I became interested in Voyages because I liked Postmark Games’ free game Battle Card: Market Garden and I was curious about how it would approach Pick Up and Delivery in a Roll and Write format. Plus, I’m always looking for more Print-and-Play Roll-and-Write games lol
Friday, January 19, 2024
Why Voyages is an amazing system
In a very real sense, instead of a game, I found that Voyages is really more of a game system. The actual core mechanics are very simple but each map adds a bunch of extra cogs and wheels that make for the actual game. There are six official maps and at least fifteen fan maps (https://www.dropbox.com/sh/hv19mg9pa9gckik/AAAq-gs5IeyR9QmByTqUMns0a?dl=0)
This is the core idea of Voyages. You are drawing a line on a hex-grid map. Each turn, you roll three dice. One die determines the direction. One die determines the distance. And the last for is used to fill in a box on a duties chart. (The chart is different on every single map and, quite frankly, can add a lot to a map)
It’s not a new mechanic to me. It’s pretty much the mechanic of Go Goa, for instance, which I played a lot of last year. It also brings back memories of Outdoor Survival, whose first scenario is the stuff of legends and nightmares.
And, to be fair, it’s not a bad mechanic. But on its own, it’s pretty meager. You need more. Fortunately, Voyages delivers.
All over the maps are special hexes. Land (not pass through) on a special hex and you perform its action. It often is get something but it can also be fight something or sell stuff you picked up at other hexes.
Your most crucial resource is sailors. Sailors can be used to modify dice. They can also be upgraded and they can be spent to perform some actions, like defeating enemies.
And the duty charts that I already mentioned can really affect how maps work. In the Trade Winds map, which is really the tutorial map, you just get bonus items. However, looking ahead, the duty charts can become tech trees or even hitpoint management.
The maps also have achievement stars that also work as a timer. In multiplayer, anyone getting a third star triggers endgame. In solitaire, you play sixteen turns and not having a third star by the end means automatically losing. You can earn them via the duty chart, exploration, trade or winning combat. But they all take planning and investment.
I have only played the Trade Wind map so far. And, if that was the entire game, we would still be looking at a strong piece of work, one with a lot of replay value. However, looking at how the other maps create new goals and mechanics, Voyages as a product is top notch.
My only disappointment is that it really isn’t a pick-up-and-deliver game. The Trade Winds map is the only official map that uses the mechanic and it doesn’t feel like the efficient way to play or the primary goal. That said, some of the fan maps might address pick-up-and-deliver more. And this is really about my expectations, not an actual game issue.
Over the last few years, I have played a lot of Roll-and-Writes. As a PnP option, they are incredibly rewarding. And Voyages is a game I would recommend to anyone who has access to a printer.