GTM #218 - A'Writhe - A Game of Eldritch Contortions
by WizKids


There are horrors in this world beyond mortal reckoning; ancient beings trapped in a lower plane for millennia, waiting to be unleashed. Wicked masses of roving eyes and writhing tentacles reach out, struggling for freedom, precariously over-extended, inevitably tumbling on top of their friends in a fit of belly laughter.

 A'Writhe: A Game of Eldritch Contortions is your chance to conspire with a buddy in a race to complete three Sigils to summon an eldritch monstrosity into the mortal plane. One player on each team is the Great Old One, who gets to prove their flexibility, endurance, and tentacularity with one or two other unimaginable horrors over a padded map of old Arkham. Their partner is the Cultist who interprets the archaic sigils, keeps watch over the supernatural situation in Arkham, and tells their evil master right where they can shove their appendages.

This is a ridiculous party game for 4 or 6 players, aged 8+ (best for adults or a mix of kids and adults), only half of whom need to feel comfortable bending and stretching. Each round is just 5-10 minutes, so you'll always be able to afford to play that "one more game" your friends are clamoring for, and you can try all four game modes—ranging from the frantic Chaos mode to the more strategic Ritual mode.

 The Great Old Ones corrupt specific locations in Arkham by placing one of their gruesome appendages on any of the 20 unique mats, including Arkham Asylum, Miskatonic University, and the Strange High House. Each Cultist tries to complete a Sigil card by creating a specific pattern of corruption in Arkham to match the pattern on that card. The trick is that the patterns require more corruption than most players have limbs, so you've got to be clever and use your opponents' appendages against them. As the kind of human who's seen beyond the limits of our reality and established a connection with something far more immense, you have the ability to change your perspective at any time, giving you more ways to fool the opposition and complete your fated task.

Cultists do need to be careful how they address their partners, because even though the Great Old Ones need their mortal counterparts to earn their freedom, such powerful beings demand a certain level of respect. Cultists are advised to address their partners with an honorific that shows due deference to their incredible might, their bottomless evil, their eternal inhumanity, or at least their impressive yoga skills. It's always hilarious to hear what nonsense honorifics your friends come up with in the heat of the moment, but there are also four ridiculous options printed on each Sigil card in case you're not feeling creative. After all, you don't want to get on Cthulhu's bad side…

…Nor Hastur's, nor Yig's. There are eight Great Old Ones to choose from, with two powers each. Hastur is both all-seeing and untouchable. Yig is a foreboding puppet master. Pick the power that will make you more at ease with stretching out of your comfort zone (Bokrug's immovability lets you rest other body parts in Arkham), or that takes advantage of your natural talents (Cthulhu's cunning lets you use your head… as an appendage), or one that makes your friends act even more silly (Ei'lor is so alien that it causes all the Cultists to speak in funny voices).

A'Writhe features partner communication in a novel way. The Great Old One has all the power to choose where they move and how, corrupting Arkham and blocking the competition, but the Cultist has all the information, and neither has a chance without the other. The best teams will support each other through quick, sympathetic negotiation: You don't want to leave your partner without a leg to stand on.

 This game is beautifully produced by WizKids, and is a must-have for party gamers and Lovecraft fans. You might know the designer, Jay Treat, from his work on Cunning Folk, Merchants of Araby, Strange Gravity, Cahoots, and other games focused on player interaction and good vibes. Whether you'd like to recapture a spark of your own youth, or unleash a spark of ancient evil, A'Writhe will have your group rolling on the floor laughing.