Review: Relic Expedition – adventure in the jungle
I should have never listen to that crazy old man! He told me same story every night by the fire, until I succumbed to its call. But everything I´ve discovered until now is mud and stones. No trace of any relic. Maybe I am looking in the wrong places or he was really just a crazy old fool. Perhaps I need only a little more time and luck. Or a helping hand. I decided to contact the local tribes for help.
Maybe its not so much true, but now you are one of the indigenous population. Guide, who will help this unnamed adventurer on his quest for treasures. All this figured Randy Hoyt, author of the game Relic Expedition in 2013 and published his whole idea under auspices of Foxtrot Games. Quite unexpectedly, these adventurers also arrived to our table, to properly search it and find some hidden relics.
But we know our table well, so we´d better cover it with a nice hard cardboard box. There are different animals on its cover, waiting for unprepared tourists in the jungle. But we are not afraid and let our adventurous desire to pull through. You will find no game board inside, but instead just two booklets with rules. One big serving dish for a quick start and a second, detailed and small, with thorough description of the gameplay. Such a small booklet, that each Indiana Jones could wear it in his shirt pocket.
And below, there is a number of sheets with cardboard pieces, a real flood of them. Most come with picture of a jungle environment, coming from larger boards camp, winding rivers and rocks to smaller tiles. All have a hexagonal shape, different surfaces, but usually lined some path through the jungle. But that´s not all, because punching out continues with round shapes for equipment and above all by the relic, which are in the first place in this game. This leaves us with tiny triangles, that you should definitely not throw away! They serve as markers in the game.
But we run away from cartons and our sight falls instead on the wooden figures. There´s plenty of those. Beside the heroes with a hat and a backpack, mainly animals (snake, panther, monkey and wild boar) are waiting for you inside, also with three dice and four massive wooden trays. They have elongated rectangular plate with a slot running through the middle. This whole thing serves as a backpack, which can hold up to eight objects.
It is these backpacks and figures in the chosen color, each player should take to the start. In the middle of the table is placed largest piece with a picture of the camp and everybody chooses one of four possible starting positions for his adventurer. These are marked with letter H and everyone places his chosen figure on one. Now it is important, that all vacant fields neighbouring characters are filled with random jungle pieces. Each adventurer is therefore surrounded by three new environment tokens.
Remaining pieces of the jungle are shuffled and create piles, from where will players draw them later on. Only few larger boards are placed aside are some relics are spread on them according to setup instructions. Rest of them is then divided into those, that can be found on the ground and others, you need to have a little luck to find. Latter ones are placed in a canvas bag (which is supplied in the box) and puts it aside together with rest of tokens, dice and animal pawns.
In his turn, each player rolls a pair of brown hexahedral dice. While one is wearing animal pictures, the other shows numbers equal to how many action points player can spend in his current turn. There is not that much actions to spend it for. The basis is of course motion, as always in such games. Simply follow the path with a hero. He can move to adjacent space for one point, but only on a path. If he wants to deviate from established paths for some reason, he can slash their way through jungle, but pay exactly two points for a trip to neighboring box.
Exploration of hero´s current location is closely linked with all this, because it does not cost anything. Whenever explorer gets to a spot, which has some empty space around it, it must be immediately filled by random new tiles of the jungle. Such new places often can bring some unexpected elements, whether its animals, randomly drawn relics or natural phenomena. For example, tile with river is followed by placing whole big river board next to it, just as foothill is followed by entire cliff piece. In both cases, these tiles are moved with relics, that are on them and are now available for taking.
The last major activity is to find new items. It costs a player one action point. He can draw one token from the bag and put it in his backpack. He must, however, have a place or throw away any of the existing items to create space. Such a discarded token is not gone forever, instead it stays on the site, where the activity was carried out. Lifting an object on the current position of the hero does not cost anything.
Items in your bag can support movement (machete) or are a prerequisite for achieving some places – raft on the river or light in the cave. Vines in the bag will allow players to overcome quicksand. Otherwise heroes have to walk around. Objects can serve also as a defense against animals, which players can encounter in the jungle. Such a piece is sacrificed during the attack. If he is not prepared for their attack, he may lose entire contents of the bag.
But before player gets to do all these activities, he shall act according to symbol on second dice. This symbol shows, which species will move this turn around the board. Each animal of this typ can be moved one or two squares in any direction. While the first choice goes to active player, other animals are moved by players in the clockwise direction, so everybody has a chance to interact with fauna. These animals can then attack the adventurers, when they enter same space and prepare tough moments for them.
Game comes to an end, when someone manages to collect entire set of relics of one color or symbol. This hero has not yet won, because he has to get back to camp and fly away in helicopter (H spot). Only in such a moment, game ends with his victory.
Relic Expedition is a game with atmosphere pumping in its veins. It is a game about exploring and precisely as such you will perceive it. The theme here not just a joke here, but everything works fine. Nothing is overly complicated, so you can enjoy adventure alone.
Game combines an interesting exploration with set collection. Bad decisions and choice of colored tokens may cost you some time, but may not necessarily cost you whole game. Some relics are not easy to get, because they are located in inaccessible environments, such as on the wall of the mountain, you have to climb on. Rules also ensure, that you can not get them all. Curse will allow you to take only one token from each box. This is where little triangles come in place to note that fact. Match remains balanced, though this particular rule does not work as intuitively.
Rest of the game is simple, but everything works as expected. Also perfect treatment has its large shar on smooth running of whole game and it will please you immensely. And it´s not only about those wooden boxes, but also embossed dice and wooden figures. Perhaps only those illustrations on tiles are a little darker, than they should be. Rules are written in detail and honestly, reading them takes a surprisingly long time. In doing so, mainly large number of examples is responsible.
Relic Expedition is still at its core a game suitable especially for families. Advanced players can complain about dice, simplicity and fact, that it does not bring anything entirely new to its genre. But it beautifully brings together players of all experience levels. This corresponds also to game time. Because the game is simple, there is no reason to use simplified rules, which contain rules. Even less experienced players to seamlessly learn the full version.
There´s a lot of luck, to which we usually complain in our reviews. But this time everything is different, because luck is closely related to theme of the game. Treasure hunters need it to do their job. Only by being that lucky, they can find anything. Finally, we therefore do not mind the fact, that dice determine number of action points you have available in your turn.
Very important for the game is also movement of animals. First of all, it lets you to free your way for further exploration. But more fundamental is ability to hurt opponents with their position. This possibility is most appreciated near end of the game, when one of the heroes runs to the helicopter. At that moment, all the animals of the jungle might crumble and try to stop his dash. It is good, that each player has the opportunity to participate in the opponent´s move, because movement of animals is divided among all opponents. There is also a major difference in the number of players, because level of control over the animals in the jungle is different.
With random arrangements of tiles, jungle area is always different. It reveals in front of players gradually as the heroes start running away from their camp. It really feels like you are discovering an unknown jungle and trying to find a mysterious relic. It functions a lot better, than The Cave (review), we have reviewed last year. But relics themselves have no great value, because you need to get a set of them to count. Only that will give you a good catch and maybe even some mythical magical abilities.
We certainly did not expect, what we got from Relic Expedition. The game at first glance looks almost too simple, but result provides great adventurous experience. It combines a great luck dependance with partial control of players, but above all with possibility to hurt other opponents in their goal. Only the ability to trip up a colleague makes a true hero into an adventurer, whom history will remember! And it is fun!
Review: Relic Expedition – adventure in the jungle
Relic Expedition is an adventurous treasure hunt in the jungle. It offers primarily a great atmosphere and luck on such a scale, that it can discourage experienced players. But certainly not all of them, because we like the game a lot! Why? Because good luck suits to profession of an explorer and fits also well into this game. The heroes spend action points for movement around the map in order to get relics scattered across its surface. To get to some places, they need special equipment, which must first be obtained. In many cases, players have control, but they also can attack each other with animals. You can defend even to such attacks. The game has beautiful processing, including excellent wooden rucksacks for tokens. Relic Expedition is a game, which will be loved by all those little boys longing for adventure, but also by families, which will appreciate its simplicity. But we like it no less and this is reason, why can we recommend it also to you.