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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Tuesday 8 January 2019

Shanties and Scurvy:- Endeavor: Age of Sail

Game: Endeavor: Age of Sail

Publisher: Burnt Island Games, Grand Gamers Guild

Designer: Carl de Visser, Jarratt Gray

Year: 2018

Endeavor: Age of Sail is a reprint of 2009's Endeavor, a game that sparked many conversations due to it's inclusion of slavery as an action that players could take. 2018's edition refused to back down on this issue, and even includes a paragraph in the manual explaining why it would be unfair to ignore this dark stain on humanity's past. The reprint, Endeavor Age of Sail, is a 2-5 player exploration and light area control game in which you seek to expand your empire across the new lands and trade routes being discovered.

The game consists of 7 rounds. At the start of each round you build a new building, pay your workers on your current buildings and gain new workers, all depending on your location on 3 of the 4 tracks on your player board. The final track determines how many card you can keep at the end of your turn. After gaining your new building and workers for the round you take it in turns performing 1 action or passing out of the round. Most of the actions in the game require you to place a worker on a building spot that rewards that action, tho this end you can occupy, ship, fight and draw cards.

Occupying is the simplest of the actions, you simply place a worker onto a building on the main map, so long as the area has been unlocked, and gain the token that was on it. If you manage to get a chain of buildings in a row you can also gain the tokens that are on the linked pathways between them, making this action extra efficient. Shipping is largely the same except for sailing spaces on the board. You also use sailing to unlock each of the distant lands, for each area there is a track of 4+ tokens, and the land isn't available until all of those tokens have been claimed by players. When this happens the person who contributed the most gets a powerful governor card. Attacking involves ousting a player from one of their spots on the board, to do this you have to lose a worker (casualties of war) before replacing one of their workers on the board with one of yours, gaining any link bonuses as normal. Finally, drawing lets you draw cards from the top of one of the decks, each area has a deck of cards which get stronger as you delve deeper, but you can only take a card if you own enough territory in that area.

Each player has a personal player board which holds their buildings, workers, cards and progress on the 4 tracks
So what are the purpose of all these tokens and cards you are gaining? Well with the exception of blue tokens which are one-off actions, they mostly reward you with boosts to your four tracks. Every token you gain will increase one of your four tracks by 1 space, while cards often have several symbols on them, however you can only carry so many cards at a time. One of the card decks is slavery, a deck of very efficient cards, however they come at a cost, should you every discard them not only do you lose all the effects, but also you lose 1 victory point at the end of the game. To make matters worse for you budding slavers, should someone reach the end of the Europe deck then slavery is abolished, forcing all players to discard all of their slavery cards!

It may seem at this point like there is a lot going on in the game, but playing the game is actually quite simple. Each turn you'll be adding some of your tokens to the board by one of a few ways and gaining a small handful of tokens, these tokens bolster your stats letting you buy better buildings or hold more cards. At the end of the game you will score for your position on these trackers and your influence on the board, along with any other victory points you may picked up along the way.

The game board is expansive, and needs to be for the 95 different locations that you can occupy/ship to, along with the 8 decks of cards that can be gained.
The slavery cards may be a hot topic, but they introduce an interesting dilemma, are you willing to take the cards to get that early game advantage, or will you take the moral high ground and create a better empire then perhaps the real world was capable of. While there is a lot to gain from the cards, getting further into the slavery deck just makes you more dependent on the slaves and should slavery be abolished then you might find your whole empire's economy crumbling. Personally I feel that the matter is handled well, giving not only a mechanical, but a moral choice to the game!

So far I haven't mentioned the latest addition to this edition: the exploits. If you want a more variable game then you can add 3 of these at random to your game. These give special rules to certain areas of the board once both the marked areas have been unlocked. While these do add a good amount of replay-ability to the game I do feel that in a two player game they took a little too long to reach, getting your second exploit on round 6 of 7 can leave a bad taste in your mouth as you see all those special rules that you barely get to try out before the game ends. That being said the rules were fun when we managed to unlock them, and this will be less of an issue in larger player count games as more territory will get unlocked sooner.

Overall Endeavor: Age of Sail is a brilliant game! The area control is comparatively light (particularly in a two player game) and feels like expanding your empire rather than just fighting over a tiny spot of land. The art is suitable for the theme, though it can be a little confusing that you go up from Europe to reach Asia. The gameplay is elegant in its simplicity, with the first few rounds often being lightning fast, plus the one action each rotation keeps everyone interested in the game. I would highly recommend picking up Endeavor Age of Sail should you get the opportunity.


Endeavor: Age of Sail was a review copy provided by Asmodee UK. It is available at your friendly local game store for an RRP of £69.99 or can be picked up at http://www.365games.co.uk/.

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