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Subject: Elder Sign: Omens review/impressions and comparison with the dice game rss

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Elder Sign: Omens » Forums » Reviews
Elder Sign: Omens review/impressions and comparison with the dice game
If you haven't seen it already, Elder Sign: Omens is out now, for iOS. Here's the iTunes link: http://itunes.apple.com/app/elder-sign-omens/id475404533?uo=... Apparently the Android version was released, then pulled, so I guess you'll have to wait for that, but it should also be out soon for Android, as well as specific versions for iPad and Mac.



My first impression is that this app is fantastic in terms of graphics and execution. Seriously, I don't know if there's a better board game app in that sense. And the gameplay is very well done and easy to work with, even on the small iPhone/iPod Touch screen. It was a little buggy at first... I had to restart about 10 times in my first game, but strangely it's as though my device "got used to it" or something, as it's been pretty stable since then.

There are quite a few changes, mostly small ones, between this version and the dice game. The difficulty does seem to be increased, as I've lost 2 out of the first 5 games I've played (compared to 2 losses out of about 25 plays of the dice game). One thing that I'm not crazy about, though, which relates to the difficulty increase, is that you can now get hit with 3 doom tokens at once at midnight, which seems excessive and random. Yes, I want the game to be a lot more difficult, absolutely, but I'd rather see a more steady stream of single doomies at midnight, or even two at a time (and that happens, too, in the app), as opposed to three at once. As it is, because of screen loading time, the app can take quite a bit longer to play through than the dice game, and it can seem kind of lame to play all the way through it only to lose out of the blue because you got hit with 3 doom tokens at once.

Actually, the 3 doom tokens at once gives me an idea... I think it might make a good variant for the dice game (and the app) to have something akin to the Innsmouth Deep Ones Rising Track, where certain things add tokens to it from time to time, and you can move to certain adventures (or maybe back to the Entrance) and spend Clues to remove those tokens or to fill up a different track (like the Feds Raid Innsmouth track). But if you don't do that soon enough, then 3-4 doom tokens are added at once, or maybe you just lose altogether. To me, that would be a lot better than adding 3 doom tokens at once completely at random at midnight, because there's some sense of control and expectation you have over that happening.

But anyway, that's another story...

A lot of people were anticipating that when the app came out, they'd be able to deduce the correct rules for the dice game (which there has been a lot of confusion about) from the rules to the app. But I think that's not going to be a good idea at all, because the app has numerous small changes, and many of them are just done with the intent of making the programming easier and/or adjusting the difficulty. So I really don't think the two versions can be integrated smoothly, nor should they be expected to.

Examples of the some of the changes include:

bacon Azathoth is the only GOO. So there's no "final battle" and no special ability of the GOO. I don't miss the final battle, really, but I do hope they'll add some other GOOs for variety and for their special abilities.

bacon There are no Allies. Not a huge loss, but hopefully they'll return at some point.

bacon When an investigator is insane or unconscious, they are not replaced. I'm also not sure that a doom token is added when an investigator dies. I think that's not the case anymore, although that would seem to make the game less difficult, not more.

bacon Only 1-4 investigators per game, only (instead of 1-8). I'm completely fine with that, as I usually play with 3-4 for solo games.

bacon Spells are cast after rolling, but don't hold over for other investigators. I understand that according to Richard Launius, the way the app works is how Spells were always intended to be used, but I actually much prefer how Spells work in the rules for the dice game, where you have to decide before rolling to use one, and then choose one of the dice you rolled, but you can also save dice on Spells for other players to use later. To me, the uncertainty of that is more akin to how Spells work in Arkham Horror, and the decision to use them is more difficult, and yet I still find the Spells to be very powerful. As it is in the app, it's essentially just another "focused" or "assisted" die, and it's not nearly as interesting to me that way. So I'll keep playing the way the rules are written for the dice game version.

bacon There aren't any "at midnight" or "lingering" effects (other than for some adventures). Basically, when midnight hits, something happens (usually a doom token or monster is added) and that's that. There are no "Mythos Cards."

bacon As mentioned above, there are now 2-3 doom token midnights. 2 is fine, but 3 is excessive, IMO.

bacon There is a scoring system, but to me it doesn't really make sense, as it gives you points per the number of turns you take, and the number of tasks/adventures you complete, etc. I think you should get a higher score if you win the game and have fewer turns. But this rewards taking longer to complete the game (which may not happen by design, if you just suck), and it doesn't penalize you for failed adventures and such. I like the idea of there being a scoring system, I just don't think it's a good one the way it is.

bacon When other investigators "assist" they are not penalized if you fail the adventure.

bacon When other investigators "assist" you can focus/assist multiple dice at once. In the dice game rules, only one die per roll on a failed task can be used to either focus or assist. In this version, for example, if you have three investigators at the same location, and you fail a task, you can place three dice to focus/assist, one on each investigator.

bacon The "wild" side of the red die can be used for "4 investigation" whereas in the dice game it can only be used as "1 investigation." That's a strange difference if they were trying to make this game more difficult, but it's possible that was the original intention and it's just another example of the screwy rules of the dice game.

bacon Monsters are automatically added to the adventures... you don't get to choose where they go.

bacon The Lost & Found risk/reward is a little different... I can't remember exactly how, but I recall that the details aren't the same. I actually found myself using that a couple times in desperation, and I don't think I've ever used that in the dice game.

bacon And probably a few other things that I'm forgetting or haven't noticed, but you get the idea...

Looking at that list, I'm thinking how it's annoying that after the confusion about how some things are supposed to work in the dice game, this coming out now probably makes it worse. And now you essentially have to relearn the game, or at least relearn a lot of details of it, to know how to play this version effectively. And then when you go back to play the dice game, you have to remember those differences. Oy.

But the bottom line is, this is really a must have as far as board game apps go. On its own, without factoring in any of the potential confusion between the app and the dice game version, it's a really great game and it's just incredibly well put together in terms of the production and graphics. The price of $3.99 for iPhone/iPod Touch is very reasonable (I was expecting $4.99 or $5.99). Hopefully, they'll add some more of the GOOs in there, as well as some other tweaks and changes. But it is definitely great already, as it is.
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Mark Raciborski
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I copied and pasted this from the FFG site...

Given the state of the rules, it's little surprise that Omens uses different rules than the board game. After all, the rules as written don't even agree with what the designers have stated as being their intent and in some cases it seems the two designers don't even agree as to how certain aspect should be resolved.

The following is from a thread on the BGG Elder Sign forum, posted by Flamehearted. Omens is available in the iOS App Store!!! $3.99 (for iPhone only at the moment)

Here are a few things I've picked up on so far (feel free to add) :

 

1) In ESO the spells are cast after you have rolled. This contradicts what is in the rules for ES, but agrees with what Richard said at the Elder Sign event as to what was intended.

Conclusion : There will be an errata - spells are cast after the dice roll. I will continue to play this way in future.

2) In ESO the wild card on the red dice can be used as 4 investigation. In ES you can only use it for 1 investigation.

Conclusion : Just a difference between the two versions.

3) In ESO assisting / focusing works differently. If e.g three investigators are on the same space, you can place up to three dice on them on the same turn (providing you fail a task). In ES the rules state you can only place one die per failed roll on a character (i.e you can either assist or focus).

Conclusion : I prefer the method in ESO as it makes assisting more useful. Possible errata to ES ?

4) In ESO you can only buy one item in total from the souvenir shop. This was pretty clear I think in ES, but some people had read the text to mean that you could purchase up to one of each item in the souvenir shop per turn.

Conclusion : Same rule in both versions.

5) In ESO Mandy's ability is restricted to just her turn. In ES it refers to the active player.

Conclusion : Probably an errata - card meant Mandy only by active player. Will play using ESO rule.


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About 2): Kevin Wilson at the same Arkham Nights event mentioned that the red wild card was intended to be usable as 4 investigation (again, a contradiction of the rulebook).

About 3) (multiple investigators assisting): I'm fairly certain that its implementation in Omens is a change from the full size game, though that's not to say they couldn't add it as errata for the full game anyway ^^.
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ioticus
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After reading the list of changes from the dice game, I don't think I like any of them. Maybe it plays better than it reads?
 
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Sean Westberg
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I've tried the game about a dozen times. I must be missing something fundamental. I can't even f*cking finish one adventure. I'll usually knock out the first couple events and eat it hard on the last event.

I'm not sure how the dice are supposed to work either, and what faces are on each of the dice. I never know if my odds of rolling certain symbols is decent or not.
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Tiger Wiccan
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TheFlatline wrote:
I've tried the game about a dozen times. I must be missing something fundamental. I can't even f*cking finish one adventure. I'll usually knock out the first couple events and eat it hard on the last event.

I'm not sure how the dice are supposed to work either, and what faces are on each of the dice. I never know if my odds of rolling certain symbols is decent or not.


All the green dice are like this:



The yellow and red give you more investigations (the magnifying glass) and the red has a wild on it.
 
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Each green dice a skull, scroll, terror and three investigation sides with values 1, 2, and 3. The yellow dice has the same except swap a 4-value investigation for the terror. The red dice is the same as the yellow dice except swap a wild card (can be used for skull, scroll, terror, or 4-value investigation) for the 1-value investigation.

Don't ever use yellow dice to try to get terror, and red dice are only 1 in 6 for that (wild card). Remember you can do most adventures in any order. Some do force you to do them in order, but most don't. Pay attention to what the investigator's special ability is and use it as much as possible. This is usually done with the symbol at the bottom left above your inventory symbol. For example, the professor lets you turn one terror result into a scroll (lore) result per roll. If you roll a terror, click that button, and it will bring up a thing that you can drag the terror into to turn it into a scroll.

My personal view is that it isn't my track record is about the same as the physical game (I am 8 for 10 in the app), but it always feels like a closer game. This is especially true when you know a 3-doomer could be right around the corner.
 
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Brad Scheitlin
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I maybe wrong but in ESO you can use one or two items before you roll. For example, I've used both a common and unique before a roll. In ES you can only choose to use one item or one spell. Unless I'm forgetting the rule.
 
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Tiger Wiccan
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GrapeApe wrote:
I maybe wrong but in ESO you can use one or two items before you roll. For example, I've used both a common and unique before a roll. In ES you can only choose to use one item or one spell. Unless I'm forgetting the rule.


I believe that you can use any combination of items in ES as long as you have the available dice.
 
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Brad Scheitlin
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tigerwiccan wrote:
GrapeApe wrote:
I maybe wrong but in ESO you can use one or two items before you roll. For example, I've used both a common and unique before a roll. In ES you can only choose to use one item or one spell. Unless I'm forgetting the rule.


I believe that you can use any combination of items in ES as long as you have the available dice.


Yep I remembered wrong.

Nothing to see here. Move along.
 
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Cameron McKenzie
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I have it for Android, having never played the physical game, and I like it fine. I guess I could see how small differences would bug some people, but it honestly plays fine as long as you don't get hung up on details. Some people just hate change no matter how small.

I only wish for some way to tweak the difficulty. Even something as simple as changing the number of active locations (fewer locations should make for a harder game due to less "easy" choices and greater monster saturation).

Random placement of monsters seems natural to me, it is one thing I like a lot about Omens that I don't think I would like in the physical game, but again I have played.
 
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Frank La Terra
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The only 'change' I may use in the boardgame version is the assist change (you can focus/assist as many dice as you like on a failed roll) but leave in the penalty for assisting if it fails.
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Cameron McKenzie
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Grudunza wrote:


bacon When an investigator is insane or unconscious, they are not replaced. I'm also not sure that a doom token is added when an investigator dies. I think that's not the case anymore, although that would seem to make the game less difficult, not more.


I made sure to check in my last game - one dead friendly and one insane, no doom tokens added.
Quote:

bacon There is a scoring system, but to me it doesn't really make sense, as it gives you points per the number of turns you take, and the number of tasks/adventures you complete, etc. I think you should get a higher score if you win the game and have fewer turns. But this rewards taking longer to complete the game (which may not happen by design, if you just suck), and it doesn't penalize you for failed adventures and such. I like the idea of there being a scoring system, I just don't think it's a good one the way it is.


I think it's okay. You can ignore the scoring system and play to win, but I'm glad that playing for a high score doesn't mean "rushing". Essentially, the doom track counts as a game clock, and the challenge is to complete as many adventures as you can in the time allotted.


My biggest concern is the 50 point reward per monster, since killing a monster is not difficult. If you get some monsters on an adventure that spawns monsters when failed, you could go to the adventure, kill some monsters and deliberately fail to get more monsters. Probably you should be penalized for any monsters remaining at the end instead of rewarded for every monster killed... You'd have the same incentive to kill monsters, but you wouldn't be compelled to deliberately add more.

Quote:

bacon Monsters are automatically added to the adventures... you don't get to choose where they go.


I really love this, as mentioned before, and probably will come up with random or at least predetermined way to allocate monsters if and when I get the physical game.

Quote:

bacon The Lost & Found risk/reward is a little different... I can't remember exactly how, but I recall that the details aren't the same. I actually found myself using that a couple times in desperation, and I don't think I've ever used that in the dice game.


The possible results are:
Spell
Clue
Common Item
-1 Sanity
-1 Stamina
-1 Trophy


One other difference in this game is that trophies act as a sort of currency - I doubt that you can prevent a monster from spawning by holding its trophy as in the dice game, as the trophy just seems to turn into "coins". Consequently, there is no issue with not being able to get change if you wanted to buy a clue for 1 trophy but only had 2-trophy tokens.
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Chris D'Andrea
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Grudunza wrote:

bacon Azathoth is the only GOO. So there's no "final battle" and no special ability of the GOO. I don't miss the final battle, really, but I do hope they'll add some other GOOs for variety and for their special abilities.


You'll be happy to know that they are all there already. Part of that 156mb download was the other GOO's. They were installed on my Android phone. There are files named after all the Goo's on there so they intend to open up more goo's with IAP.

My biggest gripe with the game is the inability to end an adventure if you have no way of completing it. If I am in an adventure that will require all 6 green dice to finish and "Roll" poorly i have to keep rolling until I have no dice left to fail the adventure. There needs to be an option to just fail and move on. MAJOR aggravation factor makes the game way longer then it needs to be, seeing as how you fail adventures quite a bit.
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Cameron McKenzie
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lordunborn wrote:

My biggest gripe with the game is the inability to end an adventure if you have no way of completing it. If I am in an adventure that will require all 6 green dice to finish and "Roll" poorly i have to keep rolling until I have no dice left to fail the adventure. There needs to be an option to just fail and move on. MAJOR aggravation factor makes the game way longer then it needs to be, seeing as how you fail adventures quite a bit.


There actually is, if you click the name of the adventure on top then you can choose to fail it at any time.

This is actually buggy though, as if you have already rolled and can't complete a task, the terror effect does not trigger until you discard a die. If you quit the adventure entirely instead of discarding the die, you don't trigger the terror effect.
 
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Frank La Terra
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lordunborn wrote:
My biggest gripe with the game is the inability to end an adventure if you have no way of completing it. If I am in an adventure that will require all 6 green dice to finish and "Roll" poorly i have to keep rolling until I have no dice left to fail the adventure. There needs to be an option to just fail and move on. MAJOR aggravation factor makes the game way longer then it needs to be, seeing as how you fail adventures quite a bit.


Assuming its the same as the iphone version you can fail an adventure - click on the adventures title and the option to instantly fail it should come up.
 
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David Fristrom
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lordunborn wrote:

My biggest gripe with the game is the inability to end an adventure if you have no way of completing it. If I am in an adventure that will require all 6 green dice to finish and "Roll" poorly i have to keep rolling until I have no dice left to fail the adventure. There needs to be an option to just fail and move on. MAJOR aggravation factor makes the game way longer then it needs to be, seeing as how you fail adventures quite a bit.


Tap on the name of the adventure; that brings up a dialog with the flavor text and a choice of failing.
 
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lordunborn wrote:
Grudunza wrote:

bacon Azathoth is the only GOO. So there's no "final battle" and no special ability of the GOO. I don't miss the final battle, really, but I do hope they'll add some other GOOs for variety and for their special abilities.


You'll be happy to know that they are all there already. Part of that 156mb download was the other GOO's. They were installed on my Android phone. There are files named after all the Goo's on there so they intend to open up more goo's with IAP.


Good to know. I figured that was going to be the case, but there was some thought that maybe to simplify the game and the programming, that there would just be the one GOO. It won't surprise me if some of the other GOOs have different abilities than their ES counterparts, and I kind of expect that none of them will have a final battle, which would also be okay. I like the final battle in Arkham Horror, but not so much in ES.
 
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Tiger Wiccan
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MasterDinadan wrote:
lordunborn wrote:

My biggest gripe with the game is the inability to end an adventure if you have no way of completing it. If I am in an adventure that will require all 6 green dice to finish and "Roll" poorly i have to keep rolling until I have no dice left to fail the adventure. There needs to be an option to just fail and move on. MAJOR aggravation factor makes the game way longer then it needs to be, seeing as how you fail adventures quite a bit.


There actually is, if you click the name of the adventure on top then you can choose to fail it at any time.

This is actually buggy though, as if you have already rolled and can't complete a task, the terror effect does not trigger until you discard a die. If you quit the adventure entirely instead of discarding the die, you don't trigger the terror effect.


You can't really call that "Buggy", because it looks to be a part of the game's design and not a glitch or anything, even if you think it is a flaw in the program. But maybe the devs figured it was hard enough that it wouldn't unbalance the game too much (or at all) ot let you "cheat" out of a terror effect, since you are going to still suffer the fail penalty.
 
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Mark Campo
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when you install it show all the gods downloading...
i've never beaten the game so i wonder if the other gods unlock or will just unlocked in a future update.,.
 
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Tom Volpe
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The flavor text is important for Elder Sign and completely missing in Omens. I find myself blasting through the game without thinking of the theme much when I play on my iPad. I prefer Elder Sign for this reason.

It would be nice to move the re-roll window to the side so I can look at the results I rolled and the required glyphs all at the same time. I've re-rolled the wrong dice a few times and that was a bit frustrating.

When it's an investigator's turn Omens shows a picture of the active investigator. This is important when playing with multiple investigators but annoying when only playing with one investigator.
 
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Cameron McKenzie
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Cosmid wrote:
The flavor text is important for Elder Sign and completely missing in Omens. I find myself blasting through the game without thinking of the theme much when I play on my iPad. I prefer Elder Sign for this reason.

It would be nice to move the re-roll window to the side so I can look at the results I rolled and the required glyphs all at the same time. I've re-rolled the wrong dice a few times and that was a bit frustrating.

When it's an investigator's turn Omens shows a picture of the active investigator. This is important when playing with multiple investigators but annoying when only playing with one investigator.


You can see the flavor text of adventures if you tap the name of the adventure while you are on it.
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Tom Volpe
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I see that now. Awesome!!

Thanks!
 
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Max Maloney
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Anyone else have an issue with killed monsters not going away?

When you kill a monster, you immediately gain the trophies and unlock any dice it had locked. I have noticed that subsequently failing to complete the adventure means that the monster will still be there if you come back (though it won't relock a die). When there are multiple monsters, only the last one killed remains.

Seems like a bug.
 
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Cameron McKenzie
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Dormammu wrote:
Anyone else have an issue with killed monsters not going away?

When you kill a monster, you immediately gain the trophies and unlock any dice it had locked. I have noticed that subsequently failing to complete the adventure means that the monster will still be there if you come back (though it won't relock a die). When there are multiple monsters, only the last one killed remains.

Seems like a bug.


I've never seen a monster come back, but there might be some confusion because many times monsters replace a task on the adventure (as is the case in the dice game) but there is no obvious way to see that this is what happened.

So maybe you went into the adventure and killed a monster and then failed. When you come back to the adventure, the task that the monster was covering (which may have similar or identical symbols) will then be required.
 
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♫ Eric Herman ♫
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Yeah I've seen that happen once or twice. It's a bug.
 
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