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Don the Hat, Crack the Whip, and Embark on a Thrilling Quest in Indiana Jones: Sands of Adventure

Take on the roles of Indiana Jones, Marion Raven Wood, Sallah El-Kahir, and Marcus Brody as you search for the ark and outwit the villains!

Indiana Jones: Sands of Adventure is a real-time, cooperative card game set during the first Indiana Jones film. Designed by Prospero Hall and Chris Rowlands, and published by Funko Games, it is a 2-4 player game with a 45-minute playtime.

Gameplay

A sand timer, with a small bucket on either end, is stood up on the table, and five location tiles are set up in a line in front of it. The current round’s villain is placed on the far-left location. Each location has a unique ability written on it. Each player chooses a character, with each character having a unique power. At the start of each round, you draw your character’s starting hand of cards. If you draw any snakes, you place them in the snake pile and do not draw new ones to replace them.

Each round is divided into two phases. You start with the exploration phase. During this phase, on your turn, you move your character to one of the location tiles. You may not move to the location the villain is on (unless you are playing as Indiana Jones), and you may not stay on your current tile. You then resolve the action on your new tile. Many of these actions will allow you to draw more cards. Again, any snakes are added to the snake pile and not replaced with a new card. Some allow you to draw cards from the upgrade deck. You may only play a card if the location you are on allows you to. Most regular cards will show one of four colors as well as one of four items. When you play a card, it’s color or item must match the top card of the discard pile. Upgrade cards are useful because they will show an additional color or item.

However, there are also attack cards in the deck. Regular attack cards show either an item or a color, while attack cards from the upgrade deck show an item and a color. Whenever you successfully play an attack card, the villain’s health goes down by one.

After you resolve your location’s ability, you roll one or two dice, depending on the location. The result will either activate the villain (in which case he will move to the next location in the line and then force players at that location to discard cards or add gems to the sand timer, depending on the villain) or have players add a small or a large gem to the bucket at the top of the sand timer.

When you add a gem to the sand timer, if the sand timer doesn’t move, nothing happens — after resolving the dice you move on to the next player’s turn. However, if it causes the sand timer to flip over, you immediately move on to the timed phase.

During the timed phase, players do not use the locations but do continue to take turns. On your turn you may play any number of cards from your hand, continuing to follow the rules for playing cards as stated above, and then you end your turn by drawing a card. If you draw a snake, you must roll the snake die repeatedly until you roll a torch.

Some location tiles will give you power tokens, which are used exclusively during the timed phase. You may use any power tokens you gain once per round. The torch can be used to allow any player to ignore any snake he just drew. The interrupt allows you to play a card on another player’s turn. The ‘play any’ card allows you to play a card from your hand without following the normal card playing rules.

If you manage to defeat the villain before the timed phase ends, you successfully beat the round and move on to the next round. For each new round, you add a new location tile, choosing which tile to swap it out for. Location tiles are also double-sided, and players choose which side to play with. Any upgrade cards in the discard pile are shuffled into the regular deck so that it becomes stronger between rounds.

Beat the villain in the third round, and you win the game. If you fail to defeat the villains during the first two rounds, you still move on to the next round but start the new round with gems already in the sand timer as a penalty. Fail to defeat the villain during the third round, and you lose the game.

Review

Indiana Jones: Sands of Adventure is surprisingly enjoyable and tense. The two phases are a nice counterweight to each other. During the exploration phase you’re trying to strengthen the deck (also keeping in mind that any upgrade cards you get into the deck will still be in there for future rounds), fill your hands up with attack cards, and chip away a bit of the villain’s health so that you’re in a better position for the timed phase.

During the timed phase, you’re mostly trying to dig for attack cards in the deck as quickly as possible. As soon as anyone gets one, you’re trying to coordinate as quickly as possible who has to play what so that player can then use the attack card. It’s often chaotic, loud, and incredibly satisfying when you pull it off.

The game even says that you can play with players keeping their cards face-up on the table: this can make it easier to learn and it’s helpful when you’re first starting to get the hang of the game. We also liked that players have a little bit of choice with which location tile gets swapped out each round, as well as choosing which side of a location they want to use for that game. You can adapt the board to your team’s strategy.

While most of the components are quite nice, with the location tiles being nice and chunky and all the artwork bright and colorful, the sand timer, while an absolutely fantastic set piece, almost never flipped for us until the last gem or two. Once, we placed all the gems and had to manually flip it over because it didn’t budge on its own. This made the suspense of adding gems to the sand timer, which at first felt very exciting and fun, a little lackluster by the final round. After doing a little research, we found that some players also had similarly overly stable sand timers while others had timers that flipped far more easily. So it seems they may be inconsistently balanced.

The sand timer also made the consequence of failing to defeat villains in the first two rounds feel less dire. In general, it would feel more satisfying to say you had to beat all three villains in order to win the game.

If you like the chaos and speed of real-time games, Sands of Adventure is an enjoyable one, and the addition of the exploration phase gives you a chance to breathe as well as prepare. It’s a clever, and well-designed combination, and the result is quite an enjoyable game. It would be fun to see expansions that add the other Indiana Jones stories, which would in turn provide even more variety between villains and locations.

Pros: Balance of the two phases, the sand timer is a clever mechanic, great aesthetics

Cons: Our sand timer did not flip easily enough, it would feel more satisfying to defeat a villain before moving on to the next round

Disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.



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