Relic Runners is the newest member of the Days of Wonder family!
So, what’s the deal with Relic Runners?
Relic Runners is a fast-paced strategy game in which the players are explorers competing to get the most points by exploring the temples in the jungle. As the explorers gain familiarity with the jungle pathways and temples are thoroughly explored, players are able to execute relic runs to claim relics as their own and score big points.
What makes Relic Runners special?
Like other titles from Days of Wonder, Relic Runners is a beautiful-looking game that is simple to learn but presents players with challenging decisions. I really enjoyed how tense the game was – I played with 5 players, and as the game progressed, the competition developed in a really satisfying way that demanded that I adjust my strategy to compensate for what other players were doing. It’s not directly confrontational, but astute players can certainly block other players off from accomplishing their goals, or even position themselves to exploit the strategies of the other players.
Alright, so what’s the gameplay like?
The explorers start gathered around base camp with three rations and a toolbox at their disposal. Each player also has a special ability – for example, the blue explorer gets a head start and can choose to begin one space outside the base camp.
It costs one ration to explore a temple or ruins. Ruins allow players to create explored paths through the jungle, allowing them to move farther since players can move along any number of explored paths but only one unexplored path on their turn. Temples provide a variety of benefits, including points, new ways to score points, or special abilities. The color of the temple gives a hint as to what you might get – for example, blue temples always give points.
Each player has a toolbox track that provides special abilities. If a player travels along a river, they can claim a supply crate and move a toolbox one space up the track on one of three paths. Players return a toolbox to the bottom of the track in order to use an ability – and multiple toolboxes means players can have lots of different options at their disposal, or try to cash in on using the same ability multiple times!
One a ruins or temple space is fully explored, a valuable relic is placed in the empty location. There are four colors of relics, each of which is revealed by a different color temple except for green which is revealed when a ruins is fully explored. To claim a relic, a player must make a relic run – a single move from a location with one relic to another relic of the same color. Points are scored based on the distance traveled – so roundabout routes can result in big points, but don’t wait too long because the relic may get snagged by another player!
The game ends once a certain number of relics have been claimed – the exact number required determined by the number of players in the game.
I think I get it. Who do you recommend this game to?
When I played, I really enjoyed trying to plot complex courses through the jungle to give myself lots of options, claim supply crates, and make big moves. Other players chose instead to focus primarily on temple exploration and trying to score smaller points more frequently. Our scores ended up pretty close, so it’s nice to see that there is room for different strategies.
The game is a great choice for families looking for a competition with room for clever tricks. The decisions are not likely complex enough to satisfy gamers that prefer intense strategy, but as a strategy gamer myself, I still enjoyed the fun, fast-paced experience that Relic Runners delivers. The colorful board and fun theme contribute to the fun factor and can help ease newer gamers into the game, though there are times the theme doesn’t make total sense. Luck is moderate, since the temple tiles are random, though the color and level of the temple a player explores can help them predict what they might get.
Time: 40-80 minutes
Game Elements: Path building, Optimization, Multiple paths to victory