There is something undeniably iconic about Indiana Jones. While there is a new movie to enjoy, Funko Games has created a game based on the very first story, Raiders of the Lost Ark. It is hard to believe the movie came out in 1981. For so many of us, we have grown up with this story as part of our culture. Indian Jones Sands of Adventure is a Target exclusive and has the wonderful component quality we have come to expect from Funko Games.

Indiana Jones Sands of Adventure is a cooperative game, (see our definition of a cooperative game here). There is also a timed component that occurs in real-time, using a sand timer.

Game Set Up


  • 7 Double Sided Adventure Tiles
  • 4 Character Mats and Figures
  • 3 Villain Mats
  • 3 Villain Movers (with bases)
  • Health Tracking Cube
  • Sand Timer
  • Round Tracker Tile
  • Ark Mover (with base)
  • Torch Die
  • 2 Threat Die
  • Play Tile
  • 12 Gems (two sizes)
  • 6 Power Tokens
  • 92 Cards (these include Basic Cards, Upgrade Cards, Snake Cards, and Attack Cards)


Just as in the movie, the Third Reich is trying to find the Ark of the Covenant. It is up to Indiana Jones and some of his friends to prevent it from falling into their hands. Players work together over three rounds, and ultimately work to defeat the final villain. Will they succeed or fail?

The Rounds of Play

Indiana Jones Sands of Adventure plays over three rounds with two phases in each round. There is the Exploration Phase and the Timed Phase.

Character Mats and Figured
Exploration Phase

Each turn in the Exploration Phase consists of three steps. First, move to another Adventure Tile. The tile does not need to be adjacent. All players except the one playing Indiana Jones may not move to a space occupied by a villain. Second, once on a new tile, complete the action on the tile. These actions include: drawing an upgrade card, gaining a power token, play two cards to gain a power token. Finally, roll the threat dice. On the bottom corner of the Adventure Tile, there is an icon showing how many dice to roll. If gems are shown, add them to the sand timer. If the villain is activated follow the instructions on his mat and move him one space.

Threat Dice

The threat dice have three different outcomes.

  • Add a small gem to the Sand Timer
  • Add a large gem to the Sand Timer
  • Activate the Villain

Adding gems will eventually lead to the Sand Timer flipping and activating the second phase. When the villain is activated, they are moved and any player on the Adventure Tile they move to takes the consequence listed on the villain’s card.

Play in this first phase continues until the sand times flips, and that triggers the Timed Phase.

Sand Timer

Timed Phase

The Timed Phase begins immediately once the sand timer flips over. Players continue to take turns as fast as they can since the Sand Timer gives players just over two minutes to complete this phase. First, each player plays as many cards from their hand as they can or wish to. They then end their turn by drawing an action card. If a player draws a snake they must grab the red Torch die and roll it until they get a torch. Once a torch is rolled, play can continue. During this phase, players can also use the Power Tokens they have acquired to provide advantages.

The round ends when one of three things happens:

  • The Sand Timer runs out
  • The Action Deck is Empty and no further cards can be drawn.
  • The Villain is defeated, but bringing their health to zero.

Winning the Game

At the end of the third round, the players must defeat Rene Belloq to win. If they defeat Belloq they have rescued the Ark. However, if Belloq is not defeated the players lose the game, as he has gotten away with the Ark.

Family Game Assessment

Indiana Jones Sands of Adventure had a level of intensity and excitement that rivals the epic scenes of the movie. With every players turn in the first phase of each round, there was a consequence of either adding gems to the Sand Timer or activating the villain, or sometimes both. The Exploration Phase, while untimed, moved along quickly. The only element that slowed it down was carefully considering each move to try and optimize the turns and minimize the consequences at the end of their turn. In this phase, it could have stalled if any players were struggling with analysis paralysis (see our definitions of analysis paralysis here)

As each gem was added to the Sand Timer our group was collectively holding our breath, to see if it would flip. Once the Timed Phase was triggered the intensity was quite high. Being a cooperative game information was shared freely. It made the collaboration easy, We were able to look at the cards that each player had and strategize on the fly how to get the Attack cards in play as fast as possible.

Adventure Tiles

Insights on the Timed Phase

One challenge that we ran into during the Timed Phase was the tendency to have someone try to manage everyone’s turn. It is very easy with the pressure of being timed, to have one player take control of the action to the detriment of the other players. With that in mind, it is very important to understand the dynamic of the group of players. Before the Timed Phase it triggered it is important to set the expectation of how to manage the communication and turns. Communication is important and it make work for some groups to designate a leader to facilitate the Timed Phase. However, that may take away from the experience for other players. It really depends on personal preference.

Being mindful of overmanaging the Timed Phase is especially important to consider with a mixed age group. When the family is sitting around the table the younger players need to have a chance to contribute themselves, and not be over-managed. This may take some experience and planning ahead of time, but it is an important aspect to consider for a family game night.

Final Thoughts

Indiana Jones Sands of Adventure is a great, quick, and intense family game. The Sand Timer and adding gems almost every turn creates a ton of suspense. The components are quite good, and with the full retail price at just $29.99 it is a great addition to any family game shelf. The Raiders of the Lost Ark story as the foundation of the game only adds to the enjoyment of the game.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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By Linda Wrobel

Managing Editor: Board Games Mother, Educator, and Board Game Editor.

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