after I was near throwing my iPad in a corner of the room, I decided to ask a simple question here in the forums for Elder Sign. What the **** am I doing wrong?
I played the game several times over the last few days and I was never even near "winning" anything. At all. No chance.
The typical game runs like this: I pick my investigators, enter the museum and try to "win" one of the easy challenges first. Nothing guarded by monsters, just an easy task. I am presented by three subtasks, where each one has two or even three requirements to match with my dice. But I don't have enough dice, even if I have to reroll ONE SINGLE TIME, I have no chance of winning this one.
Ok. So I pick the next investigator and try again. And fail. Again. All the time, every single time. Which is simply infuriating, as I have not a single chance to change the purely luck-based dice throw. Oh, sure. I can use some items. So I try this...
... and I spend nearly all my stuff on ONE measly single "mission". Which - of course - means I get my butt handed to me when I try one of the harder missions. Maybe face a monster, or other foe.
And all the while I try to even get ONE simple Elder Sign, the doom track advances and soon I have no chance but to restart.
So, again, one single, simple question: WHAT AM I DOING WRONG?!
I have no problems with hard games, but I simply do not understand what I could have done differently. I do not understand how I can, in any way, influence the outcome of the game. The tutorial videos are pretty, but I never played the original game before and I don't have the feeling that I have even the slightest grasp of the higher play mechanics and the game fails to explain them to me. There isn't any kind of manual, there isn't any kind of strategy guide. And is it really expected of me, to have any chance of playing the game without getting furious, to wade into online gaming forums and try to make sense out of discussions about the dice game to extrapolate any useful information for the iPad game?
I came to expect a kind of working, usable tutorial to explain the basics of the game to me. To teach me a level of understanding the game mechanics to be able to "win" a game a few times. Maybe some suggestions of what I could have done differently. But with this game I feel completely left alone and again, succeeding or failing feels completely disconnected from my actions in the game.
[ADMIN: Please remember to keep your language clean, even while frustrated. These forums are for members of all ages, with varying tastes and tolerance for foul language.]
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There are some other threads here that discuss strategy at greater length, but real quickly... Are you using the items that you start with? Don't skimp on using items and spells and such, even right off the bat. For the most part, try to use investigators on adventures where they're best suited (e.g., Monterey where there are Unique Items to gain, Michael where a skull result is needed, etc.). Use Clues earlier in the sequence when there are more dice available (and thus more of a chance that the Clue will be effective). Sometimes you'll need to kill a monster, knowing you'll fail the adventure, just to get rid of the monster. Keep an eye on the adventures and midnight effects where doom tokens are added, and give those special attention. My record is about 23-7 (though I did have a weird streak lately where I lost 4 out of 5), so stick with it... you'll start winning.
I finally won my first game. I had the same frustrations, but I eventually learned how to leverage my items in the game. Definitely start using them right from the get-go. I hope to get a few more wins under my belt soon.
The in game help guide is quite useful. It's a tad wordy, but it gets the job done. I think what helped me understand how to win were a few things that I'll try to be as thorough as I can with listing off:
Team Composition - I like to have a good balance of high sanity and high stamina characters. If i have two that are 7/3 (sanity/stamina), then I'll most likely not get another character with high sanity. I also wouldn't pick too many characters that fill the same role. Here's a list I threw together. Safe characters help keep you from losing, but may not necessarily help you win the game. Leaders are strong characters whose abilities can clear tasks for you to help you win. Wealthy characters have a knack for acquiring more items. Fixers let you cheat the dice in your favor.
I would say 2-3 leaders, and the rest being Safe/Healers is a good bet. (2 Leaders, 1 Support, 1 Healer is my standard composition, usually trying to get in a Fixer). For me, it's a tie between Harvey (Lore) and Michael (Peril). Having at least one of these guys to lean on when things gets tough is pretty nice. At least one of these guys are in my party when I'm playing to win (rather than trying odd builds). A healer is usually a safe bet too, either Carolyn (Sanity) or Vincent (Stamina). If you get one of each from these, you'll have a Leader and a Healer already. From there, I'd get anything else I want (leaning towards Leaders).
Game Mechanics - There's definitely a few tricky mechanics that you should understand, as well as knowing the odds of succeeding on any given task.
There is an in game tutorial that uses pictures and text rather than Video (because it doesn't work for a lot of people). Please use it if you have any other questions. Also, the rule book for the main game can be found here (PDF Warning). The game is mostly the same, so if you need to see icons or a more thorough explanation, feel free to look it up. The video tutorials are also online and can be found here (quicktime) or here (youtube).
Man, I wrote a lot and spent way too much time on this, I feel it's not even as thorough as I'd like it to be. I kind of lost sight to what I was planning to do, this just kind of exploded.
EDIT: OH YEAH. This game is definitely a luck based game, but there is skill involved. having said that, you may lose. A lot. That's how it's built. Arkham Horror is the same way. Cthulhu is unforgiving and won't lend a tentacle to assist you. It's an uphill battle and though it may feel trivial, keep on striving to beat the game. It can be done.
EDIT 2: Added more stuff.
One hint you forgot to give: try to use the last turn before midnight to seal an Outer World or buy from the shop. If you clear an ordinary adventure, you can find it being replaced by one with a Midnight effect and you'll be hit by the Midnight effect before you have a chance to clear it. This is especially important if you haven't yet cleared Horrible Visions and Transported By Magic, as they both add Doom tokens.
On a side note: Kate's ability doesn't stop monsters appearing at Midnight either from effects or the normal course of play.
I think it's sloppy design when you can make the best decisions possible with your rolls and be doing quite well (13-10 before midnight and going to win with the next investigator through buying an elder sign) then just randomly lose from 2 doom tokens at midnight. I thought the # of doom tokens was based on what areas had doom tokens as a penalty (which would be a better system IMO). Randomness makes sense thematically for the individual locations as an investigator going against a monster or whatever could fail. I don't get the thematic reason for making the # of doom tokens random.
That was an incredibly informative post! Thanks for taking the time to share.
As counter-intuitive as it sounds, my general feeling is that it is a much easier game if you use only one investigator. It keeps all your items in one place rather than spread out, helps to keep the health up since you can fully heal in only one turn, and builds the treasure count up fast so you can buy the items you need. As an example I recently beat Cthulhu (and quite handily too) using only Jenny Barnes.
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