Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Wednesday 5 September 2018

The Game Shelf Previews:- A Thiefs Fortune

Game: A Thief's Fortune

Publisher: Artipia Games

Designer: Konstantinos Kokkinis, Sotirios Tsantilas

Year: 2018

A Thief’s Fortune is set in an eastern bazaar where each player represents a different possible future of the same character. You’ll each create a backstory for your character, visiting different locations, encountering and interacting with different characters and experiencing different events that all thematically interlink. If you interact with a traveller, they might speed your passage, gaining you more time. If you bring a foe into your present their way be benefits if you’re in the dark back alleys of the bazaar.

A Thief’s Fortune adds the element of time into a drafting and engine building game. Card manipulation and card combos are king as you puzzle your way through this intriguing new game, now live of Kickstarter from Artipia Games.


Each round of A Thief’s Fortune (of which there are 5) starts with a drafting phase. Players will draw 1 each of an event, a character, and a location and then choose freely 2 more cards from any of the 3 decks. After picking one of the 5 cards to add to their tableau you must pass on 2 of the cards in your hand while keeping any remaining. This continues until every player has 4 cards drafted, at which point they will discard the final card for one of it's benefits shown on the bottom left. These are typically resources, or a free, but random, card to add to your tableau. Cards that are drafted in a turn are added to your future and have resources placed onto them, should you manage to empty a card of resources then it moves from your future to your present where you can use it's active or passive abilities. Your present can only contain 4 of each type of card however. As soon as you add a 5th card the card you have had longest gets pushed off into your past. Cards in your past cannot typically be used, but they do reward victory points at the end of the game.

Location cards grant you passive abilities, they typically have a requirement of performing another action, such as adding a new card to your present, or using a certain character in order to garner their rewards. Their rewards are also typically not related to scoring points, though you can often use them to set up other cards. Events are 1 use cards that typically offer point rewards so long as you have met their conditions. Characters are multiple use cards that often reward points for spending resources or gain you more resources. Characters are tapped when you use them so you can only use them once per round, barring any other cards untapping them.

The core of the gameplay in A Thief's Fortune revolves around navigating your tableau, ensuring that you can use characters and locations to the fullest before they move on to your past and ensuring that they go to your past as soon as they have no further use to you. There is a whole world of combos available that can help you rack up big rewards, though you may find that the more powerful cards gain the ire of the guard, who you'll have to bribe with spare resources. At the end of round 5 all the points you have scored during the game are added to the value of the cards in your past to give you your final score.

Amy’s Final Thoughts

What stands out to me in A Thief’s Fortune is how fluid you have to be with your strategy, good combos only last for so long before you are forced to retire them, and even if you can keep a combo going for an extended time you still need to be getting the right resources to fuel them. Keeping the tableau fluid means that you are constantly searching for the net big thing, never able to sit on your laurels for long. That said it often feels as if the cards you want are either slipping from your fingers, or never turning up in the first place, combos can be hard to see at times and it can be devastating when your opponents get off big combos while you are crawling along behind them. This is, in part, due to the large deck sizes meaning that you can't rely on your favourite cards turning up every game.

The cards all seemed nicely tuned, with cards with less impressive abilities often holding more resources, or being worth more points when they go into your past. He may not be that useful, but sometimes it's worth making a little monkey friend, if only for the happy memories! The interlinking between past present and future is elegantly done, sometimes you'll be deliberately trying to recruit new characters so you can off your last one, and there is certainly value in cards like the assassin which lets you choose to kill off your own characters. Timing is everything in doping this too, as you can spend the time resource to get cards from your future during the round you can often use a character before moving them to the past by recruiting a new one, letting you get 5+ character actions instead of the normal 4!

The large number of resources flying about can be a little clunky at times, and tapping characters is a little awkward when you have only space for 4 lined up next to each other. But this is more than made up for by the wonderful gameplay, great art and being a drafting game that doesn't fall apart when you play it with two players. The game plays quickly regardless of player counts and you always feel involved as it uses a 1 action per turn until everyone passes system. There isn't a huge amount fo player interaction, but that's fine by me as it;s enough of a challenge to concentrate on your own tableau without worrying about everyone else tripping you up!

Fi’s Final Thoughts

A Thief’s Fortune really has the promise of scratching my engine building itch in a short playtime. With the game being just five rounds, it’s very fast at every player count – especially since the drafting makes a large portion of the game simultaneous. You’re not building a huge, branching engine like you might in Terraforming Mars, but more something compact that will only be around for two and three turns before you move onto a new strategy for generating points. A Thief’s Fortune encapsulates most of what I enjoy about engine building, so long as I get the opportunity to create something satisfying. In a two-player game in particular when the draft is small, I am sometimes a little underwhelmed by being forced to play an opportunistic game rather than a more strategic one.

The intensity of the engine building, however, is only a minor gripe. If no-one billed it as an engine building game, then I would see A Thief’s Fortune as a very variable drafting and tableau building game. The decks of events, locations and characters are huge meaning that every game you’ll be exploring something different, perhaps being very strategic and manipulating the position of cards in your tableau to keep your engine working hard, or perhaps being very flexible and tactical and profiting from high value events and getting a good end game score for the cards in your past. The replayability in A Thief’s Fortune is super high.

A Thief’s Fortune is a game that I’m excited to play again and again. Spotting combos in the draft can be challenging, but that means that I feel like I can keep improving and get better each game. Keeping track of your ever changing tableau is also a feature that means you need be really on the ball with your decision making, but it makes the game all the more rewarding as you figure out the puzzle. Although the game looks simple, these characteristics mean that I’d probably recommend it as a medium weight game – probably a step up from drafting games like 7 Wonders where you are building upon the same tableau throughout the game. It’s certainly a Kickstarter I would recommend checking out if you’re looking for something quick but with some satisfying depth that plays well at 2, 3 or 4 players.

You might like...
  • The past, future and present are so cleverly interlinked, which makes the game a great machine to wrap your head around.
  • A Thief’s Fortune is a drafting game that works for two players without any rules modifications.
  • The game rewards multiple plays as you become more familiar with the system and more adept at identifying combos for your engine.
You might not enjoy...
  • It can be challenging to spot good combos in the game, which can lead to an experience which lacks the real satisfying moments of engine building.
  • If you get stuck with low resources it can be hard to come back.

The Verdict
A Thief's Fortune is a compact and innovative engine building game. The way that your engine constantly changes throughout the game really keeps you on your toes with either a long term strategy or tactical opportunism.

A Thief's Fortune was a preview copy provided to the Board Game Exposure reviewer collective. It is live on Kickstarter until September 20th 2018.

You can also check out our first impressions of A Thief's Fortune in this First Play video from Nick at Board, Deck & Dice.

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