Updated: Oct 24, 2020
What is Tomb Raider without Lara Croft? Well in Square Enix's Tomb Raider Legends, the 3 or 4 players are each playing one of four iterations of the iconic Lara Croft from across the generations of the console game – a Battle Royale of Laras, if you will. This board game is essentially a race to obtain a game-winning artefact by stealth, secrecy or by simply raiding other Laras for it if necessary and getting out of the tomb before another Lara can take it from you. Only one Lara will emerge victorious!
All players have the same seven action cards and must use these cards to choose the three to place in order to programme all their actions during each round. These actions will help you navigate clockwise around the circular board segments, deal with traps and dangers, raid the tombs to gain helpful raid cards or simply to attack another Lara in order to rob them of their raid cards. These stolen cards will usually benefit you by giving you a boosted capability but one may be the prized treasure, the one true artefact – which incidentally is the only way you can exit the tomb. But, be warned, there are two false replica artefacts out there to add to the confusion. The rondel board is made up of eight tile segments: a starting and finishing segment, five face down area tiles randomly taken from the 10 that are supplied, and a climax tile drawn randomly from three possibilities to form the last action tile before the finish tile, also placed face down. The tiles are revealed as the first Lara enters the tile and faces the challenge of that tile. Laras on that tile must, between them, defeat the threat level before advancing onto the next tile. There may be advantages or consequences for all players on that tile and a bonus for the person who leaves first. Taking damage can be very costly to the amount of raid cards you can keep hold of, so it’s best to keep those medical supplies handy, if you can find and retain them, that is.
If you are a Tomb Raider fan then you will certainly enjoy the artwork and the strong theme throughout. This is a fun 40-minute easy gateway game, very much in the mould of Colt Express (Ludonaute). There'll be some teamwork needed in order to defeat the threats on tiles but, ultimately, this becomes a ruthless 'take that' game where everyone is trying to keep track of who has the artefact and where you will all be doing your best to steal it from the player that has it. There are some clever twists: it can frustrate your careful programming, for example, when the first player marker shifts and makes your actions rather less effective than you'd planned. Knowing when to play Raid cards for a huge bonus action or to hold some cards back, making the stealing of the artefact that much more difficult, is an interesting balance for players to think about. Having a good poker face can be helpful as the frustration of either losing the artefact or gaining the artefact can sometimes be a giveaway! Tomb Raider Legends can certainly be a fun and quick family game with some bluffing involved but, be warned, it can also sometimes feel a little cut-throat or a little overdependent on luck. The randomised tiles add to the game's replayability as you strive to ensure that your version of Lara Croft is the one and only true Tomb Raider.
(Review by Andy Solanky)