- Designers: Wolfgang Kramer and Michael Kiesling
- Publisher: HABA
- Players: 2-4
- Ages: 10+
- Time: ~60 minutes
- Times played: 6, with review copy provided by HABA USA
- Website: http://www.habausa.com/adventureland.html
Adventure Land is the third and final game in the new HABA Family Game series that debuted at Essen 2015. The previous games in the series, Spookies and Karuba, were reviewed here earlier in the year. When I first read about this series last fall, Adventure Land was the title which most caught my eye – both from the description of play as well as the esteemed designer duo behind the game.
Each player controls a set of adventurers who all start in the upper left of the square-shaped kingdom and will take turns moving them down towards the castle found in the bottom right corner. In this game, there are three different playing modes, each with its own objectives (i.e. scoring rules). However, the rest of the rules are identical regardless of the game mode played.
The board itself is a square which is split into an 11×10 grid. There are five different terrain types on the map: mountains, cities, forests, river, and foggy spaces. There are tokens for items that are associated with particular terrain types (herbs in forests, gold nuggets for river spaces, swords for mountain spaces and monsters for fog spaces). There is a deck of cards which has one card that corresponds to each space.
Players start by taking their adventurers (8 in a 4p game) and they place them around the upper left spaces. The deck of cards is shuffled and 8 cards are flipped over and the board is seeded with the corresponding objects for those spaces, with the exception that any fog cards are ignored for now, and a new card is drawn to replace it.
Then, players must agree on which mode of the game to play. There are three different options provided in the game, and each comes with its own summary card so that all players can easily refer to the scoring rules of the chosen mode.
Play will then rotate around the board until the ending condition is met. Regardless of mode, a player turn follows the same two phases – drawing cards and then moving an adventurer. The first thing you do on a turn is to turn over the top two cards of the deck. You find the matching spaces on the board and then place the corresponding token on that space. Forests always get a herb counter – which can have a value of 2, 3 or 4. The token is placed face down so that the actual value is hidden. Mountain spaces get swords, and these can have an added value of 0 to 3 – these are also placed face down so that their full value is unknown. River spaces get gold nugget tokens, and additionally, the river sprite moves along the river to sit on that newly filled space (more on this later). City spaces get a grey companion meeple placed on them. Fog creatures have a value of 8, 10, 12, 14 or 16; unlike the other tokens, these are placed face up on the board. As another exception, any time that a fog card is drawn, another card is immediately drawn and dealt with. Note that depending on the game mode, you might score points depending on what you have collected. If so, mark your score on the track that goes on the outside of the board.
Note that if there is an adventurer (of any player) already on a space when a token appears, that token is immediately collected by that player. If a fog monster appears, a battle immediately ensues (see below). If a gold token is placed, the water sprite will move to that space – that is, the water sprite token will travel along the path of the river and stop on the newly placed gold token. If the water sprite’s path crosses any adventurers, those adventurers are removed from the game!
Once the two cards are dealt with (as well as any extra cards due to fog cards), then you get the chance to move your adventurers. You may make up to two moves. They can be with the same adventurer or split up between two different adventurers. For each move, you move an adventurer in a straight line, as far as you like, as long as the movement is either downwards or rightwards. You can move through other adventurers, companions and tokens, but you may NOT move through fog creatures nor the water sprite. You may also not end your turn on a space with another adventurer.
When you stop your movement, you can collect a token if there happens to be one there. If there is a companion in that space, he will join your party and will now travel with that particular adventurer for the rest of the game. If you stop on a space with a fog creature, you will have to immediately battle that creature.
In a battle, the monster has the strength printed on the tile (varying from 8 to 16). The adventurer then calculates his strength. The adventurer itself has a value of 1. Any accompanying companions have a value of 1 each. You can then choose how many swords you would like to use. For each sword that you discard, you get to roll a d6 and add the value of the roll to your strength. Furthermore, if the sword token had an additional value (1, 2 or 3), that value is also added to your total.
If your total strength is at least as high as the number on the tile, you defeat the monster. If it is not high enough, you can now choose to discard herbs to increase your strength; each herb token adds the value of the number on the token to your strength. You can also use gold in the fight. Gold can be discarded for one point of strength or it can be used to re-roll one of the sword dice. You must accept the new value rolled on the die.
If you win the battle, you collect the fog monster tile, and you will score victory points as printed on the tile. If you lose, the adventurer and associated companions are removed from the game and the fog creature remains on the board.
The game continues until there are no more swords AND companions in the supply. The round is continued until all players have had the same number of turns. Then it’s time to calculate your final score based on the chosen scoring mode. The player with the most points wins the game. There are no tiebreaker rules for the three modes.
My thoughts on the game
Adventure Land is a solid family game, and I like the way that it offers three different ways to play the game. I have now played each of the three modes twice, and I have enjoyed the different approaches that you have to take based on the scoring rules.
For a family game, I think there is a nice balance between strategy and luck. There are definitely a lot of strategic options for the player. You have to choose when to move which adventurer, a decision made more difficult by the fact that you can’t move backwards. You’re always in constant competition for things, and given that each player gets two moves, there is no guarantee that something you want now will still be there when play comes back around to you. But, for all of the great strategic decisions that you could make, sometimes you just get lucky because something you need magically appears in the space that you’re currently occupying or in the one directly to your right.
There is a little bit of a memory aspect to the game, because if you can remember which cards have already come up, you can try to leave your adventurers in previously undiscovered spaces at the end of your turn and hope that they “find” things as cards are revealed.
The overall strategy changes based on the mode chosen, and I like the way that you are forced to approach the game in different ways. The first adventure is the most balanced, and most things that you collect will score you points. Defeating the fog creatures yields the most points, but you will need the other objects (swords, herbs, companions) to help build up your attack strength. The second adventure focuses on the companions. You are allowed to merge your adventurers into larger and larger groups, and at the end of the game, you score a huge bonus for your largest group of 3 points per adventurer/companion in that group. You score double points for fog creatures, so you can’t completely ignore them, but the bulk of the points will come from companions. In the third adventure, there are larger bonuses for occupying a majority of spaces in each city as well as for collecting the most gold. Again, monsters are still worth points, so gaining tools to help fight them can be worthwhile.
The components are nice high quality. The box is a standard 30cm square, and the board is of thick stock. The wooden bits are what you would expect from HABA. I occasionally wish that the companions would have been a different shape from the adventurers, but that’s really a minor quibble. The rules are well written and easy to follow. There are not individual player guides, but the last page of the rulebook has a one sheet rules summary for people to quickly refer to.
I have been enamored with the set of three adult HABA games from Essen 2015. All three are quality family games, and all can be quickly taught to gamers of all ability levels. Adventure Land is the most complex of the three, and as such, I would perhaps not bring this out for a child’s first gaming experience – but it is not so complex that you couldn’t do that… Of the three new games, I think that Karuba is my favorite, but only by a slight margin over the other two. Spookies is for the lighter crowd and Adventure Land is for the more complex.
Thoughts from other Opinionated Gamers
Dan Blum (1 play): We didn’t really see the appeal of this as despite the apparent (relative) complexity there just isn’t much going on. It’s not that hard to see how to score points and to take the necessary actions, and nothing really interesting happens. Possibly the other game modes are more interesting (we played the first), but I am not anxious to try them. That being said it’s a fairly painless experience so I’d be willing to play again if asked.
Jonathan Franklin (3 plays): I enjoyed it as a themed abstract. The three ‘adventures’ are really just different ways to score that encourage different behavior. The part I liked was the completely a-thematic only move right or down. It felt like playing the odds in terms of how far do you go with a certain worker. In the end, I do agree with Dan, but it is worth playing to feel the interesting mechanism at work.
Joe Huber (1 play): I was in the same game as Dan, and came to largely the same conclusion. There’s a game in the box, but not much real adventure; it’s a very abstract, and not all that interesting an experience. I’d be less willing than Dan to play again…
Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers
- I love it!
- I like it. Dale Y, Nathan Beeler, Eric M,
- Neutral. Dan Blum, John P., Jonathan F.
- Not for me… Joe H.