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Elder Sign: Gates of Arkham» Forums » General

Subject: Difficulty and despondency - Help needed! rss

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Andy B
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I am an avid gamer and particularly enjoy Lovecraft based games. I stayed away from Elder Signs as I had the IOS version and the general reviews seemed to be in balance rather than all positive or negative. When Gates of Arkham was released, all that appeared to change, as the community was very positive about it's affects on the base game.

My wife is a very casual gamer, but she too likes lovecraft. Our normal goto game is Ticket to Ride. I purchased both the base game and GoA. We played one game of ES alone and both found it to be lacking in narrative and way too easy. So, we happily added in GoA....and that's when we hit the snag! Our first game against Ybb-Stll went well (we used Patrice and Finn) but Ybb pipped us to the post on the last roll....he woke up and promptly devoured us both. We were happy

Determined to beat it, we tried again against Ybb-Stll....this time it didn't go so well....both got devoured at the same time...Not happy. So we tried again, against Azathoth......lost badly again (run away doom track) and so we tried again .....lost badly within 8 turns (each devoured on consecutive turns, followed by atrocious dice rolls). By this time, my wife was very gloomy and despondent.....even borderline depressed. We were in danger of having our weekend ruined by a game!! Holy crap!

So, I am on the horns of a dilemma and I need the BGG comunity's help. How do I turn this around? I don't want to get rid of the game, but then again, I can't have a game that makes my wife feel like crap....that's what real life does, not games! I have been trying to work on making it easier, just so we can get at least one win and hopefully then return to the game in full and win. So, question, without breaking the mechanics too badly, what suggestions do you have for either making the game a little easier or strategies that can help us win. Bear in mind that the dice have turned against us in the last two games....that's luck though so whilst I am happy, my wife isn't.

Thanks
 
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Mikkel Øberg
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First off a little rules info: you seem to lose when being devoured, you do know you just respawn right? They get a doom token, but you get a new investigator with all his starting equipment.

I much prefer GoA to the base game, but when I play with new-ish players I always start with two Elder Signs as to minimize the need for tight, coordinated play.

With regards to strategies, we found that the penalty for losing adventures is far more harsh in GoA than the base game. We made good use of the entrance's ability to discard an adventure to get some 1's and 2's going early on, and we took our time going to the other worlds as items seemed more scarce.
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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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Bruder Tod, zu unserem Gastmahl, steig hervor aus Staub und Erden. Alles Leben ist ein Sterben, alles Sterben ist ein Werden.
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Gates makes the game *a lot* harder, and you'll lose quite often until you have a firm grasp of the engines running behind the cards (and even then, you'll lose a good 40% of the times).

There are, of course, some ways to scale up difficulty a bit:

- remove red adventures from the deck, or don't have more than one faceup/down at the same time
- don't use gates: instead of opening gates, simply spawn Other Worlds and place them faceup, like normal Elder Sign
- check the variant section of this very board to find hybryd versions of GoA & ES (some using cards from both sets)
- use GoA as it is, but use the standard Mythos deck (the one coming with the core set): doom will be less aggressive in this way, and Mythos will be more gentle on the investigators, leaving you time to work your way out of the maddening chaos
- finally, try playing more investigators: 2 each, for a total of 4. ES core was overbloated with items and cool stuff arriving from everywhere (you could even shop for them), while items are rarer in GoA, so, extra investigators imply bigger initial stock of items
- one more suggestion: don't hesitate in using the Streets of Arkham card special ability to get rid of the adventures you don't want to have in play. It's an incredibly powerful tool that will allow you to change many clear defeats into sounding victories

Hope this could help
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J M
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With a GOO like Ybb-Stll, ultimately we found it better to load up for the main fight instead of trying to get elder signs. I think that one just wants clues to keep you from being devoured during the boss fight.

I also Mulligan the initial draw of six adventures if it's all red and yellow.
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Dave E

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Kinda hate to tell you to buy even more for a game you're on the fence about, especially since the new Adventure/Midnight cards it ads wouldn't even be used in Gates mode, but I find unseen forces makes the game a tad easier as well. Basically I find myself blessed more than cursed which would give you another die for your rolls. A mechanic introduced in that expansion.
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Mark L
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You will get better with practice, getting a better feel of which adventures to go for with which investigator, and when. And don't be afraid to use the Streets of Arkham card's abilities to turn over or get rid of cards with nasty midnight effects, or that are just too hard.

+1 on playing 2 investigators each (not always worth it in the base game, but those extra items and abilities can help mitigate bad luck).

And +1 on using the Mythos cards from the base game (though I'd suggest just mixing both decks together, and as you start to improve with experience you can gradually start removing the easier ones).

Another option would be to move the clock only 2 hours each time instead of 3; that gives you more time to deal with "At Midnight" effects and slows down the advance of the Doom track.
 
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Andy B
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My thanks to everyone for your support and advice. I'll try to answer everyone

Devoured investigators - Yeah, we are aware of the doom rule and the pick another investigator rule...unfortunately, that awoke the GOO and we hit midnight and both got devoured

We have tried the mulligan idea after starting with the red dice locked and never being able to unlock it, so we use that right now.

We have toyed with not adding the new Other World cards in, as the base game cards are fairly easy and the rewards are high, so definitely worth it.

I think our best bet is twofold

1) Start with 2 investigators each - There are lots of synergies we have found between investigators (Finn and Jenny Barnes for instance), that make having more investigators worth it.

2) Swapping the Mythos decks - I like this, as mythos at midnight is killing us, especially with lingering effects that stop or slow our progress in the OWs (best place for Elder signs)

Finally, we have been using the Streets card frequently. We completely got that straight away (even though we played it incorrectly). The new investigators have a lot of abilities to help each other out which ES never had. Hopefully, we will beat the game without it beating us senseless.

Thanks to all
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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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Bruder Tod, zu unserem Gastmahl, steig hervor aus Staub und Erden. Alles Leben ist ein Sterben, alles Sterben ist ein Werden.
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Good luck with that, and let us know
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Andy B
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So, my wife and I have tried again. We made the following changes

- use original mythos deck
- add 2 elder signs to GOO
- use original OW cards only

I played Finn and my wife played Gloria. We fought against Azathoth.

How did it go?

Well, we lost again. But we had fun playing it this time. My dice rolling was uncanny (I didn't fail a single adventure) but my wife couldn't roll a thing (failed almost all of them).

What did we observe?

We found that we couldn't get enough ES. The doom racked up quickly but no OW opened until right at the end. With my wife playing Gloria, we felt we lost out there. When they did open, the reward was worth the effort. We also found that a lot of cards do not give items or if they do, you must choose between that and an ES.

Looking back on it, we should have fought Ybb-Stll. With him opening gates and Gloria's ability, we felt we could have been home and dry.

Outcome

For now, Elder Sign and GoA have a reprieve. We will see how things go next time. My thanks to everyone for your help and support. Always good to have a community like this

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Andy B
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Scarlet Witch wrote:
Good luck with that, and let us know

So, here we are some weeks later and I thought I would send my thanks to everyone for their insight and support.

We are now playing on standard difficulty, having slowly introduced everything back in. We have learnt a lot about the game and about our play style, but we haven't lost a game since this thread. Tonight we beat Cthulhu after I lost 3 investigators (some real crap draws on the cards), being behind on doom to elder signs by 7 to 0 and 6 red adventures out with 2 gates. Now that should have been the time we were despondent. However, good luck and good gameplay came through for us. The Stars clearly aligned for us.....

I have to say that we enjoy this game more than ever, so my sincere thanks for helping us stay with it. For others who read this and might think about giving up......don't! Stick with it.....it's so worth the ride
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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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Bruder Tod, zu unserem Gastmahl, steig hervor aus Staub und Erden. Alles Leben ist ein Sterben, alles Sterben ist ein Werden.
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Thanks for the feedback, Andy. So happy you're enjoying the game at its full potential now! I agree with you, it has a very steep learning curve, but the results are worth the efforts

When you have time, go back to the museum and check the difference you feel in gameplay

Happy gaming!
 
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