$30.00
Brad N
United States
Madison
Wisconsin
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What you need to know about Escape: The Curse of the Temple:
- Game for adults and kids
- Cooperative, Real-time
- Plays in 10 minutes
- Best with 3, 4 or 5 players; also good with 2

Summary:
Escape: The Curse of the Temple is a real-time, cooperative game where players are adventurers who are trapped in a cursed temple, trying to activate magic gems in the temple to be able to escape before it collapses. Play the soundtrack and the adventure begins when the voice announces, "Escape!" Roll dice to explore the temple and find areas where gems can be activated. Adventurers in the same chamber can use their dice to help one another activate gems. Some chambers may also unleash curses that will slow you down or provide treasures that can help you along. Once enough gems have been activated, the explorers must find the exit and ESCAPE!

A picture before my 100th play of Escape: The Curse of the Temple (8/14/2016) with my wife (Marie-top right) and three children (Azalea-10-top left, Ivory-12-bottom left, Dane-8-bottom right)

What I like:
Escape is a fully cooperative game with a real-time element that works very well. Working together is important in this game and, because you make your decisions in real-time, it is not the type of cooperative game that lends itself to one player ordering everyone else around. It also scales well with different numbers of players. I find it's best with 5 players which creates a loud and exciting atmosphere; it is also very good with 4 and with 3 and even pretty good with 2 players.

The base game comes with a couple of modules that can be added into or removed from the game. These modules can be used to increase or decrease the difficulty level. Both modules use some replacement tiles that add "curse" and "treasure" pictures to several tiles. In module 1, whenever you find a chamber with a curse picture on it, your character takes a curse tile that will negatively affect you until you fix the curse. In module 2, whenever you find a chamber with a treasure picture on it, a treasure tile appears that can be opened to unlock a benefit. Both of these modules provide more variety in the game.

Everyone is always involved and the game is over in a set, short amount of time. Knowing this, Escape can be a good game to play when there is not a lot of time available.

The soundtrack adds to the tension of the game. You must return to the starting chamber twice during the game and the soundtrack warns you by sounding a gong and speeding up the tempo when the doors are nearing the time they will shut. This is followed by the sound of a stone door slamming shut. The sound changes again at the end of the game when it is time to Escape before the temple collapses.

The theme is perfect for what you are doing. Practically everyone is familiar with Indiana Jones and this game reminds me of the best scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark when Indy is attempting to escape a dangerous, underground cavern with his newfound treasure.

The game artwork is not amazing, but it is good and very functional. The components are nice. In this real-time game, being able to quickly decipher the different faces of the dice and realize what is inside the chamber as soon as it is flipped are critical features to the game's success. In this game, the artwork looks pretty good and is very clear and that makes the game easier to learn and play. The tiles are sturdy with a clear indication of the main entrance and what die rolls are needed to enter the chamber or activate 1 or more gems. The characters are larger, colorful, wooden meeples in the shape of an explorer (like Indiana Jones). The gems are fairly standard gems that have been seen in other games; they look like gems and their shiny, green color contrasts them with the tiles.

There are several expansions available for Escape: The Curse of the Temple that add more modules to the game. The expansions are not a necessity to enjoy the game. However, I doubt I would have reached 100 plays (at least, not this quickly) without the expansions. I've found that the expansions I own have added more excitement and fun to an already entertaining game.

The first expansion is Escape: The Curse of the Temple – Illusions and provides new chamber tiles that disappear at different points during the game, other chamber tiles, a new curse, a new treasure, another character and dice (so you can play with 6 people). I love the treasure chamber where players must obtain a chalice and take it with them to the exit (this is basically a "quest" chamber as it is called in a future expansion). Otherwise, I find the "Illusions" expansion almost totally unnecessary and I rarely use other parts of it.

The second expansion is Escape: The Curse of the Temple – Quest which adds 5 more "quest" chambers and characters with special abilities. The "Quest" expansion is magnificent because the characters give each player a unique ability and make coordinating between the players even more important. Also, the "quest" chambers create new situations to handle in each game that mix it up enough to change the feel. For example, in one chamber, a die must be sacrificed by two players in order to complete that quest before the adventurers exit the temple. I use the "Quest" expansion almost every time I play now, unless I'm introducing new players to the game. There are other expansions which I have not played, such as Escape: The Curse of the Temple – Traps and Escape: The Curse of the Temple – The Maya Calendar.

Finally, other additions have been added on BGG to further improve the game. For example, the 26 challenges for Escape (OFFICIAL) is a great way to set up the game a bit differently and with certain uses of the first two expansions for a variety of combos and levels of difficulty. I almost always use one of these setups now. Also, here is a thread that provides custom soundtracks for Escape that fit the same 10 minute timer... 50+ Custom Soundtracks for Escape: The Curse of the Temple. During my 100th play of Escape: The Curse of the Temple, we played challenge 2c of the 26 challenges (uses expansion 2) and we listened to the "Raiders of the Lost Ark" custom soundtrack.

What I dislike:
Some younger players (or players in general) can struggle with the speed of the game and understanding the rules as the game is going. If someone panics when the soundtrack starts, then this may not be fixable and the game is probably not for that person. Typically, I've found that a short intro round where new players play their turns and someone whose played before gives them reminders as they go about what they can and can't do provides the guidance needed to get people going.

It can be difficult to enforce the rules. This is often an issue with real-time games and Escape is no exception. If one player keeps re-rolling their locked dice because they forget the rule and nobody else notices then it can mess up the game. This is another reason to play a short intro round with new players and get them familiar with the different situations that are easy to mess up. Nonetheless, it's not hard for someone who knows the rules to inadvertantly roll a die they shouldn't or miscount the number of symbols on dice in the heat of the moment. With a light game like this, I don't really see this as a big issue.

Game setup and takedown takes a little while. Considering you are only playing the game for 10 minutes, it can take a little bit to set up the game. This is especially true with the expansions in the game. If you need to sort out the different types of tiles and re-randomize everything, then you may spend as much time setting up and taking down the game as you spend playing it. That is still just a few minutes. This isn't enough to stop me from playing the game, obviously, but it is a downside.

My rating:

Rules:
This rules overview will cover setting up the base game with both modules that come in the box (curses and treasures).

Set the gem depot tile nearby with the proper number of gems on this tile (7 for two players, 11 for three, 14 for four and 16 for five); place 2 games next to the gem depot. To play with curses and treasures, use the 6 main chamber tiles (starting chamber, exit, 4 chambers showing 1,2 and 3 gems with associated key or torch images) and the 13 "enhanced" chamber tiles (showing either a purple mask or a square treasure icon or both). Place the starting chamber in the middle of the play area, shuffle all of the main chamber tiles and enhanced chamber tiles and put two adjacent to the starting chamber. Whenever a new tile is placed, the gray, stairway entrance should be placed so it connects with the door being used from the starting tile. Shuffle the exit tile with 4 of the main/enhanced chambers and place them under all of the other chamber tiles in a stack. Shuffle all of the curse tiles and place them in a face down stack near the play area. Shuffle all of the treasures and place them in a face down stack near the play area.

Each player selects an adventurer figure and token of the same color along with 5 dice. Place the adventurer figures being used on the starting chamber. Using some kind of sound system (phone, computer, stereo, etc.), set up the soundtrack to play. This can be found on the publisher's (Queen) website or the game comes with a CD if you want to be old school (or a sand timer if you want to be even older school).

GAMEPLAY
Everyone plays the game simultaneously in real-time. Simply roll your dice, evaluate what has been rolled and then choose whether to use dice and/or re-roll spent or unused dice.

Each die has 2 green adventurer icons, 1 red torch, 1 blue key, 1 gold mask and 1 black mask. Each icon has a different meaning. If a black mask is rolled then that die remains locked. It cannot be re-rolled until it is unlocked. When a gold mask is rolled, it may be used by the player who rolled it, or another player in that chamber, to unlock up to two of their black mask dice that are locked. The adventurers, torches and keys are used to enter and discover chambers, activate magic gems, lift curses and open treasure chests.

There are 5 primary actions that players can take during the game:

1) Enter a chamber
a. A chamber adjacent to the chamber where the player's adventurer figure is located can be entered if there are open doorways connecting the two tiles.
b. If the player's dice show the 2 icons that appear in the red frame on the chamber tile, those dice may be spent to move the adventurer to this chamber.

2) Discover a new chamber
a. If there is an open doorway on the chamber where the player's adventurer figure is located, then a new chamber may be discovered.
b. If the player's dice show the 2 green adventurer icons, then a new chamber may be taken from the top of the stack and placed adjacent to the adventurer's current tile.
c. When placing the new tile, always put the gray, stairway entrance connecting to the open doorway being used.
With the modules, curses and treasures can enter the game with each newly discovered chamber.
d. If the chamber shows a purple mask then the player who discovered the chamber must take a curse tile from the face down stack. The adventurer is affected by that curse until it is lifted. If a player draws an identical curse to one they already have in front of them, it is discarded with no effect.
e. If the chamber shows a treasure icon in the corner then place a face down treasure tile onto the treasure icon in the chamber.

3) Activate magic gems
a. If the adventurer is in a chamber showing pictures of 1 or more magic gems in a circle, then magic games may be activated.
b. If the dice for all adventurers in the chamber show enough of the icons (torch or key) that are displayed on the tile, then those dice may be used to active the magic gems (move gems from the depot to the chamber tile).

4) Escape
a. An adventurer in the exit chamber may escape the temple if they roll as many key icons as the number of gems in the depot plus one. You must roll the required number of keys by yourself.
b. After escaping the temple, that player no longer rolls dice. However, they may give one of their dice to one of the adventurers still in the temple.

5) Turn of fate
a. All players may unlock and re-roll all of their black mask dice by placing one of the gems that started adjacent to the gem depot into the depot.
b. This can only be done twice during the game since two gems start adjacent to the depot.

With the modules, there are two additional actions that players can take during the game:

6) Lift a curse
a. If a player is affected by a curse and rolls all of the icons shown on the curse tile then the curse tile is discarded. The player must roll all icons by themself.

7) Open a treasure chest
a. If one player shows two key icons while in a chamber with a treasure tile, the treasure tile may be flipped over and used now or later for it's benefit.

RETURNING TO THE STARTING CHAMBER
Twice during the game, a gong will sound. This indicates that it is time to return to the starting chamber. Shortly thereafter, doors will shut and if an adventurer has not returned to the starting chamber yet then they lose one of their dice for the rest of the game.

GAME END
If all players escape the temple before the final doors slam shut (10 minutes), then you win. If time runs out and the final doors slam shut before everyone escapes, you lose.

Notes about me:
This is my sixth written review of a game on this site. I've decided to write a review for any game I've played 100 times.

A list with all of my reviews: I’ve played this game 100 times; you should try it once, at least

Here are pictures of our team after we successfully escaped! We played Challenge 2c of the 26 challenges for Escape.
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Dan Lokemoen
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Escape is a pretty bad game (but maybe not so bad for kids) but any real gamer should play it once or twice, anyway. At its core is an original mechanism (AFAIK) that any lover of game design would want to try.
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Freddy Rodríguez
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YourHighnessness wrote:
Escape is a pretty bad game (but maybe not so bad for kids) but any real gamer should play it once or twice, anyway. At its core is an original mechanism (AFAIK) that any lover of game design would want to try.


A pretty bad game? I don't think so...
I know it's your oppinion but Escape is a very fun game for us, we play it every time we can... And with all the Expansions and Queenies it adds a lot!

Anyways, great review for a great game!
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Confusing Manifestation
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Yeah, I can understand not liking the game, but I don't think it's objectively bad. Although as someone who enjoys it, I'm obviously biased. Thanks for the review!
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