Try to hold on to your sanity in Cthulhu Realms!

Recommended Age:14+
Play Time:25-45 Minutes
Our Recommended Age:8+ (Parents should play first to check content)
Board Game
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I am a fan of HP Lovecraft so I always check out Cthulhu type games but am always skeptical…in the case of Cthulhu Realms, however, I was not disappointed. The cards have items and locations related to HP lore, which I love, and the game itself is a must have for any gamer.

Tasty Minstrel Games (I love this name…) also known as TMG has quite a few games we like to play on Game Nights but Cthulhu Realms is one of my favorites because I can play with other people or on an app by myself!

It is a deck building game and NOT a cooperative one…which I like most times. It’s recommended for ages 14+ but I’d say kids as young as 8 would be able to play and understand the concepts and even get some strategy after a few games. Younger gamers could probably play but I don’t think they will get strategy very much.

tmgcthulhurealmreview-18However, the gameplay is simple enough to understand that my Diva (age 6) could play. There are symbols that show to do damage, gain sanity, draw cards and destroy them that are easy enough to follow for her…she really really likes attacking people but just sort of buys whatever she can without looking too closely at the cards.

SO it is up to you, but it is possible for younger kids to play. Just, as always, play first to make sure the content and gameplay are a good fit for you child. It IS Cthulhu and you DO try to kill..well drive the other players insane.

And yes there is a physical game version and an app and there are benefits to owning both….which we do. I’ll start with the app and then the physical game…but I’m only going to explain how to play the physical game…the app plays the same except you don’t have to set it up.

You have to download and you CAN pay for the app…which I recommend if you want to play with other people by passing the phone..which we do so I bought it. You also will get to play against a harder AI…which I can’t even beat the easy one enough yet…it slaughtered me recently…but I still enjoyed the game..and I have a greater chance of winning on the app…not sure why.

Also, if you unlock the game you will get it for every device, can be globally ranked, earn online avatars, get 9 new campaign missions and harder levels in campain mode. You do get quite a bit in Free mode though so check it out first and when you have become addicted buy the full version…it’s worth it.

The box for the physical game is a small lift top lid and made out of decent material. Also, the lid slides right up and off easily without much fussing with it. Of course it has a nice insert to fit all the cards without it being a big jumbled mess.

I love that the box is exactly the size it needs to be for the largest part, which is the score sheets. These are made with a thicker and smoother card stock than I’ve seen but not card material or chipboard. The cards are not heavy but have that texture that make them a bit thicker and better quality.

tmgcthulhurealmreview-19The only other pieces are the score markers which look like heads with brains…I love that since they represent your sanity levels. Beautifully tied into the theme of the game. I usually end up being Yellow. Overall a very well made, and stored, game…now let’s learn how to play!


Maintain your sanity…well have the most at the end of the game…


Every player (2-4) gets a play mat which are those larger sheets that have heads with brains and numbers in them. These are all the same so just give every player one of them. I am going to explain a 2 player game…usually ends up being 2 but occasionally 3 players but I wanted to show just the 2 this time…change it up!

Then everyone gets a set of heads…or Sanity Markers. You get one head and one circle with a head in it that says 55+. This is in case you go above the 55 on the Sanity tracker or player mat. Make sure you have both in the same color. This card also shows available actions you can take on your turn.tmgcthulhurealmreview-14

Every player gets 2 Initiate cards, 6 Follower cards, and 2 Goon Cards. These are your starter cards for your deck. Shuffle these up and put the rest of the Goons and Followers back in the box. The Initiates get put to the side of the playing area.

Now shuffle the General cards and put 5 in a line in the middle of the playing area face up. This line and the Initiate cards are what is available for “purchase” to start the game. The rest of the deck goes to a side of the line face up…yes face up.

The player who goes first (I love this bit) is the player who most recently has gone insane! This is usually me…everyone agrees it is me but they say I never really have been sane…that’s fair…


On your turn draw 5 cards from your deck. If you are the first player you will only draw 3 but only for that first turn and then you’ll draw 5 after that.

tmgcthulhurealmreview-4You then play these cards in an order of your choosing…so choose wisely. Activate any abilities, buy cards from the line or buy an Initiate and of course do Sanity damage to another player.

This is attacking and in some cases you can choose or have to attack a Location card that is front of another player instead of that player directly. Pay attention when attacking because if you attack a Location you have to be able to destroy it…hit points do not carry over on Locations.

The app handles this a lot better but you still have to choose to play certain cards first so pay attention no matter what version you are playing.

After you are done attacking and spending, discard any card that doesn’t specifically say to keep in front of you including any left in your hand that you chose not to play.

Draw back up to 5 cards from your deck and your turn is over. If you draw cards and do not have 5 shuffle the discard pile and then draw until you have 5.

There are very good instructions on what the cards do and the various types, but I’m not instructions…I would recommend reading through them though. I will say there are 4 colors of cards, Yellow, Green, Purple, and Black and 3 types of cards in each color. These are Location, Artifact, or Entity.tmgcthulhurealmreview-26

The one thing to remember about cards, abilities and requirements is that a card can NOT satisfy its own prerequisites. Keep that in mind when buying and playing order on your turn.


Remember when I said you could attack? Well, if other players attack you and you run out of sanity, at any point in the game, you are out! Gone, eliminated, but not forgotten. You have to watch while someone else wins…

If you are the ONLY player with any sanity left…you win! Huzzah! However, if the main deck of cards runs out then the player with the most Sanity left wins…which might still be you…so Huzzah again!

Ties go to the player with the most cards in their deck…if it is still a Tie everyone loses and there is eternal and universal loss and suffering…nice job…

tmgcthulhurealmreview-25There are changes to the setup and play if there are 3 or 4 players. For example during setup, instead of 5 cards in the line you put only 3 and you put a set of 3 between every 2 players. In a 3 player game there would be a set between players 1 & 2, another between players 2 & 3 and another between 3 & player 1. Make sense?

First player still draws 3 cards and every turn after is 4 except the last player draws 5. This is only for that very first turn though. The rest of the Rules are the same with 5 cards being drawn.

When someone is eliminated in THIS version though, the “line” get’s removed or Abjured and the players to your Right and Left are not neighbors…you get thrown to the side to watch the game…this was me…it’s not as lonely as it seems.

The app for Cthulhu Realms plays the same. Exactly the same, except…there is no setup! Yay me! You can also just leave the game to go back to life as needed…or play a few rounds in a row and after finally beating the (easy) AI declare yourself world champ and stop playing for the day….I may or may not have done this…

Cthulhu Realms is a great game for Game Nights, but I love it more for its 2 player-ness…playability? ahem…it is a great game for 2 players…I’ll say that. The Comedian and I play when we have game date night…yeah it’s a thing…well it is for us. We can’t go out often so we play 2 player games together and just enjoy each other’s company sometimes.

Show us your loss of sanity! Or not….@MyGeeklings #CthulhuRealms @TastyMinstreltmgcthulhurealmreview2Here is your chance to win  Enter below for your chance to win a copy of the physical game! Must be 18+ and live in the USA.

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“Eliminate all other factors, and the one which remains must be the truth.”
~ Sherlock Holmes

Author: sandyz