It was Monday night gaming at Hickman Towers, and we played a game that hasn’t seen the table for quite some time – 16(yes, sixteen!) months, to be exact.
Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu is, as the name suggests, a version of the Pandemic game engine that takes place in the world of 1920s Arkham, as created by H.P. Lovecraft. I played this when it was first published, and was impressed. As far as ‘Pandemic’ styles games are concerned, this is very much towards the ‘lite’ end of the difficulty rating, but is still a challenging and finely balanced game.
Despite starting late, we managed to easily fit two games the evening, which is partly down to the fact that the game plays in about 60 minutes, but also that we got our arses well and truly kicked on the first attempt.
The aim of the game is to close four inter-dimensional gates in the towns of Arkham, Dunwich, Innsmouth and Kingsport before:
- The towns are overrun with cultists or
- The towns are overrun with Shoggoths or
- Cthulhu is summoned or
- Time expires (the player card deck is exhausted)
As mentioned above, the first game didn’t end well. Dave played the Hunter, Richard was the Reporter and I was the Occultist. Whilst the early part of the game went well, I think I got somewhat distracted by my character ability of moving cultists around – plus we think Dave forgot that the Hunter could kill all cultists in its space by using a single action. The upshot was that we suddenly realised that we had a major crowd control issue, and that we had to kill three cultists each turn (you place cultists at the end of each player turn, in what has become known in these sort of co-op games as the ‘shit happens’ phase. If you run out of cultist figure to place, you lose the game). We very quickly ran out of actions, and lost as cultists overran the area.
The second game was far more successful. This time Richard played the Hunter, whilst Dave was the Taxi Driver and I played the Doctor. The abilities of the Taxi Driver (move two areas rather than one when moving) and Doctor (5 actions in a turn rather than 4) worked very well together – plus the fact that we managed to not only close two gates early in the game, but also seal one completely using an Elder Sign (it means that any cultists meant to be placed in the town with a sealed gate are not placed on the board – it does wonders for crowd control!)
Whilst things seemed to go much smoother, by the time we had gathered all the resources we needed and closed all four gates, we only had two player turns remaining, so the outcome was actually much tighter than we first thought.
Two games played in under two hours, which was unusual – we called it a night at that point. Reign of Cthulhu, whilst not the best Pandemic style game we have played, is still pretty decent. It was good to get it to the table again.