- THE TEMPLE OF CHAC -
No. of Players:
G@mebox author Doug Adams writes about the game:
"The Adventurers: The Temple of Chac is an exploration themed game that has just arrived here in Australia. I didn't know anything about the game until I saw my local game store posting that it was in stock. By the end of the day I had read the rulebook online and had played the game."
"The theme of the game is a blend of Indiana Jones meets Lara Croft. A group of adventurers is entering an ancient temple, dedicated to the Mayan god Chac. The players are trying to lift as much treasure as they can from the temple, while avoiding the traps and pitfalls found inside. Escaping alive is nice too!"
"The game makes a nice first impression. The game is packaged in a sturdy box, and is stuffed full of components. The box is a tiny bit larger, and deeper, than the standard Kosmos square boardgame box."
"Inside the box, you get twelve very nice plastic miniatures, with a matching character card. The character art is done in a cartoon style, but I like the appearance. The characters are all generic, but each does have a single special ability. The miniatures are around an inch tall, and are unpainted. I have seen a photograph of a boxed set of painted miniatures for The Adventurers, and they do look nice."
"There is a colourful game board depicting the temple. The eyes are immediately drawn to the three rooms in the temple. The Wall Room, the Lava Room, and the Underground River. Large squares regulate movement. A passageway winds it way through the temple, connecting up the various rooms. You get some solid plastic as well - a rickety bridge that comes with removable planks, two long stone wall pieces, and a large round boulder. You look at the boulder and Raiders Of The Lost Ark immediately springs to mind!"
"There is also a sheet of counters to punch out - one side of the counters depicts a number represented in Mayan script, while the other side of the counter has a Mayan glyph. The glyphs are best described as some sort of complex doodle, and they have been drawn so that they are very similar to other glyphs. There are two sets of these number/glyph counters - one featuring golden numbers, one featuring black numbers."
"Finally, the game comes with around 80 cards, broken into various decks. One deck is called the Wall Deck, while the rest of the decks are treasure decks for the different locations in the temple."
"Setting up the game is straightforward. Golden treasure counters are laid glyph side up in the Lava Room and covered with a large masking tile so you can't see the layout. The black treasure counters are mixed up - four go into the Wall Room, while the rest go near the Lava Room. These black counters are number side up - i.e. opposite to the Lava Room counters. Why? Read on..."
"The various card decks are shuffled up and place near their respective rooms. The plastic bridge, walls and boulder are placed on their starting positions in the dungeon, and the game is ready to begin."
"Before the game commences, the players have to select their character, or rather, characters. Two character cards are dealt out to each of the players. Why two? Well, the rules cheerfully explain that your character has about six ways to meet a grisly end in the temple, and if that happens then you enter your second character. Great....! We'll break out Dungeonquest after this and have a really fun time!"
"Characters each turn get a number of actions. Actions are awarded via a neat little mechanic called the load level, which is based on how much treasure the character is already carrying. Your character has a base load level of 2, but if you are carrying four treasures then your load level rises to 3. If you carry seven treasures, you load level is four, and so on. Each turn, one player will roll five D6 dice, and each player is given one action for each die result equal or higher than their own load level. For example, if I am carrying eight treasures I'll have a load level of 4. If the dice come up 1,3,3,6,6 then I get two actions, while somebody with a load level of 3 will get four actions. The bottom line is - if you carry more stuff, you'll get slower and slower. Slow isn't good..."
"Players then take turns spending their actions granted for the turn. Some characters may have more actions than others. Actions are used for movement, or for special actions depending on what room the characters are currently in. Movement is simply moving to an orthoganally adjacent space, across a dashed line."
"The Walls Room is the first room the party enters. The room is only four spaces long, however there is a pair of solid looking stone walls that are gradually closing together. Players have to get through here before the walls come together. This will take at most six turns, but it could happen sooner than that!"
"Players can use their actions in the Walls Room for moving through the room, or searching for clues and treasure. There is tons of easy to be had treasure in the Walls Room - so players can linger and loot through the decks of treasure cards. For an action they simply take a card off the appropriate deck and add it to their stash. But... this has to be carried through the rest of the dungeon, and your load level may well be climbing."
"Players can also search the Wall Room for clues. They may pick up one of the four black Mayan number counters and examine the glyph side of it for five seconds, trying to commit it to memory. These four counters in the Walls Room indicate which four floor tiles in the Lava Room are trapped. Memorizing the glyph in the Walls Room will give a player vital information about which tiles to avoid in the Lava Room."
"Players will have to spend some time in the Corridor in order to get through the temple. But ... what's that rumbling noise behind you? Sure enough, a large round boulder has been activated and is beginning to trundle down the corridor. This boulder will gradually pick up speed as it moves through the corridor, and it means a sticky end for anyone caught in its path. Players have to keep a careful eye on the boulder, avoiding it when it's near them, and be out of the temple before it reaches the end of the path. This is because the boulder is also the game timer. When it reaches the end of the corridor, it wedges in the exit that the player's need to get out, sealing them inside forever."
"Players may move across the Lava Room at their peril. The first player to move next to the Lava Room lifts the masking tile, revealing the 14 floor tiles and the confusing Mayan glyphs. Now... four of these tiles are trapped, and if a character moves onto a trapped tile, the tile crumbles underneath them and it's a quick bar-be-que by lava. We have the precioussss ... oops!"
"When a Lava Room tile is entered, it's flipped over to reveal the Mayan number side. The number will either be present in the ten counters set near the board at the start of the game - safe; or it will be one of the four counters set up in the Walls Room - a trap. A trapped tile spells the end for that character, but a safe tile can be searched with an action - you take a Lava Room treasure card, and replace the yellow glyph tile with the corresponding black tile to show it's been looted."
"You may be frowning and thinking it will be possible to memorise the Mayan numbers and match them up with the Mayan glyphs. Frankly, I think you will need to play this game a lot to be able to do this. The designers have used very similar glyphs, and the Mayan dot/dash number system to make it very difficult for casual players to break this aspect of the game. The glyphs have even been paired into almost identical patterns to make it even harder. The numbers used aren't sequential - we don't have 1, 2, 3 in Mayan, we have 12, 34, etc. Furthermore, the tiles can be set up in one of four orientations in the Lava Room, making it even more difficult. I'm not saying it's impossible to break the game, but it's close to impossible!"
"Players who ignored the clues in the Walls Room may want to skip the Lava Room, or let someone else go first and lay out a safe path! The alternative to the Lava Room is to stick to the corridor, keeping a wary eye on the boulder. There is some nice treasure to be had in the corridor - five alcoves stuffed with valuable 4 and 6 treasures. To get at these treasures, players have to spend an action to roll a Yahtzee-like straight - this is called picking the lock. If they fail, they can use available actions to try and roll their missing numbers. These alcove treasures are sought after - they are some of the more valuable treasures in the game, and you know exactly where they are! The down side is you are taking the long way through the temple and the time pressure of the boulder may be a factor in deciding to go for them."
"Once past the Lava Room, the exit is in sight. Adventurers have three options open to them - they can jump in the Underground River and swim for it, they can take the Ancient Bridge, or they can stick to the corridor and take the long way out."
"Adventurers who want a bit more treasure may want to leap into the Underground River and swim around a bit. The river is eight spaces long, and seven of these spaces can be searched for treasure. Because of the current, each space can only be searched once before you're swept on downstream. At the end of the river is a deadly waterfall - players have to be strong enough to haul themselves out, or take the big plunge out of the game. The more treasure you're carrying, the harder it is to get out of the river."
"Another option to get out is going over the Ancient Bridge. This is a rickety affair and you can almost smell the woodrot! Any player who tries to cross the bridge has to roll a die for each plank remaining in the bridge - if the roll is under the load limit, the plank gives way. If more than one player is on the bridge, you total the load levels - nice! Last plank goes, and so does the adventurer! Yes, the more treasure you've lugging out, the higher the chances are of the bridge giving way. The rules even allow for players to jump up and down on the bridge to try and smash some planks, making it more risky for following players!"
"At the end of every turn, the walls and boulder may move on the board, and may trap some Adventurers. The walls move by flipping up cards from a deck - they'll show either blanks or one or both walls moving. The walls will have closed by the end of the sixth turn, but it may happen sooner."
"The boulder trundles on throughout the game. Players begin rolling a die at the end of the first turn, then 2 dice on the second turn, and so on until it picks up speed to its maximum of 5 dice. For every roll higher than a 2, the boulder moves a space. Given the game ends when the boulder plugs the exit space, average dice will see a game last around 12 or 13 turns. Adventurers obviously have to avoid being run down by the boulder, but ideally they'd like to stay ahead of it too!"
"The adventurers escape via the only exit on the board, before the boulder plugs the gap. If a player had an adventurer perish in the temple due to walls, boulder, lava, waterfall, bridge, etc!, then they may enter their second character on one of two spaces next to the Lava Room. The only proviso is the boulder has had to have passed, immediately putting that character under time pressure. The player who escaped their adventurer with the most treasure wins the game. To provide a thrilling finish, some players may exit with casket treasures, and have to roll a die to see what value it contains."
"The Adventurers is a simple game - don't let the 16 page rulebook put you off. The rules are very simple to understand, and I can see this game being enjoyed by older children and families. It's not a resource heavy gamer's game. It is much more pitched as a light hearted adventure game, and based on that it succeeds very well."
"This is not to say it's too simple - there are some strategies to explore. Each adventurer has one of six skills. Swimming makes the river safer; lockpicking grants easier access to the alcoves; leap and sprint give movement bonuses; stamina means you can carry more treasure; linguistics means you can speak ancient Mayan and see where the traps are in the Lava Room. You can steer your character through the temple based on your skills."
"I've already seen some different games - three players went off to loot the alcoves, using speed to get there first, or lockpicking to ensure they got some treasure. One of my characters, that wonderful swimmer Puccio Cortese, hung around the Wall Room and made sure I memorised the Lava Room clues. I had to look at a couple of them twice to be sure. The others had bolted down the corridor to the alcoves, so I whipped into the Lava Room just ahead of the boulder and had fun there. Late in the game I jumped in the river while the others took the long (and safe!) way around the corridor. There are different things to try here, if the time pressure of the boulder and walls allow it."
"I like The Adventurers. It's fast, taking about an hour to play. It is easy to teach, has great crossover appeal, and tells a good story. There will be laughs and groans at the table as it's played out. I'm not quite sure how much replayability there is to the game - it's not a game I'd be aching to play a lot of, but certainly fun to break out once a month or so. "
"A fun adventure game for friends and family, or for game groups wanting something lighter. Very good."
Copyright © 2011 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany