All at sea

[Also posted at the Ra’anana Boardgames Group site.]

This week’s session was a five player game of Endeavor. The topic is colonization, with each player trying to get the best out of his resources, by developing them in competition with the other players. 

Each player has his own player mat on which he tracks his abilities; for example, his building capability, how many colonists he receives, and how many cards he may keep. The mat also hosts the acquired buildings and cards.

Separate from the mat is the gameboard. There is one central region – quickly settled – and half a dozen surrounding areas. In each surrounding area there are paths to the stack of cards, extra town or city spaces, and links to other areas. And in between some of these links are other spaces with bonus tiles. It sounds complicated – and indeed the rules explanation by Yehuda was not short – but it’s really very easy. There’s an interesting mechanism for threatening opponent’s cards by abolishing slavery, and another limiting the card a player may take by the amount of colonists available. I may have missed other details here, but after the first round of play, there were few rule questions, which underlined how well Yehuda had summarized them.

There are seven rounds of play and we managed a complete game inside two hours. As this time also included a distribution of nice chocolate birthday cake – Happy Birthday Sara! – that was not bad going.

The round starts with building – with each building coming with its own powers and abilities – and finishes up with actions, namely using powers and abilities. For example, you can sail a colonist and land him, or – subject to certain conditions – take a card. But you have to manage your colonists and juggle the development of the other areas all at the same time.

There are some opportunities for player interaction, but they are limited. However, while I was concerned this might make it a bit bland, it was actually fairly involving. You have to plan – and you have to remember the scoring options. You get points for how well you have developed your abilities on the mat, but also from map connections. I completely forgot about this last scoring mechanism, and suffered badly because of it. However, I did improve on last week’s performance – from finishing in the first six, I went to finishing in the first five…

Board

Sara and I were the back markers, with Abraham finishing ahead of us. Ofer put up a feisty performance, but was outgunned by Yehuda who made his prior playing experience count. I expect the second time round it will be easier to spot the winner and peg him back. Definitely one we will play again.

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