Saturday, January 11, 2014

Fortune and Glory: The Cliffhanger Game (Board Game Review)

Reviewed by Sean Ferguson
FANG_BoxCoverIt is the late 1930s and the world is in turmoil.  Humanity is on the brink of war as imperialist nations in the Far East and Europe work aggressively to expand their domination.  The Nazis have taken control of Germany and now spread darkness across the globe in their hunt for powerful occult artifacts that can give them the upper hand in the days to come.  But the spirit of adventure and freedom won’t be stamped out so easily.  Heroic adventurers from around the world answer the call, racing against time to hunt down ancient artifacts, explore deadly temples, and fight back the powers of darkness from engulfing the world.  It is a race of good versus evil and only a cunning and agile explorer can claim the ultimate prize of… Fortune and Glory!   Fortune and Glory, The Cliffhanger Game is a fast-paced game of high adventure, vile Villains, edge-of-your-seat danger, and Cliffhanger pulp Movie Action.  Players travel the globe in search of ancient artifacts, fending off danger and Villains at every turn in a quest for ultimate reward.  So strap on your adventure boots and goggles, fire up the engines on the seaplane, and grab some extra ammo for your revolver – the Nazis already have a head start and in this race for Fortune and Glory, there’s no prize for second place!



As my assistant Sam and I made our way through the jungles in The Heart of Africa and having already battled local natives, it started to dawn on me that finding the fabled Orb of the Dead was going to be a lot harder than I thought.  We had already survived stowing away on a Nazi Zeppelin but as we journeyed into the darkened cave where the Orb was rumored to be hidden, my anxiety grew as we came across an ancient trap covered in dust.  Calling upon all of the lore that I’d learned over the years, I attempt to bypass the trap only to discover than in my excitement I must have deciphered the ancient hieroglyphic symbols wrong.  Out of nowhere, a swarm of poisoned darts flys towards Sam and me.  I drop to my stomach and they fly over me, but Sam isn’t as quick and he is struck by a wave of darts.
A second volley races towards me but I manage to dive and roll out of the way as they whizz past me.   When no further darts appear to be in the offing, I make my way to Sam to help him, but by the time I reach him I realize it’s too late to save him.  His body is twitching to and fro and with a with a violent bloody gurgle he finally dies.  It’s a shame because good help is hard to find these days, but I’m here for a reason and I continue down the tunnel.  Ahead of me is a giant pool of murky water with a small island in the middle of it.  On the island, I can see a pedestal with a glowing object resting on it.  It has to be the Orb of the Dead! Throwing caution to the wind, I decide that some underwater diving is what’s needed, so I dive into the cold water determined to reach the Orb. My confidence is shaken when I feel something grab my leg and begins to drag me deeper into the depths.  I spin around to discover that a giant squid has wrapped one of its slimy tentacles around my leg and is drawing me towards its beak like mouth.  Quickly running out of breath, I draw my sword ready to fight off the beast…
And so goes a typical turn in Fortune and Glory, the pulp adventure game from Flying Frog Games. The point of the game is to hunt down various ancient artifacts that are hidden around the globe and to gain enough fortune to win the game.  To do so, they will have to overcome dangers and enemies that range from the Nazis to the Chicago Mob and if they are playing competitively, other players as well.  The game encourages you to get into the spirit of things as your adventures take you across the world through Adventure Cards, Cliffhangers, and artifacts.  Soon, you’ll feel like Indiana Jones as you journey into deserts, jungles, and more on the search for hidden relics of power.  Flying Frog has also included a soundtrack (which I wish more games thought of) to help get you into the mood.
Let’s talk about the game itself.  This is a massive game that took pretty much two card tables to hold the playing board and the various card decks, tokens, coins, and the character cards.  The game is gorgeous looking and I loved all of the detail that has been lavished on the design but that quality comes at a fairly high expense since it costs around $70-$100 for the game.  The cards are high quality (although a little sticky at first) and the game pieces which total one hundred and sixty-five, are also very high quality.  The character models are detailed, but some of them were still hard to figure out who they were and I would have preferred if they had been painted or had been pewter instead of plastic.  I also would have preferred if the character artwork would have been illustrated by someone like Drew Struzan instead of actual photographs of people dressed up in costumes.  If that had been done, I think it really would have made this game even better which is no mean feat as it’s already very cool.
If you are playing the Competitive Game, every player races against each other to find the artifacts until they have fifteen fortune which would allow them to win.  The Cooperative Game is a lot different since all of the heroes work together to defeat a Vile Organization such as the Nazis or the Mob which is controlled by the game itself.  Heroes can team up to raid enemy bases to steal back artifacts or to help each other out with their cards.  Teams can also fight each other which I think would be a lot of fun and the game mode I’m planning to try next.  There’s even a solo mode that you can play if you grow tired of waiting for others to join you.
Deciding which mode to play is just the beginning as you still need to learn how to play the game and figuring out the game takes some time.  I won’t kid you, the set up for this game takes awhile to prepare and the rules, while not hard to understand, do take some time to get used to which will turn some people off.  As an example, I played the game with my parents, a friend, and my wife and their patience with learning the game varied.  The game includes a thick rule-book and a quick start guide as well.  My friend and I each took a rule-book which helped speed up the rounds.  Even doing that, the game took about four hours to complete from set up to the end which is a lot longer than the ninety to one hundred and eighty minutes that it’s supposed to.  After several rounds we started to speed up so I’m sure with each game, the game time will grow shorter and shorter as we get more proficient.  I think that if Flying Frog created a game-play video that they could include in the game or offer on their website that it would be a quicker and easier way to learn the game.
playing pieces
The game-play begins with a roll for initiative and then every player is given the chance to do their movement phase.  They roll one d6 to see who goes first and then the winner rolls again.  If they roll a one then they draw an event card which will trigger some kind of fun action where the player can either benefit from it or must overcome a challenge.  After everyone finishes their movement, it turns into the adventure round where each player tries to win fortune and glory by defeating villains or dangers in their pursuit of the artifacts.  How it works is that you draw a danger card and it will have a challenge for you to beat through an attribute such as cunning or agility or through fighting whatever it is.  You roll dice against your skill and for your opponent.  If you succeed, you win some glory but if you lose then it automatically turns into a cliffhanger which is one of the brilliant innovations of the game.  If it becomes a cliffhanger, then you must naturally wait until your next turn before you can try to survive it.  If you do, then  you continue on, but if you fail then you will lose your progress and roll to see how much you lose (which you can choose between Gear, Allies, Glory or Fortune) before being sent back to your home city.
While Fortune helps you win the game, Glory can heal you and buy Gear (which can really make a difference) and Allies.  If the player manages to obtain an artifact they can sell them in cities which will garner them Fortune.  Although the game is largely influenced by Indiana Jones and other pulp  properties, in this aspect it veers away from Dr. Jones’ belief that artifacts “belong in a museum!” Of course, I have to admit that throughout the game I quoted lines from the Indiana Jones movies, but that’s a given when it’s a game like this.  That aspect is also what helps some players enjoy the game more than others.  For my friend and me, we loved the constant thrills that the danger and cliffhangers brought us while my parents and wife didn’t get into the spirit of the game.
Even though the game isn’t billed as a role-playing game, the very nature of it lends itself to acting out your role.  Part of the fun is coming up with your own back-story that ties your cliffhangers together which all come together to form an epic adventure.  YOUR adventure.  And that’s a big part of why this game is so fun.  I just found out that they’ve already release some expansion packs for the game including: Fortune and Glory: Danger Pack 1 Supplement, Fortune and Glory: Rise of the Crimson Hand, and Fortune and Glory: Treasure Hunters.  If you love pulp adventures and want to have some two-fisted fun of your own as you take on Nazis and the mob, then you should pick up this ambitious and really fun game!
Order your copy today!

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