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Endeavor : First Impressions

What can i say? It has usurped the 2009 throne from Automobile

First Impression

I first read the rules about six months and thought it looked like a poor man’s Goa crossed with Struggle of Empires with a splash of Age of Empires 111. Well how wrong could I have been? It has some superficial similarities with these games but is more interactive than Goa and far shorter than Struggle. I already prefer it to both of these classics and I don’t think Age of Empires will get table time again until the new buildings come out.

Second impression

I have now played the game six times and keep wondering:-

‘What’s the catch?’ - The game seems, to my gaming taste (a nicely themed Euro with a splash of bash) so perfect that I am worried that after more plays it will reveal some imbalance or strategic shallowness I have not spotted yet and the spell will be broken.

Third impression

This game has an amazing 'depth' to 'time played ratio'. In a gaming era where the Holy Grail of game design seems to be to pack the maximum punch into the minimum play time Endeavor comes closer to this than the other contenders : - Stone Age, Dominion and Small World, to name but three. The 75 minutes play time leaves me feeling that I have played a much longer game. Usually I think that it’s a good thing if a four hour game skips by, that’s reversed with Endeavor. After 75 minutes I feel I have had a gaming experience as immersive as Struggle of Empires or Age of Empires but in a fraction of the time. And that’s another beauty of the game - it’s short playing time means it will see many plays as it does not need a whole evening to play.

Fourth Impression

It has huge replay ability because the 95 chits are randomly positioned at the beginning of the game and because there are strategic layers to unpeel as players see the synergies between early occupy choices with end game card draw choices.

It also seems to be a slightly different game with four and five players. Five player is more cutthroat, with competition for space that much harder. Four players there is a little more control over your own destiny. I have not played it with three yet; though I have a feeling it will not be as great as four or five (though I hope to be proved wrong)

Fifth Impression

I have read some where that it is hard to make a really bad decision in the game. I would think that a weakness in the game design but I don’t think that is true in Endeavor. I have noticed that sub optimal play hands a lot of good stuff to the player on your left . My first game the player on my left won partly because I played badly. After the early discovery games I think it will be best enjoyed played with gamers of a similar standard.

Things that some Geeks may not like


The game can slow down towards the end when players are making multiple card draws. I have not seen gamers hamstrung by AP but the potential is there.


The theme may not be strong enough for some. For example, after a recent game I realized I could not remember the colonial areas I had focused on I knew where they were on the board but the fact that they were ‘Africa’ and the ‘Far east’ had not etched themselves into my experience of the game.


The board needs 95 chits. The game comes with some blank spares but if you are like me you are going to lose some. Every game set up so far has involved a search for the missing chit or city that does not have one. I find the set up anxiety inducing.

Who is winning?

It’s not completely obvious, in the first couple of plays, to see how well you are doing compared to the other players. Until players become familiar with the cards available in the different areas the end game can be decided by ‘accidentally’ picking the right one. But because the game plays so quickly this is not going to put you off playing again.

Kingmaking - or ‘I have a cannon and I’m going to use it’

I have seen it once in six games. I have lost a game because a new player made a sub optimal attack against one of my cities (he netted one point, I lost four). I don’t think it will happen when players are up to speed because attacking demands resources that can usually be used better elsewhere. The cost of attack means that it is worth it to secure efficient trade connections, protect your slavery cards from abolition and end game marginal point switches. You need to have the ability to 'shoot' - partly because it inhibits players from contesting juicy connections and gives you tactical flexibility.

‘Puerto Rico’ factor

Because the scores are so tight in a game less experienced players can, inadvertently, hand victory to some one else. I have benefited more than I have suffered from this, but it makes me think that it is especially the case with Endeavor that the game will be enjoyed by playing with players of a similar experience.

In conclusion this is my favorite released in 2009 and none of the reservations i expressed above have stopped me wanting to play the game continually

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