Every once in an while a cool board game comes along that really piques my interest. Such is the case with Atlas games very own Lost in R’lyeh. A game that took three years of development to create. Fantastic!
Lost in R’lyeh is a Lovecraft Cthulhu themed game where your goal is to NOT DIE FIRST as you succumb to the Elder God. Events and more happen to trip you up but, just when it seems like things couldn’t get worse, you are suddenly in charge of cascading powers that ramp up with each additional card you play. Sounds like a good time and Looks like a GREAT time, just look at this art:
and this is the creator himself, Kedric Winks, a dapper don right out of Arkham if i do say so myself..and btw his answers are a hoot!
Without Further ado, lets get to the interview:
1) What I’ve seen of Lost in R’lyeh really excites me. Between great art, tarot-sized cards and game play in the Lovecraft world, it seems like a visual, tactile and thematic cant miss. How did this game idea come about?
Well I wrote the game after becoming intrigued by the idea of subverting the loser/winner relationship. I wanted to write again where you weren’t trying to win, just trying really hard not to lose. The best way to that was to create a game where there are no winners. Then I got to thinking of a theme, I was already a Lovecraft fan, and I thought in what popular setting dose nobody win? And when you put it like that it has to be a Lovecraft story. The tarot sized cards are just a means of reinforcing the occult feel of the game.
2) Another quality that pulls me towards this is the idea of being drawn into the story of Call of Cthulhu where we can’t win, we are trying to not be the ultimate loser. That set -up gives it a sense of hopelessness and struggle to survive within this world. All in a great way. To me, that is intense atmosphere and reason to play the game! Had you experimented with different ways to approach the atmosphere. How did you decide on this one?
To be honest the atmosphere came first. I wrote a hopeless game, then the theme just fell into place. One way I have tried to increase the immersion into the Call of Cthulhu story is to place the cards, which each feature a part of the story and a value, in chronological order. As the game favours cards of increasing value being played it means that the narrative continually plays out again and again through the cards that are laid. Sometimes bits get missed and often you’re thrown back to the start of the story, but the narrative remains, like being stuck in the book or trap in the maze of the sunken city R’lyeh.
3) I love the idea of a small foot that has gravitas. With event cards and escapes, do you see this game having lots of “oh man! That did not just happen” moments?
I think so yes. There can be a lot of ‘take that’ and the escape card mechanic sees you being dragged back from the brink of escape many times before you end the game.
4) What would you say makes it stand out of the crowd?
Well to my knowledge it’s the only table top game with Cthulhu in right? So it’s got that going for it. Also Kelly’s art is just really special.
5) Its designed for 2-4 players, could you see an expansion or solo play being made for it? Also, what is the play time for this game?
Actually you can play up to six players straight out of the box and if you buy a second copy you can go beyond that. It takes about 20 minutes to play depending on how aggressive the players are. As for expansions, it is possible, I have thought about covering other classic gothic horror novels i.e. Frankenstein, Dracula and Jekyll and Hyde.
6) How long had this game been in development? Were there any parameters you needed or wanted to work within? How much did the game evolve as it progressed?
The game took around 3 year from conception to production, but most of that time was just refining the rules, gathering the art and test playing. The main change in the game was to move the majority of the rules from a rule sheet onto the cards themselves for a smother playing experience. Also the addition of turn token. I didn’t work with any parameters, the game was written independently before I approached Atlas Games with it, so nobody was setting a brief, I was just doing what I liked.
7) What is the most challenging part of creating a game in general, this game in particular, and furthermore a game that involves the beloved and well-known world of Lovecraft (which includes the public’s preconceptions etc, knowledge of gods etc)?
In general, test playing can be soul destroying. You write a game, you get excited about playing it, you convince other people to try it for the first time with you, you’re excited you play and by definition the first test play will be the worst game ever! All you have to remember is that it will get incrementally better for every player thereinafter.
8) Who is this game aimed at? Who do you see really enjoying it most?
Well any Lovecraft fans will get a kick out of the theme and how it plays out through the game play, but really the target audience is casual gamers, or hard-core gamers having a warm up game.
9) If I were to say “if you like game X, then I think you’ll dig Lost in R’lyeh.” What would game X be?
This is a tough one. Probably Gloom, another great Atlas Games title that is nice and dark.
10) What games did you grow up liking?
Honestly I grew up liking some really poor games. I remember Ghost Castle had no tactics at all but I just loved the glow in the dark skull. Also Atmosfear on VHS was good with the curtains closed and the lights off.
11) What games do you like now?
I love Resistance, when played with the right crowd, Cards Against Humanity at parties, but for an all-night session Talisman is a classic.
12) How did you get in the industry?
Honestly I wouldn’t say that I’m in the industry. I’m an enthusiastic amateur. Games design is a great hobby though and if you do it right you can get your stuff out there for other people to enjoy.
13) Any other designs in the pipeline?
As a matter of fact yes. I am always working on a whole bunch of games. On the June 28th Triple Ace Games will be launching a Kickstarter for a game I’ve written called IMPS, it’s a dice and card hybrid battle game that is a real deep thinker. On 15 July I will be launching a Kickstarter for the fourth deck in my Ghost Hunter series, this will be the Monsters deck and it features creatures of folklore from around the world supplied by the backers of the last deck. Be sure to check these out if you like my work on LiR. Who knows I might even be able to get an advanced copy to Boardgames & Bourbon.
14) What are some of your other life interests? (ex-tennis, seeing how many Cheetos you can balance on your forehead, etc)
Other life interests? Ah yes those things I used to enjoy before study, kids and games design consumed my every free waking moment! Well I travel a fair bit, I do love to SUBA dive and every second Tuesday of the month I’m a member of a dark cult trying to bring about the end of humanity by raising a sleeping elder god. So you know, busy, busy.
15) I also run a blog called Boardgames & Bourbon. When you come over to game night I’ll make you a drink. What’ll you have?
Depends, how comprehensive is your drinks cabinet? If you can do me a cocktail? If so I’ll have Pisco Sour please.
You got it! Thanks for the great interview, Kendric. This game looks like it rocks. Best of luck!
Pisco Sour recipe:
Ingredients: 1 oz Lemon Juice, 1 Egg white, 1 ½ oz Pisco, ¾ oz Simple syrup
Preparation: Vigorously shake and strain contents in a cocktail shaker with ice cubes, then pour into glass and garnish with bitters.
Served: Straight up; without ice
Standard garnish: Angostura bitters
Drinkware: Old Fashioned glass
Read more about Lost in R’lyeh at Board Game Geek:
And Visit Atlas games at: