Near and Far Review - A Strong Sequel To Above and Below
Quick Glance: Near and Far
Game Type: Thematic Strategy Adventure Game
Number of Players: 2-4
Mechanics: Dice rolling, Adventure, Deck/Pool Building, Exploration, Route Network Building
Publisher: Red Raven Games
Playtime: 60-120 Minutes
Introduction/Overview: A sequel to the popular game Above and Below and actually many of the tokens can be used to expand that game. However, this game has a more progressive story and can be played in an RPG styled campaign over 11 maps.
Gameplay: This game has a lot going on, but at its most basic you are a group of adventurers and you want to hire mercenaries and gather supplies to improve your chances when you go adventuring on the map. The game board is divided into two locales - The Town which has a bunch of options from hiring members to your band of heroes to acquiring a pack bird to carry treasure, and the overworld map which has a series of adventures and objectives you can quest to conquer from battling rogues to building trade routes. As you go you gain resources that can help you get stronger or work toward your end game score.
Rulebook: A spiral bound booklet that is quite detailed, the first few times you play you will need it like crazy and may have to read the whole thing cover to cover to make sure you understand your options correctly.
Theme: A fantasy realm full of adventure and with the colorful "choose your own adventure" quests you can't help but enjoy the setting. The theme is family friendly as well so a mixed age group can have fun together without any "earmuffs" moments.
Set-Up/Takedown: If the game has a weakness it is here. The first time you play will take forever to set up and get acclimated. There are a lot of different tokens and components to identify, find, distribute, and then hopefully understand.
Components: Nice thick card stock tokens with wonderful artwork. As a bonus some can be added to Above and Below. As mentioned you get a ton of them.
Final Thoughts: I loved the game. The first time I played I am certain I played poorly and yet still had a ton of fun. The progressive story is lower stakes than a Pandemic Legacy type game and makes the theme more immersive while you grow your character to better fit your strategy. If you want to skip the progressive story play the arcade mode and just have fun. The game has a lot of value and will likely become one of the best games in your collection.