Top 10 Elder Signs That Basically Say “+1”

Special Thanks to Cuherdir for this design!

My first idea for this weeks list was to make a list about subtitles on cards. After looking at Tetsuo Mori and noticing his subtitle “Too noble for his own good”, I got inspired to make a list about these enigmaticsubtitles that make me want to know more about their backstory. But I got delayed with making the list on Sunday, so I hadn’t started on my list yet. Then Monday I played our favorite game again, with a group consisting of Zoey Samaras and Trish Scarborough. We drew, well counted, 12 Elder Signs. They didn’t do anything. Nothing. Nada. It triggered me to a point that I decided to make a new list. A list containing just the worst Elder Signs. But I like funny names and Cuherdir had a nice design for a logo, so we dubbed the list “Top 10 Elder Signs That Basically Say +1”. But for all intents and purposes this list might as well be called “The Ten Worst Elder Signs While I Rant About Them”. With all that out of the way; I hope you enjoy this very salty list and I will promise, probably falsely, that next week I will dip in to the subtitles.

Ordering this list was no easy task, but the amount of Elder Signs to go through wasn’t that bad. At this point of writing there are 47 different Elder Signs: 44 Investigators and 3 parallel investigators. Out of these 47 Elder Signs, I made a shortlist of effects that I deem bad to poor. This shortlist gave me a total of 19 Elder Sign effects. After very careful consideration I was able to cut these 19 effects down to 10, but to be fair; I do think they all deserve to be here. I also like to point out; I used a single Elder Sign as comparison. Out of all the Elder Signs, there is one I consider to be average in every aspect. It would be on number 23 or 24 by default for how average it is. In this list I will probably compare to it a lot, becuase (in my eyes) it is a very solid Elder Sign. I am talking about Harvey Walters; “+1. Draw 1 card.” So, with knowing all of this, let’s get on to my actual ranting:

Number 10: Rita Young

“+2: Until the end of the round, ignore the limit on the above reaction ability.”
I love to hate on Rita. Now I know that this list isn’t about investigators in general, but it’s my list so I’ll do what I want. Everything Rita does, Wendy can do better. Wendy basically has better deckbuilding. Her ability has way more uses. Her stats make more sense. Rita doesn’t even feel like a Survivor to me. Then there is her signatures and her Elder Sign. Rita’s reaction is okay on it’s own, but the limit rarely needs to be triggered multiple times per round. It is basically a glorified +2. You could change the text to “+2. If you have cookies, eat well!” and nothing would change.
I guess her having a +2 would already make her better than some of the +1’s or even
+0’s, but most of time (not always, remember we are only at number 10) they have an added effect. Her Elder Sign just doesn’t do it for me. Rita just doesn’t do it for me.
Bonus thought; Someone in the Mythos Buster discord proposed a nice change to Rita which I loved. Basically it boils down to Rita’s reaction changing to be Survival Instinct. Letting you either move after an evade OR evade a second enemy. Long story short: ||Rita when?

Number 9: Trish Scarborough

“+2. If this is an investigation, you may choose any revealed location, you are now investigating as if you were at that location instead.”
Two words that will always haunt my nightmares: As if. Not to mention, this Elder Sign rarely triggers. As a clue-gatherer, you will almost always get all the clues on location before you leave it permanently. Maybe you will circle back later to it. But even then, this Elder Sign is so situational, the text basically comes down to +2. A +2 is still better than a +1, that’s why Trish is on number 9. A “+2” without any effect as arguably worse than a “+1.” with effects.
However, after drawing 7 Elder Signs with Trish in a single game and it not doing anything, I wholeheartedly welcome Trish to her rightful number 9 spot.

Number 8: Finn Edwards

“+1 for each exhausted enemy in play. If you succeed by 2 or more, you may discover 1 clue at your location.”
So before everybody gets angry with me. Finn doesn’t have an Elder Sign that just gives you a high number (like Jenny Barnes). It actually has a nice benefit. It has the potential to give you a clue. It is very rare to have multiple exhausted enemies in play though. I do like this Elder Sign, on paper. It really is well crafted for Finn. It works on everything Finn wants to and even has the beloved (by me) “Up By 2”-mechanic. But in reality, this Elder Sign comes down to a “+0. This might give you a clue, it might not. I hope you’re holding onto a Daring Maneuver.”
I must admit I’m a bit sad about it, though. Finn Edwards is easily in my Top 3 Investigators, but his Elder Sign always lets me down a bit.

Number 7: Ursula Downs

“+1. After this test ends, you may move to a connecting location.”
I would like to refer back to Harvey Walter’s Elder Sign. It may seem very similar to Ursula’s. They both boil down to a “+1. Take a specific action.” However, Harvey always benefits from Elder Sign. A card is always good, even when it’s not. Then there is Ursula Downs. I guess that she wants to move, but other than being a fangirl of N.E.R.D., there is not much she actually benefits from her Elder Sign. She struggles from the same downside as Trish. You want to stick to a location to clear it from clues. Ursula probably already has a lot of mobility in her deck that her Elder Sign most of the time goes to waste. Drawing a card is always a great action, moving can be very situational, suboptimal or even bad.

Number 6: Amanda Sharpe

“+0. For this test, you may double the number of skill icons on the card beneath Amanda Sharpe.”
This Elder Sign sounds very promising in theory. Having a Promise of Power beneath Amanda, for example, will give you a whopping +8 to your stat. But with that, everything has been said. Her Elder Sign just gives you more stats. At what point does a +5 actually matter more than a +2? A Deduction would be nice to trigger, but if you’re in the Mythos Phase and you to do a Willpower test, drawing the Elder Sign just doesn’t do much. At best Amanda can grant you something exciting, but at worst (and most common) her Elder Sign will just give you a +0.

Number 5: Jim Culver

“+1.”
Eh?
Okay, to be fair, Jim offers more than just a +1. He can choose to treat his Elder Sign as a Skull token (which is a 0). Jim can definitely benefit from the Skull, even though you might argue that a “+1” is better than a “+0”. His trumpet and several Mystic cards prefer the Skull over other tokens and then there are cards that don’t want to see a Elder Sign. But then here comes Harvey again, or even Ursula. A “+1 with any effect” will mostly always be better than just a “+1”.
The reason Jim is not as low as others on this list is because at least he can actually benefit from the Skull. But darn, wouldn’t I wish there was more to this.

Number 4: Agnes Baker, Jenny Barnes, Mark Harrigan, Ronald Banks

“+1 for each horron/damage/resource/clue on your location/on investigator X”
These are as vanilla as the Elder Sign effects come. I truly like Elder Sign effects that do wacky stuff. These don’t do anything except for becoming a very high number. As I mentioned in Finn Edwards, there is little to no difference in a “+3” or a “+10”. At least Finn’s effect can net a clue. But these four investigators really have nothing going on for them. There is an argument to be made for Agnes, Jenny and Mark, who all have Elder Signs who work well within their respective classes and roles. Roland is probably the worst offender in this category.
Also; I know.. “But, hey! Shouldn’t every Number on a Top 10-list only consist of 1 Item? Now it’s just a Top 14!”. To which I say “It’s my list. My rules.” They are all to similar to take up 4 different slots.

Also, I really wanted to include Rita on this list. So there.

Number 3: Jacqueline Fine

“+1. If this is canceled or ignored, draw 1 card.”
I despise this Elder Sign. Not only is a “+1” that doesn’t do anything on it’s own. You have to actively cancel or ignore this for it to have an effect. Just to add insult to injury, if you cancel it you draw 1 card. Let’s take a look at Harvey again; “+1. Draw a card.”. Jacqueline doesn’t work like that. Jacqueline is a rebel, she makes you choose. You either get the bland +1 or you cancel the effect and draw 1 card.
I hear you, though. Using her reaction, or cards like Dark Prophecy, can then give you a token of your choosing and then also the “draw 1 card”-effect. But that says more about Jacqueline’s actual ability (or the cards that are used). You can disagree with me, you can call me crazy, but I’d rather have a “+1. Draw 1 Card.” then a “Draw 1 card. Choose a lower modifier”.
Theme: 10/10
Usefulness: 1 out of 3 tokens

Number 2: Zoey Samaras

“+1. If this skill test is succesful during an attack, that attack deals +1 damage.”
We all saw this one coming from a mile away, right? There was a slight spoiler in the introduction. I was going to rant about Trish and Zoey. Now, here we are: Zoey.
Zoey’s Elder Sign is not only useless, but it actually just is a Glorified +1. It feels like it will do something, but it never does. Drawing this during a non-attack, just gives you +1. Drawing this during a attack, most of the time doesn’t add anything. It just gives you hope. And hope we don’t need in Arkham! You will draw it, when you don’t need it. The one time you gamble on drawing it, you won’t draw it. This token is drawn on your Flamethrower attack to which a Vicious Blow is already committed. Redundant.
Maybe I’m wrong, maybe I just really have awful taste.
Maybe.
Probably not.

Number 1: Daisy Walker

“+0. If you succeed, draw 1 card for each Tome you control.”
Oh boy.
Before everybody starts disagreeing with me, allow me try and rationalize this choice as short as possible.
When comparing to Harvey it becomes obvious very fast, but I will try to do it without.
Daisy’s Elder Sign has a modifier of 0. There are only 7 of these in the game. She is obviously the worst;
1. Wendy has the potential to auto-succeed.
2. Silas can commit a card to this test and then recur it. (That is a commit extra and you draw a card of your choice from your dicard).
3. Amanda is also pretty bad, but she can atleast double the icons, so she might even pass on a hard test by accident. She is also on this list for a reason.
4. Calvin can heal damage or horror if he is in the danger zone. On the other hand he can take damage or horror, which is great for his stats.
5. Mandy can look through 3 cards for a guaranteed draw or commit. She could even look through 6 or get 2 draws. Guaranteed draws!
6. Preston has the potential to auto-succeed.
Then here comes Daisy. Daisy who not only does not have a guaranteed draw, because she needs to succeed. She also needs to have Tomes in play.
It’s not even a +1.
It’s not even a guaranteed draw.
I know she plays on Tomes, but I really despise this Elder Sign. It’s a “Draw 1/2 card(s).” at the occasional best and a “+0” at worst.

So
Did you not like the position of the Daisy Walker? Are you sad that I didn’t include your most hated Elder Sign? Probably yes, that’s cool. Let me know which you inclusion I missed and why? Which Elder Sign do you really hate? Which Elder Sgnis here that shoudn’t be here?
Just to reiterate; I love to make entertaining lists and spark conversation. But please remember, this is all my opinion. Disagreeing is totally fine, but please be nice and respectful when providing feedback or in arguments about this topic. I hope to see you soon for the next Top 10 List!

PS: This is list is based on the current releases and will not be updated to include future Elder Signs. The most recent release is “Devil Reef” and “Parallel Agnes Baker”.

One thought on “Top 10 Elder Signs That Basically Say “+1”

  1. Disagree on a few things!

    * Finn’s ability is useful more common than not. He does a lot of investigate checks and you almost always want to do them at +2. So even with +0, it is a bonus clue! I found it hit ~50% of the time in my extensive playing of Finn.

    * Daisy: I *hate* that the draw isn’t optional. At the end of scenarios, you can end up with like 3 tomes and drawing 3 cards unexpectedly leaves you discarding or hitting weaknesses.

    * Jenny: She is a bit higher than the other generic +1 per X abilities with cards like LCC(3) since it is great in those cases.

    Liked by 1 person

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