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Playing with Cthulhu: Lovecraftian Themed Board Games

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For those who enjoy a good list. Here is a (by no means exhaustive) list of the Cthulhu Mythos themed board and card games out there. I did not include the RPG, or the CCG that no longer is in print. Please lose 1d4 SAN after reading.

Arkham Horror

From Fantasy Flight Games, published in 2005. Designed by Kevin Wilson. Re-make of Richard Launius original Arkham Horror game published in 1987.

The cream of the crop, Arkham Horror captures the theme and feel of Lovecraft’s fiction. 1-8 players travel around the fictional town of Arkham, Mass. Players search for clues, close dimensional gates, fight monsters, and try to stop the Ancient One from rising. If the evil one awakens, the game ends in a climactic battle between good and evil. There are currently seven expansions to the game, with Miskatonic Horror coming out in 2011. This is a rich thematic game; however the rules are complex and the games can last 3-5 hours easily.

Mansions of Madness

From Fantasy Flight Games, published in 2011. Designed by Corey Konieczka.

FFG’s latest foray into the Cthulhu Mythos. The game is for 2-5 players, with one player acting as the keeper who controls the hordes of darkness that wish to overwhelm our heroes. It is a story driven game, each game has a plot and storyline that the investigators must uncover and defeat while the keeper does their best to thwart their efforts. The game features top notch components, as well as detailed plastic miniatures. It is an excellent game, with a playing time of around 2 hours. Again, the rules will take a while to digest, but it is worth it.

Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game

From Fantasy Flight Games, published in 2008. Designed by Nate French and Eric M. Lang

Finishing off the FFG Cthulhu series is this game. A Living Card Game. In essence, this means that the core game can be purchased and played, but if you are looking to expand your fun, you can purchase additional adventure packs of cards. It is a two player game, with each player using a deck that represents a certain faction or combinations of factions. Players take their constructed decks and face story card challenges presented by the game. The first player to defeat 3 challenges wins the game. Each game only lasts about 30 minutes, but you still get the full Lovecraftian flavor shining through. With currently 28 expansion packs available, there is plenty to customize your deck to defeat your opponents.

Cthulhu Gloom

From Atlas Games, to be published in 2011. Designed by Keith Baker

Gloom is back, with a Cthulhu flair. It is a card game, using a transparent plastic card system that is unique to my knowledge. Players try to make their family (in the game) members as unhappy as possible, and them kill them off. Thereby assuring eternal happiness in the afterlife. The upcoming Cthulhu version will feature changing portraits of characters as they slowly become cursed with eldritch knowledge. Despite the evidence, the game is lighthearted and humorous and fun. I expect the Cthulhu version to be no less.

Cthulhu Dice

From Steve Jackson Games, published in 2010. Designed by Steve Jackson

Cthulhu Dice has one 12-sided die covered with various eldritch symbols. Players roll the die and steal sanity from each other. The last remaining sane player wins, or Cthulhu wins of everyone goes mad. A 5-10 minute game, great to play while waiting around in lines or situations where you want to play a simple, fast game. For 2-6 players.

Battlestations: Deep Ones in Deep Space

From Gorilla Games, published in 2009. Designed by Jason Siadek

This isn’t a stand alone Cthulhu game, but a Cthulhu themed campaign for the game Battlestations, which is in itself a RPG style board game with a Star Trekish feel to it. Players command a starship and battle aliens. Each player has their own stats that can improve over the course of their games. Described by Gorilla as “Adventures in the Rift. Discover what stirs after the beacon at Far Innsmouth shines a new light in deepest, darkest space”. An excellent module for an exciting, fun game.

The Stars are Right

From Steve Jackson Games, published in 2008. Designed by Klaus Westerhoff

A Cthulhu Mythos themed card game where you flip and move cards to arrange the cosmos to allow you summon all kinds of creatures. The first player to summon 10 points worth wins! It is a puzzle type game, you need to get the stars right for the summoning! Eventually you could summon a Great Old One and you would win as everything else is destroyed, what fun! For 2-4 players.

Innsmouth Escape

From Twilight Creations, published in 2008. Designed by Darrell Hardy

I’ve never played it, but here is the description from Twilight Creations. In the Innsmouth Escape game, one of the players takes on the role of the escaped student. He is the Human player, and he is trying to rescue his friends and escape Innsmouth. By playing movement cards, he moves his pawn around the board to visit various locations, fights any Deep Ones there, then searches those locations for his friends and equipment to help in their escape.

The other players play groups of Deep Ones. They are trying to prevent the Human player from escaping. The Deep One players take turns moving their pawns around the board trying to trap the Human. Certain locations on the board also allow them to draw cards, spawn additional Deep Ones, or even summon a terrible Shoggoth.

Innsmouth Escape is a game for 2-5 players ages 10 and up. The game is playable in 30-60 minutes.

Munchkin Cthulhu

From Steve Jackson Games, published in 2007. Designed by Steve Jackson, some playtesting and one of the cards by JHG Hendriks.

You will either like it or hate it. A Cthulhu themed version of Munchkin. It is a tongue in cheek card game with all the fun of going insane while battling monsters from outside of time and space. By the first to reach level 10 and you win! There have been 3 expansions to the game, each as humorously hideous as the last. For 2 to 6 players.


Do you Worship Cthulhu?

From Toy Vault, published in 2006. Designed by David Huston, Jon Huston

The Cthulhu themed version of Werewolf and Mafia. From the publisher: This fun party game for a group of 5-30 people to play, and the rules can be learned in less than 3 minutes. One person acts as moderator, overseeing a village of people, one (or more) of which are secretly Cthulhu worshippers! The worshippers begin sacrificing other villagers one by one. Deceive your friends and lie through your teeth while experiencing a truly unique game.

Cthulhu 500

From Atlas Games, published in 2004. Designed by Jeff Tidball

A Cthulhu themed racing card game. From the Publisher: The Cthulhu 500 card game puts you in the driver’s seat for a frenzied race that mixes the madness of HP Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos and the insanity of motor sports. Rev up your Satanic Pushcart’s Engine of the Damned, mount your Radials From Beyond Space And Time, and take a Dreamlands Shortcut to win the race for The Sponsor That Must Not Be Named. The driver in the lead when the Checkered Flag card is drawn celebrates victory by devouring his opponents! For 3 to 8 players, ages 8 and up. Game play takes 30 to 60 minutes.

That’s all I know of, let me know if there are more!

Elliott Miller


  1. I like that you added me as a designer for Munchkin Cthulhu.
    However the only contributions I made to it are being part of the Munchkin Brain Trust, playtesting and one of the cards. Thus I’m certainly not the designer.

  2. It’s so hard to get good info nowadays. Thanks for the update JHG, I’ll correct the post. I’ve tried to get more accurate information from the source, but alas I’ve never gotten a response. It’s a shame because I have such fond memories of Steve Jackson Games. sigh…

  3. I know this is a bit outdated now, but I was just looking for some Cthulhu games and found this. If you still care to update, Cthulhu Fluxx is another themed game.

  4. What do you think about Cthulhu Wars and Eldritch Horror?

    If you want, you can check out my top 10 lovecraftian themed games here –


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