When I arrived home yesterday, a Cthulhu Fluxx demo kit was The Thing on the Doorstep. (And a good Thing too, lest I become The Lurker at the Threshold.) My daughter had been eagerly awaiting a new Fluxx game, and she insisted that we play right away. (Not that I resisted at all.)
Our first game went pretty smoothly. She would have won once or twice, if I hadn't changed the goal in the nick of time. New rules seemed slow in coming for this game. Maybe I didn't shuffle well enough? We ended up with a relatively constant Draw 2 + Doom / Play 1 situation that ballooned both of our hands to the point where it seemed like someone must win soon. I was about to pull it off with the "Miskatonic University" goal (requiring the Librarian and the Professor), but -- ak! -- the Nightmares creeper popped up and attached to the Librarian. It was a minor setback, as it turned out. I had the Sanitarium, so we cured that condition quickly, and I played the goal for a win.
My wife joined in for the second hand. This one really allowed the game to do a "star turn," exhibiting its coolest features. The "Fear of the Unknown" new rule came into play early, giving us a chance to find out that my daughter is afraid of spiders and I'm afraid of a nuclear accident. In general, this hand featured more new rules than the one before, and they were interesting and Cthulhu-specific ones.
Before too long, the un-goals started coming fast and furious. Immediately after drawing Cthulhu, I made a forced play of the corresponding un-goal which would have sunk the hand if we had had just one extra point of Doom on the table. I quickly replaced it with "The Dunwich Horror," which left us in the same bind, but at least Yog-Sothoth hadn't come into play yet. When he did, just a turn later, the un-goal had already been replaced. But the Doom continued to advance, and when I played the Cultist a couple of turns later, I thought I had won the game. (The Cultist is Wilbur Whateley, so the person with the Cultist on the table wins if the Dunwich Horror un-goal conditions are met.)
But in fact my daughter had the Secret Cultist, a curious situation addressed in the rules FAQ. The Secret Cultist (a surprise card which gives the win to its holder with the fulfillment of any current un-goal) trumps poor Wilbur, and thus she won that hand, and then off she went to bed ... to dream of excrementious manifestations of the unspeakable externality to which all terrestrial things must eventually succumb.
This game will easily displace Martian Fluxx as my favorite Fluxx game. The Doom-based un-goals and the Secret Cultist are excellent mechanisms that really set this one apart from its predecessors and anchor it firmly in its theme. There are definitely humorous touches, but there's also a flavor of the genuine macabre. This Cthulhu isn't just (as Andy says) "Godzilla with a tentacle mustache."