It’s birthday week here at spalanz.com! Who knew I’d still be posting junk twelve months on? Today is particularly special, as it marks the first day of my second year of blogging, so what better way to celebrate than with a game day post about a truly epic adventure board game? What better way, indeed!
So today, I’m looking at Fortune & Glory, from Flying Frog Productions, the same folks who brought us A Touch of Evil, and Shadows of Brimstone! The eagle-eyed among you might be scratching your head, wondering about the week’s theme I mentioned yesterday – well, all will be abundantly clear in short order, trust me!
There is so much to this game that I don’t really know where to begin! But let’s try with the board:
When your game board is a map of the world, you know you’re in for some truly awesome times! Unlike Eldritch Horror, the world is split up into spaces that cover general areas, some of which are countries – like Germany or Britain – and some are areas, like Congo Jungle and Yucatan. As is common with all FFP games, the production quality and theme is extremely strong, and even these area names are highly suggestive of adventure!
You play an intrepid adventurer in the game, seeking to amass enough Fortune to win the game. There are two distinct variants of gameplay out of the box: competetive and cooperative. In the former, you are competing against your fellow gamers to amass said Fortune, while in the latter you are competing against the game itself – in the form of Vile Organizations. A third variant is possible, which includes these villains in the competitive game. As a thematic gamer at heart, and also a solo gamer through circumstance, I heartily enjoy the cooperative game, and have had many hours of enjoyment from it as a truly immersive experience, so this will be the format that I’m going to use for this blog, anyway!
Your hero sheet has all the usual info on it, the skills and abilities you have, as well as your home city. There is a variant that requires you to make it back home to win the game, but in a normal game you only return back once you’ve been knocked out. Like the heroes, the villains also have a record sheet, as well as a tactics chart to help automate them.
The base game comes with both The Mob and The Nazis, and while I’ve played a few games with the former, the latter are really my go-to Vile Organization, simply because of the theme. I mean, above all else, they have a War Zeppelin that shoots around the board, dropping off soldiers! It’s really a no-brainer!
Heroes are competing against the villains to amass enough Fortune, which is achieved mainly by hunting down various artifacts and selling them off.
Artifacts are generated dynamically each game through the two card types, artifacts (surprisingly!) and adventures. In the examples above, you can make The Mask of the Dead or The Mask of the Crimson Hand! There are four artifacts available to hunt down at any time during the game, with any that are found simply replaced at the end of the turn. Finally, the artifacts, once generated, are located in random Locations (using the Locations deck), and marked with a different-coloured skull token on the board. Should you happen to find an artifact in a Deep Jungle space (a palm tree icon in a red border, such as the Heart of Africa shown above), you gain +2 Fortune when you sell it.
So how do you find these artifacts?
Well, the game uses an Adventure deck of double-sided cards, which have an adventure on the front, and a cliffhanger on the back. In the above example, Jacques Moreau is going after The Mask of the Crimson Hand, which is located in the Heart of Africa. As this is in a Deep Jungle space, he must first roll a die: on the roll of 4, 5 or 6, he has found the artifact and can proceed to the adventure; on a 1, 2 or 3, he is lost in the jungle, and must end his turn. However, he does get to draw an Exploration token, which gives him an extra die to roll to find the artifact next time, increasing the chances of finding it (this continues, with more exploration tokens adding more dice, etc).
Once he has found it, he must overcome a series of Dangers, as denoted by the number on the red shield of the Adventure card – in this case, 4. His first card is Stone Guardians, which requires a Lore test, on which he must roll a 5+ twice – the crosses next to the test denote how many successes are needed (and as you can see, if he were on a desert space, he would need three successes to pass). If the test is passed, Jacques has one of two options: camp down, in which case he gains the Glory shown on the card (3), and his turn ends, or press on, in which case he draws a new adventure card. As the cards are double-sided, they are always shuffled before you draw, and you always draw from the bottom.
As shown above, Jacques scored one success, so he can roll again in order to try and gain that second success. Expansions have since added the mechanic of Deadly Tests, which need to be passed with just one roll. There aren’t many expansions for F&G just now, but I’ll get round to discussing them more at length in later blogs!
Jacques’ next adventure is Underwater Diving, which requires a Cunning test with two successes of 5+. Jacques rolled his three dice, but did not achieve any successes! The test failed, the card is then flipped to the Cliffhanger side, all other adventure cards are discarded, and his turn ends. Next turn, he cannot move until he has attempted to defeat the cliffhanger. During a cliffhanger, the hero has the option of Exerting, which means he or she takes a wound to add an extra die to their pool (though you can’t exert if it would knock you out).
Once you have overcome the required number of dangers, you claim the artifact as your own, and it is replaced in the line-up with a new one. You must then make it to a City space in order to sell it. There are two types of cities, Major (with a gold border and individual artwork) and Minor (with a silver border). You can sell an artifact anywhere, but you gain an extra Fortune for selling in a Major city. However, before you do any of that, you must first encounter the city through the City deck. These are a mixture of good and bad cards, which can heal you or make you encounter villains and the like.
As well as selling your artifacts, you can buy Gear and hire Allies, which can all help in your search for Fortune and Glory! The currency of the game is this glory, which you obtain from overcoming dangers at adventures. For five glory, you can get yourself some handy gear or the services of an ally or sidekick.
Once your turn is over, it’s time for the villains to strike! In the base game, each Vile Organization comes with three Villains, who go out into the world and try to seek artifacts too. Each villain has a Search ability that dictates how many dice they roll (along with the usual combat and health, and special abilities). When a villain searches for an artifact, they throw dice equal to their search skill, and for every 4, 5 or 6 they place a danger marker on the artifact. There have been many times where I’ve seen artifacts disappear before my very eyes by very lucky villain rolls, let me tell you!
There are also villain events, which trigger at the start of their turn, a Secret Base that can potentially spawn more each turn, and the dreaded War Zeppelin! Each villain phase, the Zeppelin moves towards a new random location by drawing a card and rolling a die. If it reaches that location, it drops off a Nazi Soldier before moving on. These enemy henchmen block movement for the heroes, making it that much more difficult to make it across the globe without a fight!
However, heroes can both infiltrate the Zeppelin, destroying it for the turn, and sneak into the Secret Base, destroying it and stealing an artifact from under their very noses! I remember a particularly enjoyable game where Jake Zane kept infiltrating the secret bases to steal artifacts, rather than going after them himself… Wonderful times!
In common with other FFP games, there’s also a Villain Track, which escalates from various effects, notably from villains recovering artifacts. If that track reaches 20 (in the solo/2 player game), the Villains win! However, if you can recover 15 Fortune first, you win! Of course, 15 Fortune isn’t really all that difficult to get if you’re particularly lucky, and in fact with the right cards (particularly Secret Delivery cards from the City deck), you can get to 15 Fortune with ease. Because of this, and the long set-up time due to the amount of components in this game, I tend to keep playing until I grow tired of sitting in the same place, then determine an event (such as destroying the Zeppelin, or defeating a particular villain in combat) to trigger the end game. I’ve had epic 2-hour games in this manner, rather than the half-hour “is that it?” sort of games that often result from stopping the clock as soon as you get 15 Fortune. (In one of those 2-hour extravaganzas, I think my heroes had a collective 43 Fortune, and the villain track was only on 6 or 7…)
I mentioned before how there are many different variants for this game right out of the box, and alongside these are some Advanced elements, such as Temples. These are artifacts that are generated as normal, but are often worth significantly more. When they’re generated, a temple marker is also placed on the board, and a number of Fortune on the card. Each turn, you encounter the danger as usual, and if you’re successful, you place a danger marker plus take one Fortune from the temple. If the number of markers reaches the danger value of the temple, you replace them with a Collapse marker, and roll a die. If you roll a 2+, you’re fine and can press on as normal, but if you don’t, the temple collapses and you need to pass the escape test printed on its card or be knocked out. If you manage to make it out of the temple with all of the Fortune, you can also take the temple marker, which is itself worth 3 Fortune as an Artifact.
The above picture shows the sort of hilarious adventure chain you can go on when at a temple, due to the amount of Fortune there – after a Hidden Trap, a Car Chase ensued! Alexander Cartwright made it from his car to a plane, but was chased into the skies, whereupon he ejected into a boat, only to be followed downstream! He sought refuge in some Ice Caves, but was dismayed when the tunnel led to a Nightclub Rendezvous, which was no sooner passed than he came up against the dreaded Stone Guardians! What kind of crazy temple is this?!
Ah, pulp adventure at its best!
I can’t begin to tell you just how much I enjoy this game – especially with all the tweaks and options to customize it! To all but the totally blind, it also has the Indiana Jones theme to a tee, as you trot the globe, fighting Nazis and recovering precious relics of the past!
If you still don’t believe me over how awesome this game can be – just check this out:
(Though, y’know, pardon the goofs they made with the rules…)