It’s sort of a “dudes on a map” game, where each player controls a faction of cultists, monsters and elder beings from the Cthulhu Mythos.
Its defining features are big, beautiful miniatures and asymmetric game play. Although the winning conditions are the same (most points wins as long as you have all of your upgrades), the way that each player goes about it is very different. Each player has an entirely unique set of units and powers to use and attempt to synergize. During the game, there are six conditions or tasks that are different for the individual factions — the completion of each gets the player an upgrade (a special ability). You’ll not only want to complete these for the upgrades, but you cannot win the game without having done them.
It’s fun and interesting; you have to try to learn how to play your own faction and how to keep the other players from achieving their goals and earning points. It basically a reworking of Chaos in the Old World, taking out the card play and area majority mechanics. The rules pretty simple, making it easy to get playing right away. The interaction of the different units, powers and goals (as well as player negotiation) is what gives the game its thinky parts.
The miniatures are from Fenris, so they are lovely sculpts. They come cast in “board game plastic”, but the material is decent enough to paint and they are mostly meant to be in 28mm, which makes them useful for miniature gaming in any scenario that calls for cultists, monsters, mutants, aliens, etc.
Its downside is that it’s pretty expensive. The base set has a msrp of $200. Of course, there are a lot of expansions to dig a deeper hole in your wallet… If you think of it in terms of cost per miniature, it’s reasonable and you get a board game to boot. If you think of it in terms of board gaming, it’s going to be a question of relative value compared to other games, particularly when similar play can be gotten with games such as Chaos in the Old World, Blood Rage or Lords of the Ice Garden. I really enjoy games that have card play, so Chaos was edging this out for a while; however Cthulhu Wars’ rules are more accessible to new players, I think, as well as having a more flexible player count (can be played with 3-8, while Chaos in the Old World is really just a 4 player game).
There are more details here: https://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/139976/cthulhu-wars
I found this set of strategy articles that have been a good read: http://gamerati.com/author/alexflagg/
I bought it on a whim. My flgs had it on the day it was released and I got it at significant discount (it pays to be friends with the retailer). I’m not a big H.P. Lovecraft fan (I enjoy some of his work) and I don’t have “Cthulhu Geek Cred”, but I love miniatures and a good game. It’s good enough that I will be purchasing expansions for it.