Treasure Lair is a card game for 2 to 4 players created by Arno Maesen & Fréderic Moyersoen published by AEG. In this game you must form a party of heroes and go questing to different lairs. Your party will have to travel through dangerous locations, cope with certain encounters and slay some vicious monsters to get to the treasure and escape with it. The player who grabs the most treasure wins the game of Treasure Lair.
The setup of this game is pretty easy. First off each player gets a starting Hero. This will always include the Rogue because the player who draws him will be the start player. Next you shuffle the action, challenge, hero and treasure decks. Each player starts the game with three gold which is represented by the back of the challenge cards. You setup the hero and action pool by drawing and placing three cards from each deck respectively. Now there is only one thing to do and that is to prepare the quests. You start by drawing three treasure cards and placing them on the table. Then you place one facedown challenge on each of the face-up treasures. Now you check the difficulty number of the treasure card (stated in the top left corner) and add cards from the challenge deck face-up on the treasure card until the number of ability icons on the cards equals or exceeds the difficulty number in which case you immediately stop adding cards. The one thing you have to watch out for is that you may not have two cards with the exact same combination of ability icons in one quest. You do this for every quest and afterwards you are ready to start the game.
During your simply you simply choose one of the action cards available in the pool and execute it. Each action card is divided into a top half and a bottom half. You always execute them from top to bottom. The top half action is the special action that lets you for example change the cards in the quest, get a hero for free, get extra gold, take a look at a facedown challenge and so on.
After you have executed the top action you get to choose one of the bottom three actions which is the same for every card. The actions you can choose from are Gain 1 gold, Recruit heroes and Begin a quest. The gain 1 gold action speaks for itself, you simply gain euhm… 1 gold.
When you recruit heroes you can recruit as many as you want and your gold allows. Each hero has a cost in the upper left corner that you have to pay in order to recruit him or her. The hero is immediately replaced in the pool. The heroes have either a collection of ability icons or a special ability or a combination of both. Some heroes also have an Instant ability which triggers when you recruit them only with this action, not with a special recruit action.
The third action you can choose from is the Begin a quest action which is the way to get your hands on some treasure. You always start at the first challenge and try to beat all the challenges that await. When you beat the final and usually hidden challenge, you get to claim the treasure card. To beat a challenge you need to have the ability icons depicted on the challenge on your participating heroes. For a hero to be participating you simply declare that he is participating when needed and nudge it a bit forward. You can also fulfill ability icons on the challenge by paying three gold per icon that you don’t have or don’t want use a hero for. After you have beaten a challenge you turn it face-down and put it as a gold in your gold pool. Afterwards you prepare a new quest like explained during the setup. What happens when you did not get through the whole quest depends on how many challenges you have beaten on the way. When you could not defeat at least 2 challenges, you have to reset the quest by placing back the challenges in the quest but you still lose the heroes used in the quest. If you managed to defeat at least 2 challenges the quest is reset and all remaining challenges and treasure are placed in their discard piles. After this a new quest is made as explained in the setup.
This continues until a player gets a certain number of treasures determined by the number of players. When this happens all other players get to take one turn to try and get the most number of treasures. The player with the most number of treasures in the end wins the game. If two or more players would be tied for victory then the tiebreaker goes as follows. First you see if a player has the highest total difficulty on the treasures he has completed. Next the highest total cost of heroes remaining would break the tie and then it would be the highest total of gold remaining. In the extremely rare occasion that there should still be a tie, the players share the win. That’s how you play Treasure Lair.
This game plays like a breeze and is easy to teach. You simply take an action card and take the actions depicted on it which make for fast game turns. I love how the special actions interact with the game and more specifically the quests. Choosing the right action at the right time is an integral part of the game. Sometimes it might be that there is nothing that you really want at that time and then there are other times that you want to pick all 3 special actions but you have to choose one. The artwork and graphical design of the game is stunning. Everything is crystal clear and easy to read and understand. There is not too much player interaction but just enough. There are heroes that directly mess with other players or you can try a certain quest and fail it just to make it disappear so that your opponents cannot get it. In questing you can decide how much luck you want there to be involved. Usually you know before attempting a quest if it is going to be a sure thing or not, but that is the charm of this game. Are you going in knowing that you might get stopped at the hidden challenge or are you going to wait a turn or two to make sure that you have everything you need. We love playing this game and usually play it at the end of a gaming session. It is fun and fast, simple to play with the right amount of choices to be made.
Play with honor