“You are travelling in a caravan through a dark forest. In the distance you see a group of unsavoury types standing. What are you doing?”
> Me: Let’s turn around and go back.
>> All the kids in the group: Come on, we’re going to brawl!!!
“You have pummelled the unsavoury types and are travelling on. It is already getting dark and you are looking for a place to spend the night. What are you doing?”
> Me: We stay in the cart until we find a hotel.
>> All the kids in the group: let’s camp in this clearing in the forest.
Conclusion: the kids are much tougher than me and I am a shyster! I didn’t expect that of myself at all!
As a newbie, I was allowed to join an ad&d session organised by my husband for our son and his friends. There, I was painfully confronted with my penchant for certainty and predictability.
It’s a different game from all the games you know
You will also always need paper and pen to take notes.
Together, you step into a story where you have adventures and face dangers. Beforehand, each player chooses a character. Each character has its own unique properties and powers. Many players even give their character a name. For example, here you can read Emmy’s blog about the different characters she has created and played over the years.
At the start of the game, the game leader gives you an overview of your character. That overview looks complicated at first, but as a player you learn to read it pretty quickly. For example, if your character is very smart, every roll of your dice will give you a +2 if it is a smart move.
When my son was smaller (and a total fan of Ad&d even then), we also used this way of describing everyday things: ‘you really have a +4 on speed!’
Reading numbers and making calculations is an important part of this game. And because it is an English game, players soon come into contact with English terms. This happens throughout the game and proceeds smoothly and playfully, expanding vocabulary unnoticed.
You both direct and star in your own film
My son is no stranger to Ad&d (or D&D, Dungeons & Dragons) enthusiasm. My husband also plays it fanatically. He calls it an Adventure from a Can,
because as players you create the game yourself. Only your imagination sets the limit of what can happen.
There is a game leader (Dungeon Master – DM) who leads the story, but also does not know exactly how the story will go. Usually, the Dungeon Master takes the story from one of the many adventurebooks out there. How the group reacts to a situation is also beyond the DM’s control. In that respect, it is the ultimate cooperative games.
Think carefully about your actions
You have to think carefully about what you do, my son and his friends also noticed the other day. In the game, they rang the bell at a goblin’s house. They sent the player with the most charisma to the front door. While the rest were waiting around a corner, she rang the bell. The goblin opened the door and asked grumpily, “What’s going on?!
The group had not thought about an answer at all. So the player was at a loss for words. And even if you have +3 on charisma, if you don’t know what to say you still won’t get anywhere. Then a goblin just laughs at you and slams the door in your face again.
Apart from goblins, talking animals and wizards, ad&d is an opportunity to practise social situations. The group discusses in advance how they will tackle something and who has the best qualities to do so. And don’t succeed? Then you just try another way.
Slip into the role of one of Kuala Archipelago’s treasure hunters
As enthusiastic as husband and son are, I myself struggle with the sandbox that is Ad&d. I find it difficult to shape a story with your imagination alone. Give me a game where there is a bit more control. Like one of the four games I describe in this blog.
Recently, I can add a new game to the list. I received the game/book The Treasure Seekers of the Kuala-Archipel from 999 Games to try out.
The Treasure Seekers of the Kuala-Archipel has the same unique game concept as D&D, but offers you much more handholding
As a player, you choose a character and work together to complete an adventure. The adventure is set in a comic book and the book guides you through the story, so to speak. Still, the players are in charge and together they make choices that determine the course of the story.
1. Open the box and choose your character
As soon as you open the box, the adventure begins. On the back you will immediately find the game rules and in the box there are no more than four booklets: one for each character.
Again, each character has his powers:
✅ Sara can talk to animals, allowing her to get extra information.
✅ Kikis very strong, making opening a chest a breeze for him.
✅ Net is very fast and agile, so he can wriggle through small corridors to look for extra information.
✅ Gabby is is a very good puzzler and gets an extra hint at most riddles.
2. Open your book….
Once everyone has chosen a character, each player gets her own booklet. Take the time to read the introduction. The booklets are structured like comic books and therefore read smoothly. From page 5, everyone has to get to work, because that’s when the adventure begins.
On the back of the treasure map, you will find the rules of the game in brief. It is useful to read them together. In our case, the youngest read everything out loud. Good exercise in reading comprehension! And for the other players: listening comprehension.
On the rules of the game you can keep track of how much time you have left and what you have found. To avoid making a mess, 999 Games also has separate downloadable sheets for this. The latter is my preference, as it keeps the game rules a bit tidier.
You put the treasure map in the middle of the table and together you decide which island to discover. Then look up the picture with that number in your book.
3. Share information, working together is essential!
Everyone sees the same picture, but one character sees different (or more) information than the other. So everyone’s contribution is necessary to progress.
The pictures are super detailed and you really have to take the time to look at everything carefully. You can find information in the smallest corners!
4. Consult, decide and watch the time!
Every time the players come across a number, they flip to the picture with that number. So you are flipping back and forth through the book. As each player brings in her own information, the group must always discuss carefully what they are going to do: deliberate, convince and decide.
But beware: some pictures have a symbol indicating that you have to tick off a day. The players have only 5 days to collect the treasures. So time is the factor the players are fighting against. Make sure all treasures are collected on time, because time is ticking….
An exciting family game and a stepping stone to more!
In The Treasure Hunters of Kuala-Archipel, each player’s contribution matters.
No one can cut corners, or skip another player.
999 Games has several adventures like The Treasure Hunters of the Kuala-Archipel. So if you get the hang of it, you can move on to the next adventure. And if you want to let go of the book after these adventures, you can step up to Dungeons and Dragons. With or without Dungeon Master.
I myself will try some Adventure by Book first, before facing my own caution again in a D&D adventure.
- number of players: 1 – 4, so you can also play this game solo! And if less than 4 people are participating, the game system ensures that you can just play the game without the special feature of those characters.
- time: the box says 45 minutes. We spent a lot longer with it the first time, because it’s a first time really figuring out how the game works. You can also make it shorter, if you divide the adventure into pieces.
- from: 7+ says the publisher. Reading is important for this game, as is recognising numbers and being able to do maths. Sometimes it just involves looking very closely at the drawings and then younger children can just join in. By the way, the rules contain tips on how to play it with younger players.
- price: around de € 29,- (Dutch price – update fall 2023)
I wrote this blog in 2020 and updated in 2023. You will find affiliate links in this text. If you purchase the game (or anything else) through these links, you support the website and the work of Pen & Pion 🎲🧩♟️
Other Adventure By Book books