" …If it was a little prettier this could be one for the ages. "
Title: Cthulhu Mash by The Evil Polish Brothers
Format: Adventure Board Game
Reviewing Monkey: Our Ape Masters
The Hype: I have always loved adventure board games. There's something fulfilling about stomping around a map, squashing monsters, and trying to screw your fellow players. Cthulhu Mash fills that niche, by letting you strut your stuff against creepy crawlies pulled from the Cthulhu mythos.
What This Monkey Thought...
Playability: Typically an adventure board
game plays pretty much like a canned combat system, thus I was a little surprised
when I opened Cthulhu Mash (CM) and found the very strong roleplay and video
game feel to it. The premise, simply enough, is that players take on one of
4 decidedly different characters (in abilities and stats) and dungeon crawl
their way to a happier life. Using a random tile system, this is accomplished
on a map made up of small square tiles which are randomly placed as the game
progresses and that contain random monsters, so that no player knows what's
around the next corner until they get there. Granted, all this has been done
before, but what's very different with CM is that the characters have a very
arcade-like roleplaying feel and include a range of attack options (melee, ranged,
grapple, etc.), easy to follow stats (health and equipment), and have special
abilities. This brings it up a level from the standard "attack the square next
to you" to a point where you can employ some entertaining strategy through the
use of various attacks, specials, and cartable equipment. Combat is a simple
dice roll vs. defense number and points are accrued by killing monsters and
monster generators. The rules will take you about 15 minutes to wrap your brain
around (ten to actually read them and five to figure out how best to customize
them) and play will begin shortly thereafter. Once in game you'll have some
fast and frenetic fun mindlessly pounding monsters or can find a number of video
game-esque play styles also included, including death match and capture the
flag. Also of note is the solo game which is surprisingly playable if you're
like Cornelius and your stench drives other monkeys away.
Our only gripe was the at times overly complicated rules for roleplaying elements that we honestly didn't feel were warranted and slowed play down a bit too much such as terrain jumps, pushes, and grapples. These issues (and it's worth noting that they weren't rules flaws but things we just felt were unnecessary) were easily dismissed and didn't detract from our enjoyment, however. 4 out of 5
Layout and Presentation: Okay, there's no two ways around it, Cthulhu Mash is not a pretty game. How not pretty it is has become the matter of some debate around the office-with some people feeling it's not that bad and others judiciously using the word "sucks", but regardless the core rule stands regardless. Illustrated in a simplistic style reminiscent of a lot of the late 70's D&D adventures, the color and lines are thick and non-dynamic and the detail level definitely leaves something to be desired. 2.75 out of 5
Value vs. Cost: For your 30 bucks you will get approximately 4 character icons, 16 map squares, 300-odd monster, health, and item icons (all the preceding in full color made from die cut cardboard), dice, and rules. Not a bad deal, to be sure. 4 out of 5
|In the end, Cthulhu Mash is a definite success in the adventure board game genre and a good choice for those looking for mindless hack and slash but not wanting to break out the hard-core miniatures games. It's fast, fun, easy, and has a number of playing options…if it was a little prettier this could be one for the ages.|
The Good: Fun and simple action adventure
The Bad: Can be a little too complex and definitely lacked in the graphics department.
The Overall Ugly: For those familiar with the Cthulhu mythos, claim insanity and shoot a teammate mid game to really enhance your playing experience.
What it's Worth: Market