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Explorers Game
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Explorers Game

RRP: £19.99
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RRP £19.99
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At the beginning of Explorers, you and each other explorer place four landscape tiles — grasslands, bodies of water, desert or mountains — and three different scoring tiles in your game frame. Then from your starting village, you go on an exploratory tour. The exploration cards, each of which shows two landscapes, indicates which landscapes you are allowed to cross (off). On you…
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Category Tags , , SKU TRV-26982 Availability 3+ in stock
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Awards

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • Easy Rules
  • Super replayability
  • Dry wipe!

Might Not Like

  • It can be hard to see icons underneath crosses when you are double checking
  • Experienced gamers will want to play with the advanced variants
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Description

At the beginning of Explorers, you and each other explorer place four landscape tiles — grasslands, bodies of water, desert or mountains — and three different scoring tiles in your game frame. Then from your starting village, you go on an exploratory tour.

The exploration cards, each of which shows two landscapes, indicates which landscapes you are allowed to cross (off). On your turn, you reveal an exploration card, chooses one of the two types of terrain, then cross off three spaces ahead of your current location. Your fellow players must then decide whether to place only two crosses on the same landscape, or choose the other landscape and tick off three crosses. All of your crosses must be orthogonally adjacent, so you need to plan well to avoid being stuck due to "bad" landscape choices.

Over four rounds, you expand your territory, receiving a special action for each checked box with an object in it. You receive points for provisions and gems, with a map you can place crosses on any type of terrain, and lost temples can be explored with keys — but whoever reaches the temple first receives the most points for it...

Explorers contains a solo version as well as additional task tiles for experienced players, with more than a million possible game combinations.

When I see Phil Walker Harding on a box, it makes me smile. I think it’s because I know we are in for a family-friendly good time. Easy rules, fun gameplay, and usually lots of colour!. Barenpark, Sushi-Go, Gizmos, Cacao….I’m constantly on the lookout for his Christmassy Gingerbread House which would be perfect for this time of year!. My addiction to roll/flip and write games is also well documented. So when the two combine (thank you Sliver and Gold!), my ears prick, and my eyes widen in excitement. And so it came to be that Explorers by Ravensburger hit our table!

Board & Write

One of the first things that surprised me when opening Explorers was that it has a board and is dry wipe. Okay so it’s made up of tiles. But still! 4 randomly selected landscape tiles make up the territory over which we are, well, exploring! Mixing up grass, water, desert and mountains, this is an all-terrain adventure!

There’s a little bit of prep in Explorers to ensure everybody is working with the same landscape on their own boards. The flipside to this (literally in some cases – don’t worry as I’ll explain further down), however, is that the random set up ramps up the replayability which is always good!

Explorers Assemble

The idea in Explorers is to, well, explore. But exploring with an eye for collecting stuff as you move around. And moving around means crossing off map squares. Some of them have gems, others food, and there’s also some scrolls, keys, temples, and even horses roaming around.

Played over 4 rounds, each with 7 turns, the active player flips a domino style terrain tile and chooses which of the two terrain types they are going to use to cross off 3 squares on their map. All other players also get the choice of both, but you can only cross off 2 squares if you go for the one selected by the active player. To up the crunch, you can only cross off a square if it is orthogonally adjacent to an existing cross (but they don’t have to be connected). (see How to Play Guide for more details).

And everything you collect will either give you points or a way to cross off more squares to get you somewhere that does have some point potential. Gems are a cumulative 1 point each. Food items will be worth more if you can collect a set in a round, and even surrounding the four villages will give you points. Horses give you an immediate bonus cross and scrolls can be used for extra crossing off at any point in the game. Temples are special in that they are also a race. You’ll need to have collected a key before crossing one off to score it. But if you are the first to unlock one of those sacred spaces, you’ll get maximum 12 points! If you’re not, you can still get points but they won’t be as many.

Final Thoughts

With the domino style terrain types and simple networking, it reminded me a little of Trails of Tucana (another excellent multiplayer solitaire style flip and write!). But more in family fun feel than strict mechanics. It’s super easy to learn and play, and it’s a really enjoyable – classic Phil Walker-Harding. Having said that there’s also a placement optimisation crunchiness that surfaces from beneath the sandy desert! If you start trying to do everything, you’ll fall between a mountain and a water space and end up missing out!

Spreading yourself across the map is good for reaching keys and temples, as well as other villages. But you might miss out on sets of food and gems along the way which can add up to some serious points over 4 rounds.

As well as goodies and bonuses, there’s also a temple on each tile. Those are spots you are going to want to get to first because the earlier you are the more points up for grabs!

And that’s what great about this game; it’s a fun mix of immediate bonuses, cumulative points, mini races, and quick rounds. It’s also got a solo mode, advanced goals on the flip side of the terrain tiles (see? Got there in the end!), and variable tile set up. Not to mention the board itself can be played on both sides for added variety! A triple whammy for replayability.

I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect when we opened Explorers. But I shouldn’t have doubted Phil Walker-Harding’s ability to design a great game! And when we are looking for a light, fun family style roll and write with a little bit of crunch, then this one will definitely hit the table!

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • Easy Rules
  • Super replayability
  • Dry wipe!

Might not like

  • It can be hard to see icons underneath crosses when you are double checking
  • Experienced gamers will want to play with the advanced variants