Hear ye, Hear ye! The day of Garolium’s Tournament is upon us! We know you’ve been waiting to prove yourselves, Paupers, and now is your chance. Along with your trusty avian companion, you are tasked with exploring the great land of Brighthelm to acquire gold, gather ingredients for powerful recipes, fight monsters and other hazards, and complete quests in order to learn 3 virtues and be crowned the new ruler of the land! Best of luck on your ventures, and may the most virtuous Pauper arise victorious!
What Is It?
Pauper’s Ladder is an exploration game set in a fantasy world of dragons, and golems, and giants – oh my! Players and their birds roam around the different regions, trying to defeat creatures, collect ingredients for their recipes in learning, collect gold, and complete the available quests in the 4 city regions.
Players will need to choose their paths wisely to try and gain their virtues, because hazards may start to block their way if not handled quickly. There are many roads to success, so players can try something different every game!
Who Is It For?
The game’s exploration style is pretty similar to Talisman, so if you like that, I think you’re bound to enjoy this as well. Basically, if you like going around the board not really knowing what’s going to pop up next, this is for you! Just a neat, light exploration game!
The game says 14+ for age. I think that younger players could definitely handle it, as the mechanics are pretty straightforward, but a few enemies (demons for example) might be a bit “scary” for them, so review the art before making your decision for your young gamers.
Contents + Quality
Cards – Average quality, which makes sense because there’s a ton of them, so be ready to shuffle. Most of the cards (regions and outcome decks) are small and square, which is a little awkward, but makes sense because of the layout of the board. The recipe cards are rectangular, and it’s easy to figure out what you need and understand the ability they give you. Overall, everything on cards (symbology and such) is easy to understand. Pauper cards are also laud out nicely and have reference to all the criteria for virtues on them. I do wish those were also on separate reference cards though, just because you cover some of the boxes up with cards you earn (such as quests going to your journal). All the art is very simple, it doesn’t really immerse me in the world, personally, but it get the job done.
Wooden Pieces – The meeples (paupers) are BIG, which is unique and fun. The birds are small discs, average quality. I do wish these were more exciting like the pauper meeples though.
Cardboard Tokens – The gems and virtue markers are average cardboard tokens. The gems are 2 different colors, as well as sizes, so they’re easy to tell apart.
Lucky Charm – Average quality plastic die. Every symbol is easy to distinguish.
Rules – Very detailed. Handy quick reference in the back, which is good after your first game.
Box – Average size box. Once you unshrink all the cards you’ll need to bag them. Everything fits fine in the box when bagged, but we did remove the cardboard insert to make it easier.
- Easy to learn and play
- So many cards in region decks, so there’s a lot of variability game to game
- Variable player “powers” (starting equipment)
- Recipe abilities are cool and the more you learn in a game, the more you’re able to do, so they add to the experience
- Fun exploration theme; the board changes as you explore which is neat
- The art doesn’t bring me into the world much
- Runs long for what you do in it. A 2-3 player game usually fits within the 60-90 minutes it says it takes, but a full 4 player game can take closer to or even over 2 hours, even when it isn’t their first time playing
- There’s a lot of randomness, mostly in the form of card draws, and things rarely feel exciting or triumphant because of that; there’s no big combos or cool moves you can make for the most part
Overall, this is a neat, and pretty chill exploring game. It can take a good chunk of time, but it is relatively easy to play, and has a smooth flow start to end.
You definitely have to be okay with, and even enjoy, a lot of randomness (which makes sense with the theme, since you never know what you’ll encounter in the wild!) but if you are, it’s a good introductory competitive game for any group.
For me, it’s not something I’d choose to play often, because I think it runs long for how much luck there is. But if you’ve enjoyed Talisman and want something a little bit lighter, or want to start someone else out with this before introducing them to that added layer of game, this is an excellent choice!
My Final Ratings:
Overall Game – 6/10
Aesthetics – 5/10
Replayability – 7/10
Difficulty – 4/10
*I was provided a copy of this game to do this review*
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