When it comes to both tabletop and video gaming, I am the very model of a modern casual gamer. So believe me, as I rave about the upcoming board game Fortune and Glory over the next several paragraphs, I don't fall this hard for every box full of cardboard, plastic, and dice...
The milieu: a '30s pulp world of flying bullets, crumbling ruins, whirring propellors, screaming tribesmen, and sneering villains. The story: treasure hunters race to uncover ancient and/or mystical and/or priceless artifacts. The gameplay: fast, dramatic, and full of surprises (more about that in a second). The production values: spectacular.
Believe me, it looks better than this in real life. Blame my phone camera, my shaky hands, and dim convention-center lighting.
Oh, and the price tag: high. Very high. When Flying Frog Productions officially releases it on September 13, Fortune and Glory will retail for $99.95. Sounds insane, right? Normally I'd be the first to agree. But when you compare it to a new-release console game for $60 - or even a high-end board game for $50 - a hundred bucks doesn't seem out of line for a game designed for pretty much infinite playability, for anywhere from one to eight players.
Over 360 cards ensure that you'll never play with the same combination of treasures, locations, situations, and villains twice. The way the artifacts work is especially clever: from one deck you draw a card to determine what the object is (for instance, "The Armor"). Then you combine it with a card from a second deck to determine the significance and backstory of the object ("of the Ancients"). The result is a unique artifact with distinctive attributes and a cool name.
Here's another example of how the gameplay and the aesthetic enhance each other. If you fail a danger roll, you have to wait until the next turn to find out if you live or die. So Fortune and Glory isn't just a game about cliffhangers - it's a game with cliffhangers built into it.
Flying Frog says the game has been in development for 10 years, and it shows. They really seem to have thought of everything, and refined a system and a look that work together perfectly for the mood they're trying to capture. I know a hundred bucks is steeper than a Polynesian volcano. But if you have to sell a kidney to afford it, call the surgeon. Enter into a sham marriage and put it on your wedding registry. Try fasting for a week. Do whatever you have to do to play Fortune and Glory. It won't just be on my Christmas list, it will be my Christmas list.
If you're in the Seattle area, Flying Frog is holding a Fortune and Glory Release Party at Card Kingdom on September 17 from 2 to 8 p.m. Those of you elsewhere can order the game now in a pre-release version with a handful of exclusive bonus tchotchkes.
We apologize for this outburst of sincere enthusiasm. We'll try to get back to being snide and jaded for the rest of our our PAX 2011 coverage.