3rd October 2021
It's time for more Sunday gaming goodness on Board Game Arena.
The first game of the night was Incan Gold.
Brave the temple, get the gold, avoid the traps, escape!
Indy never had it so easy! He should something really frustrating - like Incan Gold.
Caveat: We've only ever played Incan Gold digitally.
What's in a game?
Incan Gold's utilises good, evocative art that suits its theme.
How's it play?
On to play
Incan Gold is played over 5 rounds of varying turn lengths, in each round players decide whether to continue exploring or run away! Cards are drawn from the quest deck by the first player until everyone has chosen to flee or the game goes bust.
Play continues until 5 rounds have been completed.
Players count points from the 3 types of treasure they might've acquired and any artefact cards they collected.
Points are tallied, highest score wins.
Incan Gold is a very focused push-you luck game, a couple of cards may be added or removed to the quest deck every round, but broadly speaking the quest deck is split 50/50 between treasures and hazards, flipping a card is like flipping a coin. It really is pushing your luck.
There are also some other interesting things going on in Incan Gold.
At the start of a round, the length of the exploration into the temple will have already been determined by shuffling the deck and there's no way for players to alter this. It means the game's 'luck' affects all players equally, if one player got further into the temple than all the others, it because they had the guts to push their luck further. Conversely, if a player went bust when others got back to camp, then they foolishly pushed their luck too hard!
Of course, there will be occasions when both approaches may prove beneficial and players will have to judge when it's a good idea to return to camp or not.
The artefact rules add a wrinkle to the game; acquiring an artefact can earn a lot of points, especially in games with higher player counts where treasures are split between more people. This of course means outlasting all the other players and surviving, adding a game of 'chicken' to Incan Gold.
Using cards to secretly choose whether to continue or retreat is the final interesting rule for various reasons.
Treasure on the path is split between all retreating players, so sometimes, retreating when it's obvious to retreat may not be the optimal strategy, as those treasures will get split amongst all retreating players. Pushing your luck here may prove beneficial, depending on how much treasure you've already got, but other players are thinking the same thing...
When an artefact appears, it can add an extra element to this, how far is a player willing to push their luck to get the artefact? Is it worth retreating to collect treasure on the path instead? Can an opponent be bluffed into going too far. Are the other players going to fold? If a player's behaviour and motives can be predicted, it can be exploited.
While a round will have a limited number of turns before it busts, a player doesn't have to reach the end, they need to be last explorer exploring.
Incan Gold is a game with just 2 decisions, but there's always risk and reward behind those decisions, it can give players tricky and meaningful decisions to make.
We've only played Incan Gold digitally and it's a game that employs a significant amount of randomness, something which computers are not very good at handling. It can lead to weird or erroneous results appearing in games, so it's hard to discern if our experience of the game was influenced by this not.
We found Incan Gold to be a frustrating experience. The push-your-luck element of the game felt too harsh, too punishing to be fun. The 2nd hazard card seemed to pop up far too often and players frequently busted very early. Eventually we ended up barely turning over any cards before returning to camp, it seemed the most efficient move to make.
It felt like the risk far outweighed the reward and it made for an unexciting experience, one we didn't feel like repeating.
I play, I paint.