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Tabletop Game / Hecatomb

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Caution: sharp edges.

Hecatomb was a short-lived horror-themed Collectible Card Game created by Wizards of the Coast in 2005, notable for using 5-sided plastic cards in place of paper product. Lasting only three sets before being discontinued in 2006, it drew elements from many sources, ranging from mythology to modern day conspiracy theories like The Greys, as well as other works like the Cthulhu Mythos.

In the game, each Player represents an Endbringer-a being of Godlike power who travels from world to world, destroying each in turn to fuel their own power. Vying with other players, you release monsters, recruit cultists, enact rituals, craft or seek out relics, summon eldritch beings from beyond, and recruit Dark Gods to your cause-bringing about the destruction of a world in order to reap the souls of its inhabitants. Four Dooms represent avenues of power: Destruction (Red), Greed (Green), Corruption (Gray), and Deceit (Blue). All cards are one of the four, requiring at least one Mana of its Doom to play, with no multi-colored cards.

The game is structured differently than contemporaries such as Magic: The Gathering; rather than eliminating opponents, your goal is to enact your scheme to bring about the Apocalypse, which happens when a player reaches twenty Souls. Each player starts with 5 Souls, and receives 1 Soul at the beginning of each of their turns-the end of the world is inevitable, and forestalling it is difficult. Each player summons minions to serve as foot soldiers, with a catch-minions are all but useless on their own, and cannot attack or block unless 2 to 5 of them are 'stitched' together into Abominations. Abominations attack and block each other; unblocked, each Abomination will reap a number of Souls from the opponent equal to its size, plus any bonuses, up to whatever the opponent possesses at the time. Thus, the ever growing 'pool' of Souls forms a universal resource fought over and changing hands until one Endbringer can reach critical mass.

Supplementing these Abominations are Relics, Fates, and Gods. Relics are devices that provide continuous and sometimes global effects, which cannot be destroyed by combat. Fates are spells, rituals, rites, equipment, strategies and other such schemes that provide one-shot or temporary effects. Gods can only be summoned one at a time, deigning to join your cause to provide a triggered effect as they enter play, and a continuous effect while they remain. Mana is specific to each Doom, but any card can be sent to the Mana zone as a resource, rather than specific cards.

Hecatomb contains examples of:

  • The Antichrist: Each player is an Endbringer, an Omnicidal Maniac who travels worlds and destroys them one by one.
  • Animate Inanimate Object: The Animate minion type, who are rather rare (making up only 20 of the 360 cards released, 21 out of 365 if you count the promo cards.)
  • Doomsday Device: Several in the form of Relics, ranging from cobbled-together junk or severed heads floating in jars to famous artifacts like The Spear of Destiny.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: The basic premise - each player is an Omnicidal Maniac competing with other Omnicidal Maniacs to be the first to gather enough souls to bring about The End of the World as We Know It to fuel their powers, then move on to the next Alternate Universe to start over. You fight each other by summoning/creating monstrous minions (many of them eldritch abominations in their own right) and fusing them together to form Abominations, calling down evil gods (including Great Old Ones), and similar dirty tricks, all to get the requisite 20 soul tokens at your enemies' expense. And since every player gained a soul token at the beginning of his/her turn...
  • Cthulhu Mythos: Every set has several representatives of it, either minions like Shoggoths and Gugs, or Gods such as Big C himself.
  • Destroyer Deity: All of them. In addition to Mythological Deities, numerous creatures from the Cthulhu Mythos are grouped here. They cannot be attacked, only one God can assist each Endbringer at one time, and each provide 2 effects-one as they come into play, another while they remain so.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Many and varied, ranging from lowly expendable minions to Gods that can nearly (and sometimes actually) end a game on their own. Most (but by no means all) are aligned with either Corruption or Deceit, and if Minions, tend to have the Outsider type.
  • Evil Versus Evil: Every conflict between Endbringers has this as the premise. They all want the same thing, the destruction of the world, and they only fight so that the world ends in the way they want.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: The goal of the game. In a fight between Endbringers, this is the end result of someone winning.
  • Four Is Death: The four Dooms represent your particular bases of power: Destruction, Greed, Corruption, and Deceit. Each have different styles, though there is significant crossover with the limited number of keywords:
    • Destruction tends to curve high, with large minions and combat enhancements designed to help its Abominations destroy enemies in combat; reinforced by sacrificial effects to seal the deal.
    • Greed is more mid-range, with tough minions that are difficult to destroy; combined with effects to recover resources, hamstring enemy Abominations, and manipulate Mana.
    • Corruption sets up fast with solid, cheap minions and powerful, self-destructive effects. This is supplemented with Soul manipulation, minion destruction, and discard effects.
    • Deceit uses minions for their triggered or activated abilities. This is buttressed with Tap/Untap effects, combat stitching/severing, and card draw.
  • The Greys: Present in the second and final expansion, Blanket of Lies, where multiple alien conspiracies clash with shadowy government agencies.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: What each player is, whether representing a Mad Scientist, Sorcerous Overlord, or deranged master cultist to something unspeakable.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: A Destruction fate card literally has this name, which forces an opposing player to discard a Relic in play; the picture and flavor text strongly implies that an incompetent underling accidentally destroyed it.
  • Zerg Rush: Generally averted, due to the mechanics of the game. Minions must be stitched into Abominations in order to attack or defend at all, and cannot attack the turn they are summoned or stitched without assistance. The solitary win condition-reaching twenty Souls-makes it impossible to knock a player out of the game, and generally precludes 'win early or not at all' strategies. Still a viable tactic when mixing Corruption and Greed, whom possess excellent early minions and combat support; allowing them to seize an early advantage before turtling as the Souls pile up.