Extra Life, the amazing charity gaming event, is coming up next weekend. There’s a ton of stuff going on here in Windsor for Extra life and I’m busy spinning plates trying to get things organized and set up. There has not been a lot of time for gaming.
I only got in one night of gaming, Monday. That night I tried out my shiny new copy of Endeavor Age of Sail and then I broke out Tokaido with the Crossroads Expansion.
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Last week I did a couple of unboxing videos. The first was the new Kickstarter edition of Brass, both Lancashire, and Birmingham. I’m hoping to get one of those played tonight.
The other unboxing video I did was another Kickstarter, The Commodore Edition of Endeavor. Monday night the first game we played was this new copy of Endeavor.
Endeavor is a modern classic, age of sail, action selection, engine building, game from 2009. This new printing really ups the production value as well as well as adding some new rules. Most of the new rules are contained in something called Exploits. I personally had never played the original game so when we cracked it open Monday we just used the original rules.
I was very impressed by the fast flow of this game. Each round everyone builds a new building from a central supply. Next up you hire new workers, then pay some of your existing workers. Then, in turn, each player can activate their buildings using their available workforce. Buildings give you different actions. Almost all of the actions involve swapping one of the chits on the board for one of your workers. When you do this your production levels go up in one of four areas. These four areas determine things like how many workers you get, how many workers you can afford to play, and what buildings you can build.
The board is a very cool looking map of the world with Europe in the center and offshoots for various colonies. Everyone starts from Europe and heads outward. Actually placing chits on the board leads to both area control and route building mechanics. There is even some direct player vs player conflict as you can use cannon actions to take out an opponents chit and replace it with your own.
The game only lasts 7 rounds and I think you could probably finish a game with the basic rules in about an hour with people who know how to play. This game reminds me of Hansa Teutonica in that the actual actions you can take are all extremely easy to understand but the number of actual options you have with them makes for a huge decision space.
I’m looking forward to trying out the Exploit system that’s new with this edition.
A note on the theme: Endeavor fully acknowledges that it is all about colonialism and the many issues surrounding that phase of history. In this game slavery is a thing, something that can be used and abused. It’s also something that can be abolished during gameplay, something that greatly hurts any players that chose to go that route. I personally think this was handled very well by the designers.
I complained last week about trying to learn Tokaido with the Crossroads Expansion on Board Game Arena. BGA is not a good way to learn something new. While I did manage to fumble through a game online I didn’t really grok what all the new options were and I also didn’t grasp what choices I should have been taking when. Since playing online I really wanted to break out my physical copy, read the rules and actually touch the cards. I finally got to do that Monday.
Straight up: I love this expansion. Every single spot on the board now gives you two options on what to do when you get there. The decision space for the game is squared. That is impressive. Now when you go to the hot springs you can draw the normal cards giving you 2 or 3 points or you can pay 1 coin and get a guaranteed 4 coins. Instead of having an encounter you can visit the calligrapher and get an end game scoring card. Each spot on the board now has a new alternative and so far based on three plays they all seem rather well balanced.
One interesting change with these new cards is that none of it is a random card draw. If you buy a legendary item you get to grab the deck of legendary items and pick one. Same thing with the fortune cards and the calligraphy cards. I dig this change.
Crossroads also comes with six new travelers. Most (maybe even all) of which are tied to the new elements in this expansion.
Crossroads seems to have done some work to balance the original game. Like “Big Money” in Dominion there was lots of talk about how buying souvenirs in Tokaido was the only way to win. This expansion mitigates that. It reduces the value of the item shop by making many of the other stops more valuable. It also helps by making some useless stops no longer useless. For example, if you aren’t working on a vista it’s now worth stopping at a vista stop to see a Cherry Tree and get 1 coin and 2 points.
Having played a few times online and now one time with my physical copy I can’t see ever playing Tokaido without Crossroads. If you have Tokaido I suggest picking this expansion up.
That was my week in gaming. How was yours?