Imagine that you are a teen and have moved to a small town from the city. You love to dance but in this small town dancing is against the law. You might find that to fit in you have to play a game of "chicken." Fortunately things have changed from the 80's. In 2009 it's no longer cool to play chicken with full size tractors. If Footloose was filmed today then Kevin Bacon would be playing chicken with a copy of Incan Gold.
In Incan Gold the players have to explore a ruined temple, pick up treasures and jewels, and get out unscathed. Specifically players take turns drawing cards from a deck and revealing them to the group. The cards may represent treasure found in the temple. They may represent some mysterious artifact found nearby the temple. Or finally the cards may represent a menace like a snake or trap. After the card is flipped the players decide secretly whether to "leave" the temple. If everyone leaves they split the accumulated treasure. If only one person leaves then that player gets all the mysterious artifacts. If some of the players leave they split up the treasure amongst themselves. If any players remain in the temple the play continues.
Play continues until two cards with identical menaces are drawn, for example two "snake" cards. At that point anyone still in the temple has to leave and they lose All the treasure. As you can see, the basic dynamic of the game is related to "chicken," the longer you stay in the temple the more treasure you could get, but at progressively greater risk. In addition if you have fewer players remaining in the temple then they will split up any treasure they find into fewer portions.
The fun of Incan Gold comes from the interactions between the players. Everyone is looking around the table to try and guess who is staying and who is running. If you trick others into running and you stay you may rack up the treasure, or you may be sent home with nothing because the next card was a second spider card. I find the game ideal for families because even younger children can get the basic idea. There's plenty of laughs as people take chances and either score big of get sent home with nothing. In addition almost everyone is likely to get some treasure so while there is an official "winner" you could argue that any explorer with a pile of gems has won in a way.
Incan Gold is simple and easy to learn. I wouldn't think of it as the game of the century but it's a good value and likely to be enjoyed by a wide range of ages.
Pros: simple rules, appealing concept, appeals to a good range of ages.
Cons: may be hard to find
Beyond the Basics: this is a "filler" game, it's simple and fun but fairly basic.
Incan Gold could be tricky to find, I might start with Hit and Run Games in Lexington or Danger Planet in Waltham. I suspect they could order it if it's not in stock.