The board game Elder Sign basically kicked my ass today.

I’d finally gotten past the whole Koi Pond disaster. That card showed up in 3 of the 4 games I’ve played since my previous post — something that ought to be statistically impossible. I avoided tackling it the first game, and then decided I ought to face my fears and have another run at it. So I did, and I beat it in both of the following games — first with Bob the Salesman and then with The Doctor. I knew it was risky to try with a character other than Kate, given the Terror effect of that card, but these characters were both loaded for bear with items, spells, and clues, so I figured the risk was minimal.

Today, the game apparently realized that it needed a new card to terrorize me, and it picked a choice one. The Curator has a Midnight effect on it, so you can’t just ignore it; each time Midnight strikes, every player loses either 2 trophies or 1 sanity and stamina. It doesn’t take many turns for that to really decimate a team.

This card is also a bitch to beat, given that you need 3 Lore together, plus a Lore and 3 investigations. And it costs 2 sanity each time you try and fail.

I lost 2 investigators to that card. Finally, Carolyn (the psychologist) beat it with pure, sheer improbable luck: she got nothing the first time, re-rolled with a clue, and got the whole damned shooting match: 4 Lores, plus investigations. She  filled in the first row (the triple Lore), focused one Lore on a spell and defeated the card easily with her next roll.

But the game still won, no contest. This set was pretty much doomed from the start — tons of monsters and terror effects, lots of locked dies, difficult cards — the whole thing was just a mess. Defeating The Curator was the only bright spot.

Part of the irony is that I was playing a near-duplicate of the team used by Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day on TableTop, a combination that the TableTop staff said was particularly powerful. I was using Amanda (the student), Dexter (the magician), and Darrell (the photographer), and only deviated by substituting Jenny (the dilettante) for Carolyn. (I put Carolyn into play after Jenny bit the dust.)

I won’t complain too much, though. I usually win, or at least come close; I haven’t lost this badly since my very first game of Elder Sign. And I plan to kick Narcolepsy back to Hell next time.

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