Friday, February 18, 2011

Global Pursuit: National Geographic Board Game

Ever wonder why some great games just never seemed to have caught on? Recently, I had the experience of playing National Geographic's trivia tile-laying game, Global Pursuit. Typically, I abhor trivia games. Trivia Pursuit bores me to death AND makes me feel stupid at the same time. I expected the same for Global Pursuit considering the similarities in concept but I was pleasantly surprised.

The thing that primarily impressed me was the basic game design. The core mechanic is building a map. They've taken a globe and reduces it into pentagons. You then lay these tiles to recreate the map. BUT, when you're laying the tiles, it recreates a three dimensional sphere (the world) in two dimensions which creates an imperfect map with many large gaps. To add complexity, you actually have several different types of maps, each of the complete earth. There are duplicate map pieces - one may be a political map, one a relief map, and one a map of the routes of ancient explorers. The way gameplay proceeds as you lay the tiles you can lay down, say, the Middle East which links to Europe which links to Asia which links to India which links to a second Middle East. You can literally end up with a map that has four North America or three Antarticas, etc. etc. etc. Just the way the pieces fit together is brilliant. Because they're pentagons they fail to fit together neatly like hexagons would so you have all sorts of breaks in the map. It's really quite ingenious.

I also appreciated the scoring system. You collect points which you can earn by answering questions correctly. The questions are leveled so an adult can play with a teenager and the playing field will be level. There are also chances to earn extra points by matching map types and answering bonus questions that earn you 1d12 extra points.

This one is an out-of-print treasure for intellectuals who are interested in a stimulating, dynamic game that plays differently every time you play. Even folks like me who tired of Trivia Pursuit will appreciate this strategic take on trivia games.

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