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Elder Sign: Gates of Arkham» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Gates of Arkham, Elder Sign version 2.0 rss

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Jason Beighel
United States
Pennsylvania
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I've finally gotten around to playing Gates of Arkham. My first thoughts after reading the rules was "So they started out making an expansion and accidentally ended up with a whole new game?" The core of Elder Sign is drawing Adventure and Other World cards for your character to overcome then after 4 player turns you draw a Mythos card to show the influence the Great Old one is having on the world. All of the other decks and mechanics are there to allow players to manage the chaos those three decks put into the game. Those three decks are completely replaced by this expansion.

It seems pretty bold for an expansion to gut the original like that. After a few turns I genuinely wished the original game had the Adventure deck mechanics that Gates of Arkham does. In the original game the Adventure cards are played face up, so you know everything about what will happen when you go there. Gates of Arkham has you play them face down, you get some clues about what to expect as the card back gives a difficulty rating and tells you what the location is. The hospital will likely reward you with health, the university stores will grant you skills, the stores offer items, etc.

There's no actual guarantees what will happen when you go to that location and flip the card. This really ramps up the theme in the game, it's so easy to envision your characters hearing strange sounds in that antique store or seeing ominous clouds gathering over the church and going to investigate. It even makes the midnight effects feel more palpable, since its more like an unexplained aura of evil affecting the town.

This does break down a bit with the difficulty rating. Mechanically its very helpful since there are times when you need some easy adventures to regain supplies. It undercuts the theme since now your character hears bizarre chanting and inhuman cries and decides to ignore that. This concession to help the player was probably a good choice, I'm not sure that its necessary though. I'm curious if I played the original game with face down Adventure cards how it would turn out.

Gates of Arkham also takes away the gift shop. I thought this would make the trophies pile up, surprisingly it doesn't. About half the cards provide things you can trade the trophies for. This is shown on the back of the card, so it tempts you into exploring the unknown. I find that I'm spending more trophies in this style since I can buy something and try an adventure, where making a purchase in the gift shop used up your entire turn.

So thus far the theme is pushed a little more and the player has less control over the chaos. All of this I find good, and there's still more in the expansions box. The other parts I'm less excited about though.

Characters can learn skills now, which are new things they can do. Improving a character can be fun, but a bunch of them feel like they are borrowing from what other characters can do. There's also a pair of groups you can join, which gives you perks on some adventures and occasionally will add to the bad stuff from the Mythos cards. The concept of different groups supporting you is pretty interesting, it gives the setting a bit a of depth since the players are less alone in their struggle.

For me these things just end up being clutter. Players are already collecting common items, unique items, spells, allies, clues, blessings and curses; and this adds a few more cards to remember to apply during your turn. They don't feel significant enough to warrant adding additional cards to the game. I suppose since there's already 7 decks, 2 statuses, clue, health and stamina tokens already in use whats one more deck and status really?


I guess the bottom line is that this expansion is well worth the cost. This feels like the way the game should have been designed originally. It's a little awkward to leave so much of the original unused while still adding more stuff to manage on the table top, but the mechanics the expansion adds are well worth the nits I'm picking with it. Then again I'm a sucker for stuff that adds to the story and immersion of the game, and that's really what attracts me to this expansion.
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Samuel Bailey
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I am glad you finally got around to playing Gates, and that you had an overall enjoyable time! Thank you for the review.
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Jason Beighel
United States
Pennsylvania
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Samuel Bailey wrote:
I am glad you finally got around to playing Gates, and that you had an overall enjoyable time! Thank you for the review.


Thanks for making it! I'm really enjoying the way the game is evolving and improving with each expansion I try, even though I'm a few years late for trying them all out.
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Julia
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We have dragged Reason from her Throne and set in her place the Empress of Dreams [liber Endvra]
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JBeighel wrote:
Samuel Bailey wrote:
I am glad you finally got around to playing Gates, and that you had an overall enjoyable time! Thank you for the review.


Thanks for making it! I'm really enjoying the way the game is evolving and improving with each expansion I try, even though I'm a few years late for trying them all out.


Good games have no expiration date
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Fernando Santos
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Scarlet Witch wrote:
Good games have no expiration date


So true!!!
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