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Subject: Review and Overview of Elder Sign, its better if you're an Arkham fan rss

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Todd Barker
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Elder Sign is a co-operative "dice game" set in the Cthulhu Mythos. Players will take turns exploring the Miskatonic University Museum. Your goal, similar to other Mythos games is to stop an Ancient One from waking up and escaping the Museum because if it escapes it will surely destroy the entire world. To do this you must collect enough Elder Signs to seal away the Ancient One. Depending on which baddy you are facing you will require a different number of Elder Signs. In order to stop the Ancient One from awakening you must collect enough Elder Signs before the Doom Track fills up. Collecting clues will make your life easier etc, if you have played Arkham Horror this should all be sounding very familiar. In the following review I will cover how to play and then my thoughts on Elder Sign, if you are already familiar feel free to skip to the bottom.

If you want to read the complete version of the review in a better layout and full sized images go to my blog http://toddsboardgames.blogspot.ca/2013/11/elder-sign.html

During their turn each player will go through the following three phases with the majority of the gameplay taking place in phase 2 where players will roll dice in attempt to complete the tasks listed on the Adventure Card they are located at.

1. Movement Phase - The active player moves their Investigator to the Museum Entrance, Adventure Card, or Other World Card of their choice. Alternatively, players can leave their Investigator at their current location.

2. Investigation Phase - The active player may attempt to solve all the Tasks on the Adventure or Other World Card they occupy by matching symbols on their dice with the tasks corresponding on the Adventure or Other World Card. Players may instead perform one of the actions listed on the Museum Entrance Card.

3. Doomsday Phase - Players advances the Doomsday Clock forward by three hours. After advancing the Doomsday Clock, your turn is over and the next player begins their turn.

Adventure and Other World Cards:


Each Adventure and Other World Card has one or more horizontal rows of symbols. Each row is called a Task, player must complete these Tasks, one at a time, by matching all of the symbols listed with die rolls. Players are normally able to complete each card's Tasks in any order, however if the card shows an Order Arrow (see picture above) to the left of its Tasks then they must be completed from top to bottom.

Players cannot attempt to solve an investigation if succeeding would bring an Investigator’s Sanity or Stamina to zero or less.

Other Worlds Cards are a special type of Adventure Card that represent gates to other dimensions. These Cards enter play only after a Player earns a Gate reward. When an Other World Card enters play, place it below the six Adventure Cards. There is no limit to the number of Other World Cards that may be in play at once.

Other World Cards are never replaced after they have been solved.

The Dreamlands somehow the one Other World I always end up in doesn't matter which game.

Rewards and Penalties:

An Adventure or Other World Card is considered a Success once all the Tasks on the card have been solved.

The successful player returns all Investigators on the card to the Museum Entrance.


The Reward and Penalty symbols explained.

The successful Player claims the solved card as a Trophy, and then replaces the solved Adventure Card with a new card.

Other World Cards are never replaced and can be revisited repeatedly.

Trophies - Every Adventure Card, Other World Card, and Monster Marker has a Trophy value. When a Player successfully solves a Card or Monster Marker, they take them into their Play Area as Trophies.

Trophies may only be spent at the Museum Entrance. However failing an investigation can occasionally cause you to lose your trophies.

Ally Cards stay in play until they say otherwise. Only the Player who drew the Card may use its ability.



Clue Tokens:
Players can spend Clue Tokens to re-roll dice. After failing a Task, you may spend one of your Clue Tokens to re-roll one, some, or all of the dice. The dice may be re-rolled once for each Clue Token spent with no limit on the number of tokens you spend.

Item Cards:
Common and Unique Item Cards allow players to perform a number of different actions. Most of these actions range from gaining lost Sanity or Hitpoints back to gaining additional dice or rerolls. After using a card it is always returned to the bottom of the deck. Gained dice are kept until they are either used to complete a task, or discarded when failing a task.

Incantations:


The Incantation Deck contains powerful spells that will help investigators, most are fairly straightforward however some allow players to Secure dice.


Securing a die is a huge advantage, after rolling the dice, the Incantation Card is cast, you then chooses one die from your roll and place it on the securing icon without changing its result. Any die secured by an Incantation Card remains there until any player chooses to use it to solve a Task. When using the secured die a player may opt to use the face or reroll the die.

*New dice cannot be added to an Incantation Card to replace those that were removed from it.

The Museum Entrance:

Investigators located at the Museum Entrance may select any one of the listed actions:

1. Regain either one of their Sanity or Stamina Tokens for free.
2. Spend two Trophies to regain either all of their Sanity or all of their Stamina Tokens.
3. Spend four Trophies to regain all of their Sanity and Stamina Tokens.
4. Search the Lost and Found - Roll one green die and consult the chart on the entrance sheet. Players cannot use Items or Investigator abilities to affect this roll.
5. Buy a Souvenir - Spends some Trophies to buy one of the listed objects. Players can buy only one souvenir per turn, even if they have enough Trophies to afford more than one souvenir.

*Players may spend any combination of Cards and Markers, however you do not receive change and lose the extra Trophy points.

After being spent, Cards are returned face-down to the bottom of their decks while Monster Markers are returned to the Monster Cup.

Tasks:
Players begin an Investigation Phase by gathering up all the Green Dice and then deciding if they can and want to add more dice. Players then roll all the dice and determine success or failure of the Tasks.

Solving Tasks: If enough die results match all the symbols of one Task (horizontal line) in one throw, then you must place each matching die onto the corresponding symbol on the card. These dice are no longer available for the remainder of the Investigation Phase.

Some Tasks require an Investigator to lose Sanity/Stamina Tokens or requires the Player to advance the Doomsday Clock by three hours. These actions are only performed after the symbols in the rest of the Task have been matched with die rolls (you do not perform these actions if you fail the task).

A Player can only match one Task per dice roll, even if the dice rolled could match more than one Task.

Once all Tasks are completed you have completed the task and claim the rewards as well as the card as a Trophy.


The wildcard result on the red die may be used as a Lore, Peril, Terror, or 4 Investigation result.

Failing Tasks: A Task is considered failed if there are not enough matching results to solve any of the listed Tasks (or the next task listed in order). To continue you must discard any one of the remaining dice and then reroll the remaining dice in another attempt to solve a Task. Discarded dice are no longer available for the rest of the Investigation Phase. If failing a task means you must discard your last die without completing the last Task, then you have failed the Card and must suffer the Penalties.

Terror Effects: If you fail a Task (not the entire card), and at least one of the dice showed a Terror result, then any Terror Effect listed on the Adventure/Other World Card and the current Mythos Card take effect. Terror Effects take place before discarding a die or suffering Penalties, due to failing the Task.


Focusing Dice
After a Failed Roll, you may Focus any die, you may only do this once per Player Turn (not roll). To Focus a die, you first discard any one die as normal, due to the Failed Roll. Then you select one of your remaining dice and place it on your Investigation Marker without changing the die-result. Focused die are no longer available for rolling but are still available to solve a Task during a later dice-roll during the current investigation. When needed, the die is simply removed from the Investigation Marker and placed with the other required dice on the solved Task. Unused Focused dice are returned to normal play at the end of each Investigation Phase.

Requesting Assistance
During an Investigation you may request Assistance from another Player after a Failed Roll, in order to do this you must both occupy the same card. To receive Assistance, the current Player first discards one die due to the Failed Roll.

You then request Assistance from any other player at your location. If they agree, you selects any one of the rolled dice and place it on the Assisting Player's Investigator Marker.

You may use the die held by the Assisting Player just like any other Focused die. However, if you fail the card, the Assisting Player loses either one Sanity or Stamina Token.

*After each Failed Roll, you may either Focus a die or request Assistance, not both.
*Players may only be assisted by one Investigator per die roll.
*Each Investigator may only provide Assistance once per player turn.



This particular card locks a green die and will
not return it until all the tasks on the
Adventure Card are completed.

Locked Dice:
Some Cards and Monster Markers feature a Locked die icon. When an icon enters play, place the corresponding die on the icon, even if the die is currently on an Incantation Card or Investigator Marker.

Locked dice cannot be used until they have been unlocked in the following ways:

1. If a die is Locked by an Adventure or Other World Card, it must be solved to free the die.

2. If a die is Locked by a Monster Marker, it must be defeat to free the die.

3. If a die is Locked by a Mythos Card, the die is Locked until a new Mythos Card is drawn at Midnight.

Multiple Locks - It is possible for a die to be Locked by more than one card or Monster. After the die is freed from the first card or monster, it is then placed on the second Lock icon. Only after the last Lock is solved may the die be used in play once more.

*Multiple Green Dice can be locked at the same time.

Character Abilities - Several Investigators have special abilities that allow them to use extra dice during investigations. Obviously these do not allow you to roll locked dice.


Monsters:
When instructed by the game,you must randomly draw one Monster Marker from the Monster Cup and places it on a Monster Area. Monster Areas are a Task on an Adventure or Other World Card surrounded wholly or partially by a white border.

Monster Markers function as an extra Task that the Players must investigate in order to solve the Card. Players choose which white bordered Monster Area they wish to use as somewhere to place a Monster.

If there are no white bordered areas available, the Player chooses one Adventure or Other World Card and places the Marker below the last Task of the Card. Players must distribute Markers as evenly as possible. Cards may not be given a second Marker until all the other Cards already have at least one Marker.

If a Marker is placed on a Card with an Order Arrow, the Marker becomes that Card’s last Task.

If a card’s reward causes a Monster to appear, you may place the new Marker on the replacement Adventure Card.


The left hand Adventure Card is an example of a 'Completely Covered Monster Area'. The right hand Adventure Card is an example of an 'Empty Monster Area'

1. Monster Area is completely covered: Players must complete the Task on the Monster Marker instead of the Task it covered.

2. Empty Monster Area: Players must complete the Task on the Monster Marker in addition to the Card's other Task.


3. Partial Monster Area: Only the single white bordered Monster Area is completely covered, adding to the difficulty of the already existing Task.

Solving Monster Tasks A Player completes a Monster Task in exactly the same way as any other Task. If a Player solves a Monster Task, they collect the Monster Marker at the end of their Investigation Phase as a Trophy.

*Penalties are suffered after the Monster Marker is collected.

Doomsday Clock:

At the end of each player's turn you must advance the Doomsday Clock’s hand clockwise by three hours.

When the Clock strikes Midnight:
1. The “At Midnight” boxes on all Cards currently in play take effect.
2. Any “The next time the clock strikes midnight” text on the current Mythos Card takes effect.
3. Replace the current Mythos Card with a new one. Return the used Mythos Card face-down to the bottom of its deck.
4. All “once per day” Investigator Abilities are once again available.

Midnight occurs immediately after any player’s turn in which the Doomsday Clock's hand moved to or past XII.

Mythos Cards:
Each time Midnight strikes players draw a Mythos Card, returning the previous Mythos Card to the bottom of its deck. Each Mythos Card has one immediate effect on the Card’s upper half and one lingering effect on the Card’s lower half. The immediate effect occurs right after drawing the card while the lingering effect applies as long as the Mythos Card remains in play.

Doom Track:
The more tokens there are on the Doom Track, the closer the Ancient One is to awakening in the Miskatonic University Museum. If a Doom Token is placed on a space with a Monster Icon, then a new
Monster is drawn from the Monster Cup and placed on a Monster Area.

After placing a Doom Token on the final space of the Doom Track, the Ancient One awakens and the Investigators must confront it in battle. (I will leave this part of the rules for you to discover once it happens).

*In the odd event that someone places the final Doom Token and collects the final Elder Sign at the same time, the Ancient One is sealed away and the Investigators win.


Winning
The game ends immediately as soon as any of the following conditions arises:

1. The Players win the game if the Investigators seal away the Ancient One by collecting more than or equal to the number of Elder Sign listed on the Ancient One’s Card.
2. The Players win the game if they defeat the Ancient One in battle by removing the last Doom Token from its Doom Track.
3. The Players lose the game if all the Investigators are devoured by the Ancient One.

My Thoughts:

I have enjoyed Elder Sign every game I have played, that being said I have 2 main issues.

First off I think the game is a tad too long for what it is and near the end it tends to drag, this makes it hard to get people really hooked on it even though this problem vanishes once your group knows how to play. So I guess my problem would be that it is a little rules heavy for a "dice game".

Secondly even though Elder Sign has the weakest theme out of the Cthulhu games there is a special disconnect between the Monsters and the general Theme of the other games. The Monster Markers are pretty boring although mechanically work great, I do feel like there should be more monsters or each Adventure Card should come with a monster as one of the tasks, I guess I could put it this way, in other Arkham games there are more monsters than gates so it feels weird that Elder SIgn features more gates than monsters.

So the verdict, who would enjoy Elder Sign?

Casual Gamers: Although yes Elder Sign is accessible enough to be played by a group of casual gamers, I am torn. Mechanically and as a game it makes sense, however I hate how unsatisfying the theme is. Don`t get me wrong as an experienced Arkham Horror and Cthulhu LCG player I found there enough theme to hold my interest, but mostly because I was able to see past the cards. So, if you are looking to sell someone on the Cthulhu/Lovecraft universe and maybe convince them to play one of the lengthier games with you, I don't think this is your game. However if you are already a fan of Cthulhu Mythos then this is definitely worth picking up, also if you are looking for a slightly longer, cooperative game with a lot of interesting decisions and dice it is worth giving a shot.

Gamer Gamers: Elder Sign gives you a lot of decision making, it is not brain busting and it is pretty luck based, however so are all the other Cthulhu Mythos games and I do not feel Elder Sign is like "Yahtzee" despite some people claiming that on BGG. I think Elder Sign fits here because as a cooperative game it stands out in a few ways: Lots of randomness combined with multiple choices for an Ancient One to fight against makes it a lot more re-playable than other Co-Ops. Simplifying movement / no board takes one big step out when compared to similar co-op games, this lets you get down to the real planning and strategizing not worrying about boring old movement points / speed.
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Ian Allen
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Really well done review. You went to a LOT of effort there. I wish all reviews were like yours.

I disagree though. I am a HUGE cthulhu fan, but this game bores me because it is so dice dependant. The spells are usually nothing more than adding a red die or a yellow die ... zzzzzz.

I totally feel like I am playing Cthulhu Yahtzee. I don't feel any immersion. I even tried reading all the flavor text out one time and it didn't really help.

I am glad you like it though.

I have not played the expansion and probably never will unless it changes gameplay drastically and is not just more of the same.
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Tibs
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The expansion improves gameplay somewhat, but it is vastly more of the same. The best thing the expansion offers is variety. So no, I don't think you would like it, Ian.
 
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Bob Mazanec
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Quote:
Other World Cards remain in play even after they have been solved.


Not sure what you meant here -- they're collected as trophies just like Adventure Cards (unlike ACs, they're not replaced).

Share and enjoy!
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Todd Barker
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glookose wrote:
Really well done review. You went to a LOT of effort there. I wish all reviews were like yours.

I disagree though. I am a HUGE cthulhu fan, but this game bores me because it is so dice dependant. The spells are usually nothing more than adding a red die or a yellow die ... zzzzzz.

I totally feel like I am playing Cthulhu Yahtzee. I don't feel any immersion. I even tried reading all the flavor text out one time and it didn't really help.

I am glad you like it though.

I have not played the expansion and probably never will unless it changes gameplay drastically and is not just more of the same.


Thank you for your kind words, which Cthulhu game is your favourite if you don't mind me asking?
 
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Todd Barker
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BobMazanec wrote:
Quote:
Other World Cards remain in play even after they have been solved.


Not sure what you meant here -- they're collected as trophies just like Adventure Cards (unlike ACs, they're not replaced).

Share and enjoy!


Good eye, ty for catching the mistake, luckily we've been playing this one right was just a wording error.
 
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Ian Allen
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toddbarker wrote:
glookose wrote:
Really well done review. You went to a LOT of effort there. I wish all reviews were like yours.

I disagree though. I am a HUGE cthulhu fan, but this game bores me because it is so dice dependant. The spells are usually nothing more than adding a red die or a yellow die ... zzzzzz.

I totally feel like I am playing Cthulhu Yahtzee. I don't feel any immersion. I even tried reading all the flavor text out one time and it didn't really help.

I am glad you like it though.

I have not played the expansion and probably never will unless it changes gameplay drastically and is not just more of the same.


Thank you for your kind words, which Cthulhu game is your favourite if you don't mind me asking?


Well - I have played AH of course. I sort of like it, although I have had experiences where it has been long and dry and i didn't get much done over the course of about 5 hours.
We usually play with 6 players and a couple of times we have played with ALL the expansions mixed in, which was a mistake as it diluted everything and made gameplay bland.
Our group is really good at it and we almost always close the gates and never have to face a GOO.
I think I have enjoyed the game best the few times when we have screwed up and the GOO has come in and eaten us. Makes for better stories anyway.
I have sort of a mixed emotion about the game, but so far its been the best Cthulhu based game out there, so I have stuck with it.

I do like Witches of Salem, but I haven't been able to get it back to the table in a long time, so I need to play it more to evaluate.

Elder sign didn't do anything for me, although I was hoping I would like it.

I backed Cthulhu Wars on Kickstarter and have a full set of everything headed my way at some point. I have high expectations for that game.

I also backed A Study in Emerald or whatever by Martin Wallace and it should be here soon.

I also backed Shadows of Brimstone in a big way and I am super excited about it coming, although its going to be a year.

I own most of the Call of Cthulhu LCG, but my wife won't play it with me, so its mostly untouched.

I am hoping that Eldritch Horror is really good - I havent' played it yet but I am sure some on in my game group has a copy by now. I'll ask them to bring it after the holiday so I can try it out.

I have played Cthulhu 500, Minion Hunter, A Touch of Evil, Munchkin Cthulhu, Cthulhu Mash, Unspeakable Words, The Stars are Right, etc. etc.

I think my favorite Lovecraftian game at the moment is Mansions of Madness, although we have had mixed experiences with some of the scenarios.

I really hope this big future crop of Cthulhu games is going to be amazing!

 
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Alex F
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Top played game in our collection. For the time it takes to play, and the fun we have, Elder Sign is just excellent.

The default difficulty being too easy is easily remedied with houserules and the expansion.

We've gone off of Arkham Horror-it just takes too long. Plus my copy of the game has become too worn out to play. The main game board is all torn and wrinkled; must have been crushed under the weight of the expansions.


I have ordered Eldritch Horror for this reason; a streamlined Akrham Horror? Yes, please.
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Todd Barker
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glookose wrote:

I own most of the Call of Cthulhu LCG, but my wife won't play it with me, so its mostly untouched.

I am hoping that Eldritch Horror is really good - I havent' played it yet but I am sure some on in my game group has a copy by now. I'll ask them to bring it after the holiday so I can try it out.

I think my favorite Lovecraftian game at the moment is Mansions of Madness, although we have had mixed experiences with some of the scenarios.


That is the general problem with the CoC LCG and why I didn't buy too many of the asylum packs, its a fantastic game just really hard to find players for.

I had a chance to try Eldritch at a pre release event its awesome and really promotes working together more than AH, I also really liked the way they handle skills as opposed to the sliders in AH.

I haven't had a chance to try Mansions yet but I know the basics, what makes it your favourite?
 
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Mansions of Madness is played on a smaller, tighter map than AH.
It is very mission based, although sometimes you don't know what the details of the mission are til you have almost completed it.

You are playing against an active DM/OL type player instead of just the AI of the board.

I guess I like it because I get to do more and I enjoy the combat more than in AH.

I feel like I am doing more ...exploring more, fighting more creatures, working on solving the mystery ...basically doing something useful and necessary every round.

Sometimes in AH I play for hours and hardly get anything done. One game I played went 6 hours with 6 players and I bought a shotgun, lost a couple of monster fights, and picked up a couple of clue tokens and that was all I accomplished for the whole session. It became pretty boring waiting for my turn to come around toward the end. Then we closed the last gate and the game was over.

Maybe its the feeling of suspense. I am always racing to get a door opened or find the next location and am worried about what the DM is about to throw at me.

The pace of MoM feels more like a sprint through an insane asylum with a rabid dog chasing me..
whereas
AH feels more like a peaceful jog through the countryside where you occasionally take a quick nap under a tree and at other times trip and notice a corpse on the side of the road, and there is a small chance a mass murderer may show up and blow your head off at the end of the run.

my thoughts anyway ...

With Elder Sign it was just ...roll the dice, try to get the right combo, roll the dice, try to get the right combo, get a spell, use it to add a die, roll the dice, try to get the right combo.

There are many games that people tell me are awesome, mainly because they don't take very long to play.
To me, game length is not a major criteria one way or the other.
I want the game to be fun whether its a 10 minute Cockroach Poker session or a 10 hour TI3 session.
 
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Alex F
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The best part of Arkham Horror for us was having encounters, but the actual gameplay often restricted your freedom of movement, so you couldn't always get to do what you want.

The micromanagement of stats, monsters, items and movement points impeded the pacing.

While not Mythos-based, I find Tales of the Arabian Nights a very good alternative to Arkham Horror, from a storytelling perspective.

Encounters is all you're doing there.

It's light and uncomplicated, the writing in the Book of Tales is great, the social element is prominent as players are given active roles during the turn of another(you're either the Reader for the other player, or vice versa).






 
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Ian Allen
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magmaxtic wrote:
The best part of Arkham Horror for us was having encounters, but the actual gameplay often restricted your freedom of movement, so you couldn't always get to do what you want.

The micromanagement of stats, monsters, items and movement points impeded the pacing.

While not Mythos-based, I find Tales of the Arabian Nights a very good alternative to Arkham Horror, from a storytelling perspective.

Encounters is all you're doing there.

It's light and uncomplicated, the writing in the Book of Tales is great, the social element is prominent as players are given active roles during the turn of another(you're either the Reader for the other player, or vice versa).


The first time I played TotAN, I had a blast. I thought it was interesting and fresh and had lots of stories that came out of the crazy session.

The second time I played it I had an ok time, but was a little frustrated because several things happened that were so luck based that I felt like what i had very little chance to win the game. Such as getting turned into a female and not being able to win despite having met all the other conditions, because I couldn't find a belt to change my gender back to male. It was a bit annoying.

The third time I played this, I had several really annoying things happen like getting thrown in prison and being stuck there for 6 or 7 game rounds, because i could not roll the 1 or 6 or whatever was needed for me to get out.

I realized at the end of game 3 that you have just about zero control over whether you win the game or not. Most of the decisions made in the game lead to a random result. You could fry your brain out trying to figure out the tactics/strategy needed to win the game and lose by a large amount to someone who rolled a die at every decision point to tell them what to do.

It is a great game if all you care about is having an interesting story, but I feel it is a bit long if that is all you are going to get out of it.
Don't go in expecting to make informed choices/decisions that will lead you to victory.

In my opinion, the only way to get any joy out of this game is if you could care less about trying to win and focus solely on things that make you laugh like robbing and kicking a homeless beggar or old lady,
(just to help a beggar or old lady is not very exciting and it is just a game after all) or perhaps being gender-changed into a woman and marrying a prince even though you are really a man, or getting eaten and regurgitated up by a giant fish, and so forth. You will be telling these stories to people for years to come.

"Remember the time I robbed that old beggar and he turned into an angry Djinn and turned me into a woman and then kicked me into the middle of the nearest Sea where I was robbed by pirates and then swallowed by a Dan-Dan?" - etc. ...

In real game terms, its very frustrating if you have worked as hard as you can to try and get the win conditions met, then you are arbitrarily thrown across to the other side of the world and now have no chance to get back in time to win.

If I want 2 hours worth of amusing story, i'll watch something on Netflix, so I don't ever want to play this game again. I would rather play something where my decisions mattered in terms of overall gameplay.

Anyway, thats my take on TotAN ...

Everybody should play it at least once. Maybe twice. I don't recommend a third session ....
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Alex F
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We just roleplay our sessions. It's a lot of fun. What I've noticed is that you would get Destiny Points if you picked a rational reaction to an encounter(Like Avoid Wicked Hag).


But what if I have the Magic skill, I could try to Attack her.

It seems like the more elaborate reactions(involving thematically interlocking skills, or Treasures) or those that are just irrational(like Drink a Storm) give you Story points, and award you with a fine narrative.

I've seen some players propose to start your characters with treasures from the relevant stories(Like Aladdin would start with the Magic Lamp). Sounds like a fun idea to try out.


Either way, it's just a blast for us, as we don't really play to win. I think, as long as we don't overplay it, the game won't lose its charm.
 
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Ian Allen
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I could see how pulling it out once a year with some friends and a case of beer, just to have a story session, might be fun.

I agree - don't overplay it though - it might get old quickly if you do.
 
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Arthur Peterson
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Sooo...Yahtzee!
 
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Alex F
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glookose wrote:
I could see how pulling it out once a year with some friends and a case of beer, just to have a story session, might be fun.

I agree - don't overplay it though - it might get old quickly if you do.

By the way, what you've described about being Imprisoned or Lost- I think it was a fine design choice to make these statuses fairly easy to lose, since they're restricted to a single Reaction matrix, and you can pretty much learn the correct skill combinations and verbs that will make you lose them.

Anywhoo, I've also heard that Agents of SMERSH is similar in its Choose your Own Adventure approach to Tales, except it's more gamey. But I'm not keen on the spy theme.

Tales is more of a social experience game, since the fun is derived for us from the shared storytelling, and laughing at each other's misfortunes.
 
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Ian Allen
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I tried Smersh. It is exactly what you said. More of the same but more gamey.

One play was enough for me.
 
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glookose wrote:
I tried Smersh. It is exactly what you said. More of the same but more gamey.

One play was enough for me.
I can't tell whether "gamey" is pejorative or compliment and I can't tell what your one play was "enough" for - to decide you like SMERSH, or that you didn't.

Can you help me out here please?
 
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There were more game elements to Smersh. More things to fiddle with. More cards and counters and things to keep track of.

But in the end, it was a story telling game that went on for a long time and very much like ToTAN, with the added difficulty of keeping up with more stuff.

If you like ToTAN then you will probably like Smersh. If you don't like ToTAN, then there is not much in Smersh to change your mind.

Both story-telling games where you don't have that much control over the ending.
 
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glookose wrote:
There were more game elements to Smersh. More things to fiddle with. More cards and counters and things to keep track of.

But in the end, it was a story telling game that went on for a long time and very much like ToTAN, with the added difficulty of keeping up with more stuff.

If you like ToTAN then you will probably like Smersh. If you don't like ToTAN, then there is not much in Smersh to change your mind.

Both story-telling games where you don't have that much control over the ending.


We love Tales but didn't care for SMERSH. It just doesn't feel as flavorful.
 
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Alex F
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That's what I've heard about Agents of SMERSH. The flavor is restricted; the stories lack exposition and picturesqueness.

Some people may think that Tales' rewards and encounters are arbitrary.
I think there's some fine internal logic to them, though it may seem far-fetched.


For instance, you encounter a giant fish( a Dendan),
If you notice, the liner notes for the Book of Tales include descriptions of some unfamiliar creatures you may encounter.

It then goes on about this legendary giant fish that seems intimidating, but is actually vulnerable to human voices

If you have the Storytelling skill, you can tell your crew about its primary weakness and thus gain safe voyage.

Another example: you could try and Honor a Wicked Jailer, but since Honoring is more applicable to people of good alignment, you need to have Acting and Disguise in order to convince him that your flattery rings true.

I think a tremendous effort went into organizing the Book of Tales,, and I'm glad that they went with this format for encounters.

It feels more immersive to read the encounter from a book than if it had been printed on a card. There are what, like 2500 of them, so to have them all in one body of text seemed like the best way to go about it.
Plus, this encourages theatrical delivery since you're acting as a story agent for the other player.



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However, even if you memorized the correct response for the correct skill for the correct encounter (which would ruin the fun of the game in the first place), the odds of having all of those things come together enough times to help you win the game are ridiculous.

If you read up and studied and remembered as many responses to situations as you could, when you played, you could very easily see none of those situations during the game. You could spend all your time raising your Storytelling and Disguise and whatever skills and easily never run into a Dan-Dan. You might not run into a Dan-Dan ever again as many times as you play.

If not entirely random, the game is close enough to it with those thousands of different encounters, that it is pretty much the same thing.

I would cry to think about someone trying to memorize the responses to hundreds or thousands of encounters in Arabian Nights. What a waste of good days of your life.

You are not going to be able to convince me that this is a competitive game where strategy and/or tactics make any difference.

And if it was the kind of game where memorizing certain encounters would help you win, you couldn't possibly memorize enough of the encounters to make much of a difference.

And if you did memorize enough encounters to make strategy/tactics matter instead of dumb luck, you would ruin the one fun thing about the game which is the pure storytelling aspect combined with the element of surprise and turn the game into something realllly awful.

"ooh I know which choice to make on page 45 column H .... "
"ooh now I know what to do on page 84 column B .... "

I remember reading "choose your own adventure" books when I was a kid. After I had read through the adventure 3 or 4 times until I was familiar with most of the paths to the alternate endings, there was no point in reading the book ever again.
ToTAN is basically a GIANT "choose your own adventure" book but with multiple people reading it at the same time.

It is not and never will be a regular competitive board game.

I am not saying its a bad game or people are bad for enjoying it.

I think its fine for what it is - if you want to play a 2 or 3 hour game where wacky things happen that will smack your character around all over the map and then someone will randomly win at some point and end it, this is the game for you.

If, however, you play this thing thinking its an adventure-outdoor-dungeon-crawl, you will be sadly mistaken when you complete the requirements needed to win, make it back 1 step from the ending city, and get imprisoned, shape-changed, gender-changed, or hurled across to the other side of the world and watch the person who was dead last all game bop over to the start city and stumble in for the win.

Anyway, just my opinion based on 5 plays, I can agree to disagree with you here.
 
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to bring the discussion back a little bit towards the original topic - I played Eldritch Horror for the first time last night.

It was a lot closer to Arkham Horror than it was to Elder Sign.

I really liked it because it seemed a much tighter game than AH.

At first I was thinking it was AH Lite, but it felt to me more like
AH at say 60% or 70% of standard complexity.

I liked that everybody had different stats that made them unique and you didn't have to fiddle with them and change 1 to go up while taking the other one down 1. That always annoyed me in AH.

I got a lot done and the turns seemed more interesting to me than in AH where sometimes a lot of wheels spin for nothing to get done.

There was still a lot of randomness in the dice rolls and in the end the Doom track advanced too quickly because a Mythos card brought out a disease that got worse every round and wiped us all out 1 round before we could have cleared it off the board.
This lead to Azathoth coming and eating the world and scouring it with fire or some such.

I can't wait to play again - It felt like someone took a lot of the things they didn't like with AH and just did away with them and streamlined it.

I think it's going to be VERY popular personally.

I don't know if I would ever play AH again over this.

Now the folks that love AH and all the little details about every expansion may not find enough detail here to like it, but anyone who has ever said "grrr ... AH just has too many fiddly bits and extra complex rules ...." will most likely enjoy EH better.
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I didn't mean that memorization of encounters is the key to strategy,(who could ever memorize such volume of information), I was just referring to those two statuses that restrict your movement; they are more easily removed, since they're linked to a limited set of responses.

For us,TOTAN is more about the stories that the game generates, the shared experience of having wild encounters and trying to match your skills and actions to the encounter in hand.
And there are plenty of unpredictable, hilarious curveballs that the game throws your way.

But anyway, enough about Tales!

-------------------------------------------------------------------------
My copy of Eldritch Horror is coming next week. Can't wait to play it!

I see you have Wiz-War rated highly too. Love the game! We're supposed to get an expansion soon, with a 5th player board and 3 schools of magic.

But you probably know that already.
 
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Yes - Wiz-War is good stuff. I like to change the decks around a bit to make it play like legacy Wiz-War instead of the new way that FFG has set it up to play.

I personally like my changes better and lots of folks have agreed with me, I won't go into details here, but i've written up a guide to it over on the Wiz-War forums.

Take a look over there for my post sometime if you are interested. Always enjoy a good game discussion.

I think you will like Eldritch Horror when it comes in.
I certainly did.
 
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