Thursday, February 3, 2022

Search for the Emperor's Treasure

Tom Wham is an underappreciated game designer in my opinion. While several of his designs, like The Awful Green Things from Outer Space, are quite well known and rightly celebrated, his games that appeared in the pages of Dragon magazine are often overlooked (though, admittedly, Snit's Revenge, is an example of a design that appeared first in Dragon). I remember playing several of them with my friends, like King of the Tabletop and Elefant Hunt, and having a great time.

Remembering this recently, I started looking into other designs of Wham's that I might not have encountered. In doing so, I came across Search for the Emperor's Treasure, which appeared in issue #51 of Dragon (July 1981). Since I've yet to play it, I can't comment on the game itself. One aspect of it that stood out even on a cursory examination was its accompanying map, drawn by none other than Darlene. It's absolutely lovely, like the maps of many fantasy boardgames from those days, makes me think it might make for the basis of a good campaign setting. 

Enjoy!

11 comments:

  1. "Tom Wham is an underappreciated game designer in my opinion."

    I'm already appreciating as hard as I can, someone else will have to pick up the slack. Reasonably certain I've bought at least one copy of everything he's ever made, and several of them multiple times following floods and fire. Hell, I even mounted all the counters from the Dragon games on cardboard back in the day - twice for King of the Tabletop. If the guy came out with tee shirts featuring a selection of his counter art they'd make up half my wardrobe. :)

    "Since I've yet to play it, I can't comment on the game itself."

    You have a treat ahead of you, this is one of his better ones. Very much in the same vein as Mertwig's Maze, if that helps any.

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  2. In some moods, Tom Wham is my favorite D&D artist of all time. I particularly love his illustrations in the Monster & Treasure Assortments.

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    1. The sheer variety of art on his counters is really impressive, rivalled only by gems like Titan. Every single elefant in Elefant Hunt is unique, as are the Awful Green Things crew and thing counters. Kings & Things is pretty far up there too.

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    2. Yes, I adore the variety within his artwork.

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  3. With handy number spots to fill in with our own key, no less! So thoughtful. It looks like the maps would make for a very lovely little pointcrawl. Makes me wish the maps were CC or something...

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  4. A few yaers ago I printed a low resolution version of this game and played a few games.
    It's nice but it has a few issues, the main one being "mining" locations, if I remember correctly.
    King of the tabletop (precursor to Magic the Gathering) is better fleshed out, in my opinion.

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    1. So's Mertwig's Maze, which is more akin to this than Kings (which is more of a wargame like Titan than a adventure boradgame with very light RP elements).

      And Kings got remade in a big boxed game called Kings and Things by West End Games, although in that case I didn't feel it was a real improvement except in terms of counter quality. The abstracted territories in the original worked better for me than the hexes in sequel.

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    2. Kings & Things was quite a hit with my friends at the time, but I never had a chance to play it.

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    3. I have this from the original. I don't recall an issue with mining locations and it seemed like a decent game that I've played several times (which is about all most board games I have have been played). It is a cool map and I have considered it for a campaign map.

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    4. The issue is that some locations have higher chances of handing out treasure from the encounter roll, so people just camp out there. The boxed "Best of the Dragon" edition fixes that by replacing the instant treasure handout with "treasure clue" cards that send you questing across the map. It's a simple fix that has been backported to the original game via a BoardGameGeek file posting.

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  5. The "mining" issue is that you can camp out at the locations that have 2-in-6 chances of revealing treasure, and thus the game gets static. Solved in the Best of the Dragon edition by adding clue cards, which you get instead of treasure at all locations. So now you have to eventually head out across the map following your treasure clues. Someone came up with a set of clue cards matching the old map & locations if you want to staple them onto the first edition rules.

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