Qt3 Boardgames Podcast: Elder Sign, Set a Watch, Gencon

Title Qt3 Boardgames Podcast: Elder Sign, Set a Watch, Gencon
Author Tom Chick
Posted in Games podcasts
When August 8, 2019

Tom Chick needs to roll a peril icon, Tony Carnevale needs the wizard to sit this one out, and Mike Pollmann needs a few more days to see everything being shown.

Elder Sign at 2:30, Set a Watch at 22:45, and Gencon 2019 at 49:50…

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Tony’s impression of Dingus was excellent.

Good stuff, fellas!

Re: Tom’s comments on Arkham Horror 3E: I agree that the scenarios so far feel a bit too prescriptive (though I haven’t played the fourth one yet). But I also think that finally making AH truly scenario-based is potentially exactly what the series needed. By modularizing so many elements of the setup (the monster deck, mythos bag, scenario decks, map) it gives the system the freedom to expand without the bloat that’s typically accompanied Arkham Files games to this point, by adding scenarios that tweak all those elements in specific ways and changing up the objectives. It’s got all the tools in place to allow for some really creative design in the space, instead of just the usual “powerup/get clues/defeat Old One” cycle that even Eldritch Horror couldn’t quite break away from (and you could tell it really, really wanted to).

Now, will this happen? I think it’s 50/50 based on past behavior. But I’m very curious to pick up the first expansion and see if they lean into this aspect of the design. I like AH3E a lot, but I get where folks who don’t like it are coming from.

I’ve mentioned it before, but AH3 badly needs some way to randomize the objectives. They could still make the scenarios themed. Just model them after the Adventure card mechanic in Elder Sign: have multiple objectives labeled Act I-IV that reflect the general progress of the story, but randomize which objective you get at each act.

Their solution before was to just keep releasing new expansion scenarios. But not only is that going to get expensive (thanks, card game!), it’s still not going to make the individual scenarios have much of a replay life beyond a couple plays each. Finally, their current release schedule is way too slow for that to work. 10 months for a small box expansion?

The essential small Eldritch Horror expansion was their first one, “Forsake Lore”.

I think the only new dual sided condition it added was poison. Everything else was just adding to existing decks (more mysteries for base game ancient ones, badly needed).

The more that I’ve played post-Eldritch games, the more I realize I’m tired of the “2 sided spell card” mechanic. It’s just clunky and the unknown factor doesn’t make up for the added fiddling of flipping over and doing more stuff every single time you cast a spell (or worse, having to shuffle and deal a new spell every single time you cast one in Mansions of Madness).

They ditched this mechanic for AH3, and I don’t miss it one bit.

Fun podcast, guys! Some thoughts:

  • I can handle only 1 FFG Lovecraft product in my collection, and it’s gotta be Eldritch Horror. That’s why it’s been easy for me to ignore anything else published by them in this thematic line.
  • I considered supporting the Set a Watch KS, but two things killed it for me: the overwhelming generic-ness of the fantasy theme, and the eye-gouging graphic design. Something about the fonts and color palette and overall look of the game just killed my enthusiasm.
  • Tribes: DoH looks pretty good, and as I understand it, it’s an “upgraded” version of a game that came out just a year earlier. It’s maybe too abstract - I’m jonesing for a good civ game, but I don’t think the techs/discoveries in this are thematically meaningful at all. Plus, Stegmaier just announced his new game - a Civ game with a 4-page rulebook - that could be the Civ game we’ve all been waiting for. I don’t totally jive with his designs, but I respect him as a designer and developer and am always curious to see what he comes up with.

Every time “Set a Watch” was mentioned, my mind autocompleted it as “Go Set a Watchman”. Now that’s a boardgame I’d like to see.

Players try to wrest an unpublished manuscript from a doddering author? I’d play it.

Lord help me, but…

…I kinda think – other than the LCG – that Elder Sign might be my favorite mythos Fantasy Flight game right now.

I have been trying to get an exceptionally difficult game with some very under-written rules to the game table over the last 3 weeks, and it has been pretty frustrating.

Along comes Elder Sign, a game I know only from the iPad app. I enjoyed the app, but found the gameplay really simplistic. Almost stupidly so. Tom’s description of “timewaster” is perfect.

And so I discover that the boardgame of ES has a bit more going on than does the app. Cool. That’s neat. I end up adding Gates of Arkham and Unseen Forces. And I find myself really, really enjoying the overhaul and fleshing out of the game systems in those two expansions.

And so here’s the deal:

  1. I really like chucking dice. I can’t help it. The heart wants what it wants. And mine loves to throw dice around.

  2. I am coming from trying to play a game where there’s almost no discussion or videos to watch on youtube and trying to parse rules and contextual meaning and ambiguous ideas. Here’s ol’ Elder Sign and it is a game that is basically feature complete and mature now with a gajillion videos and all the rules answers I could ever want – if I even needed them, because glory be the basic mechanics here are wonderfully simple – all laid out wherever I want to look for them.

  3. The simplicity of the core mechanics here sets my imagination loose in ways that Eldritch horror or Arkham Horror really never did, or at least didn’t do often enough.

Thanks @tomchick . I didn’t realize how much I wanted to play this game. I’m having a blast with it.