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.

Get in touch by emailing thegameshelfblog@gmail.com

Thursday 10 January 2019

Thoughts from The Yellow Meeple:- 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 Kickstarter reprint, of the 2009 game Endeavor. The Kickstarter project has allowed the game to be improved in terms of component quality and artwork, as well as adding a lot of new content with modular expansions.

We never played the original game, but were very enticed by the look of the game on Kickstarter - both in terms of mechanisms and the awesome Gametrayz, which never fail to increase the appeal of a game for me! When I opened our retail edition, I was very happy to see that most of the component upgrades were retained. Endeavor is a massive, imposing box, so much so that it wouldn't fit on our Kallax, and for a while it intimidated us - but the big box disguises a pretty streamlined and simple game, that we were pleased to discover plays in about an hour. Let me share our discovery!

Endeavor: Age of Sail is an action selection game for 2-5 players, where managing your own player board over the course of 7 rounds enables you to build your presence around the regions of the world - sailing between cities and ports to gather resources and defend your territory. Each turn, your income phase will allow you to add buildings and replenish workers on your player board - the level of building and number of workers you gain is dependent on your progress on 3 out of the four tracks on your personal board. With your workers, you can then use the different types of action spots on your buildings to add a token to a city location, fleet location or the shipping track of a certain continent. Other actions will allow you draw cards, or to oust another player from a location on the board. Most of these actions have the result of boosting one of your four tracks on your personal player board, so that each round, you have bigger and better turns. Throughout the game you are collecting some victory points and at the end of the round you'll score for your advanced tracks and board presence, so that the player with the most points wins.

Whilst higher player count games of Endeavor are undoubtedly true to the area control mechanism listed for this game, I find that the two-player game is much more about building something. My focus in the game is engine building and route building. I really enjoy figuring out which cities and fleet spots on the board will best serve me for advancing my tracks. One round I might need to identify a way to get more brick, because I really want a specific building for the following round. Another round, the vases might matter most because if I don't clear my buildings I'll have way too many workers. It's a bit of a tactical turn-by-turn puzzle that really feels like a mixture of optimisation and opportunism. This sits nicely alongside the more long term strategy of route building and developing presence in the different regions of the board.

The route building in Endeavor is one of my favourite aspects, but I'm very aware of how fragile it could be to hold onto this focus during games with more than two players. In this way, the game reminds me of Ticket to Ride - it's very simple in it's route building and very fun until someone gets in your way. With two players, there is enough space to spread out on the board and only a very mean player would deliberately get in your way or attack you, but with the same number of spaces available on the board, all the way up to 5 players, competition will certainly get fierce with more players and the area control competitive aspects of the game might come out. These are traits of a game that I find very off-putting personally and so I'd prefer to stick with two or three players for Endeavor.

I suggest three players in particular because of the modular expansions. There are 9 modular expansions in the box and you select three to play with each game, which gives a huge variety of combinations to try. However, with two players, they all have the common drawback that they're not unlocked until very late in the game. Each module requires two board regions to be unlocked and in two players, this simply takes longer to happen. When they do kick in, around about round 5, I really liked the different strategies they gave me. I love expansions that make a game feel slightly more 'big money' and some of the modules in Endeavor: Age of Sail achieve this by giving you new actions that allow you to chain more elements into each turn. I think that with more than two players, these modules will be a bigger factor in my game strategy rather than a nice bonus to gain a few extra points at the end of the game. With that said, I love the base game so much, that I am more than happy to play the base game only with two and save the expansion content for occasional use or when we have a visitor at our table.

I couldn't finish the review without acknowledging component quality. Kickstarter seems to give many publishers the confidence to really invest in artwork and component quality and Endeavor is definitely an example of this. In particular, I love the attention to detail in the building tiles which all match-up to create a panorama on your player board. I also love the colour scheme which is quite understated, but not dull. And of course, the GameTrayz. The tray for the building tiles is an integral part of the setup when the game is on the table, which makes setup really simple - other than still having to lay out over 100 cardboard chits on the board! The other GameTrayz in the box also store the rest of the components and expansion content very easily - although perhaps not with the most logical moulding I've ever seen. Gameplay mechanisms still always come first for me, but a game that looks great and feels great to play, like Endeavor: Age of Sail, will always find its way to the table more often.

Endeavor:Age of Sail is a wonderful game. For me it's a two player experience that is best with the base game only, with variability added by expansions. For others who enjoy area control and player conflict, then I'd totally recommend exploring the expansions and having huge variety in your experiences. It scratches a combined engine building and route building itch, which isn't a combination I find in many games and gives me the ever increasing excitement or turns that get better and better as I progress through the rounds of the game. It's definitely one of the best games of the last 12 months for me and for the Yellow Meeple it's a 9/10.

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/.

No comments:

Post a Comment