Ancient Terrible Things – Review

Posted December 15, 2014 by Oscar Russell in Nerdy Bits

Designer  – Simon McGregor

Artist – Rob van Zyl

Publisher – Pleasant Company Games

Number of Players – 2 – 4

Pleasant Company Games were not a tabletop company that I was familiar with until I came across Ancient Terrible Things. Pleasant Company Games are a small indie press based out of South Africa. This game is currently the only game out by them, but they do have a few lined up for 2015 and onwards and based on now having played this game non stop for a couple of weeks I for one am looking forward to there next offerings.

Ancient Terrible Things is not only a mouthful of a name to get out, but it is also a stellar game to have in anyone’s collection.

Let me set the scene. You are in the Jungle on an expedition. Your only means of travel is via the Riverboat, your aim is to take down the beast that lie within the jungle and stop the oncoming apocalypse before it stops you. This jungle also happens to have a shop (like all good jungles) within it which lets you buy things to help you on your way.

That’s the game in a real nutshell, lets break it down a bit more.

Each player starts by selecting a game mat, which indicates which Explorer you will be. Each explorer gets the standard set of tokens of 1 Treasure, 1 Focus, , 1 Courage and 1 Feat. You also get an additional token depending on which player mat you have.

Player Mat

You then all jump in the Riverboat and take it in turns to hope off at any destination with an Encounter Card on it to either have the opportunity to take on the Encounter or “chicken” out and beat it without rolling the dice if you have enough Courage tokens in your possession. This is really where the strategy of this game kicks in. You get three options when you get to a destination, either beating it with Courage tokens, beating it with dice rolls or rolling the dice and having the chance to gain more tokens and also an Ancient Terrible Things token. You see the only way to really be in with a chance of beating the game is to have enough Courage tokens in the final round so that you can just pay off the really hard Encounter Cards which come towards the end of the game. Seems simple enough, but you also don’t want to be the person that depletes the Ancient Terrible Things counters to terminate the game.


This is where I struggle with who to pitch this game too. On the face of it this is a seriously simple roll and win game, there is a lot of luck involved in it which for a novice can make the rules easy to understand. However, this isn’t just a dice game, there is so much more going on. You have items to buy that can help you along the way and give you additional dice, there are also Feat cards which you have three off each round and you have to buy with Feat tokens to be able to use (collecting those tokens are important). So you really do have to get that balance right between taking on a Encounter Card or going for the additional tokens, that’s when this game becomes one for more serious gamers.

The art on the cards and board do look great, and there is a solid theme running through the game it would be hard to go this whole review without saying the term “Chthulu inspired”. However, the cards are incredibly dark and for someone not sitting right on top of the cards they can be a nightmare to read so there was a constant announcing of what new cards had come to the table.

The game as a whole is a fun one with everyone at our games nights egging each others rolling and techniques on. I am not ashamed to admit that there were cheers when someone didn’t complete an Encounter card and also left themselves not collecting many tokens.

IMG_0704 IMG_0706

About the Author

Oscar Russell

Comics Editor for WTN, and co-host of the All New Comics Dash Podcast. I like comics and tabletop gaming!