Inspired a video game spinoff—Elder Sign

Elder Sign is an unearthly game from Arkham Horror designers Richard Launius and Kevin Wilson. Released in 2011 but set in 1926, the cooperative dice game requires up to eight players to stave off the Ancient One’s attack on humanity by discovering Elder Signs to lock it up with.


Its premise reminds me a bit of 2010 survival horror Amnesia: The Dark Descent; both games are about avoiding a great evil and shredding your sanity in the process, though Elder Sign’s art is more vibrant and lively, for giving you more high-contrast creeps.

An iOS offshoot Elder Sign: Omens was released in the same year, and made it to PC in 2013. Ignore that fact until you get your screen time down.


Made for: 1-to-8 players

Can be completed in: An hour and a half, the same time it takes to catch yourself mindlessly scrolling Twitter


A board game lies open on a flat surface.
Image: Triton Noir / Ubisoft

Provided an analog video game sequel—Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood of Venice

Ubisoft’s game Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood was the best Assassin’s Creed in 2010 when Stephen Totilo reviewed it for Kotaku, and 2021 co-op miniature board game Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood of Venice nobly follows its colossal footsteps.


Though it tells a similar story—both Brotherhood and Brotherhood of Venice take place in Renaissance-era Italy, involve stealthing around enemies, and as is necessary for the franchise, assassinating them on occasion—it isn’t exactly a “sequel,” more of a reshuffling.

Regardless of how you’d define it, it does feel like an Assassin’s Creed game, senior editor Luke Plunkett writes in his Kotaku review, “dropping almost instantly into the series’ labyrinthine lore with a story that continues through each mission.”


But note, too, that “Brotherhood of Venice has managed to let some of the franchise’s bloat and tedium creep in,” Plunkett continues. “Basically, I found this game too big.” With all the pieces packed in, the box weighs over 10 pounds, for size reference. But sometimes I do feel like it would take a brick to get me off my devices.

Made for: 1-to-4 players

Can be completed in: thirty minutes to an hour and a half, the same time you spend checking your phone screen for new notifications throughout the day


Pieces of the card game Love Letter.
Image: Alderac Entertainment Group

I wish it was a video game—Love Letter

Love Letter is a short-and-sweet deduction game from 2012. In it, your goal is to successfully pass your love letter to the reluctant Princess Annette by sabotaging other players. There are Marvel and Lovecraft versions of the game, too, if that’s more your speed.


No matter what themed Love Letter deck you choose, I wish video games would add a drop of romantic comedy to their action role-playing games the way I feel this game does. But it’s OK. It’s a good reminder that there are some things you can only discover offline.

Made for: 2-to-4 players

Can be completed in: twenty minutes, or how long I wish I watched the sun set

What are some of your favorite board games to play instead of video games? Leave me some recommendations in the comments.