In the heart of South America lies treasure from a lost civilization. Treasure seekers have gathered to explore the unknown surroundings and collect their riches. Relic Expedition is an ever expanding tile game, firmly backed with an unknown jungle theme. Beyond tile placement, there are elements of set collecting, dice rolling, and even a small amount of resource management. At first glance you might slap a “roll and move” label on Relic Expedition, but it grows into much more than that as the game progresses.
The goal of the game is to acquire a set of 4 relics and escape the jungle with your life. Hidden in the jungle, you’ll find relics with six different symbols and materials. A winning set can be 4 of the same symbol or 4 of the same material (color).
Remember, you were just air dropped into the clearing of a jungle and you have no idea where you are. As you progress from the clearing (starting point of the game) you start to learn more about your surroundings (more jungle tiles are played and the board expands). As you discover more about the area you encounter wild animals, hazardous terrain, and relics.
Relic Expedition’s gameplay is pretty simple, buts its not without planning and thought. Each turn a player has 2 phases and rolls 2 custom dice to determine what they can do during these phases. The first phase is moving the wild animals around the board to spoil the other treasure seeker’s plans or shoo the animals away from you for fear that other players might encourage them to attack you on future turns. The second phase allows you to perform a certain number of actions based on your die roll (ranges from 2–4 actions). Actions consist of either moving around the board or rummaging around in the supply bag for items that can help you during your exploration. At times certain items are needed to explore some of the “featured” areas of the game. When encountering a cave you will need a light, if you need to trek up a mountain you’ll need climbing gear, and if you feel the urge to take a dip in the river looking for treasure you’ll need a raft. Here is where the resource management aspects come into play. Each seeker has a backpack that can only hold 8 items. Within these 8 items you will have relics (which you need a set of 4 to win), supplies to access featured areas of the map, and weapons or defenses to stave off the wild animals. As the game progresses players can drop and pickup items around the jungle as they see fit, but you’ll find yourself using up your actions fishing for things in the supply bag if you don’t manage your backpack wisely. Don’t you hate it when you’re walking around a jungle and you come across a cave but you forgot your flashlight? That harsh feeling in your gut on the helicopter ride over to the jungle wasn’t that you left the stove on—it’s because you forgot your flashlight at home.
As I said before, its easy to slap a “roll and move” label on Relic Expedition —but it simply just isn’t. What I really enjoy about this game is how it scratches the surface on so many mechanics in the gaming world. We often get caught up in labeling games for “hardcore gamers” or “gateways” for those that are just getting into the hobby. This game is a refreshing take on the gateway/family feel in which you get a nice introduction to mechanics, its still challenging and engaging to the seasoned veterans while not being to overwhelming to the newbies. Its worth a pickup for gamers in all walks of life. Check it out on Kickstarter and give them some love by backing the game.
Foxtrot Games provided The Gamer Nerd with a preview/prototype copy of Relic Expedition for the purposes of review. Some terms, elements, aspects of gameplay may change before the final production of the game. Some of the images used in this post are computer renderings of what the final production will look like. For more detailed information and images check out the Kickstarter page.