- Designers: Matthew Dunstan, Rory Muldoon
- Publisher: Postmark Games
- Players: 1+
- Age: 8+
- Time: 20 mins
- Played with preview PnP file provided by Postmark Games
Well, the COVID Pandemic is now concluding its second year (of who knows how many), and so many things have changed as a result. One thing that has clearly affected our hobby is the nebulous “supply chain”. Game releases are delayed constantly – sometimes due to production issues (can’t get the materials to make the game), sometimes due to shipping issues, etc.
A new company, Postmark Games, was founded to sidestep some of these issues – by offering only print-and-play games… Once the games are ready – there’s no delay! Additionally, this method of game distribution would be better for the environment as there will be less packaging (as in no packaging), and less waste in printed materials, as the gamer can print up game sheets on demand – so only print what you plan to use!
The new company has chosen to take their funding to Kickstarter – asking supporters to pledge funds in return for the game files. The first game in this line is called Voyages – the description from the publisher:
Voyages is a roll-and-write game of open sea adventure and exploration. Each player is the captain of a vessel sailing the seas and requires a single printed game sheet and pencil, while one player also needs to provide three dice. Playable from 1-100+ players, either locally or virtually, Voyages will be supported over time with new expansion content provided for free to original backers of the game.
This first campaign is set to kickoff on November 30 – so this preview comes right in time!
And as the preview page says – the cost of entry is pretty low – just 4 GBP. Which is like $5.50. Not bad for a new roll-and-write game… If you’d rather feel extravagant, it also does cost about 230,000 Iranian Rial.
So how does the game work? It is a roll-and-write game, where each player gets their own freshly printed sheet from your printer. It looks great on a color printer, but color is not necessary, and the game actually plays just as well in a black-and-white format as well. You will need to scrounge around your game closet/junk drawer to find three regular d6 dice and a writing implement for each player.
The rules are simple, all fitting on a single sheet of paper. You probably only need to print it once – or, as I have done, save the file on your phone and then pull up the rules and read it on your phone!
The game is played in a number of rounds, going until at least one player has accumulated at least three legendary stars. You will sail your ship around the board, visiting different islands and sea regions – picking up goods for trade, and training their sailors in case they come across the mysterious Dread…
To start each round, any player picks up the 3 dice and rolls them – each of the dice will be used each round, but the individual player will choose for themselves how they will be used. Additionally, each player will have the opportunity to exhaust a sailor to mentally modify the rolls for their own use.
When considering the dice, two of the dice are used for movement. The number on one die selects the direction of movement (per the chart on the compass rose on your board), and the other determines the length of movement. You must always use the full amount of your movement unless you run into an island or the edge of the board. Wherever you ended your move, take the rewards of that space if any (find a sailor, train an existing sailor to be a hero, pick up goods floating in the sea?!) If you have landed on an island, you can take the effect of the island – either collecting gold outright vs selling collected goods for gold. If you land on the island with the Pirate Dread, your heroes can defeat him for a nice payout. In any event, circle the thing you collected so that you cannot take it again later in the game.
Then, use the remaining die to cross off a number in the grid on the lower left of your board. This chart has intersecting rows and columns between 3 and 6 spaces in length. If you are able to fully cross out a row or column, take the reward listed at the head of said row/column.
Finally, check to see if anyone has ended the game by gaining their third legendary star. There are 8 possible stars to collect – four possible for collecting cargo, one for collecting sailors, one for completing a long row in the lower left chart and one found on the board in the most remote corner of the sea, and one if you defeat Dread.
At the end of the game, tally up your points – gold collected for visited islands, for visiting diverse parts of the board, for sold cargo, for unused heroic sailors, for defeating the Pirate Dread, and for each Legendary Star collected. The player with the most points wins. There is no tiebreaker.
The game also has a solo mode, where you have 16 turns to collect the 3 Legendary Stars. If you are able to do so – you win! You can use the cleverly marked notches around the compass rose to track your turns. If you are able to win, you score your game per the usual rules to judge how well you did in your victory.
My thoughts on the game
(First off, please note that we played on a preview version of the game – the art is not quite final nor are the rules. So, any criticisms i have of the rules still could be fixed. As with many KS campaigns, I suspect that the designers will be interactive and respond to any comments/suggestions)
Voyages is a neat little roll-and-write game, and one that is eminently portable. For instance, I have emailed myself the file, and I can pretty much print it up whenever we want to play. I have played it a few times, both in groups and solo – and it has been an enjoyable pastime on the holiday weekend.
The game gives you an interesting decision each round on how to use the dice. Marking spaces off on the number chart is an easy way to pick up game resources – so you can’t ignore this… but in the end, the bulk of your decision in where to move your ship. As you only take the action of the space where you end your movement, you’ll have to choose carefully where you want to go.
Though all players start from the same space – we found that player paths diverged pretty quickly from each other – so there is little risk of everyone playing the same game. It wouldn’t surprise me if some of the stretch goals or expansions would involve maps with different starting spaces or layouts.
There are a lot of ways to score points, but a lot will depend on fickle Lady Luck. While each player starts the game with a few sailors, it can be a challenge to accomplish your goals if the dice do not cooperate. In one recent game, I had two of my goods maxed out, just waiting to sell them at a settlement – but the dice simply didn’t work for me… And since I had concentrated so much on the goods, I was out of sailors by then!
I like the fact that the game doesn’t give you enough time to do everything – you just have to kind of roll with it. The solo game is meant to go sixteen turns, and in my somewhat limited experience, if seems like the multiplayer games end around turn 12 to 14. And that’s definitely not enough to do everything!
The rules are a bit loose right now – but I think it’s because they are still a work in progress. A few rules (defeating Dread for instance) are found only in a icon caption, and sailors are not explicitly mentioned in the rules, though it’s fairly easy to infer how you get them based on icons on the board… And to be fair, given that they are trying to fit the rules onto one sheet, there is a certain amount of brevity which is required… In any event, after playing a game, we pretty much had answered all the questions we had about how to play the game.
Visually, the art is nice and clean, and the icons easy to follow. There are lots of little rules reminders on the player sheet itself which help keep you on track. For my old eyes, it was a little hard to read the explanation text for the scoring criteria – purposefully printed lightly because you also have to write your score in the same space – but that’s a problem on my end, not the game’s.
Again, it prints up well in color as well as black and white. One other thing I hope to see in this campaign though is an even more environmentally friendly version that limits ink use – a black and white line art version.
Do I need another roll-and-write game? I mean, sure, I have a game closet full of them… but then again, so do you! And that never stops me from wanting to try out new games… As with most new games, the lure of exploring a new game is strong, and the cost for the exploration is remarkably low in this case! I hope that Postmark Games has a strong campaign – both because I’d like to see expansions to Voyages but also because I’d be very interested in seeing this publishing format become successful!
Until your next appointment,
The Gaming Doctor