Before Dave went on holiday, he lent me a pair of Fantasy Flight Games titles to try out, both of which he had been playing with his family over Easter. One was the classic, Through the Desert, the other was Quicksand: A Game of Jungle Exploration and Danger Underfoot, which had proved be popular with his brother and his wife over the weekend. Designed to played by between and five players, aged twelve and up, it is a race game with bluffing and secrecy elements that can be played in about fifteen minutes.
The language neutral components are all high quality, with a simple sturdy board, bright and easy-to-read cards, and wooden playing pieces. The rules are clear and simple, just two pages long for the four languages included: English, Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish.
The aim of the game is get your explorer through the jungle to a hidden temple, but only you know which colour or role your explorer is. Movement is achieved by playing cards that match the colour of the explorer being moved, the more cards played, the further an explorer can move. Sometimes you have cards that match your explorer’s colour in your hand, allowing you move him, but other times not, in which case you have to play cards to move another explorer, which might belong to another player. The temptation is to race your explorer ahead, but then the other players will suspect that the rushing explorer is yours and will try to stop him. This can be achieved by moving him onto a Quicksand space or playing a Quicksand card on him. An extra card has to be played to get an explorer out of the Quicksand.
The obvious tactic is not to alert the other players as whom your explorer is, either by moving him too far ahead or having him lag behind. The other is to get as many cards through your hand as possible. First by moving explorers further along (which takes more cards) and second by moving explorers onto spaces that allow a player to discard at the end of his turn. Discarding cards prevents you from playing cards that will move a rival explorer and increases the number of cards (hopefully advantageous ones) you draw to refresh your hand back up to six.
Once an explorer has been moved to the hidden temple, his controlling player reveals himself. If this explorer is the first, his controlling player wins the game. If the explorer is uncontrolled, he returns back to the beginning and starts again, everyone knowing that he is uncontrolled and using him to use and discard useless cards. The game gets a bit clogged near the temple at game’s end, everyone trying not to move a rival’s explorer too close or onto the temple.
Quicksand: A Game of Jungle Exploration and Danger Underfoot is a quick and light filler game that because it can be played by adults and children alike, is also a suitable family game.
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