WBG Score: 7.5
Player Count: 1-6
Published by: BLAM !
This is a review copy. See our review policy here
Minor spoiler ahead in the red text - very easy to avoid if you want too.
There are a number of games in this range. You can read a bit about a few of them here. They seem to have landed well and so the team behind this have made a load more. This includes the 2022 release Cartaventura: Odyssée – Le Trésor de Libertalia which now has an English release. If you are a fan of choose-your-own-adventure style games, this could well be for you. Let's get it to the table and see how it plays.
How To Set Up Cartaventura Odyssey
Take the main deck of cards and the three place mats out of the box. Lay the three placemats down, left to right. It is worth reading the small bit of text on these to confirm their role in the game, but essentially one holds the main deck, one is for discarding cards onto, helpful for setting up subsequent games, and the final one holds the special cards. More on that later. And that's it! The game will teach you the rest. Very quickly, and in a highly engaging way.
How To Play Cartaventura Odyssey
Take the top card from the main deck and give it a read. The game will teach you the rest but if you want to get a flavour then read on, but be mindful that there will be very minor spoilers in the next red paragraphs after the next picture if you do. Things will get non-spoiler after the red text.
You will play as a young sea faring adventurer. You will be very quickly presented with choices about where you want to go and what you want to do. This is done largely by a map being created in front of you with the cards, and a choice of other cards to travel towards placed next to these. You will see a map tile like below with numbers on the compass point in the bottom right. You will then place cards matching those numbers from the main deck in the corresponding positions. They will present choices to you, which if you choose, you will flip the card, or draw the shown card and proceed from their. The below example are non matching cards to avoid spoilers as best I can.
As you progress through the story, certain cards will be discarded, even if you didn't visit them, so your choices really do matter. You will inevitably come to a specific ending, based on your choices. The ending will have a title and you will be told to mark that title off on the final card which shows all the possible endings. You can then go back and start again, aiming for a different ending, or move to chapter two. In total there are three chapters.
Is It Fun? Cartaventura Odyssey Board Game Review
If you enjoy chose-your-own-adventure style games you will love this. There is a real sense of adventure as you play. But also control. Your destiny will very much be in your hands as you make your way through the divergent story.
The rules and way you learn is so natural and well thought out out. You can sit down and start playing right from opening the box. What few rules that do exist are explained to you over the course of the first few cards, incorporated into the story. It is a seamless and simple to grasp process.
In this tiny box, there is a lot of story and a few surprises hidden away. The three chapter's will take you roughly 30 minutes each, and can be replayed over and over for the various different endings. As a bit of a completist, I have done this for chapter one and two multiple times now, but still have a few more endings for chapter three to find. You cannot always manipulate the game to go in the exact the direction you want, but you can of course simply make different choices to see where it takes you. As such, I do always enjoy my first attempt at each chapter the most. There, I am making the choice I want to, rather than the ones I need to, to find alternative endings. But, when I make bad choices on my initial game, it is fun to try and make better ones in later attempts. Although, it does feel a little like I am cheating! Ooh, I won't go there, I know that ends badly!
If you are a fan of chose-your-own-adventure games then I would recommend checking this series out. The version you get will be based on the theme that attracts you the most. I do not want to say too much about this one, to avoid spoilers, but I think you can get a flavour from the box art! This is all about adventures at sea, set a few hundred years ago. It feels like being in your very own Pirates of the Caribbean movie, just without the confusing interconnected storyline and poor editing. But let's not get into that here!