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Subject: Elder Sign vs. other co-op dice games rss

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K S
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I'm a fan of co-operative play, and I'm a fan of dice games. I'm especially a fan of co-op dice games because I feel that the chance elements alleviate some of the "quarterbacking" that can affect co-op games.

Pandemic: The Cure is one of my favorite games, and I also enjoy D-Day Dice and Zombicide: Black Plague. My playgroup has found the co-op mode of Masmorra: Dungeons of Arcadia to fall a bit flat because it seems a bit fiddly and overly long for what it is. Taking all of that into account, how do folks think I might like Elder Sign?

I'm fairly indifferent on the theme, but there seems that there could be a good amount of variability from game to game, with the different bosses, adventure cards and character abilities. However, I see that it seems to rely primarily a Yahtzee-style roll-and-re-roll mechanisms like The Cure, D-Day Dice and Masmorra. I wonder what folks think about how much Elder Sign sets itself apart from the rest of the pack?

The wide range of player counts seems appealing, but how well does the game scale? The biggest concern I had about it is that the advertised playtime is 90 minutes. Does the game start to overstay its welcome and get a bit draggy? Does anybody have any suggestions on which expansions should be avoided or are recommended (and why)?
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Ron
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Devoted Follower of the Most Holy Church of the Evil Bob. Possessed and down the road to become chaotic, evil & naughty. All hail the Evil Bob and his Stargate.
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The dice rolling mechanism in Elder Sign compares to Yahtzee like D-Day Dice compares to that game. A little of it can be found. meeple
In ES you try to roll combinations that your current location is asking for. If you don't roll them, you have to remove a dice from your pool and try again. But you have options to influence your roll: items, spells, allies, skills, blessings, other investigators on the same card ... you won't need all this for simple cards, but you have to prepare yourself before you engage a harder card.

When I bought Elder Sign in January, it became quickly the #1 coop on my table; mainly because of the short playing time, the quick setup and the theme.

From the games you mentioned, I know D-Day Dice and Zombicide:BP. The first is some kind of a resource race game (to the top of the map); ES is different because you have to solve individual cards to prevent the Ancient One from waking up. That means you have to select carefully which card you want to engage and if your current weaponry and spell arsenal will suffice for that task.

Z:BP is a classic adventure game, where you move around a map and kill zombies quickly before they multiply and overrun you. Movement in ES is more abstract; you simple take your investigator and put it on the card you want to engage this round (the setting is inside a museum).

At this point, I should mention that I really like both games: D-Day and Zombicide. And also Defenders of the Realm (which I have been told is similar to Pandemic, but with a fantasy theme).

The game scales well with any number of players; there's a mechanism (a clock) that triggers bad events every fourth turn. I wonder about the 90 minutes play time; with two players, we rarely need more than 30 minutes for a game.

As for expansions, my suggestion is to buy them in order.
Elder Sign: Unseen Forces simply expands the base game: more cards, more monsters, more stuff. The other expansions offer a different setting: the museum card deck is replaced by the streets of Arkham, by Alaska or the sea. They also slightly alter game play. You can easily go back and forth and play every setting without having to remove or insert cards - simply pick your deck.

If I haven't mentioned by now that I totally love that game, I'll do it here: I love that little gem! For more epic adventures in the Cthulhu setting I recommend Eldritch Horror meeple
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Steve Paltrineri
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I haven't played any of the other game you mentioned, but this game is great. I only have one expansion, but there is plenty of content in the base game. If you're on the fence, I suggest you check out the Elder Signs: Omens app. It has most of the content of the base game, omitting some minor things and one major thing (in the real game, if you awaken the ancient one you have to try to defeat him, in the app you just die). It's super fun, plays great solo, and is a great demo for the real game. And at around $4, you can't go wrong.
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Michael Nerman
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I'm generally in agreement with these other folks, except for one point: quick setup. If you're used to playing Pandemic: the Cure, know that Elder Sign has considerably more setup. When I play, I usually leave it out on the table so I can get in more solitaire games before I pack it up again. That said, I do have expansions and even some cards I made for it myself.

I really like the game play of Elder Sign and it's one of my favourite co-ops. I prefer it to Pandemic: the Cure, although I still enjoy P:tC. That said, the game is quite easy and becomes even easier with Unseen Forces, so if that's a problem for you, then keep it in mind. The other expansions change the game more radically, and have their own difficulty levels (between easy and very difficult).
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Mario
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Both ES and D-Day Dice are my top 5 games. Talking about base sets, variability seems better with ES for me. The only problem with ES is that the base set is quite easy.So if you like the game, be ready for getting some expansion like Gates of Arkham or others. (Unseen Forces is mandatory). Playtime varies with expansion (we experienced defeat in 30-40 min as well as win/defeat in 2 hours) but I never get bored, there is always stuff to do. Mechanism is nice so if you like the theme it could be game for you.
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Alex F
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I don't think setup in Elder Sign is long at all. It's easy to sort.
Expansions also don't add setup time, as they're self-contained.

Of course, Pandemic:The Cure has the fastest setup of any game I've ever played.
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Michael Nerman
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For the record, the number of investigators doesn't make a huge difference to the difficulty. There are stats somewhere on the Interweb, but I don't have the link handy.
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Keith czop
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I just picked this up and have been pleasantly surprised by how much fun this has been. Only two games in, however I have a feeling this is going to be a fan favorite with the family.
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