From Peterson Games comes the Lovecraftian dice placement game Unlocking Insanity: Dice Vermiis Mysteriis. In this game of luck and strategy, each player represents a cultist who’s job is to learn the sacred teachings without going completely insane.
Like many other Lovecraft themed board games this one is about carefully avoiding insanity. Efficiency is the name of the game as you place dice results in different sections of the brain while trying to suppress the madness growing within.
How To Play Unlocking Insanity
The aim of the game is to efficiently place dice rolls so that your negative scores never exceed your positive scores.
- 5 Positive Dice
- 5 Negative Dice
- 1 Pad of Brain Sheets
- 5 Pencils
- 25 Insanity Cards (5 of each colour)
- 1 Dice Drawing Bag
- 1 Rulebook
Each player holds their own Brain sheet which they will place all their negative and positive dice scores.
Negative Dice scores are places within the brain diagram, and the Positive Dice scores are placed within the matching tracker.
Each turn the active player chooses two of the colored Positive Dice and rolls them. Then each player selects one of the results on one of the dice and adds it onto the matching tracker.
Next the active player draws a Negative Dice at random from the bag and rolls it. All players must now record that score twice within the brain diagram. The first placement within the matching color, and the second placement somewhere adjacent to the first one.
Then play moves on clockwise. At the begging of each new turn the active player checks to see if they’ve gone insane. This happens when their negative score in a particular section of the brain exceeds the positive score. If this happens they must draw an insanity card for the appropriate color that will haunt them with a specific effect printed on the card.
Once one of the cultist fills out all of their positive OR negative spaces, the game is over and the scores are tallied. The player with the highest score is the wins the game and is deemed worthy of worshiping the Ancient One.
Unlocking Insanity is a great balance of simplicity and strategy. It’s easy enough to learn that new players can be taught in a short time, yet deep enough that learning the right moves can be rather complicated.
With a million Lovecraft horror style games on the market it can be hard to find something new and exciting. Unlocking Insanity does just that. With less focus on the specific horrific beasts and more focus on game play, this is a game anyone can enjoy. It doesn’t lean too heavily on the theme, and definitely not at the expense of gameplay. It’s not all that uncommon to see a Lovecraftian game that draws from the vast source material, and sometimes it’s almost like they use it as a crutch. That’s not the case with Unlocking Insanity, they pay homage while building their own enjoyable engine on top.
The game itself has a lot of RNG (which should be expected in a dice game), so it sometimes feel like the best player didn’t win. But that’s all part of the fun. A few bad draws and unlucky dice rolls and you’ll be flirting with insanity, hoping desperately to get the roll you need. This is a great light board game that would make a welcome addition to anyone’s collection.
Need to make room for this game after reading our Unlocking Insanity review? Here are some tips for culling your board game collection.