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This is not quite a session report, and certainly not a review – rather, a reflection on a game which though we have owned it for a long time, has only just ‘come into its own.’
Let me start with a bit of background here about the time period when we first purchased Endeavor. It was approximately a year ago now, fairly soon after our introduction to board-gaming as a whole. We had bought ourselves a copy of Stone Age (our first attempt at delving into pure Euro mechanics after our earlier purchases of Rune Bound and Chaos in the Old World) and been at first unsure, then delighted with the elegance of that particular game. Endeavor, on the other hand met with a slightly more puzzled reception. We mostly enjoyed it, but there seemed to be something lacking there – something that had not quite fallen into place, and we found ourselves playing it very occasionally and then leaving it aside, often for months at a time.
Other designs attracted our attention, and slowly, but surely our tastes were drawn towards the elegance that many Euro games offer. Periodically, Endeavor seemed to crop up, and then submerge again, beneath the weight of ‘heavier’ titles like Le Havre which now held our attention. It would be quite some months before we really sat and played the game again.
Now, just recently, Endeavor has made it back to the table, not once, but multiple times and it seems that suddenly, the game has taken on a whole new role for us – it is tight, and demanding and interesting! The game play is pleasantly abbreviated, with that feeling of always requiring one more turn. Because the game is short there is a need to maximise actions and to flesh out the all important final turn – the longest turn in the game, with the most options available.
In the last two games we have played (3 player efforts), an interesting trend has developed, we have found ourselves really noticing the extent to which we can influence each others’ scoring. Be it by siphoning off tokens other players need for points, out-shipping them, or simply taking those expensive war actions to break up the strings of networks other players have laid out. Suddenly, a depth of strategy and quiet sabotage has emerged which has changed this game in my eyes from a mediocre euro game to one worth every cent we paid for it.
Like many good things, it required both time and gaming maturity. This evenings’ games were won with the clever usage of both ‘action’ tokens and the war actions which (whilst costly) can truly interfere with another players scoring, or simply produce the opportunity to steal a coveted card from under someone, or abolish slavery to their detriment. With fresh eyes applied to it, this game has more than proven its value – it is deliciously tense waiting to see if someone will take that one action which will totally screw you, whilst you plan your contingencies in your head.
I know we have more to figure out from this particular design, and look forward to all our future plays. I will be changing my rating for this game – upwards to a solid 8.5, a ranking which puts its worth (in terms of the enjoyment I get from it) right up there with heavy-weights like Le Havre and Brass.
It is, of course, an entirely different animal – a brief, tense, surprising euro game.
I consider Endeavor more enjoyable than Le Havre and Brass really, mainly because it is lighter. I believe Le Havre is very difficult to play with 3 players and practically impossible with 4 or 5. I've only played it solo or 2-player and once, disastrously, with 3.