Building an Elder God: A Review

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Photo: Melanie R. Meadors

Who wouldn’t want to grow a Lovecraftian terror in the comfort of their own living room?

Building an Elder God: A Game of Lovecraftian Construction is a game from Signal Fire Studios, first published in April of 2012. I bought the game for my son because he loves all things Lovecraftian. I am pretty sure he might be one of the only young children in the world who gets comforted by getting told that Cthulhu will watch out for him in the night. Yes, he has the stuffed animal.

Photo: Melanie R. Meadors

Building an Elder God is a tile-based game, reminiscent of Waterworks, but with–at least in my opinion–far more interesting subject matter. The basic concept is to connect the pieces of your monster, starting with a body and ending with a head, to make a complete monster with no damaged pieces or open ended tentacles. But you have to finish your monster before your competing insane cultist friends finish theirs!

During your turn, you can put a damaged tentacle on an opponent’s monster. They won’t be able to win unless they heal that tentacle either with a whole tentacle that matches that card or with a Necronomicon card (you get two of these cards and you can place one on a damaged tentacle to heal it). There are immune cards, distinguished by a purple glow, which cannot be damaged, and only one damage card can be present on anyone’s monster at a time.

Photo: Melanie R. Meadors

At first, this game seemed really simple, almost too simple, and would be something only kids could enjoy. But if adults are a bit more competitive and the cards come up right, it can prove to be quite challenging. I’d say it is a game suited for families with people of all ages. It usually takes between fifteen and thirty minutes to play a full game. We have a lot of fun playing it.

The artwork on the cards is very enjoyable, especially with the five bonus cards that were available when I bought our set. Ben Mund, the illustrator and designer, also did the artwork for A Very Hungry Cthulhupillar, also out from Signal Fire Studios. I’d suggest sharing this video to enhance the game playing experience. My son, who is a very young twelve, got the biggest kick out of it and quoted from it all day.

Photo: Melanie R. Meadors

Building an Elder God is best played with three or four people, but can still be fun with two. The more people you have, however, the bigger of a playing area you would need. With three people, we almost didn’t fit on the dining room table. Most of our elder god building takes place on the floor. The game says it’s best for ages six plus, but with some help I think slightly younger kids could enjoy it as well. The instructions suggest that the damaged tentacles had been shot, but you can easily explain it with something else–experiments gone badly, etc.

All in all I recommend this game. There is always a lot of laughter and fun when we do. And check out Signal Fire Studios, they have a lot of fun related products you might enjoy as well.


Melanie R. Meadors is the author of fantasy and science fiction stories where heroes don’t always carry swords and knights in shining armor often lose to nerds who study their weaknesses. She’s been known to befriend wandering garden gnomes, do battle with metal-eating squirrels, and has been called a superhero on more than one occasion. Her work has been published in Circle Magazine, The Wheel, and Prick of the Spindle, and she was a finalist in the 2014 Jim Baen Memorial Science Fiction Contest. Melanie is also a freelance author publicist and publicity/marketing coordinator for both Ragnarok Publications and Mechanical Muse. She blogs regularly for GeekMom and The Once and Future Podcast. Her short story “A Whole-Hearted Halfling” is in the anthology Champions of Aetaltis, available April 12, 2016.