Cookiemonger and I just finished our first game of Elder Sign, a card game (another by Fantasy Flight Games) based on the Cthulhu Mythos. It plays pretty quickly, which I appreciate. Lots of artwork is reused from Arkham Horror, which I found welcoming, if a little disorienting. If I understand correctly, this same artwork is also used in FFG games like the Call of Cthulhu LCG and Mansions of Madness.

I’ve glanced over the rules and the cards several times since Christmas, but this was the first time CM and I sat down to figure the game out. It’s much, much easier to teach than Arkham Horror, and the setup and cleanup times are significantly shorter. Which I appreciate, a lot. (Mostly, ’cause I’m the only one who remembers how…)

Elder Sign breaks “Adventures” up into between one and three “Tasks.” Generally, you can complete Tasks in any order, which you do by rolling the dice and trying to get certain faces to come up. The six faces are x1 Clue, x2 Clue, x3 Clue, Skill, Madness, and Injury. I guess you could use the terms “Investigation,” “Lore,” “Terror,” and “Peril” but Arkham Horror defined the icons first…

Your typical Task will call for 3-6 Clues (which you achieve by adding several Clue dice together), and one or two of the other faces. Sometimes you have a more difficult Task that calls for 2 Peril and 1 Lore. You start with a pool of six dice, but as you complete Tasks, you set aside the “used” dice, until your your dice pool is significantly smaller.

The main strategy to the successful completion of an Adventure is clearing the more difficult Tasks while you have a larger dice pool, and conserving your bonus dice and re-rolls for when you get unlucky toward the end. There’s also strategy in choosing which Adventures to tackle in what order, and how best to utilize the rewards.

One thing I can say I really like about the game is how Common and Unique items now just add extra dice, like Clue tokens. Well, the new Clue tokens let you re-roll some or all of your dice during a Task, and the Common and Unique items let you add either the special Yellow or Red die, that have faces different from the six Green dice.

The Investigators and Ancient Ones from Arkham Horror return in Elder Sign, often with their original powers intact (or at least, similarly-flavored). In our game, CM played as Carolyn Fern, the Psychologist, and I played as Bob Jenkins, the Salesman. We pretty much rocked the Ancient One we randomly drew, who was Hastur.

I’m looking forward to seeing how the game holds up to repeated play.