Greed is good when you get these games on your table.
The cavern is dark, but amidst the gloom, you spy it: the telltale glint of riches untold. In fact, it’s probably time you told someone about them -- preferably a pawnbroker. If just the thought of gleaming gems already has your hands twitching open an imaginary money pouch, allow us to indulge that greed in a way that won’t break any laws. None that we’re aware of, anyway. Here are five loot-packed board games so overladen with treasure that you won’t be able to resist adding them to your personal dragon hoard.
Treasure-crammed board games for greedy gamers
As any avarice-obsessed board gamer will know, not all treasures are carved equally. Yes, we’ll happily collect all of them, thank you, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have standards. As such, we’ve ranked the cardboard-enclosed treasure troves below based on the size of their stash piles and sheer temptation of their shining riches.
Escape: The Curse of the Temple
You’ve probably felt the passing of time, but in Escape: The Curse of the Temple, you’ll literally be able to hear it. Accompanied by a thematic soundtrack, you and your friends will be rolling dice in real time to explore a temple overflowing with emeralds. Sounds like heaven, right? The problem is, you’ve forgotten where, exactly, you left the entrance. Flipping from the tile deck will eventually unearth it, but you can only escape after enough gems have been gathered up. A real treasure hunter could never live down the embarrassment of leaving too much loot behind, after all.
Unlike most treasure-gobbling games, Escape is co-operative -- and you’re going to need your friends’ help. Roll too many black masks, and your dice will be locked, leaving you unable to move until someone comes to your rescue. And the soundtrack? When a gong rings out, that’s your cue to book it back to the starting chamber before the doors slam shut. Fall short on the first two times, and the temple’s grumpy spirits will snatch a dice away. Fail to escape on the final gong, however, and you’ll be joining them in the afterlife as the walls tumble around you.
Stash size: A delightful pile of gems to jangle in your palm. Such a shame you’ll never have time to properly admire them! 5/5
Tempt-o-meter: Gems are a necessity rather than a delight, here, meaning there’s little urge to run off and grab an extra handful for yourself. 2/5
Even the unscrupulous bastards of the world need to know the value of negotiation. In each round of Thief’s Market, a handful of loot dice is rolled, revealing a haul of gems and coin pouches. Players can take as many dice as they’d like on a turn or choose to steal the goods that someone else has picked, returning one die to the central pool. This cycle of snatching and swapping continues until one player settles for what’s remaining. Essentially, you’ll keep trading treasure until everyone’s, well, not happy, but has at least reached a mutual level of dissatisfaction. There are no friends among thieves -- just grumpy neighbors.
It might take a while, but once the cut has been decided, that treasure can be used to buy artifacts offering powerful abilities and notoriety points. Obtain enough of a bad rep and you’ll rise to the top of the cat burglar cabal, forcing everyone to acknowledge just how terrible a friend you are.
Stash size: Rolling a hefty handful of treasure dice is joyous, but remember that you’ll only ever get to keep a portion for yourself. 1/5 - 4/5, depending on how successfully you swindle your friends.
Tempt-o-meter: If you’re anything like us, the piles your collaborators have amassed will always look better than the offering in front of you, leading to a near-endless cycle of snatching and shouting. 3/5 - the emeralds really are greener on the other side.
Deep Sea Adventure
The dark of the ocean deep is at once a claustrophobic and unfathomably vast space. The terror of such an contradictory environment, however, is no match for our lust for loot. And in Deep Sea Adventure, the only real enemy is your mind. Well, that and all the other greedy players guzzling oxygen beside you.
Rolling two dice will send your diver leapfrogging down a path of treasure tiles. It’s up to you to decide when to grab points and turn tail to the submarine, but delving deeper will reward darker, more valuable treasures. The challenge is that the entire group is reliant on a dwindling oxygen supply. The more treasure you carry, the more air you demand and the slower you move. Failing to make it back before the air runs out will send your body -- and more importantly, the treasures it possesses -- drifting down to the depths.
Stash size: Deep Sea Adventure is a miniscule box, but the treasure tiles comprise almost the entirety of the playing pieces. A solid game-to-loot ratio for small-box fans. 3/5
Tempt-o-meter: The treasure tiles themselves barely draw the eye, but not knowing the worth of your wealth bumps up the urge to grab just one more tile as you struggle back to safety. 4/5 - expect to drown often.
The Mansky Caper
Family squabbles are unpleasant at the best of times, but in the middle of robbing one of the biggest mobsters in the neighborhood? Ill advised, to say the least. Each room of the Mansky mansion is hiding a beefy safe packed with the crime lord's riches. Stick a hand inside and you could draw precious diamonds or reveal a trap left for unwelcome guests such as yourself. How deep you choose to delve is up to you, but make sure you duck out before the dynamite shows or all you’ll be carrying back to your car is a pile of ash and a singed ego.
Working together will help you rifle through rooms faster, and you can even trade favors to activate unique character powers that’ll bail you out of trouble. Co-operation sounds great, but do you really trust your thieving relations not to let their greed outweigh the odds? At the end of the night, only the greatest thief will install themself as head of the family.
Stash size: The game includes a fantastically flush box of coins and gems to divvy out as the safes divulge their goods. But like opening a chocolate box at Christmas, you will have to begrudgingly share it with your siblings. 3/5
Tempt-o-meter: The Mansky Caper’s gorgeous, 3D safes are just begging to be cracked open. It’s basically loot boxes: the board game but with a chance of pulling dynamite that explodes in your face. 5/5
In an improbable turn of events, several Wild West bandits have all independently decided to rob the same train. The only recourse to such an awkward scenario, apparently, is to batter and blast one another senseless in a race to grab valuables. Actions in Colt Express are queued up through a series of public card plays, with everyone attempting to outmaneuver one another as they plan punches, shots, and carriage hops. At the end round, the full sequence plays out at once, like a badly programmed machine of mishaps and violence.
Keeping track of everyone's planned actions is just about possible, right up until the train reaches a tunnel and forces cards to be played face down. The result is a cacophony of chaos as punches swing at thin air, players attempt to grab loot that’s already vanished, and several people step directly into the path of a bullet. The train’s passengers will even offer a bonus cash reward for anyone who manages to unload their entire six shooter during the action -- anything to liven up the daily commute.
Stash size: Colt Express’s 3D train model is a treasure in and of itself, but you’ll also be eyeing up the wealth of goodies littering each carriage’s floorspace. 5/5 - all aboard the riches express!
Tempt-o-meter: The most valuable treasure lies in a briefcase at the head of the train, but getting it means sneaking past a sheriff more intent on dishing out headshots than ticket fines. 3/5 - tempting but painful.
Author bio: When he’s not losing himself as a mercenary in Gloomhaven, Henry Stenhouse can be found gobbling up all the latest and greatest party games, then wondering why he can never find the time to actually play them with friends. Share your love of deck builders with him on Twitter @Fernoface, or drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.