Tabletop Gaming


Designer: Nicolas Johnson | Publisher: Chaosium


Call of Cthulhu is often referred to, unfairly in my eyes, as a system that’s for people who like maths. Percentile-roll-under, super-specific but overlappin­gsounding skills, makes it much more of a ‘nerds’ game’ than others.

And yet, here, in this jolly solo adventure set in the lakeside town of Estbury, outside Boston, the system more or less teaches itself. In fact, as a way in to game and its engine, there’s really no better entry point (beyond the starter set). Your investigat­or will be exploring the town as a green mist rolls in, while trying to understand the suspicious death of a local professor of history. Your choices through the adventure lead to many dead ends and actual deaths, depending on your rolls – and how smart you are. Indeed, having played through with different investigat­ors, there’s a surprising number of ways to fail through your own bad ideas. There’s real challenge here, and even my attempt to ‘game’ the book through gained knowledge failed me in a pleasing way.

While the book itself had a softtouch cover, the insides are fairly thrift-edition – fitting for a book you’re likely to blast through a couple of times before either retiring to the hands of a friend or chopping up for use in your next full campaign. The writing, especially at the start, is a bit wonky – but cleans up nicely as you discover more of the mystery of the lake.

Whether you’re new to Call of Cthulhu, or you’re looking for a way to take a character off on a solo excursion, Alone Against The Tide is a great way to splash around in the shallows of the mythos before diving in.


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