Welcome once again, to A Roll of The Dice board game reviews with me, Adam. This week I want to review a game that I have had for awhile, and one of the first games I purchased after playing with some friends, Chez Cthulhu. Of course, I will touch on the entire Chez Geek series, but I like the added tactics of Chez Cthulhu, so we will mainly focus on that.
The game is released by Steve Jackson games, which are the amazing minds that have brought us GURPS and Munchkin, both of which are amazingly fun, and have a cult following. So we know that the game has been created by a team who carry a lot of weight behind them. We can expect that the games they release are fun, and will stand the true test. Will you want to replay this game in a years time? So strap in, and let us see if this is the game for you.
BASIC RULES :
The way the game works is rather simple. You are given a random character to start the game, and written on the character is your free time (Action points you can spend each round), your income (Money you get each round to buy all the things), and your victory points (the number you need to reach in order to win the game). The fun part isn’t the winning though, it is what you need to do to get there.
So each turn you get to use time, one example of which would be watching TV. It may cost you no money, but does use up your time. If you play actions, or “buy” things, they also take up your time, and will let you know how much they cost on the card.
Then you can also use your income to buy things, such as food, or “other” merchandise. This game really pushes the limits of decency, and it makes it a lot more fun when you play.
Finally, you can also play friends or guests on your house, or an opponents. As usual most either give a good bonus to you or a negative to your opponent. There is guests, pets, etc, all which will help or hinder your final score.
What separates Chez Cthulhu from Chez Geek, is the Madness tokens. These can prevent you from winning the game unless you collect at least 10, but they also really can drive you insane. They subtract points from your total amount, making it so much harder to win the game.
Well, that is until you hit ten points of Madness, which essentially means you go all Jack Nicholson Joker on the room, and it now counts as pretty much your trump. You get a certain amount of points towards your goal, and in most cases, it will happen so close to the end of the game, it causes a win in itself.
Honestly the whole fun of the game is to torture your friends, and watch everyone squirm as they try to survive the tentacles of Cthulhu.
Design – 8
I have always been a firm believer that the design of a game can make or break it, just because most people see a game and judge the inside based on the artwork on the outside. I have done this, and I am sure every one else has at some point. This should not be one of those times, because the artwork on the box itself is good, but the art work inside is so much better. Not the art itself, but what the art is meant to portray.
Chez Cthulhu has an overly cartoon style art to it, which is almost reminiscent of old Ziggy comic strips, with the twist of course of being twisted. The box itself has so many things going on that is trying to entice you to open it. You must open the box, WHAT’S IN THE BOX? Well in this case it is a board game, thank goodness this isn’t the movie Se7en. Once you open the box though you get to see the joyous game itself.
The cards are well done, and again the art is fun, funny, and overall just a good time to read/see. The cards do take some fun and dark turns, such as a a lot of tentacle cards, doing tentacle things. (I’m not getting into this one, you’ll have to buy the game to find out.) It fits though, the comedy mixed with the little quirks, makes this one of the better cards game I’ve seen.
Overall the design is exactly what I have come to expect from Steve Jackson games, and above that, from the Chez series especially. If you like well designed games, you need to look into this one.
Replay Value – 8
So like any other game which is based on a card style system, of course there is a lot of replay value. A quick shuffle can create an entirely new game experience. The game play itself may not change a lot, but the way to win can very quickly become a game of defence.
There is a lot of cards you can play to earn you points, most of which will give you a few points for a lot of your time and income, but they add up quickly. There is, of course, ways to stop your opponent from getting as much income and time, but also raise your own. Some cards will be too expensive for certain characters to afford. By combining the right combination of cards, characters, and items, you can win the game quite quickly.
The best part to me though is the characters to choose from. There is a few, and each one has unique abilities, but each one also has a balance between their ability, their time, and their income. This means that depending on the character you end up getting in the random draw, you will need to completely change your strategy, as you may not be able to be the big spender, maybe you have to be the couch potato or the best friend. Either way, the game is unique each time you play, and that is something I absolutely love about the Chez series.
Fun Factor – 9
This is, by far, one of the more entertaining games I have had the pleasure of playing. The ever changing game play, the design of the game and the artwork, and on top of that, the ability to screw over every one of your friends, makes this game enjoyable.
I should clarify, I always enjoy a game where you can choose to work against others all while building up your own score. If you know you are losing bad, you can just bombard the other person with so many negatives, that you may still scrape out a victory.
The other factor is for first time or even first few time players. The revelation of the cards is amazing. Seeing your opponents face when you see a tentacle love monster who is going to attack them, or possibly make sweet love to them, is just priceless. The constant bombardment of card tossing can add even more fun, as you will be fighting back and forth to try and have the best group of house mates you can.
All in all, from what I have seen of the Chez series, I am a huge fan. All though I have not played the flagship version Chez Geek, I can guarantee I would love it. Maybe not as much as Cthulhu, because I really love the Madness addition, but I would enjoy it none the less.
If you are looking for a game that you can play rather quickly, while having a few good laughs, then you need to pick up a copy at The Comic Hunter soon.
Next time we will be looking into an amazingly cult classic game, Munchkin. If you have never seen or at least heard of this game, then you have been living under a rock. A large one, with moss, like the one you can wield. Alas, this will have to wait. Thanks for reading, and see you again in two weeks.
A few of the other Chez games, would really diversify the players who would be interested. Maybe you’re tired of Cthulhu, or maybe your just more interested in many other things. They have titles such as Chez Geek, Chez Nerd, and Chez Goth, just to name a few. Each one with its own set of rules, and its characters which are completely different than one another. Why don’t we do a quick break down, to best see which version may suit your needs.
Chez Goth – You can earn Gloom points from your life getting more and more sad (tragic events) which will actually count towards your goal. They can be countered by there being no one in your home, or special cards as well. Plus the art-work is made to try and put a sad smile on your face.
Chez Greek – Picture a game where instead of building the best home, you are building the best Frat House. You get to choose a “Major” instead of a job and even get to celebrate homecoming and finals (yay….).
Chez Grunt – Wait, so we’ve gone as far as an army version? Hell yes they have for all the good old boys and girls in uniform. You actually start with an MOS instead of a job. (Military Occupational Specialty). You live the life of a man in the service, recruiting people onto your side of things. Easier said then done.
These are just a few of the choices you get to make when deciding if this is the game for you. I would say at least one of them will fit your lifestyle and game play perfectly. Which one will it be? That choice, my friends, is one only you can make. Until next time, enjoy the dice, cards, and company of others.