With Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny now in theaters, you may find yourself slipping back into your Indiana Jones phase. In that case, Funko has a new cooperative strategy card game for your collection: Indiana Jones: Sands of Adventure.

Dive into the game and read our review below.

Indiana Jones: Sands of Adventure – Game Design

Indiana Jones: Sands of Adventure is kind of like a cross between Ravensburger’s “Villainous” games and UNO. Each player chooses one of four characters to play the game as: Indiana Jones, Marion, Sallah, or Marcus. Each character has a different power or ability to help win the game. And remember, Sands of Adventure is cooperative – you’re teaming up with your friends to defeat classic Indy villains: Colonel Dietrich, Major Toht, and Dr. René Belloq.

Design pros:

  • Sands of Adventure is undoubtedly made with Indiana Jones fans in mind! Every part of the game spotlights characters and scenes from the films.
  • The game uses good, heavy-duty cardboard for the standees, power tokens, and other components. It feels like these pieces will last.
  • The swinging sand timer is really cool! The visual design fits with the Indiana Jones aesthetic, and mechanically it functions as it’s supposed to.
  • The player cards double as instruction reminders for what each turn looks like. This is especially helpful since the two phases of each round are played differently.
Double-sided Adventure tiles are themed to represent different moments from the Indiana Jones films, and allow you to mix-and-match scenarios for different games.

Design cons:

  • There are two kinds of cards, but they have the same back design. If they were different it would be easier to distinguish between the Action cards and the Upgrade cards.
  • You have to disassemble the sand timer to fit it back into the game box each time you play. (Or pull out the built-in cardboard organizers to put it away without taking it apart, but this means everything rattles around loose in the box.) It’s only four pieces so it isn’t a huge deal, but I wish the box had been designed with this in mind.
  • Piling the gems into the sand timer baskets is fun and adds thrills to the gameplay… but it also means if you lose a few of these little pieces, you won’t be able to play the game properly anymore.

Game Play

Initial setup of Sands of Adventure.

I’ll admit I got a little overwhelmed first unpacking this game; it comes with quite a few pieces and a 15-page set of instructions. (The game setup phase alone includes 10 steps.) However, after you get a feel for how Sands of Adventure works, the gameplay is actually pretty straightforward and simple.

Each game of Indiana Jones: Sands of Adventure includes three rounds, where players work together to defeat villains in a race to nab the Ark of the Covenant. Every round includes two phases: an Exploration phase, where your player character moves across different Adventure tiles (scenes from Indiana Jones), gathering resources to fight the round’s villain; and a Timed phase, a rapid-fire battle phase where the players need to defeat the villain.

The transition between the Exploration phase and the Timed phase is one of the best parts of Sands of Adventure. The game’s centerpiece is a swinging sand timer with a gem basket on top. During the Exploration phase, encounters with the villain or rolls of the Threat dice will prompt players to add gems to the timer’s basket. Adding the gems gradually (or not-so-gradually, depending on how you place them) shifts the timer until it swings downward and flips, kicking off the rapid-fire Timed phase of the round.

Some Sands of Adventure Game Play Tips

  • Make sure you read through the instructions and understand both the Exploration and Timed phases before you start playing. The instructions warn about this but it’s worth reiterating… the Timed phase goes FAST! (The sand in the timer takes something like 2 minutes to run out.)
  • Have each player keep their Action/Upgrade cards face up so everyone can see. You need to see who has Attack cards available if you’re going to defeat the villains!
  • I recommend playing your first Sands of Adventure game rolling just 1 of the threat dice instead of 2. This will give you more time in the Exploration phase to get used to the game mechanics the first time you play. 
  • Similarly, place those gems in the sand timer basket CAREFULLY. During the first round of our first game, I added my gems and managed to tip the timer on my first turn. (Oops.)

Indiana Jones: Sands of Adventure – Overall Thoughts

I was really impressed with the overall design for Sands of Adventure. The look undeniably gives you that Indiana Jones feel. The sand timer in particular looks cool and spices up an otherwise fairly standard card game. I also like having each round consist of two phases; it means you get to play Sands of Adventure as both a slower strategy-based game and as a rapid-fire attack game.

My biggest issue with Sands of Adventure is replayability. The double-sided Adventure tiles offer up some variety and ability to mix-and-match options for the Exploration phases of the game. However, you only swap out one tile for rounds 2 and 3, and the tiles themselves don’t have a very wide range of actions available to players. The Timed phase of the game never changes, and while each of the three rounds have players face off against a different villain, you don’t actually do anything different to defeat them. (Each level up just gives the villain in question slightly more health to start off the round.)

This does keep the game a bit simpler to learn and easier for younger players to keep up with. However, for older kids and adults, it can feel a bit redundant. You may not want to revisit this game over and over again. Still, it’s a fun enough adventure for an afternoon or as a break during your Indiana Jones movie marathon.

Game specs:

Players: 2 – 4 players, ages 8+

Play time: Variable game play time, but averaging 30 – 45 minutes

MSRP: $29.99

Manufactured by Funko and available at Target.