You can find board games about a lot of things: zombies, pirates, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars... but there are a lot of board games about Cthulhu. H.P. Lovecraft's work is alive and well in geek culture, even if you almost never hear about it anywhere else. In fact, I own and have played many Cthulhu-themed board games: Eldritch Horror, Cards of Cthulhu, Mythos Tales, Elder Sign, and more. I even caved and pre-ordered Fantasy Flight's new Arkham Horror LCG.
My excitement about trying out the Arkham Horror LCG is actually what has me reflecting on Cthulhu's popularity. Fantasy Flight already had a Cthulhu LCG out—the Call of Cthulhu card game. Between LCGs, Arkham and Eldritch Horror, and Elder Sign, FFG is making a killing off of the Cthulhu mythos. And I've bought right in. But what do I really know about Cthulhu and Lovecraft? I read "At the Mountains of Madness" once as a teenager, and I don't even remember it.
So I have downloaded the complete fiction of H.P. Lovecraft and I've assigned myself a reading project. How will a deeper knowledge of the source material affect my engagement with Cthulhu-themed board games? Will I discover that some themes from the literature have been emphasized and others ignored? I already know I will be less than impressed with Lovecraft himself—I have only scratched the surface when it comes to learning about his life, and it's clear he was racist. How will knowing more about that affect the way I view board games drawn from his work?
I'll be reporting back!