Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

I Summon Cthulhoo for the Win!

I love this game.

It never seems to get old. And for some reason… people that don’t have the inclination to try anything else in my collection will play this obsessively. These are usually non-hobbyist casual gaming people. Even better… they’re usually female. And even betterer… their pastor would pitch a fit if he knew they were playing it. It’s a great combination that really brings back the best thing about gaming in the eighties. There was just something pleasantly subversive about it.

The Stars Are Right is a very modern Euro-style game, but be warned: the hard core “Euro gamer” may not enjoy this game so much. You know the type. He disappears to Essen every year to bring back the latest beige game that has a scoring track around the board, colored wooden bits, and maybe some German nobel type on the cover scowling at you. After ten minutes of exposure to a new game, he’ll knowingly remark that “the theme is just pasted on.” The first moment something goes against him, he’ll accuse someone else of “playing kingmaker,” but he’ll constantly be “helping” the newer players– by giving advice that seems good to them but that really helps his position more.

You know those guys?

If they play, the first thing they’re going to say is, “it’s such a brain burner!” But The Stars Are Right is about as complicated as an easy sudoku. Maybe seeing the moves and possibilities in the star field is something that comes naturally to the casual gamer but that is strangely difficult to the Euro game aficionado. Or maybe… this is a unique puzzle-game that thwarts passive aggressive psychological manipulations. The hard core Euro gamer is frustrated by this because he has to face a level playing field where his usual tricks don’t work!

And that’s why this game keeps hitting the table. Sure, it’s not for everybody, but it’s sure to fill a different niche from anything else on the game shelf. The theme is striking. The tiles are fun to move around and the cards are amusing without taking self-parody too far. Making the final play so that I can finally bring out a Great Olde One never stops being fun for me. But mostly… the people that like this game are exactly the sort of people I want to hang out with.

And did I mention that girls will play this?

I use a Dhole to draw a card with three pushes... execute them... and then... the Stars are Right! Cthulhoo himself joins my three greater servitors and I win the game. Eat me first, Cthulhoo!

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One response to “I Summon Cthulhoo for the Win!

  1. RogerBW April 9, 2012 at 7:23 am

    This is always a favourite when I’m running demos of SJGames material. The randomness is sometimes a bit much, but it’s one people keep coming back to and even asking for (Revolution is another). The only real problems are the lack of interactivity – you can’t do anything against another player, just boost your own score – and the thinking time; while you can spend a certain amount of the other players’ turns planning your actions, it’s all too common for the previous player to wreck the setup you were relying on, meaning that you have to start planning again from scratch on your own turn.

    I’m thinking about using an hourglass or other timer for demos, though not as short as the Lord of the Fries one…

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