Players: 1-5 (probably best with 4-5)
Actual Length: 10 minutes
This game is, literally, the most exhausting game I have ever played. It plays in only 10 minutes, and it sure feels like it too! You must search through a temple to find the exit and all players must escape to win the game, no person left behind sort of thing. Sounds easy enough, well it’s not.
After initial set up, you take into your hand your 5 dice :
- Gold Mask – breaks the spell on up to two black dice, these can be used for yourself, another player in your space, or combinations of yourself and other players in your space.
- Black Mask – Cursed dice, these dice are LOCKED until you or another player in your space helps unlock them with the Gold Mask dice
- Green Running Man (adventurer) – used to explore new tiles from the draw pile, and also move into rooms
- Blue Key – used at the end of the game to escape, as well as during the game to move your pawn and activate gems
- Red Torch – used during the game to move your pawn and activate gems
You and 3 buddies start in the center chamber, you’ve formulated a plan that someone will go explore while the rest of you travel around and activate gems. you’ve got this, you can all get out, no biggy! You start the soundtrack and begin!
In order to escape the temple, not only do you have to reveal the exit which is mixed into the bottom portion of the facedown temple draw pile, but you ALSO have to activate enough gems in the temple in order to Escape! The more gems you activate during the game, the easier it is to get out. This scales based on the number of players. So lets say you have 4 players, You would start the game with 14 inactivated gems. If you manage to activate 10 of them during the game, then you still have 4 gems left inactivated.
Each player starts the game with 5 dice, and on one face of the dice is a blue key. After finding the exit, all players must roll the required number of keys to escape the temple. The required number of keys is based on the gems you have yet to activate, so in this case it was 4. You must roll MORE than 4 keys to win, so EVERYONE would need to roll a yahtzee of of 5 keys on their dice to get out! This isn’t very practical and you will probably most likely die. You’d want to activate at least 1 or 2 more gems to make it easier to roll the required number of keys, like in the example above.
This game is a dexterity dice rolling game, in order to explore and flip over a new tile you need to roll two green running men, then in order to enter the room, you need to roll the rooms entry requirements which could be various things like two running men, a running man and a key, or a running man and a torch, for example. The good thing is you can lock your dice, and only re-roll the ones you need to. But once you spend an action using a particular set of dice, they are now used up and need to be rolled again. So for example, looking at the tile to the right, you’ll see it takes two running men to enter the room. Let’s say you roll 3 keys and 2 running men. Well you can enter the room, and you already rolled three keys and haven’t used them as an action, so you are already on a good start to getting your keys to activate those gems, you’d now re-roll your two running men to try and get more keys!
While trying to reach the exit multiple things happen. As you reveal tiles from the temple draw stack, some of these tiles have rooms where you can activate your gems (like the one shown above right). Sometimes it’s easy and you can do it yourself, other times it’s hard and in order activate a lot of gems you’ll need help. Like in the example shown, you’d need a combination of 10 keys to get the three gem maximum. There may be some situations where you are by yourself or only have one other person with you so you’d only have a chance to activate one or two gems, but remember, the more gems you activate, the easier it is to get out! But you’d need at least 2, preferably 3 people in that room to work together to roll the desired number of keys.
Like I mentioned earlier, there is only 10 minutes allotted for the game, so it becomes a race against the clock to reduce the gems and have everyone make it out alive.
Now we get to the really gritty part of the game. There is a soundtrack that comes with the game, which has 3 countdowns on it. When you hear the first countdown, you’ll hear a gong, that means you have less than a minute to get back to the center chamber rolling the various entry requirements for each room until your in the center chamber. If you don’t make it back before the sound of the door slamming shut, you loose one of your dice. FOR THE REST OF THE GAME. This means not only will the various tasks of entering rooms, exploring, and activating gems harder, but now it is harder to get out when you reach the exit! Same goes for next countdown, in which you will hear two gongs followed by a door slamming shut shortly after. The third count down means you need to head to the exit and get out before it’s too late!
So if all of this doesn’t sound stressful enough, there’s still a few things that’ll add to the chaos. One of the faces of the dice is a black mask, these are the accursed dice. Remember how I mentioned you can lock dice? Well the accursed dice when rolled are locked period. You cannot re-roll them unless you roll a gold mask or someone in your space rolls a gold mask. This means if you go off and explore by yourself, there is a chance you can become stuck all by yourself, and someone would have to run to your spot just to save you. This has already happened to me at least twice in the 1o or so games i’ve played. So you must try to stick with a buddy if at all possible!
Now what i’ve explained is just the basic game. Less a few other minor rules. You can challenge yourself even more by increasing the inactive gems or using some of the expansion modules already included in the game. We have yet to master the basic game to even attempt these, but the there is a “treasures” module where you can find treasure throughout the game giving you special abilities. There is also a “curses” module that is specifically designed to torture you – such as making it so you can’t speak or making you place one hand on your head leaving you only one hand to roll your dice.
This game is loud, exciting and fun. I’m just really glad it’s short, because one or two games a night of Escape is all I can physically handle.
Overall: 7 – 7.5