Phil's Review of Incan Gold
Duration: 20 minutes
Designers: Bruno Faidutti & Alan R. Moon
Publishers: Funagain Games & Sunriver Games
(Originally released in Europe as Diamant in 2005)
Incan Gold is a quick and easy push-your-luck game. Players journey into tunnels in an ancient Incan Temple hunting for treasure. In each of the game's five rounds, players must decide when is the best time to take the treasure they have collected and turn back. If danger strikes, all players still in the tunnel lose all their treasure for that round and the round is over. The player with the most treasure at the end of the game wins.
Inside the box
30 quest cards (15 treasure, 15 hazard cards, 5 artifact cards)
All of the cards in the game are printed on nice card stock and are of adequate size. The artwork is quite nice (although a little murky) and certainly evokes the adventurous theme of the game.
Each turn, one of these cards (which have been shuffled into a deck) are played onto the table, forming the tunnel which the players move through. A treasure card indicates that treasure has been found, and its number reveals how much. It is split evenly amongst the players, and any remainder is left in the tunnel (the remaining treasure is placed on the card).
There are five different hazard types, with 3 cards of each type. If a hazard card is drawn which matches a hazard card already on the table, all players still in the tunnel lose all their treasure and the round is over.
Artifact cards are similar to treasure cards, but can only be picked up by a player fleeing the tunnel. They are worth more in later rounds of the game. These are the only new addition to the rules of the game’s original European release, which is called Diamant.
16 player cards (8 torch, 8 camp cards)
Each player has a torch card and a camp card for the duration of the game. On each turn all players still in the tunnel reveal simultaneously if they are continuing in the hunt for treasure (by showing their torch card), or if they are heading back to camp and collecting any treasure that remains back in the tunnel (by showing their camp card).
In place of these cards, Diamant used some nice wooden character pieces to indicate each player's decision. Although the cards are less fun to look at, they do work well in allowing for a simultaneous choice from all players.
110 treasure pieces
These are nice looking plastic pieces in green (turqoise - worth 1 point), black (obsidian - worth 5 points) and yellow (gold - worth 10 points). They do have the look and feel of treasure when in play in the game. Diamant came with jewels instead, and I think they look excellent as well, although it is handy to have three different denominations of points.
The tents are where each player stores their treasures at the end of each round, so other players cannot see them. They are simply cards with a picture of a tent on them which you need to fold in half to create a small V-shape stand-up tent. This feels like the cheapest part of the game, clearly printed in the same way as the other cards to cut costs. Having to fold the cards in half yourself is also a bit annoying. Still I suppose they do the job in hiding the treasure. The treasure boxes that came in Diamant look much nicer, and it would have been great if something similar was included in this package.
5 temple cards
These cards serve to indicate which round the players are up to. The rule book also suggests that artifact cards be randomly dealt under the five temple cards at the start of play, and that discarded hazard cards be placed underneath. In truth though, the temple cards are somewhat redundant and I wonder if a board of some sort may have served the game better.
The only real strategy in the game involves deciding when is the most beneficial time to turn back in each round. Although for the most part even this is usually more of a gamble than a strategic play.
Quite soon players will realise that if no hazards have been encountered, it is always best to stay in the tunnel. If one hazard has been dealt, you know you are one card away from losing your treasure, and so the length of time you will stay in the round depends on how far behind you feel you are in the scoring.
Having the players’ treasure hidden means a small amount of memory will come into play. When two hazard cards of one type are drawn in a round, one of these is taken out of the game. For this reason, if players remember which hazards are gone, they know the chance of one of these coming up later on is less. However, seeing as the game only has five rounds, it is rare that this will have much of an impact on a game. This could have perhaps been an interesting mechanic for the designers to work more centrally into the gameplay.
There is no direct player interaction in the game, as each person is essentially playing out their own mission. Of course their decisions will be based on how lucky the other players have been.
Having said this, Incan Gold has virtually a ‘party game’ feel, so there is plenty of talking and laughing during play, if the group gets into the experience. A particularly fun aspect of the game is the tension which builds when a player feels they must stay in the tunnel for some time; each new card dealt brings an exciting revelation.
- Quick and easy to play.
- Fun theme.
- Decent components.
- Very little strategic decision-making.
- The tent and temple cards are somewhat disappointing as components.
Who will like this game?
- Those who enjoy light filler games or party games.
- Those who enjoy the push-your-luck mechanic.
- Those who play with a group which enjoys getting into the theme of a game and having light-hearted fun.
Be on your guard. There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.
Very nice review Phil. I just picked this up last night and look forward to giving it a spin tomorrow.
But the drumbeat strains of the night remain in the rhythm of the newborn day.
It sounds like rich geeks should purchase both versions and assemble one game from the best pieces of each.
Thanks for the review -- the initial photos showed additional cards and I was curious what the difference in rules would be.
Thanks for reading guys!
Yes I would love to make my own 'special edition' by combining the two sets! Who wouldn't want Indiana Jones meeples??
If you play with people who are unaware of Diamant I doubt they will actually 'miss' anything from the components. That is, they don't cause any actual problems in the gameplay, they just could have been visually and practically a little better.
Enjoy the game!