HABA USA is known in tabletop gaming for their exceptionally high quality children’s games. From games like Animal Upon Animal to Rhino Hero, the creative minds at HABA are finding new ways to keep children entertained without the need of electronics.
Recently though, HABA has branched off into games that aren’t just for the young ones. Today we are going to take a look at Adventure Land, a new family game designed by industry veterans Michael Kiesling (Vikings, Tikal) and Wolfgang Kramer (El Grande, Tikal). Adventure Land gives players three different adventures to go on, each of which has their own degree of complexity. Is this a game that you might play even without your young ones? Time to find out.
Adventure Land is an area control and movement game for 2-4 players that takes about 30 minutes to play. We’ve found that Adventure Land plays well with any number of players.
Adventure Land is a bit of an abstract fantasy adventure game. There are three different adventures (scenarios) included in the box, each of which has their own complexity level and win conditions. The basics of the game remain the same no matter which adventure you are playing.
In Adventure Land, players will be moving their heroes around a 10×11 gridded game board. As your adventurers move, they will be collecting items and companions to use when they try to defeat the game’s fog monsters. While each of the three adventures has their own unique win conditions, many require players to collect a certain type of item(s) to earn victory points. At the conclusion of the adventure, the player with the most victory points will be the winner.
For the most part, the components that come with Adventure Land are solid. Like many HABA games, Adventure Land comes with a whole host of wooden pieces for the players to use. Each player gets up to 10 wooden tokens to represent their adventurers in the game (and a scoring cube). 30 wooden companion figures, painted a shiny silver color are also included.
In addition to the wooden pieces, Adventure Land comes with a number of cardboard tokens to represent swords, herbs, fog monsters, and gold. The game board is fantastically illustrated to show the entire Kingdom, divided up into a 10×11 grid.
Finally, the game comes with a deck of 110 terrain cards, each of which corresponds to a specific square on the game board. Each card shows the grid coordinates and terrain type. I do have to say that I wish the cards were made of a bit thicker stock. These feel a tad light and I worry they might become bent or creased if handled roughly.
How to Play:
Adventure Land comes with three different adventures, each of which will alter the game’s victory conditions. The first adventure (The Fellowship) is recommended to play with family and children, as the rules are the lightest. The second one (The Magnificent) adds in a few more challenging elements while the third adventure (Escape to the Cities) will most likely be the one gamers reach for as there are many things to pay attention to during the game.
Once the adventure is chosen and the piles are setup, it’s time to begin. Each player begins the game with 8-10 adventurers (depending on the player count) located on the top left corner of the board. Starting with the first player and proceeding clockwise, each player takes a turn in two steps:
- Draw 2 adventure cards and place the corresponding items on the game board. Each card has a coordinate on it, so it’s easy to know where the specific token is placed. If a player draws a fog monster, another card will have to be drawn after the fog monster is placed.
- Move Adventurer(s) – Players can move either one adventure twice or two adventures one time each. An adventurer can move as many spaces as they wish either to the right or down. Adventurers can never be moved up or left. If the adventurer ends their movement on a space with a sword, gold, or herb token, they can collect it. If they end on a space with a companion figure, the companion joins that adventurer and from now on, they all travel together.
If your adventurer moves onto a space with a fog monster, a battle occurs. Each fog monster has a combat value (and victory points). To defeat the monster, a player needs to get their combat score to equal the fog monster’s combat value.
A combat value is calculated by:
Your adventurer gives you one point and each companion with him gives a point. You can spend up to three sword tokens to roll a die for each sword spent, adding their total to your combat value. After dice are rolled, herbs may be spent to add their value. Finally, gold my be spent in two ways, to add 1 point or to re-roll 1 die.
Defeated fog monsters are collected by the player, while a defeated adventurer is removed from the game.
The game ends as soon as BOTH the sword supply and companion supply has run out. When that happens, the round is finished and victory points are calculated (according to the adventure rules). The player with the most points is the winner.
I must say, HABA is making a nice transition into the world of games that aren’t solely for children. While Adventure Land is still a fairly light game, we really enjoyed this one through our many, many plays. The three included scenarios give the game a nice range that will help it appeal to a larger base of players.
If I were playing with children, I’d most certainly stick with adventure 1. That’s the most straight forward and easy to understand. I’d also suggest adventure 1 for your first game to help you get a feel for the play style of Adventure Land. After that, you are probably going to want to stick with adventure two and three when it’s only adults playing.
That being said, adventure 3 was easily my favorite. That one can easily turn into a bit of a brain burner as you start calculating all the different ways to score and lose points. While I did enjoy the diversity of the adventures, I am looking forward to HABA releasing some expansions to give us even more options. After playing each one quite a few times, I’m ready for some new challenges.
Even with only the three included adventures, Adventure Land still has a good amount of replay value. Due to the random nature of the card draw, you can’t really predict when items will show up. I’ve played games where swords were scarce early on, making players avoid combat for a while. And then other games have been flush with companions early on, causing players to go after the fog monsters with some large groups.
The randomness of the card draw can factor in really nicely with Adventure Land’s great movement system. This has a bit of a risk vs reward factor to it. Since you can only ever move down and right, you have to decide if zipping across to the other side of the board is worth locking that adventurer out of anything that might appear in the squares he’s passing. Sometimes, like in the case when swords are scarce, you have to sacrifice one adventurer’s position for the good of the group. I love this kind of hard decision-making in a game that’s overall light on rules. It helps to balance things out nicely.
Decisions on where to move your adventurers can dominate a game of Adventure Land, especially with the later adventures. Between deciding on which items you need and who should collect them, there is always so much to do in Adventure Land. You will constantly be wishing you had just a few extra moves. This is especially true when your opponent swipes an item you were in the perfect position to grab.
Speaking of opponents, I do need to say that Adventure Land isn’t very high on player interaction. Other than taking an item you’ve had your eye on, there won’t be to many ways to effect your fellow players. Fortunately, the turns are at least quick, so downtime in the game is fairly minimal.
But even with the minimal interaction, the heart of Adventure Land lies in its easy to learn rules and thought-provoking mechanics. I must say, for a light game, I can sometimes really agonize over my strategies. That’s probably because Adventure Land can be a really tactical game, where you have to react to the new board state when your turn rolls around. This should help keep even the most seasoned of gamers entertained.
Adventure Land ended up being a surprise hit for me from HABA Games. I feel like it can appeal to a large range of gaming groups. It makes a perfect family game, yet it still has enough meat to be enjoyed by a group of gamers.
While Adventure Land ended up being more of a puzzle game than an adventure game, I still found the gameplay to be incredibly enjoyable. Explaining the rules takes only minutes and almost all of our games have been extremely competitive. One of our games only had a 2 point difference in the final scores!
If you are looking for a light, somewhat abstract adventure game, then look no further than Adventure Land. It’s perfect to play with young ones, yet still has enough legs to make its way to the table with your regular gaming group. This one will be staying in my collection for a long time.
If you’d like to pick up a copy of Adventure Land, you can get it for about $40.
Final Score: 4.5 Stars – A great, abstract adventure game that’s light enough on the rules for families, but still has the depth to keep gamers entertained.
• Card stock could be a little thicker
• Low player interaction