Yellow Sign has generally weak monsters, no combat abiilities (except Hastur’s Vengeance, which is generally a last resort), generally has the least Power and Doom in the early game, AND is the most difficult faction to master for a beginner. Nonetheless, he notoriously has a high win percentage. Why is this?
Actually a lot of Yellow Sign’s victories come about as a result of what might as well be called social engineering. Yellow Sign seems weak, so he is usually not picked on in the early game. It’s much easier to see Cthulhu, Crawling Chaos, or Black Goat as a threat while they busy
themselves establishing gates, declaring battle, and generally getting in your way. Yellow Sign, by comparison, is almost self-effacing. Yeah, the King might drop by once in a while and capture a dude or drop a Desecration, but then he moves on, his antics forgotten. Plus remember that turn he straight up handed you 3 Doom points? What a nice guy. Sure he can Desecrate your African home, as long as he promises to leave next turn. Why not give him a break?
You get the picture. Then, by turn 4-5 he has the MOST Power and he is Third Eyeing Elder Signs left & right. You are afraid to mess with him because Hastur is on the board and … Vengeance. Still you do what you can, but that pile of Elder Signs keeps growing and then he wins, to the sweet sweet melody of bitter recriminations all around.
The problem is that Yellow Sign is deceptively weak in the early game, and slides under the radar. With more experienced players, Yellow Sign doesn’t win quite so often, because players are able to tell when he is getting close to his “breakthrough” – once he has 3-4 Undead in his army, you are about to enter a world of hurt. So you have to stop him before then!
What to do about Yellow Sign in the early game
Yes, capturing his cultists gives him Passion, which is discouraging. Plus he really doesn’t mind losing a few cultists in the early game! Instead he is faced with a problem unique to his faction. Namely he has trouble getting more Gates, because all his cultists are idly sitting around in Europe, getting fat instead of earning their keep. If one or two get killed in the early game, he can recruit them with Desecration in other Areas, and build a couple Gates to keep competitive (he doesn’t need as many Gates as the other factions, but he still needs a few – a Yellow Sign that spends the whole game with 1-2 Gates will lose, regardless of Desecrations).
So don’t eliminate his Cultists, unless this will also cost him a Gate. But DO eliminate his undead – they are precious to him. Plus you don’t want them in your Areas Zingayaing your peeps. If you are Cthulhu, spend a point to Devour one of his Byakhee. Do not tolerate him in your Areas, no matter what he says. Yes, he will still eventually pull off his Desecrations. But for Azathoth’s sake don’t make it easy for him!
What to do about Yellow Sign in the Late Game
Basically in the late game your problem is that you need to break up the Third Eye Engine. Fortunately, you have a number of techniques available, but they vary with your faction. Note that NONE of these techniques work unless another faction cooperates with you, which they will only do if it is obvious that (A) they won’t lose on the deal and (B) Yellow Sign is in the lead or threatening to go there. But if Yellow Sign is trailing, then why bother to take him down anyway, right? Instead improve your own position.
What I’m saying here is if you, as Cthulhu say, have 15 Doom and 3 Elder Signs, and Yellow Sign has 5 Doom and 2 Elder Signs, you are better off building or capturing gates, rather than attacking Yellow Sign. On the other hand, if Yellow Sign is at 10 Doom and 9 Elder Signs (not uncommon) you need to focus on his demise. But you should be able to get allies. Particularly point out that he has 16 Power left for this turn, and will be able to Third Eye for 6-8 more Elder Signs if he isn’t stopped.
You have three choices for trying to stop Yellow from winning, late game. First, Killing Hastur. This takes a LOT of forces or finding him vulnerable. Second is destroying Yellow Sign’s Cultists or Gate infrastructure. Yes, he gets Passion Power when you do this, but if you can reduce his Cultists faster than he can replace them (example: via Ghroth), you can steal his Gates away. Even with two GOOs and Third Eye getting 0-1 Gate Doom points is going to hurt.
The third, most common ploy, is to attack the King & his army of undead. Let’s examine it.
How to Battle All the King’s Horses & All the King’s Men
Remember you can’t catch the King unless he is out of Power, or you have 6 Spellbooks. Don’t even try, because he’ll simply Scream his way out of danger. But once you have 6 spellbooks, he is meat on the table. Remember that the King, even with a full army of 6 undead, rolls only a laughable 5 combat dice. This means he is likely to get maybe 1 Kill, which you can weather.
If you are Crawling Chaos, you’ll have Nyarlathotep, two Hunting Horrors (you DID summon your HHs, right?) and a nightgaunt to take the King’s likely Kill roll. Or a Flying Polyp to phase one of his guys out of battle, so he rolls less. You’ll roll probably 10-14 dice, enough to pain ALL of his guys, and kill at least 2. Use Madness to scatter his army inconveniently, forcing him to spend the next few actions gathering up the spilled pieces. Your Flying Polyp’s Invisibility actually scatters him even more effectively, because one’s left behind in the Battle Area. Then you earn 2 Elder Signs out of it. Follow up with ANOTHER attack on the nearly-naked King, before he can collect the pieces, and you may be able to Kill him (plus get 2 more Elder Signs). Typically by the time you finish off the King, the other players are eyeing YOU as the leader. The risk here is that he will use Hastur to Kill Nyarlathotep. One way to prepare for this is by killing off his Byakhee first, so Hastur is at risk should he attack (otherwise he’ll Shriek his Byakhee to the Battle as protection).
If you are Great Cthulhu, things are simpler. You get to devour a guy pre-combat, and with a Regenerating Starspawn you may well take zero deaths yourself. If Crawling Chaos is willing to use Madness to scatter the army post-Battle that’s even better, but you may be able to straight-up kill enough of his army to handicap the King regardless. Again, in a follow-up Battle you may be able to Kill the King. And, you don’t fear Hastur’s reprisals, because you’re not afraid of dying.
If you are Black Goat, you really can’t seek out Battle with the King, unless he is foolish enough to move into one of your nests, in which case, seize the day! You have PLENTY of combat dice to use on him. Get someone else to attack the King – even if they only have Monsters to do the job, you can Necrophagy and Pain the King’s undead awkwardly. And do not forget Ghroth. Yes, he gets Passion Power from this, and can start re-recruiting, but in the meantime you and the other factions can capture away his newly abandoned Gates with enough Ghroths.
If you are Opener of the Way, again it is hard to seek out Battle with the King. But you can Dread Curse him and don’t even need Crawling Chaos to cooperate via Madness. Two-Three Dread Curses in a Row, rolling 4-5 dice each, and you can Kill the King.
If you are Sleeper, your best bet is to straight up Capture his undead and Byakhee instead of battling. Keep a Wizard on hand, so if Hastur decides to punish you, you can Energy Nexus out of Dodge, thumbing your nose at him as you flee. Be sure to Ancient Sorcery Yellow Sign every turn, so you get a Power boost from the Desecrations in your territory. He hates that. You can also Lethargy your time away so when you do turn on Yellow Sign, he can’t respond.
If you are Windwalker, once you have 6 Gates just track him down and kill him with all your combat dice. If you have less than 6 Gates, you are probably better off using Ice Age to hinder his Desecrations.
If you are the Tcho-Tchos, Terror and even just a couple of Proto-Shoggoths keep the King from scoring any real damage. Ubbo-Sathla in the late game can score enough hits to spread the army. Best of all, you don’t care if Hastur kills Ubbo. He was free! Also, if you have High Priests with Martyrdom, even Hastur may not be able to score an effective Kill in retribution.