Game Review – Elder Sign by Fantasy Flight Games

It’s the time of year when one’s thoughts turn to… defeating the Old Ones as they threaten to break free and wreak destruction on the world!

What… you were expecting something different?

Today I’m talking about a lovely dice game titled Elder Sign from Fantasy Flight Games – one of those games that you’ll end up playing over and over and over because it offers so many ways to win… and to lose!

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First the official blurb from the publisher:

It is 1926 and the museum’s extensive collection of exotic curios and occult artifacts poses a threat to the barriers between our world and the elder evils lurking between dimensions. Gates to the beyond begin to leak open, and terrifying creatures of increasing strength steal through them. Animals, the mad, and those of more susceptible minds are driven to desperation by the supernatural forces the portals unleash. Only a handful of investigators race against time to locate the eldritch symbols necessary to seal the portals forever. Only they can stop the Ancient One beyond from finding its way to Earth and reducing humanity to cinders.

The game itself consists of multiple dice and cards representing each room in the museum. There are also cards representing the Other Worlds, realms beyond our own. Various weapons and spells can also be earned to help you complete your tasks – but that still won’t make your job an easy one.

What you need to do is collect a specific number of Elder Signs in order to close the portals permanently and save the world. Easy, right?

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First and foremost this is a dice game. Each room/card has certain tasks that need to be completed to remove the card from play and give you the rewards – some give you Elder Signs, some give you abilities and clues you can use to make the tasks easier. Your character might have some skills as well that make it easier to roll the dice combination needed to complete the task.

And the dice… well, it’s not quite Yahtzee but close enough to draw comparisons. Each task requires you to toss five green dice with a variety of symbols on them – from magnifying glasses to skulls to tentacled creatures – and you know that can’t be good! With each failure to complete the task a dice is removed from the dice pool until you can’t complete the task and pay the penalty or use an ability or card to help get the job done. The random dice rolls will either drive you insane or make you love this game – but if you’re not into the hysteria of chanting for a good dice roll as if you were in Las Vegas… this might not be the game for you.

So you’re trying to collect Elder Signs… but while you’re doing this the Old One is also moving forward with every stroke of the clock to complete it’s own nefarious task – and adding nasties to the board to make your task harder!

This is an excellent co-operative game and a high replay value makes it a must for families who enjoy challenges. You can help each other with dice rolls or try to complete tasks alone – but the gameplay does heavily favor team play so it’s definitely better together – there is also the ability to play the game solo – but why take the chance of being devoured or driven insane by yourself?

You can choose different investigators every game and different Old Ones to play against or pick randomly for a challenge. Expansions are available but not necessary to enjoy this game. There’s also a digital version available and I quite enjoy it – although the dice rolls do seem to be a wee bit stacked, IMO.

If you’re looking for a new co-op game for the family for the holidays I highly recommend Elder Sign – it’s available at most Barnes & Noble stores and easily ordered online. With a high replay value and excellent artwork and quotes from the actual Lovecraft stories on the cards it’s a must-have for the Cthulhu lover in your family… or for those you want to convert during this holiday season!

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