Elder Sign

1-8 players, Cooperative, Dice Game

Designers: Richard Launius, Kevin Wilson

Artwork: Dallas Mehlhoff

Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games

Overview of Gameplay

You and up to a total of 8 players are tasked with sealing away an elder god before those pesky cultists summon it into your world to destroy and devour every living thing you hold dear. To do this you will be visiting various locations and attempting to “defeat” the location by rolling these cool dice to try and match the symbols on the location with the rolled dice. If you succeed then you get to collect that location card as a “trophy” which you can spend later like a currency on other helpful items or abilities. If you fail then something bad happens depending on what location you are at. These bad things usually either injure you, drive your insanity up or further the cultist’s plans. The whole point of the game is to collect enough elder sign tokens by defeating locations and monsters to permanently seal away the elder god and this will win you the game!

Win Condition /Length

As mentioned above to win you just need to collect the required amount of elder sign tokens that are listed on the particular elder god card that you chose at the beginning. Once you have that amount, you win! At 1 and 2 players the game takes about an hour, maybe a little over. I haven’t gotten 8 people together yet to play the max player count to see the length but I suspect it would lengthen the game the more players you add.

Bag does not come included in the game

Components/Game Board

There really isn’t a game board for this one. The layout is a series of large location cards, an entrance card, the elder god card, token piles, draw dreck piles including more locations to draw from and a cardboard clock that serves as kind of a timer until new mythos events happen….usually always bad. Other than that each player has their own character sheet with whatever item cards they have collected and other random tokens. 

Nothing mind blowing about the component quality for the tokens, your typical cardboard however I can say they do feel sturdy so I don’t think you will have any issues with them falling apart after many playthroughs. The card stock is very nice and the cards feel nice to the touch, not too slippery or thin. As is the typical Fantasy Flight way, there are a multitude of card sizes here so if you plan on sleeving them be prepared for that. 

Setup/Takedown

Setup and Takedown do take a little bit of time considering there are what, 7 different decks of cards to set up not to mention the locations you have to place. However if you keep each deck in a different baggie then setup should be a breeze, just trying to keep everything organized might be tricky the first time you play. Takedown is about the same, just bagging up the individual decks of cards and tokens. 

Box/Storage

Another typical Fantasy Flight box here. It comes with a cardboard insert that serves packaging everything wonderfully when it ships from the factory. But once you get the tokens punched out and all the cards sorted….it serves no more purpose other than to take up precious space and get in the way. You will want to bag everything, and again Fantasy Flight doesn’t include bags so you will have to supply your own. On the up side since everything is bagged you can easily store the game at any angle and not fear stuff will spill. As it comes though it is a terrible box insert and a terrible storage solution. 

Visual Appeal /Theme

The theme is the pretty common Cthulhu Lovecraftian theme that has been prevalent in many board games in recent years. Personally I love it and it makes a great game to play around Halloween since it’s very sinister and foreboding. Each character has their own little back story on the back of their cards and have their own respective traits and abilities to make them unique from each other. There is no game board but this game is meant to be a little lighter than your typical board game so it still looks good when set out. I will say though a player mat would be awesome for this game if you can find one. 

Rulebook

For the most part the game is explained pretty clearly in the rulebook. The dice aspect can get a little confusing though and I did have to watch a playthrough video online to see how other people were handling the dice. Other than that the game is very straightforward and the instructions explain it all very clearly. 

Table Talk/Fun Factor

There is quite a bit of table talk considering you are all working together to seal away the elder god. You are encouraged to discuss strategy with other players on what locations you want to tackle or if you need to trade items or heal etc. Also the randomness from the dice rolls and monsters create tension which I just love. I know there are some people out there that hate randomness in games…..my wife being one…..BUT I think it adds to the tension and makes this game in particular more exciting. 

Optimal Player Count

Well as I said earlier I have only played this game solo and at 2 players so I cannot speak to any higher than that. That said I REALLY enjoyed this game solo. It plays really fast and is fun to strategize and plot out how you are single handedly going to stop these cultists from destroying the world. I think higher player counts would be fun as well since you are going to more often use the trade action to help each other. 

The Fuzzy Llama Bronze Seal of Prevalence

Positive Final Thoughts

It’s a fun game! There is also a digital version however I think the physical one is better personally. The way the monsters work and attach to locations when you draw them and all the moving parts you get to do with the physical version are basically stripped away with the digital version. There is a lot of variety as well in the base box. Tons of different locations and elder gods and characters to choose from and good gravy this should keep you entertained with the base game for weeks if you play every night! On top of that there are numerous expansions already out for it to further enhance the game.

Negative Final Thoughts

The lack of a good insert for storage is a bummer but as far as game play goes the only real downside I can think of is that some might be turned away by the high amount of randomness associated with the dice rolls. For this game in particular that is what creates the most difficulty.

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