As I’ve previosuly written, I grew up on Indiana Jones and the cliffhanger world adventurer genre in re-runs of old movie serials. Games like Fortune and Glory are loads of fun in taking on the guise of a rustic hero globetrotting to exotic locales in search of treasure and reknown while dodging enemies looking for to dastardly foil your mission. A few weeks ago at Metropolitan Wargamers I had a chance to run through a few games of another adventurer game, Escape…From The Temple Curse from Germany’s Queen Games. Released in 2012 after a successful Kickstarter campaign, Escape is a fast-paced game in which you and your fellow player-adventurers race through a temple collecting treasures and escaping before the temple collapses.
Escape begins with each player placing their adventurer on the starting temple tile. Simultaneously, players begin furiously rolling five dice apiece. Rolling a green adventurer allows a move while a blue key or red torch reveals a new room, opens a treasure or allows for a gem to be picked up. A black mask “curses” a die which is set aside and cannot be used in a subsequent roll. Once a gold mask is rolled, up to two cursed black mask dice can be put back into play. Players may share dice results if they occupy the same chamber, adding a collaborative element to the game. Quick-paced decisions need to be made constantly as players need to stay close enough together to help each other but also spread out to cover enough ground to gather gems to unlock the exit to the temple.
Unlike most games I play over many hours, Escape plays out in no more than 10 minutes of real time. The game uses an actual recorded soundtrack which builds in intensity over the course of the game until a warning sounds and the temple crashes to ruins. Not only does the soundtrack serve as a game timer, but it also adds a real cinematic aspect to the game. It’s as if you’re playing through an old Saturday matinee movie serial.
Playing the game is crazy, even more so as the number of players increases. From the moment the soundtrack begins, people are rolling dice, shouting to each other, mapping new routes, running into roadblocks, collecting gemstones, falling victim to a curse or finding a treasure. Two expansions make offer additional temple tiles as well as curse and treasure markers. Curses might make a player lose a die if it rolls off the table or force them to not speak. Treasures do such things as reveal magic doors between chambers or transport you magically to another part of the temple.
The game plays so fast that any decent gaming session allows for multiple games to be played with increasing difficulty by adding in more of the expansion elements. In the few games I played with the maximum of five players at Metropolitan Wargamers, we successfully escaped the temple at around the 8-to-9-minute mark each time. Although our bunch at the club was compromised of experienced gamers in our 20s-40s, Escape is simple enough in its rules that families would find the game to be a kick. Regardless of the make up of the players, Escape…From The Temple Curse is loads of fun for anyone looking to live out their cinematic adventure fantasies in a manic and fun-filled tabletop game.
- Favorite Kickstarters of the Month (August 2013) (brooklynwargaming.com)