Regardless, this globetrotting movie about finding lost treasure, punching bad guys, and ophidiophobia has been capturing our imagination since the early 80s. Today, we are going to take a look at Indiana Jones: Sands of Adventure. It’s a new cooperative board game designed by the team at Prospero Hall and published by Funko Games.
The theme of Sands of Adventure, however pasted on it is, has you and your fellow players trying to defeat the Third Reich before they can find the lost Ark of the Covenant. Each player gets to control a character from the movie, each with their own special power: Dr. Jones, Marion, Sallah, and Marcus Brody all make an appearance.
The game is played out in two phases. First is the Exploration Phase. On a player’s turn, they must first will move their miniature to a different tile. Once there, they can take the action listed. This usually involves drawing cards, playing cards, or gaining special power tiles. Afterward, the player has to roll the threat dice. These will tell them how many gems they have to drop into the basket of the sand timer. The timer is on a swivel, so after enough gems have been dropped in the basket, it will flip around, starting the Timed Phase.
During the Timed Phase, the sand timer is running in real-time, so players must act quickly. On their turn, a player can play any number of cards to the action pile (following the rules), and then end their turn by drawing a card.
To play a card, you must match either the symbol or color of the previously played card (4 in total of each). Only certain cards are attack cards, so the other cards are used to step your way to being able to play those. If, at the end of your turn, you happen to draw a snake card, the gameplay halts until you roll a torch icon on the die.
The round ends whenever you defeat the villain or if the sand timer runs out. Once that happens, the next round is set up and play continues. If you didn’t defeat the villain, then the gem basket is seeded with a few gems. The game ends at the end of the 3rd round. If the players defeat René Bello, they win. If not, he gets away with the Ark and all players lose.
So what’s it like to play Indiana Jones: Sands of Adventure? Better than I expected actually. With licensed games, I always go in with a healthy dose of skepticism. Is this a real game, or just a pasted-on theme. Well in this case, it’s both. While there are a handful of callbacks to the source material (snakes, torches, characters), for the most part, you could replace the theme with anything else and not miss a beat.
That being said, we still had fun playing the game. The Expedition phase was all about building up your hand and cards to prepare for the Timed phase. While you can attack the villain during the Expedition phase, only expect to do a couple of points of damage here. Ideally, you want a meaty hand of attack cards to plow through the timed phase.
While it was definitely a gimmick, we all really liked the sand timer mechanic. Adding gems to the basket, while you yell at anyone who breathes to close to it, adds a nice amount of tension to the game. Sometimes it felt like it flipped over way too soon, yet there were also those rare occasions where it must have gotten stuck on a microscopic burr of plastic and waited till the last minute to fall over. In either case, placing a gem in the basket kept everyone glued to the table.
Once you enter the Timed phase, the game flows fine, but is a tad less interesting. Here it reminds me a bit of 5 Minute Marvel (or one of the other 5-minute games if you’ve played them). You are just trying to play cards as fast as you can. You do have to go in turn order, so people can’t just slap down cards willy-nilly. However, there are also times when no one has any attack cards and it’s just: draw, draw, draw until someone finds one.
Overall the Timed phase works, but it also feels a tad half-baked. Especially the snake part. If someone draws a snake card, the whole game pauses while they try and roll a torch on the die (2 in 6 chance). This whole mechanic feels kind of arbitrary and rarely impacted our games.
Indiana Jones: Sands of Adventure is a good game that I think people will enjoy for a few plays. The two-sided location tiles add some nice replay value to the game, as you can mix and match which side is being used. But with only 3 villains and 4 characters, I do worry that Sands of Adventure will get a little samey after a while. For the most part, one game is going to play out pretty similar to the previous, as there aren’t a ton of different things for you to do. But if you are looking for a light, cooperative game that you can play with just about anyone, Indiana Jones: Sands of Adventure is worth a look.
Final Score: 3 Stars – A solid game that despite its pasted on theme, still provides an enjoyable experience.
• Pasted on theme
• Snake die feels half baked