May 4, 2019
I Rather like that I have titled this volume one, it seems fitting, given the storytelling nature of this game. Not that it tells the story for you, oh no it in fact leads you with hook after hook to weave your own tale. I like the heady mix of doing what I think is best i.e. ‘what I want to do’ and having to deal with the best available, or only option at the time to you (i.e. consequences of your own actions.) It is very refreshing! And just like last times look at what I think is a fantastic new take on its genre (see Res Arcana impressions) I hope that this mix becomes the norm; giving a taste of true autonomy, true emerging game play, truly meaningful choices to make, along with enough structure to justify buying the box in the first place.
Call To Adventure beckons you to tell a tale that is neither rote, trite, nor well worn or terribly fantastic. Not new and exciting or old and worn, not impossibly large and epic, or too tiny and intimate. In other words its calling you to tell YOUR tale, your very own, the one you feel like telling. This time.
You assemble your stories beginnings from six character cards: two Origins, two Motivations and two Destinies, you pick one of each (placing the I and II face up but the III face down, destiny is not revealed until later) and off you go. Its nice to always have a subject and to never face the dreaded “what to write?” syndrome! Don't look now, but you have set up for the games main structure in three acts, from which to gain traits and do daring feats, three acts to weave your reality. The primary cards in the game that form the Acts from which you choose in turn order to face come off the board whether you succeed or fail. The path you walk is uniquely your own. There has to be a beginning however, so act I starts off your adventure and from there you embark on your tale, using your resources to pick up traits to help you along your journey, or doing things that seem cool just because! You can pick an alternate path on a great deal of these story elements (cards in the game) and if you are feeling adventurous or are particularly well prepared, then go for it! Missing out on your target mark does the same thing it does in real life: grants you experience. In this game you may spend it to activate abilities or stand in for them to acquire others. Again the thematic drawing to real life is very well done here. The added pressure of fellow players who may be eyeing that very same experience is welcome in multiplayer games, despite the more solitary confines of solo giving you exactly what you want, being quite comfortable.
When you key in on an experience that will test you, you must gather and cast runes, this games version of Dice. They are indeed like some runes you may see when you google search an image of the term and they neither spin or roll, rather they tumble. A good shake and cast them, it is quite a satisfying process! Reading them becomes second nature and as you build your pool you come to understand what each means, so at a glance you know if you succeeded or failed when finished. It is quite straightforward and becomes second nature to quickly suss out if you succeeded or not with each successive turn, but for me it is another gateway to the story. No not the runes in and of themselves, but that there is such a system in place here, no dice, no cards, just processional pool building. It’s still chance, mitigated somewhat by preparation, but still, you don't know how it will come out until you do it, but you can build towards a general idea before long. This is a plus to me and why I like a game that will allow for planning and skill, but then add in luck to determine how it all goes down. Not a detriment to me when its added in its proper amount, just like any self respecting ingredient to any wonderful Stew, or since I'm not a soup fan, A nice Veal based Tourtière, with veggies and wonderful crust top and bottom wonderfully flaky on the outside, tender and moist on the inside, firm enough to hold the entire thing together without crumbling even with what it soaks up, with just enough juice left to keep the whole affair from being dry, but nowhere near soup. And now I’m hungry, where were we?
Yes, chance in the game is at a good amount in my opinion, it is there to spice up the environment, but not overpowering, you know its coming, so prepare. Cards for heroes or villains add in a bit of interactivity between the players, as you can use them to block, help, or copy something someone is doing. They can be well timed, but since they are to be drawn you may not always face them. i.e. when you want to give someone fear to stop them from taking a challenge you may have had your eye on, if you have not taken cards from the Villain stack you may not have that power available to you. This is another very definite choice you must make when playing; to go light or dark, there are places in your character where you can draw from either, but remember: deeds have consequences. Raise your light side and cut yourself off from the dark or vice versa, or play it in the middle to keep the odds open to you, but then perhaps fate will push you too far in one direction or the other, not to mention it adds or subtracts value to the score at the end of the game! This mechanic adds tension and another layer of depth to your character building, so for me, this too is a win!
Getting into each successive act allows you access to more powerful cards that are also more intricate: both to obtain and in their use, very well done here. These acts also serve as the timer to the game, lest you spend too much time going into background and action and character development and plot twists….once each successive act is opened after a player has three (and only three) cards from the current act under their respective trait. The players may then attempt to gain/ best that new higher tier. When someone finishes the third card from the third act, the end game is upon you, other players finish one more turn and then scoring begins to determine the numbers winner (because we ALL know there will be a story winner and they are not necessarily always going to be the same!) This pace is brisk as you want it to be and so far for me this has not overstayed its welcome one bit. If anything some games come off TOO quickly as you may have wanted to spend just a little more time crafting the perfect narrative, to me this is partly the point, because you can just reset and start another one after all!
Carving your own narrative is thrilling for many people, for some it is not. For those of you who it is not a thrilling proposition, I do not assert that this game will change your minds. For the rest of you, this one is worth getting. If the prospect of playing in the established worlds of master storytellers Patrick Rothfuss and Brandon Sanderson appeals to you in any way, then do yourselves a favor and get a copy of Call to Adventure now. It will only get that much better when those arrive!
That's correct the current base fantasy world that has been so credibly laid out for us by Brotherwise Games will be but one setting for this game. That adds a layer of intrigue as far as I am concerned as well, to think how much farther they have developed and have to go within their own creation, to sit alongside those of the wonderful authors mentioned.
As you inevitably move to the conclusion of your tale, you will begin to see the patterns emerging, and surely a narrative will come into your head, if one has not been there from the beginning. The most avid story tellers will most likely have a story for their alter ego (come on, who are we kidding, its ALWAYS our alter ego!) as soon as we choose that first card. I know I did! However the plans I had for myself changed when met with the environment of the game and I like that a lot! There was a narrative I wanted to show, but could not get to so my story changed to me trying to make the best things that could happen anyway to my character! What was told in the end was the tale of how I survived my own best planning and worst execution of said plans. It was thrilling, it was lush and verdant, had a tinge of dark, but was most importantly, all mine.