So, what happens when you mix the sanity-blasting horrors of H.P. Lovecraft with the rules of Twilight Creations' long-running Zombies!!! game?  You get Cthulhu!!! Hastur la Vista, Baby!  Sadly, the game has less of the Evil Dead-type attitude you'd expect from the title and more of the problems from its progenitor game.

Cthulhu!!! is a competitive-cooperative game set in Kingsport, Massachusetts, where the players control heroes trying to stop the cultists and byakhee from summoning the King in Yellow.  Each turn players do the following: play an Automatic event card (if they have one); draw and place a map tile (stocking it with, as appropriate, bullets, hearts, cultists, and byakhee); fighting any cultists or byakhee on their space; draw back up to three event cards; roll a die and move that many spaces plus their health; roll a die and move that many cultists two spaces each; move all byakhee to an adjacent tile; and discard one event card if they want.  Players can also play one event card each turn.

Players win mainly through combat.  Players start with three hearts, three bullets, and five sanity.  When a player meets a cultist, the player has to roll a 4-6 to defeat them.  If the player wins, they get a random relic card.  If the player loses, they can spend bullets to increase their roll, or lose a health and roll again, or run away.  The monstrous byakhee are a bit different.  When a player encounters one, the player has to roll 3-6 or lose one sanity.  To defeat a byakhee, a player needs to roll 5-6 -- but if the player wins, they get two relics!  And if a player loses all their health or sanity, they start over with one less sanity than they had before; and if their starting sanity is zero, they're out of the game.

 There's also a new way to win (and lose) in Cthulhu!!! : sanctifying Ritual Sites.  When these tiles are drawn, they have eight cultists and one byakhee on them (and these foes can never leave the tile).  If a player kills the last cultist/byakhee on the tile and discards one of each of the five relics (Amulet, Dagger, Idol, Space Mead, Tome) , that player scores the Ritual Site; and if three Ritual Sites are sanctified, the players win!  Each player then scores points for the relics they have (double the number for each type, then subtract one), plus 12 points for each Ritual Site.  But if a player loses all their health on a Ritual Site, it goes to the enemies; and if three Ritual Sites are lost, the cultists have summoned the King in Yellow and the winner is then the hero to die last.
There is plenty to like and dislike in Cthulhu!!!  The game does work sanity checks into the mix somewhat well, the event cards have an appropriate amount of over-the-top horror to them, and the goal of using relics to stop evil fits the theme better than the run-to-the-helicopter goal of Zombies!!! would.  Unfortunately, like Zombies!!! the action in Cthulhu!!! can get repetitive very quickly, and once a lot of tiles are on the board it's easy to keep moving the cultists along the same unused tiles (forming what a player called "the cultist conga line").  Cthulhu!!! Hastur La Vista, Baby! is a decent entry into the Lovecraft-inspired game genre, but it's only decent.

Overall grade: C+
Reviewed by James Lynch

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