First Play is an ongoing series in which I write up some initial thoughts about games that I’ll likely only get to play once.
I recently got the chance to play Cthulhu: Death May Die, CMON’s massive 2019 game of cosmic horror. Designed by Eric Lang and Rob Daviau, Death May Die is one of those Kickstarter games that are packed to the brim with miniatures, tons of content, and upgraded everything.
Death May Die is a cooperative game in which players attempt to defeat monstrosities from beyond by taking turns running around the board, smacking around cultists, collecting items, and gaining new powers.
I tend to stay away from Kickstarter games, especially the big box ones-partly because I can’t afford them, but mostly because these types dice chucking, miniatures-laden games aren’t usually my speed. Also, if I ever bought a game with that many minis, I would be tempted to paint them all. Having painted them all I would then never be able to part with the game, condemning it to spend the rest of its existence on a kallax shelf that was bought from the “as-is” section at IKEA. Sorry, I got a bit off track there.
There’s a couple of things that I really liked about Cthulhu: Death May Die. First, there’s a big cast of playable characters. You can tell that the designers actively worked towards offering up a diverse group of people as potential protagonists. I love that a game based on the fiction of Lovecraft includes a cast that represents a wide range of people. I’m for any undertaking that aims subvert the racist and anti-Semitic ideologies espoused by HP Lovecraft.
Second, the game is a fast-paced, pulpy adventure overflowing with player empowerment. In the scenario we played, our characters powered up rather quickly and we were rolling fistfuls of dice by the end of the game. It’s a power fantasy, sure. But it’s also quite fun. It’s definitely a popcorn game in that it offers big thrills, big production values, and lots of action. It’s a large, overflowing bucket of popcorn with a buttery sheen of RPG-flavored oil, and who doesn’t love popcorn as an occasional snack?