Published on June 12th, 2013 | by Across the Board Games Staff
“Fortune and Glory kid. Fortune and Glory.”
By Richard Phoenix
The late 1930’s were an adventurer’s paradise; rife with romance, intrigue, intrepid exploration, and more Nazis and mobsters than you could kill in any number of hilarious and vindicating fashions. This is the setting for Flying Frog Productions’ most recent title, Fortune and Glory; a game that makes no small secret of it’s connection and clear enthusiasm with the Indiana Jones trilogy.A self described “pulp adventure game”, Fortune and Glory is a cinematic, stat-driven, dice pool game that puts you in the shoes of an adventurer seeking to make a name for themselves and get rich in the process. Naturally, there are a myriad of ways to do this. You can gear up and brave the lost temples and catacombs of the world and loot their treasures to sell to the highest bidder, deliver discreet packages for the the shadow powers at play, or even storm the Nazi Zeppelin, that’s right, Nazi Zeppelin, to steal their hard earned fascist gold. Fortune and Glory is playable from 1-8 players (though I thoroughly recommend 3-5) and game length varies widely on player experience, number of players and what mode of play you choose, but usually clocking in at 90-120 minutes. The rulebook contains more than fair warning about potential game length. Indiana Jones Fans will have a concentrated blast of fan service, fans of Flying Frog’s other titles are in for more of what they already love, and everyone else is in for a wild string Hollywood action, cliffhangers, and unpredictable twists.
Just as much Quantity as Quality
At 7.6 pounds and 2 feet long by a foot wide, this box is commonly and justifiably described as “monolithic.” It contains some of the highest quality of game components on the market, and A LOT of them at that. The many many MANY cards, character sheets, and board are all coated in a water resistant substance specifically designed to protect against beer spills. I personally appreciate a company that knows it’s customers’ tendencies and can accommodate them so well. The character figures are all strong and detailed, and can easily be given custom paint jobs to individualize the set. The plastic currency coins are all made from a specially designed mold and cast in specially picked colors just for this game. Then comes the quantity factor. Fortune and glory went the extra mile and put the term “Ameritrash” to absolute shame. The box is quite literally packed with hundreds or cardboard and plastic pieces, not to say anything of the more than 340 cards. Needless to say transport isn’t easy, but well worth the experience and excellence of the components. Please note that this is a “get what you pay for” tradeoff, so be prepared to drop up to $100 on this glorious tribute to American excess and grandeur. And as with all Flying Frog games it comes with an original soundtrack which upon opening unleashes the fire of god and will melt your head. Seriously, just leave it in the box.
Glory is Fortune and Fortune is Glory…wait, what?
Easily the most confusing aspect of the game is that the blue Glory currency is used to purchase Gear and Allies, while Fortune serves a victory points to end the game. If you can wrap your head around that, you will be fine. No matter the mode or number of player’s though, the goal of the game is simple; get the required number of Fortune and get home before your opponents. These can be other players, opposing teams, or the villains of the game itself. Overall gameplay will look pretty familiar to those who have played a Flying Frog game before like Last Night on Earth or Touch of Evil. Setup can seem like a purgatory of shuffling with the 12 different decks required for play, but after that it is pretty smooth sailing. Just make sure you have the table space because with all the cards, double-fold world map, piles of tokens, inventory space, and dice flying around all over, this game requires some serious real estate.
Start by randomly dealing a character sheet to each player, collecting any starting gear, Fortune, or fulfilling other start conditions, put your character figure on their listed starting city and stick the fantastic Nazi Zeppelin figure on Berlin of all places. Generating artifacts for players to adventure after is a simple, but effective system to give every game a unique feel and to keep players on their toes. Every artifact will be a combination of 3 cards. The Artifact card determines the Fortune value of the artifact and gives the first half of it’s title such as “The Sword”. The adventure card says how many dangers must be overcome to collect the artifact and provides the second half of the title as well as possible secondary effects with names like “of Destiny” or “of the Crimson Hand”. The last is the location card that randomly places the artifact anywhere on the world map. This allows for over 28,000 different combinations and potential locations, making for lots of non-franchise killing sequels. And that wraps up the, what by now must sound thoroughly daunting, setup.
Gameplay after this will take place in four phases each turn, all of which begin with the Initiative Phase which is just a roll off for turn order. Players that roll low shouldn’t despair though. Rolling a one triggers an Event, which is almost always an opportunity to earn a benefit, though it may be at a cost. This is also the phase where item effects and abilities reset. Next comes the Move Phase where players role and move over land, through cities, and across oceans, again giving players who roll a one an Event.
The next phase is the real meat of the game; the Adventure Phase. What happens in this phase depends on what kind of space your character finished on in the Move Phase. Spaces devoid of artifacts, enemies, or any other physical marker cause the player to roll a dice to either trigger an Event, get in a fight, or just experience the sweet serenity of mundane travel. Being in a city requires you to draw from a special deck of event cards and resolve the card before interacting with the city. And being in a space with an Artifact let’s you attempt to overcome dangers to recover it. Dangers are the heart of the cinematic aspect of the game. They will be random challenges that will test every aspect of the characters abilities from avoiding Nazi patrols to solving ancient puzzles to the ever popular room filling with sand. Each will have a skill test, perhaps a choice of tests, or even multiple tests corresponding to the skills on your character card plus any bonus items or abilities. Skill tests each come with a set number of successes needed to pass and the number that needs to be rolled to count as a success, so a “4+ xxx cunning” test means you need to roll a 4 or higher 3 times on the number of dice equal to your cunning skill. But as long as you get one success in a roll, you can pick up all the dice again and reroll them, adding the additional successes to the pool. Failing a test causes the Danger card to flip and become a Cliffhanger, ending your turn and forcing you to agonize over the fate of your character until the next round. Passing dangers however will get you one step closer to your goal. After each success you may choose to either rest, heal your character and collect the accumulated Glory of you passed dangers or press on to get closer to the artifact and get even more Glory. Failure after pressing on though means that you will not heal and you will lose all collected glory. With these tools, you create a unique episodic adventure for your character for every attempted recovery of the artifact. They can get pretty wacky, so a bit of suspended disbelief and appreciation for the unpredictable antics these movies tend to embody goes a very long way. Combat works similarly, but in rounds where the character and enemy will roll their combat values to score hits on one another until one of them is either defeated or escapes.
Last is the End Phase in which Artifacts are regenerated, KO’d characters revived and the Nazi Zeppelin moves! Though admittedly not part of the base game, the Zeppelin is one of my favorite mechanics because of it’s simplicity and the new level of strategy and chaos it can bring to any game. The Zeppelin moves by drawing a Location card and rolling a dice. If the Zeppelin can reach the location, it deploys a Nazi soldier in that location. Even if it doesn’t make it, one fortune is added to the Zeppelin’s horde which is available for potential player plundering. There are many other advanced rules that can be added in future games for addition challenges and a more engrossing game. Whoo boy, that all sounds like a lot doesn’t it? Worry not, there are quick reference guides and playorder cards abound! And behind them is likely one friend who knows and loves the game enthusiastically pushing it onto you. And right they are to do so.
Make you own action movie!
The goal of this game is as much emerging victorious from the cutthroat world of adventure archaeology as it is making a unique and memorable cinematic experience. Let’s say your character, Alexander Cartwright, has ventured to Japan to obtain The Spear of Hades. This will inevitably spin wildly out of control with Alexander surviving a raging ice storm before safely escaping his crashing plane and entering an unexplored ice cave only to come face-to-face with the dreaded yeti before taking his hard-earned prize to the great city of Tokyo to reap his rightful, shiny reward. That is until your rival Jacques Moreau, causes the deal to go bad and you receive no payment for your bold endeavor and set back out to claim your stolen place amongst the fortune-hunter elite. I’d watch the hell out of that movie. If you are able to relieve yourself of such savage constraints as reason and logic, you will easily make a great experience for yourself. I don’t feel it should be necessary to put a warning label on a box that reads “Caution: best for those with imagination” but this case would certainly warrant consideration.
Don’t choose poorly…
Some would be willing to write this game off due to it’s bulk, price, theme, and moderate complexity. If you love and want to make your own pulp action adventure movies (and come on, why wouldn’t you?) then this is most certainly the game you will want to play. Fortune and Glory embodies all of the best mechanics and styling of previous Flying Frog games, just implemented on a bigger scale. But the game is more than just skill checks and item card. The real appeal is the quality of the already well established gameplay and the fantastic thematic facade of the entire experience. It’s a great game worthy of trying if nothing else. You will never make the same movie or have close to the same experience in game twice, and with two big expansions for the game coming out this year adding more characters, villains, dangers, and even some new mechanics there is no chance of the film running out.