If you’ve played Fantasy Flight’s Arkham Horror cooperative boardgame, some of Elder Sign: Omens will be familiar to you. This is basically a dice-based iPhone solitaire version of Arkham Horror (available here for $4). It plays a bit like Clue, where you align several pieces on the board for one of the adventures, which consists of rolling dice and matching them to the adventure’s component tasks. For instance, Sister Mary the nun in the North Wing with the dynamite against the Medusa exhibit. Then you roll the dice and see how she fares.
The overall goal is to accumulate 14 elder signs, which are rewards for beating some adventures, before you accumulate 12 doom tokens, which are penalties for failing some adventures, as well as occasional draws during the dreaded midnight phase. I’ve played three games, each with a hand-picked group of investigators. In all three games, the world was devoured. Oops. Maybe I’ll have more luck this time with a random party.
After the jump, meet the boys
My randomly drawn party consists of some of the game’s hardier boys: Ashcan Pete the bum, Darrell Simmons the reporter, Monterey Jack the archaeologist/adventurer, and Joe Diamond the detective. They each have high stamina and middling sanity. I predict some of these fellows will end up in the insane asylum before it’s all over. Each character has a special ability as well as a randomly determined starting inventory.
Ashcan Pete’s scrounge ability lets him finesse his rewards for beating an adventure. He begins my game with a shotgun, which he can use to turn any die roll into a peril result that’s good against monsters. The King in Yellow is a tome that will give him a powerful red die when he uses it during an adventure. His heal spell will fully restore his stamina.
Darrell Simmons’ “hometown advantage” lets him improve some of his die rolls when he’s doing tasks. He’s brought along food, which will heal a single point of stamina. Nice work, Darrell. Ashcan Pete manages a magical spell to fully heal himself; you brought a snack. But Darrell also has the Lamp of Alhazred, which gives him a red die.
Monterey Jack — get it? — has the highest stamina in the game, making him the toughest fighter. Archaeology doubles his reward whenever he earns special items. He’s brought along reading material and smokes. The Cultes des Goules and Nameless Cults are tomes that will each give him a red die. His cigarette case can be cashed in for a yellow die, which is helpful, but not as powerful as the red dice.
Detective Joe Diamond has a clue. Literally. You can spend clue tokens to re-roll some of your dice. Diamond’s “hunches” let him re-roll the dice up to two times whenever he uses a clue token. He begins the game with an axe and a clue. The axe is good for a yellow die. Not as classy as Monterey’s cigarette case, but functionally the same.
Basically, I need to remember to send Monterey Jack after unique items and to send Joe Diamond after clues. And I need to keep a close eye on everyone’s sanity. We’ve got lots of brawn, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned from H.P. Lovecraft, it’s that you can’t punch Cthulhu back to R’lyeh.
Up next: Ashcan Pete’s shotgun folly