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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 originally posted this in the Elder Signs forum and got lots of helpful but (perhaps predictably) overwhelmingl positive feedback. I figured I might repost it here in order to try to hear some more balanced commentary:

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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Jerry Martin
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I find Elder sign to be a bit fiddly and overly long.
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Erik Jordheim
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Like you Pandemic the Cure is one of our favorite games.

However, if you are looking for another cooperative dice rolling game that doesnt over stay its welcome I would recommend Escape! Curse of the Temple before Elder Sign.

Escape plays 1-5 well and the nature of the real time removes the quarterbacking that you mentioned in your post.

Elder Sign (which I own along with the Unseen and Gates of Arkham expansions) is more like the Arkham Horror the dice game (in the same way that Pandemic the Cure is Pandemic the dice game).

What Elder Sign does is take a really immersive setting/theme and condenses its much longer big brother into something much more easy to manage in a shorter time frame. The Gates of Arkham expansion is what really makes this game into a thematic experience (along with some background sounds/music from tabletop Audio) but it is not the same cooperative experience as the Cure. This game plays well from 1-4 (any more and I think it would go to long unless everyone was into the storytelling aspect of the game) but you are more like individuals working towards the same goal then you are actually planning and working together like you do in the Cure.

So, in summary:

Escape! For a quick, fun and frantic cooperative dice rolling adventure with a great theme and lots of expansions.

Elder Sign (with either stickers on the back of cards to make it like Gates of Arkham or with the actual expansion) if you are looking for that next step up in thematic dice chucking games where you want to walk away telling the tale of your terrifying adventures and your bitter loss at the hands of an Ancient one.
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Heather Stanley
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I like co-op dice games but wasn't a fan of Elder Sign.

For me - even with Gates of Arkham expansion it still felt like glorified yahtzee trying to match symbols. I prefer more theme.

Gates of Arkham made it theoretically more thematic but still you are matching dice at its core. I did find Gates of Arkham made the game longer and more fiddly.

So for me personally, I found Elder Sign to be the wrong combination of boring gameplay (yahtzee), insufficient theme but also long and fiddly. FWIW I really enjoy Pandemic the cure, Zombie Dice and Zombicide: Black Plague. I also love Eldritch Horror and Mansions of Madness so lovecraftian co-op dice-chucking goodness is definitely up my alley.

Is there any way to try before you buy?
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Erik Jordheim
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There is an Elder Sign app on IOS and android I believe though you will miss out on the fun of actually rolling the dice but you will get an idea of how it feels.

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Klaus Brune
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Vooshvazool wrote:
There is an Elder Sign app on IOS and android I believe though you will miss out on the fun of actually rolling the dice but you will get an idea of how it feels.



I'm a big fan of dice chucking and tabletop reality over virtual reality, and I own the tabletop version, but this is one rare instance where I actually prefer the App over the "real" game. Highly worth it, especially with the add~ins. Elder Sign: Omens actually kicks the difficulty up a notch, but it's not insurmountable. And of course, it's not a co-op unless you pass-and-play.

It's definitely worth the lower price of admission, and on Google Play Store you do have a 2-hour trial window for a quick refund. The only caveat is that I find the 300+ megabyte installation to be excessive, especially since much of that consists of intro videos that you'll likely only watch ONCE.
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Johnny B
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Vooshvazool wrote:


However, if you are looking for another cooperative dice rolling game that doesnt over stay its welcome I would recommend Escape! Curse of the Temple before Elder Sign.

Escape plays 1-5 well and the nature of the real time removes the quarterbacking that you mentioned in your post


Escape! For a quick, fun and frantic cooperative dice rolling adventure with a great theme and lots of expansions.


If you are interested in Escape: The Curse of the Temple, then you might want to take a look at FUSE or the upcoming release Flatline. All 3 games have you rolling dice and making decisions against a timer/countdown soundtrack.

Edit:grammar
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Krawhitham B
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+1 for FUSE
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Alex F
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I've found Eldritch Horror to be ten times longer and fiddlier than Elder Sign, though. I used to be a fan of EH, but I dislike how it opens itself to optimization.

For instance, Charlie Kane being good at acquiring assets, and just camping at his starting location; there's little drive to do anything but the optimal which is solving Mysteries.
Or traveling to Cities being more rewarding than going elsewhere, leaving many encounters undiscovered.
Plus, Travel is so slow and clunky, and sorting and setup are long.



Elder Sign is one of my favorite games though, along with Pandemic:The Cure( a recent favorite).
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Chris Willett
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I liked Pandemic: The Cure more than Elder Sign and I think it is a somewhat simple reason for me. In Elder sign, missions are all or nothing. So you can go your turn and accomplish nothing. In Pandemic The Cure you can have good turns and bad turns, but you usually accomplish something each turn. I guess I like the smaller steps more than the big accomplishments.
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Alex F
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Not necessarily "all or nothing", but I understand the complaint.

You could still defeat some monsters to make a hard adventure easier, or lock dice on a spell for the next investigator to have an easier time.
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Dave B.
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I really like Elder Sign, but it's definitely kind of long for what it is. Usually by the end, I'm like, "Okay, that's enough."

Check out One Deck Dungeon. You can have 4 players if you mix two sets.
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Marty Devine
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What about Star Trek: Five-Year Mission? Shorter game play, co-op, unique characters, and a Star Trek theme?

(And I've always thought that Elder Sign would make a kick-ass game re-themed into a Star Trek game.)
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Alex F
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I do think that Elder Sign shines a bit more with expansions, as the extra items and characters provide a full spectrum of risk management options.
There are many ways in which you can affect the luck of the dice.

What's more, sometimes failing an adventure can be beneficial, if the penalty would advance the clock or add a doom token in some of the expansions , as this would open gates or get rid of nasty lingering effects.


Not to knock Pandemic:The Cure, which we love, but think the base game can be a bit swingy with the dice.

One thing we've noticed is that there really isn't anything you can do if you roll many biohazard results.Because once rolled, they cannot be manipulated(one event allows a reroll of one biohazard result, but that's it. ).
Also there seems to be lack of variety between characters and the possible events in the base game

That's why I've ordered the Experimental Meds expansion which adds a lot of variety to to The Cure.
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r0t1 prata
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Elder Sign's co-operative mechanics are present in some characters/items' abilities/spells, also there's a "help to focus 1 die when in same location" mechanic.

Despite of that I still feel that Elder Sign isn't a game which feels co-operative enough. Maybe it's because we never really got to use that "focus 1 die" mechanic. Whereas in Pandemic: The Cure, you will most definitely pass the dice to 1 person to roll for a cure.

Depending on which Ancient One(Final Boss) you have to fight, the game may/may not feel draggy. I've had experiences where I felt it was becoming repetitive halfway through the game.

I've only tried Omens of Ice once but I feel that the base game itself is good enough, if you want something deeper/more complex then you should be finding some other co-operative game.




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Alex F
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If you feel it drags, you can shorten playing time, by adding a doom token each midnight.

We haven't felt that Elder Sign overstays its welcome though, but it will take longer to play against certain Ancient Ones.

For theme, Gates of Arkham is the best expansion, in my opinion.
While Unseen Forces adds more variety to the base game.

We play with a variant that introduces Gates into the museum, so it gives the game even more kick.

The thing is, that all expansions add more variance to the common decks.
So if you have all of them, it will give you the full experience.

But I understand that not all people will be willing to invest in all of them.
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