As you walk down the dark damp stairs you run your hand down the mossy blue stone walls. It is hard to see as all that illuminates the stairwell is just a few candles. The hood is quite cumbersome but without it they would spot you from a mile away. As you reach the bottom of the stairs you see candles peppered around the room that barely illuminate the room. You see several artifacts on the altar; you turn to your friends but everyone looks alike. Have you made a mistake? Is this ritual actually going to achieve what it is meant to? Is this risk truly worth this story? You have investigated several stories with this team for the Arkham Times but maybe this was a bad idea. A loud gong goes off and before you know it the ritual has begun.
In Arkham Ritual, you don’t see the card you are holding. Instead, you see the cards other players are holding. You must guess the card you are holding by looking at other players’ cards and the cards that have been played.
The game is played over the course of multiple rounds. Each round one player draws the top card of the deck, looks at it, and passes it to another player. The player who receives the card has a choice to either:
- discard the card he / she is holding face up and take the new card without looking at it; or
- pass the card to another player without looking at it.
The game continues until one of the game end condition is met, at which point all players reveal their cards. The win conditions are:
- There are no cards left in the Deck
- All players declined to take the card
- Special effect of an Event Card
When the game ends, if you are holding a cursed (red) card then the card corrupts your mind and you lose sanity. If you are holding a sane (blue) artifact card but some other player is also holding the same artifact card (regardless of their colour), the artifacts create unpleasant resonance and corrupts your mind, destroying your sanity. You successfully survive the ritual only if you are holding a unique sane (blue) card. Players that lose sanity mark this by gaining insanity tokens. The next game is played until one or more players have collected 7 or more insanity markers.
This game is played using 22 cards. Some cards have special effects that changes the game rules.
Elder Sign – The game ends immediately when this card is discarded (game end condition).
Gate – If another player is holding a Great Old One (see section 7-3) then immediately resolve its effect. If no one has the Great Old One, then nothing happens.
Magical Orb – The player who discarded this card looks at the top card of the deck. Then they either return the card on top of the deck or remove it from the game face down. These cards trigger a special effect if a player is holding it at the end of the game. All of these cards are considered Sane (Blue) Cards.
Investigator – Holder of this card recovers 1 sanity (discards 1 Insanity Marker).
Cultist – The end game rules are changed. You successfully survive the ritual if:
- You had a Cursed (Red) Card – and
- If you had an Artifact Card, and no other player had the same Artifact Card, then regardless of the card’s colour, discard a Gate card. All of these cards are considered as Cursed (Red) Cards.
Cthulhu – The game ends immediately. Holder of this card does not lose any sanity. All other players lose sanity equal to the number of players – 1.
Arkham Ritual is tight little card game, which is both quick and very cleverly thought out. It has so many elements I personally love, such as holding the card away from you; the use of the little gems as insanity totals; and trust factor of whether my friends are helping or hindering me. I really enjoyed this game.
When Dan from Ninja Star Games posted about a new game release, I got so excited and needed to review it. I loved Wolf and Hound (review here) and with an upcoming visit/babysitting session with the ‘Angels’, I thought this would be perfect. Ok, so I didn’t even look at the game before asking to review it for him but let’s put it this way, I will not be playing this with the ‘Angels’. How did Dan and the team at Ninja Star Games go from making quite possibly the cutest most adorable game I have ever seen to a game about ritually summoning Chulthu? It truly shows the versatility of Ninja Star Games, as I would say Arkham Ritual is even better than Wolf and Hound.
On Christmas Night, Oz, Panda, Zoe and I caught up for a quiet beverage or 6 and some games. So after a quick read of the rules and a couple of rounds we had it down. The rounds were quick and we all really enjoyed it, even if I accidentally cheated on round 2 (I had misread the rules about the Gate and Chulthu, oops). Luckily we were able to replay the round and we all stayed friends… I think.
Arkham Ritual is such a great small game that is quick and super easy to learn. I do think Ninja Star Games has nailed the theme for this game. They could have gone a more Satanic way in the theme, but I believe that could be pushing it way too far and quite frankly I know I wouldn’t play a game like that. They have used the world of HP Lovecraft along with a ritual to raise Cthulhu which is pushing the line but not crossing it. The World of HP Lovecraft is much loved and though I have seen several games using a simpler IP, this seems to fit it perfectly. Plus I know a number of my friends are massive fans of HP Lovecraft, so know this will appeal to the masses.
The art on Arkham Ritual is so amazing. The use of the character on a simple mono colour yet highly detailed background is quite stunning. The artifacts are also mono coloured as well, the cursed items being an almost black on a dark red background and the sane artifacts being almost ethereal in a lightish blue. The art has been handled so well and looks right out of the world of HP Lovecraft with so many amazing little elements that may go unnoticed. For example, there appears to be an octopus head and tentacles on the ritual dagger handle and multiple pentagrams on the Grimoire (the ritual book). The other thing I think people may be in two minds about is the representation of Cthulhu. I personally really like the fact that they haven’t used a picture and only used a question mark. As the premise of the game is a ritual to bring him forth, other than a few drawings or something in the book, you as a cultist/reporter probably wouldn’t know what is coming out of the gate and I believe sometimes not having a picture allows your mind to create something more far fetched and elaborate than a picture on a card.
Arkham Ritual only really has one small issue I can see. The rule book can be a little confusing at times. At one point the rules tell you how you win and then directly underneath it tells you how you don’t win, so it seems a little redundant to me. There are also a few grammatical errors and issues with sentence structure, but I’m sure this will be picked up once they have sent off their final proof.
Arkham Ritual is such an enjoyable and smart game. It is quick, easy and well thought out. It has a strong theme, a simple and yet enjoyable mechanic and amazing art. I believe this game is going to be one to watch.
You can check out Arkham Ritual at their Kickstarter preview here, it goes live on the 7th of February.
PS- though this is an Arkham game, Batman does not appear. But check out the Inspector card? Older version of Inspector Gordon maybe? Ha ha ha