When you read this board game review of Incan Gold, there are a couple of questions you should keep in mind: Do you like treasure? How about probability? Or a good game of “chicken”? Let’s get into detail on how to play Incan Gold and review gameplay to see how fun it actually is.
It has been a while since I reviewed a board game, the last one being The Resistance: Avalon, which is one of my favorites.
Incan Gold Board Game – Very Quick and Easy to Learn
One of the best aspects of Incan Gold is the ease of play. This is especially important, because the game is suitable for anywhere from 3 to 10 players. So if you have a large group of players, and not very many know how to play Incan Gold, they can be taught pretty easily in a couple rounds of play.
The basic premise of the game is that we are all archaeologists, trying to enter an ancient temple, and extract as much treasure as possible while avoiding as many traps as possible. Each player has a tent they are given, which represents their base, and stored treasure they have “secured”. Treasure is identified as little plastic “gems” which are denominated as green being worth 1 point, black 5 points, and gold 10 points.
There really isn’t an element of “turns” for each player in this game as there are with most other board games. There is a deck of cards in the game, and the deck contains a set amount of treasure cards. Each of these treasure cards has a number on it. That number represents the number of treasure pieces split among the group still in the temple. For example, if a treasure card with a number 15 on it is drawn, and there are currently 5 players inside the temple, then that treasure is split, with each person receiving 3 pieces. Now if there is a “remainder” then things are a little different. For example, if there are only 4 players but a treasure card with 15 on it, the remainder of 3 stays on the card. This treasure can be claimed by people who opt to leave the temple, and is split by all those who leave.
Incan Gold is not all about just claiming treasure though. Within the drawing deck there are also traps. These traps include fire, mummies, snakes, rockslides, and spiders. There are 3 of each trap in the deck, and if two of the same are drawn, then the people still in the temple are forced to “flee”, leaving behind all treasure they collected.
So a game-round of Incan Gold goes like this: all playing players start off as venturing into the temple. The top card on the deck is flipped, and either a trap or treasure card is revealed. As previously mentioned, treasure is split among all of the players, and a trap does nothing—if there is not another of the same trap down. After this card is resolved, then players play one of two cards: the “I’m staying in” card or the “I’m taking my treasure, and getting out of here!” card. If people leave the temple, all of the treasure they have amassed in the round is “banked” inside their tent, and all players leaving split the “remainders” that had not been picked up yet. Players that remain in then turn another card, and see if they get a treasure or trap card to come up. Treasures are only split among the “in” players, and each card people get the option to stay in or leave. It is important to keep in mind that no treasure is guaranteed kept until you have safely left the temple, and “banked” it to your tent.
A round of Incan Gold ends when either two traps have chased everyone out, or everyone has decided to leave the temple to “bank” their money. The game has 5 rounds, and treasure is added up at the end to determine the winner. The one last aspect of the game involves “artifacts”. Each round of Incan Gold an “artifact” card is added to the drawing deck. These are worth different amounts depending on when they are drawn. The first two drawn are worth 5 treasures and the last 3 are worth 15. The bad news about these—they cannot be split! In order to claim them, players have to leave the temple, and be the only player to do so. If two or more players leave at the same time, then the artifact remains in the temple! Also, if a round ends due to traps, and the artifact has not been claimed yet, then the artifact is lost forever!
Incan Gold: Review – Is it Fun?
As mentioned earlier, the best thing about this game is that it is great for a large group, and it is very easy to teach new players. But how fun is it? Well, if you are a numbers person, and enjoy gambling, it can be a lot of fun. I often find myself doing mental calculations in my head when playing “Okay, we have 1 fire trap, 1 spider trap, and a total of about 30 cards left in the deck, so there are currently 2 out of 30 cards that can mess me up, I like those odds!” The game can get really intense when you get a long run going too, where treasure is just building up, and you try to edge out that one more card to see if you can hit the monster pay day—especially if you have managed to be the only player still in the temple.
But if you aren’t a gambler, and hate games of chance, then you might not enjoy this one so much. It can be frustrating when you hit a trap really early on, especially when the probability would seemingly be low.
The balance of the game is pretty good, but there are times where in the 4th and 5th round things look impossible for other players as one had amassed such a fortune one round, that it is very difficult and unlikely that another player will be able to catch up. But that is an aspect of the game, where chance can play a big role in who wins or loses.
Best Times to Play Incan Gold
I find that this game is a great game to play when you are with a group of 6 or more that are looking to play a game and you don’t have one that everyone can play due to maximum player limitations or other people don’t know how to play. As I mentioned before, people pick this up within a round or two. It is also a great game to play when people are feeling social, as the game doesn’t take a whole lot of mental concentration to play.
Overall, I would give this game a solid 7 out of 10. The game mechanics make for some exciting times, but since it is a game of chance, that can make it frustrating as well. But it’s a great social game for large numbers of players, and hey—who doesn’t like collecting treasure?