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John Ward
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This is a one-game review, but there isn't likely to be another so here you go. I was down the game store tonight playing Roll Through The Ages with a friend, the wife, and my mum. It's not the most robust or interesting game, mind, but my mum likes it and understands her strategy. Aaron came over and asked if we wanted to try Elder Sign. We abandoned our game of RTtA eagerly, since it was going to be easy to pick up where we left off.

Aaron pulled out Elder Sign, which he's been playing duo, and we each took a card. I was player 6 of 7, which I didn't know would be a problem until we played. I drew Indiana Jones, or the FFG facsimile thereof, Monterey Jack, who has 3 sanity. The wife drew Ashcan Pete. Others had Jenny, someone who healed sanity (sorry, too far away on the table for me to see), the Gunsel, the old Professor and someone else (whose power I never saw).

Our Old One was Cthulu, who made us all lose one maximum sanity and health. The first mythos card (drawn to start) made us all lose 2 sanity when the clock hit midnight.

The game lasted about an hour, with seven or eight turns around the board and then a huge amount of time spent dueling Cthulu as he slowly chipped away our maximums until we all died.

During those seven or eight turns, I got to "take a turn" once. See, the first midnight took "all" my sanity of two, so I spent my turn in the foyer regaining a huge 1 sanity. Since I never got to take a turn, I couldn't get any of those cool trophies to increase my healing. And by the time it was my turn again, some effect or other had taken one sanity from all investigators, so I got to do that again and again. The wife had the same problem with Pete, but due to his larger 4 sanity managed to get in three turns.

On turn six or seven (depending on if there were seven or eight turns), I got to take a turn. Four of the six mission cards available required me to lose sanity to participate and I only had the one sanity. The other two required sanity loss on a fail. Since one green die was locked and another two had been saved by failed participants at one of the cards, I had the choice to try the sanity loss on fail cards with three dice or to automatically fail as I tried the card with the green dice that required me to lose sanity. I'll bet you can guess what happened...

It honestly would have been better had I not played, since not only did I not get turns, but I also cost the team 3-hour rotations every time I didn't get to play. Mum, on the other hand, needed coaching, but had cleverly randomly picked a 6 sanity character so she got to play. The most fun I had was helping her figure out what to do.

By the time Cthulu killed us all through maximum stat loss (negative points awarded to FFG for not providing some sort of management for that; we ended up recording maximums, as opposed to current scores, on a pad of paper), we were all relieved to get it over. We went back to our game of RTtA with a new appreciation of a dice yahtzee game that at least let us take turns every time around the board.

Please convince me that we played by the wrong rules or that it was a ridiculous constellation of bad luck or that the game is a much better two-player than a seven-player. At this point, I would pay YOU not to have to play again.
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Brian
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I've not played or know much about the game, but it does sound like bad luck.
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Paul S
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It sounds like bad luck.

I might have been inclined to let the character die if he was reduced to 1 Sanity on turn 1, especially if the Adventure cards were heavy on the SAN loss. You get to start another investigator immediately, with full stats and starting gear - that's a useful tactic if you look like you're going to spend turns doing nothing.

Also, our group (6) found that downtime was less of an issue if everyone was chipping in with ideas on each player's turn - but I admit this is harder to do when you're new and not actually getting the chance to roll dice for yourself.

I'd try it again. Obviously, with fewer players you get more dice time, so have a go with 2 or 3 or even run it solo if you get the chance - you can play with one or more investigators, and all the turns are yours

I would hope you'd find, with another play or 3, that it's altogether better than a dice yahtzee.

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Lee Valentine
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leprejuan wrote:
Since one green die was locked and another two had been saved by failed participants at one of the cards, I had the choice to try the sanity loss on fail cards with three dice or to automatically fail as I tried the card with the green dice that required me to lose sanity.


This sounds like you were playing wrong. When you focus or assist, those dice are all released as soon as the adventure is failed or succeeded. The only way for dice to get tied up past one player's turn are:

a) Monster, location, or mythos dice lock icons; and
b) spells

However, with Spells any player can use the dice as required. So, I don't see how you got stuck rolling only three dice.

That said, strategically when a die gets locked you have to throw every resource at the table to get it back PDQ or everyone will lose the game.

Strategically, you also made a very poor choice fighting to keep a guy with 1 Sanity alive. You should have tried a task attempt, and failing it, added a doom token to the doom track and taken a new character, hopefully with new items and more Sanity.

Quote:
By the time Cthulu killed us all through maximum stat loss (negative points awarded to FFG for not providing some sort of management for that; we ended up recording maximums, as opposed to current scores, on a pad of paper)


This was an awful and foolish inclusion on FFG's part. They included no way to track things for Cthulhu's attack. Now, if there's no healing then you have one simple option -- fill everyone up to their current max Sanity and Stamina and just track that (since there are no more losses to current values).

Or, and I think this works, take 1d8 and set it to 8. 8 is the maximum value of Stamina+Sanity in the game with Cthulhu at the table. Each midnight reduce the die by one. When it hits 1 then everyone dies.

The fact that FFG didn't address this in the rules or provide a tracking mechanism or hints is just plain poor game design.

Overall, there is bound to be more downtime with more players. I can't see wanting to play the game with more then 4 total participants. You'd rarely get a turn. Also, while there are some points of player interaction, a lot of times the game is multi-player solitaire but for discussion, since there are so few mechanical ways to act on other players' turns.

I like the game, and it is fun, but probably not for big table of players.

Lee
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Chris Tannhauser
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Not here to change your mind, but it does sound like incorrect play + too many players. No wonder it sucked.

I'd hesitate to play with more than four, and after six plays I'm still not convinced we're playing it correctly...
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Dane Barrett
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leprejuan wrote:
I drew Indiana Jones, or the FFG facsimile thereof, Monterey Jack, who has 3 sanity. The wife drew Ashcan Pete. Others had Jenny, someone who healed sanity (sorry, too far away on the table for me to see), the Gunsel, the old Professor and someone else (whose power I never saw).

Our Old One was Cthulu, who made us all lose one maximum sanity and health. The first mythos card (drawn to start) made us all lose 2 sanity when the clock hit midnight.


So Monterey Jack, who had a maximum of 2 Sanity due to Cthulhu, survived through the first turn of midnight, which was forcing everyone to remove 2 sanity? Even though there is one card in the game that would have allowed that (ie. Whiskey), it would have been wiser to let Jack eat it on that first midnight effect.

Saying that, also don't forget that the Ancient one is revealed during setup before everyone chooses their characters, so you all should have been able to plan which investigators would be better vs. Cthulhu. Of course, Aaron may have insisted that everyone select their investigators randomly, in which case it's all his fault.
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John Ward
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Thanks for the feedback. It sounds like we had two or maybe three sneezits.

1) We picked investigators randomly by handing them out face down. Was I supposed to have a choice?

2) I was told that investigators can't die until the big bad awakes. Instead, you spend your turn in the lobby healing up. So when I first went to 0 Sanity before my turn even started, I should have added a doom marker and drawn a new character? That would have helped. Going from 0 to 1 sanity as my turn and then losing it from board effects made this game a drag.

3) When someone failed an attempt to um, complete a mission?, all focused dice were supposed to return? Ah. They were sitting on the cards, so the "next guy" could join the location and help out. If those dice don't focus, how do the players aid one another (except for the kibitzing during a turn)?

If I have the time and inclination, I'll DLoad the rules, but I have to admit, still not excited. Bad first impression to overcome now.
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Danny Perello
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leprejuan wrote:
If I have the time and inclination, I'll DLoad the rules, but I have to admit, still not excited. Bad first impression to overcome now.
You really should do this. It would seem the person who taught you the game got several rules wrong. I think it is a fun game, though it can be frustrating if the dice refuse to cooperate. Give the rules a quick read and try it again with fewer than six players, four if possible.
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Dane Barrett
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leprejuan wrote:
1) We picked investigators randomly by handing them out face down. Was I supposed to have a choice?


The rules let you decide whether you want to select your characters, or choose them randomly. With games that have variable player powers, I always recommend new players get to choose their characters.

leprejuan wrote:
2) I was told that investigators can't die until the big bad awakes. Instead, you spend your turn in the lobby healing up. So when I first went to 0 Sanity before my turn even started, I should have added a doom marker and drawn a new character? That would have helped. Going from 0 to 1 sanity as my turn and then losing it from board effects made this game a drag.


Yes, once you hit 0 sanity or 0 stamina (or both) your character dies, and is replaced by another investigator (with also adding a doom token, discard items and trophies etc). The main difference with being devoured during the final battle is that you are out of the game if it happens (no getting a new investigator).

leprejuan wrote:
3) When someone failed an attempt to um, complete a mission?, all focused dice were supposed to return? Ah. They were sitting on the cards, so the "next guy" could join the location and help out. If those dice don't focus, how do the players aid one another (except for the kibitzing during a turn)?


If the cards were spells then it is possible that the dice on those would get locked up on them for a few turns. You actually have to be a bit careful with spell usage in this game, as (like in Arkham Horror) there is a risk element balancing their benefits.

But otherwise, any dice that are focused or assisted (sitting on investigator tokens) are returned to the main dice pool after the adventure is successfully completed (or failed).
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Lee Valentine
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db-one wrote:
If the cards were spells then it is possible that the dice on those would get locked up on them for a few turns. You actually have to be a bit careful with spell usage in this game, as (like in Arkham Horror) there is a risk element balancing their benefits.


As I noted before, while the faces are locked face up until used, dice on spells can be used by any player on their turn, so I rarely find that dice stay on spells too long if they are well chosen. You can even look at spell dice when picking your adventure to pretty much guarantee that you get to use them.

Lee
 
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Mark Biggar
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There is one potentially very bad case though when using spells. If the GOO is close to waking up you probably should avoid using a spell to save a die that is useless for the GOO's fight task, because if the GOO wakes up before that die is used, then that would lock up that die completely for the rest of the game..
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Lee Valentine
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Elder Sign » Forums » Sessions
Re: People claim this game is fun? Maybe it's a constellation of bad luck, but I'd rather play yahtzee.
leprejuan wrote:
If those dice don't focus, how do the players aid one another (except for the kibitzing during a turn)?



You get multiple rolls per adventure. If you succeed at a task then you put the dice on that row of the card (until the end of the turn and re-roll the rest). If you fail, you can focus one die (putting it on your character) or assist (put a die on another character on the same adventure). Then you discard a die of your choice and re-roll the remaining dice. If your re-roll plus your focus plus your assisting dice plus dice on spell cards can be used to complete a task then you can use them. Otherwise, if there are characters on the adventure without dice you can focus/assist, then discard another die, and then re-roll again. Lather, rinse, and repeat. Eventually, you will complete the card or you'll discard so many dice that the card becomes impossible. In either case, all the discarded dice become available for the next roller along with all dice on focusing or assisting characters. Only unused dice on spells and dice that are completely locked by an adventure, mythos, or monster effect are unavailable for future adventures.

The primary source of cooperation during the game (other than talking strategy) is moving to a card to allow yourself to have a die stored on your character (as an assist). That and some tactical conversation, the game is largely multiplayer solitaire. There's no trading of cards or tokens, etc., as you might expect from other co-op games.

Lee
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