Saturday, March 24, 2018

The Joy of Gaming: Women Game Designers - Incredible Expeditions: Quest for Atlantis

Women's History Month: 

A Joy of Gaming Tribute to 

Women Game Designers


Liz Spain (solo)

In Incredible Expeditions: Quest for Atlantis players either compete or work together to discover the lost city of Atlantis buried deep beneath arctic ice. Players take on the role of adventurers in command of a steampunk flying ship heading from a port city through several strange, wondrous and dangerous in order to wend their way finally to Atlantis. Along the way the encounter any number of terrifying beasts and scenarios from otherworldly monsters and undead to unstable explosives and unexpected hull breaches. Players attempt to overcome these adversities through skill and skulduggery (two of the game's 3 primary resources). If they can, they may press on. If they cannot, there are often grim consequences leading to major setbacks in your progress (and in the co-operative game an even more dire fate as the Peril Track climbs up).

Players accomplish their task by hiring crew for their ship which go directly onto their player board and by buying cards through a deckbuilding mechanic. Each of your crew can be "exhausted" either for their special ability or to add their skill and skulduggery to tests (or their money resource to your purchases). Your draw deck offers you quick temporary gains in resources, resource tokens you can spend later, or other very helpful effects.  As the game progresses round by round you will spend your turn either resting-- wherein you can refresh all your exhausted crew and buy new cards-- or venturing forth to encounter whatever hellish thing lies waiting for you over the next horizon.

Incredible Expeditions is a solid and entertaining game, especially for folks who are fans of the likes of Fortune & Glory and other grandiose adventure games. It's not without its flaws, but it's an ambitious game for a first time designer.

Liz Spain's entry into the creative space of game design started outside the confines of cardboard with live action role play and escape room organizing.  Incredible Expeditions was her first foray into board game design and it while it was an incredibly ambitious project, it was a very bumpy entry point. IE was plagued with production problems, causing both serious delays and component quality issues with the game. That said, her inexperience on the business and manufacturer sourcing end of things was a difficult lesson I'm sure, but her passion and creativity shines through in the game. Despite its component flaws, IE features a gorgeous graphic design and art production and the game itself is fun and rich in theme.

Her talents caught the attention of some notable names in the industry, however, not the least of which is the brilliant Mike Selinker. Since Incredible Expeditions, she has worked on teams with Selinker and co. on the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, Selinker's ambitious Apocrypha Adventure Card Game, and the long anticipated expansion to Betrayal at House on the Hill.

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