Professor Treasure’s Secret Sky Castle. What a name, huh? It reminds me of some Japanese anime video game. You know, those big, long, turn-based RPGs where the plot doesn’t get underway until like 5 hours in, and around hour 60 you feel like you’ve only hit the halfway point. I never really liked those games, so when this came to my door, I was worried I was going to have a similarly complex experience. But fortunately for me, what I found was a light strategy game with good player interaction that would make a nice addition to many board game collections.
PTSSC (because I’m not writing that title every time) is a two player experience from Level 99 Games. You are breaking into Professor Treasure’s flying fortress, where he has hidden the riches of the world that he has stolen. Each of you controls a team made up professionals like the captain, the thief, and the sentry, each represented on one of eight cards. At the start of a round, you’ll randomly put two of your cards aside, and then players will take turns placing their cards on a randomly constructed 3 x 4 grid of tiles. Each tile can represent treasure chests and artifacts, which get you points, or keys, which you need to get those chests!
Once all the cards have been placed on the grid, you begin to collect that sweet loot. The cards normally pick up the tile on which they rest, but each card has its own power that might put a twist on which tile gets taken. The scout card, for example, can swap the tile it is on for a nearby tile. The thief can step in and steal a tile from your opponent. Each role is numbered and completes its move from least to greatest, until all the cards have triggered and the corresponding treasures have been collected. Then, the grid is refilled with more tiles, and you play two more rounds, after which the points are tallied and the winner is determined!
The first thing that will draw your attention to this game is the artwork. It definitely has an anime vibe. Each character is fully detailed on the card, and the tiles follow a matching theme. The artwork overall is simple, yet it works really well. The components are also top notch – the tiles are thick and solid, so it almost feels like you’re making a game board when you assemble the grid.
The rules and setup are simple enough to enable even new players develop a quick strategy. At the beginning of a round, you actually randomly split up the cards in your hand, so you will be somewhat limited in the order in which you can place them on the board. However, if you plan appropriately, you can ensure that you challenge your opponent to the best loot on the board. But even though you’re actions are going to be impacting your rival’s turns, it never feels like a ‘take that’ mechanic. It just feels like your opponent played a better game than you.
The game is very accessible – the bulk of the rules are in the cards. Once you’ve played the first round, you’ll be comfortable and start experimenting with different approaches. The game also plays somewhat quickly, lending itself to two or three plays in a row. It could be a quick game at the end of the evening with your significant other or one of your kids, and those are always in high demand.
I’m not going to say that you must go out and buy PTSSC right now. I think there are plenty of other two player games that are as good or better. There’s nothing about the game that I could really point to and say that it is completely different from any other game you might play, and as a result you should buy it. What I will say is that the game is solid on every level. The rules are well balanced, and I can tell that it’s been play tested thoroughly from some of the small details. The artwork is very well done, and the components are incredibly well made. The experience isn’t awe-inspiring, but you’ll have a good time with it. All in all, this is a good, but not great, game. Anyone who is looking to add a two player title to their collection would do well to check out Professor Treasure’s Secret Sky Castle.
You can purchase Professor Treasure’s Secret Sky Castle on Amazon today.
- Quick to learn, quick to setup
- Good artwork, nice solid components
- A good balance of your own strategy with a little “take that”
- It can be a little too simple – only three types of tiles