Every fortnight, some of the team at B3 meet up to play tabletop games together, trying out new games and playing some old favourites. This week, we played Crazy Cultists by Rocket House Games.
Crazy Cultists is a card game where players race against each other to complete their pentagram in order to summon the Dark One. The game has been designed to be fast-paced with lots of opportunity to help — or hinder — your fellow players.
To win, players must be the first to collect five candles to complete their pentagram, which would then summon the Dark One and end the game.
How to play
At the start of the game, each player is given a pentagram board with spaces for five candles. They are also dealt three playing cards each.
On their turn, players can either try to build up Favour points, or play an action or Hijinx card. The Favour Point cards are valued at either one, two or three and players stack these in front of them to show their current score, the newest card being placed on top. The number of Favour Points required drops depending on how many candles you have collected already — for your first candle, you need nine or more points.
The Hijinx cards are used against other players in the game. The most common cards take away a set number of Favour Points that another player has currently placed in front of them. Crazy Cultists has one card called the ‘Beelze Beatdown’, which requires a player to discard their entire stack! Other cards allow players to view the remaining stack in the centre or the cards in another player’s hand.
Hijinx cards can only be blocked using the CounterSpell card, if you have it in your hand when a Hijinx card is being used against you. There are only four Counterspell cards in the game, so these have to be played carefully and tactically.
Players can have a maximum of three cards in their hand at any time and can only play one card each turn. Once you get through the pile of playing cards, the discard pile is simply shuffled and put back into play.
Only being able to play one card at once means Crazy Cultists is very tactical — do you decide to screw someone over or try to help yourself? Playing dirty is actively encouraged in the game’s instructions — including table talk to misdirect players about how close you might be getting!
In fact, this happened to me. I began my game by attacking all other players and removing their Favour Points and they quickly then all turned against me. While other players were still accruing Favour Points and getting closer to winning, all Hijinx cards were played on myself. By the end of the game, everyone else had four candles — while I remained on zero! Ouch.
Crazy Cultists is a really easy game to pick up and play. Within a couple of rounds we had each grasped the rules and many of the Hijinx cards. “Once everyone had their first candle, the game really started to speed up,” said Matt.
When you have four candles, you only require six or more Favour Points to get your final (and winning) candle. “I felt that it sped up a bit too much when we all had four candles,” said Stuart. “Essentially at that point, all you needed were two cards and you’ve won.”
We thought that either it should require players to get exactly the number of Favour Points required to gain another candle or that the number of Favour Points required should stay the same throughout the game. We had expected it to be the other way around with players needing a low number at the start of the game to gain candles, but the price of candles would increase with each round.
“As the game goes on and you’re all starting to lose your tempers with each other because you keep fucking each other over, you think ‘let’s get this over with quickly’. I liked that aspect of the game, that turns got faster and kept the energy up,” said Stuart.
When we played Crazy Cultists, we had the pile of cards in play face up as this how the game area was shown in the directions. We were divided on whether this was a good idea or not. Half of our group felt that this took away some of the fun and excitement as players can then track what everyone else picks up and guess what is in their hand.
The other half of our group liked this. “I did like that it was face up and you knew what the next person had, because occasionally someone picked everything up and everyone said it, so you just knew they were going to play the Belzebub card — like when Matt played the Evil Eye card to steal a card from Jupiter’s deck and she gave him the Belzebub card straight away as she knew that was the one he wanted!” said Stuart.
We were unsure whether a player should pick up another card if a player steals one from you. “Do you draw the extra card to bring your hand up to three when you’ve had the card taken off of you, at the start of your next turn so you have three cards to choose from or at the end of your next turn?” asked Matt. We played it at the last, but we felt that the rules could clarify this.
We really liked the artwork and themed cards, and thought that this worked really well. However, we wondered if the Cultist or Satanic theme may put some people off. “It could have been trading money to buy hotels or houses to add to your portfolio,” said Dann. “But it is a really great idea and could certainly lend itself to any theme.” Other suggestions we had were picking flowers for a garden, finding ingredients for making a cake or a pizza, or collecting songs to create an album. This would make the game more family friendly and likely to be played by younger audiences.
Would we play this again? “Because it’s easy to pick up and easy to play — and it’s quick — if I had friends over it’s something we could play together quickly,” said Stuart. “But probably only if I didn’t want them as friends anymore as it did get very heated!”
Crazy Cultists is currently on Kickstarter with a recommended retail price of $20 (about £15) with a Kickstarter exclusive price of $15 (£12). Visit the Rocket House Games website to keep updated on the game.