May 28, 2014

[Games] Fortune and Glory: The Cliffhanger Game


We've come to appreciate the campy gaming style of Flying Frog Productions after we invested in Last Night on Earth and a few of its expansions. But we were a little hesitant to venture beyond the zombie genre given it was the main game that was pretty stable.

But then we saw Fortune and Glory box sitting on the shelf at a local game shop, and we kinda fell in love. Tobie and I are fans of the pulp era - primarily because of things like Tom Strong and RPGs like Adventure! that really made the pulp genre pop for us. And given this was a game that promised to capture some of that with the magic of a board game good for up to 8 players? Oh yeah, we were all over it.

Plus the box is huge.


Fortune and Glory: The Cliffhanger Game is a pulp adventure board game created by Flying Frog Productions. The game has both cooperative and competitive play rules and is good for 1-8 players. Yes, it has a solitaire mode! Admittedly the rules seem a little daunting at first but once you play through a game, things will start to fall into place.

At its most basic, players play various pulp heroes scattered around the world. The primary goal is to engage on adventures to retrieve artifacts from various locations around the world. To acquire these artifacts, they'll need to engage in a series of challenges called Dangers that lay between you and the artifact. Success means you progress further and get closer to acquiring your prize. Failure means that you could end up in a cliffhanger where you have a chance to fail...and possible die! But of course, death in the pulp era means starting back at your home city with some losses.

These various Dangers are defeated by dice rolls based on your character's attributes - dice are never absent from Flying Frog games, it seems. The Danger will dictate which attributes will come into play and you'll gather that many dice. If you meet the conditions of the Danger, you'll move forward. Combat plays out in a similar fashion, but this time you roll dice corresponding to the enemy's combat attribute (hence the two different colors of dice). So it's somewhat similar to the rolling mechanic in Last Night on Earth, but this time it was optimized such that only one player is needed to resolve things. So yes, you can totally knock out your own character in this manner if you roll bad.

The game is littered with all the tropes of the pulp era, including various enemies including American Mobsters and of course the Nazis. This particular installment of the game seems to celebrate the Nazis most given the addition of things like the Nazi Zeppelin that travels around the map and releasing Nazi soldiers in its wake.

And of course the game would not be complete without villains - the enemy equivalent of our heroic characters. There are both Nazi and mob villains in the game that seem to be equally immortal. Of course one never truly kills a pulp villain - you only defeat them long enough to get away and possibly fight another say.

Depending on whether you're playing a competitive game or a cooperative game, you'll have different goals for the amount of Fortune points (acquired by selling artifacts) individual players need or the group of heroes need. But to help you in your quest, there's also another type of currency called glory, which is typically earned through defeating enemies and can be spent on equipment like guns, and airplanes or allies like a faithful dog. Fortune = victory points. Glory = more conventional cash.

The learning curve is a bit trickier than other Flying Frog games, but once you get it things run pretty smoothly. It helps to have players who are familiar with the pulp genre and understand the inherent campiness with some of the aspects of the game. It has the same cheesy photography that we've come to love in other Flying Frog games and it even has a Cartwright character!

And while the main board is static (given it is a map of the world), the Flying Frog folks were able to come up with alternative ways to make the game modular in order to increase replay value. First, the artifacts are created using two cards from two different decks that mix and match names in interesting ways. Then random locations are determined through a separate deck of cards.

Lastly, there is pretty much something that can possibly happen to your character each and every turn. Even when you're just moving around the map, you have to take time to check for events and other encounters that help keep the turns interesting. But naturally the big goal is to go on adventures and seize those artifacts - and we even do the big old style radio voices as we plunge into the deep.

Fortune & Glory: The Cliffhanger Game is a brilliantly versatile game with significant replay value and a lot of potential fun. Admittedly it's not a game for everyone and we've had instances when the pulp genre just wasn't something that people could embrace. But it's still a great addition to any game collection, especially given the wide range of players it can support. Good 8 player games are pretty rare. So I rate the base set as 4.5 ridiculous cliffhangers our heroes have to survive out of a possible 5.


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