The genre of steampunk continues to journey forth, bringing with it a wealth of imagination and style. After completing a successful Kickstarter campaign, the game Incredible Expeditions: Quest for Atlantis launches in 2014. Like steampunk as a whole, the game is carefully crafted with a fascinating mechanic and a beautiful world. Part deck-building, part story-telling, Incredible Expeditions is something right out of the dreams of Verne and Wells.
Most notable about Incredible Expeditions is its magnificent art. Nothing less should be expected in a genre where aesthetic is of the utmost importance, and Incredible Expeditions delivers through the talents of a host of illustrators led by game designer and professional steampunker Liz Spain. Everything from the cards to the ship designs to the player boards is exceptional. Much of the art is done through illustration, showing enormous ships at dock and fanciful landscapes such as the Hanging Jungles floating above the forest floor. The character cards also feature photographs of models in steampunk fashion, giving an air of realism and class.
Gameplay in Incredible Expeditions follows as each player is attempting to be the first to successfully venture to the Drowned City of Atlantis. Players are able to choose between two types of turns, Rest or Explore. During the Rest, a player may acquire cards, building up a better hand and a formidable crew, making IE‘s deck-building mechanics reminiscent of popular games such as Dominion. Players build up tokens for Money, Heroism, and Skullduggery that will enable them to hire new crewmen and face dangers in the beyond.
Ideally, a player would take Rest actions again and again to create a tip-top crew with ample supplies, but IE is at its core a competition, and players will most likely race out to Explore only tantalizingly prepared. While doing the noble work to improve themselves, other players may spend their time sabotaging by playing hindrances or hiring Stowaways or Assassins onto opponents’ crews.
During the Explore turn, players move their ships to a new Location card, each featuring different flavors with dangers or even bonuses. Players then face an Encounter from the deck: creatures such as “Aether Bats,” supernatural fare like “Descendants of Profane Gods,” and environmental hazards like “Electromagnetic Deadzone.” These must be defeated by Heroism and Skullduggery from the crewmen, the cards in play, and a player’s stash of tokens. While these Encounters on their own may seem conquerable, players must keep up their pace or be beaten out by opponents to the final location: fabled Atlantis.
Incredible Expeditions is a game for one to five players aged 12 and up that may take up to two hours depending on the number of players and luck of the draw. The storytelling components of the Encounters make it great fun for lovers of the steampunk aesthetic, allowing for a single-player system where the story of a great adventure unfolds. Wild tales of the loss of the crew’s Pilot to a Hoard of Rats or the Virtuous Lady’s successful avoidance of the Scroll of Revelation will be spun again and again. It has wide versatility, and one hopes for many expansions of the Locations and Encounters to come.