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Madness cards were introduced in The Obligatory Cthulhu Set. It is a separate deck which belongs to no one and can only be accessed through specific abilities. Every faction in The Obligatory Cthulhu Set includes cards that interact with Madness, and no other factions mention Madness. The Madness deck should be included in any game played with factions from that set.

While they are played like any other standard action, they have a special impact on the game: at the end of the game, for each pair of Madness cards you have in your hand/deck/discard pile, you lose 1 VP.


All the Madness cards are identical actions. All of them are standard actions, though they don't affect any minions.


30x Madness - Draw two cards OR return this card to the Madness deck. FAQ


Main article: Rules

Preparing the Madness Deck

Gather all the Madness cards together to form the Madness deck. There are thirty Madness cards in total. No need to shuffle this deck because those are thirty copies of the same card.

Place this deck to the side within easy reach so if one player needs one, it can be drawn or passed to them. While not stated in the rules, you should put this deck face-up to avoid confusion with a regular player deck.

Unlike the base deck and the player decks, there isn't a Madness discard pile as the only way to get rid of a Madness card is by returning it to the Madness deck.

Drawing Madness cards

The phrase "draw a Madness card" means put a Madness card from the Madness deck into your hand.

As any other abilities, if the ability says "you may draw a Madness card", you don't have to do it. But if the ability says "draw a Madness card", you must do it. If the Madness deck ever runs out, you're supposed to use cards from an used faction as proxies.[1][2] you must ignore any instructions to draw Madness card until Madness cards are returned to the deck.

Madness cards can go into your deck just like cards you own (e.g. shuffling your discard pile into your deck).

Ownership of Madness cards

Madness aren't a faction, however any player becomes the owner of the Madness cards they possess and control. This is important because if you manage to play a Madness card from another player's hand, deck or discard pile, by playing it you become the Madness card's controller and therefore its owner as well. Therefore, if you choose to draw two cards with it, the Madness card would then be discarded into your discard pile.

Playing Madness cards

Madness cards are all actions. So you can play one by spending one of your action plays, either your free action play, or an extra action play.

When you play a Madness card, you have a choice between two abilities: either drawing two cards from your deck, or returning the Madness card you played to the Madness deck. If you choose to draw two cards, then the Madness card is discarded into your discard pile afterwards.

Discarding Madness cards

After you've played a Madness card and chosen to draw two cards, you have to discard it into your discard pile, not back to the Madness deck. Likewise, if an ability tells you to discard a Madness card, it goes to your discard pile, not back to the Madness deck.

Returning Madness cards

To return a Madness card to the Madness deck, an ability has to instruct you to do so explicitly (e.g. the Madness card itself).

End Game

Games played with Madness cards still end when, at the end of a turn, one player has more victory points than all other players and that player has at least 15 victory points. However, that player isn't necessarily the winner.

At the end of the game, each player searches their hand, deck, and discard pile and counts their Madness cards. If a player has any buried Madness cards, they also count them. Every 2 Madness cards gives you -1 VP (e.g. 5 Madness = -2 VPs). With the standard deck of 30 cards, the maximum penalty possible is -15 VPs. After resolving the Madness card penalties, whoever has the highest total of points wins, even if that total is less than 15.

The Obligatory Cthulhu Set's rulebook does not say how to resolve ties caused by Madness VP penalties. The Science Fiction Double Feature set adds a rule that ties are resolved favoring the player with fewer Madness cards.[3] Ties are still possible, however. For example, if all 3 players are tied at 14 VPs, one player has 4 Madness cards, the others have none, and the player with the Madness plays an Invader. The Cease and Desist rulebook mention that any further ties "share the win!"

Possible Resolution: Madness Deuce: Keep track of how much Madness each player has (which is never a secret). Don't end the game unless there are no ties.[houserule]


Madness cards are always a burden on the player who draws them. They consume space in your hand and deck where you would rather have other cards. You can choose to ignore them. In that case, you would discard them if your hand exceeds 10 cards during Phase 4 of your turn, and shuffle those into a new deck if your deck runs out of cards.

Unless you are playing Miskatonic University, you can only mitigate Madness cards by spending action plays, but you still don't entirely net a benefit. However, if you count just a single Madness card at the end of the game, you don't lose VPs.


Questions on Madness

Q: If I use a card's ability to discard a Madness card (e.g. Librarian, ... It Just Might Work, Madness Unleashed), do I discard it into the Madness deck?

A: No, you discard it into your discard pile.

Rule: If an ability tells you to discard a Madness card, it goes to your discard pile, not back to the Madness deck.

Q: If I have ten cards in hand, what happens if I play a Madness card to draw to cards?

A: You draw two cards and don't discard any card until your next Draw 2 Cards phase (so not any Draw 2 Cards phase!). At that point, you will indeed need to draw two cards and discard down to 10 if you have more than 10. That's the only moment where you must discard down to 10. At any other time, you keep your hand of cards.

Rule: You wait until your Draw 2 Cards phase to discard down to 10; if your hand is bigger than 10 at other times of the game, that’s okay.

Q: If I play another player's Madness card from their hand (e.g. Min-Maxing), from their deck (e.g. Mass Enchantment) or from their discard pile (e.g. Word of Recall) and choose to draw two cards, where is it discarded?

A: You played it, so you've got control of, which makes you its owner as well. Non-standard actions are discarded into their owner's deck, so the Madness card goes into your discard pile, not the other player's.

Rule: The current possessor or controller of each Madness card is treated as its owner as well.

Q: If I want or need to draw a Madness card, but the Madness deck is empty, what happens?

A: The Madness deck isn't finite. If you ever run out of Madness cards, you must use the cards from an unused faction as replacements.[1][2]

A: UPDATE. According to The Bigger Geekier Box rulebook, if the Madness deck is empty, you can't draw any more Madness cards and therefore must ignore such instructions until one of more Madness cards are returned to the Madness deck.

Rule: Do exactly what the card says.

Q: If a player manages to get 15 VP, but gets to 14 because they have two Madness cards, does the game end or do we continue to play?

A: If they managed to get 15 or more VP and have the most VP out of all players before counting up their Madness, then the game ends immediately and everyone stops playing! It's only after ending the game that you count how many Madness cards each player owns.

Rule: Determine the Madness penalty after the game ends based on the normal 15 VP condition; the game still ends after that.

Q: At the end of the game, if I have an odd number of Madness card, do I lose -0.5 VP from the single remaining Madness card?

A: No, if you have an odd number of Madness card, the one that's left out doesn't make you lose any VP.

Rule: Every 2 Madness cards gives you -1 VP.

Q: At the end of the game, I have Madness cards buried in play and since we only have to check our hand, deck and discard pile, burying Madness cards allow me to count them out of the VP penalty, right?

A: No, the Burying rules clarify that buried Madness cards do count toward the VP penalty at the end of the game.

Rule: Madness cards that are buried at the end of the game still count against their controller.


In other languages

Language Name
Chinese 瘋狂
French Démence
German Wahnsinn
Italian Follia
Russian Безумие
Spanish Locura

The Obligatory Cthulhu Set
Factions: Elder Things  •  Innsmouth  •  Minions of Cthulhu  •  Miskatonic University
Mechanics: Madness  •  Titans (optional, since the TITANS Event Kit)
Main: Core Set  •  Awesome Level 9000  •  The Obligatory Cthulhu Set  •  Science Fiction Double Feature  •  Monster Smash  •  Pretty Pretty Smash Up  •  Smash Up: Munchkin  •  It’s Your Fault!  •  Cease and Desist  •  What Were We Thinking?  •  Big in Japan  •  That ’70s Expansion  •  Oops, You Did It Again  •  World Tour: International Incident  •  World Tour: Culture Shock  •  Smash Up: Marvel  •  Smash Up: Disney Edition  •  10th Anniversary
Big Boxes: The Big Geeky Box  •  The Bigger Geekier Box
Event Kits: All Stars Event Kit  •  TITANS Event Kit
Promotional: Smash Up All Stars  •  Smash Up Sheep Promo  •  Smash Up Penguins  •  Smash Up TITANS  •  Dead Reckoning Promo  •  Smash Up Goblins  •  Smash Up Knights of the Round Table
Cancelled: World Tour Event Kit