What: Ten minutes of panic, adrenaline and escaping an ancient temple with all the treasure you can carry
Players: 1-5 (it’s co-op)
Time: 10 minutes. Exactly.
People: Almost anyone really, just as long as they can think fast an under pressure.
Available: Get it here UK or here US
Why we recommend it
The joy of board games is they can give you an experience you might never have had before. Unless your friends are bomb disposal exports or have played Fuse you’ve probably never had to solve something like this together in under 10 minutes.
Escape: Curse of the Temple is one of those new-fangled “real-time” games. You know, the kind of time you spend all of your life living as opposed to the pretend time when you have to take turns in a board game.
In Escape you and your friends are explorers working together to pillage all of the ancient artefacts and treasure from a temple and then escape before it collapses around you. If any one of you don’t make it, then you all lose.
This, of course, leads to plenty of team work and also rampant bullying and disappointment when one of your friends doesn’t make it. He just got buried alive in a collapsing temple, give him a break guys!
So, how does that “real-time” thing work? Well, instead of taking it in turns like almost every other game you’ve ever played you just keep playing. You keep rolling dice until you can’t roll anymore. Which is probably longer than 10 minutes so you should be fine.
Your time is managed by a soundtrack, which comes on something as ancient as the game’s setting: a CD. Instead of using that, we actually recommend just looking on YouTube for something, as not only do you find a nice animated version of the sound track but fans have made many variants from other popular sounds you might like.
In short, the dice you roll lets you do things like expand the temple hoping to find the exit, move between the rooms or uncover treasure.
The treasure is one of the most important thing in the game. The more you have of it, the easier it is to get out (oddly) and some treasure requires you all to be in the same room at the same time, all rolling to hit a score together.
It means you form these great mini teams as you split up to explore the temple. Every three minutes everyone must return to the middle or else lose a dice. If you get back you have a few seconds to breathe, prepare yourself and share your story so far.
Doing all this and making it back would be easy if it wasn’t for these.
When you roll black on a dice you can’t roll it anymore.
As you frantically try to roll your way out, you dice are all becoming more useless.
That is unless you roll a gold face allowing you to unlock some. It’s harder than you might think and you would be surprised how often multiple people end up paralysed with the temple collapsing around them. Anyone else can give you a gold face to unlock your dice but they have to visit whichever room you’ve found yourself stranded in.
This leads to frantic dashes from safety to save your doomed friend, hopefully with the pair you both just about making it to safety in time.
There are very few tabletop games that will get your adrenaline pumping, but Escape is certainly one of them.
Given that it only takes 10 minutes to play, you’ll be likely playing it over and over in quick succession. Once you’ve mastered the basics all kinds of treats and traps await you.
The first of these are Curses. Curses do horrible things to you until you remove them. Like not allowing you to speak or making you play with just one hand.
Sometimes you will want to tempt fate and try and play without lifting your Curse, such as the curse that means if a dice falls off the table you can’t pick it up again. Next thing you know your friend has overly excitedly bumped the table, you slip and all your dice fall to the floor. It’s game over, you should have lifted the curse.
That’s just the beginning. Escape has even more to surprise you with in the basic game and even more in the many expansions available.
It will still only ever take 10 minutes. 10 minutes of panic and excitement.