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Although I've always been a big gaming fan I only recently started getting into the hobby seriously, after taking some time to read several reviews I decided to make Elder Sign one of the first additions to my collection - and I'm so glad I did.
Initially I was interested in Arkham Horror because I really love the theme of the game but its so huge and detailed I wanted something a bit lighter that still had the feel and atmosphere that Arkham brings, which is where Elder Sign steps in. This is set in the same Lovecraft universe as Arkham but takes that rich theme and condenses it into a 60 to 90 minute gaming experience instead of the colossal 240+ minute marathon that Arkham delivers. So obviously this makes Elder Sign a much less intimidating game for somebody who is just getting started in gaming but wants a taste of that dark horror/sci-fi vibe, also at a much lower cost.
Just in case you don't already know in Elder Sign you and the other players work together as a group of 1920's pulp investigators making your way around an old museum and completing adventures in the many different areas of the building in a collective effort to stop one of the ancient evil gods from entering our world and basically destroying everything.
Overall for me this game ticks so many boxes, firstly it sets up quickly and the various cards and components are all beautifully made with great artwork. Secondly its easy to learn and teach which makes it perfect to pick up and play in a fairly short space of time. Thirdly it plays at a good speed and doesn't ever feel boring, thanks to the fast paced dice rolling nature of the game it gets really exciting at times. And finally the whole thing is dripping with that great Lovecraftian theme, everything from the monsters and investigators right down to the items you collect - it's very satisfying going into a creepy old museum armed with The Necronomicon and a tommy gun.
So if you're interested in Arkham or Eldritch Horror but like me you want something more accessible then have a look at Elder Sign. Also even if you have no interest in these other games but want a fun cooperative game that plays quickly and has a solid theme then definitely pick this up.
This is a great game, but it has quite a lot of elements to it (8 card types, 6 token types, and 3 colours of dice) which can be a little confusing at first. The first time we played it we had to refer back to the rule book practically every round and we had to pause once or twice to check a Youtube video's explanation (not necessary at all from game 3 onwards). If you find this game confusing, check for a tutorial video online and persevere because it's super worth it. The game basically has two phases: the first part is more strategic and cooperative and the second part makes for a really great change of pace which prevents things from getting stale. It's also a really well put-together game, all the pieces are well designed and made, and the box comes with plenty of bags to store tokens and dice.
I wasnt sure what to expect when I ordered this. I have recently just got back into gaming, as an alternative to playing video games as I was finding that video games ont really excite me like they are used to. First off I have to say that the production quality is absolutely excellent. All of the tokens are sturdy, and well designed with great artwork. The same goes for the cards which definitely feel robust (although I might get sleeves for them later down the line). Elder Sign can be played with anything from 1 to 8 players. I have only played 1 and 2 player games at the moment, but would definitely like to get some more players involved. Even as a 1 player game, this really stands up well, but I roped my daughter into playing and we had a blast. The games so far have lasted 1-2 hours, with the first taking the longest as I was constantly referring to the rules, but once I had the basics down it got a lot quicker. I mainly bought this, as my daughter has recently started enjoying games, but doesnt cope well with the competitive side of things, so we play as a team. Both the games I have played have been very difficult, but we won both times. I really enjoy the fact that by shuffling and randomly dealing the demon/adventure/investgator cards you can have a completely different game every time. Although this is initially a deep game to get in to, it doesnt take long, and Im pretty much hooked already. Im already looking into the expansion packs.
As is well recorded Elder Sign is a dice rolling game. That is perhaps simplistic but is essentially at the heart of the matter. However, there are a variety of methods to manipulate the rolls, from saving dice rolls to changing some results. Once that's done those not saved (and options are limited) are re-rolled in the hope of hitting the required results. The whole theme is based around the Cthululu mythos and has a decent atmosphere. Bottom line. If you hate dice rolling this isn't for you. Most board games though involve at least a few dice and/or card drawing so are inherently luck biased. If this is ok by you, then this us a good little game, quick to set up and play, relatively rules light and very nice components. Nowadays there are a good few expansion too so if it turns out to be your bag there is extra longevity in it. I recommend it as a not too taxing enjoyable game. Go for it.
I really wanted to love this game, it's presentation, artwork and components are top notch. Unfortunately my group just didn't take to it. I think with hindsight the theme can put people off and I certainly wouldn't play it at more than 4 players - there's too much downtime waiting for your turn otherwise. On the plus side you can play it solo so anyone who enjoys 'Cthulhu' themed games would enjoy this one. Ended up trading it away for another board game.
For the Solo player this is incredible and is best played solo too. If your after a solo experience in the Arkham horror world get this, it is so much better than say Mansion of Madness that plays 90% on the APP in solo mode. For Solo play: Elder sign > Eldritch Horror > Arkham Horror LCG > Arkham Horror 3rd Edition > Mansion of Madness
This has quickly become a favourite in the house thanks to its easy to learn rules and quick set up.
The basic premise is that you are a group of adventurers and experts in the occult rushing around Miskatonic University trying to gather enough Elder Signs to seal the dark lord Cthulhu or one of the other Old Ones before they wake from their ancient slumber and cause a nuisance. For Lovecraft fans everything will be instantly familiar. For those new to the world, each card and token comes with a brief but atmospheric bit of text that I like to read out in an old and creaky sounding voice.
During initial setup you will lay down six adventure cards. These are rooms and events around the University that you must complete to earn rewards. The rewards will most commonly be magical or mundane items to help you clear further adventures but your main goal is to pick up Elder Signs from these cards which you will need a certain amount of to seal the current Old One you are facing off against. Fail these adventures and you will suffer the penalties which will most often reduce the players health or sanity, the two factors that keep each investigator alive. However they may also add Doom to a counter. Accumulate too much Doom and the Old One will wake up and you will be pushed into one last ditch effort to defeat the Old One as they wrack your body and mind with their ancient evil.
To resolve these adventures you will have to roll six dice. Each adventure card has a number of results you must roll. Meet the requirements with a roll and solve that portion of the card. Fail and you must discard a dice and try again. When you run out of dice you fail the adventure and suffer the penalties. There are items and mechanics within the game that can help you make this easier or harder. Like items that let you use extra dice or monsters that will lock a die until you defeat them. It adds a nice layer of strategy to what could have been a frustrating reliance on the luck of the roll.
The game is not perfect of course. It can be a bit too easy sometimes as the game really stacks the odds in your favour. Especially if you are choosing your own investigator at the start of the game, since certain combinations make you almost unstoppable. After a couple of games though it should be easy enough to tweak the experience slightly to add an extra challenge if you think it needs it.
This game plays well a few times, but once you've seen the majority of the cards it does lose its replayability a bit. Also, being mostly reliant on the roll of some dice, it gets a bit frustrating in a way other Fantasy Flight games don't seem to. If you've already got Eldritch Horror and are looking for a quicker Lovecraft game then have a look at this; if you haven't, go and buy Eldritch Horror first because it is overall much more fun, much more thematically interesting, and has much better gameplay than what is, essentially, horror yatzee.
I found this to be a very enjoyable game. It is a little complicated to begin with as there are quite a lot of rules to remember. However, after a few goes it becomes much easier and so much fun. The cards are beautifully made and great at helping to immerse you in the game. The clock I received with the game didn't quite fir together which was disappointing but this could be a one off. A great choice for people who really enjoy their table top games. I mean, who doesn't want to battle Cthulhu?
Sounds like a negative review, but this game is really very challenging. You can play solo or with several friends but, unlike games like Pandemic, the difficulty level remains pretty static and that means you're in for a fight and beating the game feels pretty rewarding. Once you start to lose, it can snowball pretty quickly until you're completely defeated but the dice mean you always feel like you might have a chance to turn it around.
This is probably a game for "board gamers" - it can take a fair bit of setting up and explaining to people new to Lovecraft and/or board games and it's not a game of instant gratification so you probably wouldn't want to use it to introduce someone to the genre. Absolutely worth picking up if you're a few games into the hobby, though,