Posted by: gschloesser | December 6, 2011

Incan Gold – Review

Design by:  Alan Moon and Bruno Faidutti
Published by:  Gryphon Games
3 – 8 Players, 20 – 30 minutes
Review by:  Greg J. Schloesser

NOTE:  This review was first published on the Opinionated Gamers website

I’ve always been a big fan of Sid Sackson’s Can’t Stop.  The push-your-luck aspect of the game creates a tense and exciting experience, as a player hopes to get lucky with the right roll to keep going.  It is a terrific, light game that appeals to just about everyone.  So what does Can’t Stop have to do with Incan Gold?  The push-your-luck aspect, which is why I find the game so fun to play.

Incan Gold is the reincarnation of Diamant, which was originally released by Schmidt Spiele in Europe.  This new version published by Gryphon Games has been revamped and turned into a pure card game.  Gone are the meeples, board and nifty mining carts.  All of these components were certainly superfluous, but they still added atmosphere and helped the game feel like more than just a card game.  This new version adds artifacts to the proceedings, which does make the decision to run or stay more difficult.

Designed by Alan Moon and Bruno Faidutti, Incan Gold entices players to enter mysterious and dangerous Incan ruins in search of precious gems and artifacts.  The dangers are numerous, but fabulous treasure awaits the bold.  Stay too long, however, and all treasures will be lost.  Perhaps if you keep going just a bit longer, you can uncover a mother lode of precious gems.  However, there are significant dangers, so remaining too long could result in disaster.  When do you decide to run from the tunnels, taking your treasure – and those left behind – with you?  These decisions help make Incan Gold tense and fun.

Players will enter and explore the tunnels and passages of five ruins.  The procedure for exploring each ruin is the same.  The ruin card is revealed, displaying the artifact that might be discovered hidden in the tunnels. It is then shuffled into the deck.  One-by-one, cards are revealed and placed face-up, forming a path.  A card will either be treasure, an artifact or a hazard.  If it is treasure, the amount listed is divided evenly amongst the players, with any remainder being placed on the card.  The treasure can be a small amount – one or two gems – or a mother lode consisting of over a dozen gems.  If it is an artifact, it is placed on the path.  If it is a hazard … well, more on that in a bit.

After each card is revealed and placed … and any treasures divided … all players must decide whether they are going to remain in the ruin or dash for the exit, returning to their camp.  They do this by simultaneously revealing either a torch (stay) or camp (run) card.  Players who run take the gems they have gained, splitting any gems that were left on the cards along the path.  If only one player runs, he gets it all, including any artifact card(s) on the path.  Treasures are stored in the players’ tents.  Those who opt to remain in the tunnel continue on the journey.

What about those hazards?  There are five types of perils – spiders, snakes, mummies, etc. – each with three cards in the deck.  When the first hazard of a particular type is revealed, nothing happens, and the hazard card is added to the path.  However, when the second hazard of a particular type is revealed, disaster strikes.  All players remaining in the ruin lose all treasures they have collected from that location and the round ends.  Only those who had previously run from the ruin get to keep the treasures they collected.  This second hazard card is removed from the game, reducing the odds of that particular hazard appearing again.

Play continues in the fashion for each of the five ruins.  After all ruins have been explored, players tally the value of all gems and artifacts in their camps.  The first three artifacts collected are worth five points apiece, while the remaining two are worth ten points apiece.  Their appearance certainly makes dashing from a ruin quite attractive.  The player with the greatest value of treasure is victorious.

There is not much strategy to the game, but it is not designed to be a strategy game.  It is designed to be a light, fun filler, and it is exactly that.  There is considerable tension when players decide to run or stay.  The turn of each card causes anxiousness, which morphs into outbursts of relief or despair when the card is finally revealed.  It is push-your-luck fun played in 20 – 30 minutes.

Incan Gold is easy to learn and plays quickly, everything a fun filler should be.  What’s more, the game has proven popular with just about everyone with whom I’ve played, both gamers and non-gamers.  My only real complaint is the removal of the board, meeples and mine carts.  Of course, there really weren’t any mine carts used to explore Incan ruins!  Still, while those components aren’t really necessary, they gave the original version of the game a more professional feel.  Regardless, I am happy to see the game gain wider distribution, even in its more streamlined state.  So what say you?  Are you bold enough to brave the horrors of the ruins in hopes of becoming fabulously wealthy?  Are you ready to grab your share of Incan Gold?


  1. Incan Gold is now a classic: a heavily themed press-your-luck card draw game that is so simple, it may have become outflanked by newer and more complex titles. It is artful, great for kids, and fun enough, but there’s just not much to it except that IT PLAYS EIGHT! (5/10)

  2. Press your luck and stay around for the big score after the weaklings have bolted or get out while you can with a little. I am not a big fan but it plays 8 so it is a keeper. (6/10)

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