Thursday, February 13, 2014

It may not be Indiana Jones, but it's the next best thing

Raiders of the Lost Ark changed my life when I saw it in 1981, at the tender age of 9. Like any kid growing up in the late '70s and early '80s, I was a massive Star Wars fan, but Indiana Jones appealed to me even more. The 1930s setting was far enough away that it felt otherworldly, but close enough that I could relate to the characters. It's a few years before WWII, so you have the Nazis as a credible threat, but the narrative isn't taken over the military structure of a war story. I loved the color and texture of it all, with Indy's brown leather jacket and bullwhip set against the deep green of the jungle or pale tan of the desert.

It is a source of continual frustration to me that there are no good Indiana Jones tabletop games. However, "Indiana Jones-like" has become a fairly well-represented sub-genre in the games industry, and Fortune and Glory is at the top of the heap.

Players in Fortune and Glory take on the roles of treasure hunters and adventurers cast firmly in the Indiana Jones mold. The board is a map of the world, and the game involves traveling the globe in search of ancient artifacts. It can be played competitively as a race to gain a certain amount of fortune before the other players, or cooperatively to secure powerful treasures before the Nazis or the Mob get their hands on them.

When a player lands on a space containing an artifact, they must face a number of dangers such as perilous bridges, airplane chases, and shady nightclubs. They can be faced one by one, with time to recover in between, or players can barrel through, but they risk losing all the glory they've earned if they fail. The dangers are generally overcome by passing dice tests, and failure results in a cliffhanger which must be resolved on the following turn.

Once a player recovers an artifact, they have to sell it in one of the many cities on the board, which are fraught with their own dangers but also offer opportunities to gain allies and gear. All the while, a Zeppelin wanders the board depositing Nazi soldiers that must be fought, and villains such as Colonel Stahl and "Icebox" Eddie occasionally appear to fight the players or steal artifacts out from under them.

The game doesn't just scream "1930s pulp adventure," it screams "1980s movie about 1930s pulp adventure." The decision to use photographs of people in costume only serves to enhance the idea that you have somehow stumbled into an adventure movie that never happened. It even comes with its own soundtrack CD of original music.

Rating: 5 (out of 5) An excellent adventure game that really is the next best thing to being in an Indiana Jones movie.

Date played: January 26, 2014

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