Endeavor is a tight but fun medium weight Euro with a lot of Area Control mechanics built in. The game is a really good development from the intro level games, and I would highly recommend it. That said, if you are struggling to get a win under your belt, here’s my thoughts on key tactics to watch out for…
During the Game:
Exploits; If playing with the expansion, these are set up at the start of the game and cause rules changes to various regions. They also cause new points options which are material at the end game – ignore these at your peril. Given these will be linked to specific regions this will also increase the importance of getting ahead there – see below…
Slavery / Abolition; This is a key of the cards available in Europe. Each path will offer short term benefits to the player, but only the abolition route will offer the end game support as abolition takes effect regardless of players actions (it’s just a question of which side path you take within the game). This is challenging factor of the game, because there is the promise of short term gains, but players can easily work to erase those gains and some with the abolition strategy. The choice of these will be based on your group and the early turns – it’s a group decision as to which path will persist so don’t rush to take the first slavery card only to find the group went the other way!
Exploration Majority; Getting majority in a region will give you a free bonus, but getting it earlier will put off other players helping to open up a region. It’s often best to get an early token down and just make sure that if you place the last token you will tie the majority of the region. After all, the tie breaker is whichever player played last and so you will snatch the governership of the region.
Trade Routes; This is the bonus points for the routes between the token placements – there are also bonus tokens on some of them! Taking these during the game is helpful, but defending them at the end of the game can be tricky. A tight connected network will score a lot more points than randomly placing down tokens across the map. Planning in the early game and even linking Europe to the region, will help score a lot of bonus points.
Europe vs Exploration; Right at the start of the game you will choose your opening building – between settling your tokens at ports and sending them out for exploration. Of course you will need the former for eventually settling in the colonies, but more buildings will offer you that during the game. So the choice is essentially one of Europe vs Exploration. As with any tight Euro you want to be in the minority, but I would argue that if in doubt you should lean towards exploration over colonisation. There are a lot of early game rewards for exploration and plenty of choice, whilst Europe will always have a constrained offering for the players that have to settle there early in the game.
Extra Tokens; A core to this game is to have tokens to place on the board. Look out therefore for cards that get you bonus tokens and for the level of the tech track that you need to reach to get the next token bonus – falling one step short can be critical to the speed that you engine builds and even the cost of a point / position on the board, may be worth it if it means you can do more every turn for the next 5 turns!
Getting Them Back!; Just as important as getting tokens is the opportunity to recycle them. Make sure your technology is high enough and don’t miss opportunities to recycle tokens mid turn in order to get extra actions. However, be careful to recycle tokens / actions you can use – as some actions take two tokens to be effective (such as colonisation).
Double Actions; Taking extra actions by using the blue tokens from the board can be extremely effective – especially at the end of a round when other players are unable to block your plans. If you can use this to secure a region or attack a player, this can give you a strategic advantage that will last the whole game.
Attack!; Attacking is an important part of the game. It’s a shame that you will inevitably have to target a player in particular to do this, but some routes are crucial and sometimes having enough discs in a region will require this. Watch out when you do this though. A well equipped enemy with lots of turns left will be sure to leave a similar mark on you – attacking late in the round or using the blue tokens can be a smart way to minimise the return fire! Also, retaining the ability to return fire can put others off.
Controlling a Region; Regional control comes in two forms. Blocking out players during exploration will make it costly for them to venture into the region later in the game, and grabbing cards from the region will make it challenging for the other players to get enough tokens to grab the more advanced cards. I would generally advocate for dominating a few regions than being second / third in all – the benefits from specialism and focus do pay out at the end!