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Subject: Unboxed Review: Bakong rss

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Chris Bowler
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Stockport
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It's that time again, it's time for an Unboxed Review.

Every now and then you buy something on impulse, maybe because you think it looks good or would make a good present. Sometimes it’s the best idea you’ve ever had, other times… well, other times it’s just not.

For me Bakong was an impulse buy, I saw it in the bargain bin over at Board Game Guru and I figured for £10 even if we only played it a couple of times, how bad could it be? And you know what… It’s Ok.

The Concept

You are Indiana Jones (although you may look like a skittle style pawn) racing through the jungles of Cambodia towards the sacred Bakong temple in search of emeralds. To make it through you’ll need to have the right equipment and plenty of space in your pack to haul the loot out. Race through jungles, into caves, over quicksand, across rivers, down waterfalls and up cliffs, and triumph as the best treasure hunter of all.

Unboxed

I’ll be honest here, the cover of the box is what sold this game to me. I read a pretty mediocre review of the game, but still in the back of my mind a little voice was saying “But look at the pretty picture.”

And it’s a similar story inside the box too:

24 Jungle Tiles
1 Starting Camp Tile
1 Temple Tile
6 Rucksacks in 6 Colours
6 Pawns
2 Six Sided Dice
20 3 Emerald Tiles
20 1 Emerald Tiles
6 Large Emeralds
12 Ouch Tokens
2 Sets of 8 Items
1 First Back Tile
Rules in many languages

So this is my first Asmodee game, but I’m guessing most of them come with multiple rulebooks for different languages? All the components are pretty nice, the artwork is great and any complaints I have are pretty minor.

The Backpacks are very thin and the emeralds/equipment tokens are slightly bigger than they should be (by less than a millimetre probably) to fit inside the squares of the back packs. The 3 point tile for getting back first is rather unnecessary and could have been used instead as an extra jungle tile.

Also the box is far bigger than it needs to be, I’d say possibly three or four times too big.

Running the Gauntlet

To set up the game place all the Jungle Tiles on the table so that they form one path that starts at the Camp Site and ends at the Temple.

Each player then takes a pawn and a matching coloured rucksack. Then, starting with the youngest player each player chooses one piece of equipment. Most of these allow you to break one rule of the game and there is no single piece of equipment that is more powerful than any other, but they do add some much needed control over movement.

On their turn a player rolls both dice. One die roll will be used for movement, the other will be used to flip a tile that many spaces in front of the player.

The player first flips a tile and then moves. Each tile is double sided with a different result on the back. Generally a bad tile will have either something good or neutral on the back, so flipping a bad tile like Quicksand or the Pit is always worth doing, unless your opponents are likely to suffer more from it than you!

And that’s your turn, some tiles will reward you with small emeralds or pieces of equipment, others will harm you and others will halt your movement unless you have the right equipment.

The first player to reach the Temple gets the biggest (17 point) emerald, each subsequent players gets a smaller less valuable emerald. The players then turn around and race back. Once one player gets back the game ends and that player gets three bonus points for getting back first. The player with the most points wins.

Verdict

This is not a game for adults. This game is roll and move with limited and often obvious choices. I like the theme and it fits well, the game does feel quite race like, although going slow and steady to collect more gems from Caves can be a perfectly valid tactic too.

The items in the game feel quite thematic too, the machete allows you to move further on your turn, your torch allows you to find gems in the dark caves etc. I like the artwork too, the game looks nice on the table and I like how you can only carry items that will fit in your back pack (possibly the most innovative part of the game.)

I think there is a good game to be had in this box, but it’s not quite there yet. For younger children this is a great game, it has some decision making, like which tile to flip or which equipment to drop to fit that last emerald into your pack. It also has a nice memory element so that you don’t flip a bad tile face up in your path. And it plays quick, fifteen minutes is a long game for Bakong.

However, I think there are definitely areas for improvement. With such a large box the game could have held way more tiles, the game has an RRP of £25, that’s way more than Carcassonne which manages 72 tiles and a lot more wood. With more tiles the jungle could have had branching paths to allow multiple options for movement. Or it could have had a wider variety of tiles with different game effects.

Another thing is that whenever you roll a double (unless you have the Machete or the Compass) you have to flip the tile you’re going to land on, there is no choice in this and the whole thing feels pretty arbitrary. What about including a deck of Event cards that, every time a double is rolled one of them is flipped face up. This way the game could have been made more thematic too.

Overall I don’t regret the purchase, although I wish it were either in a smaller box or there was more game in the box. I certainly wouldn’t recommend the game at full price or to anyone but the parents of young children who are ready to move on from Candyland, but we’ve had fun playing it with my little brother and it’s a nice, fast way to knock out a game before bedtime and it does look pretty!

Don’t forget, just a few days left to vote in the poll, can anyone break the stale mate between the Lord of the Rings LCG and Mystery Express and can Sid Meier’s Civilisation make an awesome comeback from behind? Find out next week as I do an “If Only”.post on the winner!

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You can check out all my other reviews on the blog or right here on the Geek
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Steve Blackwell
United Kingdom
Brighton
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Yeah, I bought this impulse, full price :C

Should have read the back of the box in detail. The moment I looked at the rules I regretted it. It is unplayed and tiles unpunched...

Would love to sell it but can't imagine anyone would buy it.

Downer

M B
 
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Chris Bowler
United Kingdom
Stockport
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I have noticed that it's very difficult to get the rules for Asmodee games in English online. This seems odd to me as I rarely buy a game anymore without having at least glanced at a pdf. FFG, Rio Grande, Days of Wonder, Mayfair and Z-Man all offer pdfs, which not only show you the rules but the components as well. This has to be the way forward!
 
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tom moughan
United States
Rochester
New York
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ahh....I love the smell of a stack of sketchily placed animals in the morning!
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All I can say is: Give Asmodee another chance..they do have some good games! I heard this one is not that griping but I must admit that the one picture I saw of the box and the components almost sucked me in!
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Paul Agapow
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The Duke BGG wrote:
Every now and then you buy something on impulse, maybe because you think it looks good or would make a good present. Sometimes it’s the best idea you’ve ever had, other times… well, other times it’s just not.

For me Bakong was an impulse buy, I saw it in the bargain bin over at Board Game Guru and I figured for £10 even if we only played it a couple of times, how bad could it be? And you know what… It’s Ok.


That's what I do with BoardGameGuru - haunt the discount page and watch out for things that have been passed over. And sometimes it's a hidden gem (e.g. Tongiaki) and sometimes ... otherwise.

I've had my eye on Bakong in that context. So your review was extra-informative. Thanks!
 
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Dan C
United States
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I have 4 Asmodee games (Jamaica, Snow Tails, Dice Town, Jaipur) and they are all excellent. I will probably pass on this one though...
 
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tom moughan
United States
Rochester
New York
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ahh....I love the smell of a stack of sketchily placed animals in the morning!
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jedimusic wrote:
I have 4 Asmodee games (Jamaica, Snow Tails, Dice Town, Jaipur) and they are all excellent. I will probably pass on this one though...


Snow tails alway felt a bit broken...either that, or I was playing it wrong. I have had great experiences with the rest you mentioned. Bakong however, seems to be a big disappointment I won't be throwing my money at.
 
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Chris Bowler
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I'm certainly not against trying more Asmodee games based on this one. However I think I'm certainly more inclined to try games I can read the rules of in advance.

My next Asmodee game will be Identik, which I'm having for Christmas.
 
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Royce Banuelos
United States
St. Louis
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Great review, really informative. I would say one thing to the rules that you got wrong is that when you get to the temple you get to choose which emerald to get, you might not want the biggest one. It's a fun game but I also got it for $3. If I payed more than $10 I probably would have been a little upset at how light it was. Fun, quick and simple. Get it for the right price and it's a great filler game.
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Jeff Shoot
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You said, " With more tiles the jungle could have had branching paths to allow multiple options for movement. "

What if you bought two copies (obviously for a low price.) Could you play using double the number of tiles and "branching" like you mentioned?

 
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Chris Bowler
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Certainly a possibility although it would require some experimenting, for example when flipping a tile, can you flip a tile on one branch then move along the other?

Regardless, the problem inherent with this game is the lack of interesting decisions. You have two choices on a turn and usually one is obviously better than the other, or even worse, not really different from the other. I dont think adding more sets would fix that.

 
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