I am extremely excited to finally see this released! I had the opportunity to have a play test back at Gamescom 2018.
What is Tomb Raider Legends: The Board Game?
The premise of the game is exactly as Tomb Raider-y as you’d hope it would be. Lara Croft must traverse dangerous ruins and dodge treacherous traps, grab an artifact and get out with her life intact.
But this time, she faces up to three opponents just as smart and capable as she is. Because they are her.
So how does the game work?
Each player chooses a version of Lara from the different Tomb Raider games, including the original Tomb Raider, Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness, Tomb Raider Legend and Tomb Raider Underworld.
The basic flow of the game can be broken down into a few basic objectives:
- Reduce threat level of each space on the board and move to the next
- Claim the real artifact, while avoiding replicas
- Get to the goal with the artifact
Of course, it practice, it’s not quite so simple. There’s only one artifact, so players will have to compete, trick, steal and do whatever else it takes in order to take control of the prize, and claim the final victory.
But let’s take a closer look at what exactly you do:
1. Build the board
The first thing you need to do (after arguing about who gets to be which Lara), is build the board.
One of the coolest features of the Tomb Raider board game is the modular design. Essentially, the spaces on the board you travel through are randomized – you shuffle the options and lay them face down around the center ring.
You won’t know which scenario you’ll face until you reach that part of the board and flip it over, which keeps things unpredictable and ensures you’ll have to modify your strategy on the fly.
2. Plan your moves
With the board constructed, the game begins.
You might expect this is where you take a turn – and you’d be half-right. But Tomb Raider Legends: The Board Game has a twist – instead, you’ll play three moves at the same time.
Every player is equipped with seven action cards – these define what their Lara can do in a particular turn.
For example, she could take Action – reduce the threat level of the space by two. Then Rush – move forward a space, or maybe just rest and heal up.
You and the other players are essentially defining your strategy for the next three turns – after everyone has played their first action, the second is revealed, and then the third.
And here’s where the game’s true genius lies, because even if you think you’ve planned out the perfect three-step strategy, your friends can ruin it at any time. And believe me – they will.
3. Ruin your friends’ day
There’s one more major element to consider in Tomb Raider Legends: The Board Game – Raid Cards. You can play these at different points in the game, depending on the card, and they exist to disrupt your opponent’s plans and give you an edge.
Say, for example, you have the artifact. You plan to reduce the threat level of your current space on your first turn, so you can move forward on the second and win the game. A sound strategy, right?
Well, yes, unless immediately after you’ve removed all threats from a square, one of your opponents ahead of you uses a Raid Card to immediately make the threat level go back up again. As a result, you can’t move forward and essentially have a wasted turn.
And while you’re stricken with inaction, another player uses the opportunity to steal the artifact from you, and goes on to win the game.
…yes, this did happen to me and yes, I’m still salty about it.
But that’s also why it’s great – watching your strategies fall apart can be painful, but when you’re doing it to your friends, it’s oh-so-satisfying!
And regardless of who it’s happening to, you’ll all laugh like crazy as the best laid plans crumble like so many of Lara’s tombs before them.
That’s a brief look at the mechanics of Tomb Raider Legends: The Board Game. Or ‘Sabotaging Your Friends Simulator’ as I like to think of it.
If you’re a fan of the Tomb Raider series, this is a great way to extend your adventures off the screen and into the real world, but even if you’re not fully familiar with Lara Croft’s digital adventures, this is still a satisfying, fast-paced game in its own right.
It’s available now from the Square Enix Store – and if you’re a fan of tabletop games, then I can’t recommend it highly enough. You’ll laugh, scheme and sulk, and when it’s all wrapped up, you’ll be eager to jump back in and start raiding tombs once again.