Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (June 2011)|
|Designer(s)||Eric M. Lang|
|Publisher(s)||Fantasy Flight Games|
|Setup time||< 2 minutes|
|Playing time||~ 30 minutes1|
|1 Games may take much longer or shorter depending on a deck's play style and the number of players.|
Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game (formerly the Call of Cthulhu Collectible Card Game) is a card game produced and marketed by Fantasy Flight Games. It is based on the fiction of the Cthulhu Mythos, primarily the writings of H. P. Lovecraft and Chaosium's Call of Cthulhu role-playing game. In 2008, Fantasy Flight moved the game over to its Living Card Game (LCG) format,1 which retains the deck-building aspect of collectible card games, but without the random distribution.2
Chaosium had previously been involved in the collectible card game (CCG) business in the mid-1990s, printing Mythos, its Cthulhu mythos CCG. Chaosium discontinued the game in 1997 after poor sales. In 2004, Chaosium instead licensed the property to Fantasy Flight Games (FFG), allowing FFG to produce the official Call of Cthulhu Collectible Card Game. It was designed by Eric M. Lang as a more accessible introduction to gaming in the Mythos environment and to provide a fast and lively interplay with the usual elements of the mythos (e.g. arcane tomes and secrets, paranormal investigations, the elder gods and their terrible servants, dark sinister plots, inhuman conspiracies, and dangers from beyond the stars). The game is nominally set in 1928.
FFG staffer Darrell Hardy developed the background for the game. Most of the storyline text (including card names and flavor text) was written by creative developer Pat Harrigan. In the Living Card Game format, the original story line was penned by Nate French, with the help of Dan Clark. Since 2010 all story lines have been created by the game's current developer Damon Stone.
Players attach resources (taken from the cards in their hand) onto blank placeholder cards known as domains, later "draining" them by putting a drain counter on them to play various cards. Both players compete to complete stories by winning success tokens. Five success tokens wins a story; three stories wins the game. Players typically assign character cards to stories, to win struggles and gain these success tokens. Additionally, the first player to run out of cards to draw from loses the game, making deck destruction another potentially effective strategy.
Five types of card exist in Call of Cthulhu: Story Cards, Character cards, Event cards, Support cards and Conspiracy cards. All cards (except story cards) have a cost and belong to a faction (described below). Various cards have subtypes (such as investigator, tome, or location).
- Story cards come from a shared deck, and are the object of the game. Players compete by placing "success tokens" on these story cards. Once a player has placed 5 success tokens they win the story, earning the option to execute (or ignore) the effect written on it. Once a player has 3 story cards they win the game. Standard players use the 10 latest story cards, of which 3 randomly chosen are in play at any time. The Nameless City is a special promotional Story card that requires 10 success tokens but allows a player to win the game instantly. Another promotional story card is named "The Challenge From Beyond" (after a story written in collaboration by H.P. Lovecraft and four of his correspondents), and has the opposite effect: it cannot be won like a normal story, but players may draw extra cards by scoring "successes" at it.
- Character cards are a player's agents, used to attempt to complete stories. They possess a skill rating (used to succeed at stories) and may also have icons, which indicate the card's abilities during the icon struggle phase of play.
- Event cards have one-time effects and do not remain in play.
- Support cards have persistent effects, incurring lasting benefits or hindrances.
- Conspiracies are introduced in "Conspiracies of Chaos." These function similar as Story cards but are played from the players' decks.
There are eight factions in Call of Cthulhu, as well as "neutral" cards (light grey in color) that are not part of any faction. A card may only be played if a domain with that faction attached is drained (neutral cards can be paid for using any faction).
- The Agency: This "investigator" faction comprises the Blackwood Detective Agency, law enforcement agencies, and others involved in criminal justice. Its symbol is a badge, and its color is blue.
- Miskatonic University: This "investigator" faction represents the academic prowess of Lovecraft's fictional Miskatonic University, as well as other academic groups. Its symbol is a scroll, and its color is gold.
- The Syndicate: This "investigator" faction represents the underworld element of human society, including mobsters, killers and journalists. It mainly focuses on Danny O'Bannion's gang and its contacts. Its symbol is a dollar sign in a triangle and its color is dark brown.
- The Order of the Silver Twilight : This "investigator" faction is a later addition to the game and centers a secret cabal of leading politicians, charismatic socialites, persuasive civic leaders, and successful businessmen who must pass through successive ranks of occult initiation and ritual to emerge into the inner sanctum of the Order, there to pursue their quest for ultimate earthly - and unearthly - power. Its symbol is a trident in a cross, and its color is silver grey. Their name may be a play on The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.
- Cthulhu: This "mythos" faction includes Cthulhu himself, as well as his associated cultists and monsters (such as deep ones and shoggoths). Its symbol is a squid, and its color is green.
- Hastur: This "mythos" faction centers on Hastur, especially his King in Yellow aspect, as well as his worshippers and minions, largely human psychopaths and monstrous Byakhees, as well as werewolves. Its symbol is the Yellow Sign, and its color is yellow.
- Yog-Sothoth: This "mythos" faction centers on Yog-Sothoth, and the scholars who worship it, as well as various trans-dimensional beings including Nightgaunts and Star vampires; it also hosts several undead monsters. Its symbol is a key, and its color is purple.
- Shub-Niggurath: This "mythos" faction centers on Shub-Niggurath and the many, many monsters she is responsible for creating (notably Dark Young, ghouls, and Dholes). Its symbol is a goat's head, and its color is red.
The Call of Cthulhu card game is currently produced in the form of a core set, featuring cards from 7 factions, neutral cards, story cards, success/wound tokens, a full-colour manual, a game board, and Cthulhu-shaped domain markers. (The 8th faction, Order of the Silver Twilight, does not appear in the core set.) The game is ready to play and decks can be made quickly by combining cards from two of the factions along with several neutral cards.
Approximately once a month, FFG releases "Asylum Packs", which are small expansions with fixed contents, designed to increase the players' card pool in a balanced and affordable way. Three copies of twenty new cards are introduced in each pack, for a total of 60 cards. (Originally, some cards only had one or two copies in packs, while others had three, echoing the rare, uncommon, and common rarities of the original game. This distribution may still be found in some out-of-print packs.) Casual gamers can play using a single core set and have the option of using supplemental packs if they want to.
In July 2012, Fantasy Flight announced that they will switch to a new distribution model: instead of the near-monthly Asylum Packs, there will be one 165-card deluxe expansion every four months, starting with Seekers of Knowledge.3
Here are the Asylum Packs fitting the LCG format (white bordered):
- Spawn of Madness
- Kingsport Dreams
- Conspiracies of Chaos
- Dunwich Denizens
- At the Mountains of Madness
- Ancient Horrors
Summons of the Deep:
- The Spawn of the Sleeper
- The Horror Beneath the Surface
- The Antediluvian Dreams
- The Terror of the Tides
- The Thing from the Shore
- The Path to Y'ha-nthlei
- Twilight Horror
- In Memory of Day
- In the Dread of Night
- The Search for the Silver Key
- Sleep of the Dead
- Journey to Unknown Kadath
The Yuggoth Contract:
- Whispers in the Dark
- Murmurs of Evil
- The Spoken Covenant
- The Wailer Below
- Screams from Within
- The Cacophony
The Rituals of the Order:
- The Twilight Beckons
- Perilous Trials
- Initiations of the Favored
- Aspirations of Ascension
- The Gleaming Spiral
- That Which Consumes
- The Shifting Sands
- Curse of the Jade Emperor
- The Breathing Jungle
- Never Night
- Into Tartarus
- Shadow of the Monolith
- Written and Bound
- Words of Power
- Ebla Restored
- Lost Rites
- The Unspeakable Pages
- Touched by the Abyss
- Secrets of Arkham (110 cards)
- The Order of the Silver Twilight (155 cards)
- Seekers of Knowledge (165 cards)
- The Key and the Gate (165 cards)
- Terror in Venice (165 cards) (third quarter of 2013) 4
Older products may still be available from Fantasy Flight Games and other retailers, though these cards have black borders and different backs. Official tournaments so far have been "white border only", so it is not necessary to chase down the older cards. The only reasons to do so are for fun or to complete a collection, though if intended for play, sleeves are required to disguise the different backs.
Here is a list of the older CCG-format products:
- Arkham Edition (1st base set)
- Unspeakable Tales (1st expansion)
- Forbidden Relics (2nd expansion)
- Eldritch Edition (2nd base set)
- Masks of Nyarlathotep (3rd expansion)
- Forgotten Cities (4th expansion)
Each booster pack contains 11 cards (including 3 'uncommon' and 1 'rare'). In addition, the Arkham and Eldritch base sets offered starter sets with fixed contents, designed to introduce players to the game.
The decision to cease producing the game in a collectible format came in May 2006. Newer products were released in the current Asylum Pack form, though the first four are not part of the new LCG format and contain black-bordered cards.
These are the original four Asylum Packs:
- Spawn of Madness (first pack)
- Kingsport Dreams (second pack)
- Conspiracies of Chaos (third pack)
- Dunwich Denizens (fourth pack)
The Asylum Packs were very successful and are the reason for the conversion of the game to the LCG format. The announcement came on February 5, 2008, that the LCG would be launched in October 2008 with a brand new core set. To bridge the gap, two more Asylum Decks were announced. These were The Mountains of Madness and Ancient Horrors. All six of these packs were reprinted in 2011 as the Forgotten Lore cycle.
In May 2006, as a special promotion, copies of the Yithian deck were handed out to tournament organisers. The Yithian deck was a purposely unbalanced deck, ignoring normal deck-building rules and featuring overpowered cards representing Yithians. Since these cards are so overpowered, they are illegal in normal tournament play. This Yithian Tournament had the following special rules:
- The first-place finisher challenges the Yithian deck, as played by the tournament organizer.
- If the first-place finisher is defeated, the second-place finisher takes his spot, and so on.
- All challengers must use the same deck they played in the tourney.
- The first player to defeat the Yithian deck takes a copy of the deck home.
The Yithian Deck consists of the following promo cards:
- Y1 Pnakotic Elder x6
- Y2 Great Race Scientist x6
- Y3 Yithian Soldier x6
- Y4 Master of Time and Space x8
- Y5 Displaced x4
- Y6 Library at Pnakotus x8
- Y7 Traveller of Aeons x2
The winners of the Call of Cthulhu World Championship are invited to design a card that is released within the other products. These cards usually have a high power level, and the art features the likeness of the person that designed it.
- At Gen Con Indianapolis 2005, Gregory Gan of Pittsburgh, PA became the first Call of Cthulhu CCG World Champion. His card, Assistant to Dr. West (bearing his likeness), was printed in the Forgotten Cities set in the Eldritch Edition block. The card art bears his likeness as drawn by Patrick McEvoy.
- At Gen Con Indianapolis 2006, Christopher Long of State College, PA became the second Call of Cthulhu CCG World Champion. Mr. Long has designed his card, and it is featured in the second Asylum deck that has been released January 2007. The card art bears his likeness as drawn by Patrick McEvoy. It also features Long's name in the text box.
- At Gen Con Indianapolis 2007 James 'Jim' Black of Pittsburgh, PA became the third Call of Cthulhu CCG World Champion. In the winning match he had both Assistant to Dr West and Mentor to Vaughn in play.
Fantasy Flight Games have set up the Servitor program to help tournament organizers by giving tournament support, like promo cards, Sanity Certificates and access to special promotional items like the Yithian Deck, to give away as prizes.
Older products in the line come with Sanity Points on the packaging, which range from 1 Sanity Point on boosters, to 5 on Asylum packs. Servitors are given Sanity Certificates to hand out to tournament winners. These Sanity Points could be redeemed until June 30, 20085 for items like promo cards or T-shirts.
- In 2005, Flagship magazine awarded the Call of Cthulhu CCG the title "Best Card Game of 2005."
- In 2008, InQuest Gamer magazine voted the Call of Cthulhu CCG the number 57 ranking Game of All Time saying that it "broke new ground with domain-based resource mechanics and great integration of the requisite horror and madness themes."
- Call of Cthulhu role-playing game
- Cthulhu Mythos
- Mythos, a collectible card game based on the Cthulhu Mythos universe.
- List of collectible card games
- BoardGameGeek. "Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game". Boardgamegeek.com. Retrieved 2012-09-16.
- Fantasy Flight Games. "LCG Player's Guide". Fantasy Flight Games. Retrieved 2012-09-16.
- Fantasy Flight Games. "Seekers of Knowledge". Fantasy Flight Games. Retrieved 2012-09-17.
- Fantasy Flight Games. "Terror in Venice". Fantasy Flight Games. Retrieved 2013-06-05.
- Fantasy Flight Games. "Fantasy Flight Games [Call of Cthulhu LCG] - Leading publisher of board, card, and roleplaying games". Cthulhulcg.com. Retrieved 2012-07-22.