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H. P. Lovecraft, the creator of the Cthulhu Mythos back in 1917, would never have believed how popular his creations would become – spawning hundreds of ‘Cthulhu Mythos’ stories, films, video games, toys, household décor, games and, even slippers, to name but a few things. He is, quite possibly, the most influential horror writers of the twentieth century. His initial creation has expanded through generations of other writers exploring the Mythos, adding to it and in some cases carving out their own versions of the Cthulhu Mythos universe (such as Charles Stross’ excellent ‘Laundry Files’ series which deals with Bob Howard, an ex-IT consultant turned British government agent).

The Mythos has influenced and inspired dozens of board and card games over the last few decades. Some serious and heavy, others whimsical and light, but all pay homage to his dark tales of cultists and Elder Gods from Beyond the Stars…

Arkham Horror, Chaosium, 1987 Edition

My first experience with H. P. Lovecraft was, appropriately, one Halloween as an early teen when I started reading his ‘At the Mountains of Madness’ novella. I was hooked and the ‘Call of Cthulhu’ Roleplaying Game soon became my favourite RPG (and still is today) and we played the original Arkham Horror (published by Chaosium, 1987) as often as we could.

Cthulhu gaming has come a long way since then and, today, we have dozens of Cthulhu-themed games available to while away the hours this Halloween.

Here are just a few to choose from:

Arkham Horror (Fantasy Flight Games)
Call of Cthulhu : Living Card Game (Fantasy Flight Games)
Chez Cthulhu (Steve Jackson Games)
Cthulhu 500 (Atlas Games)
Cthulhu Dice (Steve Jackson Games)
Cthulhu Gloom (Atlas Games)
Elder Sign (Fantasy Flight Games)
Cults Across America (Atlas Games)
The Hills Rise Wild! (Pagan Publishing)
Mansions of Madness (Fantasy Flight Games)
Munchkin Cthulhu (Steve Jackson Games)
The Stars Are Right (Steve Jackson Games)
Unspeakable Words (Playroom Entertainment)
The Cards of Cthulhu (DVG)
Cthulhu Fluxx (Looney Labs)
Cthulhu Wars (Green Eyed Games
Do You Worship Cthulhu (Toy Vault Inc)
Cthulhu Rising (Twilight Creations)
Building An Elder God (Signal Fire Studios)

Arkham Horror, Fantasy Flight Games

Whilst Arkham Horror has a very special place in my heart, and is great if you have plenty of time to play (games can easily last 2 to 4 + hours) the two which I play the most, and are thus more likely to reside on my Halloween Gaming Table, are Elder Sign and The Stars Are Right.

Elder Sign, Fantasy Flight Games

Elder Sign (Fantasy Flight Games) is a fantastic co-operative dice rolling game by the designers of Arkham Horror. It can play between 1 to 8 players and can last 90+ minutes. Each player takes on the role of an investigator who, armed with occult knowledge, allies and various tools, have to locate Elder Signs within the museum, and surrounding areas, and stop the gates from opening and letting in all manner of monsters. The game has a countdown mechanic and, if your investigators are unlikely and not quick-enough, they are faced with a final showdown with one of the Ancient Ones.

The Stars Are Right, Steve Jackson Games

The Stars Are Right (Steve Jackson Games) is unlike many of Steve Jacksons other games and has a much more involved and thought provoking game mechanic – which I guess can be expected as the game is originally a German designed and published one. You have a hand of cards which will influence the 5 x 5 card board grid which represents the night sky. Each ‘night sky’ card is double sided with a symbol on and through ‘summoning’ various Mythos creatures to do your bidding you can modify the night sky to create the correct pattern to summon more powerful entities until you are able to attempt to summon a Great Old One itself. The game is surprisingly clever and can really make you think as you try and plot the best constellations for your creature summonings. The game is for 2 to 4 players, lasts about an hour or so and, I feel, is an under-rated Cthulhu-inspired game so well worth checking out if you like hand management pattern-recognition puzzle games.

Yes, Cthulhu Slippers do really exist (Manufactured by Toy Vault, Inc)

By Angus Abranson

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