Updated: Feb 1, 2021
Elder Sign has been a favoured game in our house for a long time now, although personally it had fallen out of favour with me because it was just too easy, I can hardly recall the last time we lost. When you compare that with it’s Android counterpart Elder Sign Omens, my win/loss ratio is certainly below 50%!
So, when I heard that Unseen Forces amped up the difficulty I knew I had to pick it up. Elder Sign is a cooperative game in which the players are working together to seal away an ancient evil that is attempting to enter our world and devour it! Using dice you complete tasks and unlock the powerful Elder Signs which will banish the ancient one back to where it came from. For a full overview check out my review here.
So what does Unseen Forces add to the game? A bit of everything. When the expansion was first announced, I, like many others, was a little disappointed that we wouldn't be seeing a themed campaign pack like the Ithaqua or Cthulhu expansions for Elder Sign Omens. But what we did get was more of everything else.
More adventure cards allowing for new rewards, penalties, midnight effects etc. I was glad to see that there were more cards that offered Allies as rewards too. Also included were reprinted and errated cards that replaced and clarified cards in the base game. New Investigators were added bringing with them a collection of new special abilities. New, tougher, Ancient Ones adding variation and challenge to the game. New items and spells, along with new, tougher Mythos cards to help bring the pain and make the game harder to beat.
But amongst all that they also introduced a new mechanic. Blessed and Cursed dice. Blessed gifts you an additional dice each turn until you fail an adventure, while Cursed will rob you of one. In addition if you are unlucky enough to get cursed twice you are immediately devoured.
But is it worth it? Does it increase the difficulty and make Elder Sign a competitive game again? Well we’ve played twice with the expansion, first against Glaaki who generates extra doom when an investigator is devoured. Unfortunately we beat Glaaki within 12 turns so he didn't prove himself to be much of a challenge. I had removed the Master Mythos cards from the deck, thinking they would probably be too much to handle, but now I’ve added them in and plan to keep using them.
Our second adventure did not fare so well. This time we went up against Shuppe M’Ell who closes down adventures after you fail them, when you run out of open adventure cards you lose the game! We opened with a slew of Midnight effects and locked dice and in a six player game these are harder to prepare for. By the time the game came to a close we had only clocked up 7 of the 12 required elder signs. This Ancient One becomes very scary very quickly, not only can you not use the assist action, but you have to be pretty sure you can complete an adventure before you attempt it. The Master Mythos cards made a few appearances in this game, definitely scarier than the basic ones but not so bad.
Overall more of everything is great (although campaigns would be awesome too, even if they are Print on Demand). I like the addition of harder adventures and scarier mythos cards as they can be added retroactively to amp up the difficulty of previous ancient ones. Unseen Forces does feel a little like a patch for a game that had become a little too easy, but anything that brings the fun back is a welcome addition. The jury is still out on Blessed/Cursed, so far I’ve only seen players be blessed. If you liked Elder Sign there’s no reason not to pick this up as well!