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I recently bought Elder Sign: Omens for my iPhone, and I really like it, but it seems to be VERY difficult.

Does anyone have some good strategies on how to play?


  • What is a good team to start with for a beginning player?
  • When should I use my cards? Should I use them as soon as I get them? Hold off a bit?
  • Which adventures should I try to defeat first? Which should I avoid until I absolutely have to beat them?
  • Is it even possible to win this game? Or is the point of the game the impending doom of the players?


Elder Sign: Omens is based off the board game Elder Sign

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I have found Elder sign by normal rules to be too easy to need a real strategy. Is this game much harder? – Andrey Nov 4 '11 at 13:00
I can't win any of the rooms in the museum. Most of the time, it requires a perfect roll in order to beat the adventures. I just watched a "How to play" video and the board game plays exactly like the digital version. – OghmaOsiris Nov 4 '11 at 14:10

6 Answers 6

First, if you hare having trouble winning any rooms I would recommend reviewing the rules.
Don't forget that:

  • You can hold one die after a failure
  • Special items let you have more dice
  • Clues let you re-roll any number of dice
  • Characters have special abilities
  • Investigation requirements can be made out of a few dice.

General strategy:

  • Don't hoard items
  • If you don't have items, try an easy room to get items
  • If you do have items go for a hard room to gain elder signs
  • Take special successes before investigation
  • Do not remove many dice to complete an investigation, unless you are finishing a room
  • Unlock dice as soon as you can

I have found the digital version to be much harder. The board game tends to add 1 or 0 doom tokens every midnight. In the digital version I have gained 3 in one turn. There are other differences, some making the game easier.

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Yeah, I get on average 2-3 even 4 Doom in 1 Midnight. – OghmaOsiris Nov 5 '11 at 17:24
up vote 10 down vote accepted

I went ahead and asked the creators of Elder Sign: Omens and here's some responses from them and other members of their message board:

  1. There are easier/less difficult adventures. Sure, you are still at the whim of the dice, but target some of the easier ones - specifically with the investigation tokens. These are easier to roll and succeed at and in turn provide you additional items and rewards that can be used to overcome some of the more difficult adventures down the turn.

  2. Don't write off an investigator. My two guys were slouchs at first but when I started picking my adventures a bit wiser they ended up coming on strong.

  3. The footprint token that allows you to reroll glyphs is priceless. Added dice is nice but the reroll is fabulous.

  4. Target adventures that don't have sequential phases with investigators that don't have reroll abilities. This allows you to use the dice that are available when you have them and not in the order the adventure dictates.

  5. Remember the odds of the dice. Each green dice has the following sides - Investigation ×1, Investigation ×2, Investigation ×3, Lore, Peril, Terror. Be sure to Focus according to the odds and the needs of the adventure. Yellow dice replaces Terror with an Investigation ×4. Red dice is like the Yellow dice but replaces Investigation ×1 with the Wild token - lovely, lovely wild.

  6. Cashing in trophies tokens at the Entrance seems to be a waste if you are using four investigators - especially if you have the adventure that is hitting you for 2 trophies every midnight. With four investigators, you only get two turns per investigator per day. I'm going to try with less than four to see if that dynamic will change.

  7. Assist is a great feature that works if you fail an adventure and then have a second investigator come in. Instead of focusing one dice, you'll be able to focus two. A nice synergy in the game and makes getting past some of those tough adventures a little bit easier.

I used some/all of these tips and I was finally able to win a couple games.

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Just to add to the good advice already given:

More dice is always better, so my recommended investigators (in order):

  • Joe Diamond is key. No one can get more dice.
  • Mandy Thompson is a close second, since her ability doesn't depend on items
  • My key exception is Kate Winthrop: her ability to ignore terror effects is powerful, especially considering that adventures with terror effects tend to be easier to accomplish.
  • Gloria Goldberg and Jenny Barnes are a toss-up: Gloria is a touch more useful since there are more other world locations at the end game, and they tend to have elder signs to win.
  • Darrell Simmons has had some success for me, mainly clearing out lower end adventures

One trick I've found useful - you don't have to complete a task just because you have the glyphs to do so. I've discarded so I could focus (reserve) a special glyph that I need for later.

Monsters aren't always bad - sometimes a monster can make an adventure easier by covering a more complex task.

The game moves very quickly, and if you get behind the doom count it gets difficult to catch up. Don't waste time buying/hoarding items, only heal when you have to. The one exception is elder signs - I've won a couple of games by buying the last elder sign or two.

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Dexter Drake is handy for picking up extra spells. I agree with Gloria for the Otherworld Levels, good way to pick up elder signs. You have to clamp down on the midnight effects, and remember you can kill a monster even if you can't complete the tasks. Take the hit (and reward) and come back next time for the tasks.

For the record, I hate The Curator.

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The super-team, as I've trial-and-errored to learn, is:

Harvey Walters, Michael McGlen, Kate Winthrop, and Gloria Goldberg.

The most important thing about the lot of them is that their abilities aren't item-dependent, and that can turn a game that's going badly into a squeaked-out win. Harvey and Michael's respective "swap out the terror glyph" abilities are really butch, and let them deal with lore-heavy (or peril-heavy) adventures with little item assistance. Kate's terror/monster immunity means she totally owns terror adventures, and monsters can't appear whether she fails or not. That makes her the perfect choice to go looking for the adventures that open other worlds. The other world adventures are the key to fast elder sign acquisition, and Gloria owns them all, since she gets the full load of glyphs when she's gallivating among the dimensions. Fun Fact: in the Cthulhu expansion you raise R'lyeh at the end and have to do a special adventure on it, and it's STILL AN OUTER WORLD, so Gloria's ability is still on full-blast.

In play, use Harvey and Michael to deal with the adventures where they have an advantage. They make good hatchetmen, too, since their individual good stats mean they can soak up the residual damage from monster slaying and still come out on top. These two are also primarily in charge of dealing with the midnight effect adventures, which you absolutely must defeat. Letting a midnight adventure keep dinging you will spell your doom (especially in the Tsathoggua campaign for some reason. You'll be up to your neck in Formless Spawn and won't be able to get anything done).

Kate's job is to tackle the terror-enhanced adventures, and look for adventures that open other world portals so she can set those up for Gloria. On Gloria's turn, if there's an other world open, she's going in. If there's not an other world open, angle her into adventures that earn her spells and clues--she doesn't need glyph items for what she does best, and after a couple of other world adventures she'll have plenty of those anyway.

Good Hunting!

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Now that I have played through all the adventures but the last one, Ithaqua, I have developed a pretty good set of companions to take with me. Using Loren Dean's advice I started with Harvey Walters, Michael McGlen, Kate Winthrop, and Gloria Goldberg. Harvey and Michael are great for adventures that require many Lore or Peril roles.

I decided the goal of my party was to have as many dice to play with as possible. With that In mind I switched out Kate for Jenny Barnes. Jenny's ability to use up an item to get a red die and a yellow die made her almost invincible. At the same time I took Amanda Sharpe whose ability to complete multiple adventures in one turn allowed her to fulfill Kate's role of dealing with terror plagued adventures Often taking them out with just one role. Keeping Gloria for Portal adventures always payed off. I also kept Harvey. It seemed that his high sanity became more important in later adventures.

The game became very addictive for me. The Dark Pharaoh adventure was the best. Deciding which allies to take and trying to keep my stock of trophies full to take advantage of their powers was great fun. With the team above I was able to finish it in a couple of tries.

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