Review: Lost Treasure
Publisher: Parker Brothers
Tagline: ELECTRONIC DEEP-SEA DIVING GAME
how we met
Thrifting Minion Josh gave me a copy of Lost Treasure. He found it at thrift one day, and all of the other thrifting minions already had it. Lucky me, again.
how it plays
Lost Treasure is one of the most interesting vintage electronic games that you can still reasonably find. Your goal is to make $1,000,000 dollars. In order to make this amount you must dive for treasure and also secure the loot you find.
There are always two treasures in play, gold and silver, randomly placed on the game board by the ELECTRONIC DIVE CONTROL CENTER. The game gives you four pawns, or BUOYS, that represent what you know about the current location of each treasure. These start in the four corners of the board initially, when you know nothing.
NOTE: In my limited anecdotal play, I couldn’t see a difference between going for gold or going for silver in Lost Treasure. I suspect their values are random. Either the rules don’t say this or I keep missing it.
Players begin the game on one of the PORT spaces, indicated by red circles on the board. Each player receives $150,000. If you run out of money completely during play, you can stop at a PORT and get $150,000 more. PORTs are also where you turn treasure chests into cash. More on that soon.
NOTE: Everything that happens on the ELECTRONIC DIVE CONTROL CENTER is public knowledge, so no hiding it! Lost Treasure is hesitantly cooperative.
on your turn
A player may do any or all of the following on their turn, as long as they do these things in this order. None of these things are required:
1) Search for treasure: A player can punch in the number of the area they are currently on and ask the computer if either the gold or silver treasure is either east or west, or north or south of the player’s area. The ELECTRONIC DIVE CONTROL CENTER will blink to indicate the correct answer, and you would then move the corresponding BUOYS to narrow down your focus. If the compass blinks in the middle it means the treasure you asked about is in the same either row or column you are in, depending upon which you asked about.
2) Roll the dice and move your boat: You want to make your way toward the treasure, or at least toward a spot where you can ask questions to narrow down its location. You roll two dice and can move up to that number of spaces. You can move right, left, up, down, or diagonal; the only rule is you may not move to or through a space that has land on it. (You’re a boat!)
3) Dive for treasure: If you think you landed at a numbered area with treasure, go ahead and try to dive. You have to pay $50,000 to obtain diving rights. As long as you stay in that area you are allowed to keep diving without paying again.
HINT: Remember that searching for treasure is optional. If it would help out your fellow players and not yourself based on your goals or where you are on the board, just skip it.
diving for treasure
Diving for treasure is super fun. When you get to an area that you think has treasure you pay your diving fees, punch in the number, and then press the AIR button. If you are right, you will hear and see your diving tanks fill with AIR. Keep your eyes on this meter, because you need to get to the surface again before your AIR runs out. And the clock starts right away once your AIR fills, so you should too.
Now you know there is treasure here, but you don’t know how much or where it is. Choose any of the nine numbers on the grid and hold it down to dive. You don’t need to be on that grid on the board, just in the general numbered area. You will hear a sound indicating whether you are ascending or descending and it will end in either a low bummer tone indicating no treasure or a fun little gleeful noise indicating you got something.
More info on the beeps and bops at our video on how to use the dive control center:
HINT: If another player is diving, be sure to pay attention to the numbers they are diving into. If you get there yourself you can use that info to limit your dive to remaining spaces.
After you explore one number in the grid, quickly decide if you want to keep going. Once you start to hit a number on the grid you must complete it to the end. You can’t change your mind. If you decide not to go for another one and just come up to the surface, hold down the UP button. Again the tones the control center makes will help determine whether you are successful. If you are not, you don’t die or anything. You just lose all the treasure you found in that dive, so you need to go back for it (or someone else can).
The ELECTRONIC DIVE CONTROL CENTER will indicate whether you found all the treasure in this area and how much treasure you get at the end of a successful dive. Treasure is received in treasure chests where each chest represents $50,000. You must get to a PORT in order to turn your treasure chests into cold, hard cash.
But the high seas are treacherous and your terrible friends are terrible. If another ship pawn lands next to you when you have treasure chests they can attempt to PIRATE you. This is merely a roll off; you each roll one die and the highest roll gets all treasure chests from the other ship. Once chests are converted to cash, the cash can’t be stolen. So treasure chests are a liability that you want to get to a PORT asap.
There are a couple of instances where you are allowed to roll the dice again and move on your turn, mostly to escape attacks. If you are successful in a treasure dive you can skedaddle to avoid any attacks, but you don’t have to. If enemies are not near or if you feel lucky and there is more treasure in that area you may want to stay put.
You can also roll again after a successful PIRATE win, whether you were attacking or defending. That allows you to get away from the enemy and keeps the treasure from going back and forth endlessly.
Once all of a treasure is found, another one is hidden somewhere new by the ELECTRONIC DIVE CONTROL CENTER. So if you dive and find all of the gold treasure, the ELECTRONIC DIVE CONTROL CENTER will automatically hide a new gold treasure. Reset the gold BUOYS and get hunting!
NOTE: In one of the games I played there were two instances where someone was diving for treasure and it was unclear whether it was the gold or the silver. This may not happen if you aren’t playing with gamblers like us, but just in case it does you may want to house rule asking the dive control center a question to settle it before you keep playing.
The first player to get $1,000,000 cash (not treasure chests) wins Lost Treasure!
how it went
I have played Lost Treasure a couple of times now, and only recently with my regular group. We had a grand time diving for treasures.
We only played with 3 players, and I think that’s a good number for Lost Treasure. The more people playing the faster you can usually deduce where treasure is, but then there’s also more pirating, more shenanigans, money split in more ways. The game only offers 2-4 players, but keep it on the light end for a reasonable length of gameplay.
In our play, John was some kind of treasure magnet. I would say at least half the time he asked the computer whether a treasure was east or west of him, the computer would beep, “It’s right in your column, buddy.” Or north and south, “You stay right where you are, we brought the treasure to you.” It was pretty funny. And, honestly, unexpected. I guess the same thing that draws John to coal chutes also draws diamonds to him.
I mentioned already that we gambled a bit. If we had the treasure narrowed down to three or four or sometimes five spots, sometimes we would just pay the fee and dive lazily where we were. And sometimes that worked! But most of the time it didn’t. I don’t recommend that approach. It’s hard to lose $50,000, especially early in the game.
The game board is pretty large for three players, so we actually didn’t run into each other a whole lot. Especially since the treasure was constantly getting planted wherever John happened to be. There was not a lot of pirating in our game, but there was a bit.
I tended to go after the silver treasure because it usually fell way across the board from other pawns. Mostly I was diving for silver treasure alone, and one time I even completed it in one dive!
John was ahead most of our gameplay, with Keri following closely behind. I was way, way behind because deep dives with no returns was kind of my jam. But in the end Keri navigated to victory in Lost Treasure!
play or pass
Play. This game is so well executed. It brings deduction, take that, electronics, and racing to port all together in a game that will have you gasping for air. Okay maybe not literally. But it’s a pretty fun time, easy to learn, and the theme is very well applied.
Most Lost Treasure copies still work great. You can pick it up for a reasonable price, or even find it at thrift if you are patient. If your gameplay goes long, just lower the win condition of $1,000,000.