ADVENTURES IN NEVERLAND
By Raymond "DuMeeple" Dumee on April 28, 2020
The second star to the right and then straight on 'til morning to get to a world made of faith, trust, and pixie dust... a magical place called Neverland. The place where Peter Pan lives and the place where he brought Wendy Darling dozens of times. It's an awfully big and adventurous place, locked in the fantasies of everyone who do not want to grow up. It is that place between sleeping and being awake, the place where you can still remember your dreams.
And this is exactly the place I want to take you today, dear Ladies and Gentlemen! And I will take you there with the help of the upcoming board game; Adventures in Neverland; a story-driven adventure game, based on the book by J. M. Barrie and designed by Vicky Swers. The good people of Black Box Adventures are going to publish the game and have collaborated with Frederick van der Bunt for the artwork.
In the box, you will find a beautiful Game Board with an illustration of Neverland. Six playable characters with Player Boards in the form of a book, a corresponding Miniature, their Story Cards deck and a bunch of Story Markers. Tokens for your Statistics and Upgrades on your Player Board. Every character also has their own D4 and D6 and an Adventure Point marker in their color. There are Location Tokens for the Jolly Roger and the Camp of the Braves, just to name a few. And there are even more tokens to mark spots for the Events and the Happenings cards, plus a couple of Non Player Characters.
Setting up Adventures in Neverland is really easy. On the Game Board, there are designated places for the Side Quest, Item and Happening cards. There are even defined spaces for discard piles. On the left side of the board, there is a score tracker to keep track of the Adventures points, so drop your Adventure Points marker there. On the right side of the board, there are slots for Special Locations, originating from the Happening cards and slots for Events. Every player chooses which story and character they want to play (there will also be a Cooperative story) and take the corresponding Player Board, deck of Story cards and, of course, the tokens in the color belonging to that character.
After setting up the game, players can start by reading the setup on their first Story card, which tells them where to put their character on the Neverland map. From there, your Adventure in Neverland is narrated though your deck of Story Cards, Side Quests and Happenings. Your deck of Story Cards is the main story you go through and the choices you make along the way decide how the story unfolds. In general, the beginning and ending of each story are about the same; it's the middle part that has a lot of variable storylines and provides a lot of different twists and turns. The Side Quests and Happenings bring even more diversity to the game with smaller Adventures and Special Locations where you can gather additional Items and Adventure Points.
Player turns have two phases: the Upkeep phase, in which you have to discard and draw a new Side Quest card. During this phase you also have the opportunity to take a Side Quest card. After the Upkeep phase, the Adventure phase starts. This is where a player can perform up to three actions, divided among the player character and non-player characters. Possible actions are; Moving around in Neverland, Interact with a Story Marker or a Special Location, Challenge another player for items, Track a faction, Search for an item and, last but not least, Rest to regain some health.
During the Adventure phase, the player on the right of the active player will also have to keep a sharp eye on the events and happenings. If anything is triggered, the other player stops the active player and calls out the Happening or Event. The Track or Search action is also done by the player on the right of the active player, because on the Happening cards there are icons to symbolize factions, locations and amount of items. By going through the Happening cards and looking at the icons you can track a faction or search for items.
This gives the game a lot of player interaction and, even when it is not your turn, you are not limited to just listening to the active player's story. When it is your turn and you follow the Story cards you have to put Story Markers on different locations. Sometimes these locations are set. At other times, the player on your right will have to look through the Happening cards for a location. While moving around ,you'll come across numerous locations. Sometimes, a location might trigger a Happening card and you'll have to choose what to do to continue.
Then there are the Side Quest cards, small little tasks which can earn you items or even Adventure points. The Items can be used to help you in the story or they just advance your Skills on your Player Board. Speaking about those Skills; you can use them to settle Happenings or to come out on top during a challenge. Just see what you have, add a dice roll to it and the winner, as people often say, takes it all, even if the aforementioned "all" is just one item. All the wondrous and wonderful things we've talked about so far are mixed together with some sparkly Fairy Dust and shaped into a very cool and diverse Adventure Game.
The game is over as soon as the Side Quest card deck runs out or when all players have finished their story. When a player finishes their story, four Side Quest cards will be discarded, to hasten that process. However, this doesn't mean that the first player to finish their story automatically wins the game. No sirree Bob! The winner is decided by tallying your Adventure Points when everyone is finished or the Side Quest deck runs out of cards and see who of the intrepid adventurers has the highest amount of Adventure Points, denoting that he or she is the absolute winner!
The Final Verdict
For fans of the story of Peter Pan, this game is an absolute must have! Adventures in Neverland has taken the story by J. M. Barrie, and transformed this well-known tale into an awesomely beautiful board game! Really a lot is done to pull you into the game's stories, like every Story card has a piece of text from the whole story you are going through. Background information about every faction and every character. And everything is phenomenal integrated in the game with the art by Frederick and it really sets the ambiance while playing through the storylines. The game is easy to set up and you just start reading through the story cards. During play, the focus isn't on just one player and the player interaction is great. There isn't a lot of luck involved in the game; you can make a bad decision in the story and you can have a bad dice roll, but it will never, never be the end of the world... or Neverland.
At some point, you will possibly know all the stories by heart, but I can assure you that you will need a really good memory for that. All the stories can be played multiple times, there are six playable characters to explore and with the Side Quests and especially the Happenings there is a lot going on, which creates a game you can certainly play loads of times. While playing, you also have to find a balance between main- and side quests, because it can seem your main target is to end your story ASAP, but then you'll miss a lot of the goodness and variety the game has to offer and will not have as good as a time playing it as you could have had. We actually have been playing like that and were sad the game was already finished. So believe me when I say: don't rush through the Story cards people! Adventures in Neverland is like a good Scottish whiskey. Play it, enjoy it, let it rest for some time and enjoy it again.
With Adventures in Neverland, first time game designer Vicky Swers sets a new standard in the Adventure gaming genre. What we received is a prototype of the game, how Adventures in Neverland will be in its final form, depends on how the Kickstarter campaign will pan out. Never(land)theless, what we received already looked really awesome! This pretty looking game is live on Kickstarter from the 28th of April till the 26th of May, so be sure to check it out. We wish Black Box Adventure and everyone involved, all the best with the campaign. In my opinion, Adventures in Neverland is a beautiful and awesome game that truly deserves to be played!
ADVENTURES IN NEVERLAND
Black Box Adventures
Adventures in Neverland Kickstarter Campaign
Year of release: TBA 2020
Designer: Vicky Swers, Bart Latten & Bas Damoiseaux
Artist: Frederick van de Bunt
Players: 2 - 4 players, ages 12 & up
Playtime: approx. 75 minutes