Elder Sign from Fantasy Flight Games is a card and dice based game focused on the Cthulthu mythos, and is set in the same setting as their Arkham Horror and Mansions of Madness games, and is just as rich in H.P. Lovecraft theme and lore as either of them. In the box you'll find 6 green dice, a yellow die, a red die, clue tokens, stamina and sanity tokens, and a lot of cards, covering characters, weapons, spells, items, allies, adventure/events, other worlds, and elder gods.
|Some of the different investigators|
|One of two tasks completed|
|The basic setup|
And that is the basic ongoing gameplay to the game. Players are trying to work together to avoid the catastrophic doom that will occur if one of the elder gods awake, and are racing against a clock throughout the game. No seriously, they are. There is a clock that advances after every turn, and every time it strikes midnight, more bad stuff happens, and the elder gods doom track advances. Upon completion, they awake. So, to avoid this from happening, players will play cards from their hands or complete certain adventure cards that will assist in either slowing down the clock or removing doom tokens from the board, all the while working to get those elder signs that will win the game.
|Several of the adventure cards|
The game is pretty fun, and plays well with a variety of players (box says 1-8, but have only played it with groups of 4 and 5 so far). The characters in the game are straight out of AH/MoM, and provide a large variety of special abilities that when used in conjunction with each other make for a very powerful investigative team. Which is good since it seems that nothing but terrible, horrible things happen in this game as it progresses. Many adventure cards have situational effects that are constantly in play and do bad things to you when you fail a task and roll a terror symbol. If you fail to complete all the tasks to an adventure, you loose sanity and stamina. Monsters show up and want to kill you constantly. Even when you complete an adventure and collect your rewards, many of the cards have the symbol that makes you either put a monster in play or advance the doom track by one.
|Cthulhu Elder God card|
Throughout the course of the game, you are rolling dice and playing cards to modify rolls or assist other players in completing tasks, so at no point does it really feel that you have down time in it. Its theme and goals/objectives are similar to AH enough that folks may consider it to be Arkham lite, but the mechanics are for the most part very unique to it by comparison.
The game could benefit from a physical board to play the Adventure cards onto, as well as give the clock a physical stationary place it could live, but thats super minor and me just being petty. Elder Sign is fun, and made moreso if you are familiar with and enjoy Call of Cthulthu and the works of H.P. Lovecraft. Definitely a solid alternative to Arkham Horror when you want the feel and the flavor but don't have the time.
|The Elder Sign|