Product– Elder Sign: Gates of Arkham
Producer-Fantasy Flight Games
Set-up/Play/Clean-up– 45 minutes per scenario (1-8 players)
TL; DR-Arkham Horror in Elder Sign! 97%
Basics- Time to leave the museum. Games of Arkham is the second expansion to Elder Sign, and now players will explore Arkham trying to stop the spread of the Old Ones. For the most part, the general mechanics are the same. Basically, each round a player draws a mythos card. This mythos card adds new challenges and opportunities for the players. Then, players take their individual turns. First, they move to open locations. These locations have a number of dice symbols in rows on them. A Player rolls the dice and try to match their symbols to all the symbols on a row. If they can complete a row, they place those dice on the card, reducing the number rerolled, but succeeding on part of the task, and rerolls the dice. If not, they remove a die, and rerolls the dice. That player either solves all the rows of dice symbols, or they fail. Each location has a success results and failure results. Then the player advances the clock, and play continues. When the clock advances four times, either from players taking turns or location effects, a new mythos card is drawn. The game continues until either the ancient evil coming to destroy us all arrives… and destroys us all or the players amass a number of elder signs to hold the eternal evil off for a bit longer.
Gates of Arkham adds a few new things. One, a new deck of locations that are all locations in town and not rooms in the museum. Two, new locations enter play upside down with effects on their back! Unlike in the base game, cards now will affect the players before they enter play thus forcing players to go to hard locations because these locations have effects that are worse if they are not dealt with. Three, a new mythos deck dedicated to the town of Arkham instead of the museum. And four, new gate mechanics. Gates are now tied to locations as each gate has little standyies that tie a location and an other world location. You have to enter a gate to to to another world locations cards. Gates are just as hard, but if you can’t place a gate because all the standyies are out, then bad things are about to happen!
Mechanics– This is the ultimate step in the right direction for an expansion. I LOVE Arkham Horror, but it’s 45+ minutes to just set up the game without touching a single die! This game is 15 minutes of set up the first time you use it and less than five after that. The core mechanics of Cthulhu yahtzee haven’t changed, and that’s great as they are still simple and fun. The new ideas of location effects, enter locations semi-blind, and tying Arkham and other world locations together are all amazing and reflect the Arkham Horror mechaincs. My only real problem are the expansion characters. Most you will look over, then decide to not use. This new round seems a bit too topical to be that useful. They are not broken, but not as great as many of the others. The game is still as American style as it can be. You WILL lose because you will roll poorly. You WILL not have enough time. But, it WILL be fun! 4.5/5
Theme-Take Arkham Horror, remove ¾ of its game time, and you have this. If you read the cards, locations, and fluff text, you have an amazing Lovecraftian experience in under an hour. It’s a game the builds its own story organically, and something you will enjoy as it does. 5/5
Instructions– I’m honestly impressed. The game has great instructions. It’s not hard to understand, the rules flow well, and they read fast. 5/5
Execution-First, the complaint-there is too much in this box. The box itself is offset in shipping as there is just too much here. I know that’s a horrible complaint. WIth that soft complaint out of the way, the game is amazing. I like the art. The card iconography is well done. The cards themselves are great quality. I even love the standyies! They don’t destroy the components when they are assembled! This is honestly a well done expansion. You can see all the pieces during our unboxing video here: http://youtu.be/R–M3ZSPZfQ ! 4.95/5
Summary-This is as close to a one hour Arkham Horror game as you’re going to get. Sure it’s got the American Game problem of chance. But, if you and your friends can enjoy a bit of mutual misery as you all die from creatures outside space time, you will absolutely love this game. It’s not perfect. I’d like a slightly larger box and some changes to the new characters in this set. However, those complaints pale in comparison to how much I absolutely love what’s in this game. If you want a quick, fun, and easier version of Arkham Horror or an expanded version of Elder Sign with just the right amount of depth added, this is the game for you. 97 %