Along with Zombies, Cthulhu is all the rage these days. Aside from Fantasy Flight’s popular Arkham series including the recent release of the masterful Eldritch Horror, we’re seeing expansions (the Obligatory Cthlulhu Set for Smash Up), parodies (The Doom That Came To Atlantic City), indie projects and many, many other games within H.P. Lovecraft’s world.
Kingsport Festival is, essentially, Kingsburg but with Cthulhu. In fact the primary mechanism – rolling dice, placing them on “advisors” ranging from 1 to 18 (actually in this case 19) and getting a benefit is in place.
In Kingsport, players are actually playing as Cultists, racing to bring their own doom to the world before anyone else. The game adds sanity to the resources you need to manage, and in fact many of the higher-level elder gods (replacing advisors) have a sanity cost before you get the benefit.
The game also drops the player boards and instead you have a central board, kind of like a map, with different areas and buildings the players can “build” which gives them additional abilities. I actually think the change to the board is pretty cool – it makes it easier to see where everyone’s at and also makes it feel more like you’re building something rather than just moving cubes on a spreadsheet.
You’ve also got spell cards to gain and Investigators to deal with while you attempt to bring about the end of the world.
Since we didn’t play a whole game, I can’t say if it has the same flaw Kingsburg had – lasting too long – but as far as gameplay elements, I think some of the changes were pretty cool. The Cthluhu theme might actually be a turn-off for more euro-loving gamers, but maybe it will get some others to try out a different sort of game. We’ll see. I liked the map-styled layout for upgrades (although that could make it difficult to remember all of your bonuses) and the addition of spell cards should keep things interesting.