Recommend
28 
 Thumb up
 Hide
11 Posts

Elder Sign» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Elder Sign – A True Solo Game? rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Green Knight Games
United Kingdom
Cheltenham
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
As avid gamers we don’t always have the luxury of a willing partner or group to share our passion with. With this in mind I thought it was time to examine the solitaire options for those sad times when it’s just us and no-one else. My S.O. is busy at present providing our shop with a super new all singing and dancing stock control system so I have gaming time all to myself to explore this important topic.

I started with Elder Sign, just the base game with no expansions, to see how it scaled for one player. Was the game play experience significantly different and was this cooperative game playable without the team of investigators I normally accompany into the weird museum?

Game Overview
For those who haven’t had the pleasure of spending time in the museum of hell, Elder Sign is an offshoot of one of my favourite games, Arkham Horror. It is basically an Arkham-Horror-themed dice game. Players are investigators who roam through the halls, rooms, passages, even the public lavatory of Arkham’s local museum attempting to discover enough elder signs to stop the Ancient One from awakening and unleashing unimaginable ghastliness on the New England towns people.

Scaling
This game has no special rules for the lonely investigator to learn up. The only difference is that a solo player cannot utilise the ‘Assisting’ ability. If you explore a room with a fellow player they can help you out by storing a die on their investigator marker. If you’re on your own, you are on your own. Beyond that the game is identical to the multi-player version.

Game Play Experience
Does the game play differently? Most definitely. Did it play differently in the way I expected? No.

I thought that my sad lonely investigator would be slaughtered as he rushed from one location to the next in his frenetic search for the elusive items, clues and elder signs he needed. I was astonished to discover as I play-tested various characters versus a variety of Ancient Ones that the characters did rather well. Some investigators were super heroes on their own. Sister Mary scythed her way through all opposition and I imagined her rushing along the corridors with a shopping trolley full of equipment her guardian angel perched precariously on top. She was a one-woman monster slaying army. Not all characters performed as successfully, some were devoured, but out of six games the investigators won four games to two. I blame one of those losses on me being the worse for wear after an alcoholic evening playing D&D. So, little hero slaughter, no oceans of human blood.

What was strikingly different was the gaming experience. When played solo this game has suspense and requires thought. It is very strategic and as you play you have to carefully calculate the chances of rolling the desired symbols to complete tasks. As a solo investigator you learn to step warily and equip yourself sensibly before tackling a difficult location. This is where I failed on the drunken expedition. That night I foolishly tackled the museum with the multiplayer mindset. Investigators playing as a group are more gung ho, pumped up on party adrenaline and less risk averse. They throw themselves into hazardous situations and rely on somebody coming along to assist them if it all goes pear-shaped. The downside of the solo game is that I miss the group oohs and ahs as the dice behave or don’t. When the investigators rollick through the exhibits en masse there is a lot of humour and quite a party atmosphere.

The other significant difference was the storytelling aspect of the experience. As a solo player I had the time to read the flavour text on the cards and immerse myself in my investigator’s individual pathway through the game. The game acquired a chilling atmosphere and engaged my imagination. As a group, players tend to focus on the dice rolling and tasks. The theme is sacrificed as players rush to take their turn, their investigators blundering through the rooms and corridors with barely a glance at the surroundings.

Conclusion
Yes Elder Sign is a great solo game. I should have tried this long ago. I would highly recommend it and it’s great to know that you get two different gaming experiences in one box with the same rules.

Susan
41 
 Thumb up
1.30
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Magister Germanicus
United States
New York
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Most of my plays of Elder Sign (and its expansions) have been solo, and I agree, it's a great game to play solo. However, I've never tried playing it with just one investigator. I usually use three, sometimes two (depending on how much information, abilities, and items I can hold in my head) as I like to have differing abilities and strengths in the game, the assist function, and some of the cards and character abilities assume the presence of at least one other investigator.
7 
 Thumb up
0.05
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Denise Lockard
United States
Lincoln
Nebraska
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
This is a solo game for me as well. I would like to try it with my daughter but she has absolutely no interest in it. It is on my trade list since I tend to play solo games with less set up (Pandemic the Cure, Al Cabohne, SOS Titanic, Friday) but it is a good game.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Tibs
United States
Boston
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
ES plays better solo than Eldritch or Arkham Horror, which is good news. I attribute this in large part to the clock mechanic, and how there aren't "rumors" that require multiple investigators to coordinate.

But it can be a little swing-y: one investigator is on a roll and keeps getting items and rewards, or the investigator dies and the replacement has no hope of catching up. At least with multiple investigators you can even out the workload a bit.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
John Abrucia
United States
Florida
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
This is my go to solo game. I keep it set up as it doesn't have a large footprint and I am ready to go with a simple switch of Elder One and investigator. I tend to run 2 random investigators, although Jim Culver almost always seems to join in my games for some reason. Love it with Gates, love it with blessed/cursed dice, just love it. I rarely have time for Eldritch Horror but there is always time for some Elder Signs and best of all nobody can judge my bad acting as I roleplay the game alone.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dark Angel
United Kingdom
Hull
East Riding of Yorkshire.
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I play this solo with both expansions (Gates of Arkham & Unseen forces). The game is one of my fav solo outings on my shelf. A lot of co-ops when played solo often loose a lot of 'flavour' due to the lack of interactions with other players that sustains the gaming theme(Lord of the rings LCG being another notible exception)however unlike LotR , Elder is definitatley doable without needing to play more than one character at once. I accept the point about loosing all your hard earned items but this is true of non-co-ops e.g. Talisman, so go for it and push the old ones back, humanity depends on us!
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Fred Cromer
United States
Georgia
flag msg tools
mb
goo

Fantastic game !!!!!!!!!!

My favorite game of all time.

With that said, I have high hopes for a new game
coming out later this year.

WARHAMMER QUEST
THE CARD GAME

As I wait ....... Bring on the HORROR.

THE FABULOUS FREEBIRD
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Scott Bluerock
United States
Mufreesboro
Tennessee
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmb
I played my first solo game with 3 investigators in play. Sister Mary did take care of business for me as well though I'm unsure what the factors were that helped her out. I beat the ancient one with Elder Signs though I realized at the end that I had monsters appear a couple of times instead of placing doom markers. I enjoyed the game and hope my son (my daughter will refuse) will want to try it out.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
MC Crispy
United Kingdom
Basingstoke
Hampshire
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
sbluerock wrote:
I played my first solo game with 3 investigators in play. Sister Mary did take care of business for me as well though I'm unsure what the factors were that helped her out. I beat the ancient one with Elder Signs though I realized at the end that I had monsters appear a couple of times instead of placing doom markers. I enjoyed the game and hope my son (my daughter will refuse) will want to try it out.
Now that's a phrase you don't often see in print!
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
B. Amanda D.
Canada
Halifax
Nova Scotia
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks for posting. My first adventure with the physical game was a bit of a let down due to a rowdy group of only mostly players and the rushing to accomplish tasks/talking over each other.

I am going to go set up a solo game right now because I really wanted to play the game and last night was a mess.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
B. Amanda D.
Canada
Halifax
Nova Scotia
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Update: It was definitely way more immersive to play alone but McGlen just couldn't cut it against Yig. Felt like the first few turns were going brilliantly but it suddenly spiraled out of his control around day 4-5.

It is ridiculously difficult to keep track of the clock and I made the mistake of not reading Yigs awaken conditions.



The game feels far more strategic solo then with a group where everyone kinda just jumps into danger hoping their friends will bail them out. Not having the assistance feature was rough.

Although I do have a question about McGlen's ability, half way through the game I re-read his card and realized he can change a Terror to a Skull once per ROLL?! That seems way more powerful, but I am wondering if it is correct?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls