Review – Venture Forth from Minion Games
Designer – Dan Manfredini
Art – James Denton
Thanks to Minion Games for providing a review copy of this game
Adventure games. Love em. Being a fanboy of strong theme as a key criteria in my board games, adventure games are generally a sweet spot for me. They come in all shapes and sizes, many of which are in fantasy worlds a la Tolkien’s Middle Earth, etc. To be honest, I can’t think of any off the top of my head that are set in the world of Ancient Greek mythos, so Venture Forth seems at first pass, to be a refreshing departure from the fantasy stuff that keeps getting processed through our gaming tables. A game for 2-4 players, age 13+ (actually, I think this could possibly be lowered for some bright youngsters) which was a Kickstarter success, Venture Forth places you in the role of a Greek adventurer who is out for fame and fortune, taking on some pretty nasty monsters along the way.
Minion Games has provided a very nice set of components. The double sided board is a very nice touch to extend replayability for starters. There are a number of path spaces which regulate movement and are where you can collect coins, explore tokens, and Will and Despair cubes. There are also travel squares which regulate movement between the Temples. and a victory point track.
You also get 36 Adventure Encounter cards, 21 Treasure cards, 36 Enemy Encounter cards, 20 Level 1/2 cards and 20 Level 3 cards. Will and Despair cubes, coins, Explore tokens, Scoring discs and player tokens complete the package. Overall, the artwork is very nice and the components are serviceable. I would have preferred something a bit more evocative of the theme for the pawns which are just generic. I personally would have liked a bit larger cards but their small size works well as you will be laying them out on the table. Those are minor quibbles as the presentation is very attractive.
From the rules – “In Venture Forth, the players create parties of adventurers to explore the world and resolve encounters. Players can earn Will to gain victory points or increase of their adventurers, coins to recruit new adventurers or gain boons at the temples, and treasures which can be used for victory points or for their special abilities. In addition, players must learn to manage their adventurers’ Despair which counts against their final score at the end of the game.”
The game process is as follows:
Zeus Rule – (ignored if the board isn’t full) At the beginning of a player’s turn he checks to see if all path spaces are filled with encounter cards. If so, all wandering cards are discarded and then all remaining cards become wandering.
Each turn, the active player must take one of the following actions – ( note – players will need to refer to the adventurers that they collect into their party to complete their Ambitions which allows players to score points and Level-up to am maximum of Level 3).
Play a card –
step 1 – Placement – the player chooses an encounter card from his hand and places it face-up on an empty path space. The card must be played adjacent to another card of the same color or adjacent to a Temple site of the same color.
step 2 – Collect resource – Will, Coins and or Explore tokens can be collected according to the space the card is placed i. Explore tokens are place next to a path without an explore token
step 3 – Draw one card (hand limit is 5)
Venture Forth –
Move the party, resolve encounter cards and explore (possibly finding treasure). Adventurers can be recruited up to a maximum of 5 adventurers per party. You will also encounter enemies and monsters. If the enemy defeats you, there are various penalties.
Once all encounters along a path are resolved, the player’s pawn is moved to the destination site.
Make an offering at the Temple –
Each Temple has an ability which can be used
Discard and draw a new hand of cards
Explore tokens – these can be collected after completing a Venture Forth action and each one brings certain things that can be gained by the player
Treasure cards – are gained from explore tokens and can be used for their ability or scored at the end of the game. This makes for some interesting choices in strategy.
Despair tokens collected counts against you at the end of the game
When the last Explore token is placed the players take one more turn and then the game is over. At the end of the game you calculate your score base on Despair, Will, Coins Treasures, and Explore bonus and the winner has the most points.
The rules and system for Venture Forth are clear and reasonably concise. The examples given are helpful and it all generally comes together very well. The turns move along reasonably quickly and it all feels right to me. The rulebook is laid out well. I like the use of adventure paths leading to the Temples and the blind pulling of the Encounter cards as things are always unexpected making for a different experience each time you play. There are tough enemies and not so tough and what is really cool (and probably the best mechanic) is that you have a certain amount of control over where you place the Encounter cards which means you can try and make things more difficult for the other players by placing the tougher monsters nearer them. It all plays pretty cleanly.
Did it work for me?
I really like Venture Forth and highly recommend it as an alternative to Talisman and similar style adventure games. The theme is refreshing, the time limit of about an hour is fantastic for those who want an adventure game with just enough meat and depth to keep them interested and enjoying the experience without losing a whole afternoon or longer. Yes, it is a bit light but its not looking to be anything other than what it presents itself to be.
This is not likely to be a satisfying enough game for the Decent fanboys but doesn’t need to be as it is more a very nice and reasonably easy entry point into adventure games and therefore much more accesible. it’s lighter than Descent and faster than Talisman with a much shorter time span with no worries about stats and geeky details. Everything is managed simply on the board and with the cards. I will definitely play this more often as its easy to set up and get into. The theme is interesting and different enough to keep me interested. It is a bit more serious in theme, lacking the humour and chaos of say, Guards! Guards! and humour and fantstical stuff of Talisman for that matter so it depends what you are looking for. There is a lot of unpredictability here in the enemies you will face and adventurers you will have to chose from which will keep things fresh too.
If you are a fan of Greek mythology and happy with an adventure game which you could introduce to non-gamers, you could do well with Venture Forth. Very nice, tight design, great theme, land ooks good. Light enough and not a huge time commitment. Absolutely works for me! Best game from Minion Games that I have played so far.
Boardgames in Blighty rating – 8 out of 10
Actually, yes, I think that this game could be a fun family experience with 10+ with a bit (not much) help from parents.
for more information go to – http://www.miniongames.com/