Previewing: Relic Expedition

Admit it: there’s a certain appeal to adventures. Whether it’s the iconic road trip, learning new skills, or simply going somewhere you’ve never been before, there’s an innate sense of excitement when we get to do them. And that’s just the real world. Books, games, and movies all provide us the ability to take adventures we’d otherwise be unable to. With Relic Expedition, you’ll get to take on one of the classics.

Relic Expedition is a jungle-hopping jaunt on the search for lost treasure. You’ll compete against the other players by exploring the terrain, fighting off enemies, and getting what you came for – all before anyone else. The intent is to collect four treasure pieces of the same insignias, or four treasures of the same material. Yep. The premise is remarkably simple.

And yet, the way the whole thing plays out, we dare you to try not pretending to be this guy:

Unfortunately, the game has snakes. He hates snakes.

Relic expedition is the sort of treasure hunting game that multiple groups can enjoy, due to its combination of two mechanics:

1. Board Variation: Tile layout games aren’t exactly new, and it sometimes can be a bit challenging to forge new territory. Relic Expedition seemingly found a way to do just that. As players reach the edge of the explored map, new adjacent tiles are flipped up, revealing more parts of the jungle. Since it’s entirely based on a players’ movement, the map ends up with very variable layouts. Indeed, you very much feel like you’re only seeing a small part of a larger region.

But that doesn’t matter: you’re here for treasure, remember? Nevertheless, tiles don’t generally come across as repetitive because you genuinely don’t know what awaits you the next tile over. It creates a “Fog of War” feeling (to borrow a video game term), wherein you don’t know if the next few spaces contain treasure, dense jungle, quicksand, or various animals that wish you harm. Of course, they could also contain various named locations (named upon release), where there is a guaranteed treasure trove. However, it’s not that simple. And that leads to…

Possible End Map Layout

2. Item Management: You’re running through the jungle. So, naturally, there is only so much stuff you can carry. In Relic Expedition, you get exactly eight slots for both your items and your treasures. You start off with an empty backpack, but you’ll gain items over the course of your turns. However, with such limited space, this means that the more loot you acquire, the more of your gear you’re going to have to ditch.

Items fall into two groups. First, there are temporary items that are discarded after use, such as MedKits to avoid poison or Traps to avoid a dangerous panther mauling (they do love to maul). However, there are also permanent items that you keep – so long as you choose to. Many of these latter items are used to get into the named locations. For example, getting to the four treasure spot on the Mountain location requires you to have Climbing Gear. No Gear, no shiny artifacts. (We’re guessing you’ll miss out on an awesome view as well). The choice of what to keep versus what to toss becomes especially important with more players due to scarcity.

Players in Relic Expedition have relatively simple turns, consisting of rolling dice that dictate which jungle critters move and how many actions you get (between 2 and 4). There’s a decent amount of luck involved here between whether animals move, how many actions you’ll have, and which tiles get revealed. So, sure, there are times when things can get a little swingy against you (and we don’t mean the monkeys). But, hey, it’s the jungle. There was no guarantee it’d be easy. Still, the mix of simple mechanics, item management, and luck are all melded together in this enjoyably thematic game.

We can’t all be Indy. Or even Short Round. But you can go on a Relic Expedition of your own. If you’re after a light game with a lot of heart, consider giving them a look on their Kickstarter.