By Jeff Dougan
With this month’s Second Saturday Game Day happening at the Urbana Free Library on Saturday, and the biggest gaming convention in the country happening in Indianapolis next weekend, it’s time for another Family Game Night. This month’s installment is Incan Gold. This push-your-luck game is fairly light on brainpower if you want it to be, and gives you the chance to pretend you’re Indiana Jones.
The bullet points:
- Suggested ages 8 and older, but easily understandable by 5+
- 3 to 8 players
- Play time: Approximately 20 minutes
- Not in the library’s collection (yet)
In Incan Gold, players are explorers searching for treasures in a ruined temple. The game consists of five rounds, each of which functions identically: A card is turned up, and the number of treasures on it is divided equally among the players. If there’s a remainder, it gets left on the card. Before turning over the card, players decide whether to keep exploring the temple or to take their bag of treasures and go back to camp, in which case they’re out until the next round starts.
Not everything is treasure, though. (Or, as Indy would have put it, “Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?”) There are hazards hidden throughout the temple, and if two matching hazard cards turn up, all the explorers still inside the temple are forced to retreat, dropping whatever treasures they have almost accumulated. There are a few additional rules, but this hits the highlights.
There are several things about Incan Gold that I think make it work well for playing with kids. First, the only decision a player has to make isn’t a very complicated one, and since all the players reveal their decision at the same time, they can’t change their decision based on what other players do.
Second, it’s good practice at math if you make the kid divide the treasures.
Third, it plays pretty quickly, so it’s not likely to outlast a kid’s attention span. The length of the game also doesn’t increase dramatically as you add players; that is, a three-player game takes about the same amount of time as an eight-player game. (If you think just about playing a well-known game like Risk or Life, you’ll see why this attracts my attention.)
Fourth, if somebody is well-favored by chance, they can go from no points to winning the game during the last round of play — something I’ve seen done more than once.
Finally, it’s one of a very few games that my non-gamer wife will join in without grumbling.
Incan Gold has been reviewed often by gamers of all stripes, but my favorite review done by somebody else is definitely from The Playmobil Legion on BoardGameGeek.com. I should warn you that it’s very picture-intensive, and so might take a while to load if you’re on a slower data connection, but it’s very clever and very funny.
Jeff Dougan is a science educator, husband, lifelong gamer, and father to the Grasshopper (age 6) and the Munchkin (age 2). He’ll happily teach or learn a new game just about anytime.