One Kingdom to Rule Them All
Rulers and kingdoms. Development and conquest. Subtle manipulation and outright war. If such topics interest you, then you should take a look at Furtherance.
Furtherance is a 1-4 player game for ages 12 and up, designed by Brent Keath from Flannel Games with art by Michael Logsdon and Elizabeth Gasse. The average game runs about 30 minutes per player for a standard game or 15-20 minutes for an optional shortened game version. Players will use mechanics such a tableau building, action selection, and resource management to develop an empire and improve their standing. This will continue in turn order until one player either reaches 6 victory points or is the last ruler standing. Victory points are given to players by cards in the building, items and units decks.
The Lay of the Land
The Furtherance game board is medium to large but easily manageable on your average table even when paired with the decks of cards and various tokens to indicate unit health and development time. Set up of these components is simple. First, place the board and make adjustments for the number of players and type of game you are playing. Set the buildings, items and units decks next to the board and reveal the top three cards. Place the upgrades deck face down under the other three decks, place the various tokens next to the board for later use, pick a leader and begin playing.
In terms of components, those designed to be placed on the cards (such as the damage and hourglass tokens) are small but necessary to keep the cards readable when they are used to indicate the health of a unit or development of a building. The cards, excluding the size of the unit cards which are smaller to fit on the game board, are large and have really well laid out text, images, and iconography. The rulebook is well laid out. It is clearly written with several text and picture examples of various interactions and has an index for parts that need more clarification.
The Day in the Life of a Ruler
Each player will pick a leader. These leaders allow for variance in the game with either a variable player power or an altered starting condition. Such alterations might be starting the game with more gold or a victory point, receiving an extra action, or gaining bonuses from performing certain actions. Each turn will have the following flow: use any buildings with applicable actions, perform an action for each worker, and move and/or attack with your units on the game board.
The two key steps of a turn are the actions and combat. Combat will be explained after listing all the actions available. The number of actions allowed is dictated by the number of workers each player has within their kingdom. The actions are as follows:
- Mine – Collect four gold from the supply.
- Buy – If able to pay the cost, pick two item cards. Items are generally immediate use cards and have quick effects. Refresh the panel after each selection and study what is flipped before deciding on that second purchase.
- Build – Start the development of a building. Buildings don’t immediately enter play once development has begun and the hourglass tokens indicate how long until they are ready. Buildings are where the tableau mechanic comes into play. These cards have long term effects and can help create an engine, that when paired with your leader and other buildings/worker upgrades provide ongoing strings of benefits so plan carefully.
- Develop – Take an hourglass token off of one of the developing buildings. Once all of the tokens are removed, the building is active.
- Recruit – Pay for a unit card and place it in one of your three castle spaces
- Research – Select from either the Item, Building, or Unit decks and draw three cards. Choose one of the three then place the others back into the deck with one going to the top and the other going to the bottom. The card selected goes into a holding area to be used during the cards corresponding action. For example, if you researched the unit deck the card selected can be built with a recruit action later. The research mechanic works as an alternative to a board clear. This mechanic is quite fun as you can not only grab a card you want but bury a card that you do not want your opponent to have all in one move.
- Upgrade – Pay five gold to draw two upgrade cards. Pick one and replace the old worker with the new one. These workers will provide a bonus to either the mine, buy, build, recruit or research action and retain all other actions. Think of this as sending your workers to develop a trade. They can do all the actions, but become more efficient in one particular action
- Unit Combat – This feels like the least intuitive mechanic and will take a moment to understand. Since certain units have specific abilities and leaders can have an influence on those abilities it is best to lay out the basics of this mechanic in a bit more detail.
Units enter the battlefield in one of your three castle locations and are given a new unit token that prevents them from moving and attacking their first turn. At the start of your next turn remove all new unit tokens and the units become playable. Units are usually allowed to move two space and then can attack adjacent units orthogonally.
Units all have an attack value and health value. Once the attacking unit hits for its attack value, apply that many counters to the defending unit’s card. If the number of counters equals the defender’s health, the defending unit dies. If the defending unit does not die, it typically gets a counter attack. If the attacking unit is not killed in the counter-attack, it can take a second attack. Attacking units can also hit buildings and the castle. For every successful hit, the building/castle takes 1 damage. Buildings have a health value similar to units and once the number of counters equals that value, the building is destroyed. The castle has a health value of 10. Once that reaches 0, you are eliminated.
Furtherance is a fairly easy game to teach and straight forward after the first playthrough. The game allows players to pick from a few different paths to victory and create their own engine to develop and destroy their competitors. This might be the ultimate strategy for all games, but with Furtherance, you must be efficient with your actions. Your workers are limited, especially early in the game, and I have seen the most success from folks who leverage their leader’s ability and beginning moves to develop a strong engine.
Additional features I really enjoy about this game are the short and single player mode. These allow for more variation from game to game. Another enjoyable mechanic is how you can recoup your killed units or destroyed buildings. Once a unit/building is destroyed, you can pay two gold to return in from the discard into your research area (if you have the open spaces available). This makes decisive or risky action choices more viable as you can plan your choices to get a powerful unit/building back if it is key to your overall strategy. I liked Furtherance and enjoyed the time I spent playing. Definitely give Furtherance a try if you like quick games with strong action selection, tableau building, and combat mechanics. It is active on Kickstarter as of Mar 3 and has several weeks left on the campaign.
A pre-production prototype of the game was provided to GeekSpiel for the purposes of this review. Please note the finished product, components, and even rules might differ slightly from what we show here.