Endeavor: Age of Sail is a remake of Endeavor by Carl de Visser and Jarratt Gray from 2008.
Burnt Island Games and Grand Gamers Guild held a Kickstarter for this edition which was a great idea, because is was hard to get a copy of the original version. I never played the original so let’s see if the gameplay matches the beautiful production this version has.
What is Endeavor: Age of Sail like?
Endeavor: Age of Sail is an area control/area influence game in which players try to collect the most glory points to win the game. To do this, players can improve their presence in the different regions, by occupying cities and controlling chains between them on the main game board. There are also 4 different tracks on a personal player board which players can improve to enhance their possibilities during the game, but also score glory points at the end of the game according to how far the player managed to improve these tracks. There is an industry track, a culture track, a wealth track and an influence track. At the start of the game all cities and shipping spots on the gameboard are occupied with tokens that correspond to the different tracks. When a player places his own worker in one of these spaces on the game board he receives the token and increases the value on his track.
The game takes place over 7 rounds. At the start of each round you build a building that matches your current industry level. These buildings become the worker placement locations for your workers. On your turn you may place a worker from your port on one of your buildings to perform the corresponding action(s). You may need additional workers for the execution of the action you take. Like placing a worker in a building these workers must also be taken from your port. Let us talk a bit more about the possible actions on the buildings. There are 4 different kinds of action types; Draw, Ship, Attack and Occupy. The Ship and Occupy actions allow you to place a worker on a location on the board and take the token that was on that location and increase the corresponding track level on your player board. The attack action allows you to replace a worker in an opponent’s city which he/she had already claimed. All three of these actions also increase your presence in the regions which will help you open up more regions, increase the possibility of getting valuable governor cards and allowing you to draw more valuable cards with the draw action. Remember the presence in the various regions is also important because occupying cities and linking your cities together yields glory points.
As you can see workers in your Port are important to keep moving forward. Luckily you can get new workers in your port at the start of the round in two ways. The first is to pay the workers on your buildings according to your corresponding income level. This also makes these building actions available again. The second way is to place new workers from your supply in your port according to the value on your culture track.
So far we have talked about three tracks. that of industry, income and culture. There is also a fourth track which I haven’t mentioned: the population track.This track represents the amount of cards you may keep at the end of the turn. Ah the cards. In Endeavor: Age of Sail each region has a small deck of cards. Players can use a draw action on their building to draw a card from these decks. These cards have symbols on them that correspond to the tracks on the player boards. After obtaining such a card, the player may immediately increase the value on the track accordingly. But players also need to decrease the levels on their tracks if they draw a card beyond their income level.
What has already become clear is that increasing the value of the tracks has a positive effect on your possibilities. You are basically improving your engine by area control. Each turn making small moves and debating what will improve your position most.
I enjoyed Endeavor: Age of Sail very much. A big part of my enjoyment for the game is that Endeavor: Age of Sail does not overstay its welcome. The game’s 7 rounds are perfect for the involvement and decisions players need to make. Endeavor: Age of Sail is a very tactical game to the point that I have found it hard to really plan a strategy at the start of the game and stick to it. Although players are all trying to increase their tracks and investing in the different regions and buildings they do so with different short term strategies. Players are all competing for the same glory points from tracks, cards, buildings and cities which make for nice interaction between players.
What I didn’t address until now is the theme. Yes Endeavor: Age of Sail is about colonialism and that’s a charged subject. But I applaud the way the publisher, and also the designer, handles this. Using slaves for examples is part of colonialism history, but the game punishes players for doing so through the abolition of slavery mechanic that with make players that used slaves lose glory points at the end of the game. The publisher also wrote a piece on slavery in colonialism in the rulebook. In my opinion Endeavor: Age of Sail is very respectful to the subject, but this is for each to decide.
The production quality of this version of the game is amazing. The components trays from Gametrayz, the art of the gameboard and the pieces all look great. Because of all the tokens the setup time is a bit long. I would advise to make all players participate in setting up the game to keep it down a bit.
- Wonderfully smooth gameplay
- Quick turns
- Colonialism with respect to history and present
- Lots of play-modes with the exploit cards
- Some might find it a bit repetitive
- Setup time
Endeavor: Age of Sail is the next step for players ready for more after their introductory games in tabletop gaming. The next step after Ticket to Ride, for example. But also for players who enjoy that light-weight euro game with some interaction. There are just a few steps to remember and the player boards provide a nice aid. The only thing our group struggled with a little were the rules about when are you allowed to ship or occupy and where. The rule book is very clear though, and I would say Endeavor: Age of Sail is has about the same complexity level as games like Orleans and Dominion although it is a very different game. For players looking for a bit more complexity, the game comes with 11 exploits. These are additional game elements that can be added to the game. Players still craving for more with have to wait for the expansion Endeavor: Age of Expansion releasing in 2020.
- Players: 2 – 5
- Playing time: 45 – 90 minutes
- Suggested age: 10+