I want to talk to you about a game that really makes me smile. It's an expensive game, but I think that if you have a group of players who find the theme appealing, it's certainly something worth chipping in to buy. I also think it's the best game that the publisher has yet released.
It's Flying Frog Productions' Fortune & Glory.
I JUST FELL INTO A VOLCANO! Click through to see if I survive!
I did survive, I'm actually just sitting in my pants writing a column. Sorry.
Flying Frog, man. These people crazy. If you don't know anything about Flying Frog, let a brother tell you. Every single game they've released features this fucking weird artwork. They get these, I dunno, models or friends or actors or whatever and pose them in costumes and shit. I dunno. It doesn't look totally professional, it always looks like cosplay or something. But in a good way, mostly. You might have played their most popular game, Last Night On Earth. It's a zombie game. And every character card is like, some dude or some girl dressed up. It's amazing. It's kinda tacky and kinda amazing. They also always give a soundtrack CD away with their games. Yeah, you heard right. A soundtrack CD. It's a great idea, really. The standard of the music is... hey, look it's okay. This isn't a music review column. It's free, give them a break. Yeah. A soundtrack CD. Cosplay. Their buddies dressed up as mad scientists. Yeah. Batshit crazy.
Fortune & Glory is a game with a pulp adventure serial setting. It's Indiana Jones meets Rocketman by way of Jackie Chan in Armour of God. If that sentence doesn't sell a game to someone, no sentence will. They should have put that sentence on the box. The sweet thing is that this setting totally fits with their crazy art design ethic. Suddenly it all looks right. It's campy and cute, and it's going to make you smile.
The game plays up to 8 players, and can be played both competitively and co-operatively. Now, I've only played the competitive game, so it'll only be that I talk about today. Down the line I'll play it in co-op and let you know how it goes. In the competitive game each player takes control of an adventurer and sets out in pursuit of valuable artifacts. These artifacts, when claimed, can be sold in a city for “Fortune” and the first player to return home with 15 Fortune wins the game. The game is played on a lovely big map of the world, and you can see it below.
I bet you look at that photo and you say “Hey, Robert. Hey Rab. Hey Bob. Hey Rob. Hey Bert. That looks pretty complicated, that game.” And I say to you “Baby, no, just drink your drink. It's actually really simple, there's just a lot of stuff. It's stuff, is all. Now drink up, baby. Shhh.”
When you set up for a game, you will be putting your characters into their home cities and then putting some artifacts onto the board. The artifacts and adventures are really cool. You draw an Artifact card and then an Adventure card. These combine, these two cards, to create an adventure that is “The BLANK of the BLANKETY BLANK CHEQUEBOOK AND PEN”. See the photo below to see what I mean.
Once you create these, you draw a location card for where the adventure will take place. Four adventures will be there on the board for your guys and girls to chase down. Take a look at the photo above again. You see the number in the gold circle? That's the Fortune value of the relic. If you acquire the relic and get it back to a city to be sold, you'll gain that much Fortune. In the bottom right, with the red backing, is the number of Dangers you have to face down before you can claim the relic. So, of those two above, THE SPEAR OF THE CRIMSON HAND is the easiest to grab. Sweet.
Also, at the start of the game, you place a big fucking NAZI ZEPPELIN on the board. This bad boy travels randomly around the board and Fortune starts to build up inside it. As it reaches destinations on its journey, it drops off Nazi Soldiers, who hinder and block you. If you manage to reach the same area the Zeppelin is in, you can try to sneak on board and steal all that lovely Nazi Gold. This game is bananas.
Yeah, so the game kicks off. In a turn you first roll for Initiative to see who gets to act first. And then you have a Movement phase. It's a simple affair. Roll one die and move from space to space. It costs more movement points to move across sea. And if you have some Fortune already, you can pay to fly from city to city. The Adventure phase is the meat of the game. If you're in an empty land space, you roll a die to see of anything happens or if your journey is uneventful. You'll either end up being jumped by an Enemy, or drawing an Event card, or doing nothing. But if you're in a space where an Adventure awaits, you can set out on that Adventure.
This is cool. When setting out on the Adventure, you announce it. And you announce it by saying out loud “[Your Character Name] and The Tears of the Azure Jewel!” That's pretty sweet, right? Really gets the setting across. And then, you start facing some Dangers.
You draw a Danger card. It will be a test of some kind. Let's say the Danger is a CAR CHASE. You make an Agility check. If you pass, you get a choice of either Pushing On or Camping Down. By Pushing On, you get to draw another Danger, building towards the total you need to claim the relic. By Camping Down you get to turn in the Danger you just passed for the Glory value (and Glory is the currency of the game) and can take another Danger in your next turn. HOWEVER, if you Push On and fail, you lose any Danger cards you've already beaten and can't turn them on for Glory. It's a nice risk/reward thing.
Failing a Danger is never good. It means you flip the card to its Cliffhanger side, and your turn ends. This is my favourite element of the game. That CAR CHASE? If you fail that roll, your Cliffhanger might show OFF A CLIFF. Your character has gone off a cliff in a speeding car! Can she escape?! FIND OUT NEXT TURN!
That's brilliant. I love that. Damn.
Now, why would you ever Push On? Why not just play safe, and face the Dangers turn by turn? Well, because you might be RACING ANOTHER PLAYER FOR THE PRIZE. If you get into one of these situations, you're egging each other on, praying for each other to fail.
Here's what happened in a game I played:
Joanne was Li Mei Chen, obviously, being such a hardcore Kung-Fu fan. She was working her way through THE TEMPLE OF POWER! Temples work differently from other Adventures. You gain Fortune as you progress through them, but you face many more Dangers. Each Cliffhanger you face also makes the Temple prone to collapse. It's crazy exciting. Anyway, Joanne has been focusing on this temple, slowly building up her Fortune. In a Temple, the player who claims the last Fortune coin can take the Temple miniature itself, and sell that in a City for 3 extra Fortune. She's two away from taking it.
Then I win Initiative. And we'd been playing nice. Until I moved into THE TEMPLE OF POWER and announced I was setting out on the Adventure. If I could get through two Dangers in a row, the Temple miniature itself was mine. It was THRILLING. I managed to scrape through and steal the prize. From that point on, all bets were off. Joanne was playing event cards on me, causing Volcanic Eruptions, you name it. It was delicious. It was some RICH SETTING JOY.
In that same game, I gained a bit of a reputation for beating up Nazis. I would chase the Zeppelin about the board, punching out Nazis, and sneaking on board to steal all their shit. It was fucking awesome, and I never say the word “awesome”.
Here I am, on a Zeppelin, with Nazi blood on my hands.
There's just so much happening in this game. Each Character has sweet powers and talents. Mobsters pop up in the cities. Auctions are announced in Shanghai. You can gear up and gain Allies in the Cities, and then those Allies can die in quicksand, or turn on you. You can play Events on other players, and on the board. There are Nazis everywhere. You get delivery quests, and become a globetrotter. You get lost in the Jungle trying to find a Temple. You get attacked by Zombies. Named Villains appear, and then THEY start to go after the artifacts.
And this is just the competitive game. There's a co-op game too. With Villain events, and vile organisations advancing their plans across the world.
Seriously, this game is MASSIVE. So much shit going on. And it's superb. I had so much fun playing it. You see, there are games that I respect. Games that make me think. Games that have me awestruck by the sophistication of the design. This game is just fun. Just awesome fun, and there I go using that word again.
Flying Frog Productions make fun games. This is the most fun I've had with any of them. I think you'll probably love it. It makes you feel like you're travelling along one of those red lines in the Indiana Jones films, with the Nazis in hot pursuit. Cosplay Nazis. I tell you, these Flying Frog people are crazy. I hope they never change.
Thanks for all the feedback to the column a fortnight ago. I'm only just catching up now that I'm back from holiday. This week I will be talking to people about how to move this forward. I may even call out some of YOU by name next week to see how you can help. Let's make this happen.
In the meantime, I'll be painting my Dreadfleet ships and playing Dark Souls. AS YOU SHOULD BE!