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Subject: Endeavor: A Monster Review For One Of Z-Man's Best Games Ever rss

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Introducing Endeavor

Short version: This game:

*plays in 40-90 minutes
*I give it 9/10
*I would rate its weight at 2.5 (near Pandemic or Vinci)

It’s great fun. Buy it when it comes out!

If you already know the rules, skip down to “Strategy” for my thoughts on Endeavor’s surprisingly deep gameplay, and “What Do I Think” for my take on the pros and cons of the game.




The (Mediterranean) World Is Not Enough

In Endeavour, you compete with up to four other players to amass the most Glory by exploring and colonizing the vast and hitherto little-known world outside of Europe.

The game is set, in theory, in the “18th century,” but it’s quite easy to imagine yourself in the role of Da Gama or Cabot at some points, and at others as Prince Henry or Queen Isabella, or even Jan Coen or Peter Miniut.

If some of those names stirred up dramatic images in your mind, Endeavor is a game for you!



It is a mostly luckless economic engine game with quite a bit of player interaction. Most of that interaction is of the “take your opponent’s plan into account” type, but there is also “take something your opponent wanted” interaction and even “burn your opponent’s impudent colonial fort to the ground” interaction as well.

Excited? Let’s see what this game’s all about.

Components

The game comes with 5 player boards. This board is where most of your empire management will take place. It’s stunningly well-designed.



From top to bottom, we have:

Four tracks gauging your advancement in Industry, Culture, Finance and Politics.
Space for 7 buildings in addition to the Colonial House.
A Harbor to place Trade Tokens.
And space for up to 6 Asset Cards.

Advancing your tracks is key to the game: you can do this by building certain buildings, exploring new territory, occupying cities in Europe, establishing colonial outposts, and drawing Asset Cards in regions you have an “interest” in.

Advancing your tracks gives you more and more options on subsequent turns; it’s also the largest component of end-of-game scoring.

Industry lets you build more advanced buildings.
Culture gives you more workers.
Finance lets you pay more workers.
Politics lets you keep more cards.

Easy to remember right?

Let’s look now at the game board. This shows a unique projection of a world map, in which all the areas which are ripe for exploration, plunder, trade and colonization by Europe have been conveniently grouped together, like so:



The designers were clearly inspired by Christopher Columbus’s pitch to the royalty of Castile!

The little castles are “Cities.” The lines connecting cities are “Connections” - think trade routes. Every area except Europe has a “Shipping Track,” a line of spaces leading up to a stack of cards.

At the beginning of the game each City, Connection, and space on the Shipping Tracks is occupied by a (face-up) Trade Token.





Most of these show one icon for Culture, Politics, Finance or Industry. A few of them show special Actions (more on this later). The initial arrangement of the Trade Tokens is the only random element in the game.

The reverse of every Trade Token shows a black cross, representing one Glory (one victory point).

At the end of each Shipping Track is a stack of (face-up) Asset Cards!



These are big rewards, the spoils of trade and conquest. You’ll have to be involved in a region to draw its cards, however. Two decks (“Mediterranean” and “Slavery”) are placed in the Europe area and can be drawn from immediately.

Notice the numbers at the bottom right of each card? Asset Card decks aren’t shuffled randomly, but stacked in order. You’ll have to draw the low value cards at the top of the deck before you can get to the good ones.

There are 45 buildings (they go on your player mat):



Per ancient Eurogame tradition, there are fewer of the most advanced and valuable buildings (which have more bricks in the top right corner). Notice that buildings can add to your Culture, Industry, Finance or Politics (icons on bottom left) and/or they provide actions for workers (action symbols on bottom right).

You’ll be able to build 7 buildings over the course of the game; these are among the most important decisions you’ll make, comparable to buying cards in Dominion. Just as in that game, you are growing your “action palette” of things you can do each turn.

Finally each player gets markers to indicate their position on the status tracks and 30 population markers. There’s one First Player marker, and some scoring chips for use at the end of the game.

On to the rules!

Gameplay: Rules

Many “non gamers” do not like rule-teaching sessions. In that respect, Endeavor is a very easy game to teach. Like some computer games, it’s designed so that you start off with very little to do (and understand) and more ideas/options are added as you go. It is possible for an experienced player to teach the game on the fly, in the course of your family or gaming group’s 1st session.

Flow of Play

There are seven turns in the whole game. At the beginning of a turn, all the players go through three “upkeepish” phases related to the Player Board. Let’s look at the board again:



1. Build Phase
Each player in turn selects one building and adds it to their Player Board. You can only select a building that you have enough Industry to construct. To build a 4-brick building, for example, such as the Trade Office, you would need at least 7 Industry. If a building shows track icons (Culture, Finance, etc) you get to advance that track accordingly. You are allowed to build duplicates (e.g. multiple Shipyards). You’re only allowed to build one five-brick building in the entire game.

2. Growth Phase
Each player takes some population (I’m gonna call them Workers from now on, okay?) from their stock and puts them in their Harbor. How many workers you get depends on how advanced your Culture is. Initially you get two workers a turn; bump your Culture up to 4 and you can get twice that.

3. Payment Phase
Workers also come to your Harbor from Buildings they were working at last turn - if you can pay them! If you can’t pay a worker, he’ll stay put, denying you the use of that worker and (usually more distressingly) the action the building provides. The number of workers you can pay depends on, you guessed it, your Finance level. To clear up four actions, you’ll need at least 7 Finance.

“Enough accounting!” you say. “When do I get to be a conquistador?”

That would be the 4. ACTION PHASE. During the Action Phase each player in turn takes one action. This goes around the table repeatedly until nobody can perform actions and everyone has passed.

Flow of Play: Action Phase

There are two ways to take a action:

1. Move a worker onto an empty building that provides that action.
2. Discard from your Harbor a special Trade Token that provides that action.



Here, a worker has just been moved to the Shipyard, to take a Ship action.

Notice that if a building or token provides a choice (e.g. Ship or Draw) you can choose, and the Cartographer and Trade Office let you take an action twice for the price of one worker!

So what kinds of actions can you take?


You start out being able to Occupy thanks to your Colonial House. When you take an Occupy action, for example by moving a worker onto the Colonial House, you put a second worker on any unoccupied European city. You get to collect the token that was in the City (and advance your track accordingly).

When you Occupy two Cities that complete a Connection, you also get to collect the token sitting on the Connection.

Right now, you can only Occupy Cities in Europe.



Shipping is a lot like Occupying: you take the action (by placing a worker or discarding an appropriate token). Then, you place a worker on the first available spot on any Shipping Track on the board, collecting the token that formerly sat on that space.

When a Shipping Track’s filled up, the region is immediately Open. First, the Governor Card is awarded to the player with the most tokens on the Shipping Track (tiebreaker: most recent player to ship). Put the card on one of your six slots for Asset Cards and advance your tracks. The Governor’s a pretty nice freebie especially early in the game.

When a region is Open, that means the European powers can now start Occupying there, following the rules previously described. However! To Occupy in a foreign region you need Presence - that means at least one token somewhere in the area (occupying a city, or on the shipping track). If you don’t have a Presence you can always Ship there to establish one, even after the Shipping Track's full - you just put your Shipped token beside the track.


Attacking lets you take a City someone else has already claimed. Take the Attack action, then pick an Occupied city (in a region where you have Presence) and replace the worker with your own. Attacking is expensive: you must lose an extra worker as a Casualty. So Attacking usually costs three workers: one to take the action at a building, one to your stock as a casualty, and one on the map to occupy your new conquest. You won't get a token from the city, but you might get a token by completing a connection.


One of the most crucial actions is Draw. After you take the action, you get to draw the topmost card from one Asset Card stack. You can draw it from the Mediterranean deck, the Slavery deck, or any decks in Open regions. The hitch is, to draw a card numbered (for example) 3, you’ll need a Presence of at least 3 tokens in the region - occupying Cities, or on/beside the Shipping Track. To draw the higher cards you’ll really need to dominate the region - usually involving a mix of Ship, Occupy, and even Attack actions devoted to building up a colonial presence.

Place the drawn card in one of six Asset Card spaces on your Player Board and (you don‘t really need me to tell you this do you?) advance your tracks.

With regards to Asset Cards, note the 5th Mediterranean card is called “Abolition of Slavery.” When this card is played, all Slavery cards are discarded (face down beside your board, not back to the deck). These face-down cards are worth -1 victory point each to punish you for resorting to Slavery.


A final, quite rare action is Payment. You can take this action only at one of the 5-brick buildings or with one of the Pay special action trade tokens. When you take a Pay action, you can pay one worker just as you would during the Finance-dependent Payment phase. This effectively lets you use a building’s action TWICE in one turn - pretty darn useful if you have enough workers.

Flow of Play: Passing And Turn End

Eventually you will run out of things to do. At this point you will Pass. You can no longer take actions this turn. You get to tide over any spare workers to next turn.

You can also keep 1 free Slavery card & 1 free Governor card on the appropriate spaces. Any other cards (which may include additional Slavery or Governor cards) require a certain Politics score to keep, as you may have already intuited by looking at the player board.

If you can’t keep all your cards, put the chosen discards BACK on their decks (in the correct numbered order) and REDUCE your tracks. (Slavery cards are not put back on the deck, but face-down beside your player board). Notice that reducing your tracks might lower your Politics score even further requiring further discards.

This is the most confusing part of the game... Sometimes, because you end up reducing your tracks at the end of the turn, drawing more cards than you can keep feels like a waste of an action. Just think about it like this: drawing excess cards is fine, especially if you can draw DEEP into a particular region’s stack. Notice how the cards at the bottom of every stack, the cards which require the most Presence to draw, also have the greatest rewards. You can choose to hold on to these valuable, icon-rich cards and put the “small potatoes” cards back.

After everyone has Passed, the First Player marker moves clockwise to the next player and a new turn begins…

Flow Of Play: Game End And Scoring

Once the seventh turn is done (you’ll have no more room to build) the game is over.

First, everyone moves their tracks back to the first available space with an illustrated icon. This can punish you if you were on the cusp of advancing to the next tier but didn’t quite make it. You don’t want to get end up on the 9th space of a track!

Now, you get Glory (victory points). You add up the value of your 4 tracks. Then, add any Glory icons (black crosses) from Buildings or cards (notice that leaving your Governor slot blank earns you 3 glory). Finally, you get:

1 Glory for each City occupied
1 Glory for each Connection where you occupy both Cities
-1 Glory for each face-down Slavery card

The player with the most Glory has built the greatest and longest lasting colonial empire in the world! Congratulations.

“You think that’s a big deal? In 100 years all that’ll hold your colonies together is a series of silly sports: cricket, curling, parliamentary democracy...”





---

Now that you’ve got through the rules, I’ll take us on a detour into Strategy, and then talk about What I Think of the game.

Strategy

“Breakthroughs” in understanding how a game works are some of the most fun parts of gaming & I wouldn’t want to ruin that. Many game groups report how they first thought Race For The Galaxy was “broken because military always wins.” Then someone figured out how to build a produce-consume engine, and boom! Whole new level of gameplay. So I’m going to talk about strategy in general terms rather than “spoiling” things for people.

In fact there is no “killer strategy” in Endeavor
that I’ve discovered, which is nice. It’s more about subtle differences in choices than extremely different, mutually exclusive paths to victory. There is no “Alien strategy” or “Chapel deck.” While players will invest to different degrees in the four tracks, and in the seven regions, and build portfolios of different buildings and actions, they’re all chasing the same basic goals: Glory from track advancement, Glory from Cities, and Glory from buildings and cards.

In the first few games, people whose economic engines sputter or smoke might feel frustrated. Thanks to the transparency of the design however, you will catch on fast: “Last game I had too many workers and not enough finance to clear up jobs” or “I didn’t have enough workers to staff all my buildings.”

Endeavor has the delicious tension of “so much to do, so little time,” but it’s not the agonizing tension of Agricola, trying to keep your head above water. It’s more like the tension of Dominion. You are shopping, or investing, trying to get the most bang for your buck. Scores are usually close, because it’s hard to take a BAD action. No matter where you Ship, for example, you’re guaranteed one token = 1 VP. The game is all about wringing the extra advantage from your actions.

So, it’s not really a question of Culture vs Politics or India vs Asia. You’re really balancing three mutually exclusive resources: Tiers, Jobs, and Presence.

Strategy: Tiers

A “tier” is a level of advancement in Industry, Culture, Finance, or Politics.

Tiers are very important in the opening. You want the immediate, material reward of one more worker, or one more payment, or being able to buy a better building. An “orphaned” token that doesn’t help you get to the next tier is a dud investment if other players are finding ways to race ahead. The textbook orphaned token is the lone Culture icon on a turn one Shipyard. You can see how Shipping/Occupying for a second Culture token is a great investment as you’ll complete the tier and get one more worker than everyone else next turn. If you Ship for a Finance token instead, you’ve advanced a tier in neither category - blech!

Later in the game it’s probably better to think in terms of regions rather than the penny-pinching “Where can I get an X token?” but in the early game, you want those tiers!

Tiers are also important at the endgame because of the “move back” penalty. From a Tiers point-of-view, you want your tracks to be at 4, or 7, or 10+. In the last couple turns, grabbing a token that you’ll have to “give back” is a wasted investment.

Strategy: Jobs

A “job” is an action paired with the necessary worker supply.

Workers come from your stock (recruited with Culture), from your buildings (paid with Finance), and from leftovers (unused workers from last turn). Available actions come from buying new action-providing buildings, plus clearing workers from buildings, with Finance. It’s easy to mentally calculate how many workers and actions you’ll have, during the Build Phase, and thus how many jobs you can complete.

You want full employment, a perfect pairing of worker supply to job supply. For example six workers can complete three Occupy or Ship jobs. An imperfect pairing will often influence your building choice, e.g. building a Bank to be able to clear more jobs, or building a Shipyard or Theater to get more workers.

In addition, flexibility is a highly desirable goal. Just having the OPTION to Attack or Draw, even if you don’t use it often, is good. A player without an Attack option is the usual target for a warmonger seeking to get their fifth token into a region (to draw the 5-point card). That’s because of the “one action at a time” rule: a player with an Attack option could take their City back before the aggressor could draw the card, rendering the war pointless.

Special action tokens represent cheap jobs: they don’t require sending a worker to a building. When hoarded and used all at once, they allow you to “extend” your turn after everyone has passed, and take actions without anyone being able to react. Even in the midgame, Occupying or Shipping just to grab one of these special tokens is a common occurrence - especially the very rare Pay and Attack tokens.

The 4 and 5 brick buildings are a good reason to expand your Industry early. The Trade Office and Cartographer let you establish heavy presence in a region and then draw its cards quickly. The five brick buildings let you Pay any other building, which lets you use it twice in a turn. These buildings, therefore, are almost like a “Consume 2x VP” from a Jobs perspective. They’re that powerful.

Finally, you want to maximize total jobs. This is obvious: each job represents a token, or a card, and thus Glory. Everyone may end up with eight buildings, but (from a Jobs point of view) you want to have fewer actionless buildings like Bank, collect more special action tokens, and simply perform more jobs than everyone else throughout the game.

Of course, going after Jobs conflicts directly with going after Tiers. Most buildings provide one or the other, although there are some hybrid buildings like Shipyard.

Strategy: Presence

“Presence” represents placing tokens in each of the regions on the map.

Presence can come from Shipping, which is an investment in a Governor card (and thus in Tiers). Presence can also come from Occupying, an investment in the Glory from the City itself and also in potential Glory from Connections. These sources of Glory can vary wildly from player to player at game end depending on how much you Occupy.

In the long term, however, Presence is an investment in Asset Cards. You definitely want some icon-rich cards by the end of the game. To get these, you have to get 4-5 tokens in at least one region. This may involve doing most of the Shipping; doing a lot of Occupying; or even having to Attack some cities in the region. Yet paradoxically, you benefit if other people also invest: they will draw the lower cards and leave the higher ones for you.

At the same time, spreading Presence thinly is also useful, because you can use your Occupy actions more, and can draw cards opportunistically from a wider range of decks.

Balancing your Presence among the regions, and balancing Occupying against Drawing, is one of the most subtle parts of the game. What region(s) should you invest in? This is an incredibly complex question, but here are five factors.

1. Tokens on Shipping Track (random). If you see Tokens you need on a particular track, why not invest there? And once you’ve invested, why not finish the job and become Governor?

2. Position in Europe (somewhat random). If you control the European cities that connect to a region, you have an incentive to open that region and Occupy to complete the connections.

3. Length of Shipping Track (not random). All else being equal, this tells you how quickly the region will open:

Africa, South America, The Caribbean: 6 spaces
North America, India: 7 spaces
The Far East: 8 spaces

4. Total spaces in the Region (not random). When you add Cities to the number of spaces on the track, you can tell how much room there is for everybody. The higher this number, the faster the cards will be drawn, and also the less likely you’ll have to Attack to get 4-5 tokens in the region. The smaller the number, the more cut-throat the competition and the more likely war will break out.

Africa: 8 spaces
South America, The Caribbean: 9 spaces
Europe, North America, India: 10 spaces
The Far East: 13 spaces (!)

5. Asset Cards (not random). Here’s where I could see whole strategy articles being written - and thus I won’t say much. The different regions offer different mixes of icons, and it’s possible to build strategies around this. Slavery and South America are the decks people will probably focus on first, because they are heavily and reliably weighted towards certain tracks. South America provides only Culture and Finance, while the Slavery deck is chock-full of Industry and Finance. However, the first player who tried a “South America strategy” in our group actually came last… proving there’s a lot more to this aspect of the game than meets the eye.



What Do I Think?

Theme
For me, this game has a great theme. There is no discovery of “hidden” elements but you still feel as if you’re exploring and developing new regions. The choices of where to invest, what to build, and how to interfere with your fellow European Powers’ plans also feel a lot like what an empire-planner would be thinking about. Despite nearly every element of the game being heavily abstracted, I never felt like any part of the game was "tacked on" or thematically nonsensical. After a few games however I did wish that there was just a bit more detail to the game, but I can see how that would slow things down. A- for Theme.

Interaction & Runaway Leader
There is a host of ways to subtly screw your fellow Powers: Occupying/Shipping to grab a token they wanted; taking a City to block them from completing a connection; grabbing a card they wanted; attacking to keep them from gaining the sufficient presence in the region to draw the 4th or 5th card; even building the last copy of a building just to keep it out of someone else's hands.

Because of this, though everyone is growing exponential economic engines, I felt in all my games that people were warily watching each other and trying to take the leader(s) down a peg. Scores were always close. A for Interaction.

Downtime & Analysis Paralysis
Despite having no chance element (after setup), Endeavor doesn’t suffer from AP. Probably because your actions are so limited and because the action phase is split into “mini turns” where you can only do one thing. A+ for Downtime.

Playing Time
This game will take about 15-20 minutes per player once everyone knows what they're doing (your first game may be more like 30 or even 40). For this much gameplay squeezed into that kind of time I have to rank Endeavor up there tied with Race for the Galaxy as one of the leanest, meanest games I've ever played. A++ for Playing Time.

Dramatic Arc
I don't know what else to call it, but this is one of those games where you start with very little and turn it into something big. Your last turn might take up a third of the total playing time. Personally I like this aspect a lot: it really feels like you've achieved something as opposed to just amassed a bunch of victory points. A- for Dramatic Arc.

Component & Graphic Design
Excellent, with intuitive and clear graphic design throughout. The one flaw is putting a Glory icon on the reverse of all the Trade Tokens. This is imho unnecessary and confusing. B+ for Component & Graphic Design.

Political Correctness
However abstract, there’s no disguising that the game is about colonizing and “extracting” the resources of subject regions. The economic models of Spain and England, where shipping cheap raw materials & precious metals powered the homeland’s economy, is represented pretty accurately. It’s not accidental that South America rewards its dominator with gold, or the Far East with labor. There is even a Slavery deck which provides a fast boost in Industry and Finance. If you had issues with Puerto Rico’s little brown “colonists” then this may not be a game for you. To be fair, the abolition of slavery is also represented as the peak achievement of this part of European history, and anyone who has resorted to Slavery has their score lowered. Overall, B- for Political Correctness (if it matters to you).

Paths to Victory
There is really only one path to victory, the four tracks. This is not like Race For The Galaxy where you can try to assemble a Gene strategy or a Development strategy. You’ll want high scores in all four tracks. That said, there is a good bit of variety in the portfolio of buildings that players choose to construct, and in which regions they choose to invest. Overall, B for Paths To Victory.

Replay Value
I think Endeavor has just the right mix of chance and non-chance elements in the setup. After a dozen games I think players will start to pay more attention to exactly what is available in each region's deck. I have to admit that the very simplicity/elegance of the game, combined with the somewhat limited scope you have for trying out very different strategies, may cut down on its long term appeal B for Replay Value.

Setup
It's a b. Nuff said! It's worth it though once you start playing. C+ for Setup.



Overall Grade: A

Should You Buy This?

YES!

This is one of the best "light-middleweight" games I've ever played.

I really hope this game sells well because that means more money for Messrs de Visser & Gray to design their next great game.



Well done guys!




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Mitch Willis
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Nice review...and nice style as well. Really looking forward to this one...
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Diz Hooper
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Excellent review. I'm looking forward to reading more of your contributions.
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Mario Aguila
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It has a reminiscence of Age of Empires III
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Jesse Dean
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Pound for pound, the amoeba is the most vicious predator on Earth!
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Good review. It is enough to know that this game is not my style at all, which is very helpful as I was vaguely interested in it before.
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Steve Duff
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What's your style, then?

Sure seems like it would fit you, given your profile.
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There are 15 buildings, not 45. The picture in your review shows 16, but the colonial house is actually pre-printed on each player board.
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John Brownsill
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JohnRayJr wrote:
There are 15 buildings, not 45.
There are 15 individual building types, but there are 45 building tiles provided in the box.

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Loc Nguyen
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This has been on my "must buy" list since last december. Now I feel dumb for not preordering.
 
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Jesse Dean
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UnknownParkerBrother wrote:
What's your style, then?

Sure seems like it would fit you, given your profile.
What about my profile gives you that indication? I am genuinely curious.
 
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Steve Duff
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doubtofbuddha wrote:
What about my profile gives you that indication? I am genuinely curious.
High ratings on Le Havre, Agricola, Puerto Rico, RftG, Tigris, comments on low randomness, no aversion to conflict (crossover war games).
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Jesse Dean
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Ah. This is also a bit shorter and lower in complexity than games I generally prefer too. The two exceptions (Race For the Galaxy and Command & Colors: Ancients) are ones that have an extraordinarily high amount of replay value.

I suspect that if this one ends up getting played in my store, I will play it but ultimately not more than 6-10 times. That is not enough replayability for a short game for me to consider it worth purchasing.
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Magic Pink
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I'm kind of interested in this as well but it does seem to be not as complex as I like and, unfortunately, is ugly as sin and the theme is dull.

The appearance I can get over but how complex is it compared to Princes of Florence, Puerto Rico and Agricola?
 
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doubtofbuddha wrote:
Ah. This is also a bit shorter and lower in complexity than games I generally prefer too. The two exceptions (Race For the Galaxy and Command & Colors: Ancients) are ones that have an extraordinarily high amount of replay value.

I suspect that if this one ends up getting played in my store, I will play it but ultimately not more than 6-10 times. That is not enough replayability for a short game for me to consider it worth purchasing.
I think you've got it pegged correctly. I'm sure I'll play a few more times, but I felt like the game "gave away" a lot of what was on offer the first time through. It's got great flow and it all works but it's also derivative and extremely abstract. I'll be interested to see if BGGers actually buy the theme or not.

EDIT:

Quote:
I'm kind of interested in this as well but it does seem to be not as complex as I like and, unfortunately, is ugly as sin and the theme is dull.

The appearance I can get over but how complex is it compared to Princes of Florence, Puerto Rico and Agricola?
It's faster than any of those games and slightly less complex I'd say. Actually, when I compare it to those games it strikes me that it is less focused. More game elements (tech trees, building paths, a limited form of area control, tactical board placement, a form of hand management, lots of timing), but none of them as beefy as you might expect. Not necessarily a flaw, of course.
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linoleum blownaparte
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Thanks for the thumbs everyone. I've been lurking around BGG for almost 5 years. This site has an amazing "wisdom of crowds" dynamic going for it that can sort out the best upcoming games. So consider this review payback for BGG introducing me to Race For The Galaxy

doubtofbuddha wrote:
Ah. This is also a bit shorter and lower in complexity than games I generally prefer too.
It's definitely a 2-3 weight game. For me that's good because BGG on average likes heavier games than I do. Games like Caylus or War Of The Ring are just too involved & brain-burning for me to really enjoy.

If people expect Endeavor to be a "meaty" heavily chromed Age of Discovery game they're going to end their first plays with "Tempus syndrome" (aka "That's all there is?"). If you want a game where you can issue letters of marque and put down sepoy mutinies, wait for Fantasy Flight to tackle this theme

Take the game for what it is, however, and I think people will have lots of fun.

Magic Pink wrote:

The appearance I can get over but how complex is it compared to Princes of Florence, Puerto Rico and Agricola?
It is less complex than all three. Think more like Pandemic, Vinci, Stone Age, Race...

However it is DEFINITELY more complex than it will appear after your first play.

The gameplay is subtle and deceptively simple, mostly because it's hard to make a BAD move. No matter where you occupy or ship you're going to get one token which is roughly = one victory point. Yet somehow, one player ends the game with 60 pts and another with only 48. Figuring out how that works is the fun part

JohnJayR wrote:
I'm sure I'll play a few more times, but I felt like the game "gave away" a lot of what was on offer the first time through.
It's funny because for me, you just described Dominion... I thought the concept was unbelievable freaking genius, and then after my first play I had a "Wait, that's it?" reaction. I played it about 10 more times trying to see if there were unplumbed depths but no. I guess tastes differ!

Endeavor otoh is one of those games where you want to play again just to see what would happen if you did X or Y differently.

I think the elements are very finely balanced. For example in the first few games I bet people will ignore the 4 and 5 brick buildings; in later games they'll see the amazing benefits of the Trade Office and Cartographer - yet the player who races ahead in Industry to get these buildings is by no means guaranteed to end up the winner.

The game looks and feels very, very simple - like it should be easy to "crack" - but it isn't.

All the above of course is just my opinion & people will have different reactions to the game.

I don't expect Endeavor to hit the top 10 anytime soon. But for me it's a very enjoyable game. Also judging it in context, as a Z-Man game and as the first game of two new designers, I think it's a coup for everyone involved.

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Linoleumblownaparte wrote:
JohnJayR wrote:
I'm sure I'll play a few more times, but I felt like the game "gave away" a lot of what was on offer the first time through.
It's funny because for me, you just described Dominion... I thought the concept was unbelievable freaking genius, and then after my first play I had a "Wait, that's it?" reaction. I played it about 10 more times trying to see if there were unplumbed depths but no. I guess tastes differ!
That's not far off from my own reaction to Dominion. I played it a lot more than 10 times, but then you can play 2-player Dominion in 10-15 minutes.

It's a little different with this game because I can see the attraction of each element, but most of them seem so clearly taken from somewhere else without much "ownership" in their implementation. The one exception is the ability to tinker with your bottlenecks at different times in different ways. That gives the tech management a fluidity I've not seen elsewhere.
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Scott M
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Great review! This game quickly jumped to the top of my must try (or is that buy ) list!
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Chris Bailey
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Magic Pink wrote:
...is ugly as sin...
I realize everyone has different tastes and I don't doubt your opinion. For some reason though the art and production of this game looks amazing to me. I'm looking forward to getting a copy.
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Doug Cooley
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marioaguila wrote:
It has a reminiscence of Age of Empires III
Oh, please, God, no.

I'm hopeful you're talking theme rather than the horrible Discovery system in AoE3. It turned the game from a decent colonization game into a crap shoot, even if you went large every time you actually tried to discover something. You spent all that time and effort for variable gain, especially at the end with the overseas colonies.

Endeavor sounds like it avoids that issue, and I sure hope so because it sounds cool otherwise.

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Jamie Pollock
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Totally blownaparte by your absolutely awesome review !thumbsup
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dcooley wrote:
marioaguila wrote:
It has a reminiscence of Age of Empires III
Oh, please, God, no.

I'm hopeful you're talking theme rather than the horrible Discovery system in AoE3. It turned the game from a decent colonization game into a crap shoot, even if you went large every time you actually tried to discover something. You spent all that time and effort for variable gain, especially at the end with the overseas colonies.

Endeavor sounds like it avoids that issue, and I sure hope so because it sounds cool otherwise.

Don't worry the only randomness is in the board setup. After that everything is on the table so long as you know what each of the cards which you can't explicitly see, but I'm pretty sure they are theoretically open.

The number of times a game of AoE has been decided by what tiles you pulled when colonising ....

No worries about that here.
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Teik Oh
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An excellent review! This has made me put this game on a must buy list as I love games with decisions like that and the pictures shows me a board which I like too! well done
 
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Linoleumblownaparte wrote:


Excellent, with intuitive and clear graphic design throughout. The one flaw is putting a Glory icon on the reverse of all the Trade Tokens. This is imho unnecessary and confusing.

The Glory icon on the reverse is used separately at the end of the game to help count VPs, as per the rules.
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Jeff Thornsen
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But I think the point is that they are not really required. It seems like it would be pretty easy to count your score in your head.

First, count the cities + connections you control.
Then you just add all your tracks + the Glory icons on your cards/buildings.

If the tokens had the same icon on both sides, it would make the setup much easier since you wouldn't have to flip all the tokens to the correct side.
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Jarratt Gray
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The reverse glory tokens were never a feature of the playtest copies. They probably help players count on their first few games, but using them does extend the time it takes to score, which if you just add up individually can be pretty fast.

Normally I would just take my spare wooden tokens and put them on every connection I owned, and double up on the double glory cities assuming I had any. Then remove all those from the board and count as I go. Then you can add all the other stuff which is pretty straight forward. Though I normally add my player board up first.

The bonus with doing it this way is that you can all do it at the same time.

The bonus with using the glory tokens is that you can all check each others scores.

They probably help people who are new to the hobby to understand and check off all scoring avenues, but they aren't strictly necessary, and players can easily choose to use them or not.
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