App Reviewed on: iPad Pro
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Oftentimes, multiplayer games are fun because they have this incredibly detailed sense of balance that keeps you wanting to outwit and outplay your opponents. Some other games--like with Journey of Greed--the opposite is true. This deck-building pirate game is conceptually compelling, but a primary reason I've enjoyed it as much as I have is because of how I can manipulate certain game mechanics to win handily just about every time I play.
Loot for the longest
Journey of Greed is a digital board game of sorts where four players compete as pirates in journeying between landmarks and trying to loot as much gold as possible. Everyone moves together one space at a time, but each player has a deck of cards they can play a card from each turn and can make decisions at select spaces to mitigate or take on more risk to balance their survivability and their overall score.
In a way it kind of feels like a competitive version of Slay the Spire, though instead of combat you only really have to worry about events or cards played by other players that damage your health. At any point, players who are still alive can retreat to bank the gold they've built up, but they won't be able to earn more gold until other players retreat or hit one of two "rest" spaces where a new round of play begins. On the final "rest" space all collected coins are tallied from each round and whoever has the most wins.
This push-your-luck style of game mixes with a collectible card game where players can choose different characters who have their own innate strengths and weaknesses in addition to special, character-specific cards you can load your deck with. To further the customization, each player also has a deck of location cards that serve as the pool for random events as you move across the board.
The blend of gameplay mechanics and systems here is really neat, but I discovered very quickly that playing a specific class a specific way has essentially allowed me to not only win practically every match I've played, but do so by a gigantic margin. While this has somewhat taken the air out of some of the variety that Journey of Greed seems to offer, it has also allowed me to rack up a ton of free-to-play currency to unlock more cards faster and makes for a game experience that feels akin to its inspiration. Slay the Spire is all about finding ways to abuse character and card synergies, so why not also allow for that in a multiplayer game?
As a game with collectible card game elements, Journey of Greed's monetization is predictably built around collecting and opening card packs to further customize your decks. In my time with the game, I haven't seen much reason to ponder investing, especially since ranking up from wins grants a good chunk of currency and I've been doing that quite a bit.
So far, it doesn't seem like spending money helps all that much, or--if it does--I just haven't encountered paying players. In my last five games I've won by more than double the score of the 2nd place player, and I keep returning to the game to see how long I can replicate this level of success and perhaps even optimize my deck to take my leads higher.
The bottom line
Although Journey of Greed doesn't appear to be a very carefully balanced game, I have been having fun exploiting that fact in a game format that is an interesting blend of genres or mechanics. I can see how the same experience might not be as enjoyable to other players, especially if you're the one being beat, but I am finding enough satisfaction in this free-to-play multiplayer game to keep playing because I don't feel like I have to keep up with it by grinding a bunch regularly or otherwise paying.