The thick of the jungle and the lingering curse of the fallen will not hinder your lust to gaze into the eyes of the hidden idols that surely will lead to all your hearts desires. In Treasure Hunter you are working your way through a deck of cards much like you would in the classic game of Solitaire, but with a couple small twists that make this compact solo card game a fairly enjoyable excursion.
Treasure hunter is made up of two decks. The Adventure Deck contains 40 cards and makes up the heart of the game. There are 4 suits (Skull, Gem, Dagger, and Coin) that rank from 1-10. The other deck is the Boon Deck which consists of cards you gain during play that allow you to bend the rules and manipulate the cards in play.
The game is made up of turns which start with you dealing 4 cards into 4 columns. In subsequent turns you will be adding 4 more cards to these same columns, covering cards that remain in play, but leaving the suit and value visible (think classic Solitaire).
After cards are dealt you are going to be attempting to remove cards from play with the goal being to end the game with the Idol Cards (value of 10) of each suit as the only remaining cards in each column. There are some rules as to how you may remove cards however. You can only manipulate the exposed cards, or the cards on top of each column. You may remove cards that match the suit of another exposed card as long as the value is lower. So if you had a Dagger 8 and a Dagger 3 exposed, you could remove the Dagger 3 from play. Whenever a column is emptied you may take any exposed card and move it to that open space. Sound a lot like Solitaire? That is because it plays almost the same, but with a smaller deck.
The Boon Cards add a twist to this otherwise pretty standard design. There are 5 Boon Cards and they allow you to remove exposed cards or move cards from one space to another. Essentially they let you manipulate play so that you are less likely to get jammed up like you would in the classic version of this game. You gain a Boon Card anytime you are able to remove 4 or more cards between the deal phase.
Overall this game relies heavily on the concepts found in classic solitaire. It is not breaking any real new ground, but the addition of Boon Cards are a nice touch. I found that after several plays that winning with a perfect score was pretty hard to do, which is a nice challenge. However, I seemed to always get really close, which led to all my scores being very closely clustered. I sort of started to wish a game would end early sometimes with the columns jammed up like I used to see while playing solitaire on my Windows 95 computer back in the day. There are suggestions in the rules that address adding difficulty to the game, but they basically only restricted, or removed, the use of the Boon Cards. I guess I wish the game was a bit more difficult and a bit more random, if that makes sense.
Let us be honest here. This is solitaire with a couple of tweaks. One of those happens to be a setting for the game. The setting of an explorer in a jungle with all the treasure hunter trappings is a solid choice. It really could have been any number of things like delving in a dungeon, exploring space, or diving into the deep sea, but I like the choice made here. The artwork is quite good and is what drew me in at first and it helps sort of make you forget you are just playing a hybrid version of solitaire.
The mechanics have very little connection to the setting, making the theme fairly weak. The Boon cards help a little bit here, but no narrative is ever imagined. I did sort of feel like working through the deck had some connection to cutting your way through a dense jungle, but that thought was fleeting.
Overall, the theme and setting are fair. Nothing particularly great here outside of the professional level art and graphics.
I have not played the classic version of solitaire in quite some time, but it did serve to kill a lot of time back in the day when it was between playing that and Minesweeper at work. It did not take that long before Treasure Hunter had me dealing cards directly from my hand and manipulating the cards in play quickly and with purpose. If you are a fan of solitaire, then you will know the soothing mood that a game like this can instill. Play becomes second nature and there is something to be said about a simple experience like that.
Treasure Hunter is also quite affordable at $10.99 so I feel there is some value here if you are fan of this style of game.
In the end Treasure Hunters is an average game that does not break any new ground or wear out its welcome. If you are looking for a deep solo experience, Treasure Hunters is not that game. However if you are looking for a really quick game that plays in about 5 minutes and takes up next to no space, then Treasure Hunters could work for you. I am not completely sure it worth buying over a deck of nice playing cards if you simply want to play solitaire though. The bottom line is Treasure Hunters has no glaring flaws, but no real hook either.
If you are interested in learning more about Treasure Hunters, or if you want to pick up a copy, please click the following link.
The Game Crafter Official Podcast: First Time At Protospiel - Episode 200: What’s better than a listener request? Not much. But if you make that listener request about Protospiel; well that’s just the sprinkles on top of an already awesome dessert! JT and Jeff discuss some things to expect and avoid at your first Protospiel event. PROTOSPIEL!!!