Cthulhu Island: How Theme and Gameplay Intertwine

Game board and pieces from Cthulhu Island on a watery background, with shadowy tentacles under the play area

Most board games are about something. Themes that take abstract ideas of moves and victory points and puts them in a context. In a good game, this helps you understand how the game is played. In a great game, not only does it help you play the game, but stories emerge that make your game night something to talk about.

Think back to the last time you played a board game. Most likely, you didn't just talk about how the winner got there with their great strategy and luck. You talked about what happened. How your paladin got blackout drunk on troll swig in Red Dragon's Inn. Or how terrible it must be to live in your opponent's militaristic city in Citadels.

 In Cthulhu Island, we strive to bring you a game where mechanics and theme come together like this. A game that gives you a story to tell: How you awakened Cthulhu to stomp your opponents, all in the name of your theme park; Or what kind of amazing PR you must have had to lure visitors to your theme park made of nine Ferris Wheels. So how do we go about this?

A good place to start is the goal of the game. In Cthulhu Island, you're trying to create as much fear as possible in order to appease the evil entity that has arisen. By building a terrifying theme park with monsters and no escape, this can certainly be achieved. But to do that, you need resources and attractions, all of which can be found by exploring Cthulhu Island. Of course, the other players are trying to do the same, so it's in your best interest to take their cultists down and assert dominance over the island.

This might seem like a piece of storytelling rather than gameplay, and that's sort of the point. That is how a game of Cthulhu Island will look when you zoom out from the nitty-gritty of dice, resources, workers, and tiles. But let's zoom in now:

 To gather resources for your theme park, you must place cultists (workers) on the various areas of the board. By forcing other players out from these areas, you put yourself ahead in the game. To gain fear (victory points), you must build up your park to attract more visitors. And to do that, you need resources. This gameplay loop, with additional moves available to you through your chosen Director, Ancient One, and other elements of the game, then feeds directly into the theme of the game: Evil cults building a theme park to strike fear in the hearts of people, stopping at nothing to ensure that they will receive the blessings of the entity that feasts on fear. And from this, we hope to give you a game that you can tell stories about. Just... maybe don't tell that story about your death cult to your colleagues.

 Cthulhu Island launches on Kickstarter March 8, 2022.

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