My feelings about Cthulhu Wars are a bit complex. When the first KS went up, I assumed--wrongly--that it was a vehicle to sell miniatures (only) and not really a game. After I got over that, I bought the base game and then bought most of the first-wave Kickstarter material on eBay for exactly what it'd been going for in the KS, so I got off lucky there. My first few plays were a little rough. We have one particularly good player in our regular rotation--good at pretty much everything, if slow as a player--who stomped me to the point where I was about ready to just give him the damn thing. But I stuck with it and have had a pretty good time with it since then at player counts ranging from 3 to 7.
It's a well-designed game, and the asymmetrical aspect of it is particularly worthy of praise. The factions really do play very differently for what turns out to be a fairly small overhead of differing rules. The spellbook mechanic, which lends a lot of the asymmetry while also opening up variable strategy routes, is excellent. Almost all of the production is beyond insanely good, the few iffy pieces being successively whittled out of existence by subsequent Kickstarters.
I know some here rank it as a current if not all-time favorite, and I respect that point of view. I'm not sure I'd do that, for all I've spent on it (and I have most every game play element except some of the 6-8 boards from the first two KSs). I find it very, very good, but it's also just on the shorter side of what I'd like to do for the setup and thinking. The playtime does mean it gets to the table, but I can't help feeling like it's just getting started when it's over.
It is one of my favorite DOAM games. I have played as almost all of the factions at least once (I think Tcho Tcho is the only one I have never been). I would like to decide on a faction to really dig into and play repeatedly so I can get great at it; my current favorite is probably Black Goat, but that could be just because I have the most experience with it.
Four years ago, I was one of the very few people here at F:AT talking about Cthulhu Wars. The original kickstarter was quite tempting, but if I was going in, I wanted to pledge somewhere north of $300, and my job was in danger at the time. Finally I decided no, and that was the correct decision because I really did lose my job a couple of months later and then faced a brutal job market for the next nine months. Financially, there was no realistic way for me to even buy the base game until last year, when I finally had a respectable income again.
I still haven't played Cthulhu Wars. The local game shop was (is?) selling it, but I don't personally know anybody who owns it around here. If I had a regular boardgame group, it would probably be worth the investment, but I am currently only playing boardgames sporadically.
CW is by far my most played game over the last couple years, aside from Twilight Struggle and Pax Porfiriana online. I was also initially skeptical given the price and ridiculous minis and never having heard of Sandy Peterson - I'm not an RPG guy nor a Cthulhu mythos guy. A friend at a meetup had the base set and after one play I loved the game. I also picked up all the factions second hand right after the first KS so my group has been playing with all the factions, barring T-T, for over a year now.
I still like the game alot at maybe 40-50 plays, but definitely agree that I'd like it to go 30 minutes longer. It does feel that right as you break free of the annoying requirements, like burning 6 power randomly or occupying 8 areas, the game is over. I typically love DOAM games and own quite a few, but currently Kemet is holding the top spot - maybe because we play CW so often and Kemet maybe once every couple of months. Chaos in the Old World will always be a favorite of mine too; CW doesn't replace it for me, but I can understand how others may feel that way.
Yes the rules overhead is light, and yes the game goes pretty fast and always comes it at the 60-90 minute slot. But it is not noob friendly and if you don't have a dedicated group of at least 2 others interested in it you're better off spending that $750 on a bunch of other fun things. I have 3-4 friends who also really love the game and own everything so we are all on the same level. But the sheer amount of little shit that each faction can do is overwhelming. 6 spellbook requirements that drive actions, 6 spellbooks that act as me-only bonuses, and every fucking unit does something unique. In addition to the paragraph description for every single Great Old One in terms of summoning and fighting. Its too much as a casual game that is played once a month. And swapping players in won't work either as some players get more experience with the factions while others are left to struggle with this mass of text on their player board.
I've never played it with 2 players. The few DOAM games I've tried with 2 were failures, and I really think having the right player count with a game is the difference between a great experience and a miserable time.
Its a great game. If you and 2-4 others are willing to play it 3-4 times per month.
I forgot we had a dedicated Cthulhu Wars thread. I'll add to my thoughts in the what are you playing thread...
So far I don't think Tcho Tcho is over-powered, but they could easily get that way if played well. I saw people saying that the counter to them is to attack on round 1... which in my mind is practically an impossibility. Getting a force with which to attack, AND moving it into place all in one round seems difficult to say the least.
I ended up--almost forgot to do it, even that day--pledging for $1 just to keep a hand in. There's no $1 pledge level, but it's enough to get a pledge manager (at which point it's either advance to a tier or nothing, which is fine). It's an open question whether the completionist in me will win out. We do play this game quite a bit, though, so it makes more sense than, say, the LE expansions for WotR.
I settled on $199. Went up from the Wamp pledge. I really don't want any of the cosmetic junk, but I wanted those color rings, the dice, and some of the other upgrades. I really don't want the investigators, I think those are verrrry shark-jumpy and not really in line with the setting of the game (I assumed that the only humans left were the cultists)...plus they don't make sense on Primeval Earth, Shaggai, Yuggoth or Celaeno.
I will add funds for Sleeper, Tcho Tcho, at least one of the 6-8 player maps, and the gates before it's all over.
So funny on the Tcho Tcho- one day there as a post from Sandy about how they were fine, here's how to beat them. Next day it was "we're making some changes to them". I kind of think some of the ideas/balance are getting stretched a bit, which may not bode well for Onslaught 3. But still, high hopes for Nodens, Hounds of Tindalos, Ancients, etc.
Sandy's suggestions on how to play the Tcho-Tcho didn't line up with how I've seen them played - turtling to two gates. My group is of the opinion they're too strong, but I like the look of the changes
In the end I decided against getting anything in Onslaught 3. Currently my Cthulhu wars is like my Cosmic Encounter, where I have way more stuff than has seen the table, and is likely to see the table in a while, so even though I like the game, getting more is overkill.
I decided to plop down the $200 pledge for the base game on this kickstarter rather than pick it up at retail. I'm gonna choose Opener for the extra faction and add on a set of the dice, high priests, and MAYBE pick up those plastic gates if I'm feeling like tossing even more money at a game I've never played. I was a little hesitant at first about having to wait a full year... but now TI:4 will keep me plenty excited until this thing shows up.