Harvey O'Brien
Ireland
Dublin
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First playthrough. Probably packed with errors.

The Adventure

It's probably simplest to work backwards. Jake finished up with 11 fortune, while Herr Teufel and Colonel Stahl were whooping it up with six artifacts and heaps of evil buffs attached to them as they hit 20 VPs. The Nazis had occupied the Homelands (that's three cities), among other places, had four outposts, and the Zeppelin was wreaking havoc with plenty of completed journeys and dropped off soldiers. There were, in fact, so many Nazi soldiers on the board that Herr Teufel got only one bodyguard on his last search (which was a leisurely affair, given Colonel Stahl was about to bring home The Amulet of the Sacred Stone for the final villain vps anyway).

Jake managed to claim two artifacts, one in a major city. One of them, The Sword of the Azure Jewel, was acquired in Persia relatively early on, then sold in Hong Kong for the bonus fortune. The other, The Shield of the Golden Sun, sunk in the murk of the Bayou, came with a debuff to his already pathetic cunning ability (-1 to cunning - character cunning 2, and, guess what? - dangers involving cunning - specifically that damn night club singer, dragging him twice (TWICE, mind) into running gun battles with mobsters. By the the bedraggled time Jake managed to stagger smelly and bruised into New Orleans to sell the shield for another five fortune, the Nazis were already all over the place. His plan was to head into Mexico to attack a Nazi outpost and try to snatch an artifact from them, but a horrible snake eyes roll followed by a rotten roll on the event card that might have killed Herr Teufel if it hadn't been a one (okay, it needed to be a six, but hey, that's the other side of one) left him stranded in the American southwest, with occupied Homelands to the North and Teufel and his lone bodyguard hunting The Ring of Dark Fire in Mexico. Stahl was taking quite a beating on the wounds front (his debuff is pretty harsh - he takes hits on 1 or 2), but he had his two bodyguards for extra wounds and also the Forbidden Knowledge event card for another +2, making the eight wounds he was carrying nothing much more than a flesh wound.

Jake actually started out his adventure eschewing movement for a city encounter, which was a lively car chase that produced glory that could be spent, because of his character ability, in lieu of fortune to fly between cities. It was this that made moving to Persia, where the Sword of the Azure Jewel was, nice and easy. Later in the game though, movement became something of a trial. The delightfully tempting Armour of the Pale Moon (7 fortune, 2 danger) was way up in Scandinavia while Jake was dodging bullets in Bayou Nightclubs, having targeted the stupid Shield before the Armour came out. The Cliffhangers are great for bonus glory, but they slow you down big time, and with the villains happily adventuring while you await your fate on the next turn, the good stuff can get grabbed very quickly.

Jake managed to acquire two allies, a driver and a butler, and had just acquired a rifle in New Orleans with half an idea he might take out Teufel before he could grab the artifact (though raiding the outpost was a better plan), but all-in-all the buffs weren't instrumental in improving Jake's game. Dice hate me, as my group will attest, and poor old Jake needed more than a few more dice to save him.

Impressions

I may have a shot at an actual review after a few more plays. In summary though, this is a beautiful beast dripping with theme that has quite a few things happening that you need to keep checking the rulebook to know how to execute them. It's not deep, now (it all amounts to rolling dice and checking results), but it's not so feather-light that it's an instant winner for me like Conquest of Planet Earth was. I want to give it a few more runs soon though. I just noticed scanning the other reports here that I forgot about the exertion rule as well, which might have made a difference a few times, but really, it was my lousy dice rolling that hurt the most in the end. Yes, the decision to go after the artifact that had a debuff particuarly bad for this character could count as bad strategy, but given Teufel and Stahl were hogging the best stuff, I thought maybe grabbing that one would be less risky. Ah, well.
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