Treasure Hunter

Search for treasure without leaving the comfort of your own home.

Card drafting. For those who don’t tabletop game that much, this term refers to the deliberate choosing of cards to set up your own hand. A lot of games within the last few years have this mechanic embedded in them.  Some of which include Sushi Go, 7 Wonders, Blood Rage, and Seasons. In each of these games, players are dealt a hand,  pick a card based on how they want to play the game, and then pass the hand to their opponents.  This mechanic allows players to not only strategize about how their own game will play out, but they have the ability to predict what their opponents could have in their final hand since they pass their cards to another player.

IMG_3676If you like this mechanic, then I suggest trying the game Treasure Hunter. Treasure Hunter is a game created by Richard Garfield, who is known for the King of Tokyo and King of New York series. In this game, players act as treasure hunters who hire adventurers that are used to search for undiscovered valuables in far off lands.  Treasure hunters also need to get watch dogs in order to protect their hard earned coins from goblins. The most successful treasure hunter is the one who can get the most points from both treasure and coins.

IMG_3677In the set-up, players shuffle the 54 treasure tiles and then place two of them in each of the different locations found on the game board. The treasure tiles will give you positive or negative points. Some treasures also give you special powers allowing you to capitalize on more coins on their one time use. Then you shuffle the goblin tiles and place them on the mountain area. Finally, give each player 15 coins, shuffle up and deal nine cards to each player, and place the round marker on the first space.

To play, each player selects one card that they want to keep from their hand. The deck consists of the adventurer cards, and each card has a colour representing the three locations that you can explore, blue representing the mountains, green being the jungle, and red being the lava cave. Each region has the values 1 through 12.  The deck also has watch dogs which also have values of 1 or 2, coin cards, and different action cards. Once a player has selected a card, they pass their hand in the direction indicated by the round marker. Players will repeatedly do this until they obtain all nine cards.IMG_3678

At this point, it is a matter of tabulating what you have in your final hand. At the same time players total up the values of each specific colour. The player who has the highest total value in blue would get the MAX mountain treasure, while the player who had the lowest total value will get the MIN treasure. Players would do the same thing for the green and red locations. If a player has action cards, they can alter the values of their hand in the hopes of getting a treasure. Some action cards allow players to add points to their total value, while some will deduct point or even negate the value of an adventurer. Once the treasures are divvied up, players assess whether or not they have enough watchdogs to protect themselves from goblins. If they do, they keep their money, but if they don’t, players must give up their cash to the goblins. The player who has the highest value in dogs, will not only be rewarded for beating the goblins, but will also take the money that was just stolen from other players. IMG_3679This happens for five rounds, with each round switching directions in which you pass the cards.

This card game shows you the basic essence of many of the drafting card games available. The basic strategies are there; you take cards to not only benefit your own game, but also to prevent players who are ahead from getting any advantage. Treasure Hunter keeps your final hand a secret, so the only way you can figure out how everybody else is doing is by looking at the cards you’re passing to the rest of the table. A keen eye and a strong memory are necessary if you want to know how the cards could be distributed.

I also like how the game uses a variety of treasures. This aspect changes which cards a player will pick while playing the game. For example, if there are high positive valued treasure in the blue region, then many players will either stockpile on blue cards, or hang on to one or two low valued cards to get the minimum treasure. If there are negative values, players will avoid taking cards in that region. Scrolls will allow players to get coins in a variety of ways, whether it be collecting cards of  a certain colour, or for killing the most goblins, or even playing cards of certain numbers. The assortment  of treasure tiles allows players to change their strategies, and since the treasures are different each round, players can’t simply double dip on the same strategy. One round you could be going for green cards, the next you could be avoiding them.

The only criticism I have about Treasure Hunter is the lack of depth in the game. In each round, the only things that change are the treasure tiles and the cards you may be getting that round. There really isn’t major and long standing changes to the gameplay, which may make the game feel monotonous and tedious to some. As I mentioned before, Treasure Hunter teaches new players how a card drafting game works and I would use this game as a springboard to more difficult games such as 7 Wonders  or Seasons. This game could also be used as the appetizer to your board game night, but I definitely wouldn’t use it as a main course feature.

Overall, Treasure Hunter is a well-designed game. It will keep you thinking on your feet, adapting to whatever hand you are given. It is a lighthearted game that is simple to teach and fun to play. In addition, the reaction cards give Treasure Hunter that battle for one-upmanship  in a certain region. Ultimately it is a game where your create a final hand that can hopefully beat your opponents. It is a great game, but should be used to either teach the card drafting mechanic or to warm-up in an intensive board game night.

Pros: 

  • Well designed components
  • Simple to teach to others.
  • Smooth gameplay
  • Great way to introduce to the card drafting mechanic.

Cons: 

  • Lack of depth
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