After reading a short, glowing review of the board game Fortune and Glory by Flying Frog, I decided to go ahead and order it through Amazon.com. I got lucky and one of the distributors had it for $25 off because the box had minimal shipping damage. Once in, I can say: it’s bloody gorgeous.

Production values are top notch — the multitude of cards are heavy gloss stock, full color, and lovely. the map is nicely period (similar in character to the map illustrations in Hollow Earth Expedition), theres a big load of dice, over 100 plastic figures, and in the box the plastic tubs for everything are so well laid out you can store everything easily and keep the various cardboard chits separated.

Play is broken into a simpler form of the game, an advanced rules set, and can either be played with the various players racing against each other, or working collaboratively in a team against Nazis, etc. (or another team of players, for that matter.) There’s even a solo option for people having trouble getting friends together to play. Set up, as usual for many board games, is the longest thing. There’s a lot of different card decks to shuffle and keep track of. You pick a character card, with your particular abilities and shticks — all of them classic pulp archetypes — then set them up on their home city. Next four artifacts and adventures are pulled giving you a series of missions, like “The City of the Dead!” or “The Hammer of the Gods!” The goal: collect and sell artifacts to get 15 fortune chips (gold doubloon-like pieces.)

The first stage is initiative. Everyone rolls, the highest goes first. If you roll a 1, you get an “event” card which can add a bit of spice to the game — my first event threw a bunch of Nazi troopers across the board. Next is movement: you roll in turn a d6 and move up to that number. The map board is broken up to allow fast travel, save across the ocean; there is a alternate rule that allows you for a certain bit of glory chips to fly from a major city to a major city. If you stop at a spot without an artifact to hunt, you can draw an event or have to fight a bad guy, depending on a die roll.

The adventure stage is where the fun really gets going. this is when you resolve the events/enemies encounters above, or if you are at a place with an artifact, you have a number of challenges to go through. You pull a danger card and try to accomplish the feat. If you don’t it turns into a cliffhanger card. Don’t succeed, you’re back to square one. Succeed at the task and you earn glory chips (blue doubloon like chips) which can be spend on gear and allies to aid you. The final stage is mostly for the advanced rules enemies to do their thing and for players, once they’ve returned to a city to auction off their find for fortune.

Set up, as mentioned, was a bit slow, but once you’re playing it goes by fast. The wife and I ran through a game, complete with interruptions from screaming baby, in just over an hour.

So is it worth it? You bet your bippy, toots! Style: 5 out of 5; Substance: 5 out of 5. Cost: $75-100 bucks was the range I saw. It’s worth it. Enough so I’m looking at Flying Frog’s other board games for a buy.

And now a role playing game aside: the way the game is structured would allow a gamemaster pressed for time or ideas to quickly slap together an adventure for a pulp-style game in minutes. Bust open the box, pull an artifact and adventure card, and a couple of location cards with an event or danger card for each. Flesh out the massive plot holes (or don’t…it’s pulp!) Run the game. This added bit of utility pushes this game right to the top of my favorites pile.

I’ll try to get around to adding some pictures of the game when I can.

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