Welcome to the ancient city of R’Lyeh. In R’lyeh, the Elder God known as Cthulhu is dead & dreaming. Here in R’Lyeh players must escape from this nightmarish world or perish from the unspeakable horrors.

As this was my second full Origins Game Fair this year I was happy to enjoy myself just a little more than last. I talked to more people & played more games. But one game I missed out demoing was Lost in R’Lyeh from Atlas Games.

Lost in R’lyeh is a card game for two to six players ages thirteen to adult & may take up to forty-five minutes to play. The time of play is relative to how many people are playing.

In Lost in R’leyh players want to escape this ancient, cursed city belonging to the Elder God Cthulhu. Players will make their escape by getting rid of all their cards in their hand & also on the table. The last player to have cards remaining in their hand or table will surely perish an unspeakable death.

There are seventy-five cards, fifty horror & twenty-five events, in the game of Lost in R’Lyeh. The number of cards a player receives is dependent on how many people are playing according to a chart in the rule book. Each player will also receive five cards face up in front of them.

Horror cards will have a numbered value representing the “horror rating” of a card. Horror cards will also have a specific power. Playing multiples of the same card could result in the activation of a cards power.


Event cards will have a symbol representing an Elder Sign. These cards will have also have an event effect that will resolve as it is played. When played, event cards will be laid perpendicular across Horror cards.


These face up cards are the player’s “Escape Cards”.  Players will then take a card from their hand & lay it face down next to their face up Escape cards. This face down card is their “Ultimate Escape” card. The Ultimate Escape card can not be banished or moved unless it is the very last card available for play. The Ultimate Escape card will be the last card played. It is recommended to keep a high value card or an Elder Sign as the Ultimate Escape.


The remaining cards will form the draw pile.

Starting with the player who slept most recently or loser of the last game & proceeding clockwise, players will take turns playing cards from their hands to form a central , face up stack of cards. On a player’s turn they may play either one Event card, or one or more Horror cards.

When playing one or more Horror cards , if there is a horror card at the top of the stack , the rating or the new card or cards must be equal to or of higher value. If there is an event card on the stack a player must play a card or cards equal to  or higher than the most recently played Horror card in the stack.


If there are no cards in the stack than any rating of Horror card may be played. However, if no cards can be played & there are cards in the stack, then the current player has to pick up all the cards in the stack & add them to their hand.

At the end of a player’s turn, if cards remain in the draw pile, a player must draw back up to their starting hand size. When no cards remain in the draw pile, players will not draw. This will start off the players escape from R’Lyeh. The goal is to deplete the cards from hand.

Some cards will allow player’s to banish cards from the game. Any cards that are banished from the game are completely removed from play.

Some cards may also allow players to change player rotation. A nifty player rotation token has been added into the game to let players know which way play is going. So from time to time play may change from clockwise to counter-clockwise.

Once a player has depleted their hand, they will pick an Escape card, on their turn & place it into their hand. They may decide to play that card or to take the stack if they can not. When a player reaches this point if a card orders that player to play again, they can not. A player may only play one Escape card at a time.

When a player finally depletes their Escape cards they will then be able to use their Ultimate Escape card. Once a player has used up all of their cards they are successful & have escaped R’lyeh. When all players but one have escaped R’Lyeh the game is over. Those players have survived & the last remaining player loses their sanity & is stuck forever in the prison of their own mind.

While I was at Origins Game Fair this year I played several games at the Atlas Games booth. Lost in R’Lyeh was one that I got to watch some friends play. Unfortunately I didn’t get to play at Origins but I did get to play earlier the next week at Beyond the Board in Dublin, Ohio.

I was lucky enough to remove a copy from Jeff Tidball of Atlas Games. The artwork is remarkable. H.P. Lovecraft would love the scenes on the cards. They feel nice & glossy. The cards are longer & wider than the normal playing card. It also comes in a tin box. Some people don’t like the tins but I know I do.

Lost in R’Lyeh is a fascinating hand management game. While playing, a player has to decide if they want to play a card or cards or maybe even take the stack to active some sinister power or effect the next time they play.

Even changing the course of player rotation card have significant ramifications on how cards are placed in the stack. Because a player may not want the next player to play right away.

If you are a fan of the Cthulhu lore or just like good card games then this is one to get for your collection.  Just don’t be the last one lost in R’lyeh.

-Christopher Richter

Twitter: @Boardgaming_FTW