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Board Game Review: ‘Escape: Illusions’

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In the first expansion to Escape from Queen Games, the board-building real-time game gains new dimensions with Illusions. Following the same basic rules as the original box, Illusions adds a new adventurer token and two modules: “Illusions” and “Special Chambers.”

illusions box

Adding a sixth player can be often problematic to games, slowing play down as each person takes a turn, but the real-time play of Escape causes it to make no difference other than adding a few more magic gems to the gem depot. As in the original, players start on a single tile-entrance and roll dice featuring Adventurers, Keys, Torches, and Masks to explore the temple. Tiles are added as rooms are discovered, eventually leading to the exit, but players must be mindful of the midway “crunch” when they have to return to the entrance or lose one of their dice. As everyone is rolling for him- or her-self, having a sixth player, or even more, is very doable and, in fact, may speed up the game rather than slow it down.

The “Illusions” module gives the game green-tinted tiles that initially act as standard rooms. They replace other tiles that feature identical opportunities to activate magic gems. At the midpoint of the game, the rooms “vanish” and are removed from play. This creates gaps in the map that must be re-explored by players as they attempt to find the exit. It is a new direction for gameplay, forcing every player to reevaluate strategy midgame.

Rather than replacing tiles, the “Special Chambers” module adds new tiles to the stack. It gives an opportunity for those who want to chance finding the exit more spaces to explore, making the countdown even more cutthroat. In addition, the special chambers come in three new possibilities: Linked Chambers with an icon allowing players to transport directly across the temple, Double Chambers that have a small room cut off from the rest, and a Treasure Chamber. The treasure is a chalice that players must recover before they themselves can escape, adding a new challenge to the game.

The two new modules make great additions to the solid, yet flexible, central real-time mechanic of dice rolling in Escape. It requires the original Escape set to play, which is for players eight years old and up. Games still last only 10 minutes, but, as can be seen with this expansion, anything can happen. As with the previous “Curses” and “Treasures” modules, both “Illusions” and the “Special Chambers” are optional, allowing players to create whatever they want to face while they dare to explore forbidden ruins.

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About Jeff Provine

Jeff Provine is a Composition professor, novelist, cartoonist, and traveler of three continents. His latest book is a collection of local ghost legends, Campus Ghosts of Norman, Oklahoma.