Cthulhu Wars – Petersen Games – Review

We usually play Cthulhu games trying to prevent the end of the world cooperatively. It was so much fun to cause the end of the world competitively!

Mary Crabtree



Theme and What is it?


The Elder gods have awakened and the world and humanity are over as we know it. However, the war is not over as each Elder god seeks to control the world.

Each player plays a faction of one Elder god in this fast-paced horror strategy game. Can yours take over the world?

Gameplay Mechanics


Let me just start by saying that the rulebook is EXTREMELY intimidating. Do not let that deter you away from this game. I will go into a little more about the rulebook in another section.

In the base game of Cthulhu Wars, there are four factions to choose from. One being Cthulhu himself. In future expansions, there is room for more players but only four in the base game. Each faction has its own unique twists and plays an entirely different way.

Players select a faction and each faction includes a player board, six spells and all the miniatures of that color. This game includes some awesome miniatures! Some factions may include some other pieces.

The game flows well. There are four different phases. Each player wants to have all six spells out by the end of the game and then have the most doom.


Players start the game with 8 power and take turns performing actions on their turn. Most actions require power. The actions that do not require power to be spent require that the player has power before performing that action. Play continues this way until all players are at zero power.

The player actions are mostly spawning cultists, monsters or their Elder god and attacking another faction, however, sometimes there special actions on spells, etc. that are specific to each faction.

Players gain spells when meeting certain requirements on their player board. These can be as simple as spending a certain about of power or awakening an Elder god.


Players gather power. A player gains power from each cultist on the board and two power for each controlled gate. A gate is controlled by a cultist. All players will receive one power for each abandoned gate (a gate with no cultist).


Determine a new first player. The player with the most power becomes the first player and chooses the turn order (clockwise or counterclockwise).


This is where the game will progress quickly. Players receive doom for each controlled gate that their cultist controls. Then, players can spend power to perform the Ritual of Annihilation which gives more doom for each controlled gate. In addition, they receive one Elder token for each Elder god in play. These Elder tokens range from 1 to 3 and can be revealed at any time including the end of the game. The Ritual of Annihilation will cost more as the game advances.


Players trigger the end of the game by one of two ways. During the Doom Phase, if a token moves to 30 doom or the Ritual track moves to instant death, the game ends at the end of that Doom Phase. Players that have all six spellbooks out and have the most doom wins the game!

Initial Impressions


Wait, there is another Cthulhu game? This is what I think each time another game of this theme emerges. My friend is a major fan of this genre and I enjoy it but can there really be that many quality games with this theme? In this case, the answer is yes!

Being able to play as one of the Elder god factions differs completely from any other game I have played with this theme. Majority of the time, you are trying to save the world and prevent the uprising of the Elder gods.

Game Build Quality


The game components are nothing to complain about. All the tokens and spellbooks are made from thick cardboard. The player boards are just a thick cardstock but they don’t really need to be anything more.

Now, let’s get back to that rulebook. It is 174 pages. Yea, I lost my breath a little too. Don’t fear! Subtract about 114 from that number because it is going over the rules for expansions. I suppose this is to taunt you into getting the expansions if you don’t already have them. This is a great marketing strategy by the publisher!

So, then you are left with a rulebook with approximately 60 pages. The font is pleasant for the eye so it makes for an easy read AND then after each section; it gives a few examples of play. As experienced gamers, we could skip these. It did not take us long to begin playing.

I have heard multiple complaints regarding the rulebook. Once we broke it down, I did not see it as overly complicated at all.

Artistic Direction


Most of the artwork will be on the box and in the rulebook but each faction board has the art of the Elder god. It is very detailed and is depicted well for this theme.

The miniatures are the focal point in this game and they are meant to be marveled at. Each faction has cultists, monsters and at least one Elder god and they are impressive! It feels good to summon one of these beasts to the board to frighten your opponents! The molds on these miniatures are simply fantastic.

Fun Factor


My group enjoys this theme so much. As I mentioned, we usually play Cthulhu games trying to prevent the end of the world cooperatively. It was so much fun to cause the end of the world competitively!

Age Range & Weight


I did not find this game overly complicated at all. The rulebook makes it seem like a monster to tackle but hopefully, my take on it will allow you to consider this game.

The publisher gives an age suggestion of 14+. This is appropriate given the horror theme and content. There are tactical decisions to be made during the game. Even though the rules could be understood by a younger audience, it would take some experience to understand the strategy.



Petersen Games impressed me with Cthulhu Wars. For a heavy strategy game, the turns were quick, and it flowed with little to no downtime. We were able to complete a game in under 2 hours which is exceptional. I don’t care for games over that length these days.

This is just the base game but there is SO much more Petersen Games offers for Cthulhu Wars. I hope to play some other factions and boards one day.

The game has a high price point which is reasonable considering the number of models in the game and their size. Honestly, I would not have enjoyed it as much without them so I consider them needed.

If you are a Cthulhu fan, I highly recommend this game. It definitely did not borrow from any other Cthulhu game that I have come across. If the price point scares you, try to check it out beforehand. It will not disappoint!