One step away from the top ten - Endeavor
I'm not sure how I stumbled upon Endeavor here on BGG. It was probably on the Buzzlist Anticipated Release thread or the Most wanted geeklist. The Buzzlist write up (item #3) was enough to peak my interest to put it on a wishlist. The only sentence I needed to see:
Comparisons have been drawn to Rudiger Dorn's classic game Goa.
I'd been itching to try Goa for a long time and if this game was being compared to it -- that was enough.
I was able to acquire Endeavor through a BGG trade. I owned a copy of Brass: Lancashire, and it really wasn't my thing. I love economic games, but I never really caught onto Brass and I knew it was never going to be a game that I could play with Jen. I knew Endeavor was at least a 3P game, but I thought the trade had to be made.
After a few plays, I have come to the thinking that the more the better. I think the game is best with 5, great with 4, good with 3. Despite the possible down-time in between turns with more people, having more people opens up shipping lanes quicker and open up colonizing cities quicker. It also tightens the race for who has more presence in a certain area to take stronger cards.
It took a little time before I was able to play it. The trade was finalized on May 25 and my first game was July 3. I had read through the rules and sorta understood them. I found a couple gamers close to my house (through the BGG zip code finder thingy) and Endeavor was on his list of games he really wanted to try. We pulled it out, we both went through the rules collectively teaching everyone, and we started.
I was very impressed with Endeavor. First off, for such a simple map it was designed functionally well. I liked the fact that the set-up would be different every game. With (around) 30 chits to lay out, the number of different combinations would have to be in the trillions. You'll never play the same set up twice (unless you want to). That kind of random start is something I enjoy.
The start up randomization may make you decide to change or update your strategy. I usually like to start out buying a workshop so I can start building level 2 buildings in turn 2, but if I can find some "cheap" brick on the board I may go with a shipyard first to get into different shipping lanes. This is a game that really allows different options to get to the same end.
As we went through the first game (4P), we never thought we'd fill up all the shipping lanes, and we were right. Endeavor is a semi-cooperative game in that if you want to colonize new cities, everyone is going to have to ship. Endeavor is only 7 rounds, so each action is critical.
Beyond replayability, I really like the scoring mechanics. I think it's awesome that you need to push your tracks past 7, or risk scoring 4 points. I like games where you need balance, and Endeavor is certainly a game that you need balance. If you focus solely on one or two tracks, you will fall too far behind in the others and each track offers special abilities that you need to be successful.
One of the things that (in that first group) was met with some skepticism was the notion of slavery. We found that the negative points did not really off-set the benefits of the slavery cards. In the first game, slavery was abolished and that knocked a few players down on the building scoring track enough to really hurt them. I don't shy away from taking Slavery cards, but if I see someone inching towards 5 cities in Europe, I try to make sure my building track (or money track) isn't killed if the slavery abolished card comes out.
Endeavor has an odd sized box. It's a square, rather than a rectangle. However, it is deep enough to fit the board and a plano case that I have the bits, chits, and cards in. It's an easily organize game, which is also a big plus for me.
The worst part of this game is the fact that I think you need 5 players and rarely do I have 4 other people to play with. It's playable with 3, so Jen and her mom can play (and have). I haven't had Jen rate it yet, but I know she enjoyed it when we played.
I Rate it an 8.6 / 10