25th Century Games kindly sent us Tutankhamun to review. This is a game about collecting sets of artifacts as a priest/priestess for King Tut in the afterlife. The more sets you collect, the more items you fill the tomb with.
We liked the idea of this game and the design elements, but found that the set collection and goals fell flat for us from our expectations. It is not a bad game by any means, but the strategy elements were a little too simple for us to feel as though we had strategic options. We felt as though the options you could take were too risky to be of worth yet no risk at all was the safest bet to winning, making the game feel more like a game of luck rather than strategy.
The game design is very unique. You make the Nile River out of the artifact tiles that wind down a path from the tomb (which is the game box!). You start at the end of the river and work your way to the end. You collect artifact sets and try and get your point counter down to 0 (showing your spirit is cleansed). You move your marker along the box, we worried this would create wear and tear overtime by continuously poking the box so recommend being very gentle.
When moving your priest/priestess, you can move one back or as many steps forward as you like. If you go too far forward, you miss all the artifacts behind you. If everyone passes an artifact and the tail end of the river is more than one tile behind the last player, those tiles go on a board between two guardian statue figures in the underworld (a sort of discard pile). When you add tiles to a discard pile, you have to see if they completed any sets as well so players could score points. This ended up being a little tedious for us as we had to see who had how many of what set and if any tiles of that set were still left on the river or underworld. It made tracking points a process rather than simply racking up points as you go.
Moving in the game felt stale in some ways, we didn’t have much incentive to start a lot of new sets. There are also god/goddess idol tiles that you can land on for a bonus ability, which is very interesting, but in reality ended up not adding much value to the game. Some of the abilities felt mildly helpful and so we didn’t utilize them much. Or if they were utilized, it wasn’t to much advantage. However, we really liked the design of these abilities as different sorts of powers because it tied into the Egyptian theme. The artwork and theme of the game go very well together and it does immerse you in its own little world. The box has its own little King Tut sarcophagus which is a nice decorative item to keep.
In collecting sets, the main goal is to get more than your opponent. If two people tie, the one further back on the river gets full points with the next person tied getting half points. This was a component we liked but you had to be strategic in not forgetting your placement when a set is finished if you are likely to tie with another player. Ties didn’t come up as often as we thought they would.
Getting to the end of the board is fairly quick. We both liked the amount of time the game takes to play and felt a little unchallenged at the end of the game. Usually by the end of the game, as husband and wife we are playfully competitive for those last final points. However in one game of this, where at one point we had a 15 point difference near end game, one of us was able to gain a bunch of points quickly and reverse the tide in a way that felt unbalanced to us. If you like games where the points can be rapidly gained though, this could also be a positive aspect. It is also a good option for kids as it can teach them counting, point tracking and has a little bit of strategy for them to be able to feel challenged.
Language Barrier Playability: Fair. You could potentially play this game mostly by numbers and pictures with the sets. The only part that requires more language would be the explanation of the god/goddess idol tile abilities.
Replayability: The game board is an ever shifting one as you set up the river every time. However there isn’t a lot of variety in the set collecting for varied replayability.
Artwork: Perfect for the theme. We really loved how the tomb was in the game box and a pharaoh sarcophagus sat in the middle. The river design is both aesthetic and functional as well. There is great use of gold and blue tones in the game.
Quality: The pieces are thick. We like this about 25th Century Games titles. The only thing we didn’t like was moving the point markers around the edge of the nox like a paperclip because we felt it could damage the box over time.
Strategy: The strategy was lacking for us. There were some elements that were definitely added to be strategic but we found ourselves asking, “what compels me to use this vs not use this” and the benefits and costs didn’t have enough at stake for us.
Instruction Manual: Very good! The instruction manual went over all of the important points and had a good pacing.
Organization: The box comes with nice big baggies for the pieces. Simple organization and everything fits! To us, easy cleanup of a board game is ideal when possible and this game does so well.