Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Hecatomb

Hecatomb: the game that allows every child to live their dream of destroying the world. Or at least that is what the premise was.

Even though Hecatomb is no longer with us, there is still a cult following hiding in the shadows. If you look at the game, you will see that it is very fitting indeed.

Hecatomb is a game that brings you into the darker side of the human psyche, and just does not allow you to see any of the cuter or sweeter things that exist in other games. There is even the foul creature known as Feculus The Sewer Lord (and I bet you can guess what he is), though my favorite was Mister Bananas.

Like I said before, the goal of this game is to destroy the world. To do this, each player must collect a certain number of souls. This can be done either through just sitting around and waiting (you gain one soul every round) or stealing them from your opponent. One of the things I like is that the game is not over for you when you run out of souls, and your opponent cannot take more souls from you than you already have. The game is not over until one player reaches the 20 soul requirement.

In order to keep things interesting, a player was required to combine their creatures before they could perform even the simplest of tasks. This both increased the strength of the creatures, and determined how many souls they “Reaped” (stole) from the opponent if they got through unblocked. If there were two “Minions” (individual creature cards) in the “Abomination” (the combined creature stack) for example, if they made it through unblocked they reaped two souls. Things would react differently depending on which god card each player had in play (my friend Hades made an appearance too), but each player could only have on in play at a time.

Because the game was designed to move quickly, many things are done differently in Hecatomb. You draw two cards instead of one, you have no maximum hand size, and there is no penalty for running out of cards to draw. You just keep going because even if both players run out of creatures and cards, one player will gain the rest of the souls they need in just a few rounds of sitting there.

This is one of those games that brings out the kid in me. The kid that wants to keep the monster under his bed as a pet. Sadly Hecatomb was cancelled right as it was getting good. Any game that includes elements from the writings of H.P. Lovecraft is awesome in my book.

One of the reasons Hecatomb did not do well was poor marketing. I saw a few ads here and there, which is how I found it, but other than that there was nothing. I also heard through the grapevine that tournament support was not high on the list of priorities with the company that brought us this fine game. That, and the game was so morbid and grotesque that most shops refused to carry it. Forget about the major chain stores that won’t even carry parental advisory CDs. That’s why I like it though.
If you are interested in learning more about this game, I have the complete rules here. If you would like to buy some cards you can check http://www.wholesalegaming.com/ or eBay. Whichever you prefer. You can get one box from each set in a package deal for $36 from http://www.wholesalegaming.com/ though.

23 comments:

Topicallo said...

Sounds intriguing. I heard some bad things from some biased people. Any game that takes part of its anatomy from Lovecraft has to have some valid portion to it. It is a shame that it seemed destined to fail from the beginning, with the mature theme and lack of support. But, hopefully I will find some decks in a bargain bin somewhere. It seems like the kind of game I could get into.

Charon said...

Like I said in the article, eBay is one of the best sources. If you check there, wholsalegaming.com has an online shop with that package deal. You could run a sealed tourney then. :)

JerusalemJones said...

I loved Hecatomb, and played (and demoed) it alot! At my store I had a niche group of players, but it just couldn't break into a regular gaming group, no matter how hard I tried.

I think the biggest drawback, truly, was the price point. Boosters were $4.99 each, and starters were $13.99, IIRC. Pretty steep for a "underground" game, tht would appeal to a select group of gamers. But, boy, was it fun.

And, just for the record, I had to buy a bag of Glow in the Dark Zombies to use for souls. Made the game that much more morbid fun.

Charon said...

That is what I love about gaming. The beaty is in the little details. Gonna hafta get a bag of thos zombies.

Mister Bananas said...

I'm kinda late here but having gotten into Hecatomb for the past few months, I'll chime in that it is a lot of fun.

It wasn't just the high price and the marketing that killed it though. The whole game sort of has an "R&D" feel about it. Like Wizards was using this to try out stuff and see what people responded to, and didn't really care if the game took off or not. Maybe the biggest problem was the lack of a decent starter deck. In fact, the starters were just 40 random cards. You can't see the conditional abilities working with that few cards and being random on top of that. Any card game needs good starters for new players to see how a good deck works.

But it sure is cheap now! Gotta like that part of it. And the artwork is great!

Charon said...

I will agree with you about the artwork. Not only that, but it is based on HP Lovecraft, and he is one of my favorite writers.

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