I find it hard to prioritise one game mechanic over another, and often say in my reviews that I really like area control, trick-taking, auction games, engine building games, tableau-building games and so on. When I think one has an edge I play a different genre and get all drooly over that instead. Recently, I've been loving on engine building games after playing the excellent Terraforming Mars, so when Artipia asked me to try their engine-building game A Thief's Fortune I said no. Only kidding! What am I like?
A Thief's Fortune
The theme in A Thief's Fortune, as in many games, is the weakest part of the equation. Set in an Aladdin-esque world, there isn't much connection between your actions and the theme. But when your actions are so delicious and engaging, I'm not sure how much it matters.
During the game, you will draft cards of three different types, locations, characters and events. Locations are situationally activated, characters from the basis of your engine and events are one-off activations. The cards you draft, with an agonising decision driven drafting system, are placed into the future part of your tableau. Each card dictates a number of resources to be placed on it, when these resources are removed the card moves into your present.
This is the main part of your tableau and where you will activate your cards. You can only have four cards of each type though, and as soon a fifth card comes into your present it pushes the far left of its type out into the past. The past is simply for end game scoring.
This constant moving of cards gives you a puzzle to solve. A Thief's Fortune is not Terraforming Mars, where your engine just keeps getting bigger. Just like Imaginarium you are limited, but there is also more freedom as you can effectively build a new machine in the wings, and move it from the future to the present at the optimal time for your strategy.
Player interaction is somewhat limited, but I'm happy to wait for this to appear in a potential expansion. Not everyone likes 'take that' gameplay and I think it's wise to leave it as an optional extra rather than required element.
After five quick rounds players total up victory points in their past and add them to the points earned during the game. The game certainly feels fast but not in a pressured way. In the main phase of the game players perform one action from a list of four round and round until everyone has passed.
A Thief's Fortune is not only a great Kickstarter prototype, it is a great game full stop. Take a look at the campaign to find out more. There are eight days remaining at the time of writing, and game project has already raised over £35,000 thanks to over 1000 backers.