1572: The Lost Expedition. Thus a review, even if not going for completeness, maybe worth it. This won't be about rules, but more about the overall feel, choices and flow.
1572: The Lost Expedition is a solo game of exploration, dice rolling, press your luck, survival and storytelling. This last part isn't mandatory, just flavor, as the game gives elements that can be used to make a story about the path taken by the survivors, describing their misfortunes, finds and actions.
The goal is to reach the sea in less 42 or less days, while still having morale and Conquistadors alive, after your company was ambushed and almost completely destroyed. The game has several action phases, but the first - the planning - can make some didn't happen. The order of phases are: planning, movement, mapping, exploring, native contact, hunting, interests, eat rations, map travel, morale adjustment, track day and journal entry. All until interests required dice to be rolled, which are compared with tables in order to discover what happens. From eat rations to journal, they are upkeep phases, except the map travel, when the group actually travel to an adjacent hex, if possible.
With annotations and the journal, the game can run long - more than 1 hour. Without, play goes quite fast, since is basically rolling dice, making some decisions in the planning, updating resources and done. 1572: The Lost Expedition doesn't have enough to fill a 90 minute or more time of play, even with the sense of discovery and the luck elements, which can bring neat or nasty things to happen. Yet, it sure has plenty to keep the interest for 45-60 minutes, which will be normal for plays without recording in the journal.
Luck is quite high and can destroy you - at least the mechanics offer re-rolls, wilds and modifiers in order to somewhat (not fully) counter the luck of the dice rolls - as te re-rolls are mandatory to roll both (in the action phase, using Muskets; which can lead to even worst results - I would like if I could choose to roll 1 or both). Still, specially with terrains, which tend to repeat themselves, and if you have to move into a nasty one - jungle, swamp, hills and mountains - there is a good chance you are already screwed, particularly from the middle to the end, when your resources to try to escape are lower. I had some pretty frustrating moments - where I got 1 movement increase, only to lose it to a hostile village; basically going nowhere for several rounds, while moral dropped and Conquistador died, and there wasn't something I could do. The contrary happens also - is possible to go on milking the lakes (which are the best terrain, as you don't have to deal with villages). You must be aware of this before entering, as this is the price of the voyage. And is quite thematic to be stuck, not really going forward, with frustration going up, fights breaking out of nothing, etc.
Overall, 1572: The Lost Expedition is a PnP that gives almost no work to be done (just print a few pages, maybe several for the map, 12 dice and a pencil), and gives a lot of game in exchange - but with the counter of having to deal with the often frustration due to lack of luck. There is a good feel of adventuring, survival and exploration - of pressing on against the odds.
Image credit: kzinti
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Nice review and assessment. I enjoy this game from time to time myself and enjoy many of the things about it. I have never done the journal part, just preferring to keep an internal monologue going about it.
Anyway, I concur on your assessment about the dice and luck. There is a bit of luck element but there is also some balance in the luck mitigation area with not only the re-roll items but also in the decisions to be made. Anyway, good review.
I would say if you haven't played, give it a go.
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- Jerry Palmroos(Vivacior)United States
Great writeup...I too have suffered from “Stuck in the Mountains Syndrome”...
As far as time, I really get into illustrating the hexes, which makes the map look awesome, with arrows pointing out Wonders (such as the Pink Dolphins in a lake, Walking Trees, Man-Eating Trees, etc) and other Interests. That said, along with a simple journal (basically logging my die rolls), it took me nearly 3 hours to make it to the ship, with my last 2 Spaniards...
Jerry in Charlotte
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