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Subject: Dig somewhere else, I was here first! rss

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Nicholas Hjelmberg
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(Designer's own review)

Treasure hunting is an activity that not only pirates may find entertaining but can this be transformed into a board game? A treasure hunt requires a map but how to set up a game where a map knows more than the players? Find the Treasure! has taken an indirect approach of several maps where single maps give clues and combined maps tell what is found at a particular spot.

The players take turns to move their pirate across an island 1 tile at the time. On the island, there are 9 spots where the treasure may be hidden. The content of each spot is determined by a longitude card and a latitude card and whenever a pirate digs at a spot, he or she looks at those 2 cards to see what lies beneath. However, at the start of the game, each pirate may only look at 1 of those cards. To find out the exact location of the treasure, a pirate need to look at more cards and there are only 2 ways to do so:

1. Fight with and win over another pirate to look at his or her card
2. Dig randomly with the risk of finding a cursed treasure that reduces the score

Once the treasure is found, the pirate must return to the ship to win the game before the other pirates find out and try to steal it.

This creates a gameplay where the players have asymmetric and incomplete information in the first part and have to play carefully to find out what the others know while keeping the own knowledge secret. Why is he moving towards that mountain? Did she find something by digging there or is it just a trick? Should I attack first or let them fight each other first?

In the second part, as players will start guessing who has found the treasure, a hunt will take place where players may use map specific elements to their advantage. The use of caves may lose some followers. The use of rafts may leave others on the wrong side of a swamp. If it comes to that, the use of bridges may give battle advantages. But in the end, it is not until a player actually leaves the island and declares himself or herself a winner that the treasure is revealed.

The modular game board gives further variation to the gameplay as the players may choose between several islands or even build their own, although it also adds to the setup time.

Find the Treasure! is a simple game that may not go into any tactical depths but offers both action and interaction and keeps both the players and the score in uncertainty until the very end.

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