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Darkness looms on the horizon. Strange signs have started to appear all over the world: seas flecked with blood, flocks of shadowy figures wheeling in the sky, prophetic visions that leave people mumbling in addled madness. The time has finally come. The Old Ones are stirring, and it’s your job to wake them up!

In Rise of Cthulhu you play as the leader of a cultist faction wishing to awaken Cthulhu and the other Old Ones awaken to rule this world. But a competing faction races against you to be the first to awaken these chaotic masters. By playing various numbered and colored Cultist Cards, you must control the prime Lovecraftian locations – Arkham, Dunwich, Innsmouth and Kingsport – in an effort to awaken an Old One. The faction that maintains the most influence on a location will gain favor when the Old One arises, while the losing faction risks the destruction of their sanity and souls. Through clever pairing of colored and numbered cards, players can summon dangerous Monster Cards to their aid, unlock the eldritch secrets of lost Artifact Cards, and even manipulate an Unspeakable Guardian to terrorize your opponent. All of this and more await the cunning and adventurous in this tactical card game of influence and horror for 2 players.

On your turn you will have 2 actions: you can either draw 2 cards, play 2 cards from your hand, or draw a card and play a card. Cards can be drawn from a face down deck of Cultist cards or a face up pile of discarded Cultists cards, known as the Valley. Cards must be played on your side of one of the four main Lovecraftian locations - Arkham, Dunwich, Innsmouth and Kingsport. The player with the most total points on a given location turns the location to face them, marking that location as being influenced by their cultists. As the values change during gameplay, locations will shift their influence from player to player. Playing three of the same color, three of the same number, or a run of three cards of the same color (ex. 2-3-4 of green) will earn players the right to draw from special Monster and Artifact cards to help their hold on locations or hinder their opponent. At key points in the game, Old Ones will be drawn from the Cultist Deck and attach themselves to a location: the player currently influencing that location will reap the benefits of the Old One. When all three Old Ones awaken, the game ends and the person with the most locations facing them (or points in play if there's a tie) is the winner.

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