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Quick Look: Tales of Danger #1: Days of Discovery
Designer: Matt Worden
Artist: Kristijan Hranisavljevic
Publisher: Matt Worden Games
Year Published: 2018
No. of Players: 1-6
Playing Time: 30-60 min (approx. 15 minutes per player)
From the publisher:
Lost to history, a new land in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean was discovered by Portuguese sailor Raimundo Peres da Costa at the cusp of the 14th century. The process of merely planning and gaining support to make such a risk-filled journey was a difficult path of its own. Yet, in securing the sponsorship of beloved Queen Isabel of Portugal, Raimundo was able to get the supplies and crew needed to accomplish his dream.
Players recreate this accomplishment in a game that plays out as a 3-act story. First, draft cards representing people who have evidence of the hidden land and plans to get there, in order to gain sponsorship from one of six important figures. Second, use the resources from your sponsor to draft cards representing the supplies and crew needed to make the journey. Finally, sail the treacherous seas to discover the "Land of Danger" by using your hand of cards to pay for the costs of the voyage.
WARNING: This is a preview of Days of Discovery. All components and rules are prototype and subject to change. Days of Discovery launched on Kickstarter on June 19, 2018.
Review: Tales of Danger #1: Days of Discovery
Overview and Theme:
Days of Discovery features Portuguese explorers setting sail in the late 13th century, trying to gather evidence and supplies before setting sail and trying to survive five dangerous, difficult segments of a journey of discovery and exploration. It is slated to be the first in the Tales of Danger series by Matt Worden Games.
Components and Setup:
Days of Discovery is a card game—the game includes 6 Sponsor cards, 102 People cards, 6 Player Reference cards, and 2 rule books. The final components may be slightly different from what I had in my prototype deck, but I thought the art and icons were well done and helped convey the game's theme of early world exploration.
Setup is simple—shuffle the People deck, deal a starting hand to each player, and lay out the next five cards from the deck as the Pool. Set out the Sponsors, make sure each player has a Reference card, and you're ready to begin.
Game Play and Mechanics:
The most interesting feature of Days of Discovery is its three-act game flow, supported by triple-use cards. The game will progress through a stage of gathering information to secure a Sponsor for your journey (Act 1), loading up crew and supplies to prepare for the long trip ahead (Act 2), and then setting sail for five legs of sea travel (Act 3). Each card has certain icons and information on it that allows it to be used in any one of the three acts, and some of your cards will carry over in hand between the acts.
In Act 1, you will be recruiting two People each turn, hoping to find the right match of icons for the Sponsor you are hoping to impress. Each People card will have a few Sponsor icons (the crown matches the King, the rose matches the Queen, etc.) and can only be used to woo one of the matching Sponsors. You're trying to gather the required number of Evidence (scrolls) and Plans (maps). For example, to gain the support of Dona Isabel, Queen of Portugal, you need four Evidence icons and six Plan icons from People cards that also contain a rose icon. Keep taking turns drawing from the Pool or the pile (with a hand limit of 7) until you can fulfill the needs of a Sponsor, keeping in mind that at least one of your cards must be an Insider for that Sponsor (gold stars next to the icon).
Another interesting facet of Days of Discovery is that players will move from Act 1 to Act 2 whenever they are individually ready, not all as a group. This means that the more quickly you can secure a Sponsor, the more time you will have in Act 2 to gather supplies. It often makes a big difference during Act 3 if you've had a longer time to prepare in Act 2!
Once you have your Sponsor card, you move on to Act 2, drawing the number of cards from the Market (the face-down pile or the face-up Pool) that the Sponsor card allows. You are trying to gather a high and flexible number of Crew and Supplies to help you through Act 3. In addition, you may want to pick up some of the special cards that will help stave off Bad Luck, Illness, or Rough Seas later on.
After all players have moved into Act 2 and everyone has reached their maximum hand size for their Sponsor, the whole table will move into Act 3 together.
In Act 3, you'll be turning the cards sideways and looking at the boat and equipment icons in the sidebar of the cards. Each Segment of your journey will be represented by a ship with a number inside—the number represents the difficulty of that leg and also will be the points you can earn for successfully completing it.
It took us a little while to understand the way the Segments work—this was the one part of the game that didn't feel as intuitive and was harder to explain to new players. The card used as the ship for a Segment does not add the requirements from its own card, but instead indicates how many more cards you need to draw from the deck to add up the requirements (shown with x'd out barrel or crew icons). You'll then need to play People cards from your hand to equal the number of barrels and crew required from those cards.
If you can't meet a Segment's requirements with what you have in your hand, you'll have to Forage—draw four cards from the deck, add one to the requirements of your Segment and the other three cards into your hand. The more times you need to Forage, the more difficult your Segment will become—and the farther behind the other players you may get as they sail off without you.
As you complete Segments, you'll keep the first card (with the ship you used) as points; you also get to take one card from your hand and play it face down as the ship's journal entry—gaining the points on the ship icon from that card as well.
Once one player has completed her fifth Segment, each other player gets one more turn and then all players will reveal the total points from all Segment and Journal ships. Highest total wins!
Days of Discovery also includes a solo play booklet, encouraging players to play through all three acts before running out of cards in the deck. A few rules are tweaked slightly, but game play is largely the same.
Days of Discovery does a great job of telling a story of exploration through its three-act structure. It can be engaging and entertaining to get into the story, talking your way through gathering evidence from Farmers and Sailors, wooing an upstanding member of the Portuguese court, then accruing a suitable crew from the market, and finally taking on the hardships of a long journey.
The multi-use cards make the game more portable and more easily set up than other strategic games of similar weight, and help to streamline the experience of the game. The art and iconography in Days of Discovery is very suitable to the theme as well.
I felt that Days of Discovery worked quite well as a solo game, feeling puzzley and engaging.
One thing that tripped up several tables of players was understanding that the first card you flipped over for each Segment only counted for the ship's difficulty, and that the requirements printed on that card were not taken into account. This one little non-intuitive rule sometimes stopped the flow of the game as we stopped what we were doing to explain it again.
The other thing that we noticed was that in some games at lower player counts (2 or 3 players) where you don't have the full range of Sponsor cards to choose from, sometimes it was difficult to accumulate the right cards for the Sponsors you did have available, and Act 1 tended to drag on as we pulled cards from the deck, hoping to dig down to the ones for the Sponsors we had on the table. It seemed especially hard to find the Insiders for the right Sponsors.
Players Who Like:
Days of Discovery will appeal to players who enjoy multi-use cards in games like Flip City, card drafting games like 7 Wonders or Sushi Go, and who are drawn to the theme of exploration.
The unique multi-use cards will keep us coming back to Days of Discovery. These cards combined with the three-act structure allow a lot of game to be packed in a little box, as the strategy for each act is different. It works very well as a puzzle-based solo game, and the few hiccups in gameplay can be overlooked, especially with larger player counts and experienced players. I am looking forward to seeing how the other games in this series play out, and I wish Matt Worden Games good luck on their Kickstarter journey! Hope you have acquired enough barrels and crew for your trip!
See more from Alexa and EBG at http://www.everythingboardgames.com/p/reviews.html