Are you feeling that desire to travel? 2020 left most of us desperate to see the world again, and Signs of the Sojourner might go part of the way of filling that need. After your mothers death you, and your friend Elias, decide to take over her shop and join the caravan she travelled with to keep it stocked. Along the way, you’ll learn more about her world and the secrets that went along with it.
Signs of the Sojourner is a deck builder, but it focuses on building conversation and relationships rather than building defences. As in life, not all discussions will go the way you want, and sometimes you just won’t have the right words (cards) to say what you want to say.
Signs of the Sojourner is played using cards with combinations of symbols. In the beginning, it feels easy, familiar, with everyone communicating in triangles and circles. As you travel, though, things aren’t so easy. People start speaking in symbols you’ve never seen before, and conversations become strained. How will you succeed in your venture if you can’t talk with anyone?
After each conversation, you will have the opportunity to add a card from the conversation to your deck. This means you can expand your set of symbols, so you can more easily speak with people. Unfortunately, you will also have to discard one of your existing cards at the same time. This brings some complexity and frustration to the game because sometimes the new card won’t improve your deck. Having a deck limited to 10 cards and needing to ‘forget’ a language you’ve already learnt/know made the game somewhat more complicated.
As you travel on the road, you will gain level ups to your cards. These let you be extra chatty (play two cards instead of one), clarify (place a card farther back in the conversation) and more. You will also get fatigued, though. Every seven days of travel adds a fatigue card to your deck, which can be disastrous for a conversation.
Signs of the Sojourner is played over five trips with the caravan. You have a calendar and a map that shows the route you’ll take. As you travel to more places and meet more people, your map will fill up with more roads and destinations; These allow you to veer from the caravan route if you want to get in some more adventure. Your calendar will also fill with events and quests happening during that period.
The game isn’t all travel and meeting people, though. You will also need to keep the shop stocked, which is where successful conversations are important. Make friends with people, and they might give you some of their fantastic wares to take home.
Art and sound design
With a lovely cartoon style, Signs of the Sojourner is filled with character. Each person you meet will have their own quirks, personality and body language, which they will display as your conversations progress. They’re not shy in showing their disappointment at a conversation gone badly.
The backgrounds are gorgeous, which gives each town or city you visit its own energy. A little bit pretentious in Pachenco, a hippie vibe in Bukam Boro (my favourite stop on the trip), and then there’s the big smoke of Anka.
Each stop also has a theme song, giving an added vibe to the towns. All of them are excellent and I found myself thinking “this is my favourite one” for all of them. Though Bukum Boro does have a special place in my heart.
I had a great time with Signs of The Sojourner and ended up playing it multiple times. The first playthrough took about six hours, but once I understood how to play and was better at building my deck, it was easy to get through the conversations faster. Something I found interesting was that the people at the locations change, so you do need to play multiple times to get to experience everything, including the multiple endings!
Signs of the Sojourner is a nice story about life and the ups and downs that go with it. Occasionally, later conversations can sometimes be frustrating, and maybe they won’t go how you planned, but that is also true of life. With the multiple chances to save a conversation. I think it’s a great introduction to deck builders. With the multiple chances to save a conversation, it doesn’t feel as daunting as other deck builders might.