“Most of the tales and impressions concerned a relatively late race, of a ***** and intricate shape resembling no life-form known to science, which had lived till only fifty million years before the advent of man. This, they indicated, was the greatest race of all; because it alone had conquered the secret of time.”
–H.P. Lovecraft, “The Shadow Out of Time”
|How does one measure the concept of “time” in Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game? Does time correspond to the inevitable placement of success tokens on story cards? In this way, as time progresses, we find that the fate of the world is ever closer at hand. Alternatively, is time better tracked by the development of players’ domains? Each player can place one card beneath a domain as a resource each turn, so the number of cards underneath all of a player’s domains provide a natural counter – at least, until you account for the addition of new domains and the acceleration provided by Shub-Niggurath and her minions. Both success tokens and domain development correspond with the progression of the game, but neither really satisfies our perception of time, at least not so far as we can imagine the utter dread of knowing that our time is running out.|
Likely, the best link to the march of time that Call of Cthulhu offers us is the gradual depletion of the draw deck and the growth of the discard pile. Each turn, players draw two cards, and because a player loses if his draw deck is ever fully depleted, this means the game is played on a timer.
While the game offers multiple recursion mechanics, these don’t really interfere with the thematic link between the discard pile and the passage of time. Rather, they suggest the terrible and unfathomable powers at work in H.P. Lovecraft’s fictional world. Some people use magic to return the dead to life, bringing them back even after their natural allotted times have expired. Some cards in the game can return to play from the discard pile and, in so doing, can suggest a type of immortality that defies the passage of time. Of course, the game’s Ancient Ones exist beyond mortal understanding, and many of them possess powers that thin the boundaries between the play area and the discard pile – between the present and the past. None of these, however, more fully embody the unfathomable natures of beings outside the human perception of existence as Yog-Sothoth, the All-in-One.
Accordingly, as The Key and the Gate turns the focus of Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game toward Yog-Sothoth, it explores the theme of “time.” This upcoming deluxe expansion links the idea of time to the flow of cards from the draw deck to the discard pile, and it gives this idea new substance in its depiction of a new race of characters, the Yithians.
Lead Developer Damon Stone on the Great Race of Yith
Many years ago, the Yithians featured in a special tournament deck that tournament winners could compete against. When it came time to design The Key and the Gate, I knew right away that it was a perfect opportunity for players to have their first chance to make their own Yithian decks. The amazing story in which H.P. Lovecraft introduces the Great Race of Yith, “The Shadow Out of Time,” depicts them as a race of psychics capable of projecting their thoughts across space-time. My first challenge was to figure out how to marry this strange race to its own kind of mechanic and theme…and the basics of the solution were handed to me on a silver platter by a player’s off-hand observation.
This long-time player explained to me during a conversation that one of the reasons he liked Yog-Sothoth so much was that, with the faction’s various ways of bringing cards back from the discard pile, it was like having two decks to use against his opponent’s one. I really liked that way of looking at the faction, but I wanted to push the idea even further. Rather than letting them use the discard pile like a second deck, I thought it would be intriguing to give Yithians the ability to use the discard pile like a second hand.
That idea became the key identity point for Yithian design in The Key and the Gate, and the race introduces a number of card effects which can trigger from the discard pile, often only when the cards with these effects are in the discard pile. Then the Yithians gained complementary card effects that would either move more cards into your discard pile or that would trigger after you triggered an effect from your discard pile. This gave the Yithians a very unique play style and feel, even when splashed into another faction.
–Damon Stone, Lead Developer Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game
How will your Yithians redefine your discard pile? How will they navigate the vagaries of space and time in your games of Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game? Before long, you’ll have your chance to find out! These strange creatures are on their way to earth from far across the cosmos and the reaches of time, and there’s no better time to prepare for their arrival.
Head to your local retailer today to pre-order your copy of The Key and the Gate and stay one step ahead of the coming madness!