Elder Sign

My daughter is having a sleep-over tonight, and they’re going to watch some scary movies. I hate scary movies, but I do like board games with a horror theme. I had the opportunity to play Elder Sign last week, and I really liked it.

Elder Sign by Fantasy Flight GamesElder Sign is a cooperative boardgame designed by Kevin Wilson and Richard Launius of Arkham Horror fame and produced by Fantasy Flight Games. The game is recommended for 1 – 8 players ages 13 and over. I’ve only played it with four players, but I think it will scale well from two to eight. I haven’t tried the solo rules, but I rarely like solo versions of boardgames. Solitaire play defeats the purpose of boardgaming, as far as I am concerned.

My buddy Joe described this game as Arkham Horror Yahtzee. Basically, the players work together to investigate arcane mysteries in order to locate items that will prevent an other-dimensional monster from appearing and making everyone’s property value go down even more than this new normal. Each player gets a character card and a special ability, along with some spells or items that will help them investigate an area or defeat a monster. Players roll dice in order to meet the goals that are present on the card. If you succeed, you get the rewards on the location card, but if you fail, you usually lose health or sanity and the horrible elder beast gets a little closer to ruining your day.

While it is a cooperative game, I didn’t see that many opportunities for players to help each other; however, it still felt like we were working together for a common goal. It took less than 30 minutes to learn, and four of us were able to play through the game in a little over an hour.

I think it’s a great game for the Halloween season, and will see a lot of repeat play throughout the year. Pick it up at your friendly neighborhood game store, or you can pick it up from the nice folks at Funagain.com.

3 thoughts on “Elder Sign”

  1. Nice review, I also enjoy the game.

    I read few reviews, but if I know the person and trust their opinion, I’m more likely to try a game.

    You did a fine job explaining the rules, but what I really want to know is *why* do you like it? What’s it got? Too many bloggers/podcasters take the approach of explaining a game and pay too little attention talking about their experience.

  2. I like horror, but haven’t ever given much thought to the Lovecraft world. My problem with Arkham Horror was that too little theme came out of the game, it just felt long for what it gave me. Just seemed to be a role and move.

    ES, however, is pretty quick. The dice rolling really lets you feel like you’re doing something, and you get that feeling you get from Risk “Man! Only if I was better at rolling skulls!”.

    I liked the ability to choose ‘rule breakers’, different weapons, sidekicks, skills etc., to enhance my ability to accomplish the tasks.

    I felt the cooperative wasn’t bad. In the one game I played we ended up with a lot of extra monsters on the goals. So, we’d have to decide as a group to have one guy go in and clear away the monster so another could come in and achieve the goal. The ability to have a person camping out on a goal to save back one dice didn’t seem too impacting, but maybe we were underestimating its affect?

  3. I sat down with a close friend and two strangers and ended up having a fun time, even though my first impression of the two newcomers was not very good. We were working together, even if we couldn’t help each other too much. I think I had an ability that could heal people a little, but most of the time we helped each other by paying some of the required items or health/sanity to prevent the doom cards from getting too costly.

    I liked that it was something we could laugh through, and not take too seriously. My first character was named Monterey Jack. I also think the dice rolling element added some real fun.

    Arkham Horror is a bit intimidating, but ES is not at all. We had a few questions about monster placement when all of the monster cards already had monster cards on them, but other than that, we did okay. We did forget that you add a doom token when someone dies, so we shouldn’t have won, but who cares? We had fun.

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