Escape: The Curse of the Temple
For the Full Review With Pictures go to http://toddsboardgames.blogspot.ca/2012/12/escape-curse-of-temple.html
Overview: My favourite part of this game that makes it pretty unique is the fact that there are no turns. Players will participate in ‘one big turn’ simultaneously and constantly for 10 minutes. Your goal is to escape the cursed temple. To do this you must ALL make your way to the exit tile with all the gems from the “gem depot” placed on their magic altars.
Gameplay: This is a cooperative game and you either win or fail as a team. Although there are several different strategies to win, it is best and easiest if you stick together and really help each other out. Being a lone wolf is not an option as you will soon find yourself trapped without help and no way back to the safe room when you hear the gong. The 10 minutes is kept track by a sound track, 2 times during the game a gong will sound, that is your que to get back into the starting ‘safe room’ if you do not make it back by the time the sound of the door slamming shut is played, you will lose a die for the remainder of the game.
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Now that those rules are out of the way you’re probably asking ‘how do I play?’ It’s fairly simple; you roll dice. The game comes with some custom dice and each face represents an action you are able to perform or store.
In order to get a magic gem off the depot and onto an altar you must roll the required number of keys or torches. Some rooms have multiple altars with different values, however you may only fill one of them per room. The required number of keys or torches required to unlock the altar is collective, meaning everyone located on that room’s tile can contribute.
In order to place a new tile you must roll 2 green running men.
In order to move into a new room you must roll the matching 2 symbols in that room. For example if the players wanted to move onto the tile before the exit tile it would cost a green running man and a key, if they wanted to move onto the exit tile it would take a running man and a torch.
A black mask represents a cursed die. You leave this die black mask facing up in front of you and cannot roll it again until the curse is lifted. A curse can be lifted by rolling a golden mask or if another player in the same room as you rolls a golden mask. Each gold mask cures TWO black masks, however you CANNOT split the cures between two players.
Now reading the above this may not sound like the most amazing game, sure it’s different but does it really work? Is it really that great? The brilliance comes from two mechanics that are imbedded brilliantly into the game. You can keep or ‘store’ a die if you like / need the symbol on it. Say you are trying to reach a cursed friend a couple rooms away and you are having trouble rolling the correct symbols to get there, you can keep any gold masks you roll for when you finally reach your friend. Say you are a few tiles away from that big 10 key gem altar, any keys/torches you roll on your way over there you can keep and use to unlock the altar. The trouble is finding the balance between how many dice to keep / which ones to keep and how many you want to roll. The other mechanic is the timed pressure. Not only does the game give you a mere 10 minutes to escape, but twice you must make it back to the safe room or you are now rolling 1 less die for the remainder of the 10minutes, between this pressure and the constant 10minutes of game play creates a very intense cooperative game that leave players shouting in pure excitement. Once the exit tile is drawn you simply have to get all of your gems into a magic altar, then each player must get onto the exit tile. If you all make it before the final sounds of the temple sealing shut play through your speakers you all escape and win, if even one person is left behind you all fail.
Components: Okkay the adventurers are not that impressive, they are wooden and serve the purpose for the game quite well although they could be a little bigger / easier to grab so you can move quicker. The tiles are great, good quality they don’t tear easy and you can actually shuffle them perfectly or maybe I’ve just got the perfect size hands, but lots of tile games ask you to shuffle and you can’t really or they give you a bag to draw out of and that would only slow you down in a game like this. The cd the game comes with not only includes the soundtrack for playing the game but it has a track on it that tells you the object / backstory of the game and then explains in full detail how to play. Alternatively if you cannot play the soundtrack the game comes with an hourglass timer. As if the game isn’t enough fun already they throw in a full expansion that allows for a lot of replay and defiantly makes the game more interesting for more experienced gamers or people that just know how to work well together. I will do a full review of the expansion later.
Let’s talk about who would enjoy this game and why.
Family Gamers: The rules are simple enough that kids can play although if they have never played a cooperative game before this could take some extra explaining. But it is defiantly a game that mom and dad can enjoy while playing with their kids without feeling ‘dumb’ for lack of a better word. This game has no violence or adult theme and if there are any Indiana Jones fans in your family this is sure to be a big hit!
Casual Gamers: Most of my friends would be considered casual gamers, they have only tried a handful of games but do enjoy trying and learning new ones and I can tell you they loved this one. I had them intrigued right from my words “try this game there are no turns and we work as a team”. There is a lot of table talk in this game I think more then I have seen in any other game even other cooperative games. The game lasts only 10 minutes (maybe 15 if you include setup) so if time is an issue for you it won’t be with this game. You win or lose as a team and either way your group will want to play again and because the game has some elements from more complicated games (tile placement, specialty dice, and cooperative game play) it can work as a bridge to other games, perhaps dungeon crawlers and other team games.
Gamer Gamers: Although there are exceptions to every rule or statement I do believe that even most hardcore gamers have not played that many cooperative games. There are less of these games to choose from and they just seem to be catching on. I think that the uniqueness of this game allows it to appeal to gamers, the sheer intensity of the game is eye catching and enough to make even dice haters give this game a try. The ‘sharing’ of dice with players in the same room as you as well as the time limit/pressure of the game does a great job of making people who hate the randomness of rolling dice forget they are rolling dice all together! The game itself is hard enough that without a solid strategy you will fail, and the expansion makes even a solid strategy fall apart! Although the basic game might not keep a ‘gamer’ interested the included expansion sure will.