Deep in the ruins of ancient Inca temples lies untold fortune and dangers. Each student is a treasure hunter, exploring these lost areas hoping in the end to emerge alive and laden with treasure. The game consists of a deck of cards with 15 treasure cards, 15 danger cards and 5 valuable artifact cards that, all combined, serve as the temple rooms. The treasure rooms are filled with various amounts of spoils that must be split equitably amongst all the players who enter. Any treasure that can not be split is left behind to possibly be picked up later. So if 4 players enter a room of 15 treasure they each get three treasure and leave the remaining three behind in the room. The artifacts count as five or ten treasure that can not be split, so it may only be picked up by a single player. As for dangers, there are five different types with three copies of each. The first time a specific danger appears it is only a warning. But when two of the same type of danger appear, the round is over for anyone still inside the temple.
Play is simple and very accessible, with rounds lasting only five or ten minutes each. Each turn, all of the players will simultaneously decide whether they wish to enter the next room or leave the temple for the rest of the round. Players that decide to leave will keep any treasure they have accumulated plus they can pick up any treasure that was left behind. If they left alone, they get everything, including any artifacts. If more than one player leaves then the treasure is split as equitably as possible amongst the players leaving. For those going forward, the next room is revealed and they must resolve the consequences, treasure or danger.
Incan Gold is an excellent example of a game in which math drives the game in both an obvious and not so obvious way. While at first glance, it is easy to see how students are working with basic math operations, including division with remainders throughout the course of the game. This is tied to the basic mechanisms of the game, treasure needs to be divided equitably with anything remaining left behind. The real treasure is the math that comes with game play strategies. At its heart, Incan Gold is a game of risk assessment. Since students know how many treasure and danger cards there are in the game, those who pay attention to and make decisions based on how many are in play at any given time will ultimately do better than those who do not.
While the ability of the game to seat eight students allows for a full class to be accommodated with just a few copies, a whole class can also easily play with just a single copy of the game. In the case of the latter, the class can be broken into several smaller groups with each group playing their own game independent of the others. The teacher would use the single deck of cards to provide the same experience for all of the groups. While they are all playing the same game, each group's game will be unique based on the decisions and actions of the players. In the end, it is Incan Gold's saturation of math in how the game is played and how it is played well, along with its flexibility for implementation that makes it a winner for the classroom and is at the heart of why it has a high Return on Investment.