Not the Indiana Jones kind
The art in Trial of the Temples puts you in mind of a generic MMO, a mishmash of mythology and sci-fi that amounts to “pyramids, but more space”. Some may like this, but for me it was a warning that the contents might also be a little directionless.
But quite the opposite is true, even if the direction it goes in is around in circles. The game is played on a circular board with randomly placed tiles around the edge. A number of these are flipped to day or night side, depending on the round tile drawn. You then place your arch-mage to claim what is on the tile, and to the left and right of you until you meet another barrier or player.
This is the essence of the game then; slicing the pie of resources in a way that allows you to take everything you need to make moves around the inner tracks. These each ask for a cost to move onto them, although you can skip ahead if someone is on the tile ahead of you. While all this is happening, you’re building up a spell board of extra powers, giving you an engine of bonuses in resources. Your mana here also allows you to carry out some other generative actions. Get three or four spells in a row (but they can’t be placed, sudoku style, in rows with the same colour) and you get some bonus points at the end. Oh, and you have to spend an action point to initiate a move on the board. It sounds bonkers, but it flows effortlessly.
This makes for a surprising set of choices for players – do you want to greedily go for everything you can, and hope other players don’t block the vital resource, or will you slice it close to a barrier so as to secure that item, making it not worth another player placing between? Can you risk moving ahead of your opponent if they’re then able to leapfrog you to victory?
For a light resource management game, there’s a lot of back and forth over the table. It’s worth an afternoon even if the styling of the game might leave you cold.
CHRISTOPHER JOHN EGGETT
PLAY IT? PROBABLY
Designer: Wei-Min Ling, Michael Mihealsick
Artist: Maisherly Chan
Time: 30-60 minutes
This review originally appeared in the February 2020 issue of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.
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