I thought it was just a dream. Echoes of dramatic expedition, that is already in the past. But I still can not wake up from that dream, no matter what I do. I’m back here on the inhospitable islands and wherever I go, I have to worry for my life. Whether I believe this or not, I have to take care of myself quickly or it will not end well.
When 7th Continent game appeared on Kickstarter for the first time and asked fans of board games for support, no one knew it. And its designers, Ludovic Roudy and Bruno Sautter, have only gained respect of few gamers thanks to an interesting 8 Master’s Revenge fighter. But campaign in 2015 has been tremendously successful and more than a million euro has been invested by the players.
There was a lot of delay with publishing of the game. So eventually, final box with the game saw the light of the world in the autumn of 2017 along with campaign for an expansion. It was on this occasion, that we took advantage of, and got the basic game box. Subsequent Kickstarter was incredibly successful with seven million collected! In the autumn of 2018, we will have something to look forward to in the form of a white expanding box! But now, let’s take a look on the basic game.
Within an enormous and extremely heavy box with a skull on the lid, you can find an incredible amount of square cards. Most cards are numbered on the back and players have sort them into cardboard supply bins, after they have been unpacked. Cards are numbered from zero (000) and their values go up to seven hundred. Some numbers are missing, others are present in many copies. Their content should be a mystery to you.
Players, on the other hand, can look on action cards with a blue back side. They will sort out advanced actions, that are not used from the start and can be bought along their adventure. Others action cards belong to each character. And now its the right time, when every player should choose his hero, among which is also my favorite Frankenstein. Depending on the chosen hero, everyone gets his portrait, figurine and fire token. Set of action cards belonging to all chosen heroes is shuffled with basic cards to prepare the energy deck of the entire player group.
Last choice is the most important for all players together. They choose curse, they will stand against. At the same time, it will determine nature of the adventure. There are a total four curses in the base box and other three available in the expansion packs. Authors offer recommended order, in which Voracious Goddess clearly dominates as the first adventure. With the selected curse, players will get to start somewhere on the map by placing start terrain card with the corresponding number on the back on the table and read the introductory story.
Since then, team of players (usually one to two) has a large variety of actions to choose from. Basic and the main one is exploration. Immediately after playing a new terrain card, players will notice, that they have a Roman numeral arrow pointing out of the card. These positions must be filled immediately with event cards with the same number. There are always lots of cards with the same number available in the drawing stack and players can randomly pick one of them. This brings unexpected encounters they will have to deal with.
Each event will require players to react and pass the test. They can improve chances by using items from their inventory, but they only work on some of the wide range of activities. In all situations, players will try to get enough successes, that is, stars. Each test comes with two assignment numbers – the minimum number of cards to draw from energy deck and number of stars, that players must find to be successful. Some cards have half-stars that can be linked to others on other cards and create a full success. Players have the option of taking a minimum number of cards or increasing their number arbitrarily. This means, that the action will use up more stamina, but it comes with it a lower risk of failure (more cards = probably more stars). However, some actions are locked and can not be simplified at the expense of energy.
In addition, energy deck is one-way and formed by action cards. Whenever a player reveals some cards, he puts them in a pile of exhaustion. Gradually, all of the forty cards are moved (number from the beginning) and as they move, the group of heroes gets more and more tired. If the energy deck ever gets empty, heroes are in fatal danger. Somewhere among these action cards, there are also some curse cards, that are shuffled at the beginning of the adventure and there is no way to distinguish them in advance. Fully exhausted heroes will start drawing from exhaustion (discard) pile and if they draw a curse, it’s the end of the adventure. Game over.
This does not seem to be a major problem, but adventures in the 7th Continent can drag for many hours. But we are getting ahead of ourselves here. Back to the game, where players can still live. Once they have used their energy cards, even for normal movement, one of the players can keep one of revealed cards and add it to his hand. In order to use the item, he must again use up some energy to build it from the raw materials needed. There is a limit for both the cards in hand and number of items in the inventory. Second limit can be partially improved by combining items into stacks. However, each tool has a limited number of uses denoted by a dice and while combined, you always lose one use for all items together.
Great part of their time and energy, heroes will be set on to discover the vast continent. It is made up of adjacent terrain cards, which together create a top view of the entire map of the seventh continent and its surrounding islands. They are linked by numbers, that do not engage in any sort of order, but are numbered quite accidentally, so you do not discovere its mysteries too soon.
The only way to get the energy back is by eating. And what other means to get food in wilderness, than hunting. Whether the heroes eat it raw or cook it on fire, they can always return some cards from the pile of exhaustion back to energy deck and shuffle them.
Heroes can only be exploring for a limited time in one go. Even the shorter curses have stories for several hours (it took us 25 hours to finish the first curse!), which can not be done in one evening. Therefore, game offers a great storage mechanism, that is really fast. Collapse and setup is a matter of a moment. We will not say much about the victory and loss is clear. The death of the heroes simply ends whole adventure and you can start from the beginning.
7th Continent is a game, that is almost unparalleled in the current market from an ambitious point of view. Yes, there are still few similar games like Gloomhaven, which has currently become #1 on BoardGameGeek. But today, our goal is not to compare. 7th Continent is offering a comprehensive story, that will take you a few weeks to play, which is a huge project. And the more respect it means to the way, in which authors have succeeded in making it reality.
This game is primarily a stunning adventure. If you like discovering an unknown map, then you should not read on, but just start looking for a copy of this box. Whole thing is quite complicated in the text, but in reality, gameplay of the 7th Continent is really very intuitive. Ideally, you should play in two, so you can share your experiences with someone. But even playing solo might be fun for loners out there.
But the game also contains a number of other rules. For example, small numbers are printed on the cards, giving you some advantage, when you find them. But they are not mandatory. This is why a magnifying glass is in the box. Over time, players can improve their heroes, deck and add new action cards to their energy deck. Only during the gameplay will you start to learn a lot of interesting things, that we have intentionally concealed from you in description, so you can enjoy your visit to the seventh continent to the max.
And then there are shortcomings. The first is of course accessibility, because only those who have successfully supported it in the initial campaign have it. Yet it can be auctioned, because many will want to sell it after finishing all curses. The most important issue for us was the fact, that even storage and setup of the game is quick, you still have to put the cards back in and based on their numbers. And that’s a pretty tedious task to do after every game.
Such a large game can not defend itself from controversy. Here are two moments, that the 7th Continent has stirred the water with. The first is inventory, that allows illogical combining of any items, that then lose their durability, when combined together. This solution is probably the only one, that acts really non-thematically and certainly deserves some reimagining.
Many players, however, perceive primarily the so-called saving mechanic as flawed. Whenever you end up with one game, you pack all the terrain cards back into the binders and next time you start on terrain card, where you last camped (ended). This means, that you know what awaits you, when you go in some direction, but first you have to explore and deal with random events again to get there. But that corresponds perfectly to the atmosphere of the game and even to reality, because as heroes slept the night, situation around them changed. They can meet pitfalls, that were not there yesterday, which we think is great and adds tension and thematic to the game. But we understand, that someone can see rediscovering locations tiresome.
There is, of course, question of price and replayability. But when you take into account the amount of hours the game offers for one playthrough, price / performance ratio is certainly very good. You will not repeat curses, of course, because you will have all the necessary knowledge for their completion and their solution is no longer a challenge for you. This is not the case, of course, if you die. Here, on the contrary, you will want to learn from mistakes and do better in the same curse.
Adventures on the seventh continent will be expanded and thus enclosed with some new curses. There was a new second campaign with new stretch goals. After all, there is a final curse, called Armageddon! The authors themselves, however, have indicated in the interviews, that we do not have to say goodbye to the mechanism of story-telling. We will meet again, just in another environment and maybe with a completely different theme (sci-fi?). But that’s just speculation that will only be reversed or confirmed after months.
Length of each game is only up to the players and it is recommended somewhere around two hours to get wrap the map out. The individual curses differ considerably in length from one another as well as difficulty, so after the first one, some of the following do not feel so bad and end “only” within a few hours.
The 7th Continent campaign is irreversibly gone and, according to the author’s words, the box will not be available at the store shelves right now. They themselves justify an unbearable cost of production, which would be reflected in the classic retail costs. But that does not prevent us from further spreading its glory.
In 7th Continent, it’s all about survival. You will get the staming from meat, that you then spend to explore the world around. An absolutely vital role is played by hunting, which has to be done regularly. And you get a lot of truly real and memorable experiences. With the 7th Continent game, you’re discovering the real magic of board games!
You can even now do a late pledge! So don’t hesitate no more!
+ stunning adventure
+ length of curses
+ lots of action options
+ players are in control of their story
+ doing tests with card reveal
+ famed gameplay that will make you come back to the world
+ storage system
- you will not play the curse again
- strange inventory mechanism
- can not be found in the store
- saving forces you to explore again (question of taste - atmosphere versus practicality)
- saving needs returning cards