Several years ago Portal Games released a fantastic little drafting card game called Tides of Time. In 2016 Portal Games would come to release a reimplementation of Tides of Time with a Cthulhu theme to it called Tides of Madness.

Now you might be asking what the difference is. And I can tell you there is a slight difference. Let me just say that there is a twist of madness to the game.

Tides of Madness is a two player game, for ages ten to adult, & may take fifteen to twenty minutes to play. That makes Tides of Madness a really quick filler that can be played over & over again without it wearing the players down.

The way Tides of Madness plays is pretty simple. There are three rounds to be played.

In the first round of play, each player will be dealt five cards out of the eighteen total. The remaining cards will be placed aside as a draw pile. Each round will consist of three phases.

In phase one, the drafting phase, of a round players will choose a card, place it face down in front of them, being careful not to reveal it to their opponent. Each player will then pass the remaining cards to their opponent. The players will continue to do this until each player has five cards.

Next, players will go into the scoring phase. This is where strategy begins to form for the rest of the game. Each player will reveal each card they kept while drafting.

Each card will contain one symbol representing Races, Locations, Outer Gods, Great Old Ones, & Manuscripts. There are also three cards that don’t contain any type of symbol. Additionally there are eight cards that feature tendrils. The tendrils are what make this game unique over the original.

While scoring each player will look at their cards to see what if they have any tendrils. If their cards contain tendrils then they are to take one Madness token per each one. Then players will look at the scoring objectives on each card.


Each objective will tell how to score for each of the symbols that their cards have. Using the card “Deep Ones” as an example the player that has this will score six points for each set of Great Old Ones & Manuscripts they have.


At the end of scoring players will look to see if they have nine or more madness. If one or either does then they lose the game from going insane. But if a player has a majority of Madness tokens then they can decide to add an additional four points to their score or subtract one Madness token from their supply.

After scoring players will move onto the Refresh phase. In this phase players will scoop up the cards they played that turn. Each player will then choose to keep one card & place it face down in front of them. Next they will choose one card from their hand & place it face up into the game box. Players will then reveal their face down card. After the reveal each player will then receive two new cards adding it to their hand once again creating a hand of five cards.

Players will do as they did before & draft cards until they have six cards laying in front of them for the second round of play. Players will score the same way in the second round. After scoring, players will do the same thing during the refresh phase as they did at the end of the first round.

In the third round players will start with two cards in front of them. In the scoring phase of the third round players will end up scoring for a total of seven cards.

At the end of the third round the player with the most points will end up winning the game. Hopefully no one goes insane during the process of playing.

I love the drafting mechanic in this game along with the unique “madness” trait. I actually consider this to be better than the original. Maybe it is because of the whole going mad while playing the game.

Tides of Madness has some great artwork, just like its predecessor. The game itself is pretty compact, comes with a score pad, & a pencil. And at retail for $12 it is quite a steal for such a great little game.

Get ready to go mad, or not, & of course game on!

-Christopher Richter

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