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Board Game Review: Expedition: Famous Explorers

2014 September 1

Who would have thought that simply laying little plastic arrows on a slab of cardboard could be so much fun! We present a review of, Expedition: Famous Explorers, by 8th Summit / Grey Fox!

Expedition: Famous Explorers

Expedition: Famous Explorers

Designer: Wolfgang Kramer

Number of players: 2-6

Age: 13+

Time: 60-90 minutes

What’s the game about?

A description from the publisher…

Expedition: Famous Explorers is an updated version of two award-winning Wolfgang Kramer games – Wildlife Adventure and Expedition – with a new theme: discovery and exploration. Players lead three expeditions to various locations by placing arrows on a map. When an expedition arrives at a location that matches either a location card held by that player or a public location, that player scores that card by placing it in front of him.

Expedition: Famous Explorers retains all the core rules of earlier versions of the game, but adds optional advanced rules that allow players to score additional points based upon purchasable Explorer and Event cards. Another game mechanism introduces Secret Locations.

Basic idea in my own words…

In Expedition: Famous Explorers (EFE), you’re leading 3 expeditions across the world by placing arrows on connected explorers or locations on the world map in the hopes of reaching your destinations along the way. When you reach your destination cards (expedition cards), you either receive 1 or 2 points. What I really love about this game is the theme, and the fact that game’s mechanisms are so simple, yet the decisions can be extremely difficult. I was looking for an alternative route building game to TTR, and I absolutely found it.

How do you play?

Setup:

Place the playing board in reach of all the players and place in 3 separate piles, the arrows next to the board. In addition, place all the tickets in a separate pile. Each player also takes all destination tokens of their chosen color.

Depending on which version of the game, lay out expedition cards next to the playing board. You will lay out 6 expedition cards. If you are playing the advanced version of the game, the last two of these cards is never revealed, they are placed face down. Also, depending on the number of players, shuffle and deal each player expedition cards. In the games I’ve played, we dealt 9 cards to each player.

In the advanced game, shuffle and place 6 explorers cards, face up, next to the board. The last explorer card is removed from the game. Shuffle and place event cards face down in a stack. You won’t use these yet.

Game Board (miniatures not included in normal version of game)

Game Board (miniatures not included in normal version of game)

Place each players respective score marker on the 0 spot. Randomly select a start player and give that player the start player marker. Also give each player 3 tickets. You are ready to begin!

The Game:

At the start of the game, each player, beginning with the start player, selects 4 destinations in their hand and places 1 destination token on that respective location on the map. Then this proceeds clockwise until each player has had a chance to place 4 tokens on the board. These locations are worth 2 points each, if you are the one to reach that location on your turn.

The rules are simple. On your turn, you are choosing a color arrow and placing it at the end of an existing expedition. All 3 expeditions must start at the start space. That’s it! Well, no. Not really. There are some more rules to explain. Remember, the premise of the game is to reach all of the expedition cards in your hand. So throughout the game, you’ll be direction an expedition towards those. But your opponents will likely be directing the expedition away from your destinations and towards theirs. It’s a little bit like a game of tug of war. To better maximize your plays you can point arrows on green and red locations. If so do this, you receive bonuses. An arrow placed at a green spot, awards the player an extra placement. However, in the advanced version of the game, a player can forfeit this option and peek at one of the face down, “secret” expeditions lined up next to the board. The purpose behind this is, you are likely the only player that knows what that card is, so if you direct an expedition towards this card, you’ll receive 2 points! As far as the other face up, public expeditions, if you land on one of their respective locations, you’ll receive 1 point.

If you land an arrow at a red dot, you’ll receive a a ticket. Tickets are extremely important in this game. A ticket allows a player to…

  • Place an extra arrow
  • Remove an arrow at the end of an expedition
  • Trade in an expedition card in your hand and take 2 off the stack of cards, look at both and keep 1
  • (Advanced rules only): 2 tickets buy you an explorer and 1 ticket buys you a event card

Explorers: Explorer cards grant you bonuses at the end of the game, such as, if you scored the most green cards, you’ll receive 4 extra points.

Expedition Card

Expedition Card

Event Cards: Event cards replace any explorer cards that gets purchased, as well as any other event cards. Event cards usually grant a 1 time bonus either immediately or at the time of the player’s choosing.

Strategy: The strategy in this game is trying to maximize your movement by landing on green and red dots on the way to your destination/expedition cards. Another important mechanism for your strategy is loops. If you loop a route into itself, you get to place another arrow of the respective color at any point of that loop. This can be extremely helpful!

Breakdown

Components: 3/5

I love the map and the box thickness of EFE. The rulebook is also excellent. I do have a minor gripe about the cards, they feel a bit, “cardboardy.” Also, I absolutely despise the small, light, plastic arrows. I would have preferred heavier, wooden arrows. Let me tell you what happened. My friends and I had a gaming session outside while playing this game and a bug landed on the board. I wasn’t considering the light weight of the arrows and I single handedly destroyed our game in session. The arrows blew all over the place!

Cards in Expedition: Famous Explorers

Cards in Expedition: Famous Explorers

Theme: 5/5

I love themes like explorers and history so the theme of this game was right up my alley! I’m glad this game’s theme was updates from the original, which is about wild life, which I care nothing about.

Luck Factor: 1/5

There’s not a lot of luck in EFE. The most luck occurs at the beginning of the game with the random draw of expedition cards.

Strategy: 4/5

Like I mentioned before, the mechanisms in EFE is so simple yet the decisions are very complex. You spend a lot of time thinking on how you are going to maximize your moves, and anticipate your opponents next moves.

Overall Feelings: 5/5

I love Expedition: Famous Explorers. I was looking for an alternative to Ticket to Ride and I found it! This game is simple enough that non gamers can enjoy and serious gamers can also appreciate. I absolutely recommend picking up a copy of Expedition: Famous Explorers!

Review copy kindly provided by Grey Fox Games.


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