time. It's casual enough that you can do a round every half hour or so into the evening (depending on the group size) and have everyone wondering who they can trust throughout. You might want to consider just grabbing some note cards and saving some cash, however.



MOAR ON THE TABLE

 
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