The ‘Cthulhu Death May Die’ Board Game Is Death Indeed

I am an avid fan of board games, especially any board games based on Lovecraft’s lore. I have played a dozen inspired by H.P. Lovecraft including the Arkham Horror board game, Arkham Horror Card Game, Elder Signs, and Eldritch Horror. So it was to my excitement that Any Games Con had decided to lend us their copy of Cthulhu Death May Die for us to play and review.

Let me preface that we did not know anything about the game other than seeing copies on the shelf at some board game shops, so we went into the game blind; learning by reading the booklet and by playing along with the game.

The Game

The game is easy to understand, and the tutorial book is very helpful in explaining the game step-by-step from setup to taking the first turn. There is no confusion at all in what happens throughout the game, as on the surface, the game is very digestible.

Each player, from 1 to 5, picks a character card from 10 different character cards and takes with them their little miniature representing their character. The player then picks a colour ring to put under their miniature to differentiate theirs from other players.

The game is setup by choosing an “Episode” and an “Elder One”. The Episode box and Elder One box informs the setup of the board as well as the enemies, objectives, and other cards related to that current game.

The game is played in turn-based order, with the first person performing three actions, drawing a “Mythos” card, and then checking if there is an enemy in their vicinity. If there is an enemy, the character is attacked and if there is no enemy the character draws a “Discovery” card.

The turn ends with any “End of Turn” effects like burning, checking whether the Elder One advances, or any other abilities that trigger at End of Turn. The turn then passes to the next player and the player does the same thing.

Everything in this game is done through dice rolls, be it attacking, being attacked, checking for items, breaking an item, or any other actions that require a “check”. The dice have sides with success, failures, losing sanity, and an elder sign. The players initially have 3 black dices to start with but acquire more as the game progresses. Even the enemies will dictate how many dices need to be thrown for their attack.

What did I like?

As I have mentioned, it is easy to learn, understand, and straight up play the game. It only took me 10 minutes to learn the game from the book, and another 5 minutes to explain to the other players how to play the game. Another thing that was easy to do was the setup. The board, the enemies, the objective cards, and the characters were easy to pull out of the box and setup in place.

I also like the goal of the game to fight an Elder One, and by the end of the game, you either kill the Elder One or die trying. There is a heavy stake in each action you take as you try to complete the objectives before the Elder Ones escapes and starts to kill you. The action starts out from the gate as enemies are already set up on the board and you have to decide whether to take down the enemies impeding you or rush the objectives as fast as you can.

The last thing I like about the game is the miniatures. There are miniatures for each character, each enemy and each Elder One; and each one of them are detailed to the brim. Miniature enthusiast enjoy colouring each miniature to fit their own ideas for each character. Not only are there a variety of miniatures, they also come in different shape and sizes.

What did I not like?

The first and foremost thing that I did not like, and same goes for other co-op board games, are the usage of dices. Dices in versus games is a great way to promote surprises as players try to get back into the game from behind. In a co-op boardgame, dices just bring disappointment and anxiety with each roll. Each action and check in this game is decided solely by luck and the only way to affect said luck is by rerolling.

This brings about games that are either quick in finishing or quick in death where the pendulum swings so wide that I had a game that finished in 10 minutes because a player died due to bad dice rolls. The items, characters, and conditions you get from playing the game does not help the dice rolls, it only affects the number of dice that you roll. Statistically, that would mean that you would have a higher chance to succeed, but the dice also has sides that are detrimental to your character thus it also means a higher chance to die.

What I find concerning about the game is the curve of difficulty. The game ramps up real fast, from dealing with a bunch of cultists to dealing with the Elder Ones in a few turns, especially if you have bad luck in drawing the Mythos cards. I am still unsure how to play the game with less than 4 players, as it is the only way it feels fair while still being difficult if your luck does not align. Playing this game with 1 to 3 players will earn the games title instead, death may die.

As a minor add-on, the board where you place your miniatures and where most of the game takes place is also a little too small. The “entrance” board fits the four player miniatures to the teeth and cannot even fit a fifth miniature (while the game recommends 1 to 5 players). Even the Elder Ones miniatures are too big and would not fit, much less finding room for 4 to 6 other miniatures. The board becomes crowded as more and more miniatures are either put onto the board or dragged across the board by players.

My Conclusion

Overall, Cthulhu Death May Die is a very well-designed game that can easily be run and learned by 4 players on the go without a hitch. Although there are concerns like the board size, as well as the difficulty and luck factor, the game is still a fun adventure to explore and finally do battle with an Elder One. All in all, I give it 7 pies out of 10.

For tabletop enthusiasts, make sure to check out Any Games Con and their upcoming event at

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