On Their Merry Way Game Review (prepublished version)

Please Take Note: This is a review of the final game, but it might change slightly based on the success of the Kickstarter campaign. The game is being reviewed on the components and the rules provided with the understanding that “what you see is not what you might get” when the game is published. If you like what you read and want to learn more, we encourage you to visit the Kickstarter campaign. Now that we have all that disclaimer junk out of the way, on with the review.


The Basics:

  • For ages 13 and up
  • For 2 to 5 players
  • Approximately 60 minutes to complete

Geek Skills:

  • Counting & Math
  • Logical & Critical Decision Making
  • Strategy & Tactics
  • Visuospatial Skills
  • Hand/Resource Management

Learning Curve:

  • Child – Moderate
  • Adult – Easy

Theme & Narrative:

  • Robbing ain’t easy…

Endorsements:

  • Gamer Geek approved!
  • Parent Geek approved!
  • Child Geek rejected!

Overview

Robin Hood and his Merry Men have a job to do. They must steal from the rich so they can provide for the poor. This is a surprisingly easy task, as Merchants tend to be tired after traveling for days carrying heavy loads and easily fall for traps. Guards are always a nuisance, but not a threat. To help make things more interesting, Robin Hood will reward one member of his gang of thieves a great prize if they can bring in the most profit. Let the games begin.

On Their Merry Way, designed by Chris Amburn and to be published by New Experience Workshop, will reportedly be comprised of 60 Traveler cards, 60 Trail cards, 1 Roadblock marker, 1 First Player marker, 5 Traveler pawns (in 5 different colors), 2 Road boards, 40 Manpower tokens, 100 Trap tokens (in 5 different colors, 20 per color), 40 Material tokens, and 40 Plan tokens. Also to be included are 60 Profit tokens, but we weren’t given any. As this is a review of a prepublished game, I cannot comment on the game component quality. I am impressed, however, with the game bits provided. For example, the tokens are solid plastic and cut to look like what they represent (Plans look like little pieces of paper and Materials look like logs) and the Traveler pawns are small plastic miniatures depicting a very fat merchant trying to run whilst holding a bag of goods. Hilarious.

Welcome to Sherwood Forest!

To set up the game, first take the Traveler and the Trail cards, separate them into their own decks, and shuffle each. Place these decks of cards face-down and to one side of the game playing area where all players can easily reach them. These are the Traveler and Trail draw decks for the duration of the game. Deal five Trail cards to each player at this time. This is the player’s starting hand.

Second, separate the tokens into small separate piles. These is the general supply. From the supply, give each player 4 Plan tokens, 4 Manpower tokens, 4 Material tokens, and all the Trap tokens of a a single color.

Third, place the Road boards parallel to each other with room between them for a row of Traveler cards. The coat of arms symbols on the Road boards should be facing each other. Place these boards in the middle of the playing area.

Fourth, draw five Traveler cards, placing one face-up under each of the coat of arm symbols on the Road boards. You should now have five cards between two boards.

Fifth, place the Red, Yellow, and Green Traveler pawns on the end of the Road board that depicts a dirt road with a sign post. Take the Blue and Purple Traveler pawns and place them on the end of the Road board that depicts a cobblestone road with a sign post.

That’s it for game set up. Determine who will go first and give them the First Player marker.

Travelers Beware

On Their Merry Way is played in rounds, turns, and phases with no set number of rounds per game. A game round is summarized here.

Phase One: Scrounge

Each player in turn order sequence starting with the First Player draws two Trail cards from the Trail draw deck. These cards are added to the player’s hand of Trail cards. Then each player discards one Trail card from their hand of their choice.

After the cards have been drawn and discarded, each player in turn order sequence starting with the First Player takes any type of resource (Plans, Manpower, and Materials) from the general supply they like, but the total taken cannot exceed ten. For example, the player could take five Plans, four Manpower, and one Materials, equaling a total of ten Resources.

During this time, players can also trade in one Profit for any one Resource token from the general supply or an additional Trail card. This can be done as many times as the player likes on their turn during this phase.

Phase Two: Building

Each player in turn order sequence starting with the First Player must now take one action. The actions are as follows:

Play One Trail Card

Trail cards represent the many twisting paths through the forest that travelers take to wherever they might be going. They are also excellent ambush spots.

  1. Name of the Trail card
  2. The Traveler types that will fall for traps on this specific card
  3. Additional rules for the Trail card (if none, then nothing will be listed)
  4. The Profit earned for every Merchant that falls for the listed trap (in this case, one “Coin” Profit)
  5. The number of Resources needed to play the Trail card

If a player wants to play a Trail card, they must pay for it by putting the listed number of Resources from their own personal supply back to the general supply. If they can, the Trail card is then placed face-up next to one of the Road boards so that the trail shown on the Trail card lines up with the trails branching from the road. Then the player places one of their Trap tokens on the Trail card, indicating they have control over that card.

As future Trail cards are added, the players will begin to create something that looks like a pyramid, with the longest row of Trail cards at the bottom connected to the Road board and a new row on top of it with one fewer Trail cards until there is only one Trail card at the top.

Upgrade a Trail Card

A previously played Trail card can be “upgraded” if the player currently controls the Trail card (they have their Trap token on it) or the Trail card is not controlled by anyone. The player must pay the Resources listed on the Trail card they want to play, minus one Plan, one Manpower, and one Material (with a minimum cost of one each). The old Trail card is removed and the new one is placed in the now empty spot. If the player does not already have a Trap token on the Trail card, they put one on the card now.

Construct a Roadblock

The player pays one Plan, one Manpower, and one Material back to the general supply and then takes the Roadblock token. The player can place the Roadblock token on any junction of any currently played Trail cards or the junction between a Trail card and the Road board. Roadblocks prevent Traveler pawns from using that portion of the trail, possibly blocking access to many other Trail cards. The only rule when placing a Roadblock is that it cannot result in stopping the Traveler pawns from moving to the end of the road.

Roadblocks can be moved during this phase, but doing so will cost every player after the first player who placed the Roadblock one additional Resource of each type after the last amount paid. For example, the first player to move the Roadblock during the round pays one Plan, one Manpower, and one Material. The second player to move it pays two Plans, two Manpower, and two Materials. The third player to move it pays three Plans, three Manpower, and three Materials. You get the idea.

Pass

A player can optionally decide not to take any actions during this phase or be forced to take no actions due to not having the correct Resources or cards. The player can not take any additional actions during this phase of the current round if they decide to pass.

This phase continues with each player taking a turn until all players have passed. This means it’s possible for one player to continue to take actions while the rest of the player sit and watch.

Phase Three: Travel

The traps have been set and it’s time to wait for the foolhardy travelers to take the bait! Each player in turn order sequence starting with the First Player will now move one Traveler pawn down the roads and trails. The Traveler pawn will travel on paths that match their follies and match the color of the coat of arms on the Road board.

There are two types of Travelers. These are Guards and Merchants. Each list their follies. If a Traveler card has more than one folly, it represents a group. When dealing with groups, the first listed folly (the one on top) is used until the group falls into a trap.

When moving, Traveler pawns will move directly from the start of the main road to the end until they hit a trap on a Trail card that matches a listed folly. If there is a Trail card ahead of the Traveler pawn that matches their folly with a trap, the Traveler pawn will move towards it moving the shortest distance to reach it. Once the Traveler pawn reaches their destination, they fall into the trap. If the Traveler pawn represents a Merchant, the player who placed the trap is awarded Profit for each Coin icon on the Trail card. The Merchant than continues “on their merry way”. If a Trail card also has a Bag icon, the player who placed the trap is awarded Profit regardless of the listed follies.

Guards move just like Merchants except they move towards any trap currently in play that matches their folly. Guards do not award the player Profit. Instead, Guards remove traps, forcing the player to remove their Trap token from the Trail card.

After each Traveler pawn has been moved, the phase ends.

Phase Four: Ending the Round

All Traveler pawns move from the end of the Road board they are currently on to the start of the other Road board. Remove the Roadblock and set it aside. Finally, all Traveler cards in play are removed and new Traveler cards are drawn to replace them.

Each player now counts their total Profit. If any player has 25 or more, the game ends. Otherwise, the game continues and the First Player marker is now given to the next player in turn order sequence who becomes the new First Player for the next round.

Ending and Winning the Game

The game ends when any player has earned 25 or more Profit at the end of the round. The game also ends if there are not enough Traveler cards to refill the road.

All players now count their Profit. The player with the most wins the game.

To learn more about On Their Merry Way,  visit the Kickstarter campaign.

Final Word

The Child Geeks had a rough time with this game. Not because it was difficult to grasp. Rather, it was the movement of the Merchants and Guards that got them confused. According to one Child Geek, “I don’t like how I can never get the guys to go to my traps so I can get the loot!” Another Child Geek reported, “I don’t like the game very much because I find the movement confusing.” The more experienced and older Child Geeks had no problems with the movement and settings of traps, making it clear that On Their Merry Way is not a game intended for our younger geeklings. When the votes were in, the majority of Child Geeks were either lukewarm or not interested in the game, resulting in On Their Merry Way not getting a very merry reception.

The Parent Geeks were another story. They found the setting up of the trails, roads, and traps to be an excellent exercise in forward thinking and planning. The more casual Parent Geeks didn’t enjoy it as much, but still had a good time. According to one such Parent Geek, “There is a learning curve here. I didn’t really understand how the merchants traveled until about round three in the game. After that, it was much more fun.” Another more experienced and enthusiastic Parent Geek said, “I really like how much planning is involved, but it never really felt like a lot of work. Just fun!” When all the games were over, the Parent Geeks voted to approve On Their Merry Way and agreed that the game was best played with families and friends who were more experienced in the ways of game-fu.

The Gamer Geeks very much enjoyed the strategy and tactics in the game, finding the process of picking just the right trails and timing of traps to be a fun exercise in creative thinking. According to one Gamer Geek, “I like how the game let’s players set things up and then everything is on rails to a large degree, giving me the impression that you set things up in the game and then sit back to see if you did it right. It kept me interested from start to finish.” Another Gamer Geek said, “I enjoyed it. Fairly flavorless with no real feeling of any theme or narrative, but that doesn’t bother me very much. What I enjoyed most about the game is that I found it intuitive and challenging.” When all the games were over, the Gamer Geeks voted to approve On Their Merry Way, suggesting it was on the lighter side of their normal gaming ventures, but still worth their effort.

I rather enjoyed the game, but completely understand where the Child Geeks are coming from. You need to pay attention to the game and there is a lot you need to map out in your mind. That can be tricky, especially towards the end of the game when there are so many trails to take. This can be a rather time-consuming process and feel like you are using a great deal of your mind. Which you are. On Their Merry Way puts you on your merry way of trying to determine possible movement and then interrupting or reinforcing it. The game is all about putting as much as you can in front of whatever is available to you in hopes you collect more Profit than your opponent. That’s not easy, especially when your opponents have the exact same mindset.

What I liked most about the game is exactly what the younger and less experienced Child Geeks didn’t. I am not suggesting that On Their Merry Way is a game that cannot be played by kids, however. Far from it. A number of our Child Geeks played the game and played it well, it’s just that they were far more experienced gamers. This does lead me to believe that the game is going to be a bit tricky at first, but as soon as you understand how movement works, the rest becomes an enjoyable trip.

Do try this game when time permits. It’ll challenge you, that is for certain. Just keep to the road and know where you want to go. But most importantly, enjoy the journey.

This is a paid for review of the game’s final prototype. Although our time and focus was financially compensated, our words are our own. We’d need at least 10 million dollars before we started saying what other people wanted. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek which cannot be bought except by those who own their own private islands and small countries.

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About Cyrus

Editor in Chief, Owner/Operator, Board Game Fanatic, Father of Three, and Nice Guy, Cyrus has always enjoyed board, card, miniature, role playing, and video games, but didn't get back into the hobby seriously until early 2000. Once he did, however, he was hooked. He now plays board games with anyone and everyone he can, but enjoys playing with his children the most. Video games continue to be of real interest, but not as much as dice and little miniatures. As he carefully navigates the ins and outs of parenting, he does his very best to bestow what wisdom he has and help nurture his children's young minds. It is his hope and ambition to raise three strong, honorable men who will one day go on to do great things and buy their Mom and Dad a lobster dinner. Cyrus goes by the handle fathergeek on Board Game Geek. You can also check him out on CyrusKirby.com. Yes, he has a URL that is his name. His ego knows no bounds, apparently....

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