Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Board Game Top 100 (2024) Part 45 (8-7)

#8 Call to Adventure

In Call to Adventure players draft beautifully illustrated Tarot-sized cards in order to create a chronicle of a heroic (or villainous) adventurer. Cards must be won by casting runes to claim them. There is a basic set of three runes that show a single slash mark on one side and are blank on the other, except for one that shows a special symbol on one side in place of the slash mark. That symbol allows players to draw a card. The slash mark represents a success.


The special symbol allows players to draw a hero or antihero card. These are cards that give one off benefits. There are heroic effects on the hero cards and usually more negative effects to attack your opponents on the antihero cards. Which cards you can and should choose to draw will depend on if you are creating a story that follows a light or dark path.

At most, the basic runes can increase your total results during a casting by +2, but there is also a set of three dark runes. The dark runes all show a moon on one side and a slash mark on the other. The slash is a success, and the moon is two successes! So, choosing dark runes is guaranteed to improve your chances, but for every moon you roll, you gain a bit of darkness.

Every player board has a track for light and darkness – good and evil. Characters start in the middle but can move in either direction. Both score points at the end of the game. The light side scores more, but as described above, because of the dark runes, the dark side is easier.

Casting runes to win cards adds them to your story chronicle. Many of these cards will have tests on them showing their difficulty, indicating how many successes are required to claim the card. They will also include symbols on them representing one of six traits. The six traits are: Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. Players of Dungeons and Dragons will recognize these traits, and they work the same way here.


A chronicle card describing leading a strategic battle might display the symbols of strength and intelligence or charisma on it. If you win that card, you gain the runes that match the symbols on that card and the symbols on other cards you add to your chronicle as well. The runes that you gain from cards in your chronicle are advanced runes.

Advanced runes show a slash mark on one side and a special symbol on the other. Two of these in each set of three represents the unique trait in question, and like the moon symbol are good for two successes. A third rune in each set that can only be cast if you have already earned the other two replaces the trait symbol worth two successes with a special benefit like gain an XP or draw a hero/antihero card, but the symbol doesn't increase your successes.

Your story is told in three arcs: your origin, your motivation, and your destiny. You will add three cards to your chronicle for each of these. The cards will add symbols to your story allowing you to cast more and different types of runes and which runes you have available will shape which cards you choose to draft.

There's a fair amount of randomness here. The runes are really clever and they work well, but they don't always go your way. Also, the cards available will frequently not line up with the runes that you have or want to gain, and you will be forced to try to earn a card that you don't really want. 

On the plus side, if you fail that card goes away to be replaced by another and you gain an XP, but this ends your turn. XP is a currency in the game that can often be spent to take certain cards, to gain specific runes for a single test, or they can always be spent to remove a card from the offer and add a new one.

Call to Adventure is another example of a game that I play purely for the experience of playing and the immersion. At the end, it's nice to win, but it's more fun to try to craft the story that you want to tell with the cards.


#7 Explorers of the North Sea

In Explorers of the North Sea, players are Vikings exploring a shared world and trying to gather wealth and resources better than their opponents. Players control the world that they are creating together. Each turn players draw and place tiles, and decide where they go and what their world looks like. Players select a tile from a few available and find someplace to fit it into the world like putting together the pieces of a puzzle. 


Then players sail their little Viking ship, or walk their little Viking meeples overland to capture livestock or conquer settlements. Some tiles have enemy ships that you have to fight, but you can always choose to avoid these if you wish. The viking meeples and the little livestock meeples (sheeps, pigs, cows and chickens) actually sit inside your little viking boat, and once the boat is full it's time to go back to the mainland to unload.


Explorers of the North Sea is "board game comfort food" for me. I love placing the tiles to create the waters and the lands of the North Sea, and then sailing my little boat around. I get so involved in discovering and experiencing the world of Explorers of the North Sea that I often forget that I am playing a competitive game with scoring objectives. 


I don't think that I have ever actually won a game of Explorers of the North Sea. I think it speaks pretty highly of the game play experience, that Explorers of the North Sea, a game that I have never won, is my #7 favorite game of all time.


Join my Facebook Group to discuss this post and anything related to RPG's and geekdom!

No comments:

Post a Comment