|Call of Cthulhu LCG | Published 05 November 2010|
I seemed to be staring at space unlimited. I saw a void beyond my vocabulary to describe; a dark, bottomless gulf teeming with nameless shapes and entities - things of madness and delirium, as tenuous as a mist from Shamballah. My soul shrank. I was terribly afraid. I screamed and screamed, and felt that I would soon go mad.
- H.P. Lovecraft, The Tree On The Hill
One of the main pillars of the Cthulhu Mythos is insanity. Most other horror genres are just about death, but Lovecraft and those that followed in his footsteps explore a fate worse than death. Insanity has left such a mark that a game about Cthulhu isn't a game about Cthulhu if insanity isn't represented in some way. In Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game, there are several mechanics around this concept. The Terror Struggle deals with it, there is Willpower to prevent it and when all else fails, you flip your character over until they restore over time.
With a new faction joining in, it's important to show who stands where. As James Hata recently wrote, each faction will return to its focus and concentrate on its identity. This great convergence shows that one thing was missing. It’s something so central to the game, yet that hasn't been shown in it's simplest, most streamlined form. Out of the cacophony comes a clear, unmistakable voice... of madness.
There are a few basic functionality cards. Burrowing Beneath (Core Set, F137) is one such card. It's clear what its role and function is in the game. Another one is Eldritch Nexus (Core Set, F154.) No complicated rules text, no arbitrary restrictions, no timing limitations. And somehow we were living without Lost to the Madness (The Cacophony, F107.) Mass insanity at your fingertips. Hasturs' mission statement in six simple words: All characters in play go insane.
Out of this simplicity, you can make your own complexity. First of all, the card effect looks symmetrical, meaning that it should hurt you as much as it hurts them. You have an edge, though: You know it's in your deck. You have some choice in when it hits so you can keep unprotected characters in your hand until it's safe to go out. And you can focus on having willpower and terror icons to protect yourself.
Since insanity is at the core of the Hastur faction, there are a lot of cards that work well with it. Victoria's Loft (Core Set, F93) makes the insanity permanent. Keeper of Dreams, Mind Breaker (Journey to Unknown Kadath, F109) helps pierce willpower. And to make the circle complete, Hastur, Lord of Carcosa (The Spoken Covenant, F46) complements the madness so well, the combination can even shut down Shub-Niggurath and her Thousand Dark Young.
The greatest insanity was that we haven't seen this card so far. The Yuggoth Contract doesn't allow for lose ends, however. The cult of Hastur is ever dedicated to keep the Mi-Go threat in check, even if it means imprisoning everyone in their own mind. So if you have to choose between the Yuggoth Contract or the Unspeakable Oath, choose wisely.
Based on the fiction of H.P. Lovecraft and his literary circle, Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game takes two players deep into the Cthulhu Mythos where investigators clash with the Ancient Ones and Elder Gods for the fate of the world. The Living Card Game format allows players to customize their gaming experience with monthly Asylum Pack expansions to the core game.
This cycle keeps getting better and better. That art is amazingly creepy...
Well done Marius. Another cool and colorfully-worded article - featuring a deadly-useful card. I've come to enjoy these little missives of yours ! :-)