Review: Elder Sign
- # of Players: 1-8
- Best # of Players: 4
- Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
- Age Range: 14+
- Price Point: $34.95
As you walk the halls and exhibits of the Miskatonic University Museum your flashlight barely illuminates your surroundings. Moving deeper into the bowels of the museum, you feel a barely perceptible thrum coursing throughout the building. Rounding the next corner, you come face to face with the unimaginable, an abomination from beyond time and space.
Elder Sign is a cooperative dice game that pits a group of investigators against the great old ones and their unholy worshipers. Players take turns trying to complete the tasks on adventure cards, by matching symbols from dice rolls to the tasks on the card, in order to gain resources and, if they are lucky, the elder signs they need to vanquish the great old one before the doom track is filled, and it thrusts itself into our reality. However, players must tread cautiously, each failed attempt to complete a task reduces the dice pool by one. And if they fail to complete an adventure they face dire consequences: Death, Madness, summoning the great old one’s minions, or the advancement of the doom track. And sometimes success has the same potential for dire consequences as a failure. Adding to the tension of potential, and likely, failure is the turn counter. Each time the counter reaches midnight a new instant and/or lingering consequence is revealed. Consequences that include summoning monsters, losing health or sanity points, and adding tokens to the doom track.
This game can be played by 1 player, but it really shines when you have 3 or 4 players around the table. This game really requires teamwork to win, and there are several things players can do to aid one another, from healing each other’s wounds to helping with an adventure card.
Another great thing about this game is that when an adventure card is cleared, it is collected as a trophy. Trophies can be spent to heal investigators, or to gain resources. This goes a long way towards helping players outmaneuver the machinations of the great old one they are facing.
There is real tension as players race the clock, and the doom track, in their quest to seal away the great old one for good. It can be just as hazardous to beat an adventure as it is to fail one, which influences which adventures players attempt.
With 8 great old ones and over 40 adventure cards in the base game, each game is different, lending this title to a lot of replayability.
Even though this game is better with more players, this does cause some downtime, which can get dull after a few rounds. This is, however, mitigated somewhat by the cooperative nature of the game.
The rules for this title are a little complicated and take time to learn fully. This could lead to new players having a hard time their first play through. As a result of this, it probably isn’t the best game to introduce new people to gaming.
Finally, the game does take a while to play. Playtime is at least an hour, and usually more.
This is a very fun game, and should not be overlooked.
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