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Call of Cthulhu LCG: Core Set - Board Game Box Shot

Call of Cthulhu LCG: Core Set

Publisher Video Part 1

Introduction, setup, turn sequence, refresh/draw/resource phase

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Publisher Video Part 2

Operations phase, story phase, resolving a struggle, determining success, winning a story card, end of turn

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Ancient, nameless horrors dwell in the darkness, writhing in the night sky and under the earth, just beyond our senses.

In Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game, players take the roles of investigators, villains, and unspeakable horrors inspired by the dark mythos of H.P. Lovecraft. Agency detectives, Miskatonic University students and faculty, and the members of the mysterious Syndicate all join the fight against otherworldly beings including Cthulhu, Hastur, Yog-Sothoth, and Shub Niggurath.

Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game is 2-player, customizable dueling game in which players command both human and monster factions. As a Living Card Game, hundreds of additional cards are available for all seven factions, allowing players to customize the contents of this set, or create their own original decks.

Lovecraft's horrors live, in Call of Cthulhu: The Card game!

User Reviews (9)

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I'm Completely Obsessed
Rated 50 Games
104 of 111 gamers found this helpful
“One of My Favorites”

Here is a basic breakdown of this game from my perspective:

Game Play:
This game was nothing like any other game I had ever played before, I never got into Magic for instance. Its structure and mechanics were just so different that it took me several games before I could play coherently. Once I reached that point however strategy as I had never seen before unfolded. The game is played out with two players engaging in conflict in an attempt to gain control of story cards which are placed in the middle; first to three wins. Every turn player will summon characters, support cards (items and places) and events to use in their attempt at the stories. They pay for these cards with domains which gradually grow to larger and larger values, they can drain all of their domains once each turn. The player then commits characters to story(s). Their opponent opposes them with characters of their own. Four struggles are resolved, Madness, Combat, Arcane and Investigation, the player’s characters tally their icons and they are compared to determine the winners at the stories. The winner of the madness struggle drives an opposing character insane. The winner of the combat struggle wounds an opposing character. The winner of the arcane struggle may ready an exhausted character. The winner of the Investigation struggle places a success token on the story. After all of the struggles have been resolved, the total skill of remaining characters is calculated for both sides and the attacker achieves success only if their skill is higher than the defender’s. Once a player has won three stories, they are victorious.

Game Components:
The game’s cards are very visually pleasing and well designed, they have great illustrations. The board is just the right size and also features nice illustration. The Cthulhu domain markers are, to say the least, extremely cool. Although unpainted they look and work just fine.

The base set itself is reasonably priced (around $35-$40) and the expansions while more costly if you get a lot of them aren’t that bad either ($7-$10 each). One of the features of this game is that you only have to buy one of each expansion to have all of the cards, no random buying.

Replay Value:
This game has a very high replay value, the multiple factions to choose from combined with the deck building aspect make every game different. For me at least this game never gets old.

Learning Curve:
Unfortunately the learning curve for this game is quite steep, someone who has never played a game of this type will usually take multiple games to be able to start fully grasping the strategy.

While it does incur a significant amount of luck of the draw, due to the deck building aspect, even if a player draws badly, that doesn’t lose them the game.

Overall, I loved this game it is fun and very engaging. The replay value is high and I hope to play it many more times.

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Gamer - Level 6
85 of 93 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“Call of Card Gamers: Cthulhu LCG Crushes CCGs ”

Call of Cthulhu is a fairly fast paced game where your goal is to win three story cards. You win story cards by placing 5 success tokens on them. In order to place success tokens you must commit characters to a specific story. Once both players have committed you go through a series of challenges that will effect the outcome of the story, winning and losing challenges has effects on your characters. Here are the different challenges and what they do to the winning / losing player.

Terror Struggle: The loser of the terror struggle must choose a character and turn that character ‘insane’. An insane character can no longer participate in the story conflict, is returned to its owner’s play area turned face down until the character is cured during a refresh phase.

Combat Struggle: The winner of a combat struggle places a wound token on an opposing character. Most characters can take only 1 wound, the exception is a character with the keyword TOUGHNESS +. The number that follows the + tells you how many additional wounds he can take, a character with toughness+1 can take 2 wounds.

Arcane Struggle The winner of this struggle chooses and refreshes a character committed to the story (this character does not have to have an arcane icon) This allows that character to be committed during his/her opponents turn.

Investigation Struggle: The winner of this challenge places a success icon on the story immediately. If this is the 5th token you claim the story and immediately carry out its text.

How do you figure out who wins each type of struggle It’s easy! You simply count the total number of each icon and the player with the higher amount wins. If there is a tie nothing happens, unless a character has the keyword FAST, then they break ties for the icons that character possesses.

After you have done these 4 challenges in this order you total up the ‘skill’ of both sides and if they ‘active player’ (the attacker) has a higher skill he/she adds a success token. If the “defender” has more then nothing happens.

When a player fills all the success token slots available at a story, he/she gets to take the story card and immediately carry out the action written on it.

Now that you know how to win lets start with how you actually get to that point. Lets go over a player’s turn in order:

> Refresh committed characters, turn 1 insane character back to sane, remove your statues from your domains.
> On a player’s turn they will first draw 2 cards, they can choose to add any 1 card to one of their ‘Domains’ so that it provides additional resources.
> You may now play characters/support and or event cards from your hand by paying the appropriate resource cost.
> You choose which characters you are committing to each story, then the other player gets a chance to commit his characters to “Defend” a story.


Most cards have a cost associated with them (in the upper top left corner), in order to play this card you must meet its conditions (characters/support can only be played on your turn, most event cards are self explanatory as to when they should be played) and you must pay the total resource cost. Note in addition to having the required amount of resources to pay for a card, you also need 1 matching faction symbol. To activate a domain to pay for a cost you place your Cthulhu statue on it this signifies that it cannot be used again until your next turn. Note when activating a domain you cannot split its value to pay for multiple cards, nor can you activate multiple domains to pay for a single card.

This is an example of neutral cards with no faction symbol, to play these you can use any type of resources.

Components: The artwork on the cards are superb, even the backs. The tokens are double sided as wound or investigation this stops you from worrying about as many pieces. The board although a little small is very visually appealing. Of course the coolest part about the game are the statues you use to mark your domains as you use them, they are detailed and just plain awesome.

Card Types: All cards have their ‘type’ printed on the bottom left. Story and Conspiracy Cards do not, but their picture is much bigger and they are printed longways instead of like a traditional card.

Support: Once support cards are played they stay in play until destroyed by another card’s effects or if the character they are attached to is destroyed.

Event: An event card is a one time use spell or action, it is played directly from your hand and discarded after its text is resolved. Event cards can be played at any time and lots of them are intended to be played on the opponents turn.

Characters: These are characters from the Lovecraft universe, they make up the core of your deck. Characters are used to win challenges and place success tokens onto story cards as well as destroy other characters and turn them insane.

Story Cards: Story cards represent your goal in Call of Cthulhu, in order to win you must obtain three. Three will be face up at all times (after a player wins a story card a new one takes its place), and each turn players will ‘commit’ their ‘characters’ to engage in four types of struggles and hopefully win success tokens, when a player has 5 success tokens they win the story.

Conspiracy: Conspiricy cards work the same way as story cards except they are played from a player’s hand instead of the story deck. Once won a conspiracy card counts towards the three required to win.

Who will enjoy Call of Cthulhu?

Casual Gamers: Call of C’thulhu is more casual friendly than say Magic the Gathering because it is not a ccg. LCGs are expandable and still release new card packs quite frequently so there is room to get heavily into CoC. However because the cards are not random and you can play a full interesting and fun game with just the core set this is certainly a more casual friendly option versus traditional collectible card games.

Gamer Gamers: Because of the vast amount of lore that goes alongside any game set in the Lovecraft universe there are a lot of expansions for this game. This is a good thing, a game rich in lore and theme is easier to get into, introduce new players and there is always room for the game to expand and grow. A ‘hardcore’ gamer can really get into this because of the amount of cards available and deep strategy involved. You can really customize your deck until it works just how you like or until it’s featuring your favourite characters, card gamers specifically will love this one.

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Rated 50 Games
85 of 96 gamers found this helpful
“Call of Cthulhu The Card Game Review by David Lowry”

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.¨ – H.P. Lovecraft, Supernatural Horror in Literature

Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games

Game Designer: Nate French

Players: 2

Ages: 13 to adult

Playing Time: 30 – 60 minutes

Contents: 1 rulebook, 1 folding game board, 165 cards, 36 success and wound tokens and 6 Cthulhu Domain Markers.

Suggested Retail Price: $39.95

Parental Advisory: Safe for kids

Call of Cthulhu The Card Game (referred to as CoC throught this review) is a LCG (Living Card Game) from Fantasy Flight Games originally released in 2008 with many “Asylum Pack Expansion Cycles” previously release but later discontinued and replaced with currently five different “Deluxe Expansions” which is great news for people just getting into the game. These “Deluxe Expansions” allow the players to build much stronger decks to either stop the horrors that are terrorizing the world or to dominate the investigators and reek havoc on their plane of existence.

In CoC the players take on the roles of courageous investigators or nightmarish horrors to succeed in accomplishing their dangerous and horrific missions while battling the opposition for control. They do this by fighting for Story Cards that are randomly selected and three are laid out on the game board. The first player to get three Story Cards wins the game or the first player to run out of cards in their draw deck immediately lose the game. Discards piles are not shuffled back into their decks.

Players can choose from seven different factions to make up their decks. There is no limit to how many factions can be used or which ones can be mixed together to form their decks. However Heroic or Villainous Characters cannot be in play for one player at the same time. That player will have to choose one and discard the other if they mix human and horror decks.

The factions are:

The Agency – A group of police officers and citizens that specialize in combat. They do the grunt work and head bashing. This faction favors players that are aggressive and like to do damage.

Miskatonic University – The scholars and learned professors that are best at information gathering and a bit careless. They don’t do horror or combat well and rushing can get them into trouble. Great deck for card draw, quick investigation and “rushing” players.

The Syndicate – The seedy underbelly characters that always seem to know what is going on. They use their info to their advantage and compared to the horrors can seem like the good guys. This deck favors being sneaky and slowing down the opponents characters.

Cthulhu – The cult of the Great One himself. This cult is world wide, intertwined through out Earth’s history and specializes in terror and utter destruction. This cult isn’t always nice to each other so be careful when calling forth Cthulhu!

Hastur – He who shall not be named cultists are raving lunatics and deranged artists. This cult is full of people that love to spread the slow poison of terror and insanity. This deck favors control, cancellation and appeals to the slower, more defensive players.

Yog-Sothoth – The Gate Keeper of where the spheres meet. Its cultists help navigate the ways between the worlds allowing for returning cards from the players discard pile and searching for cards when needed.

Shub-Niggurath – The horrid Mother faction of the Black Goat of the Woods with One Thousand Young floods the play area with monsters of all levels. This deck is suited for “rushing” players who love to combat!

There is also a set of Neutral cards that can be used by both players.

There are five different types of cards in CoC. Story, Character, Support, Event and Conspiracy. All cards belong to one of the seven factions or are neutral. Cards marked with an * are Unique and each player may only have one copy in play at a time. Cards put into play are put in the ready position and exhausted (turned 90 degrees) when used. Any character that goes insane is flipped upside down in the exhausted position. Attached cards are destroyed when a Character leaves play.

Turn Sequences:

Refresh Phase – Each player can choose and restore one insane character by flipping it face-up but it still remains exhausted until the next turn. Each player then refreshes any exhausted cards and Domains.

Draw Phase – Each player draws two cards from their deck. During the first turn only, the first player only draws one card as part of the first player penalty.

Resource Phase – Each player may choose one card from their hand to place under a Domain of their choice. The card goes under the Domain Card and upside down so the only the resource symbol at the bottom can be seen. Once a card becomes a resource, it may not be used for anything else. There is no limit to the amount of resources a player may have or the amount of Domains. Once a Domain has been exhausted, then the player places a Domain Marker on it and it cannot be used again until the next round. Each Domain may only be used for one card per round.

Operations Phase – Players have the chance to play any Character and Support Cards from their hand face up in front of them in the play area as long as their have the resources available to pay for the card. To play a card or activate it, the player must exhaust a Domain to do so. Unless the card is neutral, the Domain used must have a resource match (a card from the same faction) to the card being played.

Story Phase – The active player now commits any ready Characters to the Story Card by exhausting them and placing them in front of the Story Card of their choice. Each Character may only support one Story Card each round.

After the active player commits, then the opponent may commit their Characters to a Story Card in which at least once Character has already been committed.

Now the players resolved the Story Cards. This is done in any order chosen by the active player. Each Story Card is resolved by the four icon struggles found on the left side of the card by comparing skill values.

1. Terror Struggle – This is the tentacle icon on the card. The player with the most tentacle icons wins this struggle. The losing player choices on Character Card committed to that struggle to go insane. Here Characters with the willpower keyword never go insane.

Combat Struggle – This is the skull icon on the card. The player with the most skull icons wins this challenge. The looser must choose one Character Card committed to this struggle and give them a wound token. Most Characters only take one damage and are destroyed. The toughness keyword comes into play here and allow a Character to receive more than one wound before being destroyed.

Arcane Struggle – This is the tome icon on the card. The winning player may ready an exhausted Character Card committed to this Story Card.

Investigation Struggle – This is the magnifying glass icon on the card. The winning player may immediately place a Success Token on the Story Card.

Determining success: The active player now determines if they have been successful. Add the combined skill values (number on the middle left side of card) of all remaining Character Cards committed to the Story Card. If this total is one or more than the opponents, then they may place a Success Token on the Story Card.

If the active player succeeded and the opponents skill level was zero or less, then the active player may place one additional Success Token on the Story Card as being unchallenged.

If the player wins the Story Card by having five or more tokens on it, they then may take it and immediately resolve its effects. If both players simultaneously win, then the active player takes it. If the active player wins more than one Story Card at the same time, the active player chooses in what order to take the Story Card and activate it’s effects.

Once a Story Card has been won, all tokens are removed and returned to the pool and a new Story Card is flipped over in its place.

Conspiracy Cards:

Conspiracy Cards are played from the active players hand during the Operations Phase as a new Story Card in addition to the three Story Cards in play. These cards may also be used as Resource Cards attached to a players Domain. Each player may only have one Conspiracy Card in play at a time. If a players wins a Conspiracy Card it counts towards the players Story Card win total.


Fast: This keyword breaks ties during icon struggles. The player with the most Fast Characters committed to the Story Card takes this honor. A tie of zero is still zero and Fast has no effect on it.

Heroic/Villainous: A player cannon bring both into play at the same time (this includes card effects.) A player must discard one in order to play the other.

Invulnerability: Character Cards with this keyword can never be wounded or chosen to be wounded. They may still be destroyed by card effects.

Loyal: When a player wishes to play a Character Card with the Loyal keyword, they must drain a Domain that has enough resources of that cards faction to pay for the entire cost the card.

Steadfast: These cards have faction symbols in their tile. When a player drains a Domain to play a Steadfast Card, the player must have at least as many resources across all of their Domains to play that card as well the Resource Match.

Toughness: Character Cards with the Toughness keyword, may take additional wounds equal to X times. This may come from more than one source in which case the different cases stack.

Transient: The Transient keyword is accompanied by an arrow next to the resource icons and count as two resources when placed under a Domain. Once this Domain has been exhausted for what any reason, this card is destroyed and discarded.

Willpower: Characters with the Willpower keyword may never go insane either by effect or choice.

During each phase of play, each player my take actions by either using Character abilities or playing Event Cards and paying its cost. The active player always takes the first action each phase. No actions may be taken during the Resolve Story Card Phase until all three of the Story Cards have been resolved. All actions are taken one at a time, first by the active player and then with the opponents follow up action if that players chooses.

There are many different actions that happen such as Responses, Forced Response and Disrupts. In order for these to take effect obviously the card text and circumstances must align. These are described in the rulebook to greater detail.

Components: CoC component quality is top notch as it is a Fantasy Flight Game and they don’t skimp on quality. The artwork is taken from several other of the Arkham Horror series games and I am sure fresh new art was included. Of course the artwork is awesome and fits the genre perfectly. The cards are good quality, easy to read with the exception of the text at the bottom of the Story Cards which is a bit small to read easily. The board is solid, and small and is basically just chrome for the game, but I am all about chrome so its a nice touch.

CoC is a deck-building game that has a ton of depth to it which is no surprise as all of Fantasy Flights LCG’s are very good (I haven’t played Star Wars yet.) The Core Set might be a bit weak for the human player to start with at least until they get to know the cards and combos pretty well. CoC provides a good balance of the thematic element, strategy and a short playing time of 30 – 60 minutes which should be a big plus for many gamers. It’s a shame it isn’t more popular in the US as it is overseas as it is most certainly a very good game and should be in more players game collections. The wonderful feeling I get when playing thematically strong games like this always want to make me reach for these types of games first as for me the gaming experience seems more complete than just a good strategy game with a theme that doesn’t really matter if it is there or not. I love THEME and Fantasy Flight does it better than anyone else. If you are looking for a game that has great deck-building mechanics, great cards and effects and theme dripping from the start than this is the game for you.

Now is the time to get into this game if you don’t want to get behind on the expansions with Fatasy Flight having put our the “Deluxe Expansions” and there being only five of them. Deck-building games like this can get very expensive especially if the player is serious and tournament bound, but for the casual player, buying just the core set and seeing how you like it provides a fitting gaming experience with lots of theme, fun and discussion. From there adding the expansions should be easy and at the discretion of the what the player feels they need.

I will give this game about a 8.5 out of 10 stars as it brings a lot of depth, strategy and theme and it is certainly worth the price at $40. This game will never play the same so it’s re-playability is very, very high.

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I play orange
Miniature Painter
Veteran Grader
Intermediate Reviewer
123 of 146 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“I little too quick for the deck size. Barely have time to feel the horror. ”

Call of Cthulhu is a gorgeous card game. It has wonderful elements that helps capture the theme and an extremely interesting engagement of the mechanics, but the game just feels too quick, lopsided, a restrictive on the resource utilization.

I purchased the base game and multiple card packs, gave the game a good 10 tries but still can’t help but feel that the execution of the design is really lackluster.

The resources They feel constricted. They build up slowly and even when you do have a decent amount built-up, it feels like you waste so much of it. Especially when cards’ action require that you use resources, you either keep one resource pile down at 2-3, you still only can execute 1 ability at most. The rest of the time you are building up one resource pile to accommodate your 4-6 card costs and then the game suddenly ends. It feels that the size and number of resource piles severely limits the cards’ abilities and the possibilities for more suspenseful engagements.

Game length and suspense Is it just me, or shouldn’t a game based on Lovecraftian horror have a little more suspense. Games are so quick. They typically end in 5-7 turns and it hardly feels like you touch your deck. Most constructed card games have you going through at least half your deck. Giving you time to execute your deck’s design or build up some suspense, but CoC just ends so quickly. A little tinkering is in order and I believe can assuage this issue, but I wonder what the designers were thinking during development/playtesting when games end so abruptly and quickly.

The skills sequence I love the card’s design and use of multiple skills, but I hate how linear and predetermined it all is. I wish that the skills sequence had some kind of control from the players to make it less linear and more of a resource/skill management dilemma or strategy. This would add depth to deck construction and game suspense and decision making to ameliorate the sensitivity to randomness from the few cards you’ll actually see fight over the quests.

Often time quest completion is auto-pilot. If someone has 2-3 clue tokens on them, you rarely are able to fight over that one and use your limited resources to establish presence on another quest, thus quest combat often time is single sided and accelerates the game’s conclusion.

After having reviewed many of the card packs, I’m convinced there is stellar deck construction game within CoC, but it just needs a little coercing.

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I play purple
96 of 114 gamers found this helpful
“Plays like a Fantasy Flight LCG”

The fact that Call of Cthulhu plays like a Fantasy Flight LCG is both a good thing and a bad thing. If you’ve played A Game of the Thrones or Lord of the Rings LCGs (both by Fantasy Flight) you’ll notice similarities in the game play. The idea of having different “strategies” as varying “spheres” like Lore and Will is interesting, but Fantasy Flight is using this theme in almost every LCG they put out.

– Quality components and artwork
– Extremely good version of the LCG “sphere” mechanics
– Fun theme that’s perfect for Lovecraft fans
– Customizable decks with expansions

– Feels like you’ve played it before (Fantasy Flight LCG style)
– Cards are white bordered (ugly in a dark-themed game)
– Only 2 player

Basically, if you like Lovecraft stories and want a 2-player card game that you can expand over time without paying way too much, Call of Cthulhu is a smart buy.

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Knight Beta 1.0 Tester
83 of 129 gamers found this helpful
“LCG gaming”

Fantasy Flight has taken this model and done extremely well with it in regards to the Call of Cthulhu LCG, and the Game of Thrones LCG. What they are doing is lowering the cost to themselves and to their players. By releasing a base set with small supplemental sets in a non-collectible environment, both the publisher and the players are aware of their long term costs. This allows Fantasy Flight to reliably predict sales, as the base number of players remains relatively stable, and the sales numbers are largely unaffected by a “bad” set, as players are only out $20-60 every 1-2 months as opposed to collecting rares and driving the cost well beyond that in the CCG model.

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76 of 135 gamers found this helpful
“Fun and tense”

This game is fun and tense. It has some of the same attractions as Magic but with a core set as a living card game (LCG) it doesn’t drain your wallet. I recommend playing not just 2 player but 3. you will need to trade for or buy an extra core set and make some more plot cards but the interactive dynamic of having to beat up on one player while not allowing the other to take advantage of being ignored adds greater tension.

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Gamer - Level 3
68 of 131 gamers found this helpful
“Favorite of the LCGs”

Call of Cthulhu is a great card game, with a unique resource and story system. Can’t recommend it enough.

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Rated 25 Games
72 of 159 gamers found this helpful
“It's ok. ”

I have played this twice and found it to be just “ok” reference my tastes. To me the mechanics on the cards are too fiddly. I hate that word but I can’t think of another way to describe it. If asked to play, I would not dread playing it but would rather play Warhammer:Invasion or learn a new LCG.


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