Mission: Ends of the Earth
We've previously featured on Board's Eye View several of the games from Bible Games Central, including The Good Shepherd, Bible Animals: Click Clack Match, Emoji Bible Stories and Parable Parade. Inspired by Bible stories, these are all games primarily designed for children. Mission: Ends of the Earth is slightly different; it's certainly a game that children can play but, much more than the other titles, it's a light game that adults can also enjoy. The game obviously has a Christian theme but that's not intrinsic to the game play, so this is a game that can be played and enjoyed equally by those who follow other religions or none.
The rules kick off with Jesus' instruction to his Apostles to carry his message 'to all Judea and Samaria and to the Ends of the Earth'. However, Mission: Ends of the Earth has a contemporary rather than Biblical setting. Players aren't Jesus' Disciples but they instead take on the role of missionaries. Each is dealt a card that identifies which of the four village locations they must reach and the five resources they must have with them at the village in order to win the game. Tho' we've shown these off in our Board's Eye View 360, they are kept face down during the game so other players don't know where you are trying to reach or what resources you need to collect. Over the course of the game, the 2-6 players will be drawing and placing tiles that will ultimately create a path between their starting point and their target village. Some tiles show a resource and when you move your meeple to that tile, you collect the resource. Some tiles tho' show a 'crisis' affecting a resource: when one of these tiles is drawn then every player who has the indicated resource has to discard it. In addition there are tiles showing an airplane: these represent airstrips. Once there are two or more of these in play, they can be used to fly from one airstrip to another.
The number of actions a player can take on their turn is determined by rolling a custom six-sided die with sides 2,2,3,3,4,4, but if you roll a 2 then, unless you already have one, you get to collect a spade token. This can be used as an action to remove and replace elsewhere a tile that's already been laid. This can be crucial because players can easily find their routes blocked as a result of tiles laid by other players: you may all be on similar missions but this is a competitive game and the tile placement rules offer ample scope for 'take that' actions.
Mission: Ends of the Earth plays quickly (our games generally ran for 20-30 minutes) and tho' the rules are simple, the game ramps up as more tiles appear and players find they are interconnecting their paths so that their meeples can collect resources. We've mentioned the scope for blocking off other players and there's an element too of bluff as it can pay to keep opponents guessing as to your destination and the five resources you actually need out of the nine in the game: just because you move your meeple to collect a resource doesn't mean that it's necessarily one you actually need to complete your set...
From our Board's Eye View plays, we found the 'crisis' tiles annoyingly random, especially as the rules say they trigger as soon as the tile is drawn. We would've preferred it if players had a touch more agency over them, perhaps specifying they only trigger when a player ends their turn with a meeple on the tile. You can also add agency and strategy to the game by allowing players to draw and hold tiles or, perhaps, have them all start with one or two tiles so that when they take the 'draw and lay a tile' action they have a choice over which tile to lay. If you pick up a copy of Mission: Ends of the Earth, it's certainly worth experimenting with house rules such as these to add further depth without further complicating game play.
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