06 January 2008

Incan Gold

One of the the disadvantages of not being associated with a hobby gaming group is that I have to figure out how to play the games on my own. I do a lot of research online and lean toward simpler beer-and-pretzels games to make the task easier on myself.

That's what I thought I was doing when I bought Incan Gold. However, I am disappointed with the game. Even my husband, who loves quick games and shies away from ones that take longer than 30 minutes, couldn't wait for it to be over. After all the glowing reviews I saw on BGG, I couldn't understand why we didn't enjoy it. I know that it is a light game, but I thought there was more to it than what we got. I even started to wonder if we were playing it wrong. From what I have seen on BGG, however, it seems that we are playing it correctly.

For those who haven't heard of Incan Gold: it is an American remake of a game called Diamant. It is a game for 3-8 players where you pretend to be adventurers searching for treasure in a jungle mine. You turn up cards from a deck. Each card will either depict a hazard or a number of jewels. If it is a jewel card, the treasure is split evenly among the players; any odd amount is left on the card. If it is a hazard card and it is the first hazard of its kind, don't worry. However, if you turn up a second hazard of that kind, then everyone who is still on the expedition loses their treasure. The crux of the game is deciding whether you are in or out. Before every card flip, the players decide whether they are going to stay or go. Those who go back to their tents get to keep the treasure they have gotten thus far. They also get to split the treasure that was left on the cards. Those who stay are taking a risk to get more treasure.

The main thing I don't like about this game is the stay-or-go mechanism. No matter how much I try to build up the theme, there is no suspense in whether someone is going to stay or go. Perhaps my group didn't have the right attitude, but I have seen ABM and his friend CJ try to fake each other out more in a card game like Spades than they do in this game. Also, using cards for the stay-or-go vote is fiddly. Even after several plays, we had trouble remember which card was for Stay and which was for Go. For our last game, I switched to using a checker in the hand: if your hand is empty you are staying, but if you show your checker then you are taking your treasure and going back to your tent. That went more smoothly, but it didn't really increase our enjoyment of the game. ABM kept revealing his hand before the 1-2-3 count. I tried to get him to understand that he doesn't want to show his decision early because there are times when you get more treasure if you are the only one to go out. He just didn't seem interested in the game enough to care.

Buying Incan Gold wasn't a total loss. First off, the kids love it. It is another game that is simple enough for them to play without me being there to supervise. Secondly, it has shown our adult group that we may be ready to add a few heavier games into the mix. Up until now, I've taken ABM at his word and only purchased quick games. I think he is starting to see that the quick games don't always give him the depth that he wants. His friend CJ even commented that he prefers games where he has to think a bit more. So it sounds like they may be up for a challenge.

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