Cooperative Board Game Review: The 7th Continent

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For shorter cooperative game reviews with a specific focus on how well they play with 2-players, visit my BGG Geeklist.

The 7th Continent

pic2577555Photo: Serious Poulp
Designer: Ludovic Roudy, Bruno Sautter

Publisher: Serious Poulp

# Players: 1-4 players

Playtime: 20ish hours for The Voracious Goddess Curse

About (from BGG):

It’s the early 20th century. You have decided to sail back to the newly discovered seventh continent to attempt to lift the terrible curse that has struck you since your return from the previous expedition.

In The 7th Continent, a solo or cooperative “choose-your-own-adventure” exploration board game, you choose a character and begin your adventure on your own or with a team of other explorers. Inspired by the Fighting Fantasy book series, you will discover the extent of this wild new land through a variety of terrain and event cards. In a land fraught with danger and wonders, you have to use every ounce of wit and cunning to survive, crafting tools, weapons, and shelter to ensure your survival.

Review:

Both my hubby and I were anxiously awaiting the arrival of The 7th Continent on our door step. Ever since we first heard about it, we wanted to play it: This is probably my most highly anticipated game ever from Kickstarter and that’s saying something. At Essen 2016 we sought out Serious Poulp’s stand just to catch a glimpse of it and I must say, when it finally arrived, it did not disappoint.

Shortly before we were due to start playing, my hubby, Stu, kindly asked me which character I wanted to play. After looking at them I decided on Ferdinand Lachapelliere. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to me, this was the one he wanted to play. After a week or so of bantering (whilst he was painting the minis), I finally prevailed and he relented: I was going to be Ferdinand, whilst he was going to be Mary Kingsley.

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So, we have a few childfree weekends. They were actually our first child-free nights since in the 2 years since Amelie was born! So what do we do? Go on long walks? Have romantic meals? Do what adults do when they are childfree? Nope! We played The 7th Continent! And slept – we do like sleep almost as much (possibly more?) than board games.

At this point I am going to caveat that we binge played The 7th Continent which is not how it is recommended to be played. Our first game was The Voracious Goddess curse and although we did use the save system a few times (and it works very well), what we actually did most of the time was play for hours and hours, leaving it setup whilst we, erm, ate something or popped to the loo and maybe slept a bit. You might currently be wondering what we did with our toddler to be able to do this? Well, I was 30-odd weeks pregnant at the time so we had the perfect excuse that my parents needed to look after her (obviously several weekends in a row) to get her used to staying with them in preparation for when I went into labour. A perfect cover story for “we want to play our new board game without a little person interrupting us”. It even had a little truth to it! Luckily my parents love looking after her and she loves visiting them so everyone was happy.

But enough about childfree time. Did we enjoy playing The 7th Continent?

The first curse took us almost 20 hours to complete. The first couple of hours was a little tricky getting the hang of exploration vs food but we soon got the hang of it. The game seems very well balanced – a few time we ran out of cards but managed to find food before the lose condition was met. I’m unsure what we would have done if we had reached a game over given the time investment we had made and limited time to play again. But I do know I wouldn’t have been very happy!

In terms of gameplay, I absolutely loved playing The 7th Continent with my hubby. It has the right amount of story, exploration and strategic decisions (which card to keep, doing stuff together or split up as well as when to hunt for/eat food). We mostly chose to stay together as we enjoyed it more that way – perhaps not the most strategic but certainly more enjoyable for us. I also loved the Fear the Devourers (monsters) and Facing the Elements (weather) expansions which added a little more variety to the mix and it’s cool to have a baby devourer as a pet as you explore, ready to be killed for food in emergencies! Although the characters do have some unique cards and skills, we quickly found that they didn’t really matter hugely and my hubby was no longer annoyed that I was playing Ferdinand and he wasn’t. Phew!

After a while, we found that we’d made a wrong turn (which later turned out not to be wrong!) and it was a little frustrating that we had to keep re-exploring the same parts of the map (we had to put it away due to game instructions, saves or lack of table space). In the end we used some house rules as it was sapping the fun out the game (and our childfree time was limited!): basically if we had already explored a tile we just put it out and allowed fast travel which made the game a lot more fun, which for me is the most important thing.

However, I’m not sure I’d want to play this at higher player counts – I think the hand and inventory limits were just about right and not sure I’d want to have to have less cards to choose from so think this game is perfect at 2 player. There are rules to allow the temporary joining of additional players for those who want to let someone else join in for a single session but I enjoyed playing The 7th Continent so much I’m not sure I could bring myself to sharing the experience with anyone other than my hubby! And if you’re interested, yes obviously we backed their most recent What Goes Up, Must Come Down Kickstarter and can’t wait to receive the extra content!

Summary:

This game competes for top spot in my favourite games with its closest rival being T.I.M.E. Stories. All in all, we loved this game and looking forward to playing the next curses – although we’re giving it a break for a while so we forget the map a bit, gives us a chance to play some other games and we now have 2 kids!

My Rating: 10/10   (with our house rule for fast travel)

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