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JUST GAMING AROUND - Escape: Curse of the Temple and Relic Runners

-matt s.
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Eugene
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Happy New Year! Its the start of a new gaming year! I'm hoping to get even more good games to the table, get some foam core box inserts created, and get more of my unplayed games actually played. Oh, I also plan on starting a geek list of all the games I've thrifted through the year.

To kick off the year are two games dealing with adventurers and running - lots and lots of running.

Ironically, I did lots (well some) running around outside today with the kids playing 'watermelon' - a form of 500 that my kids play where someone throws a football up in the air and you try to catch it/get it for some points, trying to get to some designated point total first. Well, that's not a board game so no more about that other than to say - that's the first step in my goal to get more physical exercise.

Anyhow, lets get started!




RELIC RUNNERS
Board Game: Relic Runners


This is one of the new games out in September 2013 from Days of Wonder. Production values are excellent - actually superb in terms of art design and production, in particular these nifty game pieces and miniatures:
Board Game: Relic Runners
Board Game: Relic Runners


You play a 'relic runner' who is exploring the jungle finding temples and ruins and excavating them to gain points, special abilities, end-game scoring abilities and the ability to explore more trails (i.e. make them 'known' to you)

In addition, there is a special action board for each player. As you navigate the rivers you advance on this action board that gives you different abilities you can use once, then is reset. You can have up to 3 toolboxes that may give you up to 3 abilities (although you can only use one per turn). There are also 3 tracks you can advance abilities and you and can advance all toolboxes on the same column or different in any combination.

Besides uncovering the items in the jungle, you are also trying to make as my trails known and connect them together to form continuous paths that will eventually let you travel faster and also eventually pick up relics (the miniatures) as they are uncovered. Once a certain number of relics are picked up among all players, the game ends.

We played 2 player for our first game. I found it interesting to a point, but not as dynamic as I thought it might be. I chalk this up a bit to being a first play and not knowing what we were doing. However, I don't see a ton of depth here, so this is definitely a family-friendly game. I would not call this 'light', but maybe 'medium-weight' for families unless they have a lot of gaming experience with Euros.

For me it was pretty light, however, I can see a little bit of depth to it as there are more than one, er, paths to victory. It also helps that the actions, abilities and bonuses vary from game to game as you randomize 2 or 3 levels of them during setup, as well as where they are located on the board. This is not going to change the game wildly, but at least leaves open a bit of discovery and puzzling out of potential optimal paths. The variable end-game bonus points will also help in this regard as well as the 'advanced' version that gives your character a unique special ability of some kind.

Overall, my dad and I enjoyed playing this. It isn't a game that I am desperate to get to the table but it was pleasant enough to definitely play it somewhat regularly for now to see how much more it has to offer.




ESCAPE: The Curse of the Temple
Board Game: Escape: The Curse of the Temple

This game came out in 2012 by Queen who, as you would expect, puts a tremendous amount of quality into the game components, box and, in this case, audio CD.

Board Game: Escape: The Curse of the Temple


I had seen the game early on and was definitely interested in it, then saw it being played a couple of times but never quite made it into a game. Well, my son received this for Christmas and we finally got it played on December 31st at 9:30pm (or so)

The main idea is that all players are working together to escape a temple. You must roll dice (and roll dice and roll dice...and roll and roll and roll) to do everything - get certain pairs to explore and move. Get certain sets of symbols to discover magic crystals and to eventually escape. There are also black masks that lock your dice and golden masks that unlock your dice (or someone else's dice if you are in the same room)

Board Game: Escape: The Curse of the Temple


A soundtrack is provided (on a CD) which you play as a timer. The game takes exactly 10 minutes once you start playing and you have 2 intervals mid-game where you must return to the start tile to avoid losing a die permanently (NOT a good thing) and by the end of the game you have to escape the temple completely. EVERYONE must escape successfully or else you all lose.

In the basic game I played 2p with my son, we dilly-dallied a lot trying to get to 10 keys or torches (i.e. all our dice) to get to 3 gems on the activation tiles. Really, we didn't need to and we held out at 2 on 2 of them. However, after the 2nd mid-game interval we realized we needed to haul it out of there. We were down to 2 gems left which meant it should be pretty easy to get out. Unfortunately, we had well over half the tiles in the temple to explore to find the exit! Luckily we finally pulled out the stops and found it, unfortunately my son was half-way across the temple from it. I was able to get out and gave him one die (as per the rules) and he quickly made it to the exit. Unfortunately, he just couldn't get a 2nd key to make his escape and the door slammed shut before he made it!

It was actually pretty fun and exciting. However, I can see that it could get a bit 'dull' after a few times through with the base game as-is since there's only a couple of different types of activities to accomplish in the game - discover gems and get out.

As such, I'm very happy to see they have included 2 expansions already with the game - I think they are definitely needed. Yes, this is a bit of a luck/dice fest, but the time element makes it shine, at least for me and I'm looking forward to trying the expansions. Despite the luck, I think there's still some decision making to engage in - do you stay together or split up? Do you work longer to get another gem or move on quickly? I'm hoping the expansions add a bit more decision making and/or options as well.

No, this is not a heavy game - anything with a 10 minute timer isn't intended to be. But, I find it to be a lot of fun for something quick and relatively easy to set up.

My son definitely likes the game although the 'spooky' soundtrack seemed to bother/distract him a bit (he's 10). I discovered this awesome Android Timer App that I've installed and will definitely use next game - it removes the spooky part and just has the mid-game and end-game bongs/door slams and drumming. It also eliminates the overrunning of the timer track into the next timer track (sometimes it's hard to hear the transitions).

I really enjoyed my first play, as did my son, and although I was hoping for a bit more, with the included expansions and more expansions available or on the way, it should hopefully keep us entertained for a long time to come.

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