Every adventure is different. Sometimes you go just into the woods behind your house and you instantly meet an angry basilisk. And sometimes you may not find any giant or a stone man, even if you go directly to their lair in the mountains. This is because the monsters are moving from their dimension at random. Sometimes you have nothing to fight for days and sometimes you do not know where to jump, when you are trying to protect your wards.
You are a knight. And this is your duty. To beat up all the monsters, that could threaten the peaceful life of the inhabitants of your village and its surroundings. Mountains, forests, meadows, marshes, all these places are your district, where you stand fearlessly against dangerous monsters. Take a deep breath, here they come!
There is never enough of adventure games with a good theme, where you are going through the landscape and beat monsters. Little and also big boys like to play such games. And in this new family game from Minion Games called Venture Forth, the travel is on. You find yourself in the role of travelers, who like all sorts of obstacles. Dan Manfredini is the author of this board game and it is a novelty for year 2012. Illustration were by James Denton.
When you lift the lid of Venture Forth, on which there are two adventurous images, you might be a little disappointed at first sight with a number of included components. Below the lid, there is a board hiding, and few wooden pieces (squares, small tokens and pawns) – all in four player colors. On top of that, there are white and black cubes, that will serve to monitor will and misery of travelers.
Game board incorporates a simple graphic representing some fantastic world. The main areas of the plan are temples, in which the heroes can heal and stay safe, before they set off on a dangerous journey. Each path between the temples contains a few spots, where you can be ambushed by a monster. These squares are meant for the placement of cards and have different colors. When you take game board into your hands, you will probably notice, that its double-sided and thus offers two different experiences – one side is easier, while the second more difficult.
And when we talked about the purpose of board is for the deployment of cards, it is clear, that cards are the component, which is missing in our list. And there is really quite a pile of cards in Venture Forth. That is the thing, that will make up for the emptiness from the first glimpse inside the box. The cards are half the size than normal and resemble those from World of Warcraft: Board Game (review).
In this game package, you will find several kinds of cards easily distinguishable by the back side – encounter cards containing monsters and heroes, then the treasure package with a blue background and the last cards type is an important levels package. These skills will enhance your heroes to level up and will remind you of deckbuilding game Thunderstone: Advance (review).
The last thing to close the list of items are round survey tokens, which represent the only pieces made of cardboard in this game. The rules of Venture Forth are simple and clearly written on a few pages. You should basically had enough description in our review, that you can begin to play.
Preparation of Venture Forth is simple and fast. At the beginning of the match, you should shuffle a deck of encounter cards and give each player six of them. Players look at these cards and they should have some hero card beneath them, which can be easily identified by the written text in box at the bottom of the card. If you happen to have only one (or even none) of heroes to choose from, you can draw a new six cards and shuffle the encounter deck afterwards.
The player selects one of the heroes in his hand and puts the card in front of himself on the table. He takes also a card for this hero indicating his actual level (1) and puts it under the character. On this card, you can see the drawing with requirements, which the hero must meet in order to fill his dream and proceed to the next level or gain prestige for you. In addition to the board, all wooden pieces are placed next to the board to form a supply. Each player is dealt four pennies minus the power of his one hero (listed in the top right corner of the card). This way, the game is dealing with the possibility, that someone else gets stronger or weaker hero card.
Now all that remains before starting the game, is that each player choses a round figure and token of this color. While the chip must everyone put on the field with zero on victory track, the pawn will mark the place, where their party (currently containing only one hero) starts. It can be on any of the temples on the board. Game is now ready and the players can go to live an adventure.
Prior to our game, we will go back and look at the hero card. The number in the upper left corner shows price and after buying also the strength of the hero. Text area (monsters do not have these) on the card consists of two parts – a bold headline, which describes the specific character ambition, which he is trying to accomplish by fighting creatures. And underneath, with smaller letters lies a written description, how these ambitions can be achieved and his dream fulfilled. When something like this happens, you can do one of two events on the card given to its current level. You can either get victory points or you can raise hero level, if you have enough cubes of will on him. These cubes are obtained via travelling and resting at temples.
And now we finally get to play, that is for us a way to fulfill dreams of our heroic guys. This is the main motivation and purpose of the game. To achieve these ambitions (and more than once), players can perform one of four actions in their turn. And we will discuss them now.
We start traditionally with the simpler actions, which are regrouping and performing sacrifice in the temple. Command with the name Regroup allows players to discard any number of cards from their hand (any number from one to five, which is their hand throughout the game) and in return draw from the pile new ones. In the temple players can use special abilities of these places, if they stop there for a while. Usually the sacrifice is made by coin from your pocket. For it, you will receive money or victory points. This concludes your turn. That is, why you will perform this action, when you wait for something, or when you are resting, or if you do not have a choice and you want to get some of those will cubes without a fight.
A very important action, with which you actually prepare game board, is playing a card from your hand. You can have any card from the encounter deck in your hand, containing heroes and monsters. It’s up to you, which of them you play and where will you put it. But the cards still have several colors, that you have to respect, when playing them. They correspond with their favourite environment – water monsters will want closer to the coast and the like. This playing of adventure cards, you are composing an adventure for yourself and your opponents, because you will be the one, who will travel these roads filled with monsters.
After unloading a monster or hero card, you will get a reward, which is specified at the place, which you used. It can be for example a coin or white will cube. It is important, that while you take the coin into your pocket, the will cubes are put straight to one of your heroes (any of them, depending on your choice). You can use them later on. At the end of this action, you draw one new card from the deck to replace the one you laid out and thus your turn ends.
But the most important and most complex actions is the venturing forth. This action is the one, which got the game a title. When you use it, you must first choose a neighboring field, where would you like to move your hero from his current position. Warriors are brave in this game, so they do not go fundamentally on a route, which is not full of danger. So you can wander only through roads, whose all fields are filled with cards.
The path usually consists of two or three hexagons, where the cards lie. Your hero must go through all of them in one turn and get to the other side to his target. He can meet not only monsters, but also the heroes, which can engage in his parte, on the way. Each player can have up to a total of five characters in his party at one moment. When you arrive at the location, where a hero card is present, and you wish to add him to your ranks, then you must pay gold into the pot according to the strength of this character. You put it in front of you and add it a level 1 card to it. This is the level, on which the warrior will start.
But you can also skip the hiring and let the hero on the game board. This does not apply to a situation, when you encounter a monster. You must fight it to your last breath. If the sum of the forces of adventurers in the player’s party is at least as high, as the strength of monster, the player won the battle and can move further forward. In situations, when power of party is not high enough, players can expect a loss. Each of the monster has its desires drawn in the upper right corner – some creatures will crave for will, others for victory coins. Worst are those monsters, who add a black cube of despair to one of your heroes. Same as with the will, also here you can desice, which of the heroes will get it.
In battle, players can temporarily increase strength of their heroes. But they must use one of their valuable will cubes, which must be in possession of the given hero. If a player sacrifices the will cube, the hero’s power will double temporarily (for this battle).
In both situations (hiring or the fight), heroes can meet their ambition and add some victory points to their owners. They even might move to the next level, if they have enough of will cubes on them. There are several different rewards, which can player get. But every time, he must meet his hero ambition again and again to trigger it.
On their way, in addition to monsters, heroes can find randomly distributed tokens, which can they get in addition to the classic coins or cubes. In this situation, the player can from time to time discover a hidden artefact. He could draw the top three cards from the treasure deck now, and keep one for himself. He puts the other two back. Player can either use it and take advantage of its powerful ability once (which destroys the card), or keep it until the end of the game and get victory points for it.
In some places on the game board (more precisely on seven spots on the simpler side of the board) are in addition to gains from playing card there, drawn also brown silhouettes of explorer token. This means, that the player, who plays a card there, can take one of exploring tokens and put it on an empty round spot on the board. This way, the game is drawing closer to an ending.
Once you run out of these explorer tokens in stock (there are 22 of them), there comes the end. Players have their points gathered during the game for fulfilling their heroes ambitions. Now they count additional points for found treasures, will cubes and money. In addition, for each cube of black despair on heroes, his owner loses three points. Who has the highest amount of points after this action becomes the best explorer and the winner.
Venture Forth is game, which precisely fits into the popular adventure game categors. Players travel around the world with their heroes, fight monsters and improve their warriors for battle victories. This alone is a very good supporting mechanism, which will keep entertained about every player with a little adventurous heart. This game adds a very interesting ambition mechanic, which your heroes need to meet to level up or gain victory points for you. According to their goals, you have to choose paths, which will lead the warriors to their dreams coming true. At the same time, however, should your keep in mind, that there are powerful monsters waiting for you on your trips.
Because the players are preparing the routes for themselves with card playing, so they can not only play a card, which suits them, but also block an opponent or get him to an unpleasant situation. Interestingly, the players can only pass on the roads, which are full of cards. No empty spots. This prevents constant travelling between the temples, where players could easily obtain the rewards for a little down payment. Playing of new cards on the board is also motivated by rewards, that are drawn on its surface.
Experience is replaced by cubes of will in this game. You do not acquire them directly for defeating monsters, but for playing cards and possibly sacrifices in the temple. This actually creates the exact experience, which really corresponds to use of the hero will to fight. Will cubes are owned directly by individual heroes, and just through its use, they can become better fighters.
Heroes can bring despair on them, when they lose against some powerful monsters. These dark cubes are hard to put away. But luckily they do not prevent you from levelling up, their presence will only cost you three victory points in the end.
Sometimes we felt like there is more heroes in the deck, that is needed for two-player game, when compared to the number of monsters. The maximum number is ideal for game of four, who can put together up to twenty characters in play. In two, however, you need roughly ten of them and you would hardly wait longer, if your favorite one pops out of the drawing encounter deck. Perhaps it might be a good solution (even for variability) in a two player game lower the hero number a little.
If you choose a Venture Forth action, you have to walk the entire route between your original location and the destination. The route can be up to three cards long and makes the players turns to stretch. This then leads to unpleasant waiting for other players. Fortunately, this situation does not occur every move, yet it is a small flaw in the design of the game, which cannot be simply avoided.
Venture Forth graphics can be divided into two parts: the game board is very simple with colored blocks and you will not find any complicated illustrations on it. That may be good as this makes the board clear. Conversely cards have nice pictures of various monsters and hero’s on them. For each of the heroes, his ambitions really corresponds to a profession, which he originally has.
Venture Forth is an adventure game, which contains an interesting ideas and will certainly not disappoint you. It is not exceptional board game in any way, but if you like tension and fighting monsters, it is definitely worth your attention. Build your party, do not wait a second and venture forth!
+ adventure game
+ lots of variable enemies
+ lucid game board
+ you prepare your adventures alone by playing cards
+ nice illustrations
+ original ambition mechanic
+ three hero levels, payed for by will
- in fewer players maybe too much heroes
- player turn might drag when venturing