Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Treasures & Traps: Entry Bonuses

Today I had a chance to play Treasures & Traps with three buddies during our Boardgame Wednesday session. These sessions occur once a week during the lunch hour at work. I'll write more about Boardgame Wednesday in a later post. Today's post assumes you are familiar with the game. If you have not yet played the game, you should pick it up at Thoughthammer. If you would like to learn about the game, you can read reviews and look at pictures on BoardGameGeek

Treasures & Traps is a game by Aaron Kreader, who also did the fabulous cartoony artwork. Today, I am going to focus on one particular aspect of this game which I thought about after playing today: cards which add bonuses to entry rolls.

These cards seem to be one of, if not THE, most useful cards in the game. Here is a list of these cards in order of potency from least to greatest, as I see it.

  • Ability #1: +1 on entry rolls for TREASURE items
  • Ability #2: +1 or 2 on entry rolls for ITEMS
  • Ability #3: +1 on all entry rolls
  • Ability #4: +2, 3, or 4 on any roll of the die

Here are the cards which fit with each ability, in order of potency:

  • Ability #1: Dwarf
  • Ability #2: Trove, Treasury, Vault, Brooch
  • Ability #3: Princess
  • Ability #4: Luck Potion, Magic Potion, Hero's Potion

The reason this set of cards is so important is that they can aid you in getting treasure cards into your realm from your own hand. The most surefire way to acquire a treasure is by playing it successfully from your own hand. There are other ways, but they require more chance. The problem is, treasures are relatively difficult to play directly from your hand. In particular, gold treaures, which require a die roll of 5 or 6. It is not very often you have one of these in hand. When you play this card, you don't want to lose it on account of an unlucky roll. You need that gold treasure to win, after all.

This is where the bonus cards come in handy. Any card listed above will be useful in boosting your chances of successfully acquiring treasure cards. Clearly, the best card in the list is the Hero's Potion. With an entry requirement of 1, it's effectively a free placement unless countered by someone else. On top of that, it gives you +4 to any roll. On top of that, you can use it any time as a free action to mod one of your rolls. But there is one downside to this sweet card: because it's so powerful, people are likely to steal it or force it to exit (exit roll of 3). So even though it's the most powerful of the bonus cards, it's also the most sought after. In this case you may be better off with a less prominent card.

A more secure way to gain a bonus that can't be stolen is to use a PLACE or COMPANION card. Since I'm specifically talking about entering treasure cards here, I have to recommend using the Dwarf if you get him. His ability is the most specific of the listed bonus cards, but when you're after treasure, he fits the bill perfectly. The Dwarf is a companion, and therefore manages to attract less attention, in my experience. If someone has another card from higher on the list, they are probably a better target for hosage. Plus, the Dwarf's entry cost is 1. So, despite his limits, don't overlook him.

The last card I'll mention is a middle ground card - the Trove. Trove is a PLACE card. It has the same entry cost (2) as Vault, but a +2 compared to Vault's +1 when playing ITEM cards. For a 2-cost card that can't get stolen, this is a great ability, and very useful for playing treasure cards in your realm.

I might post about other cards in the future. For now, I advise you to keep your eye out for these bonus cards the next time you play Treasures & Traps!

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