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John So-And-So
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To start things off, I want to make clear that I'm a HUGE fan of the first Adventurers game. I had really high hopes for the second installment. Unfortunately, Pyramid of Horus fails in almost every area that the first game excels in. My girlfriend (Jaxin on BGG) christened this game with its new name after the first play; and I stole for the title of this review.

The Bits

The one thing this game gets right (again) is awesome bits. Tons of cards; finely detailed minis perfect for painting (which I planned to do before I played the game and hated it); cool stone pyramid blocks; a very well-illustrated gameboard. I was very happy with the look and feel of the game.

The Shits

Everything else that the first Adventurers brought to the table is pretty much lost in translation here. I won't go over the complete rules since they're easily available elsewhere in the game entry; and I'm going to assume a basic familiarity with them as I describe why the game doesn't work.

Normally I'm a heavy strategy fan, very much a Eurogamer. I can set that aside and have fun with a silly, luck-heavy game if the theme interests me and if it doesn't take too long. The Temple of Chac was a PERFECT example of games like this, for me. It was random and ridiculous, but who doesn't want to play Indiana Jones for 20 minutes on game night? I've played it over 40 times now, painted up my minis something fierce, and taught it to dozens of people (almost ALL of whom enjoyed the hell out of it).

The main problem with Horus is that unlike Chac, there is absolutely no tension in the arc of the game. In Temple of Chac, there's a timer (in the form of that rolling boulder), and it's up to you to decide how much time you want to risk spending in each treasure room. Every turn your possible death looms a few squares back, rolling slowly down the corridor toward you. Can you risk that ONE extra action grabbing one more piece of gold? Or should you just run? Sure, it's a little random (you don't know EXACTLY how far the boulder will roll), but that adds to the risk/reward excitement.

By contrast; at the end of each round in Horus, the start player moves the mummies around and drops a stone block into the temple. I'll explain why neither of these events adds any tension to the game.

The Mummies
 

Each mummy moves back and forth over a set path of 6 squares. Don't step on those squares, and the mummies won't get you. The mummies are so easily avoided that there's really no drama in getting around them, but even if they do hit you, it hurts exactly as bad as drawing an unlucky card, which you do 1 to 5 times on every single turn. Um, lame.

The Blocks
 

There are 36 stone blocks. One of them falls at random onto an empty space every round. Literally, totally at random. You can't plan for it, you can't figure out (or even guesstimate) what your risk/reward for being on a certain square is. Just completely at random, every turn, a block falls down and if you're on that space, you get hurt. Again, you get hurt exactly as much as an unlucky card draw, so who cares. The point is that it's just completely random. There is no tension at all.

Another problem with the blocks being random is that at a certain point, they will seal off the entrance and trap the remaining adventurers inside the pyramid! Sounds just like the boulder in the first game, right? Well, no, not at all. Since you get to see the boulder moving every turn in the Temple, you know about how long you're going to have. In the Pyramid, the game will end after 4 to 28 rounds, at random. There is no way to gauge the timer ANY closer than that. If the first 3 blocks fall in a line, you have just as much chance of the game lasting another 25 rounds as you do of it lasting 1 more. Again, no tension; just pure dumb luck. Whereas in Chac, I may decide "screw it, I'm grabbing that treasure and damn the boulder at my heels", in Horus, I pretty much just go "oh well, I'm grabbing that treasure. Did block number 7 fall? Oh good, game's not over yet." Yawn.

The Cards

Another yawn: the cards. In Chac, all the cards were treasures, and PICKING UP those cards meant risk to your character. In Horus, some cards are treasure and some cards hurt you. There are no odds or risks to any specific area or space, they're just all completely random. So I might search 5 times and get 5 treasures, and you might search twice and get 2 wounds. Oh well! Sucks to be you! Wasn't that exciting?

No, no it wasn't. It was freaking LAME. Again, I have no risk/reward motivation here, so there's no tension. It's just pure luck. Fortunately, getting wounded doesn't matter much; the hits have to really pile up to bother you. Unfortunately, that means that no single bad card, mummy attack, falling block hit, or really any event in the game ever makes much of an impression on you.

The Final Word

In the end, this game was just flat-out BORING. It wasn't a terrible game, I didn't hate it. I just wasted 30 minutes of my life playing it.

To repeat myself yet again, the major problem is that there is absolutely NO TENSION at any point in this game. The designers seem to have confused a CHOICE influenced by random factors (should I try to outrun the boulder? Should I hop on that lava tile without knowing what's under it? Should I spend another action trying to get that last Lockpick die roll I need?) with pure randomness (this card could give me 6 points, or just wound me. This block will make me lose the game, or win it.). It's the difference between Blackjack and War. Some people enjoy both of those games; they should probably buy the Pyramid of Horus. I would also recommend they try LCR , and watching paint dry.

For everyone else, save yourself $50 and hire someone to paint your Chac minis (or buy the paint and do it yourself). You will get more fun out of the 100th play of Chac than you will out of the first play of Horus.


Two of those stars are for the bits.

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Benjamin Hoy
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Thanks for the review. I've been looking at both games now. I think I know which one to try to grab .
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Jonathan Powell
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Spot on review. An expansion for the original game would have been better.
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Jason Matthew
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Thanks for the review. I also think that an expansion for the first game would have been much better. Perhaps a modular board of some sort would have been fun.

But releasing what is essentially the the exact same game again, only way more boring, is just wrong.
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Ze Masqued Cucumber
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thumbsup for the title !
However...
I could argue that bashing a game after one play is not extremely fair, but you're perfectly entitled to do this.
Instead, allow me to disagree on your analysis of the randomness/tension.
I won't enter into the details, just one example regarding the "timer" mechanism (boulder vs blocks).
You say that the blocks blocking the entry is "totally" random. Sure it is, but not more than in Temple of Chac.
- In Chac, the boulder has an "average" speed of 3.33 spaces per turn (when you roll 5 dice), this determines the average game duration (about 12 turns if I'm corect, but it can vary from 8 turns to infinite!). You can guesstimate the risk depending on how far the boulder is from you and the exit.
- In Horus, the average game duration is determined by the repartition of the block numbers on the board (I'm lazy to calculate but I guess it's about 12 turns too). You can guesstimate the risk depending on where the blocks have fallen, how many unfallen remain, and how far you are from the exit.
Plus, when you're smashed by the boulder, you're killed and your second character spawns without any treasures, which pretty often equals defeat. The fact that blocks just slow you down is clearly an improvement to me.

I think Horus is not more random than Chac, the randomness is just represented differently (and IMO you have a bit more control over it, more choices, more winning strategies...). I guess the representation of randomness in Horus simply does not suit you.
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Sean Shaw
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Thanks for the review, you have convinced me to buy this game ASAP. The idea of falling boulders that can end the game at any time makes it even better for at timer in my eyes. More adventure as now you can't guage it as nicely as you could before...a Lot like Dungeon Quest where you may or may not survive at any given time!

Sounds exciting.

Thanks for the review, even if it was negative I still got things out of it.
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Daniel
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The title made me laugh!

The overall conclusion not so much, but I have to thank you for this. Now I need to play it before buying it blindly, which could save a lot of trouble (and money).thumbsup
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Tim Norris
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Wow, what an "interesting" view of a great game.
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Ian McCarthy
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Thanks for the excellent well-explained review.
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John So-And-So
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Roolz wrote:
- In Horus, the average game duration is determined by the repartition of the block numbers on the board (I'm lazy to calculate but I guess it's about 12 turns too). You can guesstimate the risk depending on where the blocks have fallen, how many unfallen remain, and how far you are from the exit.

In our first game, the first 8 blocks all fell contiguously. At this point, there were 4 blocks that would have ended the game and 24 blocks that wouldn't. The odds of the game ending after the next pull were about 14%. The game didn't end that round.

Again 4 blocks would end the game, and now 23 blocks would not end it. The chances of the game ending were about 15%. A block was pulled and the game ended. We were all trapped inside and lost; because who wants to stop playing the game when there's an 85% chance that it's not over yet? Too bad for us, because it was over. We all lose! What fun.

Can you see what I'm saying about why that offers no tension? With the boulder, you have a degree of danger. The closer you are, the more in danger you are. If you're more than 5 spaces away, you're in no danger at all; if you're two spaces away, you're gonna need to get really lucky to survive! There is tension based on how close to the timer you put yourself. The closer it is to the exit, the more in danger of getting sealed in you become. There is tension based on how close to the exit it gets.

With the blocks, the game is always just a percentage chance of being over; and it either is, or isn't. Also, sometimes you get hurt, sometimes you don't; there's no way to prepare for either case and the percentage chance of this happening is always the same.

After a couple more plays, I've realized what kills this game for me: there's no narrative holding the sequence of the Pyramid together. It's just a bunch of random events strung after each other. That kills a game built on its theme.

GreyLord wrote:
Thanks for the review, you have convinced me to buy this game ASAP. ...a Lot like Dungeon Quest where you may or may not survive at any given time!


Let's talk - I can get you a good deal on a lightly-used copy.

Anyways, weird reaction I must say, but glad I could help you out. And great analogy! This game is much more like Dungeon Quest or a Choose Your Own Adventure than the Temple of Chac.
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Daniel
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CapAp wrote:
With the blocks, the game is always just a percentage chance of being over; and it either is, or isn't. Also, sometimes you get hurt, sometimes you don't; there's no way to prepare for either case and the percentage chance of this happening is always the same.


Schrödinger's Pyramid!surprise

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Ze Masqued Cucumber
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CapAp wrote:
We were all trapped inside and lost; because who wants to stop playing the game when there's an 85% chance that it's not over yet?

Deciding to escape (or not) at a given moment is one of the many choices in this game. In this case the chance to be stuck in the pyramid was 1 out of 6. Not negligible... You all took the risk, you all lost and found it lame. I would probably have done exactly the same, but found it hilarious instead. Different strokes...

CapAp wrote:
there's no narrative holding the sequence of the Pyramid together.
I can understand that you prefer Chac for this very reason, but not for the others, sorry.
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John So-And-So
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Roolz wrote:
In this case the chance to be stuck in the pyramid was 1 out of 6. Not negligible... You all took the risk, you all lost and found it lame. I would probably have done exactly the same, but found it hilarious instead. Different strokes...

Different strokes indeed! 1 in 6 is literally like rolling a die, and if we roll a 1 we lose the game. I honestly don't find that fun at all, let alone 'hilarious'. We might as well just roll dice and call the highest roller 'the winner'; no need to buy all these nifty pyramid parts!

Quote:
Deciding to escape (or not) at a given moment is one of the many choices in this game.
Not really, because any apparent 'decisions' in this game are meaningless. The choice's effects are rendered positive or negative by random factors that cannot inform the decision before it is made. This reduces them to simply procedural events; and as a player, I feel no connection to the outcome of those events. (If you can think of a player choice in this game that does not adhere to this logic, please correct me.)

If you win Pyramid of Horus, it's not because you made any smart decisions, it's because your choices randomly turned out to be the 'right' ones. I can understand why you find this entertaining, but surely you must also understand why I don't?

Quote:
I can understand that you prefer Chac for this very reason, but not for the others, sorry.
Hopefully I've made it a little clearer; and from the other responses posted, I feel like the review gets my point across pretty well. I think in the end we'll just have to agree to disagree about the game.
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Bill H
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I demoed this at GenCon and felt the same thing. The bits looked great and I was looking forward to another Temple of Chac type adventure... and it just fell flat at every step.

I know exactly what you're saying about uninformed choices, there's just no capacity for strategy other than hoping the tile won't hurt you, hoping the block won't seal the door. Hope is not a strategy. And the mummies look very cool but were laughable in-game -- trivial to avoid.

Also, I could have sworn that when Chac came out they talked about using your characters in subsequent games. I envisioned building up a library of these adventures and perhaps playing a connected series of them. But
the demo person didn't know anything about using characters from the one game in the other, I couldn't find any reference in the rulebook, and the new abilities seem very specific to PoH so I don't think they'd work elsewhere (and most of the ToC abilities wouldn't help here). Another disappointment.

Edit: I should perhaps point out that we waited about half an hour for the demo, and then it wasn't someone completely familiar with the game. This didn't help our attitude. It's an ok game, but wasn't nearly as enjoyable as ToC.
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frederic Henry
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_Sorry for my poor english_

Wow, how easy it is to kill a game.
I think the easiest would be to burn all the copies of this shit. It's a shame that a publisher be allowed to publish such a crap.

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John So-And-So
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fred henry wrote:
Wow, how easy it is to kill a game.
I think the easiest would be to burn all the copies of this shit. It's a shame that a publisher be allowed to publish such a crap.


Wow.

I think it's more of a shame that a professional can't take criticism of his work from a fan who admires his previous designs.

Thanks for the input, Mr Henry. I'll be sure to spend more of my money on your work in the future.
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Tim Norris
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Sounds like you had a first "bad" game experience with it ending quickly. That has never happen to us yet, but it's not unlikely.

We just played last night and had a blast. My daughter was at the top right hand side of the board when she started finally making her way to the exit. At this point, yes, one block falling in the right spot would have sealed her in. She spent all of her actions just making her way to the exit. All of us were holding our breath watching her make her run. In the end she made it out by the skin of her teeth and won the game.

High risk = High reward!

There's plenty of tension in this game and I feel you should give it more plays before giving it such harsh treatment.


I'm just getting a sense of people wanting an expansion more so than another stand alone game. If that's the case, I understand. I too would've loved to of seen an expansion of Chac, but I still feel this game is on equal if not superior grounds than Chac.
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frederic Henry
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I can understand, but you can too imagine how it's hard for me to read such a critisism. I worked on this one because I think the game is good,and when I read your review for the first time I took it for me. There is nothing wrong with you, but imagine what would be your reaction if you did a work very important for you and that your boss told you it's a kind of shit. Bad criticisms are very important, but I can't agree with some arguments. For example, you wrote "In the Pyramid, the game will end after 4 to 28 rounds, at random. There is no way to gauge the timer ANY closer than that". I can't agree, you can gauge. The odds are never the same. The average is about 12 turns, and the probabilties of closing have a bell shape (it's a Gaussian curve). And you can recalculate the odd at each street. The risk/reward calculation are the same that in a Hold em game during a draw.
Adventurers is a familly game. And you can't honestly say that famillies (kids with parents) are bored by the game.Familly have fun with the game, and it's what the game is about : fun.
PS : OK I agree that my firts comment is exagerated and was wrote in a bad mood, excuse me if I over reacted to the review. Please don't judge me just because I was under stress.
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Geoff Thirlwell
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I quite like Chac though I'm uncertain about it's replayability. My girlfriend dislikes complicated games but she finds Chac a bit too light so I'm a bit on the fence for purchasing Horus.

I think it would be better if the board came in sections so you could mix and match bits to create more scenarios. Maybe a third game?

It would also be cool if there were rules to use the old characters and maybe some sort of development of the characters.

Cheers

Geoff
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Ze Masqued Cucumber
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cidervampire wrote:

It would also be cool if there were rules to use the old characters and maybe some sort of development of the characters.

Fred Henri wrote in this thread that "cross cards" for the characters of both games exist and will be available. I guess they're not in the US FFG release because the publisher has changed (Chac was AEG, Horus is FFG). These cards will probably be available when FFG will republish Chac...
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Will
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fred henry wrote:
I can understand

Fred,
John and everyone else I know who played the first Adventurer game were big fans, especially when John painted all his pieces. He has the best looking copy I've seen. It makes it feel much more thematic when all the pieces are awesomely painted (including bridge, and collapsing walls complete with moss on top), and in a game where theme is a huge part of the game this is important. Playing his copy has influenced some people in our local game groups to buy the first adventurers game.

John has a certain taste in games and he much prefers the first one. Everyone has differant taste in games. The review points out logically which parts he doesn't like and which parts he preferred in the first game. He's not calling names, and he even says other people with different tastes may like the game more than he does.

Oftentimes a critical review is as much or more useful than the positive reviews. As long as the critical review doesn't just say "THIS GAME SUX THE END", those aren't very useful to anyone. This one doesn't do that. And other people have posted their opinions in this review as well, so there's opportunity for others to chime in with either agreement or disagreement and have a chance to respond. As well, there's one poster who was convinced to buy the game BECAUSE of this negative review. Notice that the reviewer also compares and contrasts with the other adventurers game, which will likely result in additional sales of the first game.

And here's a link to a different review with a different view on this game:
http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/685296/the-adventurers-ii-th...

Anyway, just my 2 or so cents worth.
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Will
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John,
Do you see any ways in which the parts of this could be used to enhance the original?

Do you think houseruling a varient would help? For instance, what about separating good/bad cards into different decks and making the penalties more severe for getting hit by mummy or block (with extra bad cards)?

I'm not sure offhand how to change the block odds to be more predictable in terms of game ending without having played the game.
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fred henry wrote:
The odds are never the same. The average is about 12 turns, and the probabilties of closing have a bell shape (it's a Gaussian curve).


I think part of the difference is how the odds are done. In Chac, the boulder can move at MOST 5 spaces per turn, but could move zero. This means that you can always tell if the game might end this turn. You can also say for certain if there's ZERO chance the game might end this turn. If the boulder is 5 spaces away from the end of the tunnel, theres a small chance it will end. If the boulder is 1 space away, the game is highly likely. As each turn advances there's a clear progression in how much more likely the game is going to end.
The same estimation can be done for each individual player and how far away they are from the boulder or for getting trapped. It also varies between players. If someone is still in the walls room, they have a much higher risk of getting stuck by boulder (but can get more treasure) than the people who are ahead.

In Horus, it sounds like (since I haven't played the game) when the blocks drop and block the path, it kills everyone. Its not as granular as Chac with the chances and doesn't have as much risk/reward choices for the players individually. The timer in Horus has a minimum of 4 turns which is much smaller compared to the minimum in chac. I'm going to guess the minimum in chac is around 8-10 turns if boulder moves 5 spaces every single turn. Plus using dice tends to even out the boulder movement since its 5 dice rolling a turn. The more times a random event happens the more its likely the overall is going to be closer to the perfect average. Like flipping a coin, if you flip 1000 times its more likely to be closer to 50% heads/tails. In chac, if a game takes 12 turns, thats 60 dice rolls vs the 12 block dropped in a 12 turn game in horus. Thats 5 times more random events in chac which tends to even things out.

Think of it this way. If I'm indiana jones, and I see a boulder coming at me, I can make an educated guess if I have enough time to grab a treasure or I just need to run like crazy. On the other hand, if I'm running and suddenly without warning a chunk of the ceiling falls and kills me, well thats a little more unfair

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CapAp wrote:
Roolz wrote:
In this case the chance to be stuck in the pyramid was 1 out of 6. Not negligible... You all took the risk, you all lost and found it lame. I would probably have done exactly the same, but found it hilarious instead. Different strokes...

Different strokes indeed! 1 in 6 is literally like rolling a die, and if we roll a 1 we lose the game. I honestly don't find that fun at all, let alone 'hilarious'. We might as well just roll dice and call the highest roller 'the winner'; no need to buy all these nifty pyramid parts!

Quote:
Deciding to escape (or not) at a given moment is one of the many choices in this game.
Not really, because any apparent 'decisions' in this game are meaningless. The choice's effects are rendered positive or negative by random factors that cannot inform the decision before it is made. This reduces them to simply procedural events; and as a player, I feel no connection to the outcome of those events. (If you can think of a player choice in this game that does not adhere to this logic, please correct me.)

If you win Pyramid of Horus, it's not because you made any smart decisions, it's because your choices randomly turned out to be the 'right' ones. I can understand why you find this entertaining, but surely you must also understand why I don't?
I completely disagree and I am willing to bet that I have played the games more times than you.

There are a lot of decisions that make a difference to the outcome of the game. Do I dig in the entrance or run straight to the white treasures? (The white treasures have the highest value and are harder to get once the blocks start falling, but if you get a satchel at the entrance it can be very beneficial.) Do I take a mummy hit in order to get a treasure before my opponents?

I think that Horus is more exciting than Chac because of the hazards when you dig for treasure, and the medkits and other helps that you can find hidden in the entrance. To me, Chac is more of just a race, and Horus has more variables. I think that the bonus for getting a variety of treasures also greatly adds to the game, instead of getting all of your treasures from one section and running out.

It also seems that Horus has more of a greed factor for me. It is less obvious that you are running out of time because for example, the boulder will crush you, so you are more likely to stick around grabbing things too long.laugh

While choosing between the two games played as is, I will choose Horus. I do, however, enjoy Chac when we run it backwards.
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Carmen Norris
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Yargo wrote:
Think of it this way. If I'm indiana jones, and I see a boulder coming at me, I can make an educated guess if I have enough time to grab a treasure or I just need to run like crazy. On the other hand, if I'm running and suddenly without warning a chunk of the ceiling falls and kills me, well thats a little more unfair

A chunk of ceiling does not suddenly fall and kill you. About half of the map has an area that will be sealed off if 4 blocks fall in the right (or wrong) places.
Yargo wrote:
As each turn advances there's a clear progression in how much more likely the game is going to end.
The same estimation can be done for each individual player and how far away they are from the boulder or for getting trapped. It also varies between players. If someone is still in the walls room, they have a much higher risk of getting stuck by boulder (but can get more treasure) than the people who are ahead.

In Horus, it sounds like (since I haven't played the game) when the blocks drop and block the path, it kills everyone. ....

Think of it this way. If I'm indiana jones, and I see a boulder coming at me, I can make an educated guess if I have enough time to grab a treasure or I just need to run like crazy. On the other hand, if I'm running and suddenly without warning a chunk of the ceiling falls and kills me, well thats a little more unfair

Horus is much the same. You can see that the person in the far back right of the game is more likely to get trapped than the person in the left or the person closer to the entrance. The blocks sometimes trap everyone... we have only had that happen once. More often one or two people get trapped, or none at all.


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