Review: Secrets of the Lost Tomb – to be an adventurer

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World has still so much mystery in it and places, that nobody visited for centuries. It does not matter, whether it was built by Egyptians, Mayans or the Atlanteans. All these long lost civilizations are a great resource for treasure hunters. But what stands behind their disappearance? May it be, that in the dark corners of buildings and cool caves hides secret, that we should let rather sleep?

Answer is definitely yes. At least, if we listen to advice of , that created board game . This game has is never enough of adventures, as we discover in creation of his company Everything Epig Games. It started up in 2013 with its campaign on site and gathered a total of $ 112,000 from 685 sponsors.

And this allowed the author to create a huge box, but most of its space is occupied by a cardboard insert and air. At least in our test version, which does not offer any bonuses from Kickstarter (mainly miniatures). The free space might be handy for that, but we can not judge and it will not even be interesting for potential buyers at the moment (you already get the game without bonuses, which were only reward for KS support). Parts of the game are mostly made of cardboard parts. But above them are two brochures, that have reversed front pages. Fortunately, content is okay.

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Major components are fifty-two puzzle pieces of map, that form rooms and hence together a map. For anyone, who will be opening this box, it is probably no secret, that players will represent heroes. Now we have to mention most interesting component of the entire package – adventurer board. It is a sophisticated component, that has two scales with holes, and then the two rotary indicators (life and commitment). Players will have to build each of them from components. Also comet indicator will require some assembly.

In addition, players can enjoy hero cards, monsters (three levels with various statistics), artifacts, companions, objects, statuses, crypts and stories. There are a staggering total of 313 cards inside (!). Some contain texts of special effects. There is also a pile of tokens with different purposes, including stats or damage. Heroes are also made of cardboard and will thus need plastic holders. Game includes eight dice. For player boards mentioned in the beginning, players will also need pins for labeling courage.

At the beginning of the game, players choose one of the scenarios. These are not connected, but each has its own story. Now, these individual adventures have some specific conditions: first, players need some (five) rooms, put them on the table and create initial layout of the dungeon. Then they can equip different maps according to specific conditions of that particular adventure.

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Each player gets his adventurous pointer and must choose their hero and put his figure on entry into the dungeon. Equipment of each player comes in the form of cards and tokens (initial setup parameters are listed on the adventurer card). This starting equipment is then covered with cardboard pointer. To have everything they need, all participants will also receive a search token. Before the game, players also choose the difficulty by using kit of dungeon cards. All other decks of cards and tokens are prepared next to the board.

By reading the initial plot, the game itself is already starting. And it will be all about players most of the time performing some actions. They pay for them by rotating a bullet tokens. With their use, heroes can perform a variety of activities. The most basic is obviously a move, that is possible up to value of hero’s movement (in his stats). He may move not only to familiar rooms, but can also explore by entering some hollow place. Player acquires a new tile from inventory and attach it. This new location may be wearing have some effects, that need to be evaluated right away. Hero can also come across a monster. He must avoid it at that point (roll of the dice decides about success), but other events from rooms will provide an injury or undergo various tests, depending on their abilities (as cards randomly drawn story tell them to).

Players can also trade items with each other or search the room, in which they are located. Here, their success again depends on the die and its result. But such exploration is a dangerous thing to do and that is ensured by a pyramid with three peaks. Each search must compare result with the table regarding actual color of tip of the pyramid. It is rotated again for each search and getting more and more dangerous. Heroes can also rest (two lives restored), use items, steal items from monsters or attack them.

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Battle will be an important part of hero efforts. During his first meeting with each being, an adventurer loses a portion of his courage out of fear. Status of this scale can positively and negatively affect his abilities. Then player chooses a weapon and uses dice according to his statistics, adding any bonuses. Success is any five or six rolled, but those sixes are also a little risky. Monsters wounds carry over between rounds, so they can be hurt progressively until they lose all their lives. For that, liquidator(s) will receive one soul fragment.

After each action, player turns cartridge to its opposite side (waiting for a recharge) and then next player clockwise goes. Once all players utilize their available actions, it is time for dungeon to do their stuff. Players here reveal dungeon card, which may again need players to perform some test, but also an increase comet indicator. Then, monsters are moved, they attack heroes and new ones also appear in rooms with red borders (spawn points). Action tokens are recharged to starting position.

But back to comet indicator, which may cause the game to end in a failure. But game ends by heroes losing also in case of their death. On the contrary, after fulfillment of certain conditions, players can celebrate a win, at least in this particular adventure.

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Secrets of the Lost Tomb as described looks just like another in a long series of adventure games, that allow players to wander through corridors. So you ask, what is different about this new game to guarantee its purchase? First, there is a wide range of scenarios with an interesting story. But this is fortunately not all.

The game is purely cooperative. And there is not as many adventurous games, where you are working together, because most of dungeon crawling is built on competition. If not all together, at least within two feuding groups.

Second difference, we see as essential and not take it for granted in other games, is an exploration. Environment of crypt is always different, because tiles are drawn randomly. And because overall the story takes place on several floors, you even need to look for a way to go down – stairs, which offers quite compact and interesting experience. That exploration is our favorite element, which we appreciate very much.

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In the game, there are far more interesting rules, that make it quite complex. But this is probably the thing, you expect and like about adventurous games, especially if you have to solve a puzzle with multiple friends. Furthermore, most of the elements are explained nicely using examples. With these details, players may be awaiting the opportunity to trade a thief of souls caught in the trap, outnumbered the possibility to use (and get a bonus for it in combat), or may require players to meet different effects. Player can find also some companions, who help them or on the other hand monsters, who fight in groups.

Besides basic monsters, there are also bosses waiting in the box for players and they have their own rules. Modifications and updates to the game are brought by different scenarios, which together always brings a slightly different experience. Difficulty can then be set by players themselves, as they become more experienced, so they can afford even most demanding challenges.

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It is clear, that most of the evaluation effects with dice, will not be cup of each player out there. Now the total randomness, including discovering rooms of the crypt, is the prime mover of gameplay, but also a challenge, that players can not really control.

The game is really complex. There’s a pile of effects and elements, which the players will have to deal with. And it also leads to awkward length of the game, which certainly exceeds reported sixty minutes and even twice. But that does not mean, that players should be bored. On the contrary, they will face virtually certain entertainment throughout the game. Fewer players means, that everyone will have to take multiple characters under control, which is not quite the right thing to experience it.

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Secrets of the Lost Tomb is a game, that offers plenty of adventure stories to anyone, who craves for them. What is important is the fact, that it all works together from the beginning and it is indeed heroic tale with all the trimmings. Secrets of the Lost Tomb will delight true lover of adventure, which is not looking for being a winner alone, but winning together with a bunch of other heroes.

DesignerChristopher Batarlis, Jim Samartino
ArtistShane Braithwaite, Jim Samartino
PublisherEverything Epic Games
Year Published
# of Players1 - 6
User Suggested # of Players Best with 6 players
Recommended with 1, 2 players
(15 voters)
Playing Time120
Mfg Suggested Ages13 and up
User Suggested Ages12 and up
(12 voters)
Language DependenceExtensive use of text - massive conversion needed to be playable
(9 voters)
CategoryAdventure, Exploration, Horror
MechanicAction Points, Cooperative Game, Dice Rolling, Modular Board, Tile Placement, Variable Player Powers
ExpansionSecrets of the Lost Tomb: 3 Epic Bosses, Secrets of the Lost Tomb: Ancient Myths and Legends, Secrets of the Lost Tomb: Atlantis – Mystery of the 13, Secrets of the Lost Tomb: Fate's Fortune, Secrets of the Lost Tomb: Passages and Perils, Secrets of the Lost Tomb: Promo 1, Secrets of the Lost Tomb: Reign of Terror, Secrets of the Lost Tomb: The Elite Missions, Secrets of the Lost Tomb: The Great Apocalypse
FamilyCategory: Dungeon Crawler, Crowdfunding: Kickstarter, Game: Secrets of the Lost Tomb, Theme: Cthulhu Mythos
Primary NameSecrets of the Lost Tomb

Infos courtesy of boardgamegeek.com. More Infos.

Review: Secrets of the Lost Tomb – to be an adventurer
Final word
Secrets of the Lost Tomb is a great adventure inside a big box. But dimensions are only satisfied, if you have supported it on Kickstarter. Fortunately, you will not regret space, that this box occupies at your home, because it is brimming with something else - fun. Game offers plenty of interesting detailed rules, but also a lot of scenarios, each with its own story and exceptions. Experience is spoiled a little by longer playing time, and maybe by randomness, if you do not like it. Secrets of the Lost Tomb belongs certainly among the best, that you can get in genre of cooperative combat fantasy.
Reader Rating0 Votes
Pros
pile of scenarios
more stories
survey
lots of other minor rules
cooperative dungeon-crawling
dice guarantee drama
lots of examples in the rules
Cons
longer playing time
chance in dice and exploration
fewer players means more heroes to control
4.5
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