From a young age you dream of nothing else than being a brave explorer, errr I mean you wish to become one with nature, or a heroic knight… or well. You get it. Right? Whatever your destiny is you feel the Call to Adventure! Call to Adventure is the latest offering from Brotherwise Games for up to four players (including a solo mode) that plays in about 30-60 minutes. So is Call to Adventure a call you should take, or is it just a rotten robocall? Let’s find out!
45 Character cards (15 of each: Origin, Motivation, and Destiny)
91 Story cards (split into 3 acts)
44 Hero & Antihero cards (plus 12 Solo mode cards)
4 Player boards
40 Experience tokens
Each player will get: 2 Origin, 2 Motivation, and 2 Destiny cards. Players will choose 1 of each to start the game. The rulebook says for your first game to just deal out one of each and roll with it.
Each player also gets 1 Hero card and 3 Experience tokens to start the game.
You’ll place the Origin and Motivation cards face up on the left and center spots on your Player board.
The Morality tracker token will be placed on the third level, meaning you are neutral and can play both Hero and Antihero cards. Gaining certain cards will affect this throughout the game.
The last step is to get the Story decks ready. You’ll separate them into the three Acts and then place out a row of them next to the decks depending on how many players are playing. You’ll only reveal the first Act for now, but once someone moves to the second Act you’ll reveal them.
You essentially have two options on your turn. But before we talk about those, let’s talk about why you do what you do.
The game is all about crafting your Hero, giving them Traits, overcoming Challenges, and defeating Adversaries. All of these things add to your character and the story of his or her life. When you gain a Trait or complete a Challenge, you take the card representing it and tuck it under your cards—first the Origin card, then the Motivation, and then the Destiny card—leaving any attributes you gained exposed. What can you gain? Good question! You can gain attributes that give you access to Runes; the more Runes you have access to, the easier it is to defeat pass challenges, defeat Adversaries, etc. Once a player adds three cards to each of the three Character cards on their board, the end game is triggered…
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves…
What can you do on your turn? This:
Gain a Trait
This is quite easy. Gaining Traits doesn’t require a check or passing a Challenge, you simply take it and place it under your leftmost Character card that doesn’t already have three cards tucked under it. These are easy to gain and usually have a small pre-requisite or cost to get them. But they also aren’t as powerful as some of the other cards you can gain.
Attempt a Challenge
This is a touch more involved. Challenges have a difficulty level listed on them, and they also have traits listed on them, if you have those matching traits then you can use those Runes to try to defeat the Challenge!
You’ll gather the Runes you have that match the ones on the Challenge, and you’ll take the core Runes (a set of three weaker Runes you can always cast), and then you’ll roll/toss them. If the Rune shows a single slash on it, it’s worth 1 point, and if it shows the symbol of any of the Traits you’ve added to the throw, those are worth 2 points. If they’re blank then it’s worth zero. You’ll add up the total that you’ve rolled, and if it’s equal to or more than the power of the Challenge, then you’ve passed the Challenge and you gain the card.
Keep in mind that some cards have a light path and a dark path, you can choose which path to take, but note that taking the dark path can cause you to slide down on the morality tracker, which could lose you points, and also make it impossible to play hero cards.
Which, is another thing you can do on your turn. Playing Hero cards totally depends on what the card is. Some have costs you have to pay, others can be used during certain times during your turn. And if your Morality tracker is in the Dark area, you can’t play a Hero card—only Antihero cards.
Once a player has three cards under a particular character card they can then move onto the next Act (revealing the cards in the row). Once a player has placed three cards on all three of their character cards, each player gets one final turn, and then each player reveals their Destiny card and and scores are tallied. Once scores are tallied, players are encouraged to spin a tale of their character’s conquests!
Jeremiah—Call to Adventure is a bit of an outside-the-box type of game. There’s certainly engine-building and set collection, but there’s a heavy emphasis on storytelling and creating a story arc for your character. The first time we played, AJ wasn’t exactly sure how he felt about the game, but then we scored everything and it clicked. You should know that going in. This game is all about experiencing the arc of your character from meager beginnings, to the destiny you’re…well, destined to arrive at.
Firestone—I was a bit confused at first, too, and I think that’s because I was expecting this to be a middle-weight game, but it’s really a lightweight game. My game group played once and was done (we skew toward heavy Euros), but I played a number of times with my kids, and they liked it a lot. I haven’t played this with nongamers yet but I believe it would completely work with them—particularly those who love storytelling and fantasy elements.
Jeremiah—The thematic and aesthetics elements of this game are outstanding! I love the artwork on the cards, especially—I can only imagine the small fortune it cost them to commission these works. So. Awesome. Not only that but the Runes are a great component! They have a nice hefty feel to them. The last thing I’ll say about this is that the insert is really well done as well, aaaand there is lots of room for expansions in that box!
Firestone—Oh yeah, the artwork in this is just stunning. It’s evocative and stylish. It’s also very dark and scary in some places, but that goes along with the stories being told. And the Runes are a great touch. We’ll all rolled dice, but to think up a new way to do that was a nice touch. And speaking of touch, they also keep the tactile fun that comes with rolling dice.
Jeremiah—The tension really comes in with higher player counts, and this is where it feels like a deck-builder. The cards that you are hoping to add to your character sometimes don’t make through to your turn, and sometimes better ones come along.
Firestone—I, on the other hand, didn’t feel tension at all; it’s my biggest complaint. In all the games I played, I can only think of a couple of times that someone failed on their check. If you’re going to have a game about overcoming Challenges, those Challenges should be more…challenging.
Jeremiah—I would say if your group is turned off by story telling, this may not be a perfect fit. However, there is enough going on that even if you were to breeze by the story telling you’ll still enjoy the game.
Firestone—And I’m going to say that this game is wholly saved by its storytelling and character-creation aspects. When you get done, each person has a unique and personal story they’ve created. And in terms of the actual game, that’s fine but it doesn’t really have any bearing on who won or lost or…well, anything.
So let me tell you where I used this in real life. My son sometimes has to get “extra assignments” from us, when he blows something off, or puts minimal effort into a writing assignment. So we give him our own. After playing Call to Adventure I realized that the next time I had to give him a writing prompt, I’d let Call do it for me. He drew one Origin, one Motivation, and one Destiny card, and he had the genesis of a character, and I had him write a character for that. Another time I added in a couple of random Story cards, and he had to incorporate that. And it worked beautifully. He had a few bones, and he provided the flesh.
And that worked so well that I’m motivated to use this for character creation when I (any day now, really!) begin DMing for my kids. Every RPG player seems to fall back to the standard tragic tale for their character’s back-story. But I could TRULY see a DM sitting down with his or her players, having them play this game (or just draw random cards), and then having them create their characters off of what they end up with. It might still have tragedy, but it will be unique tragedy.
And I’ve even used it for my own fiction writing. I sometimes write the beginning of a short story just to prime the pump for whatever bigger project I’m working on. I’ve used this to give me a character, and then see what I can do with it. It’s expanded my creativity in my own writing, which I NEVER expected from a board game.
Firestone’s Final Verdict—If you go into Call to Adventure knowing it’s a lightweight game that’s best for families or nongamers, you’ll enjoy its unique set-collection and engine-building mechanisms. But where this shines is in the possibilities for storytelling, and character creation. I’ve used it in real life, and I can’t wait to see what new ideas it throws my way in the future.
Jeremiah’s Final Verdict—Call to Adventure is a nice mid- to lightweight game. The heavy storytelling aspect, and unique engine-building elements, make Call to Adventure a nice game for gamers with a penchant for telling stories!
Theology of Games would like to thank Brotherwise Games for providing review copies of Call to Adventure. This in no way affected our opinions of the game.
Have you played Call to Adventure yet? Tell us your thoughts—and thanks for reading!