A board game promising high adventure, did it deliver?

By Phil Robinson 06/01/2015

England's most famous name in family board games during the 1970's was Waddingtons and they produced games to suit all budgets. Exploration was very popular, had great art work and delivered a large amount of entertainment.

Exploration was an adventure board game designed by James C. Spiring and first published by Spiring Enterprises Ltd in 1967. It was subsequently re-published by the gaming giant Waddingtons in 1970. In Exploration you play an explorer organising and then embarking on your next big expedition. It has some very striking box art with two Arctic explorers dominating the scene which also shows scuba divers exploring some cannons around a shipwreck, sea exploration and some Mayan style pyramids.

It has big claims for a board game with the side of the box describing the game as: "An exciting adventure game on land, sea and underwater. Recapture the thrills of man's great achievements. Prepare and mount your own expedition: mountaineering - explore and conquer the world's highest mountains; diving - search for sunken galleons, pearls and treasure chests; Sailing - explore uncharted seas, discovering unknown islands and rare fish; and archaeology - explore monsoon forests searching for lost cities, prehistoric skeletons and sacred idols.".

Like many board games of this age the main mechanic is rolling dice and moving counters around the board but this is a game of two parts. First you must plan your expedition by moving around the outside edge of the board. During this phase you can recruit personnel and buy any equipment you may need for the expedition. You also get to draw “Exploration Club” cards these are like chance cards in Monopoly and may gain you money, cost you money or have some other benefit or loss on your progress through the game.

Once you are prepared and ready to set off you can take your expedition counter and embark on your adventure. Your movement counter is a ship if you are Diving, a lorry for Archaeology, a tent for Mountaineering and a yacht for Sailing. The game now moves onto the middle (map) section of the board. Here we get to use the Diradice which is a six sided dice with five symbols (one is repeated). This dice determines how you can move around the board and may be orthogonal, diagonal, or a limited number of places. The board being essentially a map also has some primitive terrain restraints and many of the squares contain symbols which means you can only traverse them if you have the matching equipment cards. This is why the planning stage is important; it gives you chance to collect the items you will need and/or build some cash in your expedition fund.

The money is important here as it is ultimately the deciding factor of who wins the game and there are some key decisions to be made during your expedition. You have to complete your main objective but then you can choose to complete lesser objectives or not as you get extra money for returning to base first. Exploration delivers a fun competitive experience with some of the interesting side trading and barter elements of Monopoly during the first stage and an often ruthless race to the finish.

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