Been awhile since this game has seen mention, but I know there’s been a limited reprint, so I figured this was the best time to get the word out on this little masterpiece! Ancient Terrible Things is one of those games where you get a lot more depth and strategy out of than you would expect at first glance. Upon first glance, you just think, oh it’s another Yahtzee like dice chucker with a mythos flair and theme to it, but all the extras they threw in here make replayability endless and the strategies a lot more complex than just rolling to get a pattern of numbers or certain groupings of dice. Throw in a gorgeous eclectic art style and you have an immersive and creepy game world and experience like no other. The excitement comes from making crazy dice rolls and taking chances that you wouldn’t think you could do, and by using the tools and elements in this game world, you are able to pull off and it’s just so exciting and exhilarating!
Players take the roles of explorers traveling down this creepy Amazonian river in a rickety old boat, exploring and looking for valuable treasures without waking unspeakable horrors in the process. There is no Lovecraftian reference here, but you definitely get that mythos vibe in the color schemes, art styles and the subject matter, locations, treasures and artifacts you will be attempting to retrieve. Every turn, you choose a location to explore which requires you to make a certain roll or combination of die totals etc. , and you have 3 rolls total to accomplish each attempt. Failure to do so puts you one step closer to waking an “ancient terrible thing”, where the namesake comes from. Then it is game over, you tally your scores and a winner is proclaimed. There is a solo variant, but you need the expansion “The Lost Charter”, to play solo, plus it also adds an extra player into the fray. This expansion WAS out of print, but there was a recent Kickstarter reprinting of the core game, the expansion, and they even threw in a mini expansion called “The Madness of Macguffin” for the diehards who were craving more content. I was ecstatic when I saw this new expansion and it was an insta-buy for me! (laughs)
Traveling down this mysterious Amazonian river is indeed a creepy unnerving trek, but it’s made easier by special “swag” you can buy from a little shop at the dock where the boat returns after every players turn. These extra tools range from everything like extra re-rolls to tools that help you gain the materials you need to accomplish some of your more perilous adventures down the river. There are 4 colored tokens you collect by accomplishing your quests, and one of the tokens is gold, which you use to purchase your swag. The other tokens help in building your strategies against other players and achieving your goals. The solo experience is very immersive and satisfying and this is definitely one of those “just one more game and I’ll go to bed” games, that will keep you playing into the wee hours of the morning, which I have! (laughs)
Again, this is a hard core dice chucker at heart, but with a lot more depth than you would expect, creating a one of a kind, immersive, escapist experience that feels like you’re being pulled into a good, spooky suspenseful book as you travel down this endless winding river in the Amazon, not sure of what you’ll come up against next or if you’ll make it out alive with your spoils. This game is absolutely one of the best hidden gem games that went under most gamers radars, which is why I’m writing this review in the hopes that you can procure a copy from this kick starter reprint. This game should be in every gamers collection, and the mini expansion is just enough to excite die hard fans to grab it and pull out this classic and revisit the old river and the terrifying locations to steal their artifacts of immeasurable wealth and power.
Component quality is exceptional, and the presentation is top notch and just creates this otherworldly feeling of dread and horror every time you play. And you will play this game a lot, whether it be with friends or by yourself, like curling up with a good old book. This is definitely a unique gaming experience made even more special by the quality on display here and the labor of love this game obviously is to the creators at Pleasant Company Games. Grab this one and all the expansions you can if you’re lucky enough to find them. You won’t be sorry you did!
Always endlessly exploring,