How To Play: Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu – Setup, rule summary and strategy

Embrace the foreboding atmosphere as you learn the nuances of 'How To Play Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu.' Internalize your chosen role's abilities, combat the spreading cultists and Shoggoths wisely, and remember—the key to sealing away the chaos lies in synergized teamwork and clear communication.


Welcome to the ultimate guide on ‘How To Play Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu’. Whether you’re a new cultist hunter or a tested veteran looking to refine your strategies, this guide spells out both the underlying rules of the eldritch game and the top tactics to seal away the chaos for good. We’ll journey through leveraging your role’s abilities, diligently managing otherworldly threats and, most crucially, mastering the art of cooperation. Ready your minds for a battle against the ancient ones!

What’s in the box

  • 1 Game Board
  • 7 Investigator Figures
  • 26 Cultist Figures
  • 3 Shoggoth Figures
  • 4 Seal Tokens
  • 44 Clue Cards
  • 12 Relic Cards
  • 24 Summoning Cards
  • 7 Investigator Cards
  • 4 Reference Cards
  • 12 Old One Cards
  • 18 Sanity Tokens
  • 1 Sanity Die

How To Play Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu: Rules Summary

Initial Setup

Before the otherworldly chaos ensues, let’s get the board prepped. First, lay out the game board representing towns and other locations. Shuffle the deck of relic cards and player cards separately, then deal four player cards to each person. Depending on the number of players, each gets set relics. Now, place your chosen character’s figurine at the train station. Take the sanity tokens and put them next to the board. For the final touch, add cultists, draw cultist cards and place Shoggoths on indicated locations.

The Gameplay

  1. Turns work clockwise, with each player getting four actions. Options include traveling between connected locations, removing one cultist per action, giving relic cards to other players at matching locations, or doing the current character’s unique action.
  2. After action, do TWO things – draw two player cards, then reveal cultist cards equal to the current cultist rate, placing cultists and possibly awakening a Shoggoth.
  3. If you draw a ‘Relic happens’ card during your turn, a Shoggoth moves towards the nearest open gate, adding to the action.
  4. Be vigilant! If there are ever four or more cultists in one space, or insufficient cultists are left to place, this causes an ‘ extbf{Awakening}’, triggering sanity rolls for everyone!

Winning the Game

Heres your goal—the key to victory. You’ll need to seal the four gates by handing in five matching relic cards while at that respective gate’s location. Accomplish this with everyone still clutching a thread of sanity, meaning you all have at least one sanity token left, and you win the game. Seal the last gate before the Old Ones track is filled or you go completely insane.

Special Rules & Conditions

  1. Each character comes with a ‘role’, granting them a special ability. Using these, especially during crucial moments, can be game-altering!
  2. Clutch a stash of your sanity because losing it all to the eruptions of cultists and Shoggoths is bad news—loss of sanity equals restrictions and one step closer to complete insanity when cultists swarm the location of one player.
  3. Avoid the temptation of opening gates haphazardly, for they may unleash terror in the form of The Old Ones, which could signal an abrupt and terrifying end.
  4. Transport Shoggoths are no laughing matter. While expensive, with two actions required, the removal of these abominations is vital as they trudge toward gates. If they reach one, Hell literally breaks loose, with a new Old One emerging.

Best Pandemic Reign Of Cthulhu Strategies

Mastering Your Role’s Power

To conquer ‘How To Play Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu’, understanding each character’s unique abilities is paramount. Initially, compare your available roles and choose one that complements your team’s strategy.

Choose Synergistic Abilities

Focus on roles that synergize; for instance, investigators clearing out Shoggoths while a protector heavily uses their warding skills.

Analyze and Adapt

Always re-evaluate; if a certain ability becomes less effective as the game progresses, adjust your tactics accordingly for the evolving challenges.

Optimize Asset Use

Moreover, don’t waste powerful one-time abilities. Time them for critical situations, like an unexpected surge of monsters.

Understanding your Role Abilities can indeed pivot your team from the brink of madness to sealing the rifts and winning the game.

Strategic Suppression of the Ancient Evils

Success in ‘How To Play Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu’ often depends on your team’s ability to masterfully manage the monstrous cultists and daunting Shoggoths that appear across the board. Let’s dive into some strategic approaches to keeping these foes at bay.

Preemptive Cultist Containment

  1. Regularly gauge cultist clusters; prioritize towns at the cusp of an overrun.
  2. Maintain a nimble approach, staying vigilant about moving to zones of high cultist density.
  3. Utilize character abilities for efficient removal—an Investigator can sweep multiple cultists in one fell swoop, for instance.

Dreaded Shoggoth Showdown

  1. Track Shoggoth paths closely; intercept them before they reach gates.
  2. Coordinate with teammates on Shoggoth locations; tag-team when possible to minimize actions spent per Shoggoth takedown.
  3. Exploit relics when a Shoggoth seems unavoidable; sometimes a timely relic use can turn the tide.

Maintain Gate Integrity

  1. Do not let gates be overrun by blocking Shoggoth access.
  2. Creatively rethink your strategies around gate protection as situational challenges arise.
  3. Always weigh the risk and reward when gates are pressured—sometimes a temporary compromise is necessary to build up resources.

Mastering the Secrets of Cohesion

In How To Play Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu, effective teamwork and communication are non-negotiable elements for success. Engaging in active planning and being vocal about strategic ideas set the premise for a game-winning formula. Here are key strategies:

Keep Everyone Informed

  1. Clearly state your intentions and current resources at the start of your turn.
  2. Solicit opinions before executing critical moves.

Strategize with Flexibility

  1. Discuss potential long-term effects of actions with teammates.
  2. Adapt plans as the board’s situation changes.

Prioritize Threats Together

  1. Decide collaboratively on which threats to address first.
  2. Divide and conquer by assigning roles based on optimal utilization.

Sealing the Rift: Your Path to Victory

As we wrap up this comprehensive guide for ‘How To Play Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu’, remember that every session is a new challenge, inviting you and your friends to step into the shoes of investigators trying to prevent the awakening of the Great Old Ones. Approach each game with flexibility, keep the lines of communication open, and use the strategies we’ve outlined to adapt to the chaos of an ever-shifting landscape. Remember, elder gods may be timeless, but a well-thought strategy can save the world before time runs out. Good luck, investigators!

Want to know what we think of Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu? Read our detailed review of Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu here

Jamie in his proper element: With all of his board games
Jamie Hopkins

With years of dice-rolling, card-flipping, and strategic planning under my belt, I've transformed my passion into expertise. I thrive on dissecting the mechanics and social dynamics of board games, sharing insights from countless game nights with friends. I dive deep into gameplay mechanics, while emphasizing the social joys of gaming. While I appreciate themes and visuals, it's the strategy and camaraderie that truly capture my heart.