Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de



Simon McGregor


No. of Players:
2 - 5



At the SPIEL '14 PLEASANT COMPANY GAMES first presented their pulp horror dice game Ancient Terrible Things. Going on an expedition in a remote corner of the Amazon basin, the player characters have to face different encounters, solving them by rolling ever more difficult combinations with their hand of different dice. Four different colours of dice exist in the game, and each colour represents a certain type of dice, with some of them being able to be influenced by different kinds of tokens, whereas others will lock on their result once they have been rolled. In the end, the player who has successfully solved the most difficult/valuable encounters will have won the game, and so the players have to balance their chances carefully whenever chosing a new encounter for their current turn.

Even though the square sized box of the expansion is comparatively small, it is not only the new playing components which enhance the game, but the box itself also serves a very special purpose. As a matter of fact, the gamboard of the basic game is relatively big, and so the expansion comes with 8 small Location cards depicting the locations from the gameboard. Using the small box which can store all game components and serves nicely for rolling dice, Ancient Terrible Things now can be carried along in a travel-friendly version, allowing the game to be tasted in locations as exotic as the game's theme…

But let's now have a look at the new playing components offered by the expansion. Coming with a deck of approx. 50 cards and 3 purple Revelation dice, the expansion is meant to be completely mixed with the components of the base game. Apart from the Character board and pawn which can be used to include a fifth player, the new cards cannot be added on a modular basis, but instead the new Encounter, Feat, Equipment and Achievement cards must be used together because the functions and effects of the new cards are partly interrelated.

The major portion of the stack of new cards is made up by new Encounter cards, and on these cards three new types of encounters are introduced. Quite interesting are the Revelation Encounters which require the player to add one of the new purple dice to his roll, giving him an additional chance to reach some dice combos, but also including some especially nasty combos using more dice than usual. The more careful adventurers probably will welcome the new Warning Encounters, having a comparatively low value but not requiring the player to take a Terrible Thing token when the combo is failed. In terms of variation, the included Event Encounters will offer some unexpected effects, since such an event will cover the location where it has been placed, and they often bring along a lasting effect changing the normal course of the game.

A completely new type of cards are the Character Obsession cards, assigning each player character a specific obsession which he must try to get rid of before the game is over. These cards challenge a player to try an encounter failed by another player, giving him a chance to get rid of the obsession and gaining him the benefits associated with the encounter. Similar effects can also be triggered by some of the new Feat cards, allowing a player to step in and rescue someone who has miserably failed rolling a required combo.

Apart from being a handy travel edition, Ancient Terrible Things: The Lost Charter nicely increases direct player interaction without resorting to harsh effects which would unbalance the game. Rescuing a player, following up on an event or making a trade offer are the gateways which Simon McGregor and Rob van Zyl have employed to give the players an increased possibility for interaction, and with these enhancements they have made a nominable effort to tackle one of the soft spots of many tactical dice games. In this type of games the players quite often will concentrate on their own turns, trying to get most out of their dice rolls without caring too much about the activities of their fellow players. Competition remains mostly indirect, focusing on reaching certain things first. Even though Ancient Terrible Things: The Lost Charter does not introduce any dramatic innovations, the players still will keep a closer watch on the things happening out of their own turns, and this nicely increases the playing experience for all participants.

From my perspective, Ancient Terrible Things: The Lost Charteris an expansion which nicely evolves the basic game, including a good load of ideas which offer new ways to enjoy the basic game. Once you have added the new cards, you will not want to miss them, but you can rest assured: the game's complexity does not increase, and so Ancient Terrible Things remains being a game which can easily be taught to newcomers.

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Copyright & copy; 2015 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany