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Tag: Cthulhu

Evil High Priest – First Impressions


Might as well lead with the main link. This is my quick review of Evil High Priest that I used their print and play preview to try out at the local board game Meet-Up that I go to every week. This is a new game by noted game designer Sandy Petersen which he co-designed with his son, Lincoln Petersen.

The game is a worker placement game for 2-5 players. You are all part of an evil cult trying to summon your patron Great Old One from the Cthulhu Mythos. There are two cult boards included in the print and play (Cthulhu and the Black Goat) plus all the boards, cards and tokens you would use in the basic game.

The object of the game is to have the most resources (the best places High Priest) when the Great Old One is released. All players are working to summon the Great Old One, no player is working to stop it. Other than the normal worker placement rule of only one worker (cultist in this game) per space, the other interaction is to trigger raids when they are not convenient to the other players.

Before I discuss the game mechanics, a few things about the print and play. The boards are not set to standard paper sizes, so make sure you have a plan on how to print them (I used “poster” settings for the cult boards and then cut the pieces out and taped them together, for example). You can take the files to your local office supplies / printing shop, but color printing on non-standard paper sizes can be pricey. I managed to print everything on my home printer, it just took a little bit of work. Petersen Games should take a look at paper sizes for a print and play file and a printing instructions page would help, especially if you have to explain it to a copy shop. Also, be careful when saving the file. I saved from Adobe Reader, and it flattened the file and I lost an icon on one of the boards when it did that.

I used light card stock and then laminated it using this machine:

AmazonBasics Thermal Laminator

I bought it a while ago for a print and play and card stock terrain projects and for around $20 it does a good job.

The game needs some game pieces and 3 6-sided dice. I have plenty of dice and I could have repurposed some Cthulhu Wars cultist figures, but I didn’t want to take them back and forth to the Meet-up. Instead, I did a quick search and for a design for some meeples I could print on one of my 3D printers. I used these ones, but there really are many, many choices:


I used 2 different types – the wizards with a staff to be the high priests and the regular ones to be the acolytes. I wish I have made the wizards about 15% larger than the others, but they served well enough. I also did not want to switch out colors 5 times and print 5 times, so instead I did this:

Once the paint dried I ended up with 5 different colors of meeples (red, white, bluse, black and gray). I used spray paint, but model paint for miniatures would work just as well.

I happened to have a 1″ circle punch, so that made punching out most of the circular tokens quick. That was a little large, you could use a 3/4″ one for the smaller tokens and the 1″ one for the larger tokens worth 3 units each if you wanted. A circular punch is a lot faster and neater than using scissors, but not needed if you do not have one. There are punches in all sorts of shapes, check out the scrapbooking section of your local crafts store.

In the end, it ended up looking something like this in the Meet-up:

Overall, it looks good and helps in playing. I like the fact that the turn order and the victory point values are on each priest card.

The game itself

Like almost all worker placement games, you pick a turn order and then each player places a worker and then you rotate with each other player in turn placing workers until there no more workers to be placed. You then resolve the skulk action and the action phase ends. You then resolve the preparation phase which involves one of the boards (ritual board) and return cultists that were used back to their pool unless they are still performing a ritual.

There are 5 resources in the game – treasure, blood, magic, spellbooks and Elder Signs and that is the ascending order of victory point value as well, with treasure only valuable in the end game if you have the most. Different action squares cost different (or no) resources in addition to having a cultist placed there and sometimes the cultists themselves are the cost (except there is a no self sacrifice rule so one of their companions is sacrificed).

There are three main boards and a player board that you can perform actions on. These are the Town board (get or exchange resources or become first player), the Cult board (get Elder Signs), the Ritual Board (gain more resources at the cost of 2 or more turns use of your cultist), and the Priest board (everyone has one, only the priest can be used). The ritual board only becomes active after the first raid by investigators occurs.

In the basic game, you only get generic monsters. There are no unique Priests, Monsters or Investigators. These will be added to the game via an expansion and potentially via stretch goals unlocked in the campaign. This made the first play through somewhat generic. An easy fix for the monsters would be to name them and add flavor text with no rules text and the 5 power. *poof* you are now summoning Sandy’s Dark Young instead of a generic monster. Same for the 5 starting high priests. Give them each a name and flavor text and no ability. Vary the art on the cards making, some women and some men and maybe even non-human and you instantly have a game with more flavor with just a little effort and cost.

The game itself played well. We played 4 players and first time for this game for all of us, but we all have played worker placement games before. It took us 2.5 hours and we were all pretty even until about 2 hours in and an ill-timed raid against me knocked me so far back that I never recovered. The designers say 60 to 90 minutes play time and I would add 15 minutes to set-up and tear down the game. We got faster as we learned the game, so 90 minutes is probably doable.

The mechanics tie into the genre. As you break more and more seals, you attract the attention of investigators that raid you. Your cultists start in the asylum (you have 6 and 4 start there) and are not available until they “escape”. You sacrifice cultists (goes back to asylum) and monsters to stop raids and once they penetrate those defenses, the innate defenses you build up slow down and hopefully stop the investigators. If not, they destroy resources. The raids hit everyone, not just the person that triggered it and it is a nice touch. It also adds some chance for all players to do something, even in other peoples turns.

Unless you use your priest to Chant (action on the Priest board) or otherwise gain a Chamber card, any resources you gain are unprotected. You use resources to get Elder Signs which are worth the most victory points but it is not the only way to win.

I liked the different areas to play in, but thought that only having chambers vary made it a little to plain. Switching out Cult boards (2 in the basic game plus 4 more in the expansion) will make the game suitably different each time. The dice are only used to set raid strength (1 to 3 dice so from 1 to 18 total).

All 4 of us liked the game and want to play it again, so it passed the first test. Compared to other “premium” worker placement games, the base game looks shy on components. very few cards and the resources being tokens (most premium games use wooden tokens of some kind at least). I know of a few rules we got a little wrong the first play through, but I found the rule book well done in general.

Since this is still in Kickstarter while I write this, they still have time to add more marketing elements to it. The design looks very solid, but I expect that from Petersen games. They just need to add extra sparkle and fun to the game to make it stand out a little. The extra miniatures you can add do not count for me as I think the boards will need to be much bigger else they will block game text. I also found some of the shadowed white print on parchment background a little hard to read.

Also, since this is a Kickstarter, Petersen Games has a reputation for delivering what they promised  (Sandy Petersen even mortgaged his house to make sure that happened one early Kickstarter) but they are generally late in delivering (not worse than the average Kickstarter). They say they have changed it this time and are ready to produce, but they are not great at delivering on time but good at delivering great games.

Other good Worker Placement games

Lords of Waterdeep

Viticulture – Essential Edition



Book review – H.P. Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos

As always, my Sunday books reviews are meant to be suggestions of something to buy right before you are on a flight. I give links to Kindle editions so you can buy and download them right away. I try and error on the side of entertaining or easier to read and for books that will help pass time.

“The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far.” – opening lines of Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft

The Cthulhu Mythos is a collaborative universe featuring the idea that there are Great Old Ones that greatly predate mankind that have been waiting to return and take power over the universe. Of course, for purposes of stories within that universe, that time is either now, or deranged cultists are doing something to hasten that time. The typical story is one set where the main characters face cosmic indifference, humankind really does not matter and is insignificant compared to the vast and mind twisting reality of our true place there. To even glance at a small portion of this truth twists your mind and drive you insane.

The author that originated this universe was Howard Philip Lovecraft, and e wrote and published horror stories in the 1920’s and 1930’s. He was a contemporary of and corespondent with Robert E. Howard who wrote the Conan the Barbarian stories. He also wrote many letters to Robert Bloch (Psycho) and Clark Ashton Smith and they influenced each other and wrote stories that while self contained were loosely connected to the overall Cthulhu stories.

Lovecraft wrote for publication in the pulp magazines of his time, so his work is short stories and novellas. You can get through a story or two on even a short plane flight, but they are horror stories so maybe they are not the best to read if you plan on sleeping right away. They certainly are period pieces and not modern at all, but he does enjoy “things that go bump in the night” as a plot convenience and maybe they are not the best in strange hotel room with sounds that you are no familiar with.

“That is not dead which can eternal lie.
And with strange aeons even death may die.” – Abdul Alhazred “Necronomicon”

It is pretty hard to avoid references to Cthulhu if you like and follow SF or Fantasy. The origins were in horror but it leapt into fantasy a long time ago. As an example, if you like the Evil Dead film series, the book that caused all the problems and the rise of the undead zombies is called the Necronomicon. That is directly from the Lovecraft story “The Hound” and appears in several more of his stories. There have been movies made directly from his stories and his works have influenced other movies, books, music and TV programs. I think part of the enduring popularity of his stories was that he was an early fan who wrote lots of letters to magazines and friends and others that wrote him. He freely encouraged other people to use his inventions and framework and during his life and afterwards people took him up on it.

I suggest starting with “Call of Cthulhu” and then reading the rest of the stories in the order they were published in. I included links below to two sources of his stories. One is free (Lovecraft’s works are old enough to be past copyright) and one is an inexpensive compilation of all of his writings. I will warn you that the stories themselves just have passing references to race that show some prejudice, but Lovecraft was more racist (and sexist) than even the norm for his time and that does come out in his letters much more than his stories. I can enjoy his works and the influence he has on modern writing without being caught up on his personal beliefs, but they are a matter of record. Funny enough, he had a fair number of personal relationships, at least in writing and fan circles, that were contrary to his written views.

Chronology of Cthulhu Mythos stories written while Lovecraft was alive

I do not think that Lovecraft would ever have won awards for his complete mastery of the English language and his ability to write, but his plotting and ideas are good and the stories are short enough that any issues with the prose itself do not intrude too much by the time you reach they end of the story.  I enjoy the details he has in his stories and he wrote during a time when people were transitioning from horses to cars.  Some of the problems in his stories would just be solved with a cell phone call today, but modern writers still can use his ideas and make them work in modern stories.

When using the free link you need to be familiar with how to “open with” a program for a phone or tablet or how to transfer files yourself onto a Kindle. Kindle uses MOBI as the format while Nook and Apple’s iReader uses ePUB format. The free source is actually slightly better edited and has a few less spelling mistakes in it.  I don’t think the link works outside the USA and it certainly will have issues inside China.  If you want to read the stories on your web browser, you can try

I have enjoyed these stories for years and years and like catching the pop culture references to them that appear with what seems to be increasing frequency. I hope you like them too.

Free Complete Works of H.P. Lovecraft for Nook and Kindle

Complete Collection Of H. P. Lovecraft – 150 eBooks With 100+ Audiobooks (Complete Collection Of Lovecraft’s Fiction, Juvenilia, Poems, Essays And Collaborations)

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