The Adventurers: The Temple of Chac is designed to prevent you from winning – that doesn’t sound like a fun board game.
In order to win, five detailed player miniatures must travel between two slow moving walls, across 10 unstable glyph tiles arranged over a lava pit, over an unstable bridge or over a waterfall, and reach the exit before a large plastic boulder blocks the corridor, ending the game even if your alive. It’s a hard game, even for experienced board game reviewer, Tom Vasel, “I have still not survived [a game].” But comments like this are said with enthusiasm for the game. The reward of playing The Adventurers isn’t from collecting treasure around the board tiles, it’s from beating the mechanisms designed to kill you.
I’ve survived once, and admittedly winning felt better. I learnt quickly what I shouldn’t do, to survive; like don’t jump on the bridge (it will break) or don’t stay in the wall room too long (it will eventually crush you). This is the first issue of The Adventurers: the mechanics are easily avoidable, and are necessary to avoid in order to win. Nick, in his video review from Board Game Brawl, emphasises that “you would have to force yourself…to experience [these mechanics].” And the game’s second issue reinforces why you should avoid them: luck. “You’re either going to luck out and win, or not.” Nick’s issue with luck caused his enjoyment for the game to fall after his second playthrough. Luck determines the amount of actions you can use, and this limits the ability to control an outcome, even if you predict the boulder will kill you 3 moves ahead (and getting another character isn’t going to help much, either). This inability to control an outcome, while exciting at first, removes the tension like the slow moving wall room that never closes quick enough to kill someone.
However, looking at The Adventurers remains exciting every playthrough. The game is designed with stunning art, and the detailed game pieces deserve to be interacted with. But these interactions become pointless after learning that the best route is avoiding these game pieces, and strategies to navigate these routes can only be employed when the dice rolls right. The game offers a great Indiana Jones’s mouse trap experience, that becomes quick to play through, but eventually loses its tension. I recommend The Adventurers to friends who are tired of fighting amongst themselves and want to fight against a game – out of anger or out of spite. Good luck.