The fate of the world and life as we know it at stake in Elder Sign, a hybrid board and dice game by Fantasy Flight Games (FFG). This non-casino dice game blends multiple genres and borrows generously from genre masters of the past to create a game that’s filled with thrills and spills. While cards, not the type you’ll find in a game of online blackjack, do feature quite prominently, they work more to advance the story of the game and its mechanics. The throwing of dice on the other hand is the real driving force behind Elder Sign.
The company behind this Lovecraftean game, Fantasy Flight Games, are also responsible for the very popular Arkham Horror series. Elder Sign takes place in the year 1926 inside a museum filled with all sorts of relics and ancient items of mystery, awe and dreaded horror. Once you and your pals unbox this game, it will avail its premise along with all that’s required to complete your tasks as you race feverishly against the clock to stop the Ancient Ones, inter-dimensional beings with their sights set on the demolition of mankind. Luckily you’ve got help from a slew of seasoned investigators (the same ones from the Arkham Horror Series).
Elder Sign opens up players to a world that can and will truly capture the imagination. Everything has been crafted with such meticulous attention that pure immersion is a sure thing. If you’re overwhelmed by all the cards and components that this games comes with, don’t be; it only looks complicated. A clock that tracks 15 minute sessions, monster cards (8 in total) with doom tokens, that when filled, means it’s tickets for you, and an assortment of investigators (16 to be exact) and dice are what you’ll fine once you unbox this game.
Playing The Game
Unlike a game of online blackjack, which can be over and rewarding in seconds, Elder Sign is going to take up more of your time. Designed for up to 8 players, although 5 is ideal, this dice game lets you pick from a total of 16 investigators, each with his or her own health points, brain power (sanity) and items to use, like a gun or cross and so forth. Your main goal is to explore the macabre museum for Elder Signs. Doing so requires that players choose a part of the museum to explore and complete the requirements of the task – designated by a combination of dice symbols and a specific order of collecting them – although not all tasks require a specific order.
In order to gather all the artefacts required to stop the Ancient One and its minions, select one monster card (1 of 8 ancient ones) and then draw 6 cards from the deck of 48 possible adventure cards and place the 6 in the centre of the table or your play space. Thanks to a large selection of investigative choices, players are unlikely to face the same set of challenges twice.
Once the adventure card is selected, the active player will throw a total of 6 dice and select applicable symbols to match those on the adventure card. While this may sound somewhat simple, resources are limited and those 6 dice are meant for more than the completion of just one task. The successful completion of an adventure can bring about much-needed rewards like clue tokens that can be used for re-rolls, allies to assist with their special powers, gates to perception-bending worlds, and the unearthing of the Elder Signs – the only things that can stop the Ancient One.