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After 4 sessions - first impressions, but not really a game review


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#1 MaddockKrug

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 11:34 PM

Hi there,

 

I played ES now four times (since Saturday, when I bought it). And what am I supposed to say?

 

I) Game content

I really like what I see and what I hold in my hands. The cards, the printing, the quality of the dice, the tokens, everything seems to have quite a decent quality to it - from the way they look and feel. The place you need to play the game I underestimated a lot the first time I played the game. With always six+ locations open, with the different card-stacks and token-piles, with some place to roll the many dice, you really need some room for the game to play. Maybe not as much as with AH or MoM, but still a lot more then with Yatzee, which seems to be a common misunderstanding with critics of ES (more about that later).

2) My first four game-sessions

a) My first game I played with Kate Winthrop against Yog-Sothoth. I lost this game because especially I had a lot of bad luck (several adventures I tried three or four times before I successfully passed them). From checking the rules and the FAQs afterwards I understood that I did a couple of things very wrong. The end of the game was pretty "close"; with having stuck to the rules more thoroughly I would have lost more clearly. So my misunderstand with the rules was more in favor of me ...

b) During the second game I again used Kate Winthrop against Azathoth. Now, with a better understanding of the rules, consideration of the FAQs and again some very bad luck with some adventures (three to four attempts to pass a few adventures) Kate was devoured, and Sister Mary was her successor. But she was not able to prevent Azathoth from appearing ... So sad. But this time the end of the game was slightly more open ...

c) The third game was weird. In this order I challenged Cthulhu himself: Kate Winthrop, Amanda Sharp, Dexter Drake and finally Harvey Walters. Yes - four characters in a single solo-game, one after another. But I did something horribly wrong regarding the rules of the game: Any time I failed a task, terror struck, and I let all the terror-effects in the game take place; and through the better part of this game-session I had four to five adventures open with terror-effects. So I let my characters suffer a lot more sanity- and health losses, often loose the terror-dices or even loose an adventure before it got really started. And besides this it really did not matter that I forgot to apply the effect of Cthulhu itself on the sanity- and health-scores of the investigators.

I lost this game-session far from close. And even realizing my fail at applying the rules properly I concluded: Why on Earth keep people commenting this game as being flawed by being too easily won?

4) And then the fourth game happened. Sister Mary challenged Yig. With the excpetion of one adventure, Sister Mary passed all adventures on her first attempt - sometimes beating all odds. Pretty soon a mythos card showed up and had the lingering effect that with the next midnight Yig would earn two doom-tokens thus awaken him; but Sister Mary already had 28 points in her trophies and already eight elder signs arranged against Yig (and that although she had lost two elder signs due to defeating two cultists over the span of the game). So the following two turns Sister Mary spent her time in the souvenirs shop and bought the final two elder signs ... My first Victory against the game AI ... And this game really was soooo easy ... Checking the rules afterwards I was not aware of doin' things wrong this time. Yeehaww!

3) Some first impression conclusions

a) Elder Sign is not an easy game. It can be easy, if you are very lucky with your dicing; but you have no real influence on what you roll with your dice, do you? And that is why it may be pretty hard to say that ES is a somewhat easy game. I only played it four times now, I only won once, and that with an exceptionally good result. Anyway: It is not the right time for me to consider ES an easy, a medium challenging, or even a hard game to play, because I played it only four times yet. But these first sessions don't let me think of ES being an easy game - although I did some things wrong in the first games.

b) The dicing is pretty hard to grab, because it is "so different":

You roll your pool of dice: =>

aa) If your roll shows enough symbols you need for a single task, you may solve the task and re-roll all remaining dice for another task (without using any die for focussing!, which is pretty important I guess);

bb) but if your dice don't allow you to pass a task or you decide against solving a task, you failed: =>

aaa) apply the terror effect of your current adventure and mythos-card;

bbb) loose one die;

ccc) maybe focus one die (only once per roll; and during your turn per investigator only one die on the same location!);

ddd) re-roll the remaining dice; if there are none, you failed the adventure ...

This may be extended by certain spells, items and clue-tokens.

( Did I get that right in the end? This is, what I did not like about the rulebook that FFG did not deal with the focus-rules in the same place as "failed tasks" are described).

c) There are many different things to think of during your game play. Characters with one low stat have to be used very carefully in certain situations; some adventures cost you two points of health or something, which may be very challenging, if you also play against Cthulhu himself. Then you should thoroughly consider what items to use when and how to (re)gain items and especially clue tokens making your life a little easier (in theory at least). Any time a monster shows up, where do you place it, what other circumstances should you account for, etc.? Any time you fail a task, you loose a die; and your focus and maybe your spells only help you very limited to save up certain die-results, which involves a lot of planning through many adventures. And then you should also keep in mind: many adventures need you to apply at least four, often five dice to successfully apply to tasks. Also you realize that by your investigator approaching certain adventures you heavily influence the appearance of monsters and elder signs a lot. So, there are so many thinks to think of. And that is, why ...

... ES is by no means even comparable with Yatzee or similar games. This is something I read so often. And I need to disagree: ES is not Yatzee. Period.

4) ABC: Absolutely Beginner's Conclusion

So all in all I like this game and the options you have within this game. Although your success depends hard on your luck with your dice, you also have many different strategic elements within this game as well. I like the mixture of these various elements.

 

All the best!

Mad

tl;rd


For GM: Mad's Adventure, Adventure Hooks, NPCs, and Locations - same at RPGGEEK

 

SW, to me, is a Spaghetti Western with space ships for horses. No matter what you do it causes a problem.  You just might save the day.  Crazy heroics and adventure!

 


#2 Julia

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 01:09 AM

MaddockKrug said:

Any time I failed a task, terror struck, and I let all the terror-effects in the game take place; and through the better part of this game-session I had four to five adventures open with terror-effects. So I let my characters suffer a lot more sanity- and health losses, often loose the terror-dices or even loose an adventure before it got really started.

Maddock: this actually is the difficulty boost I was searching for the game. I think I'll use your misreading of the rules as a brilliant houserule to keep the game fizzy. Thanks a lot!


We have dragged Reason from her Throne and set in her place the Empress of Dreams [liber Endvra]
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#3 MaddockKrug

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 02:49 AM

Hi Julia,

 

no problem; anytime. :)

But believe when I say: You have no idea what your are getting into! Think of these two scenarios:

 

A)

Terror effect #1: You loose 1 health.

Terror effect #2: You loose 1 insanity.

Terror effect #3: Loose all terror dice.

B)

Terror effect: You immediately loos this adventure.

In either scenario these Terror effects are spread around, but not on your adventure. This really is bad ... So houseruling this (applying them anytime regardless of your investigator's location) might be kind of a challenge.

 

In general about houseruling:

What exactly have you thought of or tried yet?

Pretty often I learned that people tried making the game harder by rotating the clock faster (4 to 6 hours per turn instead of the default 3).

I would consider these variants as well:

A) Any Doom-Token placed on the GOO reveals an additional monster. (Downside: You may run out of them; but is this really a flaw, if all the places are packed with creatures?)

B) Reduce the amount of standard-dice from 6 to 5.

C) Limit the addition of the extra-dice - only ONE (either the yellow or the red one) may be added to your pool with having the Tommy Gun and the Holy Sword as an exception to this role.

D) Allow to use only one spell per turn to be used in order to lock dice. (From my understanding you could use more then one spell per turn, but only one per roll so far.)

E) No focusing allowed.

F) Between each successful adventure or during any midnight turn the character needs to rest at the Entrance ...

G) Any combination of the above-mentioned.

 

All the best!

Mad


For GM: Mad's Adventure, Adventure Hooks, NPCs, and Locations - same at RPGGEEK

 

SW, to me, is a Spaghetti Western with space ships for horses. No matter what you do it causes a problem.  You just might save the day.  Crazy heroics and adventure!

 


#4 Julia

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 04:15 AM

MaddockKrug said:

But believe when I say: You have no idea what your are getting into! Think of these two scenarios:

All the best!

Mad

Yeah, I kinda have idea of what I'm going through ::laughter::

At the moment I played 8 games of ES (a complete rotation of all AOs). I never lost a game. At the beginning I had some more troubles, and once I won during Final Battle. But then, in the last 4-5 games, I usuall win when the doom track is at 2 or 3 doomers. Really, the Mythos deck is not that scary, and once you've got the basics, is pretty easy to bend the game in your favor. No house rules were used, so far, but I was considering what fixes might be used to have a more challenging game

The real, nasty mechanics is the one locking your dice. But, generally speaking, I like more being damaged rather than rolling fewer dice ::laughter:: I'll try a couple of times. Let's see how this goes :-)


We have dragged Reason from her Throne and set in her place the Empress of Dreams [liber Endvra]
Custom Arkham Horror material / Arkham Horror Advanced Players League

#5 Rince

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 10:08 AM

I am considering using those "extended" terror effects as well because I too find this game a bit too easy. It has a steep learning curve, but once you master the overall strategy (when and what adventures to tackle) it loses most of its challenge. My experience is that you need to be extremely unlucky to lose a game.

Overall, however, Elder Sign is a great game with great potential! I even bought Omens for the iPhone so I can take it with me. :)






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