Hidden Gems - Elder Sign by Richard Launius & Kevin Wilson

Hey everyone! This week’s Hidden Gem is an old favourite of mine, Elder Sign, from Fantasy Flight Games and designed by Richard Launius and Kevin Wilson.  Elder Sign is a 1-8 player dice rolling game set in the Lovecraftian Arkham Horror universe and forms part of Fantasy Flight Games’ Arkham Files catalogue. 


Elder Sign follows a group of investigators as they explore the many dour locations within Arkham Museum, home to an unusually high number of dangerous artefacts connected to Cthulhu and his ilk. The rooms are represented by a random draw of tarot sized cards depicting the rolls required to successfully explore or overcome that room to gain the rewards listed on the card.  These rewards could be a clue, which can be used for re-rolls, weapons, to give the investigators a fighting chance, or a coveted Elder Sign, a certain number of which are required to win the game by closing the veil between dimensions and keeping the elder gods at bay.


The element of pushing your luck with each roll, further reducing your chances going into the next, creates great tension as the price for failure in any given room can be high, resulting in loss of health or sanity, the hallmarks of wellbeing across the Arkham Horror range. Each investigator has a special perk or ability to shake up the odds and working in groups gives players greater opportunities to complete complex rooms at the expense of adding to the dangers encountered in the museum’s dark halls.


Rounds are conducted by clock movements, with each quarter hour depicting a turn each time the clock completes a rotation, this triggers the doom phase, a time for investigators to fear, as this is when new creatures will spawn, and the doom is added to the doom track. If the doom track fills before the investigators succeed then all is lost, and I do mean all!  The world will fall to the horrors brought forth by the elder gods, and all of humanity will be lost.  So, you know, no pressure!


Elder Sign provides some great moments, and its high quality production serves the game well, drawing you into the isolation of the museum in the dead of night.  The artwork and components are excellent, the dice are clear and satisfying to roll and turning the hand on the clock ratchets up the tension appropriately.  There are dozens of room cards, investigators and elder gods threats to choose from, so no two games will be the same.  But if you find yourself growing weary, then there are several expansions available to increase playability.  The ability to be played as a solo experience all the way up to eight investigators makes this a flexible option for most group sizes.  It’s unusual to find a game that can take more than six players that isn’t dipping its toes into party game territory, so having a serious, themed board game for a higher player count is welcome. If you’ve never tried a Arkham Horror style game, then Elder Sign makes a great stepping stone into the world of Lovecraftian gaming.


As always, thanks for stopping by.  If you know of any games you feel would be a good fit for a future Hidden Gems, then let me know in the comments below. If you’re looking to connect with an amazing community of fellow gamers, then join in the fun on our Game Kings Gamers group on Facebook.  Until next time, don’t turn around, it’s standing right behind you.

Hidden gems