Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The "Mythos" CCG

This text was originally posted 8/3/2017 in a new thread in The Piazza's Call of Cthulhu forum, but I decided that it was worth sharing here, too. Additional comments have been added as footnotes.

I played Magic: The Gathering and a couple other collectible card games for a time back in the 1990s-2000s, but the only one that I actively collected and still own is Mythos[*]. This was Chaosium's attempt to cash in on the CCG craze with a game based on their own Call of Cthulhu RPG. The game didn't sell well, so Chaosium only produced a handful of expansion sets during 1996-1997 before discontinuing the line[**]. I bought quite a few Mythos decks and boosters when it was new, and a LOT more (often as cases) when it started hitting the clearance shelves. For a very brief time, I even turned to collectibles resellers to acquire some of the individual cards I couldn't find any other way. (I'm still 13 cards short of a complete set, because they were going for more than I could justify paying then, and are probably impossible to find now.)

My wife and I continue to play occasionally with the dozen or so of the best decks that we built years ago. Our kids are now 13 and 12, so we've started teaching them how to play, too. We started them on the two prepackaged decks from the Standard Set, and they've recently graduated to playing with our custom-built decks.[***]

This has finally prompted me to build some new decks for the first time in years. I was never happy with any of the Europe decks that I built back in the day (that region was never as interesting as the Middle East expansion), so I decided to try tackling that again--and ended up with three new decks to test sometime in the near future.[****]

I've also typed up card lists for our older decks that have stood up well to continued play. That way I'll have a record of what was in them in case we ever retire them to cannibalize the cards for new decks.

And if the kids stay interested in the game, I'll have less incentive to donate my spare cards to Gen Con's Cardhalla. I had some mixed feelings about seeing a big pile of Mythos cards there the one year I made it to the con (2011), but that didn't stop me from building a Yellow Sign to leave behind for the unwary....

Cardhalla: Yellow Sign by Thastygliax


[*] Chaosium long ago removed the Mythos CCG pages from its website, but they can still be found here, in the Internet Archive Wayback Machine. (Thanks to David "Big Mac" Shepheard for the link!)

[**] The original release is known as the Limited Edition, and is set in "Lovecraft Country"--essentially the 1920s-1930s New England in which most of HPL's fiction was set. This set had Starter Decks as well as additional boosters that introduced new regions: Europe in Expeditions of Miskatonic University, the South Pacific in Cthulhu Rising, and the Middle East in Legends of the Necronomicon. This last booster also included the idea of Allies from the Past (like Abdul Alhazred and Keziah Mason), who could be played through the use of certain Artifact and/or Spell cards.

There is also a Standard Game set, which included two pre-made decks that could be played against each other. All of the included cards are unique to this set, though some merely reproduce Limited Edition cards with new art. (My wife and I own multiple copies of this set in order to use the cards in our own decks, but we always keep one set intact for when we're teaching people the game for the first time.) 

There were two compatible but standalone sets released over the next year or two. The Dreamlands provided adventures set in that dimension, and introduced rules for traveling between it and the "Waking World" (the world and time of the Limited Edition and Standard Game). It included enough new Waking World content to allow you to play adventures than span both realms without needing the previous games (though having both certainly gives you more deck-building options).

The last release was New Aeon, set in the modern day (1990s). Like the previous set, it included means for dimensional travel, with enough Waking World-related cards to support those adventures, but it made no direct references to the Dreamlands. It simply referenced "other dimensions" in some card text.

[***] My daughter, the elder spawn, asks to play Mythos more than any other game right now. We even took some decks with us on our family trip to see the solar eclipse this past weekend. Naturally, I chose the decks that included Eclipse cards.

[****] None of which exclusively use Europe locations, but visit at least one other region or dimension. Two of the three have been played (and slightly tweaked) since my original post to The Piazza. We still need to test the three-region deck, which requires visiting Lovecraft Country, Europe, and the Middle East in order to complete one adventure.

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