The Non-Euclidically Comprehensive Call of Cthulhu New Player Thread
What is Call of Cthulhu The Card Game?
Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game is a 2-player Living Card Game (LCG) from Fantasy Flight Games, which is based on the Cthulhu Mythos. The Cthulhu Mythos is primarily based on the writings of H. P. Lovecraft, but has also been expanded by other writers, as well as through Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu the role-playing game.
Call of Cthulhu was originally a Collectible Card Game (CCG), which moved to the LCG format in 2008. For further info, see wikipedia entry.
What is the Cthulhu Mythos?
See wikipedia article here.
- FFG page
- Video tutorial
- Core Set Rules
- FAQ (contains errata, bannings and restricted cards for Organized Play)
- Tourney Rules
- Card spoilers on CardgameDB (CGDB)
Agency - Traditionally focuses on combat struggles and wounding effects. They have a high concentration of the Heroic and Willpower keywords, as well as abilities that activate when it is Day. Their Deluxe concentrates on the Government and Hunter subtypes as well as cards that can be paid for using multiple domains. Top 10 cards discussion.
Silver Twilight Lodge - Offers a rich set of combo effects that trigger off of cards entering or leaving play, discarding cards, or having less cards in hand. They also have a lot of return to hand effects, a good icon spread of everything except Terror, and a good amount of the Invulnerability keyword. The older Silver Twilight Lodge Deluxe focuses on Rituals, but is of lower power-level than the new Deluxe expansions for other factions. Top 10 cards discussion.
Miskatonic University - Features Students and Faculty of the famous Arkham institution. They have a lot of Investigation and card draw effects. This is the "Rush" faction so they tend to be fragile in terror and combat. They have some control effects that restore characters, as well as some icon manipulation. They also have the best Tome cards in the game. Their Deluxe centers around Explorers, Students, Faculty and Prophecy cards. Top 10 cards discussion.
Syndicate - Syndicate's strengths lie in various forms of “Control”, such as manipulating skill, exhausting or incapacitating characters, and tricky trades that allow you to stand your characters, take control of support cards, or look at an opponent's hand or deck. Their Deluxe cements (often literally) their core strengths and the ever-present Criminal subtype, as well as Tactic events. Top 10 cards discussion.
Cthulhu - One of the best mono houses, which is able to run good builds with both Deep One and Serpent themes. It specializes in sacrifice effects, usually on a 1-for-1 basis, and story manipulation. There is also a lot of destruction effects, and multiple ways to lower the cost of Ancient Ones or put them into play for free. Their Deluxe centers around Cultists, as well as introducing a new Cthulhu-only Dormant keyword, which allows cards to ‘slumber’ at a particular Story and awaken when it is won. Top 10 cards discussion.
Yog-Sothoth - A faction dedicated to Spells and the Arcane icon. They have a lot of effects that force your opponent to sacrifice characters, and are masters of the discard pile with the most recursion effects in the game. This swings both ways: sometimes it feels like their discard pile (and even the opponent’s discard) is like a second deck or hand, while at others they are hell-bent on discarding your whole deck away. Their Deluxe centers around the Yithian subtype, as well as having several cards with the Fated keyword, which allows for powerful effects, that can only be used a limited number of times. Top 10 cards discussion.
Hastur - Master of terror, insanity, and preying on the weak-minded. They have a lot of Cultists that follow the yellow sign and some icon manipulation, but their real strengths are in “Control” through driving characters crazy, taking control of characters, canceling effects, and discarding cards (both from hand and deck). The Hastur Deluxe has been announced, and will naturally contain support for insanity as well as Lunatics, Cultists and Artists. Top 10 cards discussion.
Shub-Niggurath - Has tons of monsters, faction-specific subtypes (Dark Young, Cthonian, Mi-Go), the best "tutor" effects in the game, the best support destruction in the game, the best cost-reduction and resource-ramping effects, and effects that recur characters from the discard. Nothing quite says “Aggro” like an endless flood of horrors from the forest. The Shub-Niggurath Deluxe will soon arrive (as of June 23, 2015) and will contain support for the myriad Shub-Niggurath creatures as well as containing a new keyword - stalwart, which allows cards to return to the top of the players deck when they leave play. Top 10 cards discussion.
There is also a wide variety of good neutral cards in the game, for a few have a look at the top 10 neutral cards discussion.
The game is one of the longest running LCGs, so it has quite a large backlog of cards (~1400 different ones, to be exact). However, there is no need to despair (well, apart from the fact that Ancient Ones are waking up and the worlds is doomed!) it is not an LCG where you will need to own everything to create competitive decks.
As an LCG, the game originally contained the Core Set, which was expanded upon by Asylum Packs grouped into 6 pack Cycles, as well as the Secrets of Arkham Deluxe Expansion. After the first three Asylum Pack Cycles a new faction, The Silver Twilight Lodge, was introduced via a faction-specific Expansion. After seven Cycles of Asylum Packs in total, the game was changed to expand through 2-3 Deluxe Expansions per-year. The new Deluxe Expansions are primarily faction-specific, but also contain general ones (with cards for all factions).
Core Set - The base game, with core cards for all factions except Silver Twilight Lodge.
General Deluxes (contain cards evenly spread around the factions):
Secrets of Arkham (no cards for Silver Twilight Lodge)
Terror in Venice
Faction Deluxes (contain a large number of cards for a single faction, as well as a few cards for the others):
The Order of the Silver Twilight - Silver Twilight Lodge
Seekers of Knowledge - Miskatonic University
The Key and the Gate - Yog-Sothoth
Denizens of the Underworld - Syndicate
The Sleeper Below - Cthulhu
For the Greater Good - Agency
The Thousand Young - Shub-Niggurath
The Mark of Madness - Hastur
Chapter Pack Cycles:
Summons of the Deep (no cards for Silver Twilight Lodge)
Dreamlands (no cards for Silver Twilight Lodge)
The Yuggoth Contract (no cards for Silver Twilight Lodge)
The Rituals of the Order
Forgotten Lore (No cards for Silver Twilight Lodge, due to the Cycle being a reprint of a Cycle that was published near the CCG to LCG transition)
All of the deluxe expansions contain a full playset (3x) of each card, while the Core Set only contains 1x of each card. Secrets of Arkham was originally printed in a format with 2x of each card, but has subsequently been revised and reprinted providing a full playset (3x).
The Summons of the Deep and Dreamlands Cycles were originally printed in a format where half of the 20 cards were 3x and the rest 1x. The Dreamlands Cycle has now been made available as Print-On-Demand in the new format (3x of all cards), and FFG has promised that Summons of the Deep will be made available in the same fashion. All of the other Cycles have been printed with the new format (3x each). Old-format (3x/1x) versions of two Asylum Packs (At the Mountains of Madness & Ancient Horrors) were also originally available, as they were part of the transition from CCG to LCG. They have subsequently been reprinted in the new format.
When buying Asylum Packs (or the Secrets of Arkham Deluxe), it is best to check that you are indeed ordering the new updated versions, as some stores may still have the old ones in stock.
What to buy first
Preferred - The preferred starting point is to get 1-2 copies of the Core Set, as well as a copy of either Secrets of Arkham or Terror in Venice. This will allow you to have a decent pool to start building decks for all factions (except Silver Twilight Lodge). From there, you can either develop all of your factions further with the other General Deluxe Expansion, or branch off to any faction you find particularly appealing through that faction’s Deluxe Expansion... or even join The Silver Twilight Lodge with their Deluxe. After that, you can continue expanding the faction's one at a time through Deluxes, or start developing all of them evenly through Asylum Packs.
Budget - Due to their good average card power-level, the new faction-specific Deluxe Expansions (all except The Order of the Silver Twilight) provide a large enough cardpool for that faction for building a decent deck around. This can then be nicely complemented with the Shifting Sands Asylum Pack to obtain the current legal Story deck. Most game shops sell plastic crystals, glass-beads etc. that can be used for success / wound tokens.
For further suggestions, see this FFG article containing suggestions for Super-Casual, Casual, and Competitive players.
Learning to play
A first glimpse into the games' mechanics can be obtained from the FFG video tutorial. For your first games this handy Turn and Rules Summary / Cheatsheet at Esoteric Order of Gamers will also be useful.
There is also an excellent guide to resourcing in Call of Cthulhu available:
As well as two articles on understanding the finer points of timing in Call of Cthulhu:
Deckbuilding in Call of Cthulhu is extremely varied. A legal deck consists of 50 cards, with a maximum of 3x of each card by title (there are several versions of the key Ancient Ones, forcing you to choose which version to run). As with many LCGs, there is a restricted list of cards for Competitive Play, from which you can only have one (with the usual 3x), as well as two banned cards.
The major cause for the huge possibility of deckbuilds available in Call of Cthulhu is the way factions can be quite naturally combined. Dual-faction decks are the norm, but both “mono” (single-faction) and tri-faction decks are viable. With 8 factions, this allows for 8 different mono-faction approaches, as well as 28 dual-faction and 56 tri-faction combinations. Now that, is varied.
An article on deckbuilding for beginners can be found here.
Call of Cthulhu follows the usual FFG tiers of Tourneys, ranging from smaller local Tourneys, through Store Championships (January - March), Regional Championships (May-July), National Championships (GenCon in the U.S.) to the World Championships, which are held at the FFG headquarters in Minnesota in November.
For further info, see here.
The State of the game
The time for FFG to consider Call of Cthulhu "Ready" has now come. Mark of Madness is the last new product CoC will be recieving for the known future, and Organized Play support ends with the year 2015.
That said, the game still retains quite a solid fan following, and these Forums are an excellent place to locate players... and with the games huge cardpool, there is almost endless space for deckbuilding and exploration with the existing cards.
There is also a lot of momentum for fan created additional content, or arranged Tourneys, as well as we're still expecting the final FAQs for the game. The game has retired with grace, with one of the strongest cardpools of any LCG ever, and will still be played by legions of cultists around the world.
Call of Cthulhu can also be played online using two different open-source clients (Lackey and OCTGN), see this thread on ‘Cthulhu Night Online’ for details.
There is also a Skype chat for finding people to arrange games with: skype:?chat&blob=N6PUlC-FSjguPjMdIMvNtoBwInZ1yuEmF_Fn_KlIuonoMXCcrImC3K0keOf-_ua4wr4OpcQf
Copy the link into Skype chat, and then click the link to get into the group chat.
Pacta Arcana is a long-running series of Articles on CGDB, exploring a particular 2-faction combination. In addition to providing an overarching idea, strategy and particulars of a deck, the articles sometimes also contain a ‘Budget’ version of the same deck, which can be built from a much more compact cardpool. An extremely good source for learning the art of deckbuilding.
The Great Cthulhu
The Great Cthulhu is a newer series of articles by mnBroncos, introducing the game for new players.
Edited by WWDrakey, 09 October 2015 - 06:38 PM.