A little knowledge is dangerous thing. You and your friends have been reading things that no man should. Now, armed with a family friendly copy of Das Necronomicon, you want to be the first to have your own Elder God, even if that means doing it in your own backyard. As a devoted cultist of unnameable things, you want to prove that devotion by being the first to build said Elder God. If that means taking your trusty Remington Autoloading Model 11-87™ shotgun, sneaking into their yards, and blasting a hole in the tentacles of their Elder Gods, well surely that is a sign of your true devotion, right?
This is the set-up for Building an Elder God – A Game of Lovecraftian Construction, the first game from Signal Fire Studios. Designed for play by two to five players, aged six and up, it is a casual card game can be played in about twenty minutes or so. The aim of the game is the first to build an Elder God of a certain length, this length varying according to the number of players. The play of the game means that a reasonably sized table is required.
The game consists of one-hundred-and-twenty full colour cards and a large, four-page rules leaflet. The cards consist of Monster, Damage, Immune, Elder Sign, and Necronomicon cards, with the Monster cards further divided in Body, Mouth, Tentacle, Split, Eyestalk, and Mouth cards. The Monster cards are what you use to build your Elder God; the Damage cards to blast holes in your rivals’ Elder Gods; the Immune cards to protect against Damage cards; and the Necronomicon cards are used to heal your Elder God when it takes damage. The Elder Sign cards are used in a variant to banish parts of both a rival’s Elder God and your Elder God. All of the cards are done in full colour, with the Monster cards depicting tentacular body parts in Mythosy green and the Damage cards being spattered with deep burgundy ichor.
Each player starts the game with a Body, a Mouth, and two Necronomicon cards, as well as a hand of five cards. The Body card is placed down on the table with the open end facing away from him. On a turn, a player draws a fresh card and then plays one card. This can be to grow his Elder God by adding a Tentacle, a Split, or an Eyestalk card. Any card played in this fashion must be played vertically, which means that each player’s Elder God will grow towards the centre of the table. If a player manages to lay down the number of Monster cards required to win, he can top off his Elder God with its Mouth after laying the last Monster card and can thus win the game.
Alternatively, a player can attack a rival’s Elder God by blasting a hole in it with a Damage card, or if a player’s Elder God is damaged, he can heal it. This can be done with either one of his Necronomicon cards or with a Body card that matches the damaged one.
And that is about that. Physically, Building an Elder God is an attractive game, although given its intended age range, it is a pity that the cards could not have been done on a glossy stock better able to handle sticky fingers. The rules are clearly written, though it would have been nice if they had been done in colour.
If there is an issue with Building an Elder God it is the intended age range. Whilst the game is simple enough, its subject matter might not be suitable to players as young as six years old. Unless of course, they have already been inducted into the worship of the Elder Gods. At the other end of the scale, Building an Elder God might be too casual a game and too light a treatment of its subject – even for what is a filler game. Otherwise, Building an Elder God – A Game of Lovecraftian Construction is something quick and simple, not to say undemanding, to play between or before other games.