Treasures of Cibola – Ankama – Review

Treasures of Cibola is also great for teaching kids how to count, add, subtract... multiply... wait, is this game a trick to teach kids math?

Jeremiah & Kara



Theme and What is it?


“Now listen closely, explorer,” the expedition leader says to you, “we’re after purple treasures only. Purple, got it?” You nod to show you have indeed ‘got it’ then turn and race into the ancient temple. You sprint down crumbling corridors, snatching up the rare purple gems as you go. Suddenly, the temple starts to tremble and a massive boulder crashes down just in front of you, completely blocking your way. “That was a close call!” you think, “perhaps it’s time to head back.” You race out of the temple, back to your expedition leader, and present him with your satchel of perfect purple gems. 

Your expedition leader stares into your satchel. “Garbage!” he shouts, “Sorry explorer, we’ve just received word that purple treasures are trash. Go back in there and find me some green ones!” Legs aching, stomach twisting, you dash back toward the temple. You vaguely wonder how much longer the temple will stand as you dart into the depths, praying it doesn’t collapse on top of you. 

In Treasures of Cibola, players are archaeologists exploring the ruins of an ancient temple. The temple is literally falling apart, so players will have to grab what they can before it completely collapses. But be careful – something that seems valuable at first might actually turn out to be worthless, or worse, cursed!

Gameplay Mechanics


Treasures of Cibola is a set-collection game where players are trying to gather the most valuable treasures. Players are each given a handful of bright orange meeples that they can send to explore the ancient temple. At the beginning of each round, four treasure cards are revealed, and some cards are obviously better than others!

 Secretly, players place some or all of their explorers into a closed fist and hold it in the middle of the table. Once everyone is ready, players reveal their meeples. Anyone who sent 0 explorers gets to take all the meeples in the discard area and add them to their personal supply. Then the player who sent the most explorers gets to choose which treasure card they want first, followed by the player who sent the next most explorers, and so on until all players have drafted a treasure card. Then all the explorer meeples that were sent are discarded. Play continues this way for eight rounds.

The thing that makes Treasures of Cibola unique is that the values of the treasures are decided by the players over the course of the game. 

At the beginning of the game, all of the treasures are worth a certain range of points as shown on the temple board. As players draft cards into their collection, boulders from the temple will fall (be placed by the players) and bury some of the potential treasure values. By the end of the game, all but one of the values for each treasure will be buried, and that’s what the value for that specific treasure will be. This adds a delightful bit of strategy to an otherwise simple game. Players can block, thwart, and sometimes absolutely destroy their opponents by burying the values that would be most beneficial to them.

Initial Impressions


The box said ages 8+ so I was expecting a really light, simple game. The rules were straightforward and easy to understand — it seemed like your run-of-the-mill drafting game, simplified for younger players. However, when I read about the temple board with the variable treasure values that can be manipulated by the players, I really got interested. It was new! It was intriguing — it was something I hadn’t seen done before.

The game was quick to set up and easy to explain to everyone. Within 5 minutes everyone was ready to play!

Game Build Quality


The components in Treasures of Cibola are minimal. There’s a temple board, a deck of cards made from nice cardstock, some tokens, and a bunch of bright orange meeples. Everything is of high enough quality to be functional without going overboard. I do wish the game had come with a simple insert or even some extra bags to hold everything in place while being stored.

Artistic Direction


The art in Treasures of Cibola is bright and vibrant,  which really enhance the liveliness of the theme. The temple board is easy to read, and the different treasures are really easy to tell apart. All the cards are easy to understand, and the symbols used make sense.

My favorite design decision is the box art. The box features a large ancient temple in front of a massive gold moon. The colors are pale and subdued compared to the vibrant colors of the cards and treasures, but they did that for a really smart reason. There’s gold foiling on the cover — the moon and the torches shimmer in the light. It’s an incredible effect that brings the box art to life and gets you excited to open it up and explore the temple yourself.

Fun Factor


As an experienced, adult gamer, I have to admit I wasn’t expecting much from this kids game, So I was surprised when it turned out to actually be a lot of fun – even for adults! There’s strategy, take-that, and some really important decisions that have to be made. There’s palpable tension as players gleefully smash the values that matter most to their opponents and protect the ones that benefit them most. There’s a lot of replayability here too, since the treasure values are ultimately decided by the players.

Age Range & Weight


The manufacturer recommended age is 8+ which is perfect. At its heart, Treasures of Cibola is a really simple game: collect treasures and make sure the ones you have are worth the most they can be. There’s still room for strategy, but not so much that it’d overwhelm young gamers. There’s not much place for over analysis in this game —it’s very quick, and very straightforward.



Treasures of Cibola is a great unique card drafting game for the whole family. It’s simple enough for children to grasp, but there’s enough strategy involved for adults to be entertained by it as well. It’s also great for teaching kids how to count, add, subtract… multiply… wait, is this game a trick to teach kids math? I guess it teaches math, but in a fun, competitive way! For anyone looking for a quick, unique set collection game, check out Treasures of Cibola!