Your flashlight flickers to life and you see it there, lurking just below the surface of the murky water. At first you can't believe your eyes but there it is before you, a huge and horrible monstrosity that can't possibly be of this world. The fetid water bubbles, releasing what seems the stench of eons. It's almost suffocating and your first instinct is to flee this place and never return. But no, you have a job to do. You have to prove to Professor Walters you have what it takes to be part of the team.
Pure evil stirs just below the surface as you grab your tools of the trade. Looking over your arsenal, you pick the perfect implement for the job and attack, jabbing wildly into the muck. Each new blow falls short, only succeeding in further clouding the already filthy water. Suddenly, you feel the weapon hit home, followed by a pained, gurgling sound that can only mean success! The water drains away, taking with it the vile abomination that was hidden below. You peer further over the edge to savor the victory but fail to notice the nauseating sound of the slithering, tentacled mass rising up behind you. The door slams shut and an "Out of Order" sign falls silently to the floor. But the silence is short lived once the screaming begins. Those screams are your own and they will be the last sounds you ever hear. Well, that and the sound of a sickening flush..
Professor Walters had such high hopes for you. But they do say that good help is hard to find so it's back to to the drawing board. It looks like Miskatonic Museum will be in need of a new janitor. After all, the executive bathroom isn't going to clean itself. If only there was something we could do about this turnover, we have to stop losing people..
It's a shame really, that's the third one this month..
- Players: 1 - 8
- Duration: 90 mins
- Difficulty: Medium
- Type: Board Game
- Cooperative, Dice Rolling
In Elder Sign, you and your friends assume the roles of investigators trying to solve the cryptic riddles that lie within the darkened rooms of Miskatonic Museum. An ancient Elder God threatens to break through to this world and you'll have to work together to find clues and defeat monsters to stop it from doing so. But it's a race against the clock and only by surviving the horrors of the museum and collecting enough Elder Signs can you hope to prevent it from awakening and laying waste to this world.
The playing area consists of 6 randomly chosen adventure cards, each representing a room within the museum that must be investigated in order to gain clues, items, and the elusive Elder Signs you'll need to succeed. Each card must be defeated by rolling dice and matching the required combinations on it. If you're successful, you gain the rewards and collect the card as a trophy, replacing it with the next card from the adventure deck. If not, you'll pay the penalties and possibly lose your valuable health and sanity.
Each player card has a health and sanity level that if depleted, will represent death or madness and remove them from the game. This is bad. But each investigator also has their own set of perks, such as the ability to change dice to the specific value or added rewards when successfully completing a rooms task. They also have the aid of some pretty powerful cards.
Each investigator begins the game with the starting item cards noted on their player card. Unique (red) and Common (yellow) item cards often allow you to add the yellow or red die (or both) to your dice pool to help with the more difficult tasks. Spell (purple) item cards mostly allow you to lock helpful dice in the case of a failed roll to complete a task (more on that later) and Ally cards (orange) represent companions that can assist you in your quest for Elder Signs. Use all of these cards wisely since they are very limited and can only be replenished by being rewarded after some completed tasks.
Speaking of completing tasks, that's essentially the core of this game. By using your pool of 6 green dice (and with the aid of Unique and Common cards, the yellow and red dice as well) you'll try to complete the tasks on each room card. You do this by rolling your dice pool and matching the symbols on the dice to the ones shown on the room cards. There are 6 different symbols on the green die. Peril (skull), Lore (scroll), Investigation (spyglass, valued 1-3) and Terror (tentacles). The yellow die includes an Investigation (valued 4) while removing a Terror and the red die adds a much sought after Wild (man with a gun). The Wild, as the name suggests, can be used to represent any of the previous symbols.
As you roll the dice, you'll match them to the completed task on the room card, but ONLY if you succeed in a task completely. If you do, you place the matching dice on the corresponding task and continue rolling until all tasks on the card are completed. But here's the rub. You can only complete one task at a time. Even if you should have all the symbols necessary for all the tasks on your first roll, you'll have to choose which you would like to complete, place the dice, and continue on. And if you're not successful in completing at least one? You lose a die from your pool for this round and roll again. Wash, rinse, repeat until you succeed in completing all tasks (and thus reaping the rewards of new cards, clues, or possibly Elder Signs) or run out of dice and fail (and taking the penalties that come with that).
On top of all that, you're also racing against the clock. After each players turn, be it a success or failure, the doom clock (not ominous sounding at all) moves forward 3hrs. Each time it strikes 12 there's always a risk of unleashing more monsters (additional tasks added to a room) or worse yet, the Ancient One can gain a doom token (also not at all ominous) and move one step closer to being awakened and destroying everything. And if doom and monsters aren't bad enough, there's also the added stress of the Mythos card. This horrible little thing sits next to the clock, with it's instant effect (A monster appears!) and a lingering effect (all investigators lose 2 sanity) that take place once the clock next strikes 12. Lucky for you, it gets swapped out again at 12 for another one, hopefully this time with slightly less damaging effects. But don't let that get you down, it's not the end of the world.. Well, at least not yet..
Do you and your friends have what it takes to face the horrors within the museum? Can you find a way to collect enough Elder Signs and seal away an Evil older than time itself? Will you manage to stay alive and keep your sanity long enough to fight the overwhelming odds and the gruesome monsters inside? Or will you fail? Driven insane and doomed to wander the shadowy halls forever? Succeed and you save the world. Fail, and you may be personally responsible for destroying it. Are you up to the challenge or are you afraid of the things that go bump in the night? If I were you, I'd think fast though, there's not much time left.
After all, it's almost midnight and the museums about to close.
Wherever the Great Old One Cthulhu goes insanity and chaos is sure to follow. But in our case, that tiny version of him also brings your way a tasty Cthulhu Cherry Cheesecake Dip. A blend of cream cheese and Greek yogurt with powdered sugar and vanilla and topped with black cherry pie filling, it provides the perfect hiding place for our tentacled friend. Feel free to take a dip in his pool. And in case you're thirsty, why not get a little delirious with some Delirium Tremens Belgian Ale? Or if beer's not your thing, why not try a Creeping Madness? It's a mix of Kraken rum, Blue Curucao, and orange-pineapple juice that packs a sweet punch. Straight jackets required at this establishment. But don't worry, you won't be alone.. We're all mad here....
Out of the box I have to say that Fantasy Flight did a wonderful job with this game. All the cards are extremely durable and the artwork is incredible and wonderfully thematic. The adventure, investigator, Other World and Ancient One cards are a good size and easy to read. The flavor text on each is well written and really helps to set the mood of the game. The item and mythos cards however, while still of the same quality, are a bit too small for my taste. Due to it's smaller size, I at times forgot about the mythos card while playing. The tokens are a nice sturdy card stock but other than the larger elder signs, the health, sanity, doom, and clue tokens are very small. I can see losing a few of these.
The directions are full color and well written. They are very detailed when explaining cards and specific rules and situations that may occur during gameplay. However, I don't suggest just opening the box reading the rules, and trying to play a game. This is one of those games where a thorough reading of the rules before play is required. Katie and I have both played a few times before and we still need to check back to the directions to make sure we didn't miss anything. There is a nice quick reference guide on the back but my one complaint is the lack of mentioning the mythos card and effect there. If there's one thing we tend to forget during our games it's the mythos effects.
As for the game itself, I really enjoy it. I like the site investigation and task completion aspect of the game. There's a wide selection of adventure cards so even though the game mechanics remain the same there's still quite a bit of variety in the layout. I find the game very challenging (even more so if you choose one of the more difficult enemies such as Cthulhu himself) and each win never comes easy but it's always satisfying when it finally does. My one complaint might be the random nature of the setup. It's quite possible to get some incredibly hard combinations of starting cards that can pretty much doom you to failure from the start. Speaking of setup, that would be another nitpick. With all the cards, tokens and tiny pieces the initial setup can tend to be a little tedious.
Overall, I still really like this game. I like the cooperative nature of the game. It may be a bit on the difficult side at times and you may find yourself losing more times than not but that only makes the victories feel that much sweeter. If the setup didn't take as long I would definitely find myself playing this much more often. That being said, it is also available as an iPad app and that eliminates the need for any setup and is extremely faithful to the tabletop version of the game. I suggest giving that a shot to see if this game is for you.
This is actually one of the games that I dread to play. I find it overly complicated and frustrating. There are so many nuances that it can be difficult to keep all the aspects of this game straight. I compare it to a game of craps in a casino. I stand there hoping that someone rolls the dice that benefits all and wishing that I could go play something more fun. What can I say? I am a poker girl.