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It’s absolutely essential that Sub Terra II is accessible to new players. The first game was surprisingly popular as a gateway cooperative game suitable for (almost) all ages – it’s important that the sequel continues to meet this expectation.
While Sub Terra II shares some gameplay mechanics with Sub Terra, it’s not an expansion. You don’t need to have played the first game to enjoy this one, and playing this one doesn’t invalidate the original – the two games try to emphasize different things, and are enjoyable in different ways.
So, why should you play it?
EASY TO LEARN
The core of the game has been kept very accessible and streamlined. To demonstrate this, I’m going to teach you to play right now!
You’re a team of explorers, working together to search a dangerous volcano temple to acquire a legendary artifact.
The game takes place on a tile-based board that you’ll uncover as you play, over roughly twenty rounds (tracked by the volcano board)
<early game tile setup>
- On each player’s turn, they have two action points to spend on any combination of actions:
- They can reveal a tile from the bag next to their current location
- They can move from their current tile to an adjacent tile
- They can explore to both reveal a tile that they must move on to
- They can also heal themselves or others, attack enemies on their tile, or dig out collapsed passages.
At the end of each player’s turn, they roll the hazard die, which causes bad things to happen based on the tiles in play. (e.g. traps may trigger, lava may burn you, guardian enemies may awaken)
- At the end of each full round, the volcano track ticks downward one step, and all enemies on the board chase after you and attack.
- Your objective is to:
- Find the three keys
- Use them to unlock the sanctum tile (which appears when all the other tiles have been placed)
Escape with the artifact before the volcano erupts!
This is about as much information as you need to start playing. Everything else (such as what the tiles / hazard-results / guardians / characters / volcano do) can be discovered during your first playthrough. All of it has been designed to be as intuitive as possible.
HARD TO MASTER
What about after you’ve played the game a few times? What keeps you coming back?
- A different temple each time
Tiles are drawn from the bag randomly and hazards are unpredictable, making each session a unique puzzle to solve.
- Ten playable explorers (fifteen with the expansion)
Your team consists of three to six explorers, each with their own set of special abilities and unique playstyle. These give your team a lot of different ways to defeat the temple, and some combinations will be better than others.
- Multiple difficulty levels
Managed to beat the game on Beginner mode? OK, then try Normal, Advanced and eventually Expert mode for a tougher challenge! You’ll need to master your chosen characters and perfectly handle the temple’s threats if you want to succeed.
Sub Terra II is a cooperative game – you’re working together to achieve the same objective, so you win or lose as a team. You don’t have to be lifelong friends to start playing, but the specialised characters and limited range of interaction mean that great coordination is strongly rewarded.
The game system creates memorable narrative moments, such as single-handedly fighting off a guardian ambush to save your injured friend, or heroically sacrificing yourself to ensure the artifact gets to safety.
Oh, and that volcano you’re in? Stay too long and it erupts, chasing you out of the temple with a burning wave of molten lava!