Ahhhh, musty 90s boardgames. My favourite.
For me, boardgames are very nostalgic. They were a world of imagination and fantasy which offered something computer games couldn’t. A tangible physical experience, where you could hold the pieces, examine them and actually interact in the real world. They were also an opportunity to gather round a table and have some competitive fun with family and friends without actually having to be particularly nice to anyone. They were also a useful respite when your eyes have turned to dried apricots, following a 5 hour Sinclair Spectrum stint of Spy vs. Spy against your brother.
I had various fantasy type boardgames. But there were some which I was just resigned stare to at in the Christmas catalogues. One of these was the 1990 release of Treasures & Trapdoors from Waddingtons.
There was always something about a 3D board game which grabbed me, and when there were treasure, pyramids, snakes and frickin’ trapdoors involved, then it was another league entirely. I’m not even sure why this game slipped me by, although I suspect Space Crusade had something to do with it.
But I digress… The game itself is for 2 to 4 players and was designed by Mary Danby, who also designed the Aladdin magic carpet game. In the box you get the pyramid base board, a few baskets which act as both your counter and your temporary vessel for treasure, a golden cobra, which looks distinctly more golden on the box, a bunch of gem stones (Mmmmm, gemmy) and these things, which are called Ankhs.
The aim of the game is to work your way anti-clockwise around the board, following the number of moves depicted in this little. That’s right, no dice. Each player simply follows the number of moves presented in their individual box. If you happen to land on one of these squares, then you can opt to spin the board… and this is where it gets all kinds of crazy.
Players are able to obtain gem stones by landing on a closed trapdoor… but, if you happen to be on one when the board spins, then there’s every chance you’ll fall into the deadly pit of snakes below and lose your gem stones, mwahahaaaaaaa. Thankfully, these Pharaoh eyes give you some sort of indicator as to whether this is likely to happen in the next spin, so there’s a good degree of logic and planning involved. Which is good because I detest games which are purely based on chance. I guess, you could also memorise the layout of the spinning board if you studied it hard enough or played the game enough, but that’s only for serious treasure hunting pros.
If you happen to land on an Ankh square, then you can dump your hoard of gems into the top basket of the …. If you have 3 then you get to enter the middle circle, where your goal changes to acquiring the golden cobra. Once you’ve grabbed that, you can then proceed to leg it out of the Pyramid and leave your friends high and dry, where they’ll no doubt fall prey to certain death.
For me this game is almost perfect. You don’t need to roll a die and risk chucking it across the room (which seems to happen remarkably often with me). The game isn’t too long, and there’s a hefty amount of fantasy and treasure hunting involved.
Plus there’s a pit of snakes, which is just awesome, despite just being cardboard.
This copy cost me about £15 from eBay, so if you happen to stumble across one in your nearby charity shop, I whole heartedly recommend getting your Indiana Jones hat on and giving it a whirl.