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How To Play Explorers

Explorers review

Who’s ready to explore? Grab your pen and let’s get going!

Phil Walker-Harding is a master of accessible, fun games. And Explorers by Ravensburger is no exception. To get it to your table licked-split, here’s a handy How to Play guide to direct you through your first game!

Set Up

A little bit of prep, but nothing major.

Give each player an empty board, having chosen which side (normal/advanced)  to play, and a dry wipe pen.

Next, place the 16 square terrain tiles (each one a mix of Desert, Mountain, Prairie, and Water) into 4 sets of 1-8 (the village on each one is numbered), and give each player a set.

Then shuffle the 8 exploration tiles and place them face down (having first removed one as only 7 are played in each round).

Decide which basic goal tiles (normal/advanced – you can mix and match!) will be used this round (Provisions, Villages, and Gems) and pop an identical set into the slots at the top of each player board.

If there are 2 players, cross off the 10 and 6 score under each temple icon on the main player boards (and if there are 3 players, just cross off the 10).

Finally, choose 3 advanced scoring objectives (on the flip side of the square terrain tiles) and place them out for all to see.

The first player then shuffles their set of 8 map tiles and draws 4. Having placed them inside their own player board (in the order and orientation of their choice), all other players reproduce the exact layout inside their player boards. The starting village will be the one closest to the centre of the 4 tiles.

Then it’s time to explore!

Turns Around The Terrain

Each round (of which there are 4), you will explore using the 7 scroll tiles. There are two phases but in reality they happen together.

The active player flips the first tile and chooses one of the two terrain types shown - rotating it to point to the active player is a handy reminder of the choice made. Then they get to cross off 3 squares of that terrain type on their map (note that in the very first round, the first cross must be adjacent to the starting village.

Each new cross must be orthogonally adjacent to an existing cross, but they can be spread out so long as they are marking the correct territory type.

Passive players can either choose to cross off 2 squares on their own map of the territory type chosen by the active player, or 3 squares of the remaining type.

If a wild explorer tile is revealed, both active and passive players will have a unique choice of two terrain types. And you can divide your crosses between both types (unlike regular turns). Note that in 3-4 player games, when the 7th scroll is flipped over, all players can cross off 3 squares of either terrain type.

Bagging Bonuses

As you explore your map, you are going to want to start crossing icons off. The symbols on the basic goal tiles are in play for each of the four rounds:

  1. Provisions – each set you can collect per round will be worth an incremental number of points – note that you can only score one food type per round. So if you cross off more than one carrot, apple, or fish per round, it has no effect.
  2. Villages – the more crosses you can place orthogonally adjacent to each village, the more points you’ll score at end game.
  3. Temples – if you unlock a temple on any map square, you will score the highest number of points shown on the edge of the board corresponding to that tile. To unlock a temple, however, you must have first collected a key! All players who unlock the same temple that round will score the highest points available. Any player unlocking that temple in a later round will score fewer points.
  4. Gems – these are each worth 1 point and each round you will score for every gem collected up to that point in the game (thank you compound scoring!)

Plus there are icons that don’t score you points, but will help you reach places where you might:

  1. Horses – these let you immediately cross off an extra square of any type on your map so long as it is orthogonally adjacent to another cross.
  2. Scrolls – these can be used immediately or saved for later and let you cross off 4 squares of any type instead of crossing off 2/3 spaces of a type shown on the explorer tile for that turn.
  3. Keys – you need keys in order to unlock Temples, and these can be collected to use later. If you reach a Temple without a key, it will score nothing.

Advanced Explorations

If you’re feeling like you want to stretch your legs and minds(!) further, you can include advanced achievements. These are on the flip side of the unused terrain tiles. The game recommends using 1-3 per game, and to select them at random. There’s a handy explanation of each one but the icons are pretty self explanatory. And they’re either based on collecting more icons or covering/not covering parts of your map. But take note of when they score as some are at the end of a turn or round, whereas others are end game goals.

Solo Travels

And if you’re off on a BYOS solo adventure, the only rule changes are that (a) possibilities to score Temples reduce as the rounds pass, and (b) the “active” terrain type per round is the one which is at the bottom of the explore tile when you flip it over.

I hope this guide sets your explorations in Explorers off on the right foot! And if you like this game, you might want to check out Trails of Tucana too!