In my opinion, there are two types of gamers - the hardcore gamers who love the nuances of a 100-page rule book, and the casual yet intelligent gamer looking for something more interesting than Monopoly. In recent years, games like Settlers and Ticket To Ride and even Flying Frog's Last Night On Earth have found wider acceptance as the latter audience has grown.
What bugs me about the Flying Frog games I've played is that they seem to exist in an annoying place between hardcore and casual. They're not complicated enough to be considered under the super serious heading, but they're often just a little too convoluted for a more casual "teach as you go" session. And I wouldn't mind if the complications made the game better - but honestly, the things thrown in just feel totally arbitrary.
First, Fortune & Glory, like other FF games, is GORGEOUS. The attention to detail is amazing. The pieces and cards and artwork...a gamer's dream. And the theme is exactly what you want it to be: Indiana Jones in your living room. And yet it's not been particularly liked by my casual gamer friends for two reasons.
One, the rules are unnecessarily complicated and as unstreamlined as you can get. Like, at the start of each round, all players roll to see who goes first. If you get a 1, you get a Free Event card. BUT. If there's a tie, you don't get a free event card. Why? Why not? It doesn't make any sense, and yet this is one of a zillion little rules you have to remember to get through the game.
I wrote out the rules on a cheat sheet, and re-reading it as I'm writing this, it's insane how overcomplicated this game is, in part because each element of the game has a different system you have to remember. And honestly, I just don't think it had to be this way, as the fundamentals they're getting at are very clear cut. Travel to a land; overcome dangers to retrieve an artifact; sell it in a city and eventually win the game. Along the way, boost your character's stats to make the process easier.
Seems simple, except that every step of the way has a system that you have to remember, each with its own set of doesn't-really-make-sense exceptions. For example, on your actual turn, you will either be in a city, on a non-city land space, or adventuring for treasure. If you're in a city, draw a City card and see what happens to you. If you're on a random land piece, roll a die. On a 1, you fight. On a 2,3, nothing happens. On a 4,5,6 draw an event card. If you're adventuring, draw cards to face dangers. The disparate nature of each option makes the structure of the game feel very arbitrary.
The second problem is that, because you're playing against the game instead of rival players, it can get tedious waiting for other players to go. The game involves rolling lots of dice checks that only affect your character and no one else, and it's easy to tune out after the initial novelty of the theme starts to wear off. There are some card-based ways to sort of screw up other players, but for the most part, you're in your own world, and I think it's too bad there's not a more cutthroat edge to the game.
I hope I've been clear about why I've given it three stars. I like complicated games; I do not like overcomplicated games. Fortune & Glory, on the other hand, has a steep steep learning curve, and I just don't feel the reward of knowing all 200 rules or so is worth the benefit of the overcomplication.
But it's SUCH a beautiful game that I still urge you to try it yourself, especially if you're more in the hardcore gamer category. My personal hope is that FF gets a little better at streamlining games in the future - not every dice rolls needs random exceptions to spice things up.