Rüdiger Dorn

AMIGO 2006




Exploring the jungle, hunting for treasures, adventures and dangerous curses all together within the relatively narrow borders of a family cardgame? "Not possible!" many of you will exclaim, but if you will read on you will discover that it is possible indeeed, since the new AMIGO-cardgame Relikt by Rüdiger Dorn features all these elements which belong to a grant adventure while at the same time remaining a fast-paced, entertaining cardgame.

For setting up the game, the playing cards are separated into the different kinds. On the one hand, we have the Action cards - identical sets of seven pieces of equipment which each player receives as his fittings for the planned expedition. Next come the Treasure cards, and this deck consists of cards with three to six gems of either red or blue colour. These treasure cards are shuffled and then placed face down on the table as a treasure pile, with the first four cards from the pile being revealed and placed on the table. Finally, we have the most important deck, the Adventure cards. At the beginning of the game, each player is assigned a tent as a base-camp, and this tent serves as a reminder which colour the player represents. Thus, the Adventure deck is constructed of a set of 12 cards for each player, with each set having values from "1" to "12" and a general colour matching the colour of the player. So, for example, in a four-player-game, an Adventure deck is constructed of 4x12=48 cards which are shuffled at random. As a starting hand, each player may draw three pieces of equipment from his own deck of Action cards and four Adventure cards from the common deck of Adventure cards.


The players will use their Adventure cards to determine who will get possession of the Treasure cards: at the end of the game each blue gem a player could collect will count for one Victory Point, and thus the players will try to collect the most valuable gems during the course of the game. The red gems have been cursed, and they will count for negative Victory Points so that they usually will be shunned by the players. However, there is a possibility to convert these negative points into real Victory Points, and this works if a player is able to collect two identical cards with red gems.

But how are the Adventure cards used? Here the process of a player's turn and the basic playing mechanism are relatively simple, since a player usually puts one of the Adventure cards from his hand adjacent to one of the revealed Treasure cards on the table and then ends his turn by drawing a new Adventure card from the common deck. Once there are as many Adventure cards adjacent to a Treasure card as there are gems printed on the card, the winner of the Treasure card will be determined by calculating the total value of Adventure cards of each colour which were assigned to the Treasure card. Then it will be the player who represents the colour with the highest value who may (or must) claim the Treasure card.

As can be seen, the players will have to observe several factors when placing new Adventure cards during their turn. On the one hand, they might possess cards of their own colour which they might want to assign to the Treasure cards they want to claim, but on the other hand they might also have Adventure cards with colours of other players which they can try to use for forcing Treasure cards with red gems upon these players. And even though the Adventure cards are randomly drawn, it is the mixture of Treasure cards (and the possibility of scoring Victory Points with two identical Treasure cards with red gems) which ensures that even a player who has drawn almost only Adventure cards with colours of other players still has a real chance to win the game.

However, the game does not stop with this basic playing mechanism, but instead some further strategy is introduced by the deck of Action cards each player possesses. As said, each player starts with a hand of three Action cards which he had randomly drawn from his own deck of Action cards, and each of these cards may be used once during the game. If a card is used, the player can replace it from his deck of Action cards - as long as the deck lasts. Each of these cards offers the players an additional action which otherwise would not be possible: the compass can be used to play two Adventure cards in just one turn, the blindfold allows the placement of an Adventure card face down, the gun makes it possible to replace an already placed Adventure card etc. Special mention here must be made of the bottle of liquor, since a player who uses this card may swap tents (colours) with another player and thus continue play using the colour of that player. Once again, you might express suspicions that these Action cards might make lessen the possibilities for calculation and strategy by making the game more unpredictable, but the choice of Action cards and the fact that each player has an identical deck of Action cards which he will use up during the game usually leads to a balanced and fair game.

As a matter of fact, Relikt offers a perfect mixture of elements of timing, memory and strategy, and thus is more demanding for the players than might be suggested on first sight. While the rules are light and easy to learn, the real playing depth will unfold after a game or two, and soon the players will learn the importance of keeping an eye on the gems and their distribution, the Action cards and their usage, and the overall current score. Still, the players are not overwhelmed by these requirements, but gain easy access to this entertaining cardgame. This good impression is also strengthened by the artwork of the playing cards and the choice of the equipment cards. The Adventure Cards have been given some atmospheric illustrations which fit the general background of the game and thus go above the "functional" numeric artwork which can be found in many cardgames, whereas the pieces of equipment chosen for the Action cards are rather well reflected by fitting rules. Overall, Relikt is a great little cardgame, and a perfect example for gamers to see that AMIGO's series of cardgames is of the same high quality as the KOSMOS series of two-player games.

Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games!

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Copyright © 2006 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany