Most video games based on pirates place you on a swashbuckling journey where you wield cutlasses and flintlock pistols, then strike out to the sea and blow other ships apart. These are undoubtedly very fun. However, Journey of Greed takes you on a more cerebral adventure through piracy and is incredibly interesting.
Journey of Greed is a deck builder at heart, with you having to navigate through a series of islands with three other players or bots to amass the most loot you can. Your journey is rife with danger, with various foes popping up as you advance, and don’t forget, you might be a pirate, but so are the other three players, so these aren't the only dangers you face.
The game has three types of islands; Green, Red, and Black, each with distinctive traits. Green is safety and fortune, where you can get coins or other helpful items. Red is a misfortune, where you will enter battles, and finally, Black is a disaster island where you will take damage. You need to make careful card choices for each island type, but it would be far too easy if that's all there was to it.
Until you play a card, you do not know what island you are stepping foot on, which makes your job harder. You might play a card to gain more loot and then end up being in a battle instead, therefore wasting your card and putting you at a disadvantage in battle.
Like a true pirate, your compass will help you on your way. It will tell you the spread of Green and Red island in the next three steps to help you plan. Note that this doesn’t include Black islands, so when it tells you the Green and Reds are equal, that's the time to panic. It is a pretty interesting mechanic to learn, and you feel clever once you start correctly predicting the future.
Each turn sees you picking a card to use that offers you immediate benefits or future help. For example, you could play a card to immediately restore some health or grant you defence if you think you are going to run into trouble, or you can play cards that will increase the number of coins you will get next turn if you are predicting a big payday is around the corner.
Of course, if you know a red island is coming, you can unleash your inner Blackbeard, and play cards that deal damage to your fellow pirates or strip their defence in the hopes of getting them knocked out.
The game aims to have the most coins, and if another pirate falls, the surviving loot them and split their treasure. There are periodic safe islands that revive knocked-out players and let you bank your coins so you can’t lose them, a nice way to keep everyone in the action. Learning the island order is key to winning.
As mentioned earlier, Journey of Greed is a deck builder. So cards will be at the heart of this game. Your deck is made up of Skill and Island cards. Island cards determine what the Green and Red islands will be, with each map drawing from all player's decks, so you won’t necessarily have the island cards you want.
Arguably the most important part of your decks will be Skill cards since these are what your actions will be. These cards range from basic cards that increase your Spilt stat for a turn, resulting in you getting more coins when you pick a treasure option, to more advanced ones that bring the next Red island three turns closer. There is a myriad of deck types you can build, giving you so many ways to enjoy the game.
To help with your chosen playstyle, you can choose between eight characters to play as. The Mercenary is a combat-orientated character, so you will want to encounter as many Red islands as possible to revel in battle. The Trickster, on the other hand, is more subtle, specialising in stealing your companion's hard-won coins and getting a better split of treasure.