- Designer: Yusuke Sato
- Publisher: Schmidt Spiele
- Players: 3 – 10
- Ages: 8 and Up
- Time: 15 Minutes
- Times Played: > 12
I’m a big fan of social deduction games (as I detailed at this Geeklist), and Tempel des Shreckens (“Temple of Horror”) received a lot of positive buzz in Germany in recent months. The game — a reimplementation of TimeBomb or Don’t Mess with Cthulhu — isn’t out in English yet, but it is language independent, and there are rules on BGG, so I ordered a copy from amazon.de.
My group has really liked it. Tempel des Shreckens is a solid social deduction game, and given how well it works at various player counts, it has a permanent spot on my shelf.
At the start of the game, every player gets a role card. Generally, most of the players are Adventurers, searching the temple in pursuit of gold. But a few will be Guardians, protecting the temple from the Adventurers. The Guardians should — at first, at least — pretend to be Adventurers to lure them into traps. Role cards can’t be revealed until the end of the game.
In addition to their role card, each player will get five Treasure Chamber Cards. Depending on the number of players, a total of 5 to 10 of these will treasure chambers with gold, 2 to 3 will be fire traps, and the rest will be empty treasurer chambers. (There’s a setup card included with the game that shows how many of each type to add in.)
Players look at the five Treasurer Chamber cards and put them out in front of themselves.
The goal of the Adventurers is to uncover all of the treasure chambers with gold, and they win if they do this by the end of the fourth round. The goal of the Guardians is to reveal all of the fire traps, or, alternatively, to make sure the Adventurers don’t find all of the gold by the end of the fourth round.
The player who last found a pot of gold is the starting player. If no-one has ever found a pot of gold, then the youngest player can start and takes the Key card.
Everybody is free to bluff about what role they have and what they’ve got in their face-down set of five cards. Shockingly, everybody pretends to be an Adventurer! The player with the key picks a player and then reveals one of the cards (i.e. opens one of the chambers), then handing the Key card to the player he picked. The player whose treasure chamber has been opened becomes the next key player.
This continues until as many chambers have been opened as there are number of players in the game. At that point, all of the face down cards are collected, shuffled, and a new round begins. Players look at their cards — they have one fewer each than in the previous round — and discuss what each player has got. Then the Key player starts opening chambers.
The game ends either when all of the gold has been found (Adventurer victory), the fire traps have all been found (Guardian victory), or at the end of the fourth round (Guardian victory).
My thoughts on the game…
This is one of the simplest social deduction games I’ve played. But for such a simple game, Tempel des Schreckens is a surprisingly tense, and we’ve had laugh-out-loud fun playing it.
If you’re the Guardian, your goal is to pretend to be an Adventurer, at least at first. If you’ve got a fire trap, you claim to have some treasure and hope the trap gets flipped. Conversely, if you’ve got treasure and no fire trap, you probably want to claim to have a bunch of empty chambers so people don’t flip your treasurers.
As the Guardian, you’ll probably be caught in a lie at some point, but that’s okay, because you’ve (a) delayed the Adventurers or revealed a fire trap, and (b) they might still have to come to you if you get gold in a future round!
If you’re the Adventurer, you really need to flip the cards with gold as quickly as possible. You wouldn’t expect it, but this can become a race game. Sure, you want to avoid the fire traps, but you’ve also only got so many chances to reveal the gold. And it is helpful, of course, to figure out who the Guardians are.
A dozen plays isn’t enough of a sample to draw conclusions, but the game seems to be decently balanced. We’ve had about equal numbers of Guardian wins and Adventurer wins.
Believe it or not, the game plays well at lower player counts. With three players, there are two Adventurers and two Guardians (with one card going back in the box undisclosed). With four players, there are three Adventurers and two Guardians (still with one card going back in the box undisclosed). It actually works, and not knowing the number of each role in the game is actually a fun twist. I actually think I like this best with a smaller crowd, which is an unusual feature in a social deduction game.
Tempel des Schreckens plays fast. Our plays generally took less than 10 minutes. You can teach the game in under a minute — it really is quite simple — and it is quick to set up and play. The artwork is attractive, and the card quality is solid.
My biggest complaint is that this can become a bit repetitive after a few games. With no special roles to give variation in gameplay, this became semi-scripted for my group after about 10 plays, so I’ve started to enjoy it less. But in the end, this isn’t a big deal, because it is a game that costs less than $10, and it is still a hit with different groups.
If you like social deduction games, Tempel des Schreckens is worth checking out.
Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers
- I love it!
- I like it. Chris Wray
- Not for me…