Review of Incan Gold

Review Summary
Comped Playtest Review
Written Review

May 27, 2009


by: Shannon Appelcline


Style: 5 (Excellent!)
Substance: 4 (Meaty)

A short, tense filler game where you explore an Incan temple, now part of the excellent series of Gryphon Game fillers.

Shannon Appelcline has written 681 reviews (including 203 card game reviews), with average style of 4.03 and average substance of 3.85. The reviewer's previous review was of Space Dealer.

This review has been read 5402 times.

 
Product Summary
Name: Incan Gold
Publisher: Gryphon Games
Line: Gryphon Games Bookshelf
Author: Alan R. Moon, Bruno Faidutti
Category: Card Game

Cost: $24.95
Year: 2009



Review of Incan Gold
Incan Gold is a filler press-your-luck game by Faidutti & Moon.

Players: 3-8
Playing Time: 20 minutes

Incan Gold was previously published by Sunriver Games, but is just now being rereleased in a (somewhat) new edition by Gryphon Games. Thus, I've updated my old review to account for the newest printing.

The Components

Incan Gold comes in a small bookshelf box with some cards and some other bits.

The Cards: The 56 cards serve quite a few purposes. There's five cards forming temple "gameboard" (which is just a game timer), a pair of option cards for each of eight players, thirty quest cards (which are what you actually discover), and five artifact cards.

They're all printed on sturdy linen-textured cardstock. There's a variety of different art depicting hazards and treasures that varies from fair to good.

The Tents: The rules call these "cards", and they are indeed printed on similar, linen-textured cardstock, but these are actually three-d bits forming a tiny camping tent. The back flap has been glued together, so that you can stand your tent up and see into without the other players being able to.

The Loot: 110 plastic stones, used to mark treasures won over the course of the game. 60 are turquoise, 30 are obsidian, and 20 are gold. They're irregularly shaped and look quite attractive.

If you're familiar with the previous edition of the game, you'll realize that this one is virtually identical. The only notable differences are the fact that the cards are slightly sturdier and that the tents work much better--both real improvements.

Generally, Incan Gold packs a lot into its small box, and what you get is good-looking and evocative. It thus earns a full "5" out of "5" for Style.

The Gameplay

The object of Incan Gold is to escape the temple with the highest value of treasure and artifacts.

Setup: Each player receives two options cards: one to show that he's staying in the temple and one to show that he's fleeing. Each player also gets a tent, which will be used to hide treasure that's been taken away from the temple.

The five temple pieces are laid out to act as a timer for the five rounds of the game. An artifact is laid with each temple piece.

Starting a New Round: A new round begins with the next section of the temple being opened--meaning that the deck of quest cards is reshuffled, with a new artifact added in.

Exploring the Temple: Each turn a number of actions occur.

Options. First, each player secretly decides whether to stay in the temple, using his option cards.

Quests. For those players who stayed in the temple, a new quest card is flipped.

If it's a treasure, it'll show a value of loot from 1-15. That total is divided equally between all the players still in the temple, with remainder being placed on the card for later use.

If it's a hazard, there's no effect unless it's the second hazard of the same type, in which case all players still in the temple lose all their loot from the round, and the round ends.

If it's an artifact, it's placed to the side for later use.

Fleeing. One or more players might flee each turn. They get several advantages.

First, they collect all of the treasure that couldn't previously be divided, dividing it as equally as possible (and leaving the remainder behind).

Second, if exactly one person fled, he collects all the artifacts that have been found but not yet claimed this round.

Third, they get to store their collected loot in their tent; it can no longer be lost.

On the downside, they don't get to participate in any looting for the rest of the round; they just wait until everyone else has fled or two hazards have been revealed.

Ending the Round: A round of play ends either when two hazard cards of the same type are revealed or when everyone has left the temple. At this point, any uncollected treasures are discarded, and any artifacts that were discovered but never taken are removed from the game.

If the round ended on hazards, one of the paired hazards is removed from the deck as well.

Ending the Game: The game ends after five rounds of play. The player with the most treasure successfully gotten out of the temple now wins--with artifacts worth either 5 or 10 points.

Relationships to Other Games

Incan Gold is the English version of the German game Diamant, with artifacts added to allow for slightly harder decisions. It's a pretty classic press your luck game, where you're constantly deciding whether one more room will bring you great treasures or terrible defeat. It's also a simultaneous action game, where you're trying to second-guess what your opponents will do--particularly in relation to the artifacts that may be waiting to be taken.

This second edition of Incan Gold is part of the Gryphon Games bookshelf line of releases. It's a member of the second wave of Gryphon Games bookshelf releases, which also includes Looting London, Birds on a Wire, and Modern Masters. Like all the games in the Gryphon Games bookshelf series, Incan Gold is a top-rate filler game; I think it holds up to other top games in the series, such as Money and For Sale.

This new edition of the game is virtually identical to the edition put out by Sunriver Games three years ago. I've already noted a few component differences above. Clearly, it now has a matching box as part of the bookshelf series.

The Game Design

I'll say right up front both that Incan Gold is a fun game, and that there's not a lot to it.

First, the fun. Incan Gold makes you tense and nervous, and there are often yells of glee or screams of disgust when a new card is revealed. Though it's got only one choice, stay-or-go, that choice often feels tough and always feels important.

Second, the lightness. What you see is what you get. There's not a lot of depth to the game, and as is often the case with press-your-luck games, the results can be as much about good fortune and getting lucky at a bad gamble as it can be about skillful play.

However, I think that Incan Gold manages to pack a lot of tension and some decent gameplay into a very short filler of 15-20 minutes. It's a great game to play while you're waiting for the rest of your group to show up.

I've thus given it a "4" out of "5" for Substance.

Conclusion

Incan Gold is a short filler that's both tense and tactical, as you try and decide how far you can press into a temple. It's well recommended as a game to pass the time at the start or end of the evening.

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