Saturday, 24 December 2011

Games for many who don't game, part 2.

With a heavy heart and after much soul searching I have managed to tear myself away from the seasonal movie: Surviving Christmas, starring an affable and emotive Ben Afleck in what really is quite a surreal and bizarre experience.  I think I can live with myself.  

In any case - following on from my last post, this is the next in a series of: 

Games for many who don’t game...

Published by: Gryphon Games
Designed by: Bruno Faidutti and Alan Moon

Diamant/Incan Gold is a game of pushing your luck in order to acquire the most treasures.  Players are explorers venturing into the heart of an ancient Incan pyramid in search of gold and gems.  After 5 adventures, the player who has managed to bring the most treasure back to their camp wins.

Each round of the game a new card is flipped - this card will show either treasures, or hazards.  If the card shows a number of treasures, that number is divided equally between those brave adventurers still in the pyramid - and remainders stay on the treasure card.  Hazards are interesting as one alone of a type (and there are 5 types) will do nothing, but if a second of any hazard is flipped then any adventurers still in the pyramid will lose any of the treasures they have managed to collect on that adventure.

With all their predictive powers (or was that the Mayans), you would have thought the Incans would have been able to foresee and cater for the pillaging of their grand burial and religious monuments - luckily, they focused their prognostications on grander subjects - like the end of the world.

In any case - back to the review - prior to each card flip players have the choice of either continuing or turning back - if they continue they have the opportunity to win more treasure, but risk losing it all.  If they turn back they get to bank what they have found so far on that adventure - and that cannot be lost.

The game has some neat aspects to it - the remaining treasures - those left over after splits, may be collected by adventurers turning back to camp - so as these add up in dribs and drabs there are elements of bluff and double-guessing as players try and balance the desire to be the only one turning back (and getting the remainders), or keeping on.  The way the deck of cards is constructed is also interesting - 15 treasure cards, 15 hazards, with 5 varieties of hazard making for three hazards of each type.  This means that the game is not just dumb luck - there is an element of playing the odds.

I use this game in my class during maths lessons to help talk about the process of division - moving from the concrete - one gem for you, one for them, one for me etc. To the knowledge of number facts and the relationship between the times tables and division - there are 12 treasures, 4 adventures - 4x3=12, therefore 12/4=3.  I also use it to introduce the language of probability - likely, unlikely, odds, etc - when talking about whether, half way through an adventure, you are more likely to draw a treasure card or a hazard card.

There’s isn’t much difference between the original Diamant version and the Incan Gold version, the change are largely cosmetic.  In Diamant players have wooden figures they blind bid with, in Incan Gold they have two cards - one for going forward, one for going back.  The gems and containers for the treasures are much nicer in Diamant.  But Incan Gold includes some artifact cards that add a neat variant into the game that can be a lot of fun.

All in all this is a good game full of exciting moments.  There is nothing here that is overly deep, but is a fun push-your-luck game of probabilities and pushing the odds.  I thoroughly recommend it!

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