The 7th Continent
A Board Game by Serious Poulp
Minor Spoilers (In images)
The year is 1907. The Titanic hasn’t yet had its fateful maiden voyage. In fact, the Titanic won’t even begin construction for another 2 years. Currently, the Titanic is just an idea; a fundraising project. The Titanic also has nothing to do with this game… At all… Probably… I don’t know because I haven’t played every possible card yet, and there are a LOT of cards (like, 800 of them) to explore. Forget about the Titanic! There are more important things afoot!
A new continent has been discovered and you are one of the explorers explorerering it… whether you want to or not. This isn’t your first time on this continent, you’ve explorerered it before, and last time you came down with a serious case of Curses. You didn’t know this immediately; no, the curse waited until you were home, sound asleep in bed to send you a few fever-dreams and make you aware of its presence. Next thing you know, you’re back on the continent, deep in the brush trying to figure out how to cure yourself.
Welcome back to the 7th Continent.
Number of players: 1 – 4
Time to play: 10 minutes and up
Genre: Cooperative adventure/exploration/survival
Designed by Serious Poulp, the 7th Continent is a unique board game unlike any other I have ever played. It’s essentially a choose-your-own-adventure board game set in the open world of the 7th Continent. You start off in one small area, one tile, with very little idea of where you are and what you’re doing. The clue card will give you a hint as to what your goal is, but you’re going to need to play a little before the clue makes much sense. From your starting position, you can follow any of the orange arrows towards a new section of the continent, but before you can draw that terrain card you must flip the cloud-backed exploration card and follow the text. Sometimes you’ll simply stumble across an item that will assist you in your adventures, but you’re just as likely to have to battle crabs, brave a forest fire, or, heck, maybe stumble across the Titanic; I don’t know, as I said, there are a LOT of cards!
It’s important to pay attention to the Terrain cards as they’re more than just beautiful artwork, they’re also clues as to what you can find. Footprints can be an indication of nearby prey, while certain cards will offer extra resources if specific items appear on your terrain card. There are also hidden numbers literally hidden in the terrain! When you find them you can draw the corresponding card and find new secrets.
So, how do you play it?
“I don’t know! Stop asking me!” -is what I said when we sat down for our first playthrough (which I will be sharing soon). This game seems extremely complex and difficult to comprehend, but it’s not as bad as it initially seems; it’s just overwhelming and different. One of the more difficult aspects of the 7th Continent that really threw us off was the lack of an end goal; we really did not know what we were trying to accomplish with the game. I tried to find the answers in a few forums online but all the highest-ranked answers essentially stated “just play the game, it will become clear.”
Oddly enough, “just play the game” was the most helpful advice we could ask for. The instructions explain the mechanics of the game, and the meaning of all the symbols, but the game itself is the best teacher of how to play it. Once you start playing the 7th Continent, the game will tell you what you’re supposed to be doing and how to do it. Everything is explained in the text of the card, along with clear instructions on what to do when an action is accomplished, or how you will suffer if the action is failed.
We had a LOT of fun playing this (once we figured out what we were supposed to do). It’s nice having a game where we all HAVE to work together to accomplish a singular goal; we either all win together, or we all die together. Mostly, you die together.
The 7th Continent has a real thrill to it as you watch your action deck, which is essentially your life force, dwindle with every step, every hunt, every crossing of a river, and you have to really start evaluating your choices and actions to determine if they are cost-efficient or necessary. Every action has an energy cost, which is the number of cards you draw from the deck, and a success requirement, which is marked by the number of stars on the cards you drew. Every action is a gamble as you try to determine how many cards you’re willing to sacrifice in order to accomplish your goal. In most cases, you can draw as many cards as you want to, but every card gets you closer to death. Once the action deck runs out, you have to reshuffle it and continue, but once this happens the game can end at literally any moment as the four Curse cards now mean instant death!!
Fortunately, the 7th Continent also offers a few ways to help you get through your terrible, terrible ordeal; you can craft items to reduce the number of cards you must draw to complete an action or to increase your chances of success. You can hunt to shuffle bonus cards into your action deck from your discard pile in order to extend your life expectancy. You can discard cards from your hand to activate character skills.
Our first playthrough lasted only 6 hours; we didn’t understand a lot of the mechanics of the game, such as hunting, so we ran through our action deck quite rapidly. Once you get the hang of the game and begin to understand how it’s just as much about survival as it is about exploration, the 7th Continent can easily last 10 hours or more. Some folks have mentioned games lasting in the 20s of hours… this is why the save feature is really cool.
Did I mention the Save feature yet? No? Well, I should have, because it’s an amazing feature of this game.
Instead of making all of your imaginary friends sit around for 24 hours straight trying to cure the curse, you can play for 90 minutes, or whatever your heart desires, then pack the game up in a few seconds to be played later. It really does only take a few seconds! You stack the cards from your hand behind your character card, with durability markers in front of item cards, stack all the characters in order, set the terrain card on top, mark the action and discard piles, toss everything else behind the “The Past” divider, and ta-da! The game is saved. You can now come back whenever you’re ready to continue; set-up only takes a minute.