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Yehuda Berlinger
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There are a lot of little components which makes the game feel more complicated than it is.

The object is to get the most points by a) moving forward in your four tracks, b) controlling cities and connections on the main board at the end of the game, and c) acquiring cards with bonus points on them.

The game lasts seven rounds. Each round players acquire a building, resolve the bonuses they get from their tracks, and play actions using buildings or chips, until all players pass. Then players discard any excess cards they have acquired this round.

The four tracks give you cascading bonuses:

- One gives you the ability to buy better buildings.

- One gives you more people to work with each round (into your "Harbor"). Each player has an unlimited supply of people, but can only use the ones brought into his Harbor from the supply. The ones already placed onto the main board can't be reused; the ones assigned to buildings are also stuck, but see the next track.

- One lets you take people assigned to your buildings and put them back into your Harbor. Not only does it give you more people to play with, you also can't reuse a building if it already has a guy in it. You get them out of the buildings with this track.

- One lets you keep more cards at the end of the round.

The buildings either bumps you up on one of the four tracks, or give you one of four types of actions: a) claim a free city, b) steal a city from someone else, c) claim a shipping space, or d) take a card. Better buildings let you do either or multiples of these.

The main board consists of seven regions: Europe and six others. Each region has cities, and between nearly all cities are connections. Some of the connections span two regions.

Every city has a chip on it, and every connection between two cities has a chip on it. The first player to claim the city gets the chip. The first player to control two cities that have a connection between them gets the chip on the connection. Each chip either bumps you up on one of the tracks, or gives you a bonus action, exactly like the ones on the buildings (claim a city, steal a city, claim a shipping space, or take a card).

To claim a city, you need to use a building or chip that lets you claim a city, and you need one person to go onto the city you want to claim, and another if you used a building (if you used a chip, you don't need the second person, you just throw out the chip). To steal a city, you need the steal action, and you also have to toss one additional guy back to the supply.

At the start of the game, Europe is already "discovered", and so players can claim cities in Europe. All of the other regions start off-limits. Each region has a "shipping" track. Players can claim spaces on the shipping track until the track is filled, and then the cities in that region are available, too. To claim a shipping track, you need one guy for the track space, and one if you use a building action (or not, if you use a chip)

Each region also has a stack of cards (Europe has two). The cards are ordered numerically, 1 to 5. Cards either bump you up on one or more tracks or are worth some number of victory points, or both. To claim a card, you need to a) have as many of your guys in that region as the number of the card (guys on cities and shipping track spaces count), and b) use the card action, which costs one guy on a building that gives that action, or no guys if you toss in a chip with the card action on it.

The top card of each card stack (other than Europe's) is a special card given for free to the player with the most number of claimed spaces on the shipping track when the tracked is finally filled (if tied, the player who most recently claimed a space on that track).

At the end of each round, you toss down to the number of cards you can keep. You lose any bumps you gained this way in the process. The cards get put back on top of the stacks from which they came, which covers over the better cards that are there. Since cards from stacks must be acquired top down, this can be annoying to whomever was planning to get the better card you just covered over.

At the end of the game, each city is worth a point (some are worth two), and each connection you control is also worth a point. Your progression on the stack is worth one point for each space of progress (except not exactly: you get dinged some points here and there), and you add any points on cards you managed to retain.

That's it. It's a very nice game, and lives up to the "many paths to victory" ideal. It's definitely hard to know what tracks are best on first play, though early cards seem to be a good choice. Keeping cities is difficult, since other players can pretty much kick you out of them at any time. So whomever wastes the most amount of time on them wins out there. Each track is limited to 15 points, so you also have to worry, should you be blessed enough to get to the end of a track, that some progressions are not worth anything to you anymore.

The game is fairly quick. In the first three or four rounds, you don't get many actions, so they pass quickly. Only in the last two or three rounds do players have many actions, but you already feel a bit like you're in the endgame.

There are three glaring downsides. The first is that the game tends to paralysis, as you're stuck in situations, where anything you do gives you 1 point and the people following you several points. The only way around that is if you have managed to get the buildings that give you multiple actions simultaneously. Otherwise you're screwed and it's not enjoyable.

The second is that there are several unnecessary complicating mechanics that don't seem to have much point: some cards are slave cards. Slave cards and the bonus cards you get for first opening a region both have special rules about how many you can keep. The victory points on the tracks are unevenly distributed until you get to at least ten. And similar things just seem to unnecessarily complicate the game. I'm sure the playtesting required these changes for balance, but they're annoying.

The third is the "player on the left" syndrome. A bad player can easily hand the game to the player on his left, and any player can gang up on another player, which introduces a king-making problem.

And lastly, there seem to be a whole lot of little pieces in this game compared to other games of the same weight.

Otherwise, a nice Eurogame with heaps of mechanics from other games, but freshly arranged.
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Maarten D. de Jong
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Shade_Jon wrote:
There are three glaring downsides. The first is that the game tends to paralysis, as you're stuck in situations, where anything you do gives you 1 point and the people following you several points. The only way around that is if you have managed to get the buildings that give you multiple actions simultaneously. Otherwise you're screwed and it's not enjoyable.

This 'glaring downside' is not asymmetrical in nature, and will affect everyone sooner or later. In other words, there is nothing the game which singles out a specific player to be on the 'donating side' of things all the time.

Quote:
The second is that there are several unnecessary complicating mechanics that don't seem to have much point: some cards are slave cards. Slave cards and the bonus cards you get for first opening a region both have special rules about how many you can keep.

This is a strange remark, in my opinion. Slave cards are decidedly better than non-slave cards, and thus allow for a more rapid development. But they come at a price: namely minus points if you discard them (they are not returned to the draw stacks), and the risk that you are forced by someone else to discard all of them, setting you back considerably.

Quote:
The victory points on the tracks are unevenly distributed until you get to at least ten.

I don't follow how it complicates the game. The tracks are already discrete in nature given how improvements of the actions themselves function. You get points for your level of development; and when the action itself is at its most powerful, you simply get more points. It's completely analogous to, for example, an experience/player level system found in many RPGs.

Quote:
And similar things just seem to unnecessarily complicate the game.

Such as?

Quote:
I'm sure the playtesting required these changes for balance, but they're annoying.

I'm sure you don't mean that every game should have fixed 1:1 or at most 1:n resource-to-VP ratios, or that giving players a choice as to how they want to proceed in their development (fast with risks, or slow without risks) is a bad thing.

Quote:
The third is the "player on the left" syndrome. A bad player can easily hand the game to the player on his left, and any player can gang up on another player, which introduces a king-making problem.

Any game without alternating player order is sensitive to the 'n00b on the left' problem. I don't deny its influence in Endeavor, but on the other hand it is a bit of an open door to call it a 'glaring downside'. As for the king maker-problem: this is group-related, not game-related. Most games allow a player to single out another player. Whether the bully is then going to win is another matter; games are usually designed with players playing to win in mind, not playing to annoy.


All in all, I'm not really sure that the 'glaring downsides' are all that glaring.
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Philippe N
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cymric wrote:

Quote:
The victory points on the tracks are unevenly distributed until you get to at least ten.

I don't follow how it complicates the game. The tracks are already discrete in nature given how improvements of the actions themselves function. You get points for your level of development; and when the action itself is at its most powerful, you simply get more points. It's completely analogous to, for example, an experience/player level system found in many RPGs.


Pesonnaly, I see that uneven distribution as an annoyance with no added value. It is yet another point of rules to explain (and re-explain: as new players *will* forget it) before or during the game. And the practical effect of it is that on the last turn, you have to count beans so that you don't end up with track points that do not translate into vicory points. I don't like big slow downs on last turns. It can have a slight interest in the last turn in that you will have to concentrate a bit more on what particular track advances you need and a bit less on hindering other players but all in all, I think this rule is an annoyance.
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Steve Duff
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Phoxtrot wrote:
Pesonnaly, I see that uneven distribution as an annoyance with no added value.


The added value is precisely what you don't like. Moves at the end game can have *huge* effects. Getting that one token can give me 3 extra points. Having to discard that card can cost me 4 or 5 points.

Yes, it can cause you to think a bit on the final turns. This is a *good* thing. Thinking is good. Games that make you think are good.
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Linda Baldwin
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Phoxtrot wrote:
cymric wrote:

Quote:
The victory points on the tracks are unevenly distributed until you get to at least ten.

I don't follow how it complicates the game. The tracks are already discrete in nature given how improvements of the actions themselves function. You get points for your level of development; and when the action itself is at its most powerful, you simply get more points. It's completely analogous to, for example, an experience/player level system found in many RPGs.


Pesonnaly, I see that uneven distribution as an annoyance with no added value. It is yet another point of rules to explain (and re-explain: as new players *will* forget it) before or during the game.


Wow, I've explained this game to many, many people, at home and at conventions. And my first couple of times, I did so rather badly, to be honest. But I've never had an ounce of trouble with people forgetting that rule. I just point out the icons.

I admit that set-up on this one takes a bit of time, but it's not really that fiddly, IMO. The iconography is very straightforward, and there are only four actions and four tracks to understand. There's also
an exceptional player aid here, which gives everyone the necessary rules, plus a display of every building and card in the game, and makes explanation and play a total breeze. (Please thumb/tip if you use it; and no, it's not mine, I'm not that clever.)
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Maarten D. de Jong
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Phoxtrot wrote:
Pesonnaly, I see that uneven distribution as an annoyance with no added value.

As Steve already pointed out; it is precisely the added value you don't like.

Quote:
It is yet another point of rules to explain (and re-explain: as new players *will* forget it) before or during the game.

Terribly sorry, but there are tons of games where tons of ruless will (emphasis 'yours') need re-explaining. It's not fair to single out Endeavor in this respect. It could even be the case that your explanation is lacking here—but having never received an explanation from you, this will have to remain a wild guess on my behalf. However, let me give an example to illustrate.

When I first started explaining Tigris & Euphrates, I would have a dickens of a time explaining the scoring rules: Organise all blocks according to colour, then count their number. Report the number of which you have the least. This number is compared to the reported numbers of other players, and whoever reports the highest number wins the game. You could watch the players screw up their faces while their brains were processing this statement; and I would need at least two or three rehearsals plus a visual demo to make them understand. And then still at the end of the game someone would have forgotten again. Then I switched to the explaination: The purpose of the game is to collect sets of cubes. A set consists of a single cube in each of the four colours. Whoever has the largest number of sets at the end wins the game. People nod briskly, don't need visual confirmation, don't ask after this rule again, and complain bitterly about being held off by another player from completing a set or two.

I'm rather sure that a similar shortcut exists for Endeavor. I also tend to think this is more an issue of graphical design rather than game mechanics. Had the numbers in between levels (1, 3, 5, 6, 8 and 9) not been printed on the boards, or had they been given a much smaller font, then it would have given the players an extra visual hint that there was something special about the remaining values. It would have been even better had the VP symbol been entered into the remaining spaces, but that would have caused the design to become too busy.

Quote:
And the practical effect of it is that on the last turn, you have to count beans so that you don't end up with track points that do not translate into vicory points.

Correct. So that will affect your decisions in a major way.

Quote:
I don't like big slow downs on last turns. It can have a slight interest in the last turn in that you will have to concentrate a bit more on what particular track advances you need and a bit less on hindering other players but all in all, I think this rule is an annoyance.

I'm not begruding you your opinion on slow downs, but consider the situation where the discrete levels were not used, and you would just get the points as indicated on the development tracks.

In the last few turns, when the actions associated with each level of development become less important, the game would become quite same-y. Every chit is a point and sometimes two; and it would matter very little what kind of icons would be on the high-numbered cards. Everyone would in fact want cards because their VP-to-action ratio is much higher than anything else; likewise giving up any card lowering the amount of cards held on the development board would be a major nono. Unfortunately, players would not be enticed to draw cards from the decks because every card further down is worth more to every player than the card on top. You're giving away points and getting almost nothing in return. So you would take measures to prevent people from digging to deep: jointly-undertaken shipment (as shipment tokens cannot be eliminated and count towards the colony total), but especially war. Since there is no building involving war plus another action (especially colonisation), the game would just grind to an annoying halt. You can't immediately reap the benefits of kicking someone out; you don't want to reveal too valuable a card which is likely to be replaced by a worthless one; and just using up tokens in a tit-for-tat fashion is a waste of action potential. But neither can you withdraw from this pointless exercise lest you lose too much teritory claimed in earlier rounds. Endeavor would be a vastly different game, with a completely different balance, possibly not even with the same development tracks, buildings, cards, and distribution of network nodes.

Contrast to the current ruleset: a card with certain set of icons may be worth more to one player than it is to another precisely because of the discrete point levels. This keeps the players' development paths separate for a longer amount of time, and means a player can risk revealing a card with more icons simply because there are fewer players who are interested, even if the overall goal of everyone at this stage is hoarding points. (By the way: this is why I think instead of the stupid 10 and 50 VP scoring chits we should have gotten a sheet of paper detailing the distribution of the cards in the draw stacks. It is imperative that you know what is in each draw stack lest you make a serious development error in the early game.) It also means there is less chance of one strategy becoming too dominant—a natural consequence of having four separate development tracks whose point values vary from player to player.

So you'll understand me when I say that I completely disagree with your assessment that the discreteness in Endeavor adds no value. It is, amongst a few other things, what makes Endeavor Endeavor. You are of course at complete liberty to consider it a complex nuisance: your tastes in games are different from mine, as they should be. But no value tells me that you don't fully understand why the discrete levels are a Good Thing in this game—and that is something that can be reasonably objectively be established; in other words, does not depend on you liking or disliking it.
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