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Subject: [Review] Incan Gold rss

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Tom Vasel
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I managed to jump into a game of Diamant a couple years ago at Origins, led none other than one of the designers himself – Alan Moon. The game was quick, simple – and I remember thinking how much fun I had in such a small amount of time. I wanted to pick up a copy, but was amazed at how much the game cost, so let it go for a while. When I heard that an American reprint was being done, I was exceptionally eager to get my hands on a copy and, after several delays, finally got to play Incan Gold (Sunriver and Funagain Games, 2007 – Alan Moon and Bruno Faidutti).

And I still can’t believe what an amazing gem of a game this is. It’s a short, simple game that handles up to eight players, and I can see it getting literally scores of plays over the year. Everyone I played the game with enjoyed it tremendously, and it’s a wonderful game to fit in at the beginning or end of a gaming session. The game is perhaps a little under-produced, but it’s sold for a reasonable price and is highly portable.

Each player in Incan Gold is an adventurer (Indiana Jones style) who is searching an Incan temple for gold and trials. The game takes place over five rounds with five temple cards that form a “game board” of sorts, although it’s completely unnecessary. Each player receives a tent card, folded in half to form an actual small tent, and two player cards – one with a torch on it, the other with a picture of the players’ camp. A pile of treasures in three denominations (1, 5, and 10) is placed near the board, and one player takes a deck of thirty cards (fifteen hazard cards – three each of fire, spiders, rockslide, monster, and snakes; and fifteen treasure cards, with various values from “1” to “17”). The first round is ready to begin.

Each round, one artifact card is added to the deck, and the player turns over one of the temple cards to mark the round. The player with the deck then turns over the top card from the deck. If the card is a treasure card, the players all equally divide it amongst themselves (if possible), with the remainder placed on the card. Players set these treasures beside their tent. If the card is a Hazard, nothing happens, UNLESS the Hazard card is the same type as one that has already been turned over. If this occurs, then all players still in the temple lose all treasures next to their tent, and the Hazard card is removed from the game. If an artifact card is turned over, it is simply left on the table.

After this, players all must decide whether or not they wish to stay in the temple. Each player places one of their cards face down, using the Camp card if they wish to leave, or the Torch card if they wish to continue exploring. Cards are revealed simultaneously, and players who used the Camp card are “safe”. The players split all the gems that are still on cards on the path, leaving the remainder of them. They then place all of the gems next to their tent underneath it and are finished with the round. Additionally, if there are one or more Artifacts on the table, and only ONE player leaves the temple, they receive the artifacts. The first three artifacts are worth five treasures, the last two ten treasures.

The rest of the adventurers continue on, with another card being flipped over; until either everyone is crushed in the Temple, or everyone has escaped. Once this occurs, the deck is reshuffled, another artifact added, and the next round begins. After five rounds, players reveal the treasures under their tents and add them to the value of their artifacts for their final score. The player with the highest total is the winner!

Some comments on the game…

1.) Components: The game comes in a small, flat box – equivalent to those used in the Kosmos two-player series, and easily holds all the cards and the generous amount of treasures. The treasures are plastic polyhedral and are fun to move around and create a nice visual effect. I do think that there are too many “5” valued ones, but there is certainly enough to play the game. All of the cards have excellent artwork on them and certainly help emit a treasure-hunting theme. The one component that I’m not overly fond of is the tent cards. You can fold them in half or gently curve them (there is a sheet included in the game dedicated to just explaining the various methods), but it just is a little “cheaper” than I would like. However, no one that I played with had a problem with it – so it could just be me, and I will admit that the tents were functional. The game is very easy to tote around and can be set up quite quickly.

2.) Rules: The rules are on in a small four-page booklet that easily and quickly explains how to play the game with several color illustrations. As for teaching the game, I’ve now taught it to dozens of people and never had anyone not immediately understand the game. It has a “push your luck” element to it that is simply intuitive to most people; and since the game has a high-speed element, many people learn simply by watching others play.

3.) Artifacts: Artifacts were not included in the original Diamant rules, and the rulebook for Incan Gold even mentions that you can take them out – but I can’t fathom doing so. I certainly enjoyed Diamant, but the artifacts add another level to the game –as players are rewarded if they are the only one who runs, and another player can take the big prize from them. They are a welcome edition, and I highly recommend leaving them in, since they add that much more fun to the game.

4.) Fun Factor: Normally, I talk about game mechanics for a while before getting to this point, but I really have a hard time talking about Incan Gold without mentioning just how stinkin’ fun the game is! Really, it’s just a blast to play, and you’ll hear the entire group laughing the entire time. There are yells when everyone runs at the same time, giving small amounts of treasure to all, and there are cries of dismay when a player pushes their luck too far. I’m the type of player who likes to stay in the temple as long as possible, and often I’m the only one left, gingerly turning over cards, hoping that I find a mother load of jewels. Unfortunately, it seems as if the cards conspire against me, and I lose everything to the squeals of delight from other player. And really, that’s all Incan Gold is – a game in which players attempt to push their luck and warily study the other players, wondering when they are going to dash from the temple. Game play is simple, the time is short even with the full complement of eight players, and invariably people will want to play again. Just today, I introduced the game to a bunch of teenagers, and they didn’t want to stop playing. Games like this are a “must have” for my collection.

I’ve only added a few points to this review, but I think that I can’t say much more – other than that the game is pure fun. It reminds me quite a bit of Cloud 9, and the fact that it plays quickly in large groups – even groups that aren’t used to playing games. Good for youth groups, school classes, get-togethers, and openers for game groups – Incan Gold has the potential to become extremely popular – and it should, a clever, simple little game.

Tom Vasel
“Real men play board games”
www.thedicetower.com

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John Shanahan
United States
Quincy
Massachusetts
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I have the original Diamant, and I think it's a shame that in the remake they went with the torch card rather than even something as simple as a colored chip to drop. There's just something fun about waiting for everyone to get their clasped fist out over the table and then opening them at the count of three---how much of a clatter do you hear when the little guys hit the table? I think it adds a nice dimension.

I think the artifact idea came from a variant posted here. I've used it in my games, and I agree with Tom that it adds something. (With a regular Diamant set, the "1" card becomes the artifact.) I carry a pewter pocket Buddha with me, and that acts as our artifact. Having this in the game definitely steps up the gut-check--as only one player can carry the idol out, running or staying takes on a whole new level.

A friend who had played my version waited for Incan Gold and was somewhat disappointed. While the gameplay is still solid, he missed the quality of the original components.
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Allen Vailliencourt
United States
Greer
South Carolina
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Most excellent review yet again. We played the wrong the first time (after each card we didn't replay our adventurer cards) and we didn't care for it. After realizing the mistake and playing it right the second time we had a blast! It was tense, fast, and exciting to be the only to escape with all the jewels.

Can't wait to get it on the table again.

~Allen
 
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Brian Cole
Canada
Saskatoon - or near enough
Saskatchewan
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Great review Tom, i can't wait to get my hands on the copy i won on "The Dice Tower"....sheesh, when is it going to get here!?

PS. How do you really feel about the game.
 
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Kevin Peters Unrau
Canada
Kitchener
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TomVasel wrote:
Each round, one artifact card is added to the deck, and the player turns over one of the temple cards to mark the round.

If an artifact card is turned over, it is simply left on the table.

Additionally, if there are one or more Artifacts on the table, and only ONE player leaves the temple, they receive the artifacts. The first three artifacts are worth five treasures, the last two ten treasures.

The rest of the adventurers continue on, with another card being flipped over; until either everyone is crushed in the Temple, or everyone has escaped. Once this occurs, the deck is reshuffled, another artifact added, and the next round begins.


Just to clarify, I understand that a new artifact is added to the deck each round but I'm wondering how artifacts accumulate.

In round one there will only be one artifact. If the artifact comes out does it leave play in the remaining rounds? Thus, in round two there could be two artifacts depending on whether or not the artifact in round one came out. If this is the case what happens to an artifact that is discovered but not successfully collected by any player?

Or is it played that artifacts in previous rounds are always re-shuffled into the deck regardless of whether they came out (so in round two there are always two artifacts, round three always three artifacts, and so on)?

Thanks to whomever can clarify this for me!
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Rodney Loyd
United States
Louisville
Kentucky
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Shanahan wrote:
While the gameplay is still solid, he missed the quality of the original components.


I have to agree. For $19.95, I was disappointed with the poor quality of the components in Incan Gold from Funagain. I hadn't done any homework and I was expecting some similar to Diamant. If this is what Funagain is doing with all of the games they have acquired, then I am going to be VERY cautious buying from them.
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