Building An Elder God – Game review

It’s not too often that I find a game that’s got me rushing to finish – and not in a good way. Building An Elder God is one of those games and I’m sad because it’s got a lot of potential to be a good fun game – and can be if you take the time to fix a few issues.

ElderGodWe found this game at the 2014 Origins Game Fair at the Steve Jackson Game area – the salesperson was a lovely fellow who offered us a Kickstarter “head” card for purchasing the game. Being rather a fan of all things Lovecraftian it wasn’t a hard sell.

Here’s the official description: Building an Elder God is a fast-paced card game of Lovecraftian construction for 2-5 players, ages 8 and up. Each turn you may place cards to complete your tentacled monster, damage another player’s creature, or heal damage of your own. The first player with a complete monster wins! A game lasts 15-30 minutes, depending on the number of players.

And, for the most part, it does live up to the description. You start off with the starting edge of your monster and place one card every turn to build your creature. You can also chop your opponent’s monster in one spot, forcing them to burn a card to repair the injured piece. Some cards are immune to being injured and you always have the Necronomicon on hand to fix your injured part if you can’t get the right card.

Gameplay is fast and simple – start with five cards, take one and play one. The artwork is also simple and while technically I guess there’s not much you can do to make a tentacle look interesting I think it could have been better. Especially the Kickstarter “head” card which looks like a child’s work. I’m glad the actual game art has a better “head” art card.

Where this game fails, and fails spectacularly, is in the card stock. Which, since it IS a card game, is a major issue. The cards are thin and weak to the point of when you shuffle them they keep their ‘bent” status so you have to bend them back. They also stick to each other and more often than not you find yourself trying to pry them apart while trying to pick up a card from the pile.

We played two games with two players and while it’s not bad it’s definitely one of those games better with more people – once you have a single injured part your opponent can’t injure you again until you repair that part so a bit of the strategy goes out the window with two persons. It’s a good idea to set up house rules regarding when you can repair your monster and the timing because the rules are a bit confusing. 

I’d call this game a great idea with a bad execution. It’s a common game mechanic with a nice twist but there’s no way to get past the bad card stock unless you place the cards into protectors, which is what we’re going to do in an effort to save this game for replay value. They’ll still be hard to shuffle but it’ll be better than what we have now. When we stopped play and moved to another game also with cards we both gave a huge sigh of relief at having a decent card deck to shuffle and deal out.

If you’re a Lovecraftian fan this might be for you – but be prepared for a rather frustrating experience unless you deal with the card stock issue first.

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