Game Buzz: Relic Runners

It’s always a big deal when Day of Wonder comes out with a game.  Their next title is

image by BGG user W Eric Martin
image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Relic Runners is a new game from first-time designer Matthew Dunstan.  DoW is releasing the game in September, but GenCon attendees will get to demo the game there.  It’s for 2-5 players and takes an hour to play.  It’s an exploration game where you’re heading through temple ruins in search of treasure.  It’s certainly not a new theme, but let’s take a look at how it plays.

The game comes with a board that shows the map; five explorer sets including a bust, an explorer chart, 10 pathways, and three toolboxes of the player colors; 24 round ruin tiles; 20 colored temple tile sets including three tiles of the same color (small-medium-large); 20 relics (sacred toads, crystal skulls, birds of paradise, and grimacing jujus); 25 ration packs; 10 toolbox tokens; and 79 victory coins.  At the beginning of the game, make eight stacks of three ruin tiles (two in a two-player game) and place them around the board in the designated spots.  Draw four large, four medium, and four small tiles of each of the three colors and create 12 three-level pyramids, placnig them on their space.  Each player gets an explorer set, as well as three ration packs.

Players take turns.  On a turn, you must move, and then you may explore.

MOVE: Move your explorer along a trail.  This action is mandatory – you can’t stay in the same place.  You can move along a single trail that has no pathways of your color, plus a long continuous chain of pathways of your own color.  You can’t move along the same pathway/trail more than once per turn.  If you ever reach Base Camp, you must stop immediately and collect three ration packs (a maximum of five).

EXPLORE: After moving, you may explore.  To do this, you’ll need to spend a ration pack.  If you don’t have any, you can’t do this.  If you’re in a ruin, you discard the top ruin tile and put a pathway onto an adjacent trail.  If you’re at a temple, you remove the top tile, and different things happen depending on the color:

  • Ivory – These tiles give you powers that remain in play.  First level tiles give you bonus points at the end of the game.  Second level tiles give you a single-use power.  Third level tiles give you a permanent effect.  You can’t have two of the same level tile at the same time.  If you get a second one, you must choose one to discard and receive 2 points in compensation.
  • Blue – These give you 2-5 points at the end of the game.  They are kept secret.
  • Purple – These give you immediate effects, and are the only ones that are visible before you land on them.  Once you take the effect, you discard it.

When the last temple or ruin tile is removed, you have discovered a shrine where a relic is kept.  Place a corresponding relic on the site.  If you begin your move on a shrine with a relic, and end your move on another shrine with a relic of the same color, you claim the second relic.  You don’t have to spend a ration to do this.

When you move past toolboxes on the trail, you gain certain abilities on your toolbox progression chart.  These could help you explore/resupply, ease your way through the jungle, or give you additional actions or bonuses.

The game ends when a total of 7-10 relics have been collected by the players (depending on the number in the game).  Each player gets one more turn (except the one that took the last relic), and points are counted.  You add you VPs from coins and blue temple tiles, bonuses that you may have, and 5 points per relic you collected.  The player with the most points wins.

I feel that adventuring games are becoming a little played out recently.  It seems that there are a lot of jungle exploration/treasure collecting/Indiana Jones style games out there.  Not that this is a bad thing – I just wonder if it’s going to reach zombie levels of annoyance sometime.  I don’t think it’s to the point that dungeon crawls are (I think those are teetering on the brink of overexposure), but it’s to the point where I’m starting to notice how many there are.

Be that as it may – this seems like a fairly fun game.  It’s a Days of Wonder game, so the production values are certain to be through the roof.  It’s also fairly easy to understand…or at least, it should be once you get the game out in front of people.  I don’t know how unique it is in the treasure hunting genre, but DoW is not always concerned with innovation – just getting a good family game out there.  And I think this will accomplish that.  I’m looking forward to giving it a try.  Thanks for reading!




    • I don’t think they’re really the same thing. This one looks more like a network building game rather than a push-your-luck treasure hunt. But if it’s just theme you’re looking at, The Adventurers works.

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