I was musing about new rules and ideas for The Ascalon Horror when I suddenly realized that with the removal of Clue tokens and the concept of “sealing” gates from the game, there was one fewer method of actually winning. I decided to take stock of the ways a game of Arkham Horror could actually be won.

It seems that each Arkham Horror expansion adds at least one new way to lose the game, but none of them really seem to add ways to win the game. Am I only just now realizing this? No, I’m sure I knew it before and was just in denial. It was obvious from before, now it’s just a matter of creating a few ways to win The Ascalon Horror.

So, Arkham Horror gave us three basic ways to win: first is to close the last open gate on the board. This comes with one condition, and that’s for the players to also have a number of gate trophies equal to the number of investigators. This is far more difficult than it sounds. I’ve seen it happen exactly once in dozens of games.

The second method of attaining victory requires the players to place at minimum of (more like, exactly) six Elder Sign tokens on the board, either by exploring and sealing gates, or … well, exploring and sealing gates. The real question comes down to whether the players used Clue tokens or Elder Sign unique items to seal said gates.

The third method of beating the Ancient One is to literally beat it (poetically referred to as “banishing” in the basic rules), once it wakes up, though this is usually a last-ditch effort to avert total failure. Unless you’re fighting Yig, who is relatively easy to defeat, you don’t have much better than a fifty-fifty shot of defeating the Great Old One.

The Ascalon Horror, by comparison, isn’t a matter of sending an eldritch abomination back to sleep. It’s about mustering forces to delay a coming invasion. It wasn’t until I went so far as to italicize the word Elder Sign that I remembered what the things were supposed to be — signs of the Elder Things, enemies of the Ancient Ones.

Well, sort of. I did a bit of reading and I figured out that the Elder Signs “probably” originated with the Old Ones, who are referred to inconsistently throughout Lovecraft’s work. Sometimes they’re the Elder Things, sometimes they’re the spawn of Cthulhu himself, and sometimes they’re the Older Gods, … or ever something else.

Regardless, the Elder Signs represent an opposing force, and that’s how I should treat the victory conditions for The Ascalon Horror. There are opposing factions — whoever the invaders are supposed to be, and the good people of Ascalon. Whatever stands in for the Elder Sign tokens should be representative of the will to fight back.

I think, whatever I make of the victory conditions for the game, they’ll be more straightforward than those found in Arkham Horror. Closing and sealing gates seems a little, I don’t know, “abstract” in retrospect. Perhaps a little too much so. Not every Ancient One has the same goals or motivations. Maybe I’m just being too picky.