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INCAN GOLD

Reviewed by Herb Levy

(Sunriver Games/Funagain Games, 3-8 players, ages 8 and up, 20 minutes; $19.95)

 

A few years ago at the gaming convention commonly known as The Gathering of Friends, I played a game by Alan Moon and Bruno Faidutti called Diamant. The game involved entering mine shafts to uncover treasure, pressing your luck to bring back valuables before you encountered deadly dangers and the mine shaft collapsed! The game was great fun but a bit expensive. I spoke to Alan about it and he had hopes to have the game reissued at a more appealing price point. It has taken awhile but that hope has been realized as Diamant has resurfaced as Incan Gold.

Incan Gold comes small boxed with 110 Treasures (60 turquoise stones, 30 obsidian, and 20 gold), Tent cards, 30 Quest cards, 16 Player cards (8 Torch and 8 Camp cards), 5 Artifact cards and 5 Temple cards. Each player begins with a Torch and Camp card as well as a Tent card (which is folded and placed in front of the player). The five Temple cards form the centerpiece of the game with one Artifact card placed underneath each Temple card. For the first round, players will enter the Temple through Temple card I and now, the Artifact card under Temple card I is revealed and added to the 30 Quest cards deck. The deck is shuffled and play begins.incangold

Each game turn begins with players facing a decision: keep exploring in the Temple or leave while they can. Secretly, players choose either a Torch card (to stay and follow the path) or a Camp card (to leave). All players reveal their chosen card simultaneously. (On the first turn, all players, of course, opt to explore.) Now, a card is drawn from the Quest deck.

If the drawn card is a Treasure card, the value of the Treasure is evenly divided among players still in the Temple. Any remainder remains on the card itself.

If an Artifact is drawn, it remains on the path (for the time being).

If a Hazard is drawn, the players face danger. The 15 Hazard cards consist of three cards each of five different hazards (cave-in, snake, fire etc.). When the first type of a hazard is drawn, nothing happens. Consider it a warning. But if the second card of the same type is drawn, disaster strikes! The exploration is over and players still on the path give back ALL the treasures they have accumulated during that round! (The second Hazard card that triggered this disaster is removed from the game.) But what happens if a player (or more) decides to leave BEFORE a second Hazard card is drawn? This is where we get into a game of nerves.

As mentioned, the first thing done in a round is playing a Torch or Camp card. If one or more players play a Camp card, they are leaving the path and heading back to Camp – and safety. All treasure they have accumulated on this round is transferred from in front of their tents to inside them. That treasure is now safe. If there is treasure on the path as they exit (remainders from previously discovered treasure), the remainders are divided equally among the players exiting. (Any remainder from this new division remains behind.) If an artifact is available – and only ONE player is leaving the path – that player gets the Artifact. (With two or more players exiting, the Artifact stays where it is.)

When all players have left the path OR when a second matching Hazard card is drawn, the round is over. Now players step up to Temple Card II and follow the same procedure. When Temple V has been explored, players tally up their treasures.

Turquoise stones are valued at 1, obsidian at 5 and gold at 10. The first three Artifacts to be successfully brought back to Camp score 5 points; any retrieved after that score 10. The explorer with the most treasure value wins!

Although graphically different, the play of Incan Gold is identical to the original Diamant except for the tent cards (the original had nicer “corrals” for treasure) and the inclusion of Artifacts (a wrinkle to play which may be used or removed from the game according to taste). Keeping the game play intact is a good thing. The game pushes so many buttons! Not only do you have to decide how much YOU want to risk each turn but you also have to try to read the minds and intentions of your fellow explorers to determine their risk tolerance. Are they going to leave the Temple and try to pick up treasure along the way? Or are they – and you – going to stay just a little bit longer, lured by the siren song of more treasure to come?

Many games try to tap into the “push your luck” genre of play but few do it better than Incan Gold which makes it fun for both serious and casual game players. – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Herb Levy


 

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