Big Game Night Preview: Curios

Disclaimer: This preview is from a reviewer’s copy of the game that was provided by Alderac Entertainment Group to Open Seat Gaming, but opinions are our own based on several plays of the game.

Game: Curios
Publisher: Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG)
Design: Uncredited (in-house design)
Art: Carl Frank

Mechanisms: Bluffing, Deduction
Number of Players: 2 to 5
Game Time: 15 to 25 minutes

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Description:  In Curios, you are an archaeologist visiting up to four different treasure sites to gain artifacts. The twist is, at least at the beginning of the game, nobody knows the exact value of the artifacts (gems) from each site. Each player is dealt a variable number of cards, depending on player count. Then, a card is dealt to each site.

Curios is played over a number of rounds, with two phases that occur each round. In Phase One, each player places their archaeologist pawns on an available column of circle spaces on a treasure site, always placing from left to right on each site card. When placing archaeologists, you must always fill every circle space in the column to claim an artifact gem. Placement of archaeologist pawns continues until each player is unable to place another group of pawns onto any of the four treasure site cards. At the conclusion of the phase, the player who has the most pawns on a site gains a bonus artifact gem. If multiple players are tied, no one receives a bonus gem.

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In Phase Two, each player has an opportunity to gain another archaeologist pawn. If a player chooses to, they may reveal one of the cards in their hands in order to obtain another pawn. By revealing one of their cards, they are letting the rest of the table in on valuable information about the potential value of one the treasure sites.

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Then, the next round starts and the game continues phase by phase, round by round until two treasure sites are out of their artifact gems. Once that occurs, you finish the round and reveal the values of each treasure site and each player counts up their points.

The different point values for each card are 1,3, 5, and 7, which can be quite a large swing if one player gets a lot of artifacts from a site worth 7 points.

Review: There are only a handful of themes that draw all three of us into a game, but archaeology is definitely one of them. That’s why we knew we’d have to give Curios a try, even though we aren’t at Gen Con this week.

For being such a quick game, there is definitely some strategic depth to this title. Do you diversify which artifacts to collect, or do you completely avoid an area that you know might not end up being profitable? How much bluffing can you do without your opponents seeing through you? The overall gameplay of Curios is solid. There are very few deduction/bluffing games that can be played in such a short amount of time and still be engaging, but Curios nails it.

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The art on the site cards and player cards is great and definitely fits the motif of archaeological places from years gone by. The card art draws you into the place that is being depicted and also makes a landscape of the Treasure Site when you line up the cards in numerical order. While the game is generally abstract, these little touches definitely bring you a little closer to the theme.

What I don’t particularly understand is why your workers are pawns. I know they wanted the colors of the workers to be distinct from the colors of the different archaeology sites, but they seemed a little “plain” when compared to the cards and the gems. I may have preferred discs or chips in terms of aesthetics, but the pawns were fine for their function.

Try, Buy, Deny:  If you enjoy deduction games, bluffing games, and/or quick games this is a buy. This family-weight game is easy to learn, and you can easily play this game while chatting about other things or while you’re watching the ball game. If you’re at Gen Con or your FLGS, be sure that you check this title out at Big Game Night with AEG!

Game On!
Sarah

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