Every Time a Dungeon Quest becomes available an Adventure Mart from the greedy T-Corp appears, in order to capitalise on those adventurers out to seek their own version of fortune and glory.
DigiSprite are bringing you the chance to run one of your own Adventure Marts so you can buy in stock, bring on staff and build a loyal customer base with the view of earn as much money as possible and all under the eye of your Dragon CEO.
This is the second game that DigiSprite are looking to fund through Kickstarter after their first successful attempt for Doomsday Bots, the tower climbing, robot boss fighting card game which was successfully fulfilled last year. After a successful campaign on the crowdfunding platform, there is always a choice to either release something of a similar size, or upgrade and try for the next level up to see if that bigger title will work. It's interesting to see that DigiSprite have decided to go for the latter in order to build on their previous success.
What is also more interesting is where they are trying to go with Adventure Mart, as they are combining several mechanics all in one place, in order to react to the customers that visit your shop on the way to their grand day out of sword swing and wand waving.
What you have here is a cute mixture of auction, deck-building and customer service. Adventure Mart is in my 'must checkout' kickstarter shopping list because even in the preview copy, the art work and presentation is very cute indeed. In fact, you can't help but look through the deck you have to play with to appreciate the work that has gone into the cards.
If your a fan of the Legend of Zelda or Secret of Mana from the Super Nintendo days, you'll get the general idea of what I mean, and it's a welcome change to so many games that seem to never venture too far from the dark browns and dark greens of the colour palette. Adventure Mart's invitation to get it to the table will be half the battle for a lot of people and I'm excited to see what the final art and even box cover is going to look like.
However presentation isn't anything if there isn't a solid enough offering in terms of game play behind it and Adventure Mart has some fascinating ideas that like rolling to strike at D&D, equally hit and miss in various ways.
Firstly, there's a few moving parts on your turn, as you have to replenish your hand of base items that you are able to offer customers, as well as playing the next event card that will do everything from giving every player additional gold to granting certain conditions based on the type of products you have to offer. It's a way of making sure that rounds have the potential to alter players priorities and offer something different to the base line. They aren't horrifically game changing and I believe they aren't intended to be and there is potential to add more events in the future with expansions.
You get the chance to purchase from the depot, which will either give you items you can sell for your hand or equipment that you can add to your in-shop floor space. The equipment will stay in use and offer different effects depending on the what you have installed. Most will increase your bidding potential or give you advantages if you are dealing with a customer with a certain affinity (but more on affinities later.)
Then you have your staff, and again, you can recruit staff from the HR pool in order to boost the baseline abilities that you commence with, though you have a limit on the number of staff and equipment you can have at once and your equipment cards stay face down until you play them in order to keep them secret from other players.
This is all in preparation for the visit from those adventuring customers hungry for excitement but keen to make sure they have the right equipment to take on their quest. Your job is to bid to offer them the highest quality items for them to take with them. Win the bid and you get the chance to claim them, however you can only bid the same affinities that the customer has.
Each potential customer may prefer either Martial, Magic and Exotic items, or a combination, so having a good spread of products is key to success. If you don't have the goods to hand, you can't join the bidding party and have to sit out, which may limit your potential chances to score a loyal customer.
At the end of the shopping day, cards and piles are reset, everyone restocks and awaits for what will happen the following day. Once the last event card has been drawn, which is usually the fifth day, you total up the amount of money that everyone has made and the winner gets a shiny badge, or a gold star. But probably still gets fired.
What we liked about Adventure Mart was the presentation. I can only imagine what the finished product would be like when the entire board is awash with colour and vibrancy and the card art is present and correct. It appeals to the nostalgic 16 bit anime Samurai Pizza Cat loving fool that I am.
I love the chunkiness. I like the fact that this is going to take tabletop because people passing are going to stop and stare and ask what you are playing. It is going to be that kind of game. DigiSprite have also paid a lot of attention to making sure the rule book explains itself as well as it can with well laid out pages, explanations, a glossary and a quick FAQ section. Nowadays not having these in a rule book to me is almost a disservice to those wanting to pay the money and play your game and it is good to see things are well thought out with that respect.
Is it fun though? Well, like shopping in real life, it can depend on whether the right customer walks in the right store and the right items are there for display for them to buy them, and whether they like the fixtures and fittings when they visit. There can be a huge amount of luck involved in the first couple of rounds of Adventure Mart, where someone can hit the retail jackpot in the stock or fixtures that they manage to buy that that give them a healthy lead over everyone else. A lot of the customers that you win will give you an advantage for a certain affinity, almost allowing you to build a miniature engine that will continue to give you quality bonuses as you go. There has been an attempt to mitigate this though by granting the player with the least customers in the round a free hire, but again you're relying on the luck aspect playing out to your favour which can potentially be hit and miss.
In the games I played through there was one occasion early on where one of the players hit the right gear with the right customer and then when the next customer was the same affinity, they were able to outbid every one else. It made me wonder if having more than one customer available to bid on would help with that issue, as it would help too mitigate the luck of the game. It can also be difficult to keep a track of all of the additional bonuses you have, especially since for some reason, you are meant to keep your employees face down, while your fixtures face up, and on a couple of occasions, I missed out on gaining an advantage quite simply because I forgot I had it. It's an annoyance I could do without, and it can occasionally slow the pace down as someone goes through their collection to ascertain what their bidding strength is in the Customer phase. This can come down to simple experience of the game itself, as it's not the first time I've done something similar in other games.
So with that taken into account, someone's first game might potentially be their last depending on how the cards fall, especially if their drawing experience just doesn't work out for them while others might be involved in a retail war stand off where the points are close and noise of tills ringing is closer. Again, it is not something that is going to be apparent after one play through.
What is interesting is that DigiSprite are treating Kickstarter as it traditionally was, which is to present as much of the game as possible and are asking for funding to make it a reality. So the version I played was very much a preview presentation wise and therefore subject to ongoing changes in terms of of everything from the cards to the game boards themselves.
So as far as I can see the basics of the game are very much there and there is no denying there is fun to be had, but some additional tweaks in terms of preventing run away winners, or adding more choice to the customers visiting might make for some smoother retail therapy as things go. DigiSprite communicated very well with their previous campaign and there is no reason why this should be no different. they have shown they have delivered, but it is up to yourself to decided if you want to add their project to your kickstarter cart.
A cute mixture of auction, deckbuilding and customer service, Adventure Mart has appeared from nowhere in my 'must checkout' kickstarter shopping list. If you are looking for something slightly different to the norm with excellent presentation and easy to understand rules, you should check out the campaign which is currently live.
We we given a preview copy of Adventure Mart to write this First Thoughts Preview piece.
You can check the campaign on https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/digisprite/adventure-mart
DigiSprite can be found on their website www.digisprite.co.uk